Monday, February 15, 2010

Blood on the Mountain Part 4

Title: Blood on the Mountain
Author: Ranger
This section owes many thanks to Rolf- the Voice of the Balls. And you have to be British to get that joke ;)


Adam was dressed in running clothes, standing at the fridge and drinking directly from the box of orange juice when Stuart went into the kitchen. He had neither the energy nor the will to fight what was a banned habit, other than to take a glass out of the cupboard and hold it out. Adam accepted the glass, put it down and put the box of juice back in the fridge.
"I'm sorry, I didn't mean to wake you."
"You didn't, I was awake anyway."
Worrying about how the hell to broach the subject of yesterday. Adam pulled his jacket on and zipped it up.
"I won't be long, I'm only going to the park and back."
"You're not Adam. We need to sit down and talk about what happened yesterday."
Adam paused in the doorway to give him a look of faintly amused patience that made Stuart's stomach tighten with exasperation.
"Chill? It's not the end of the world? I'll be an hour at the most-"
" DON 'T take that tone with me!" Stuart snapped. Adam's tone promptly matched his, the amusement dropping from his face.
"Why NOT! It's the one you use with me all the time!"
"NO! If you want me to sit through another of your boring, platitudinous lectures, I need some fresh air first!" Adam wrenched the front door open. When Stuart didn't move, he only said, "I'll see you later. Dearest." And let the door slam behind him.
Damn, Stuart thought, staring at the ceiling. Damn damn damn damn damn.
Mac: Hi
D592: hello, what are you doing up so early on a weekend?
Mac: Resisting the urge to kill my partner. I spoke to you a few days ago?
D592: Yes, it's me. You're the one in the new relationship?
Mac: The one rapidly giving up on the whole idea.
D592: Why? What's happening now?
Mac: this isn't going to work. I don't know why I ever thought it might
D592: Wait a minute, calm down..... Want to talk about it?
Mac: I'm just not sure either of us know enough to be trying to do this anyway.
D592: Let's start at the beginning? How did you two decide that discipline was needed?
Mac: It was his idea. From the start. I was anyway- older than him, naturally - pushier than him I suppose. I know we found more and more I was shouting at him about things- stupid, careless things. Eventually he told me about this discipline idea and started giving me things to read.
D592: So it's safe to say that your partner was more interested to begin with than you, right?
Mac: I didn't have a clue. Adam did.  
D592: So you read what he gave you. Did you then sit down and draw up a ....."contract".... on what was appropriate/inappropriate behavior, and the consequences?
Mac: Not really. We talked about it for weeks, morning noon and night, and I agreed I thought it probably would help him. And it was support he wanted from me and wasn't getting so we talked about it some more and agreed we'd try.
D592: But it was clear what you'd call him on, right?
Mac: what do you mean?
D592: That Adam knows BEFORE THE FACT , that what he wants to do or has done, will earn him punishment.
Mac: we talked about a few things we both had a problem with and a few I had a problem with - we agreed I had the final decision and I could say no if I felt it was necessary. Like he works all hours and forgets about everything else.
D592: So has he balked at the actual discipline? One particular instance?
Mac: No, not really. He's incredibly good really - much better since we started this. Its little things- like every time I try and talk to him about anything he sort of slides away and neither of us end up agreeing on anything.
D592: You mean any sort of sticky situation. One in which you may or ARE putting your foot down, and Adam doesn't want to hear that, right?
Mac: Like at the moment he isn't fit to work. If we try and talk about it, we end up talking about something else. Or he gets upset and slips off to do something else. And if I do try and pin him down he looks so panicky I back off and that isn't right either.
D592: I've got a question for you. Are you comfortable in the disciplinarian role?
Mac: I don't know. I thought so. I'm actually far less authoritative with him than I was before we started this.
D592: If you are less authoritative now, then that is a BIG part of the problem. Look....Adam looked to you for support, and as part of that, wants discipline. In the BIG picture of course, he'll more often than not change his mind in the midst of punishment, I do all the time! .... If you are backing off, or simply NOT asserting your authority, Adam will use that to his advantage. He wants/needs the discipline, but when you are right AT that point when the discipline is actually administered, he'll be WANTING you to back off. To make it work, that is when you need to exert the authority. I speak from experience here. I need the discipline, I KNOW it's made me a better person. But don't ask me if I want it, when I know I've earned some sort of punishment. Then, I'd practically do ANYTHING to get out of it! That's the crux of the whole situation, the reason WHY discipline works. You need to sit him down and work out with him just which of you is the Top!
Mac: I don't know how to go about it- especially when I can't pin down what it is he's actually doing that is making me feel things are going wrong!
D592: You are in the midst of the emotional rollercoaster. Adam will be flying on that, and you keep riding WITH him. In order for things to work, or to be clearer to you, you need to step back with a critical eye. Get OFF the ride. Adam, at that point, can't view you as a friend....exactly, you know? He's looking to you for discipline, and while that can be loving, it's got to be administered with a firm, unemotional hand.
Mac: But if he isn't actually doing anything WRONG? I'm sounding like such a wimp, I know, but I can't pin down what's happening!
D592: What IS happening?
Mac: Its such minor, minor things. Like I sit him down and try to talk to him about not working until he's fit. Somehow we never end up talking about what I wanted to talk about- or he gets quiet and unhappy and slips away and I know we haven't resolved anything.
D592: Not working until he's fit? If I may ask, what's wrong?
Mac: He has epilepsy. I didn't know until a few weeks back. The seizures aren't well controlled at the moment and he isn't fit for much. And miserable. And very frustrated.
D592: No WONDER you're having such a tough time! He's got a lot to deal with internally, as well as with you. He's got to be emotional. Now is the time you need to tough. Not unkind, but tough. He's probably thinking he should work, and that he can work. If you feel it's not the case, you CAN make it easy for him. Sit him down. Be firm. TELL him he isn't working, and why. He will not like it, at least at first. He may very well blow up at you. But if you're firm, it will be MUCH easier for him. You'll take away the worries he has of thinking he should be/could be at work. All he'll need to worry about is whether or not you say yes. You'll worry about that FOR him. You see?
Mac: Ok, I tried that yesterday. He lost his temper and went to work. He had a fit. He's been suspended from work. I tried talking to him yesterday. He looked so distraught I gave up. The whole idea of this is that we'd talk more and be closer- I'm starting to think it's causing far more problems than it solves!
D592: You didn't DO anything when he lost his temper?
Mac: I tried to calm him down.
D592: So he did to your satisfaction, then went behind your back to work?
Mac: we ended up as usual having agreed nothing and with him having distracted me out of the whole conversation
Mac: which is my fault, not his.
D592: Think of it this way. A scale. White on one end, black on the other, all shades of grey between. He's stuck in the middle. He needs the grey cleared up. You need to be firm, even if at first he's mad at you, he'll thank you later. If he isn't fit for work, tell him flat out no. Cut through ANY bull he gives you. If he behaves inappropriately during the discussion, then punish him. You have GOT to make him listen. Tell him NO, and then back that up with punishment if he disobeys. You say no, he should be in the white area of the scale, with one line in the middle to cross. He's either going to listen to you and stay in the white, or NOT, and go directly to black. He then needs to be punished, or the line disappears, and he's back in the grey. Does that make ANY sense at all?
Mac: it makes sense. But at the moment when he's so miserable, and the drugs I think affect his moods- I can't blame him for that.
D592: No, you can't blame him for his moods. And I can understand WHY he's miserable, and that you want to comfort him. You want to make the pain go away. To do that, you need to take charge. Yes, it will very likely be ugly at first. Spanking isn't a pretty thing, nor is taking away privileges or any other form of punishment, but in the end, both of you will be much happier for it happening. You'll free Adam from worries he needn't be suffering. He'll feel protected within your discipline, know that he's got a strong shoulder to lean on for support, and someone to help him find his way.
Mac: Like I said, we're talking less and trusting each other less now than we did before. I KNOW this isn't how either of us thought this would be, or wanted it to be.
D592: He's pushing his boundaries, bouncing around. Grab him from the stratosphere, set him on a line of straight and narrow. When he realizes that he must stay on that line, his emotions will settle as well. Once that happens, and not a moment before, THEN you can decide to end the discipline if you find it isn't what either of you wanted.
Mac: that makes sense. I feel like I could do with a couple of weeks training on this! I want to do it and I want to get it right- I go into each struggle- that's not the right word by the way- full of strong intentions, and it all falls apart when we're face to face.
D592: I don't know exactly how it really feels on your side of it. But my partner makes it known, in no uncertain terms, that whatever I have done is unacceptable. It doesn't matter that I throw him the puppy eyes, crocodile tears or an earful of abuse. He doesn't allow me to "fight" that way. It's always "you've done so and so wrong, and you ARE going to be punished, so cut the dramatics." At the time, he's all business. But I know WHY he's punishing me. He loves me. I know that always. And I also know, if he wasn't firm when he needed to be, the discipline would be a joke.
Mac: That's it exactly. Some of the time I get the feeling this is a game Adam knows far more about playing than I do.
D592: You have to handle it all the same. You have to be in charge, even if you're not one hundred percent sure you're in the right. If he senses a weakness, he'll exploit it....if he's anything like me. And once that happens, you've lost the war.
Mac: And sometimes I don't think he needs this kind of supervision. And then he'll do something and I see a totally different person who needs it desperately. I feel like I'm chasing him at the moment and I can't keep up
D592: You need to establish a framework. Get him within that framework. You'll find out soon enough if he can live there. If not, you expand the framework, but you NEVER let him out of it. The only out is terminating the discipline relationship completely.
Mac: establish HOW? We talk and talk and talk, and get nowhere!
D592: You don't talk! You know Adam, right?
Mac: yes
Mac: I hope so!
D592: You know the big things that are the trouble spots, right?  
Mac: I thought I did but I'm changing my mind. I think the biggest problem we have is that he's one step ahead of me the whole way
Mac: beyond that are specific things we need to work on
D592: Then YOU set up the framework. Tell Adam how it's going to be. Tell him why. You love him, and you are going to make it simple for him. This is what you will/will not do. We'll live with this a while. If we find we can't cope after so long, we'll change it, but NOT before. Black and white.
Mac: that sounds manageable
D592: As I said, you probably have one huge hill to go over, where he might balk at the new gameplan. After that, it should be smooth sailing.
Mac: I need a crash course in this. Or a couple of armed guards
D592: LOL! I doubt you'll need firepower. I'll be around here if you ....... *$^&&^^....I am usually around here, but since I wasn't supposed to be on here now, I think I'll be absent for a while. My partner just caught me. Later... Good luck.
With a wry smile, Stuart shut the computer down, wondering if D592 was currently shouting at and walking out on his partner.
Forcing himself to get up, he showered, dressed and tidied up the flat, half dreading the sound of Adam's key in the lock. Adam had never been easy to manage. He was a volatile person with intense emotions and a bad habit of withdrawing when things went wrong, but Stuart, thinking back, was sure they'd got along better before they got involved with this discipline idea. Part of him was thinking very quietly at the back of his head that if Adam was really serious about wanting someone to monitor and supervise what he did, he'd co operate with it. Another part of his mind was thinking about D592. It sounded easy in theory- don't take no for an answer, it's black or white. Except that trapped look of Adam's said it all last night. Stuart couldn't bear the thought of Adam being afraid of him, or of being confronted by him. And this was causing a greater and greater void between them, just at the time Adam most needed security and support.
Stuart turned over the options in his mind, more than half inclined to forget the whole thing, let Adam come home and try coaxing him into a better mood so they at least salvaged something of a pleasant day together.
And what are you teaching him to do if you do that? He thought more rationally, going to answer the doorbell. All he has to do is shout and slam a door and you'll be there to coax until he stops throwing his weight about. That's a lousy habit in ANY relationship.
The postman was looking apologetic outside the door.
"Mr. Rhys?"
"No, he lives here." Stuart accepted a package which came in two pieces, the paper wet and torn. The postman cleared his throat.
"I'm er- sorry, it was already torn when I got it this morning, and I'm afraid I dropped the whole pile in a puddle just now-"
"It's okay, looks like nothing's damaged." Stuart said soothingly, startled at how confident and reassuring his voice instantly sounded. He could see the man responding as he spoke, losing the anxiety.
"It's that wet outside, I lost a whole handful into the water. I hope nothing's broken there."
"No, it's fine. I'll see Mr. Rhys gets it. Thanks."
Stuart returned the smile the man gave him and shut the door, shaking his head.
Don't look so cheerful, mate. I'm only the wimp who can't handle his own partner.
The parcel was unsalvageable. Stuart crumpled the wet paper and laid the contents out on the table for Adam. Two CDs. He turned them over, wondering when Adam had started ordering by post. They didn't look like Adam's taste anyway. Then a line from the letter beside the CDs caught his eyes.
"…. 28 days, action may be taken to recover this debt….."
He picked up the letter, unfolded it and scanned through it. What he read seemed to collect all the weariness and despair in every inch of him and ignite it until when he put it down his blood was boiling. Adam's key in the lock made him straighten up, raising his voice sharply.
"WHAT?" Adam appeared in the doorway, looking mutinous. Apparently he wasn't the only one who had had time to organise a better argument. Stuart was in no mood to notice or care. He picked up the CDs and rapped them sharply on the table.
"HOW long has this been going on?"
"What the hell are you doing opening my mail!" Adam demanded furiously. Stuart's roar cut him off in mid rant.
" DON 'T you use that language to me! How long?"
Adam backed a step, eyes a little wider.
"Not long-"
"Then why have you got a final demand for-" Stuart twisted the letter. "Eighty quid? And threats about debt collection?"
"It's just a mistake, I didn't get around to canceling the order-"
"Have you any idea how EASY it is to get on a credit blacklist Adam? And how HARD it is to get off again?"
"I'm never going to need that kind of credit-"
That was about the last straw. Stuart slammed his hand down on the table, making Adam jump.
Adam dropped down on the end of the sofa. Stuart folded his arms, furious.
"I will NOT have you get yourself into debt, NOR will I have your name on lists as being untrustworthy and unreliable - it ought to be a matter of pride with you, never mind practicality, that you're completely honest where money is concerned!"
"I AM!" Adam said, stung. Stuart's voice once more rose, drowning him out.
"You are NOT! You've owed these people for goods they handed to you in good faith, deliberately withholding payment."
"I just forgot!"
"You chose not to do anything about it, Adam. Making a choice by default is STILL making a choice and you made the wrong one! I am NOT having this, and you'd better get it absolutely straight in your mind. I don't EVER expect you to receive another letter like this one."
"Fine!" Looking sullen and upset, Adam got to his feet, "Whatever."
Stuart grabbed his arm and pushed him back down on the sofa.
"I haven't finished, young man. Not by a long shot, so you'd better put that sulk on hold and keep it for your own time. I won't be putting up with it."
"What's the matter with you!" Adam demanded, trying to shake him off. " ONE mistake and you go mad-"
"How long have you been keeping these CDs and letters from me?" Stuart said grimly, not letting go. Adam gradually realised he was not going to escape Stuart's grasp and stopped trying.
"Not long-"
"HOW long?" Stuart picked up the letter. "At what- eight quid each? Two CDs at a time?"
"Four months." Adam mumbled. Stuart shook his head.
"Four months you've been covering this up."
"I haven't covered anything up! This isn't anything to do with you!"
"Oh it is, Adam." Stuart folded the letter and pocketed it, movements clipped with annoyance. "I will be answering that letter, it'll be accompanied by a cheque from you, and from here on I'm going to be supervising the bills you pay. I am not going to allow you to end up in court."
"You're blowing this way out of proportion-" Adam stared at him, too shaken to argue effectively. Stuart shook his head.
"This is all of a piece, Adam. I am tired of you conning me that everything is fine and hiding from me everything that isn't. If you seriously can't trust me, we have a problem we need to do something about. But either way, I am not going to be lied to and manipulated, no matter what your reasons."
"I am NOT manipulative!" Adam said hotly. He was white-faced, with the trapped look Stuart recognised. And which annoyed him still more.
"No? You are VERY good at playing me, Adam Rhys. And it's going to stop. So you can take that little boy look off your face, you are not going to push me into backing down. You can make your eyes as big as cartwheels, I am not going to let this go any further! You are right, your behaviour DOES need structuring, but its going to get done by MY rules and not when you're in the mood for an emotional scene."
"That isn't fair!" Adam protested. He was starting to look actively scared, he hadn't moved an inch from his seat on the sofa. Stuart fixed him with a glare and saw his eyes drop after a few faltering seconds.
"Not fair? What exactly have you been doing with me the last few weeks? You lie to me whenever you feel like it-"
"I don't, I just don't want to tell you things you'd worry about or-"
"That's lying, Adam. You don't hide things from me, you don't censor things, you don't manipulate me into seeing things your way for your reasons. You've told me lies whenever its been convenient these last few weeks, you've acted lies, you've listened when I've tried to talk to you and then gone off and done exactly what you wanted, and then thrown a strop when I've tried to call you on it. Sulking and stropping discreetly isn't any different to shouting in my face. In fact it's worse because it's deceitful. You don't want to face the consequences of letting me see what you're doing, so you still do it- just hide it from me. You know how that makes me feel? Like you don't trust me. Like you're laughing at me behind my back."
"I'm NOT!"
"At this moment, Adam, how can you expect me to believe what you say? You've proved for days, you only tell me what you want me to hear."
Adam's eyes flicked up to his for a second then went down again. He was very pale and his lip twitched a little. Stuart lowered his voice, speaking more quietly, more slowly.
"I am not going to put up with this any more. Now we've got a few options here. We could make a list of rules, exactly what you can and can't do. But I know you and I know how many loopholes you could find around that, and point of this exercise is not to give you practice in creative loopholing. So we'll have one rule, and one rule only. My word is final or else. You don't lie. You do not manipulate me or anyone else. You pay bills on time. And you do not strop and sulk- quietly or otherwise- when faced with information you don't happen to feel like hearing. Is that clear?"
Silence. Stuart raised his voice.
"IS that clear?"
"Yes," Adam muttered, quietly but promptly.
"Good," Stuart said bluntly. "Now before I discovered this bill, and backtracking through that strop of yours this morning, NEITHER of which I am happy about, we were about to discuss your going to work yesterday, after I told you that you were not to go."
Adam's eyes dropped again. "I said I was sorry."
"Sorry for what exactly?" Stuart inquired. Adam didn't answer. Stuart shook his head
"It's not a magic word, Adam. It has a context and a meaning."
"I'm sorry I lost my temper and went in," Adam said, not very steadily. He was seriously floundering now, but Stuart found himself not as bogged down in sympathy as he'd expected, still annoyed enough to think clearly.
"In other words, you did go in because you wanted to and because you were angry I'd said no."
"I said I was sorry!"
Stuart lifted his voice once more to pull Adam's down. "And I need to make it a lot clearer to you that I mean it when I say no. You were NOT fit to be at work, you were lucky you weren't doing something far more dangerous when you had that seizure. I will tell you when you are ready to go back to work and I don't expect to hear anything else on the subject. Is that clear?"
"No!" Adam said bitterly. Stuart shook his head, taking a seat on the sofa.
"That's a shame, Adam. Let me make it a little clearer to you."
Adam pulled sharply away before Stuart could take his arm, and froze as Stuart rapped out, more curtly than Adam had ever heard him,
"Adam, come here. NOW ."
There was enough in that tone to make it very clear to Adam he was out of options and rapidly being backed into a corner he really didn't want to be in. He swallowed and searched rapidly for an avenue out, sure that there had to be one.
"I'm sorry, you can't expect me to be good at this after three weeks-"
"I don't. That's fine, you'll get the idea in time." Stuart leaned over to snag his wrist and drew him close.
"Stu…" Adam twisted, panicky and beyond any idea of subtlety, "I'm sorry, I won't do it again. I promise."
"Good."  Stuart pulled Adam down over his lap and pinned him there as Adam struggled, no longer managing to keep any kind of evenness in his voice.
"I said I wouldn't! It's not fair, Stu, I didn't KNOW-"
"Rubbish," Stuart said calmly. "Are you seriously telling me you thought we could be in a discipline relationship where lying was fine? And where it would be okay if you did precisely what you wanted when you wanted?"
Adam didn't answer. Stuart changed his grip and pushed his jacket and t shirt up his back, using his arm over Adam's waist to hold it out of the way. Adam twisted again, voice still more uncertain.
"No! But you didn't SAY-"
"Believe me, sunshine, I'll make my opinions a lot clearer from here on." Stuart promised. Adam flinched as Stuart drew his shorts down. Stuart hesitated for a second, well aware his lover was frightened at this moment. Adam was surprisingly easily scared, easily upset underneath several layers of armour. But the only way he was going to stop being scared was to realise no matter how many times they went through this routine, he was safe and they were going to come out the other side, unscathed. And Stuart was starting to realise how often they were going to need to go through it. This wasn't going to be a once or twice time occurrence.
"I am NOT happy about being lied to or manipulated," he said firmly, wanting Adam's mind on the realities of the situation and not on his own emotions.
"And I'm LESS happy about you going behind my back to get your own way after you've been clearly told no. Do you understand me?"
"Yes.." Adam sounded about two octaves above where his voice was usually pitched. Stuart realised with a shock he was very close to tears. Then found his instincts to stop and comfort were currently not as determined as the ones to deal with this situation properly. He lifted his hand and slapped sharply down, with far more confidence than the last time he'd spanked Adam. The sound of impact was louder and Adam's slight jump was of shock, accompanied by a yelp. Stuart wrapped an arm tighter around his waist and concentrated on the task at hand. He was still concentrating when Adam began to squirm in earnest, making one serious attempt to turn around, and then to reach back to ward off Stuart's hand. Stuart moved his left arm, captured the stray wrist and held on to it, carrying on undistracted. The steady smacks had reddened Adam's naturally white skin from hip to hip and down to the top of his thighs, and Stuart felt his struggling start to die away a little as his cries and protests turned to be deep, serious crying. Stuart took no notice for a minute, completing another sound circuit over both cheeks and ignoring the heat and stinging of his own palm. He felt Adam give up his search for a way to deal with this or somehow lessen the effects. He stopped moving, the tension suddenly went out of him and his weight seemed to increase over Stuart's legs. Stuart let his wrist go, put a hand on the small of his back and administered two or three last, sharp swats, leaving the bare skin hot and very red.
Straightening a little, he put his own hot palm flat on the scarlet cheeks and looked down at Adam's bent head.
Adam was crying harder and with a disregard for dignity that he probably hadn't had since he was a child. Stuart ran a hand down his back to tousle his hair gently, then gripped his shoulder and lifted Adam upright. Adam twisted straight around into his open arms and clung, turning his face into Stuart's neck. Stuart pulled him closer, shifting his weight until he had Adam in his lap, and closed his lips, concentrating on holding him, stroking his angular shoulders, his soft hair, rocking him while he sobbed.

It took a long time before Adam calmed down to sniffling and choking rather than sobbing. Stuart leaned back on the sofa and held him, not at all detached but absorbed by some sense of quiet and stability. There was no need to say anything yet, no need to do anything but for them to touch and hold, and for his calm to be absorbed by Adam's chaos. Eventually when Adam was more or less quiet Stuart gently nudged his head up and kissed his wet eyes, left and right.
"Go and change."
Adam moved instantly, if not willingly. Stuart could still hear his breath hitching in the bedroom as he found clean clothes. He glanced at his watch and made lunch, thinking of what he knew about epilepsy- that meals were important and needed to be regular. Adam reappeared in sweatpants and sweater, red-eyed and miserable, came straight across the kitchen and slipped under his nearest arm, wrapped both his arms around Stuart's waist and held on. Stuart kissed his hair and went on heating soup.
Continue on to Part 5 of Blood on the Mountain
Copyright Ranger 2010

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