Thursday, January 28, 2010

Just the way you are.

Title: Just the way you are.
Authors: Rolf and Ranger
Warnings: Soppy romance and a spanking.

The Beast sat down on the edge of the bed and both his hands nipped me at the waist, not hard, but firmly enough to make me squirm and abandon all attempts at pretending to be asleep. I twisted over and surveyed him, fed up.
"Are you going to get up? It's past nine."
I rolled over again, pulling the duvet further over me. The Beast lay down beside me, hooked an arm around my waist and pulled me back against him.
"It's breakfast time." he said eventually in my ear.
"Come on sweetie. I'll start the eggs and bacon-"
"I don't want to eat either."
"Honey you're going to have to get up and eat and get dressed sooner or later. Aren't you?" The Beast said gently.
I hunched away from him, hating the reasonability in his tone.
The Beast took the covers in a firm grasp and pulled them away from me.
"Come on. Up." 
"WHY?" I demanded, hanging on to the duvet. The Beast exerted all his beastly power, pried my fingers off and threw it over the side of the bed. Then pulled me on to my feet and pushed me ahead of him towards the bathroom.
"It's not like I've got anywhere to go," I informed him as he turned the shower on and more or less stripped me. "I have NOWHERE I need to be today. No one who is going to give a damn whether I get there or not. I might just as well be in bed as anywhere else."
"You forgot a few vital points." The Beast informed me, pulling my t shirt over my head. "I'm here, I want you with me, and I definitely want you out of bed."
"Big, fat, hairy deal." I said sourly. The Beast kissed me and pushed me under the spray.  
"Downstairs in ten minutes. Dressed."
Still muttering, I pulled the shower door shut.

He had fried eggs and bacon, but it was sitting on the table with toast and bananas which I could just about choke down. I slid into my seat at the table and took a banana before he could make any comments about the difference between ten minutes and twenty minutes. The Beast slid a piece of bacon and an egg onto my place and put it in front of me.
"What do you want to do today?"
"You've got a client." I informed him. "So nothing."
"One client, for an hour, at eleven. That gives us a lot of the day." The Beast said cheerfully. I finished my banana.
"It's cold outside."
"So why don't we go swimming? The sports club will be open-"
"The pool there's horrible."
"You usually enjoy it."
I scowled. The Beast poured a glass of milk and handed it over.
"Shopping then. We might as well go today as tomorrow."
"I hate Tescos."
The clunk at the front door indicated the morning paper. The Beast put out a hand before I could get up.
"Gabriel eat first."
"I did."
"A banana won't do."
"The bacon's cold."
"How about I microwave it for you?"
"That just makes it soggy."
The Beast propped his elbows on the table and surveyed me over his coffee.
"You're going to eat it, so choose between cold and soggy."
That was so unfair my eyes stung. The Beast reached for my hand, turned it over and kissed my palm firmly.
"No. Come on love, eat. You're going to feel better with some energy."
"I don't need energy, do I?"
"Eat anyway." The Beast said patiently.
"No." I said, with the possibly-going-to-cry voice that is supposed to prolong sympathy and induce coaxing. Instead the Beast's eyebrows rose. And kept on rising. I hastily picked up my fork and poked the bacon before anything else rose.
"I should think so." The Beast said mildly. "What ARE we going to do this morning?"
"Nothing." I muttered. The Beast took my fork away, speared bacon and held it to my lips.
"Then I'll choose. You can put a jacket and boots on and we'll go for a walk. Yes." He added firmly before I could object through a mouthful of bacon. "You're not going to sit around and glump all day."
"I don't-" I stopped dead, remembering his edicts about the phrase 'I don't want to'. Still choking on bacon I slipped his hand and fled into the hall.
The Beast had the temerity to clear the table first, instead of running after me like any responsible monster. I balled up at the foot of the stairs for a while, waiting for him and struggling with tears. When he didn't still didn't come out to me, I went into the kitchen and hovered in the doorway, waiting. He looked around at me, but didn't comment on my obvious total distress nor drop everything to console me. Infuriated I stamped at him, raising my voice to overcome radio four.
"You don't even care!"
"Don't I?" The Beast asked mildly. I stamped again, and kicked at what came nearest, which happened to be a kitchen chair.
"Gabriel……" The Beast said warningly. I kicked it again. The Beast turned around from the dishwasher and pointed at the corner.
"Go and stand there."
How totally unreasonable. I kicked the chair once more to make the point and burst into tears.
The Beast took a step towards me. I fled, into the hall, upstairs and into our room. I would have locked myself in the bathroom, except Beasts break locks. It's one of their lesser-known neuroses. I was curled up on the far side of the bed, heart thumping, arms tightly folded when he reached the doorway, unhurried, face perfectly calm.
"NO." I said, already getting as far away from him as possible. "Go AWAY-"
He pulled me up off the bed without comment and steered me ahead of him.
I tried every single Beast trap known to man on the way downstairs, including sitting down on the stairs, kicking and struggling. It made no difference. The Beast held me firmly in front of him, made me walk downstairs and steered me through to the corner of the kitchen he'd indicated, letting me go when my nose was to the plaster. What IDIOT throws themselves into the power of a Beast? I stood and sobbed, loudly and piteously. The Beast washed dishes and listened to The Archers on the radio. Eventually I grew tired of making my throat sore, gave up and thought horrible things at the plaster, casting glances over my shoulder. The Beast sat down at the kitchen table and glanced at his watch.
"Gabriel. Until I see you stand there for five minutes, without moving, looking round or muttering, you're not coming out."
"My legs are tired." I informed him. The Beast gave me a look of less interest than one would expect from a physiotherapist.
"Then stand still and give them a rest."
I kicked the skirting board. And glared at him. The Beast unfolded the morning paper and settled down to read. I was picking at the plaster cracks and whistling defiantly when he folded it again and got up.
"Right. We ARE going to do those five minutes now."
The Beast swatted my hands down from the wall and another sharp swat landing behind made me straighten up in a hurry, my eyes watering.
"Stand still and stand quietly."
BEAST. I stared at the wall, tears dripping. The Beast stood right behind me, arms folded, looming in a way I could feel if not see. I had no idea how far along we were when one of those heavy hands rested on my shoulders and began to rub. That finished me.
"Allright." He said at the end of a hundred years. "Thankyou."
I turned around and buried myself in his arms. He held me, nuzzling my hair and making the deep, rumbling Beast noises that soothe like nothing else on earth. Furry arms locked around me and steered us both to a chair. I slid into his lap and wound myself around him, legs and arms.
"Allright." The Beast said in my ear. "It's allright. You're okay."
That was debatable. I clung to him and his hands moved unhurriedly through my hair and down my back, his long fingers knowing just where to press and stroke. I was unwillingly starting to calm down when he stood up, lifting me with him, kissed me soundly and put me down.
"Boots, jacket."
"No…" I said pathetically. The Beast took my hand and towed me upstairs.
I objected, tearfully and otherwise while he sat me down on the bed, put boots on me, zipped me into a jacket, held on to me while he got himself changed and then towed me outside. A determined Beast is somewhat like a tank.
The park was cold, damp and exhausting.
I trailed after the Beast, who was always about ten feet ahead of me and striding onwards, cheerfully enjoying the hideous weather.
Two years ago I had been an internationally recognised athlete. Fit, strong, perfect in form and style. The Beast had always been as active as me; now he was not only more active, he was also fitter.
"It's RAINING." I said bitterly to his back.
"It's only water." The Beast said calmly.
"My hands are coooooooooold…."
The Beast turned around, clapped his hands and held them out to me, walking backwards.
"Come on, catch up."
"You can walk FASTER than me!"
"Come on." He said heartlessly. I stopped and stared at him resentfully. Then turned around and trudged back towards the car.
I got about six paces before a hand closed over my elbow.
"Oh no. Come on."
"NO." I said hotly. "I want to go HOME."
"It's a beautiful day, make the most of it." The Beast put an arm around my waist and towed me onwards. I twisted away from him, now beyond rational debate and sat down on the wet grass.
The Beast shook his head. And yanked me to my feet, swung me over his shoulder before I had time to struggle and strode onwards deeper into the park.
WHERE are the villagers with the pitchforks when you need them?
Unfortunately he is big enough - and I'm not- that nothing I did interfered with him Kicking, squirming, with the blood rushing to my head, we moved over the brow of the hill and into the wetness of the woods before the Beast lowered me to my feet. And gave me a friendly smile, holding out his hand.
"Allright, lets walk back to the car."
Sometimes I'd move heaven and earth for a pitchfork.


His client was in his car on the driveway when we got home. The Beast waved to him and went to unlock the side door that leads to his work section of the castle. He let the man - a footballer I recognised- into the entry room, and then came back to tow me to the front door, which he unlocked for me.
"Go and have a bath, get warm and I'll see you an in hour."
While he went off and LEFT me. The Beast kissed me in a way that suggested he was trying to distract me.
"Go on sweetheart, I won't be long."
I didn't say a word. Just headed very slowly upstairs. The Beast stood in the hallway for a moment. Then clicked his fingers.
I looked around. The Beast held out a hand to me.
"Come on."
"Where?" I said suspiciously.
"My office."
He towed me down the corridor, already struggling.
"I didn't DO anything!"
"It's allright." The Beast stopped at the doorway and turned up my chin to kiss me again, briefly and gently. Then towed me into his office and parked me behind his desk.
"And do what?" I demanded, startled. The Beast gave me a Look I recognised.
"Nothing. Sit there, sit still and be quiet."
Surprised, I sat still and watched him invite his client in. He didn't explain my presence and apart from a brief look in my direction, the footballer didn't pay any further attention to me. Neither did the Beast. I leaned my arms on the desk and put my chin down, sniffing at the familiar leather and dust smell of his office. I'd been in here often enough. Sometimes while he worked on me, although usually he brought stuff into the living room and worked there, since he said I got even tenser around the medical equipment. More often I'd been in here lying on the mats to read or watch him while he did paperwork He'd taken some weeks off work when I first moved in with him, it was only in the last few weeks he'd been seeing clients again, and we'd had several- debates- about my leaving him to work in peace. What went on with his client was of limited interest. I gave up watching the exercises they settled down to and found a magnet in his paperclip box, which served five minutes worth of distraction. I then started to unpack his desk drawer in search of further entertainment. By the time it was emptied out and I'd explored the possibilities of the solar calculator and the rubber ball I found right at the back, and which bounced accidentally out of my hand and across the floor to where the Beast pocketed it, I was having to resort to blue tak. That had limited possibilities and disintegrated, totally unlike chewing gum, when chewed. The Beast leapt up and came to whack me on the back when I choked, made me pick up what I spat out and put it in the bin, then shut the desk with a bang that suggested I'd better not open it again. Bored, I sat back and spun the chair around, staring at the ceiling. The Beast Looked at me when I started whistling to myself, left his client and came over to turn his computer on.
"Find a game." He said in no uncertain terms. And turned the sound down. I called up Free Cell and tried to concentrate on it. It was losing the third game that made me knock the keyboard off the desk and onto the floor. And hurl the mouse.
Being attached on its wire, it didn't go very far.


The long series of handsprings brought me up hard against the far wall. I turned, took a few deep breaths, then took a short run and threw myself into another series that covered the long room, one after another. Fast, hard, accurate. The Beast folded his arms across his chest, shifting his position against the wall. Burning with stretched muscles and energy, I took a few steps and pulled off a shorter, neater back flip, landing on my hands with a satisfying thud. I rolled that down to the floor, turned over and the Beast's voice cut in before I could push upwards.
I swore under my breath, but got the balance right before I pushed myself slowly up into a handstand. It worked. Calming slightly, I flipped over and stood up. Took another breath. Threw myself into another long, hard series of handsprings.
The Beast had watched day after day of practice for the team, not to mention the competitions themselves; he knew what most of the moves looked like and where the dangers were. And he'd watched me often enough to know as well as I do how I was deteriorating. Once upon I time I was good. When I was young. Before I overstrained and tore one too many muscles. Before the younger and fitter gymnasts in the team reached their peak and I fell away from mine. Eighteen long months of watching them getting better and better while my form sank and Kerry began to take the harder moves out of my routines.
One, long, horrible plane journey back from Munich at two am, the night I walked out on the team. The Beast had caught the same plane.
When I had no more energy, I lay full length on the wooden floor and stared at the ceiling tiles. God alone knows what this room had been for in the castle. When I first came into it, furniture had been stacked along the walls. The Beast had moved it, leaving a long, bare floored and spacious room, large enough for me to practice in. I didn't very often. I shut my eyes and felt the tears on my face, as hot as the muscles I'd just strained. The Beast stood over me, clicking his fingers.
He used my name like some kind of incantation.
I looked up at him, and the hand held out to me. If I didn't get up he would get me up. I got slowly to my feet. The Beast took me back into his office and shut the door. The footballer was dressed, sitting and waiting patiently at his desk. The Beast pushed me in the direction of the mats on the floor and I flopped down, lying on my back, arms folded over my face. The Beast sat on the other side of the desk and he and the footballer talked for some time before the Beast showed him out. I could feel myself, rigid from head to foot, stomach full of acid, head full of screaming blackness. I shut my eyes tight.
The Beast knelt on the mat beside me and pulled my arms down from my face. He looked serious, an expression I had no interest in at this moment in time.
"Is it acceptable to throw things?"
I don't care. I looked back at him, waiting for him to grasp the not caringness of the situation. His eyes didn't waver.
"Is it?"
I stared at him. Our eyes did battle for some time before something about the way his eyes were talking to me got through and I rolled away from him, burying my face in my arms. The Beast pulled me back over.
"Gabriel. Is it acceptable to throw things?"
"I don't care."
"I do." The Beast pointed out quietly. "Is it acceptable to throw things?"
Something about that tone stirred a memory of a thrown mouse and a keyboard crashing to the floor in amongst the general despair. I looked up at him, wincing slightly. The Beast nodded, putting out a hand to flip my fringe out of my eyes.
"Yes, you did. Is that an acceptable thing to do?"
"I was upset."
"I know. Is that an acceptable thing to do?"
"NO." I said, frustrated. The Beast nodded.
"I feel the same way."
Silence. We went on looking at each other.
"I'm sorry." I said eventually. "It was only the keyboard, I didn't damage it."
"IS that an acceptable thing to do?" The Beast said again. I swallowed. The whole issue was taking on far more importance than I'd been giving it.
"No." I said again, hearing my voice get high pitched. The Beast got up and took my hands, pulling me to my feet.
"Pick them up please."
With ridiculously unsteady hands I picked the keyboard up and replaced it on the desk, then retrieved the mouse and put it neatly back in place. The Beast pulled out one of the plain, upright chairs from against the wall and sat on it, holding out a paw to me.
"No." I said again, in a still higher pitch. "It isn't fair. I was UPSET."
He didn't say anything, just sat there with his hand out to me. I went to him, tears already starting. He unbuttoned my jeans and tugged them down to my knees, pulling my shorts down after them with a brisk decisiveness that made me feel about three years old. He turned me across his lap with no more ceremony or concern for how abject it made me feel. Bare bottom up, head down, his arm wrapped around my waist and his right hand rubbed over the small of my back, unmoved by my panicked squirming.
"Whatever kind of day you've had, however upset you are, some things are acceptable and some are not. It's that simple."
His hand descended in a hard, ringing swat across both cheeks that made me jump.
"You do not throw. Whether it's a pencil or the whole desk, it's the same thing, you do not throw. It's dangerous, it's destructive and I expect you to control yourself."
I clutched for something to hold onto and found his ankles. My chest was so tight it was hard to breathe and I was already starting to gulp for air. The Beast didn't lecture any further. His heavy hand slapped down again, left and right, and this time didn't pause for further thoughts. Those deafening, horribly hard smacks kept falling, scalding the same small area and building the blazing smart in inexorable leaps. I jumped and struggled without moving an inch out of his way, hearing my own breath tearing in my throat over each deafening impact.
"I expect more of you than that and you can do it. You are WORTH more than that." The Beast said above me, firmly. And gently. I twisted, trying to get a hand behind me to ward off his, trying to see his face. A hand closed over my wrist, holding it firmly by my side, the arm still pinning me in place, and the steady rain of smacks continued, unhindered. Each one HURT. Hard, relentless and accurate, concentrating on the same, already burning skin. Somewhere along the line I realised I was going nowhere and he wasn't going to stop, no matter what I said. I had absolutely nothing to do but flop forwards over his lap and cry, loud and helpless crying that would have humiliated me had I been able to think. I was shaking with sobs when he slid his arms under mine and picked me up off his lap, pulling me up against his chest. I couldn't do anything. I collapsed against him and let him pick me up, carrying me somewhere. I had no clue where.
It dawned on me we were in the living room when I finally took notice of where we were. I was lying on the sofa, buried in his arms, still bare from waist to knees. When I shifted enough to try covering myself, he leaned over and did it for me, tugging my jeans gently back into place without fastening them. I rubbed my face against his stomach, tired and shattered and aware of virtually nothing but his fingers in my hair, his arm around my back, the solidity and warmth of him against me.
"I'm sorry." I said incoherently. The Beast stroked my hair, pulling me closer.
"I know. Shhhh, it's allright."
"You should have left me in Munich."
"Yes. You're stupid. You're so stupid."
"I'm here, I'm with you, I'm staying with you. It's going to be fine. I promise you, it's going to be allright."  
"What am I going to do?" I said eventually. "What AM I going to do?"
"You're going to stay here with me, and we're going to get through each day at a time." The Beast pulled me closer until my head was on his chest and his chin rested on the top of my head. "It's fine."
"That's bullshit."
His hand swatted gently on the seat of my jeans. "No it isn't."
He'd argue as long as I did and he always won. Not on logic. Just on flatly refusing to give up his point.
He nudged my chin up and kissed me, his forehead against mine.
"We're going to get you upstairs, I'm going to get you a couple of aspirin and you're going to have a nap. You'll feel a lot better tomorrow."
"I won't."
"Yes you will." He kissed me again and put me on my feet, taking my hand. I stood where I was, wishing he'd understand how useless it was.
He never did understand. He stood there radiating not-understanding.
"Graham…." I wailed at him. He pulled me against him and kissed me again, lips and both eyes, removing the last of the tears.
"Come on. Believe me. I'm not going to let anything happen to you."
"You won't have to." I said into his neck. "I can't do anything, I'm too old and too stupid and too unfit. I'm going to throw things and scream and be horrible until you leave me. I always will and you can't change that, you just think you can-"
"Honey." The Beast hugged me, scooping me off my feet for a minute. "I love you just as you are."
I would have accused him of lying.  
But the bearhug didn't leave me with enough breath to argue.
Copyright Rolf and Ranger 2010

1 comment:

Lady in Red said...

Love those last four paragraphs.

Most of the artwork on the blog is by Canadian artist Steve Walker.

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