Friday, February 5, 2010

The Brat and the Bodyguard

Title: The Brat and The Bodyguard
Authors: Rolf and Ranger

"Val, please listen to what I'm saying. I think you-"

"I don't give a damn what you think! That party sounds smashing! It is given by a FRIEND of mine! A FRIEND!! Nothing will happen to me. I'm going, and that's that!"

"I'm sorry, I have to pu-"

"Put your foot down? Is that it? Well, fine, but that foot can be put down OUTSIDE of my room. YOU'RE FIRED!!" Val spat, angry as a wet cat.

Mr. Jonathon Edwards sighed and headed out of Mr. Quentin's room. He'd had enough of that brat today. More than enough. He quietly closed the door behind him and proceeded down the hall.

Val still had a lot of pent up anger. He had wanted a scene and Jonathon had not given him that opportunity. He yanked open the door and screeched at the top of his lungs "AND DON'T COME BACK EVER!!!" slamming the door hard enough as to sound almost as loud as a gunshot in the usually silent and calm hotel.

Jonathon jumped, but the slamming of the door had been no surprise. He'd been Mr. Quentin's personal bodyguard and head of security for about six months. "It's a wonder I haven't gone completely gray" he thought, waiting for the elevator.

Val Quentin was the up and coming newest teen pop sensation. He was currently touring in and around London, serving as the opening act for some of the biggest groups currently on tour. His agent and the rest of the "company" as Val referred to them, had been working feverishly to get Val the star status that was so desired. A record deal had been signed, and now the first tour was set to begin in just a few short weeks, Val the star of the show in his own right.

Jonathon got into his vehicle and lit a cigarette. He knew Val would go to the party. There was no arguing with him, so instead he was just going to follow quietly. Sure enough, 30 minutes later the boy voted *the* hottest bod in rock and roll by one of the leading music magazines slipped behind the wheel of his fire engine red BMW Roadster and screeched out of the hotel parking garage. Jonathon followed along behind him.

Jonathon was rudely awakened at 6 am the next morning by an outraged Mr. Quentin, senior.

"Have you seen the paper? HAVE YOU? He's front page news!!"

Mr. Edwards rubbed the sleep from his eyes, trying to focus on the clock and figure out where he was. "No, sir, I ju-"

"GET THE PAPER YOU IMBECILE, and explain to me why he's there!"

"Yes, sir, just a moment." Jonathon put the phone down, still a little disoriented. He stumbled over to the door, opened it up and picked up the paper. He unrolled it, the picture on the front sending shock waves though his body. There in all it's glory was the BMW Roadster, no longer recognizable as a car, the only thing triggering the fear was the license plate clearly visible on the hunk of twisted metal. Next to that was a picture of Val. He stumbled over to the phone, nearly gagging on the fear.

"Is he alright? HOW IS HE?!?!"

"He's fine. He wasn't in the vehicle, but then how would you know that? You weren't watching, were you? YOU'RE FIRED!" The elder Mr. Quentin slammed the phone down.

Mr. Thomas (Storm) Quentin sat back in his chair. Val had called before he left for the party informing him that he had fired Mr. Edwards that afternoon. Thomas hadn't said anything at the time, intending to talk to Val about the unreasonableness of that decision. He quickly decided he'd just let Val think it was his words that caused the departure of Mr. Edwards, easier to handle Val that way. He quickly dialed another number, one he remembered from years back.

The voice at the other end was deep and quiet. "Yep?"

"Still no idea how to answer a phone McNeil?"

"Sir?" The voice abruptly came to life. "Where are you?"

"London." Quentin got up to stand and look out of the window. "Are you working at present?"

"On and off." Luke said dryly. Quentin paid no attention.

"Turn the job in. I need you in London by six pm tonight."

It said a lot for both men that the answer he received was simply, "Yes sir."


The Quentins were aware from hard experience that their invitations to Val were now the least favoured amongst piles of invitations. Over the last eight months, they'd seen less and less of him. For that reason, Quentin senior didn't ask, or warn his son before he entered the hotel at seven pm.that evening. Val, on the run with a reception to get to, came out of the shower to find his father seated on the bed and a tall, dark man with his arms firmly crossed over his chest, standing at the window with his lips pursed as though he didn't think much of the view before him. Quentin senior took in the look of open irritation on his son's face and rose to his feet.

"Val. This is Luke McNeil."

"Is it?" Val dropped the towel and collected his clothes. "Do you mind if I get dressed? I'm running late."

"I'm amazed you're going anywhere at all after that fiasco last night." Quentin said acidly. Val's eyes rolled skywards.

"I knew you'd find out about that."

"It was splashed over every tabloid, Val! I don't need to be told what you're doing, I just pick up the papers!"

"Then the publicity's working." Val carried his clothes back towards the bathroom. Quentin made himself resume his seat and control his temper. Over the last few months he had found it harder and harder to speak civilly to his son. This immaculately dressed, sunglassed creation of the record company bore very little relation to the lively teenager who had been living at home just a year ago. Val was rapidly becoming a stranger and surrounded by the personnel of the company that owned him, it was becoming harder and
harder to get to him. McNeil met his eyes, face unchanging.

Luke had been assigned to Mr. Quentin's company upon his arrival in the military and looking back at it now, it seemed as if fate had known that Storm was the only one who could even begin to tame the wild man Luke used to be. Luke was in complete shock at seeing his no nonsense, totally in control commander reduced to an abused bystander by his very own son. These thoughts churned in the back of his head, but his face and eyes remained steady and unwavering.

"I can't be here where I seem to be needed the most. He is becoming increasingly impossible to deal with. I need someone I can trust with his life. I'll make whatever arrangements that need to be made for your transfer here."

Luke wasn't sure he wanted to be a babysitter to the world's newest teen idol, but Storm was impossible to refuse.

Val returned from the bathroom dressed in leather pants that seemed to Luke to have been painted on. Mr. Quentin stood up, intent on introducing Val to his new bodyguard and head of security. Val had absolutely no intention of stopping.

"Hi." he said without enthusiasm to his father. "Hi." he added with less interest to McNeil, "And now I'm late. Leave a message at the desk-"

Luke's hand snaked out and caught a slight upper arm. Val jerked to a halt and looked around in surprise. The dark man with his father didn't move or respond. Val had one try at yanking his arm free and sustained only bruises.

"Ow! Who the hell are you! What do you think you're doing?"

"Luke." Quentin said clearly. "Luke McNeil. This man is your bodyguard, he is your security manager, he's signed a contract with me-"

"With YOU-"

"You're not yet twenty one Val. I'm still your legal trustee, your contract with Orion Records is still valid only on my signature."

It was a threat that held very little water- Val's life was full now of sharks who would be only too happy to take over the right of guardian. Which was partly why Quentin was so desperate to leave McNeil here.

"McNeil, he's all yours." he said to his ex subaltern. "I'm holding you personally responsible."

Val stared in shocked outrage at the retreating back of his father. How dare he leave him in the grip of this...this gorilla! He tried again to jerk his arm free, but the iron grip remained solidly in place. So he did the next thing that came to mind. He kicked Luke solidly in the shins. Luke's reply to that outrage was one large hand connecting solidly and soundly with the tightly clad rear of Val.

"OOOOWWWW! You son of a bitch! LET GO! You can't do this to me! LET me GO!" Val was trying with all the strength he could muster to get out of that grip, but Luke didn't budge an inch.

Luke didn't let go, nor did he say a word. He looked impassively at Val, waiting for him to calm down.

Val realized quickly that Luke wasn't going to let go. And the stare he was getting from him was making him distinctly uncomfortable. There was no anger in the eyes, only what could be described as....purpose. He stopped struggling and turned to stare directly into Luke's eyes. "Will you let go of my arm?" Val asked, trying very hard to keep his voice from wavering.

The man didn't move. Val twisted, considering another kick- and then deciding against it.

"Mc- whatever your name is- will you PLEASE let go of my Goddamned arm!"

The man released him. Val rubbed the marks resentfully.

"Now listen you. I don't know who you are or what my father thinks he's doing, but believe me mate you are not going to hang around here and if you ever lay hands on me again I'll call security."

The man gave him a faint and sardonic smile. "Kiddo, I AM security."

"Not once I talk to Max you're not." Val swiped his jacket up off the sofa. "Well Mr Mcwhatever, have a nice evening. Go home. Someone from Orion will contact you and deal with this mistake."

Luke let the young man stride out ahead of him. Then quietly followed him down the hall.

The reception was large, over filled and over rich with alcohol and photographers. Luke melted into the walls of the foyer and watched his young charge circulate with the ease of the very attractive and the very convinced of being very attractive. About twenty years old. Dark, with soft eyes that belied a determined chin and a very ready pout. Long eyelashes. A body that showed hard work- probably at the instigation of the Orion company- but which before muscles were added, had been slight and almost delicate. The boy radiated a charm that lit up group after group of those he spoke to. Obviously he could be very engaging. When he wished to be. Luke watched him for some time, still reflecting on the job description and orders issued from Orion. This young man attracted a lot of media and public attention, he was the biggest crowd raiser in the Orion stable. He was to provide for Val's personal safety at all times, only handing him over to the rest of the security team during the daylight hours of rehearsal times. He was to ensure the security of all functions Val attended. Not a difficult job for an ex paratrooper. Even four years out of Ireland, Luke still automatically made sure of his escape routes when he entered any building. He drifted for nearly two hours, watching the party progress. It was nearly midnight when trouble struck.


Luke heard a loud crash and saw Val alone by a table now totally engulfed in flames. Val was staring in complete shock, his face white and drawn. Flashbulbs were popping at an alarming rate, making it seem as if they were in a dance club. Luke made a lightening quick assessment of the situation, catching a fleeing figure escaping out a side door out of the corner of his eye as he reached Val.

Val remained motionless, his eyes lost in the flames. It felt like a freight train hit him and the breath was knocked from his body. He quickly found himself staring at the floor, wondering how in the world he had gotten in that position. He grabbed for coat tails to steady himself and raised his head up to look. His vision was obscured from the bright flashes of light as the cameras continued clicking. A moment later a door was slammed shut between him and the chaos.

Luke set Val down on his feet.

"Are you alright?" Luke asked, looking Val up and down, making sure he wasn't on fire or injured in any way.

"HOW COULD YOU?!! Mr...McFucking whatever! You do NOT throw me over your shoulder like some bag of...of grain! I told you that Orion would contact you about this...this OUTRAGE! You are NOT employed by me, I will NOT be followed by you, you WILL not touch me again you... you...GORILLA!!!" Val was furious at his supposed mistreatment and stood there shaking with the adrenaline rush.

"McNeil. It's Mr. McNeil. Glad you got that out of your system. Now lets get back to the hotel before the reporters find us here." Luke went to grab Val to steer him towards the exit.

"I SAID don't touch me, or I'll call security!"

"I AM security, now let's go!"

Val stomped his feet in frustration. "NO!" And then he tried to head back the way they had come. One LARGE problem with that. Luke was between him and the door. He found himself again against his will tossed over that strong shoulder and bodily carried out. He screamed in frustration and beat his fists against Luke's back.

Luke completely ignored the punches raining down on his back, and tried to shut his ears from the screeching that Val was making. To have such a wonderful singing voice, the screeching he made was horrendous and irritating as hell. Luke deposited a flailing Val into the front seat of his truck and shut the door. He went around to the driver's side and jumped in.

Val tried in desperation to jump back out of the truck. The door wouldn't open, even after he gave a shot at unlocking it. "LET ME OUT! Let me out of this damned truck! HELP!! I'm being abducted! HELP!"

Luke watched in amused silence as Val tossed one hell of a temper tantrum, getting increasingly frustrated with the door not opening. He choked back a satisfied smile, knowing the child safety locks were exactly the right thing to have engaged. He figured Val would calm down after a few tries at escaping.

Val didn't calm down. Instead he got increasingly upset and began beating on the window with hands AND head.

Luke jumped back out of the truck and opened the door, grabbing a handful of Val's shirt and dragging him out and roughly pushing him against the side of the truck. He got right up in Val's face, forcing their eyes to meet. "You WILL calm down. We ARE going to the hotel, and you WILL sit quietly and not touch anything in my truck. You make ONE sound, touch ONE thing, you will be the sorriest boy on this planet, is ...that ...perfectly ...clear?"

Val looked into eyes that were literally on fire. He was shocked into silence, his hands falling at his sides. No one had ever spoken to him like that before.

"I'm waiting on your answer young man!"

Val blinked back to consciousness and answered in a tiny voice "Yes."

Luke let go of the shirt and backed away. Val climbed back into the truck and let Luke close the door. The drive to the hotel was done in silence. Fire on one side, ice on the other. Resolve on both sides, one to protect, one to rebel. The cast was set.

Luke awoke the next morning at the usual 5:45am, even after having gone to bed at 2. He never needed an alarm. He went first for the paper outside his hotel room door. He took a seat at the table and opened the paper to find that he and Val had made the front cover. "Sexy Stranger Saves Teen Idol" That was not what he wanted to see. The picture showed his back, with Val over the shoulder, looking up in surprise at the cameraman as the picture was being taken. Luke's head was in profile as he searched for the exit. He wondered what temper Val would be in upon awakening and seeing himself on the front page.

Val's immediate response was expressive and articulate. Never an early riser, he woke up to a breakfast tray, his personal assistant and the morning tabloids. Luke, having ascertained his charge was asleep, safe and had no intention of being anywhere else until at least ten am, returned to his adjoining room. He left it in a hurry at three minutes past nine in response to an almighty crash of china next door and a scream that made him jump.

Diana, Val's personal assistant, collided with him in the doorway, her handbag shielding her head. Val, wearing only sheer silk pyjamas, was reducing the hotel room to a bombsite. Furniture was being overturned, anything within reach was being thrown, Val was producing sounds that resembled pigs being castrated and the breakfast tray was leaking coffee and orange juice into the bed. Luke held onto the door frame, mildly staggered. The five foot seven whirlwind didn't so much as notice him. Luke moved to let Diana flee, shut the door behind her and caught Val by one sheer silked wrist. Val immediately turned the force of his tantrum on him, without even seeing who was there. Luke grabbed for and held his second flailing wrist, struggled for a minute, then swept Val over his shoulder and carried him through the connecting doors into his own room. Val, dumped without ceremony on the bed, stopped screaming in sheer surprise. The pyjamas were designer wear and would make most men look either ridiculous or illegal. They made Val look like a small boy, sitting bare foot and tousle haired on the quilt, his eyes round with shock.

"What on earth," Luke said quietly and sharply, "Was all that about?" Val swallowed and summoned up his breath for another scream. "Have you SEEN-"

"Yes." Luke said shortly, cutting him off. "Forget it. It'll be around someone's cod and chips tomorrow."

"FORGET!?!" Val went to stand up, ready to fight more but was brought up short by the sternest voice he had yet to hear.

"SIT DOWN!"

Val fell back on the bed and looked up in complete shock. The face he looked into was one of barely controlled fury.

"Don't move, and don't make a sound." Luke turned on his heel and went to find the day's itinerary.

Val sat on the bed only as he was still in complete shock at the....monster that he had just been attacked by.

Luke found the itinerary and perused the day's events. One talk show at 3:00, and a request by Val to attend another late night party at a downtown bar. Luke had already decided Val wasn't going to the party that night as the security issues were too dangerous. It was not the formal parties that Val was used to attending, instead being an all night music fest put on by a few friends of Val's and anyone was able to buy tickets to attend. He had yet to tell Mr. Quentin of his decision, knowing it was going to be a tantrum inducing argument and he had only known Val now for less than 24 hours!

Luke made his first executive decision. He had not planned on rocking the boat this soon, but Storm had entrusted him with his son's safety and security, and extended the duties to include guardian. It was time he and Val had a talk, and he knew it wasn't going to be pleasant. It was going to start with a proper introduction and end with Mr. Quentin apologizing to Diane and cleaning up the godawful mess in the other room. In between that he was going to make sure Val knew that he was the final authority on ALL things considered, and that the party this evening was NOT an option.

He called Diane and told her to cancel the talk show for today, that Val wasn't feeling well enough to attend. Then he went in to confront his charge. He found Val where he left him. He grabbed a chair from the desk and sat down.

"Right. First things first, kiddo-"

"Don't you call me-"

"I said I didn't want to hear a word from you!" Luke thundered, making Val jump. "Sit there, keep your mouth closed and listen! I cancelled the talk show with Diane, you're going to be busy today-"

"Wh-" Val caught Luke's eye and changed his mind, fuming. He had a few things he intended to say to Max and to his father as soon as he escaped this gorilla.

"Secondly, there is no way you are going near that fiasco tonight. It's a security nightmare."

That broke past any sense of self preservation Val had. He was on his feet and outraged.

"You can't make decisions like that!"

"Watch me." Luke said dryly. Val's voice rose several notches.

"I'll go where ever I fucking well choose and there is nothing you can do about it!"

Luke was again shocked at the behavior of this young man. He was completely out of control! Luke stood up, towering over the youngster. He said in what he thought was a voice brooking no argument "SIT DOWN AND SHUT UP!!!"

"FUCK YOU!" Val replied at the top of his lungs, intent on running past Luke and leaving the room, finding Max and getting rid of this man.

Luke was almost as surprised as Val was when he found himself seated on the bed, Val across his knees. It seemed like the most natural thing in the world.

Val was furiously kicking and flopping around, trying everything he could think of to get out of this compromised situation he found himself in, screaming and cursing at the top of his lungs the entire time. Luke had him anchored too tightly. Then, wonder of all wonders, the gorilla actually started spanking him! The first few spanks completely shut Val up as he was in complete shock at this treatment. Then with renewed determination borne from complete indignation at this treatment, he began screaming again.

If Luke heard him, and he gave no sign of having done so, he was completely unimpressed. His hand fell like a machine again and again across the seat of Val's sheer pyjama bottoms with a force that quickly altered the pitch and tone of Val's howls.

Luke was aware of no small sense of satisfaction as he heard the kid start to wail, the shrieks of temper rapidly being replaced by something a lot more plaintive. He was venting no little of his own exasperation in the steady and hard smacks he rained down on Val's tightly curved little butt. However he made himself stop after twenty or thirty such smacks and jerked Val to his feet. The boy was outraged.

"You HIT me!"

"I didn't hit you, I spanked you. BIG difference. Trust me kiddo, if I hit you, you'd be picking yourself up off the floor. Now, can we get on with our conversation?"

"You son of -"

"I wouldn't say that if you know what's good for you. Calm down, sit down, and listen." Luke spoke slowly and clearly.

Val looked at Luke's face and saw that same no nonsense look. He decided that he couldn't beat the gorilla so he would just pretend to do as he was asked until the opportunity arose to run out. He plopped back down on the bed, forgetting about the pain of his freshly spanked bottom. He winced but stayed put.

"This relationship has started out on the wrong foot. We've been thrown together with hardly the proper introduction. I'm Luke McNeil and I'm pleased to meet you." Luke held out his hand towards Val.

Val just continued looking at the floor not interested in the least with what Mr. Gorilla had to say.

Luke didn't appreciate the continued cold shoulder but went ahead and moved on. This wasn't the time to be picky. "Fine, don't shake my hand." He sat back down in the chair. "I'm your new security manager and bodyguard. Your father hired me to help protect you from your fans, the maniacs and anyone else that may purposely or accidentally hurt you. I take my job very seriously, and will do whatever I must to ensure your safety AT ALL TIMES."

Val snorted. "I need security to protect me from you."

Luke continued on as if Val hadn't said anything. "We don't have to like each other, though that would make the job easier. But we DO have to work together. I will treat you with respect, and I expect to be treated with the same respect."

"Yeah, respect this." Val said under his breath.

Luke's tone sharpened. "And if you don't moderate your language a bit, kiddo, you are going to regret it. I don't like being spoken to in that way."

"So?" Val taunted, still fairly quietly. Luke resisted the urge to break the kid's neck. How on earth Storm Quentin had ever allowed a kid this age and size to turn into such a monster was beyond his comprehension.

The only way NOT to let this turn into an even uglier situation was to just leave for a few minutes.

"Think about what I said. We ARE working together. And your attitude WILL change. I'm going outside for a few minutes. You will either sit there until you can speak civilly to me, or begin picking up your room. You are NOT leaving until it is done." Luke had gotten up and grabbed his cell phone and closed the door on the last word.

Val exploded as the door shut, ripping the phone off the bedside table and chucking it at the door. He waited a moment to see if Luke opened the door again, but it remained closed. He then decided to immediately call his father, this man was NOT going to treat him this way. He dialed the phone in the other bedroom, but the line was busy. It took ten minutes before the line was free.

"Father, you have got to fire that ape of a bodyguard. Things just aren't going to work. He HIT me, dad, he hit me."

Mr. Quentin wanted to hear his son's side of the story. "Val, what happened? Where...why did he hit you?"

Val decided a few minutes of embarrassment would be better than having to live with the ape 24 hours a day. "He.....he spanked me, like I was five years old. He didn't like what I said, and he spanked me. Dad, he's an employee for god's sake, and he hit me! What more do you need to know? You have GOT to get rid of him! He's holding me hostage too! Are you going to fire him, or should I?"

He was becoming increasingly upset.

"Val, he is not about to be fired."

"WHAT?!?! He hits me and you won't fire him?!?"

"Son, I trusted him with my life years ago, and I'd do the same now. And I trust him with YOUR life. He is there to stay, and knowing him the way I do, I'd advise you to follow his instructions. I think that spanking was way overdue, and I'd have no problems whatsoever should he feel the need to do it again. Listen to him. Trust him. Obey him. And you'd better learn to love him, as he is there to stay." With that, Mr. Quentin hung up the phone. Val stared at the phone in disbelief, moving beyond outrage now. Who did
these people think they were? How OLD did he look for crying out loud? Furious, Val ripped the wardrobe open and rapidly sorted out clothes. He dressed while he surveyed the window and the balcony. Val Quentin this year was a rapidly rising teen media star. Val Quentin of two years ago was an unquenchable climber with experience, a lot of energy and a good proportion of simple disinterest in risk. He opened the window softly, hooked one trainered foot over the balcony rail and leaned to slide the window shut
again before he began the climb down to the ground. For an agile boy it was no problem. Balcony led to balcony down and down the side of the hotel until he reached a simple eight foot drop to the pavement. Val landed on his feet, brushed his hands off and gave the doorman a bow in response to the look of shock. Then he fastened his jacket and headed for the nearest taxi rank. If the gorilla thought he was going to gaff this particular show, he had another think coming.



Luke was pacing the hotel hallway, working off his energy in movement. He hadn't heard anything in the room since the phone slammed against the door. He was wondering whether Val was still sitting on the bed or if he had actually gotten up to clean anything. Finally, he had had enough pacing and decided to see where his charge was. He opened the door and walked in. He picked up the phone and set it on the table. It was rather quiet in the room. Too quiet. He walked into Val's room and the first thing he noticed was the pyjamas tossed in a heap on the floor and the wardrobe standing open, clothes across the bed. He ran over to the window finding it closed but unlocked. He opened it and leaned out, looking at the incredible drop of four floors to the pavement below. There was no flattened Val on the pavement. He looked down the street and saw his charge getting into a taxi.

What he said was neither legal nor anatomically possible.

The party was noisy, boozy and full of press. Val squeezed through the first room of people and deafening music and began to wish he'd thought of somewhere better to go. From the minute he was spotted, cameras began to flash- which usually he had no problem with- but endless flashes in his face, being shoved and jostled and grabbed, Val began to feel claustrophobic and distinctly nervous. Somewhere at the back of the second reception room he found a familiar face, a friend rather than an acquaintance.

"Michael! Thank God there's someone here I actually know-"

"Val!" Michael waved a glass at him expansively. "Come in! Sit down!"

There was nowhere to sit but the invitation was kindly meant. Val huddled against the wall beside him.

"Who invited all the reporters?"

"What reporters?" Michael had another drink. From the slurr in his voice, it was by no means his first. Val muttered under his breath and had another look around. This time his eye was caught by a face less familiar than infamous.

"Oh God, Mike-"

"What?"

Val nudged him sharply in the direction of the slightly weasel faced man watching the youngsters around him with a sardonic smile.

"Ian Price."

"Who?"

"Don't you read the damn papers? I did an interview with him a month back, he nearly crucified me! He's a BASTARD Mike! Free lance.."

Mike looked blankly at Price. Price gave him a little wave and smile. Val grabbed Mike and searched through his pockets.

"Do you have a car here?"

"Yes- the BMW-"

"Then lets get out of here. Please Mike, just drop me somewhere-"

"Okay okay. Take it easy. Nobody died."

"Yet." Val pushed Mike ahead of him towards the back door.

Mr. Price saw Val leaving with Mike and decided to follow him. The kid  struck him as a story waiting to happen, and the party wasn't a happening place without him.

"Here, give me the keys."

"No, Val, I'm driving. That's my car, ain't nobody driving but me."

"Mike, don't you think you've ha-"

"Too much to drink? Me? Nah, no way! I ca-"

"Come on then, let's GO!" Val said, hopping into the passenger seat. He had seen that damned reporter follow them out the door. He was ready to be on the road, away from him. He surely didn't need his face splashed on the front page again and upset his father.

Mike turned the engine over and roared out of the parking lot, spraying gravel in a five foot arc.



Luke was pacing on the street outside the house, watching drunk and staggering teenagers being arrested. None of them were Val. Having already searched the house, Luke was well aware Val was not present. It was possible he'd decided on some safe and sane venture. Like visiting a library. It was also possible that the next Pope would be a penguin. The ringing of his cell phone only exacerbated his temper.

"YES?"

"Mr Luke McNeil?"

"Speaking."

"This is the metropolitan police HQ. I'm ringing to verify the name and address of a Mr Daniel Valentine Quentin, son of Colonel Quentin, 577 New Bath road, Kensington?"

"That's correct, where is he?"

The answer made him head at a dead run for his car. The road he was headed for was barely two miles away. Luke was waiting impatiently at traffic lights when the phone rang again. This voice was young and scared and completely unfamiliar.

"McNeil?"

Luke tucked the phone into the crook of his shoulder and pulled away from the lights.

"Yeah it's me kiddo, calm down. Are you hurt?"

"There's police everywhere and some sod of a reporter who won't leave me alone and Michael's still in the car-" Val's voice was on the point of breaking. Luke interrupted the flow before he reached open panic.

"I'm two minutes away, stay with the police, don't talk to anyone. Who is it?"

"Price."

"Him I can deal with. Stay out of his sight and don't give him any ammunition, I won't be long."


The sight of the car made him wince. A young man was being cut out of the wreckage by fire crew. Blue lights flashed in the darkness, a ring of emergency vehicles around  a crumpled sportscar. Luke skirted the crews and hunted rapidly through the maze of police cars.

He found Val sitting in the back seat of one of the police cars, his feet on the ground, his head in his hands.

Val didn't look up at the sound of approaching footsteps.

Luke dropped down on one knee, eye level with Val. "Val, are you allright?"

Val looked up at the sound of a familiar voice, even if it was the voice of the gorilla. What he saw startled him a little. The gorilla actually had a look of true concern on his face. "Yes, I'm....I'm fine. But....but Michael, how is he?"

"They're taking good care of him."

"Get the doors opened, COMING THROUGH!" The ambulance worker yelled, as they quickly wheeled Michael by on the gurney.

Val just about knocked Luke to the ground scrambling out of the backseat of the car to check on his friend. He ran over to the gurney, yelling at them to stop for a minute. Val looked down at at his friend, the friend as white as the sheet he was lying on, bright red blood in bright contrast to the whiteness of the sheet. But he was awake.

"So sorry man. So sorry." Michael said quietly.

"It's okay, you'll be okay. Just work on getting better. I'll see you soon." Val said as they quickly set Michael into the ambulance and raced out of the parking lot.

Luke had walked up to Val and touched him on the shoulder. It was a friendly touch, a kindly one, and Val responded without thinking, buried his head into the strong arms that surrounded him, sobbing into the comfort of the warm hug.

There was nothing of the kid. Luke held him and felt fragile bones, a body slight and small against his, taut with shock and tension. He gripped the boy automatically, finding his face against startlingly soft, dark hair.

"Are you sure you're not hurt? Talk to me kid. Where were you when he crashed?"

"Passenger side. I got out through the window." Val drew away and folded his arms tight, trembling. "Oh God- McNeil, please lets get out of here-"

"What?" Luke followed his glance and saw Ian Price, standing watching themwith a dry smile. Luke put a hand on Val's back and gave him a gentle push towards the truck.

"Get in, put the heating on and wait for me. I'll deal with him."

"No one deals with him." Val said tightly. "I've read the articles-"

"Leave him to me." Luke repeated. "Truck."

Val glanced up at him, frowning, not at all used to taking orders. Particularly not ones handed down in that tone without a please or encouragement. Luke Looked at him. Something about the grey eyes made Val turn and head for the truck, not taking any more time than necessary to prove to McNeil that he was not in the least cowed.

He watched through the rear view mirror. McNeil wandered across to Price, laid no hand on him, spoke quietly with his face relaxed. After a few minutes, Price rapidly left the scene. Luke moved across to speak with one of the police. To Val's amazement, a minute later he saw Price's battered Fiesta drive away. Luke re entered the truck, turned the ignition over and slammed the fan on full.

"I told you to put the heating on."

"What did you say to him!"

"I asked if Michael was allright. They said he was drunk with a few broken ribs and a snapped wrist."

"I meant Price!"

"That's my business. And my job. Put a seatbelt on, Quentin."

"Are we leaving?"

"Yes, as soon as you get that belt on."

"But how did you get all that sorted out so fast? Are the police coming to speak with me later?"

"Quentin. Enough with the questions. Seat belt. Now."

"Bu-"

"NOW."

Val looked at Luke, saw the resolve in the face and slowly buckled up. He sunk back down against the door, unsure of himself and his feelings. The heat was helping him to feel better, but he couldn't admit that to Luke. Slowly he stopped shivering and within a few minutes was sound asleep.

Luke looked over at Val, the small face covered by several strands of wispy hair. Every few seconds the streetlights illuminated Val's face making Luke think he was looking at an angel. The soft lips gently parted, the long eyelashes almost throwing shadows on his cheeks, the face unworried by anger or fear. It was amazing the monster that this gorgeous kid could turn into when things didn't go his way. Luke knew that the kid didn't do things to hurt people for his own amusement. He was just overwhelmed most days with the responsibility of his star status, trying to be a grown up adult playing grown up games, while still trying to retain his rambunctious youth. Luke was going to have to find a way that Quentin could enjoy his career, his life, without the intense stress that was being forcefed to him from the record company. To do that though, required at least some cooperation from Val, and they had done nothing but butt heads since the first moment of meeting. Now how to establish a balance of power, do his job, and allow Quentin the room to grow that was needed.



The hotel was miles away and Val was deeply asleep by the time Luke put the truck into the underground parking bay. Val stirred and co operated with being manhandled to his feet, moving sleepily if safely beside Luke through the foyer of the hotel. Once out of sight, Luke hooked an arm around Val, stooped and picked him off his feet, carrying him into the lift and nudging the door shut with his elbow. It said a lot for the mixed effects of shock and fright that Val barely noticed the transition or woke up. Luke put him down in the middle of the huge and overstyled bed, eased his boots off and pulled the quilt over him. Val's slight shape left room for a family of six to share the divan. Luke drifted for a while, making coffee, thinking, until he was too tired to think any more. He stood for a long time, looking down at Val, not altogether happy about leaving him. The crash had not been an easy one, there was no saying whether the kid had any knocks he wasn't yet aware of. Eventually Luke lay down on the far side of the bed, still fully dressed, and lay for some time further, listening to Val's deep and steady breathing a bare two feet away.

Luke had just dozed off when he was awakened by sounds of Val in distress. He quickly scooted over to Val, who seemed to be in the midst of a terrible nightmare, the sheets soaked in sweat, his small body tossing and turning and crying out. Luke wrapped his arms around Val and pulled him into a sitting position, hugging him close. Val slowly awakened from his nightmare finding himself in a very comforting hug.

Luke continued holding Val, paying close attention to the breathing,  knowing when Val had awakened, as well as when he fell back to sleep. He pulled the small body to the other side of the bed, tucking him back in tight, brushing the hair out of his eyes. He figured Val was now down for the count, so he retired to his own bed, lost in thought.

The slam of a door woke him with a little more suddenness than he quite liked. The alarmclock on his bedside table stood at seven am. Still dressed, Luke made it to the connecting doors. Last night's fragile, vulnerable boy had vanished. The brat was back with a vengeance. The room was in exactly the same mayhem it had been in when left yesterday and Val was slamming items into a suitcase, making no attempt to be discreet about his temper or the delicacy of the hour. Luke incepted him by the simple means of closing the case and sitting on it.

"Allright STOP that racket!"

Val glowered at him. "YOU can get out of my way!"

"I thought we had all this out last night."

"You're not under contract to me, MAX had no say in-"

"You've got a short memory, haven't you?"

Val had one try at pushing Luke off the suitcase. "Why don't you go and fuck yourself, McNeil?"

Luke took a deep breath and wondered just how many mornings he was going to have to spend re fighting the same ground. He took Val's wrist firmly, pulled him across to the corner and turned him to face the wall.

"And while I do that, why don't you stand there and cool down? Then maybe we can talk about this like rational people."

Val spun on him, outraged. "If you think-"

Luke spun him right back around and swatted him, hard enough to wither every curse and retort on Val's tongue. "You'll stand right there until I say otherwise. Got me?"

"You are insane!" Val wailed at him, bewildered but not quite confident enough to try walking away. "You can't carry on like this!"

"Watch me. Now BE QUIET!"

Val kicked hard at the wall.

"Do ANYTHING but stand facing that wall quietly, and I'll blister that butt of yours. Don't test me." With that, Luke walked back into his side of the hotel suite.

Val stood there, steam practically rising from his ears, but he knew enough about Luke so far that he meant what he said.

Luke picked the paper up from outside the hotel room door and scanned the headlines. The wreck was on the front of the local section, but not one mention of Val being a passenger in the car. Luke breathed a sigh of relief, folded the paper and dropped it on the table as the phone rang.

"McNeil."

"Learning to answer the phone I see." Said Storm Quentin laughing a little.

"I'm catching on."

"Val doing alright this morning?"

"He's recovered his normal sense of humor. No obvious signs of injury, and no serious complaints yet."

"Put him on, will you?"

Luke took the phone into Val's bedroom and handed the phone to him. "Your father." He also dropped the front page of the city section of the paper on the bed and then left Val alone.

"Hello" Val said sullenly.

"Hey son. How are you feeling this morning?"

"Fine....why?"

"Mr. McNeil called me last night to tell me what had happen-"

"He did WHAT?" Val interrupted, ticked off that his father knew everything.

"He called to tell me you're alright. Do you have any idea how lucky you were that you weren't injured?"

"It was just a little accident, no big deal."

"No big deal? I saw the picture in the paper! Ho-"

"It's in the paper?!?" Val spotted the paper on the bed and quickly grabbed it, trying to find his name shredded for headlines. He scanned it, finding no mention of himself at all.

"It doesn't mention me." Val said in complete amazement.

"You owe a HUGE debt of gratitude to Mr. McNeil. He saved your name from the headlines. He is exactly what you need, and will be staying employed. I suggest you learn to like him. I'll call you later." With that, Mr Quentin hung up the phone.

Val clicked the button, ending the call. He stood there staring at the paper, lost in thought. Luke HAD fixed things last night. He'd been prompt. Efficient. More than reassuring. Val flushed a little, thinking of the solid chest he'd buried himself in last night. The man who'd brought him out of this with far less damage than Val had really believed was possible. He drifted to the door of the adjoining rooms. Luke was filling a suitcase with his clothes, neatly folded, military precision. Val's stomach lurched in spite of himself.

"Lu- McNeil? Are you going somewhere?"

"Yes."

"Bu-"

"Next door. You're having this room until we move on, on the grounds that it doesn't have access to a balcony." Luke shut the case and snapped the locks. "So I suggest you get your room straightened up before you move in here."

Outrage and relief struggled for possession of Val's voice. "You can't just-"

"You have a real problem putting two and two together, don't you?" Luke put the case on the floor and looked at his charge, hands on his hips. "Are you going to straighten that room out?"

"The mai-"

"The maids clean the room. But they don't pick up after spoiled brats who throw temper tantrums. You will be straightening up that room before you leave to go anywhere today, is that clear?"

"Fuck you McNeil!" Val said, outraged again.

Luke grabbed Val by the arm and marched him over to the corner yet again. "Language like that is unacceptable. You had better get that through your head unless you like quiet corners."

"Lu-"

"Uh uh uh. No talking. Face to the corner, not a word to be said."

Val huffed in frustration, but kept his mouth shut. After about five minutes of indignation, he calmed down and again thought about the night before. Luke had done everything right. No police bothered him, no press raped him. And waking up from the nightmare in the warm comfort of the hug. He'd had nightmares off and on for the past six months, and no one had been there for him like Luke had. Luke might have his uses, maybe he'd stick it out. Now if he could just get him trained....

It took him two minutes to work out a plan of attack. Then five minutes of pointedly looking at his watching, huffing and sighing, none of which gained any attention from McNeil at all. He would have liked to have just walked out of that damned corner. Except he didn't quite dare. And if it really kept the gorilla happy for him to stand in the occasional corner, then he could live with humouring the man. So long as he didn't keep it up for this sort of eternity each time. Val was reaching screaming point when Luke said
behind him,

"Feel any more like picking that mess up now?"

Val turned around and gave Luke a careful demonstration of the look that a few years ago had always worked on his father when he was being difficult. The big eyes, the little boy voice, the frank honesty that melted the crustiest heart.

"I'll do it Luke, I promise. I won't cause any more trouble."

"Great." Luke said bluntly. "Sort it out."

Val found himself headed towards the mess, annoyed and confused. He wanted to go back to Luke and explain that the proper answer was "Fine Val, you learned your lesson, we'll forget all about it and call house keeping."

"All of it." Luke remarked from the doorway. He was propping up the door frame, big arms folded across his chest. "And when you're done, I'd like a little chat with you in here."

Val looked at Luke, totally dumbstruck by the finality with which Luke finished that sentence. He really had thought Luke was going to say it was all a big joke, that he knew Val had learned his lesson. One look at Luke's implaccable face, and he knew it wasn't going to happen. All sorts of things flew to the tip of his tongue, but he bit down hard, certain that he didn't want to be staring at the corner again. He muttered a little and began to pick up the mess in the room.

Luke watched with a small sense of satisfaction as Val started on the cleaning job. He could tell the struggle that was going on behind Val's closed mouth. He could imagine the lovely things that were being said. As long as they stayed behind those lovely lips, all would be okay. Val kept shooting him a look to kill, followed by one that would melt the heart. So much confusion in that small body, it was amazing to Luke how he even functioned. He was beginning to look forward to the challenge of helping Val to quiet that confusion. Be a child when the time was right, be responsible for ALL things said and done, and also, be the responsible adult his star status demanded on the business side.

It took Val a full thirty minutes to get the room in order. Several times he sat down on the bed, intent on stopping, putting his foot down. He was the money maker in this organization. The gorilla of a bodyguard was employed BY him, at least his organization of which there would be none if not FOR him. But then his eyes would drift over to the corner. Deep in his heart, he knew he needed to pick up the room. He just hadn't had anyone hold him responsible for his actions for a while, and it was a new and... not entirely pleasant... reality. But he felt he owed Luke a little respect for the trouble he helped to avoid. He was finished, and headed towards Luke's room to find out what the discussion was about.


Luke was standing at the window, looking out over the street below with his arms folded across his chest. It seemed to be a favourite position, legs braced a little apart, chin down, a vaguely stern face with a hard jaw but softer eyes which were staring unseeingly at the cars and the people four floors down.

"McNeil?" Val said tentatively. The grey eyes snapped up to him.

"Luke." McNeil said bluntly. "Sit down."

Val hesitated, then took a seat on the end of the bed, taking a deep breath.

"I know what you're going to say and-"

"You don't and you talk too much." Luke interrupted quietly. "You sit there, keep your mouth closed and listen. What do you think my job is?"

"To protect me." Val said, frowning. Luke nodded, slowly.

"How?"

"Edwards carried a gun."

"My job is to assess every situation you walk into and decide what we're going to do and how we're going to do it, in order that you don't end up in any danger. Sometimes that's going to mean I ask you to handle things in a certain way. And when I do, I don't expect any whining about it. I'll discuss it with you, but I need you to understand now, my word is going to be final. And if I say something isn't safe, it means I'm telling you to stay right away from it. Good defense is about planning and sound tactics. Not crisis management. I'll pull you out of crisis if I have to, but that's the way that you'll get hurt. If not by the crisis, then by me afterwards."

Val started to puff up in indignation. Luke saw that. "Quiet, I said."

Val bit down hard on any retort. This gorilla was still in a mood.

"I'm serious Val. It's your life I'm protecting, and I'll give that job 110% at all times. You can rely on me for ANYTHING, but you will be following my orders, or face the consequences. There is no distinction between business and personal lives here. If you want to attend a party given by the record company and I say no, you won't be going. If you want to go rock climbing in the middle of nowhere, having nothing to do with music or the company, and I say no, you won't be going."

Val wanted to scream, but one look into that steely gray gaze, and the retort died upon his lips. So the gorilla thought he was the man. Val would let him think that then. Just so long as he didn't interfere in what Val wanted to do. He'd find a way to get his way, he always did.

"Which leaves us," McNeil went on quietly, "With the fact that I told you NOT to go to that party. And when I make the decisions I'm paid for, I do NOT expect to have to deal with the kind of display you put on. You don't know me very well, Val, so I'll explain to you this time- I promise you, if you ever pull off another Houdini escape from me in order to get your own way, or if I see the sort of tantrum you threw this morning, you are going to be very sorry when we next meet. I don't put up with that kind of behaviour from anyone under any circumstances, and in your case, if you behave like some bratty kid I will handle you as such."

Val glowered at the floor. If this maniac thought he was going to knock him into co operating with every whim and order, getting his way by brute force- his head jerked up as Luke finished his sentence.

"-so come here and lets get it over with."

"WHAT?"

Luke drew a deep breath. "What part of that didn't you understand? I'm not going to argue points with you Val, you know what you did wrong."

"You wouldn't listen to me!"

"Its hard to hear when you're throwing furniture about." Luke said wryly. "Do you want me to make it simpler? You don't throw tantrums. You listen to what I say. You do as I say. Stick to those basic guidelines and we'll get along. You broke all three of those rules today and you're going to take the consequences."

Val jumped up "Like HELL I WI-"

Before Val knew what hit him, he found himself face down over Luke's knees, his pants roughly pushed off, baring his bottom. How did he move that fast? He began struggling and yelling. "You can NOT do this to me!!!"
   
Luke began swatting the white bottom, quickly turning it a rosy pink. He spanked until Val had quit yelling. He rested his hand on the hot flesh.

"Let's add one more rule today. No swearing. That language is disrespectful and I won't stand for it, ever, period. And I'll not put up with tantrums when you are getting punished. If you don't like this position, then follow the rules. Break them, and this is where you will find yourself EVERY time. Argue with me, and I won't stop. My job is to protect you, so if you're here, then I don't need to go anywhere. And trust me kiddo, I can stand this a lot longer than you can." With that Luke began spanking again.
   
It hurt. Val was staggered by how much it hurt. Within seconds he was struggling and yelling for very different reasons. He had been prepared to go along with the gorilla up to a certain point but this was appalling- ridiculous- Val found himself sobbing and still Luke's hand fell again and again on his squirming backside, without mercy, without understanding. Almost as suddenly as it had started, Luke jerked him to his feet and Val clutched at his fallen jeans. Luke pointed at the wall.

Val swallowed miserably. He had been right all along about Luke: this was a madman, a brute who was beyond comprehension. If his father had any idea of what this man was-

"Stop it."

Val jumped at the hand on his neck. Luke rubbed his shoulders, tone unsoftened but not as harsh or as grim as Val had first thought it.

"You deserved that and we're not done yet, I'm not going to put up with dramas from you. Stop working yourself into hysterics and think for a minute."

Val picked up his jeans and refastened them, before walking over to the corner. He placed his hot forehead against the coolness of the wall, and stood there wondering when it was going to end. He was absolutely miserable. His bottom was on fire and his face hot with tears and shame. As he stood there, he thought about the last two days. Luke had been forced on him just yesterday. His father had made the decision that Luke was the right man for the job. And his father had not made any mistakes that Val knew of. He had the highest respect for the man. And when he compared Luke to the man before him, there WAS no comparison. The guy before protected him, but there were no feelings there. It was more like employee and employer. But with Luke, he sensed something different. There was something deeper there, but he couldn't yet put a finger on it.

And Luke was....gorgeous. There, he admitted it to himself. He found Luke attractive. He had been absolutely horrible to the man, and yet Luke still saved him from the reporters. Luke still wanted to work with him. Val didn't like the conflict that still seemed to be between the two of them and was ready to put it behind him. Maybe after all this was over, he could work with the gorilla, get started on wrapping him around his pinkie, bowing to HIS whims. At least he could hope. He was ready when Luke called to him.

"Val?"

Val turned, inclined to be very careful, but not as scared. Luke was sitting on the edge of the bed, still watching him.

"Suppose we try again?"

There was no mistaking his meaning. Val swallowed carefully.

"Why did you get rid of Price for me?"

"Because I've spent a career making sure the wrong people don't get hurt." Luke said bluntly. He patted his knees. "Come on kid, before Christmas."

Val found himself walking towards that lap. Luke's hand caught his arm and pulled him once more down over the muscular knees. Val's eyes stung as once more Luke stripped him of jeans and shorts.

"Remember what I'm annoyed about?"

"Climbing out the window." Val said almost under his breath. "Going to that party."

"That's a good start." Luke approved.

"And?..."

"Luuuuke....OW!"

Luke swatted twice, hard.

"Okay, okay. I shouldn't have thrown the tantrum yesterday. I shouldn't have thrown one today. I need to not swear. I need to listen to you. I will, I promise. Please, no more?" Val ended the quick few sentences with a plaintitive cry of no more.

"Yes, more. And what are you going to do when we're finished here?"

Val was quiet while he thought that one over, before coming up blank. "I don't know."

"You will offer Diane your sincerest apologies for behaving like such a bore yesterday."

"Oh, that. OW! Okay! OKAY! I'll apologize!"

"Are we clear on everything?"

"Yes, clear, perfectly clear. Luke? Please....."

"Sorry kiddo, but you earned it." With that Luke began swatting Val's still rosy bottom, quickly raising the temperature to blazing proportions.

If Val had any lingering doubts about Luke McNeil being completely serious about his convictions, he lost them within the next two minutes. This man MEANT no swearing and every other thing on the long and complicated list he'd described, he meant it in ways which were entirely new to Val. When that hard hand finally stopped spanking, Val was thoroughly convinced if not to attempt to keep a check on himself when Luke was in earshot, at least totake Luke's points of view very seriously. Luke set him gently on his feet, tearstained and still sobbing, but without that look of bewildered outrage he'd seen so often over the last twenty four hours. The look he got was not one of resignation or acceptance, nor of liking, but of a certain, grudging respect and moreover, of some interest. Hardly surprising, Luke reflected. He was coming up with ideas and values that were completely novel to Val.

"I suppose," Val said between the snatched breaths of the crying he was trying to do defiantly rather than pathetically, "You want me to stand back in that stupid corner again?"

Luke fought down a smile. The brat was unquenchable. And there was something about that tone that held a certain appeal. The kid was not unengaging when he forgot to try to be.

"No. I want you to move your things in here to a room without a balcony, and then I want you to wash your face. And I'd pull your jeans up, that's not a good look for a superstar."

He just about heard Val's savage mutter as the younger man stalked away from him.

"Gorilla…."

Copyright Rolf and Ranger 2010

6 comments:

Anonymous said...

LOVE IT!!!!!

Sierra said...

This was SO GOOD!

missfae said...

I've read this story several times and it's still my favorite. hugs.

Anonymous said...

It is amazing what you can do with a little love and plenty of firmness. I agree with Luke putting him over his knee, if he had been my son I would have put the cane on his bottom, many years earlier.
An excellent story, loved it.

holldogger said...

Great story! Very endearing!
- Holly

Melissa Williams said...

Just found ur story And love it. Fabulous job with it. Cant wait to read more.
melissa

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

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