by Jane Davitt

Blair contemplated his hand. Sore, scarlet, stinging, swollen. From slapping, striking, smacking, spanking. He kept the list going in his head, distracting himself from the throb and burn. Stretched, shiny, screaming skin --

No. The screaming had been Jim, though the gag had muted the raw, hoarse yell to a considerate (it was one in the morning, after all) cry. Not for help; Blair was certain of that, both now and at the time. Gagged, tied, face down on their bed, Jim had at least three ways to tell Blair: enough; stop, and he hadn't used any of them.

Just screamed. Maybe it helped when his ass was (bruised, bleeding, black and blue -- no, no, not tonight, not when it was just Blair's hand; Jim was fine) hurting.

He would have asked Jim, if he could have thought of a way to say it that wouldn't make Jim's eyes turn bruised blue (bruises again; shit, there would be some, sure, a mottled mess of them under the once-pale skin of Jim's ass and thighs, but Jim wouldn't care, so why --) and wary.

No asking. No talking. Jim had told him that right from the start. We do it when I need it and we don't talk about it, got that?

And he'd opened his mouth to bargain, barter, bribe, or beg for a softening of that condition (no talking? No discussion? No questions? No!) and Jim had glared at him even as his eyes had pleaded, and he'd said yes, got, it, fine, sure.

So happy to have something to give Jim that Jim wanted, needed, craved, hated --

Jim began to walk up the stairs, careful steps, slow ones, the euphoria (excitement, ecstasy, Jim coming, strong body shaking, loose afterwards, pliant, purring, just not for long, never for long) gone, replaced by guilt and shame.

Difficult, this moment when they had to re-find normal. Harder than the last strokes, the ones Blair wanted to close his eyes for, except he had to see, had to look -- once, he'd winced and looked away, missed and hurt Jim, really hurt -- Harder than the first stroke, given with all his strength so that Jim could consider it, measure its pain against his need and give Blair a number (total, target, tally) before Blair fastened the gag and began, that first stroke never counting, wasted.

He curled his hand into a fist and hid the pain. Smiled up at Jim and moved over so that Jim had room to lie on his stomach to sleep. Kissed him goodnight without words and got as close as he could, fighting to stay inside Jim's barriers as they were rebuilt around him and knowing when they woke, he'd be outside, looking in.

And his hand would still be hurting.

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