Monday, February 15, 2010

Crimson Blossoms

Title: Crimson Blossoms
Authors: Rolf and Gayspankee
Couple: New OCs, Ben and Freddie (imagine Affleck and Prinze, Jr.)
Warnings: Just spanking, hand and paddle

We would both like to thank Hedeia for her tremdously quick turn around and for fixing our multitude of grammar mistakes. It's a hard job, and she does it beautifully. :{)


"Matthew, you are here to work, not socialize," Marc said, startling Matthew as he snuck up behind him.

"I'm not...but I was...I'm....Stop lurking around!" Matthew stammered, flustered.

"I'm not lurking, I told you I would meet you here after work."

"I thought it would take you longer on your broomstick," Matthew said, laughing.

"I'll broomstick you across your backside. Now less chatter and more work," Marc replied, giving a look that showed he meant business.

Matthew immediately ceased his off-topic discussions and buried his nose in the book. Marc sat down across from Matthew, next to Ben.

"Astounding. How did you do that?" Ben asked quietly, looking at the studious Matthew.

"Do what?"

"Get Matthew to stop yammering? I've told Freddie a half dozen times he was here to study, but he ignored that."

"Matthew and I have...an understanding."

"An understanding?"

"You know, an arrangement."

"Arrangement?"

"Yes, it's called discipline," Marc replied quietly, looking at Matthew, not wishing to cross any confidentiality lines.

"Discipline? What, do you spank him when he doesn't cooperate?" Ben asked, astounded.

Matthew had turned and was talking to Freddie again when he heard the word "spank". He looked across the table at Marc, then Ben, then back to Marc.

Marc didn't want to respond. He stood up, pointing to a vacant table in the corner of the library. "Get your books and yourself over there, please."

Matthew knew Marc wasn't going to talk about him behind his back. He rolled his eyes for Freddie's benefit and picked up his bag and book. "Yes, don't be such a distraction next time, Freddie."

He walked off to the designated table, sliding into the chair in dramatic fashion.

Marc turned back to the table. "Sorry, but he's got an Economics test, his hardest subject. We'll talk with you later." Marc turned and headed over to join Matthew.

Ben watched Marc's progress, pondering what was said. He watched as Matthew straightened up and started working hard on his studying with Marc's full attention. He turned back towards Freddie, lost deep in thought.

****

No matter how hard he tried, Ben was unable to shake the earlier conversation with Marc. He craved more information. He had to know more, and he had to know now. Ben grabbed the phone book and looked up Marc's number. He wasn't sure if Marc would discuss it, but he had to try. Ben decided to call Marc at home.

"Hello?"

"Hi, is Marc there?"

"Speaking."

"Hey, it's Ben."

"Oh, hey, what's up?"

"Not busy, are you?"

"No. Why?"

"Never mind, I probably shouldn't have called."

"Wait. What's up? You obviously called for something."

"Right. I've been, well, thinking about what you said earlier. About your arrangement. I was just in awe over how Matthew straightened up when you came. And I was wondering how you get results like that."

"Ben, it really isn't something that should be discussed."

"Freddie and I have been friends for almost twenty years. We only get closer as the years go by. He's my best friend. But we are solar opposites when it comes to our studies. He's coming closer and closer to the point of no return, and I don't know how else to get him to snap out of it. I have tried reasoning with him. I have tried scare tactics. I don't know, maybe it's not my place. After all, I'm only his roommate."

Marc was silent for a moment, taking in all that Ben had said, continuing to debate with himself how much information to divulge.

"Are you still there?"

"Yes, sorry, I was just thinking. Let me ask you something, what do you hope to accomplish? College life isn't for everyone."

"Freddie has the potential. He is a very intelligent young man. He just needs to apply himself. And I want to help him do that, but how do you make someone apply himself?"

"With discipline. You set goals and deadlines. You set reasonable expectations. When they aren't met, you use discipline."

"What do you mean by discipline? Like spank him?"

"Spank him. Ground him. Send him to bed early. Do whatever fits the situation. But you have to be committed to it. It's the hardest thing you will ever do, disciplining your best friend."

Ben had a better understanding now, but he was still confused about the whole idea.

"Thank you for listening and offering some insight."

"You're welcome. I hope I was able to help."

"You were. Thanks again, I'll see you tomorrow."

"Later."

*****

"This book sucks, the professor sucks, ALGEBRA fucking sucks!" Freddie screamed as he slammed his book shut and stood up.

"What's the problem?" Ben asked from across the table, midway completed with his management homework.

"I THINK I just told you. I'm going out," Freddie spat as the door slammed behind him.

Ben sighed, put his homework down and went around the table to open Freddie's book. He found the homework lesson Freddie had been working on and looked at his work. He found an error early on in the problem and rewrote the rest, which worked as it should. He thought about going after Freddie, but decided he'd still be too frustrated to work, so he settled back down in his chair to finish his homework.

Freddie had left their two-bedroom apartment to head towards the
fountain just across the street on campus. He found it soothing to
sit and watch the water. After about twenty minutes, he headed back
to the apartment, slightly ashamed at having screamed and left the
way he did.

"Hey," he said as he closed the door behind him.

"Hi. Was it the fountain or the creek?" Ben asked.

Freddie looked up in surprise. "The fountain. Why?"

"It's one of those two places you visit when you're frustrated," Ben replied.

"Ah." Freddie slid back into his chair. "Sorry for storming out. It's just....this stuff is SO hard. I just CAN'T get it."

"I looked after you left," Ben said, getting up and moving around the table to Freddie's side.

"You did what?!" Freddie asked indignantly.

"Calm down. I just wanted to see what the problem was. You made a simple mistake, but you had the rest of the problem right."

"It doesn't matter whether I screwed up something hard or something easy, you DON'T get credit for the wrong answer!"

"My point is, you understood the problem."

Freddie pushed his chair back and stood up. "THE ANSWER WAS WRONG," he said, stomping towards his room. "I'm going to bed." The door slammed behind him, echoing loudly.

Two days later Ben came home, expecting to find Freddie already there. He found Freddie's book bag tossed on the ground, books spilling from the opening. He sighed and bent down to pick it up. He noticed what looked like schoolwork that might have landed in the trashcan. He pulled out a test and looked at it. There was the score, 59/100. He shook his head sadly, flipping through the test. On the back page was a note from the teacher, asking to meet with Freddie as he was in danger of failing the class. He put the test in his own backpack, and picked up Freddie's.

Two hours later Freddie came home slightly tipsy. "'ello Benny," he mumbled as he sank into a kitchen chair.

"Were you out drinking?" Ben asked stonily.

"Yeah, what's it to you?" Freddie replied.

"You worried me, that's what's wrong," Ben said.

"Sorry," Freddie replied.

Ben shook his head. "I've ordered pizza, it should be here in a few minutes." He let the part about Freddie not being of age to drink drop, as he didn't want another fight on his hands.

"Great."

"So how was Algebra class today?"

"I don't want to talk about school, and I certainly don't want to talk about Algebra."

"I think we need to though. I saw the test, Freddie. What did your professor say?"

"What, are you going through my stuff now?"

"No. Your book bag was open when you tossed it on the floor, things went everywhere. So what did he say?"

"Nothing. He gave me some packet to complete for extra credit. But I can't do it. I'm just going to count my losses and drop this course."

"Freddie, you CAN do it, if you apply yourself."

"No Ben, I am not YOU."

"And you're not stupid either. If you applied yourself, you could get through this course."

"Apply this!" Freddie said, grabbing his crotch.

"Freddie, that is enough! You CAN accomplish this, and anything else you set your mind to. You just need..." Ben stopped, still uncertain on the entire issue.

"What do I need, Ben? Tell me what I fucking need."

"DISCIPLINE!"

Freddie's eyes widened, as that response took him completely by surprise. Just as Ben was ready to elaborate, the doorbell rang. Ben grabbed the money from the table and paid for the pizza. The two young men helped themselves to a couple of pieces each, grabbed sodas, and settled in the living room. Ben sat in the chair, while Freddie perched in the middle of the couch. They began eating in silence, neither knowing where to start. Finally Freddie broke the silence.

"What did you mean by that, Ben?" Freddie asked calmly.

"Just what it sounds like. You have the ability to accomplish anything you desire. But sometimes you just need a push, of one kind or another."

"But what do you mean by 'discipline'? You surely don't mean spanking," he said in disbelief.

"Why not?"

"You're kidding, right? Spankings are for kids, and I most definitely am not a kid."

"Spanking can be for ANYONE who needs it. I seem to recall that was something your father believed in strongly. And look how far you got under his guidance."

"You are not my father. And that was years ago," Freddie said shortly.

"Freddie, as your best friend, I refuse to stand by and watch you simply give up. You need this course to graduate. Why delay it?"

"Because the professor doesn't know what the fuck he's doing!" Freddie spat.

"Freddie, first off, we can do without that language. And second, he must be doing something right to still have a job. Do you ever ask questions, or ask for some extra help?"

"I should NOT have to ask for extra help!" Freddie bristled.

"There is no shame in asking -- "

"No! It's a lost cause, I don't care, and I'm finished discussing it!" Freddie said as he stood up.

"SIT DOWN." Ben said, in a voice Freddie had never heard before. He dropped back down on the couch, his mouth open in surprise.

"We're getting close to the end of the semester," Ben continued. "Your father would be VERY less than pleased that you spent all this time -- and money -- for nothing. He is a small part of the equation; YOU are the big part. You don't want to spend an extra semester, or summer, making up this course when there is only a month left? Do you?"

"No, of COURSE I don't!" Freddie said. "But -- "

"But nothing," Ben interrupted. "You have the ability to do this. You have the time to do this. You have the support you need to do this. You have some extra work to do, but if you do that, and do it well, you can nail this class and be DONE with it. For GOOD."

Freddie sat, staring silently at the floor. He DID want to finish the class. He didn't want to waste the two thirds of a semester he had already spent doing nothing.

Ben watched Freddie, knowing he wanted to continue, but not HOW to continue. "I can't stand by watching you beat yourself up, over and over, for stuff that I KNOW you can do! I think if we sat down and came up with some rules, a schedule, goals, whatever, and put in place consequences for not meeting those goals.....you'd feel....and do....a lot better," Ben finished quietly.

Freddie kept staring at the floor.

"It'll be something that we can try, say, until the end of the semester. It's NOT permanent, and can be changed, but we've both got to give it the effort for the month. You can't back out on me when the going gets rough, and I won't back out either." Ben got up and sat down on the couch next to Freddie. "Will you let me help you?"

Freddie looked up at his best friend. "We'll work on it together?" he asked timidly.

"Together, forever," Ben said, smiling. He stuck out his hand. "Do we have a deal?"

Freddie took a long look at the hand, before holding out his own and shaking on it. He looked back up at Ben. "Deal."

Ben half smiled, and sat back with his pizza. The two continued to eat in silence. Both were wondering what they had just agreed to. Soon the pizza was gone, and the kitchen was almost cleaned up. Ben handed the last dish to Freddie to dry.

"Freddie, I want you to go sit down at the table and start working on that extra credit."

"What? Tonight? Now? I'll wait and do it over the weekend," Freddie said, putting the dish away.

"No, you will do it now. Get it done and handed in tomorrow," Ben said, wiping down the counter.

"NO! It'll be handed in on Monday."

Ben tossed the rag into the sink and dried his hand on the towel. He firmly took hold of Freddie's arm, and walked him into the dining room. Ben sat him down at the table, and retrieved his book bag, laying everything out in front of him.

"You WILL do this tonight."

Freddie rebelled by clearing the table with one smooth, flowing motion of his arm.

"I SAID I will do it THIS WEEKEND!"

Ben lifted Freddie to his feet and sat down in his seat. Before Freddie realized what happened, he was over Ben's knees. Ben landed a quick half dozen smacks to Freddie's bottom.

"I didn't want to start out like this, but I will," Ben said.

Freddie struggled, still in shock. "You didn't just DO that!"

"I did, and I WILL continue unless you agree to sit down and get started on that extra credit."

"What is wrong with waiting until the weekend?"

Ben brought his hand down another half dozen times, hard.

Freddie struggled but couldn't move himself out of the line of fire.

"ARE you going to sit down and do the extra credit now?" Ben asked, pausing again.

Freddie's eyes were smarting and he was having trouble breathing. "Fine, I'll do the work now!" he said, trying to get up.

"Just a minute, stop struggling," Ben said, and waited until Freddie gave up. "This is what I mean by discipline, and this is what is going to happen when you don't do as I ask, when I ask, without backtalk and grumbling. It is in your best interest to do as I say, because I won't put up with anything less, is that clear?"

Freddie SO wanted to tell Ben to stuff it, but didn't dare, at least not in the position he was currently in. He gave in. "Okay, okay."

In a maddeningly simple and clear tone Ben replied "Okay, what?"

"I'll do the damned homework!" Freddie spat.

"Thank you. And next time you yell, especially with that language, I'll wash out your mouth," Ben said as he let Freddie up.

Freddie stared daggers at Ben, but the look that was returned quelled any further arguments. He huffed loudly and picked up his books, sitting back down at the table.

Ben walked out, dreading the long night ahead. He had a history paper he needed to write and wanted to go to the library, but declined in an effort to help Freddie master his algebra. Ben went to his room and closed the door behind him. He needed to talk to someone. And there was only one person that he knew of. Ben picked up the phone and dialed.

"Hello?"

"Marc? It's Ben, I did it."

"Did what?"

"Disciplined Freddie."

"Why? How?"

"It was school related. He had an extra credit paper, and would have preferred to put it off until the weekend. And before I knew what I was doing, I had him over my knees."

"I'm impressed. Wasn't sure you had it in you."

"To tell you the truth, neither was I."

"Did you do it bare?"

"What?"

"Did you spank him bare bottomed?"

"Oh. No, just over his pants. I think he was more stunned than anything else."

"I'm sure it was an attention-getter. But you know, next time it will have to be bigger."

"What do you mean?"

"You are going to have to make a bolder statement each time you spank him. At least each time you threaten to spank him. You are going to have to find an implement, something that will instill fear in him, and make the threat of a spanking enough."

"Like what?"

"Do you have a paddle?"

"Uhm...no. Wait, I do have a wooden cutting board, you know, the kind shaped like a paddle?"

"That would work."

"Really?"

"I think so. Sorry, I don't mean to cut you off, but 'Friends' is starting."

"Oh, yes. We know how you are about that show. Thanks for everything, Marc."

"You're welcome. Good night."

Ben hung up the phone and went back into the kitchen, grabbing his homework along the way. Freddie looked studious, which pleased Ben.

Fifteen minutes later, Freddie lost his temper. "I GIVE UP!" he yelled, slamming his book shut and standing up quickly, startling Ben.

Ben quickly recovered. "Hey, hey. What's the problem?" he asked.

"I HATE ALGEBRA!" Freddie shouted, storming out.

Ben followed, stopping the rebound of Freddie's door. He deepened his voice. "Freddie, you aren't giving up this easily."

"I am, and I did!" Freddie said, flopping on his bed.

Using the voice that Freddie would learn meant he was treading on dangerous ground, Ben said, "I want you to go back out to the table right now."

Freddie didn't yet know he was in a bad place, but he would quickly.

"No," he said simply.

Ben turned and went to the kitchen, not thinking twice about the paddle now that Freddie was showing the bad attitude.

He rummaged roughly through the kitchen, fishing out the paddle from the bottom of the cupboard. Ben grasped the paddle tight, and walked back to Freddie's room with a purpose. He entered the room and stood at the foot of the bed with his arms crossed, the paddle very visible.

"You have exactly five seconds to get back out there and continue working diligently on that assignment."

"What part of NO don't yo..." Freddie trailed off as he rolled over and looked at Ben. Ben had a look that Freddie had never seen before.

"One."

Freddie just sat there.

"Two."

"Ben, please be ser --"

"Three," Ben interrupted, uncrossing his arms, getting ready to strike if necessary.

"Come on, you wouldn't u -- "

"FOUR." Ben punctuated his countdown with a smack of the paddle against the palm of his hand.

Freddie was unable to move, partially from fear, partially from being stubborn, and partially wondering if Ben had the guts to follow through.

"FIVE!"

After the word was spoken, Ben walked briskly towards Freddie.
Freddie rolled off the other side of the bed.

"Okay, okay. You win, I'm going."

"You're right, you're going, but not before I introduce you to someone," he said, walking around the bed.

Freddie was boxed in the corner. He looked at Ben's face, the paddle, back to Ben, before Ben had reached him.

Ben took Freddie's arm and sat down on the bed, pulling Freddie with him. He bent Freddie at an angle across his left thigh and without another word brought the paddle up and back down smartly across Freddie's jean-covered bottom.

Freddie didn't know how to react to being pulled roughly across Ben's leg, but when the paddle landed, he couldn't help but gasp. He survived a moment of shock, then got mad and tried to get up.

Ben kept him held firmly, and because he was off balance, Freddie couldn't do anything. Ben kept the paddle falling.

Freddie squirmed and tried biting his lip to keep from yelling. He didn't want Ben to know how much it hurt. By the tenth swat, he couldn't help himself and began pleading. "Okay, OKAY, aaaahhhh, I get it. Ben? Ben! Aaaaaaahhh!!"

Ben kept the paddle coming down firmly across the wriggling backside. When Freddie finally broke and started sobbing, he swatted three more times, then stopped, but didn't let Freddie up. When Freddie quickly settled down, he spoke.

"Now that I have your attention, what is going to happen when I let you up?" Ben asked firmly.

"I'll go....go out and study algebra," Freddie said between gulps.

"How LONG will you study algebra?"

Freddie bit his lip, before saying "I'll FINSIH the stupid assignment!"

"Good. Now lets get another thing straight before we continue. When I tell you to do something, I expect you to do it without backtalk. And NEXT time I have to spank you, you're going to find yourself one SORRY boy if you run like that again. Is that understood?"

Freddie wanted to say MANY other things, but he somehow managed to say "Yes."

"VERY good. I'm going to let you up here in a moment. When I do, you're to drop your pants and bend back over. I'm going to paddle you six times on your bare bottom for throwing the tantrum earlier, then you can head into the dining room to finish your assignment."

Freddie gasped in shocked outrage. "You JUST paddled me!" he yelled, struggling to get up.

Ben kept a firm hold on him, bringing the paddle down again. "I have all day here. I think I can last longer than your bottom can, so I suggest you do as I asked."

"Fuck you!" Freddie yelled, doubling his efforts to get loose.

Ben started swatting again, hard. It didn't take long for heat and pain to build up quickly. After about 10 swats, Freddie was ready to surrender. "Okay! OKAY! I'll get up!"

Ben stopped again, not letting go. "Tell me EXACTLY what you're going to do," he said.

Freddie sobbed hard, before finding the words. "I'm going to stand up.........and......and drop my pants -- " Freddie sobbed a little more, and when Ben didn't say anything he continued. "And you're going to paddle me six more times," he finished quickly.

Ben was satisfied with Freddie's answer and let go of him. Freddie slowly rose to his feet, allowing the blood to flow through the rest of his body instead of straight to his head. He wiped his face, clearing away the mixture of snot and tears. He unbuttoned his jeans and slowly lowered them to his ankles. He looked at Ben, pleading silently not to continue, but Ben was not going to budge, not at this stage in the game. Freddie reluctantly turned around and lowered his underwear to his ankles as well, bending over as instructed.

Ben grasped the paddle and stood behind Freddie. He cringed at the sight of Freddie's bare bottom. It was an angry shade of crimson. Ben knew that Freddie would be feeling the effects for some time. He wanted to forget what he said, and let Freddie go, but he knew now was not the time to back down. He had to stick to his convictions. Freddie would respect him more for it. Ben inhaled deeply and stood to the side of Freddie. He placed his left hand on the small of Freddie's back, and lined up the paddle carefully.

Freddie clenched his cheeks, trying to anticipate the first swat. He thought Ben was being cruel, and toying with him, but in reality Ben was just mustering the strength to continue. Finally Ben let the first swat fall, square on Freddie's right cheek. Freddie howled, the sting far worse than he anticipated. That cry crushed Ben, he had to drown it out. Ben let the next swat land on Freddie's left cheek, followed immediately by one on the right.

Freddie tried to stand up, but Ben was too quick. He landed all six before Freddie could get himself into a worse state than he already was. When the paddle stopped falling, Freddie stood up quickly and grabbed to try to rub the sting out, sobbing hard.

Ben reached out his hand, planning on dropping it on Freddie's shoulder to turn him around. He stopped himself just before his hand touched Freddie. He didn't quite know how Freddie would react, and he didn't think he could take it if Freddie was mad at him. He turned and walked out quickly, shutting the door behind him as he went.

Freddie quickly tried pulling up his pants, despite the sting, wanting to forget tonight ever happened. He fell face first on his bed, wishing he could yell at Ben one minute, then wishing he were there for a shoulder to cry on.

Ben paced the living room, nearly ready to leave the house. The only thing that kept him there was wondering what Freddie would think of him if he left. He continued pacing, wondering for the hundreth time how Marc ever handled the aftermath. After fifteen minutes, he couldn't stand it anymore. He walked up to and gently knocked on the door. "Freddie?" he asked tentatively.

Freddie's sobs had diminished into an occasional hitching breath. He stood up, certain that Ben was ready to yell at him for not being out studying yet. He opened the door quickly, brushing past Ben. "I need to use the restroom," he said, and closed the bathroom door behind him.

Ben thought about barging in, then thought better of it. He'd talk to Freddie when he had gotten himself back together. He headed in and sat down on the couch.

Freddie cleaned up his face, feeling somewhat more human, IF a human with a very sore behind. He grimaced slightly, then opened the door, heading for the dining room.

"Freddie, just a minute," Ben said from the couch.

"What?" Freddie said as he stopped by the chair.

"Please?" Ben said, indicating the couch.

Freddie walked over to the couch and sat down, trying to keep up an aloof appearance.

"You can sit closer, I won't bite," Ben said, needing to offer some physical contact.

"Are you sure?" Freddie replied before shifting over to the middle cushion.

Ben placed his arm around Freddie's shoulder, and hugged him firmly. Freddie melted into the sideways embrace, needing it more than he ever would have admitted.

"Now, that episode in the bedroom, that isn't how I want things to happen. I don't want things getting so out of control like that. I know this is going to sound like bullshit, but it's true. That hurt me a lot more than it hurt you." Ben spoke softly and sincerely.

"Well, I don't know about THAT. But I...I guess I respect that you stood your ground. And for the record, I never said that."

"All rright, let's go tackle algebra," Ben said, getting up from the couch.

"You're going to help? What about history?"

"First things first. We already know what happened in the past, I can write that paper up in no time," Ben said, trying to assure himself as well as Freddie.

Freddie walked over to the table and sat down in his chair. He immediately bounced back up to his feet, the fire reignited. Ben wished to remain the stern disciplinarian, but also needed to be the good friend that he was. He grabbed a throw pillow from the couch and brought it Freddie.

"Perhaps that will help."

Freddie smiled sheepishly, and sat down. It wasn't a miracle cure, but it was something. Ben sat next to him, and for the next two and a half hours, they conquered the world of algebra together. And more importantly, it was done in a way that Freddie could understand.

"All right, it's getting late and you have an early class, go get cleaned up for bed."

Freddie stood up and started to head to the bathroom. He stopped midway and returned to the table.

"Thank you, Ben," Freddie said, hugging Ben from behind.

Before Ben could respond, Freddie was already in the bathroom. Ben smiled to himself, pleased that the first hurdle was cleared. He grabbed his history book and began to pan and scan through the material.

Freddie finished in the bathroom and went to his room. He slid between the sheets and intended on reading, but was asleep almost as fast as his head hit the pillow.

Ben stayed up another hour, quickly working on the outline of his paper. He'd have to hit the library tomorrow and see how quickly he could draw the rest of it up, as it was due on Monday.

Ben worked diligently over the weekend completing his paper in record time. Freddie worked on his own assignments without complaint. Neither mentioned their new arrangement, nor was there a need to. On Wednesday, Freddie was blindsided with a pop test in algebra. His first instinct was to panic. But as he perused the test, he tried Ben's helpful hints, and realized it wasn't so bad. Freddie left the class feeling hopeful. He refrained from mentioning anything to Ben, still nervous about his results.

On Friday, he waited in trepidation as the professor returned the test. As usual, he handed it to each student face down. Freddie was near the end and took a moment before he turned it over. He broke into a huge smile as he saw that he had a nine out of ten on it, an A. He could barely pay attention for the remainder of the class, so excited was he about showing it to Ben. As soon as the professor released them, he ran directly to the library, certain he'd find Ben in his usual spot.

He raced up the stairs and looked in the usual spot. Ben was sitting there with his books open. "Ben!" Freddie yelled, waving his test paper. "Look! I got an A!"

Ben looked up, startled at the exuberance that was so unexpected in the library. He was about to tell Freddie to quiet down when he saw the ear to ear smile on his face and the test being waved under his nose. He grabbed for it and looked it over, beaming up at Freddie. "See, I KNEW you could!"

Freddie just continued to smile.

"You know, this calls for a celebration. I think we should go see a movie. How does that sound?"

"That sounds great! I think we should go see...MATTHEW!" Freddie spotted Matthew approaching the table.

Freddie met Matthew halfway, flaunting his hard-earned A.

"That can't be YOUR test!" Matthew said. "I could barely ever get one of those, and I know you hate algebra MORE than I do!"

"It IS my test, doofus!"

"Guys? This is a library," Ben said from the table. "And yes, Matthew, that IS Freddie's hard-earned A."

Freddie sat down at the table, Matthew as well. "We were thinking of seeing a movie this weekend to celebrate. You and Marc want to come?" Freddie asked.

"Yeah, that'd be cool," Matthew said quickly.

Ben shot Freddie a look, one that Matthew recognized immediately, but assumed he misunderstood. Freddie turned to Ben, catching the tail end of the look, and brushed it off completely.

"So what are we going to see, Ben?" Freddie asked a bit too loudly.

"Keep it down," Ben replied, eyes wide, a signal completely lost on Freddie.

"Sorry!" Freddie replied. "So what are we going to see?"

"Either something funny or something scary."

"You're just like Marc. Horror movies!" Matthew said.

Ben smiled. "Speaking of Marc, shouldn't you see if he's available, and get his input if he is?"

"Oh, he's always ready for a movie. And if I let HIM pick, I end up hating it. It's Freddie's A, he should choose," Matthew said, beaming at Freddie.

Ben gave up, not REALLY minding that Freddie wanted others. And the more he thought about it, the more he thought it would be good. Maybe Matthew and Freddie could talk about what happened, in case Freddie needed someone to talk to. Ben looked at his watch.

"Freddie? Don't you have another class to get to?"

Freddie looked at the clock on the wall. "Oh, it's okay. The prof is always late, I can be too."

"No, I think you need to head on now. I'll be here when you're finished, and we can go grab a pizza at your favorite place, okay?"

Matthew immediately got up as well, the tone and meaning clear to him. "Come on Freddie, I'll walk with you," he said, waiting for Freddie to get up.

Freddie wasn't paying attention to Ben, but wanted the company for the walk, so he got up. "See ya," he said airily to Ben, walking over to the stairs.

On the way out of the library, Matthew started to think about what was said, and how it was said, and began to wonder. He was about to ask Freddie what was going on when they ran into a few more friends and the topic was lost in the ensuing babble of conversation.

*****

"We're meeting M & M at the theatre, right?" Ben asked as he pulled a shirt over his head.

"Yeah, in about fifteen minutes," Freddie replied, lounging on Ben's bed.

"Fifteen minutes?! You said the movie started at 9!"

"It does," Freddie replied calmly. "I just wanted to make sure that we have plenty of time to play a couple of games in the arcade and get our supplies for the movie."

"WHY didn't you tell me that!" Ben asked, zipping out the door to the bathroom to run a comb through his hair.

Freddie laughed, enjoying the mini-freakout Ben was having.

"I don't think it's very funny," Ben said, snagging the magazine that Freddie had been reading. "We've GOT to go, NOW," he said, pulling Freddie up off the bed and swatting him in the direction of the door. "Get your shoes on, we're leaving."

Freddie dodged another swat, laughing, and quickly tied up his tennis shoes and followed Ben out the door.

They made it to the theatre with plenty of time to spare. But upon entering the theater, they saw they didn't make it soon enough to beat Matthew and Marc.

"Let me guess, video games?" Ben asked, greeting Marc, and finding him without Matthew.

"What else? Matthew insists on getting here extra early. Apparently, Rolf doesn't let him explore the arcade when they come together."

"Go join Matthew, we will get the tickets," Ben said to Freddie, who was already in the arcade regardless.

"I see you haven't mastered total control in that relationship yet," Marc teased.

"What can I say, one step at a time," Ben replied, laughing as they waited in line.

Meanwhile, Freddie immediately found Matthew at his favorite game, Road Rash.

"Dude, you have to give up on that, you totally suck!"

"I do not! I'm just out of practice."

"Yeah, right," Freddie laughed, as Matthew crashed his last motorcycle. "Let's go against each other, see how you do then," Freddie said, tossing in a couple of quarters.

Matthew wouldn't back down from a challenge, and soon a spirited race began.

"Asshole," Freddie breathed as Matthew ran his bike into the side of Freddie's and Freddie went flying into the lake.

"Hey, it's part of the game!" Matthew protested, continuing until one of the computer's riders hacked at him with a chain and sent him flying into a parked car.

"Ha! You got paid back!" Freddie taunted as he zipped past Matthew's rider, who was running back towards his bike.

Matthew punched Freddie in the arm while his guy was running.

"OW!" Freddie yelled, bumping into Matthew.

"Can't take a punch, sissy?" Matthew taunted.

"I'll show YOU sissy!" Freddie hissed as he pulled his bike alongside of Matthew's and punched Matthew's rider off, ending Matthew's game.

"Fuck!" Matthew said, hitting the game on the side of it, while Freddie continued racing.

"MATTHEW," Marc said sternly. "I'd like a word with you," he said, waiting for Matthew to come to him.

Matthew muttered under his breath but went over to Marc.

"I do NOT want to hear language like that again, is that clear?" Marc said sternly.

"It was ONE -- "

"Do I make myself clear?" Marc asked again.

Matthew kicked the carpet, but responded to the stage two warning tone. "Yes, SIR."

"Thank you. Now let's go enjoy their company," Marc said, steering Matthew back towards the game that Freddie was still playing.

"You are a pro," Ben whispered to Marc, once Matthew was back at the game.

"I wouldn't say that, but you DO have to be consistent."

"May I ask?"

"What?"

"How did you become involved in disciplining Matthew? I mean, doesn't his lover do that?"

Marc was silent for a moment.

"You don't have to tell me anything you don't want to," Ben said quickly.

"No, it's all right. Long story short, sometimes three ISN'T a crowd. As I said before, we have an understanding. I'm sorry if that sounds vague, but that's the easiest way to describe it." Marc looked at his watch, a bit uncomfortable discussing such personal information. "The preview should be starting soon, probably should get our seats."

Ben looked at his watch and agreed. He walked over to the arcade.

"Come on, time to head in, the previews will be starting soon."

"One more game! We have plenty of time," Freddie said, preparing to drop another two quarters in the slot.

"Freddie, I said now, please," Ben replied, trying not to sound overly stern.

Freddie continued to do as he pleased, not fazed by Ben's tone. Ben gently placed his hand on Freddie's shoulder, and whispered in his ear.

"One."

Freddie stopped, blushing immediately. He quickly glanced around and saw Matthew's eyes on him, before turning to try and drag Marc out of the arcade. Freddie stood up, dropping the two quarters into his pocket. Not that he was afraid of Ben doing anything, but he didn't want to be left behind by Matthew.

Matthew pulled Marc out into the hallway. "Are they....?"

"Are they what?" Marc replied.

"Are they -- "

"Come on guys!" Freddie said as he breezed past Matthew and Marc in the hallway.

Matthew turned and followed, intending to sit with and talk to Freddie.

Freddie made his way into the theatre, trying to find the perfect seat. He headed to the front. Marc and Ben slid into seats in the middle of the theatre. Matthew followed Freddie, then poked him in the side.

"Don't sit here!" he hissed.

"Why?" Freddie asked.

"Because it hurts the neck...and you don't have anyone in FRONT of you to watch."

"In front of me? I don't want anyone in front of me," Freddie replied quickly.

Matthew huffed in frustration at Freddie's inability to understand bratspeak. "Do you think WE can have any fun with Ben and Marc BEHIND us?" he finally said.

Freddie agreed it best to sit at LEAST three rows behind Ben and Marc. The boys sat down and watched the people enter the theatre.

"So what's the deal?" Matthew asked.

"The deal with what?" Freddie asked, completely clueless.

"Did Ben decide it was time to start disciplining you?" Matthew asked point blank.

"WHAT?!" Freddie asked, blushing again.

"You are...he did...I KNEW it!"

"How did...when...what..." Freddie didn't know how to respond.

Matthew laughed, then stifled it when Freddie's expression started to harden. "I'm sorry, I'm not laughing at you. It just answered some questions I had."

"WHAT are you talking about?" Freddie whispered forcefully.

"The LOOKS that Ben was giving you. I've seen 'em a million times from Marc or Rolf." At Freddie's blank look and growing anger, he slowed down. "You DID know that Rolf disciplines me...and Marc sometimes too, didn't you?"

Freddie shook his head no, sliding down into his seat.

Matthew's mouth opened in shock. "Are you KIDDING me?!? I mean, it's not like it's flaunted, but I KNOW I've gotten several reprimands that you could NOT have missed. Like in the arcade just a few minutes ago! Didn't you see Marc bite my head off for cursing?"

Freddie was looking around. "WILL you keep it down?! Please! I don't need EVERYONE knowing all that!"

Matthew quieted down. "I'm sorry. But did you even see that?"

"No, I was too busy playing the game. What.....what did he say?" Freddie asked tentatively.

"Just that he didn't want to hear any more language, why?"

"What would he have done if you ignored him?"

"Oh...there IS no ignoring him," Matthew snorted.

"Well, what could he have done?" Freddie asked, still intrigued.

Matthew could tell that Freddie was asking out of genuine curiosity, so he answered truthfully. "If I ignored him, he'd do one of two things. We'd either take a trip to someplace quiet where he would have chewed my ear off or swatted me to get his message across, or he might even take me home immediately, and deal with anything there."

"He wouldn't embarrass you in public, would he?"

Matthew didn't want to worry Freddie, but he did want tell him how it was. "He wouldn't do it intentionally. It's not like he'd haul off and spank me in the middle of the arcade. It IS a private matter between us, and it's up to me how private it can remain. He'll warn me, and if I listen to the warning, things will remain quiet. But say...if he tells me quietly he doesn't want to hear bad language, and I shout out 'fuck you,' he'd take me right out of the arcade, which people would see, and he might spank me in the bathroom or someplace else a little more private, if he thought I needed it right then. Otherwise, we'd end up going straight home, where I would DEFINTELY get spanked. So it's really up to you how much the surrounding people know, or pick up, you know?"

"I...I guess," Freddie ventured. "But...I mean...shit."

"What?" Matthew asked quietly.

"It's so...so damned embarrassing."

"It is. Embarrassing, painful, SO not something I enjoy. But....it's something I need. That sounds strange, I know --"

"No, it doesn't," Freddie interrupted. "I don't know who else I could talk to about this....but that A I got in algebra? I KNOW I wouldn't have gotten it if it weren't for Ben......helping, you know?"

"Yeah, I know," Matthew agreed quietly, as the lights went down and the previews started.

"What do you suppose Freddie is saying about me?" Ben asked Marc, moments before the lights dimmed.

"I'm sure he is confused. The only thing that is certain, is he doesn't like the punishments. But based on our 'celebration' here, I am certain he likes the results."

"I wish you could have seen his face..." Ben trailed off, fondly remembering Freddie's look.

Marc looked at Ben as the lights dimmed. He was certain he saw the same look that Rolf gave Matthew, but couldn't be sure now. There might be love there.

Matthew pulled out his M&Ms and started eating them, Freddie doing the same to his package. Within fifteen minutes both had finished and dropped the papers on the floor. Then they dove into the popcorn. Matthew gently and discreetly flicked a couple pieces of popcorn in the general direction of a couple that was kissing.

A few minutes later, someone's cell phone started to ring. Matthew opened his box of jawbreakers and pulled out one, aiming and hitting the person on the phone. He settled quickly back into his seat as if nothing had happened. The person on the phone turned around and looked but couldn't pinpoint the offender.

When the person on the phone turned back around, Freddie leaned over to Matthew. "Good aim!" he said, laughing quietly.

"It was, wasn't it?" Matthew turned to get a sip of his coke when the box of jawbreakers tipped over and they loudly started bouncing on the floor.

"Shit!" Matthew swore quietly, uprighting the box before all of them could slip out.

Heads turned as the hard candy bounced underneath everyone's seats, rolling all the way to the front of the theatre. Matthew and Freddie both got piercing looks from Ben and Marc, but nothing was said. Neither boy saw the person who was on the phone leave the theatre. Within two minutes, the boys were startled by the beaming light of a flashlight held by one of the ushers. First, the blast of light hit the pile of litter at their feet. Then the beam crawled up to their faces.

"Excuse me, gentlemen, I must ask to speak with you both outside of the auditorium," the meek young man said.

"And WE will have to ask you to NOT shine that thing in our faces!" Matthew said not too quietly.

People began to turn around and stare, including Ben and Marc.

When the usher didn't look like he was leaving, Freddie and Matthew got to their feet and followed him, cursing under their breath.

"What do you think that's all about?" Ben asked Marc.

"I don't know. Let's give them a moment, see if they return."

When the boys were out for a few minutes, Marc said "Come on. I think the movie date is over." He got up and headed out, first stopping in the aisle that Freddie and Matthew had been sitting in and cleaning up the mess. When they got out to the lobby, neither boy could be found. Ben was about to ask one of the workers when he spotted the other two outside.

"Marc? They're outside."

"The day is definitely over then," Marc said as he opened the door and headed directly over to Matthew and Freddie.

"Care to tell me why all four of us paid to watch that movie, and we're now outside?" Marc asked sternly, eyeing both boys.

"Why don't you ask that usher?" Matthew responded nastily.

"Ben, Freddie, it was nice to see you again," Marc said, pulling Matthew up by his arm. "Sorry we couldn't stay for the entire movie. We'll see you again soon."

Freddie watched in surprise as Matthew was propelled across the parking lot, talking fast and looking more upset by the minute. He was interrupted by Ben.

"Would YOU like to tell me why you were removed from the theatre?"

"I think someone complained about the jawbreakers falling off onto the floor. THAT was an accident, I don't know what the deal is," Freddie said, turning away from Matthew and Marc.

"Yes, I could see that being an accident as I doubt Matthew would care to waste GOOD junk food like that. But it's not the reason you're sitting outside, is it?"

Color rose to Freddie's cheeks and he ducked his head.

"Out with it," Ben said sternly.

"Matthew tossed ONE jawbreaker at that idiot whose phone so RUDELY interrupted the movie," Freddie said hotly.

"Do you think that was acceptable behavior?"

"Yes! That person was sitting there TALKING ON THE PHONE in the middle of the movie!"

"You don't know anything about that other person. That could have been a true emergency, a wife in labor, an accident -- "

"It was NONE of those things, just a stupid -- "

"I don't care WHAT it was about, young man," Ben said sharply. "All that matters is that YOU behave like a gentleman, and that means NO throwing candy. YES, I know it was Matthew," Ben said, holding up his hand to stop Freddie from interrupting, "but you wholly agreed it was necessary and correct behavior, and that I won't tolerate. I think our day is finished as well. Let's go to the truck."

Freddie stood up quickly. "Come on Ben, it wasn't MY fault. I bet if you go in with me again, we could get back in and finish the movie."

"We are doing no such thing. Please, Freddie, don't make this worse than it already is," Ben finished, taking Freddie's hand and walking out towards the truck.

"But Ben --" Freddie began, tugging gently against Ben's grip.

"Unless you'd like anyone in the parking lot to see me spank you, I
suggest you come quietly."

Freddie didn't think Ben would do that, but he wasn't going to take chances. And besides, they'd already missed a good fifteen minutes of the movie. He allowed himself to be pulled to the truck, not saying anything.

"I want you get into the truck and stay there until I get back!"

"What? Where are you going?"

"I have to run into Circuit City for an adapter."

"Yeah, right! You'll be in there for an hour. I'm coming with you."

"No. YOU will stay in the truck."

"But-"

"ONE!"

Freddie bit his lip, having so much more to say on the subject, but saw a look in Ben's eyes. A look that was present last weekend. He opened the door to the truck and situated himself. Ben waited until Freddie closed the door before heading into Circuit City.

"I am NOT a child that gets STUCK in the car. This is RIDICULOUS!" Freddie yelled to the windshield. He fumed for several minutes before it started to get warm in the truck. He opened the door, first checking to see if Ben was in sight. After a few more minutes he got braver and stepped out of the truck.

"Too HOT to sit in here and he's NEVER going to come out ANYWAY." Freddie pulled the tailgate down and sat on the end, swinging his legs. He was still ON the truck, that should be enough. After a few more minutes he got bored and walked two vehicles over to grab a cart. He went back to the truck and pushed the cart back and forth, back and forth.

His frustration was getting the better of him. The cart hit the truck once, but thankfully didn't leave a mark. He gave it one more hard shove away and went to grab it, missing it completely. He watched in stunned shock as the cart barreled down the lot, hitting the back quarter panel of a sleek, black truck.

Freddie jumped off the truck and was in the process of putting the tailgate back up when he felt a rough hand on his shoulder.

"I THINK you owe me damages," a tall, thick stranger said.

Freddie jumped back and gasped. "I...well...it..." Freddie stammered.

"I watched you. It was a deliberate act of vandalism."

"No I didn't mean for it to..."

"You didn't mean to get caught! I am a certified mechanic, with parts and labor, there is $250 worth of damage, easy!"

"What?"

"I expect payment in my garage no later than Monday."

"Or?"

"Or I use that there license plate number to report the act of vandalism to the authorities!" The man replied gruffly.

Freddie didn't know how to respond. The only thing he knew was that he didn't have anywhere near that amount of money. He breathed a small sigh of relief as the man walked back to his car. But it was short lived as he returned with an invoice signed and dated assessing the damages.

"Monday!" he said, before walking away, grumbling.

Freddie's heart was racing; he folded the invoice and placed it in his pocket and quickly slithered into the truck.

Ben finally exited the store, just in time to see his truck door slam shut. He walked quickly towards the truck, nearly being run over by a driver that was in a definite rush to leave. He opened the truck door and slid into the seat. "Didn't I tell you to stay IN the truck?"

Freddie cast a quick, sidelong glance at Ben to try to determine exactly WHAT he saw. "It is HOT out here. I had the door open for air, unless you'd LIKE me to die of heat or suffocation?"

"We can do without your sarcasm," Ben said. "Sorry I took so long. It is a little warm. Get your seatbelt on," he finished as he started the truck.

Freddie buckled up, semi-relieved that Ben hadn't seen him out of the truck, talking to the stranger. He crossed his arms and stared moodily out the window as they drove quickly home in silence. He jumped out of the truck as soon as it stopped.

Ben got his package out and headed inside after Freddie.

Freddie quickly grabbed the remote, flipping the television on and flopping onto the couch.

Ben walked up to Freddie and removed the remote, turning the
television off.

"Hey, I was -- "

"You WILL go right over to that corner and stand there until I tell you you may leave it," Ben said.

"Excuse me?" Freddie responded indignantly.

"You heard me," Ben said without moving.

To Freddie's credit, he got up and headed towards the corner without a word.

Ben mentally breathed a sigh of relief.

Freddie stood there, not getting the point of the exercise, but feeling guilty enough about the car damages to remain in the corner for the twenty minutes Ben left him there.

"Come here," Ben finally said from the couch where he had been doing some reading.

Freddie turned and walked back over, sitting down.

"I hope you used that time wisely. Please tell me why you were
standing there?"

Freddie blurted out the first response. "Because you told me to?!"

Ben mentally cursed himself for asking the stupid question. "Unless you'd like to spend the rest of your day doing homework in your room, please tell me WHY I asked you to stand in the corner."

Freddie wanted to get beyond this awkward conversation and the best way to the other side of it was to answer as requested. "Because I used poor judgment in the theatre with Matthew."

Ben was almost shocked into silence. "Yes. That is exactly why. That type of behavior is not appreciated and will not be tolerated. Is that clear?"

"Yes, sir," Freddie responded automatically.

"Good. Then we'll consider this matter behind us. You'll stay in the rest of the night, but you're free to do whatever you want."

"Well then, I shall go to bed!" Freddie replied.

"Pardon me?"

"It's after 9, what else is there to do?"

"Would you like for me to give you something to do?"

"No...sir."

"Then don't look a gift horse in the mouth."

Freddie half rolled his eyes, and went to his bedroom, glad to get out from under Ben's gaze. Freddie pulled out the crumpled estimate and stared at it in disgust.

"Where am I going to get that kind of money?" Freddie thought to himself.

He couldn't bear to think of it any longer. Freddie placed the receipt in his top drawer and began to undress. After stripping down to his underwear, he decided a hot bath would be a lifesaver. Freddie left his room and headed towards the bathroom.

"Taking a bath!" Freddie bellowed in Ben's direction, before closing the bathroom door.

Ben didn't hear what Freddie had said, but was able to figure it out once he heard the running water. Ben fussed around downstairs for a while, before remembering the clothes that were put in the dryer the night before. Ben took out the small load of clothes and separated them, taking them upstairs. He put his stuff away and went into Ben's room. After setting the clothes on the bed, he thought maybe he'd be nice and put them away for Freddie.

Freddie walked into his room, a towel around his waist and drying his hair with a second. "HEY! What are you doing?!?" he demanded, going over and slamming his drawer shut.

"Freddie? What is THAT about?" Ben asked in astonishment.

"What the heck were you doing in my drawer?" Freddie challenged.

"I was putting your clothes away, what did you think?" Ben said.

"I can put them away myself!" Freddie said, grabbing a pair of shorts and sliding them on. "You don't need to worry about what's in my drawers."

"I wasn't worried about it until now," Ben said. "There is no reason for you to go nuts when I was trying to help. Now, do you want to tell me what's in the drawer that you didn't want me to see?"

"Nothing. There isn't anything in there that is any of your damn business!"

"Wrong answer!" Ben said, reopening the drawer.

"All right, all right! Close the drawer, please."

Ben closed the drawer and turned to Freddie, crossing his arms. His look said go on.

"That is MY drawer, and I get to keep some stuff private," Freddie ventured.

"Yes, that's true. You don't have to share everything with me. But if it's something that SHOULD be shared with me, it's better that I know now, rather than later." Ben left that hanging in the air and went back to his room to do some studying when Freddie didn't reply.

Freddie waited until Ben left the room and grabbed the paper from his drawer. He sat on his bed, legs crossed, staring at the paper, wondering what he had gotten himself into. He stared at it for what seemed like hours, as if the price would change on it.

"Ben?" Freddie eventually yelled.

Ben put his notebook down and walked down the hall to Freddie's room.

"I am just two doors down, no need to yell..." Ben stopped speaking when he saw the serious expression on Freddie's face. "What's wrong?"

Freddie didn't say anything, just held out the invoice. Ben accepted it and read over it, although there wasn't much to read.

"What's this?"

"It's the reason I was outside when you came out of the store," Freddie replied quietly.

"Go on."

"I was...getting bored waiting...I sat on the flat bed playing with a cart, and it..."

"Let me guess, it got away from you?"

Freddie just stared at the floor.

Ben sighed, Freddie's lack of response confirming his guess. "What were you thinking?"

Freddie just shrugged.

"Look at me," Ben said sharply.

Freddie slowly brought his eyes up.

"What did I tell you when I went into the store?" Ben asked sternly.

Freddie mumbled, "to stay in the truck."

"Does 'stay in the truck' mean to sit in the bed of the truck?"

"I didn't leave the truck!" Freddie shot back.

"DOES 'STAY IN THE TRUCK' MEAN TO SIT IN THE BED OF THE TRUCK?" Ben asked again loudly.

Freddie dropped his eyes. "No."

"Then WHAT were you doing outside the truck?"

"I was BORED! It was HOT. I stayed WITH the truck, but I wanted to
breathe, alright?! There was a cart right there, I grabbed it and
rested my feet on it, WAITING FOR YOU," Freddie replied hotly.

Ben took a moment to digest that information. He still wasn't completely comfortable in this role. He kept thinking to himself that maybe he shouldn't have left Freddie in the truck when Freddie knew he was in trouble. But the bottom line was Freddie should have stayed IN the truck, not gotten out and messed around. And certainly not hid this information from him for so long. He took a breath and steadied himself before speaking.

"Freddie, look at me," he said again. Once Freddie's eyes were on his, he began speaking, growing a little more confident as he progressed. "You were told to stay in the truck, which means stay IN the truck. Instead, you got out and messed around with a cart, a cart that ultimately got away from you."

Freddie started to speak. "It was -- "

"QUIET," Ben said sternly, before continuing. "Obviously the cart hit a vehicle, and the owner was with the vehicle. He approached you to tell you that there was damage. Did you inspect that damage?"

Freddie squirmed on the bed, hating this second degree. "No, I -- "

"You didn't inspect the damage, but took this estimate he gave you?" Ben asked, holding up the piece of paper.

The look Freddie gave the paper should have set it afire. "He was a mechanic, he'd know," Freddie spat.

"He's a mechanic, he can STILL RIP YOU OFF," Ben said sharply. "He could have had previous damage that he wants fixed. He may want a new headlight, and you just agreed to pay him for several!"

Freddie was getting madder by the second, realizing how stupid he'd been. "HE WAS YELLING AT ME!" Freddie roared, standing up.

"SIT DOWN," Ben said firmly, pointing at the bed.

Freddie took a moment to gauge Ben's resolve, and slowly sat back on the bed, moving from anger to feeling sorry for himself.

"When are you supposed to meet him for payment?" Ben asked sternly.

"Monday," Freddie replied quietly, almost inaudibly.

"WHEN?"

"Monday!" Freddie said louder, teetering on the line of sass.

"And when were you intending on telling me this? Sunday? Tuesday?
Never?"

Freddie declined to respond. If it weren't for being nearly flat broke, he would have aimed for the never option. And Ben knew that all too well.

"So how much do you have saved up for this, Freddie?"

Again Freddie declined to respond.

"That is about how much I figured. We will go down there first thing tomorrow morning. I will try to talk rationally to him and see if we can't get him to lower that estimate. I don't suspect that we will have much luck at this stage of the game. Regardless, I will take care of your financial responsibilities."

A look of relief crossed Freddie's face. He opened his mouth, ready to thank Ben for his generosity but didn't even get the first syllable out before Ben continued.

"This is by no means a gift. It is a loan. No, I don't expect any money back from you, but you certainly will spend the next five weekends doing odd jobs around here as payment. That is of course in addition to your regular duties and studies."

"Ben!! But what about the Pi Delta Sigma rave?"

"You should have thought about that before you were so careless."

"That's not fair!"

"Missing the rave is the least of your worries. We still have a little matter to discuss."

"What now?" Freddie replied sarcastically.

"You seriously best watch your tone, you are in deep enough as it is."

Freddie ground his teeth and stared at the floor, biting back all smug retorts.

"You were told to stay in the truck. And yet you completely disregarded my direct orders. If you were warm, the windows roll down with ease. If your legs were cramping, that seat slides back quite far. There was no excuse for disobeying me."

"I'm sorry," Freddie said.

"You will be very sorry in a few minutes. I want you to go down into the kitchen and bring me the paddle."

Freddie snapped his head up, his eyes wide. "Nooooooo. Please, Ben. PLEASE," Freddie pleaded.

"I intend on making a lasting impression. When I ask you to do something, or not do something, I expect my wishes to be followed. Now I will not ask again."

"I am SORRY. I PROMISE I will obey you next time. PLEASE not the paddle."

The pleading was almost unbearable for Ben, but he knew he couldn't soften up now. "You do NOT want me to go down and get it."

Freddie had already sized up Ben and decided that he was totally serious. He stood up and slunk out of room, glad to be away from Ben's piercing glare. He took his time on the way to the kitchen to think about what was said. He absolutely hated what he was going down to get, that piece of wood. He also hated the way he felt, the fact that he felt no older than five. But what he hated above all else was everything that Ben had said was true. He SHOULD have stayed in the truck. All that happened when he got home was having to stand in the corner for a few minutes, NOT a big deal. And when he DID hit the car, he SHOULD have thought about checking the damage. For gosh sakes, it was ONLY a cart, it couldn't have done THAT much damage.

"FREDDIE!" Ben thundered from upstairs.

Freddie jumped, snatching the paddle and heading towards the stairs, his stomach getting into some serious knots.

Ben sat on the edge of the bed, trying to play the scene out in his head before it happened. His breathing was becoming more rapid and his steady arm was becoming less and less steady. Thinking about it was NOT helping any. Ben knew that he had to stand his ground, and that was all there was to it. He jumped to his feet, his hands and underarms moist with anticipation. He walked to the doorway and bellowed again. "ONE!"

Freddie jumped again, halfway up the stairs. Now THAT was annoying. "I'm COMING!" he bellowed, stomping up the stairs.

Ben waited inside, rubbing his palms on his pants, dreading the coming confrontation almost as much as he imagined Freddie was.

Freddie tried to take a deep breath to steady his nerves but couldn't draw in half the air he thought he needed. He turned into his bedroom before he lost his nerve and thrust the paddle at Ben.

"Take your pants down and bend over the bed," Ben said matter-of- factly.

"Please Ben, don't make me -- " Freddie began, before being cut off by Ben.

"Would you rather I did it for you?"

Again Freddie tried to take a deep breath, but it was more of a gasp. "No, sir," Freddie mustered, before lowering his pants and underwear to his ankles and bending over the edge of the bed. He hated being exposed to Ben this way.

Ben stood to the right of Freddie, grasping the paddle tightly.

"Stay in position," Ben said, raising the paddle and bringing it down hard across the white cheeks.

Freddie rocked forward, jumping from the sound of the impact. He had about a second of shocked silence, wondering exactly what had happened, before the pain exploded into his brain. He hissed loudly as the waves crashed through his head. Before he could quite get his head around what had happened, a second crack landed. He tried to draw in a breath to recover, but his lungs didn't seem to be working. The pain was immediate and excruciating.

Ben landed the third lick, wincing himself at the sound of the impact, watching the flesh compact and then return to its normal shape, though a much brighter red than white.

Freddie groaned, finally able to get a breath in, as the pain continued to build, far beyond what he expected with each lick. He was trying his best to remain in position, to take his punishment, but each lick that landed made it harder and harder.

Ben slowly landed another dozen swats of the paddle. Each swat resulted in a louder groan than the previous. Freddie shifted and wriggled, as if by some small chance the large paddle would miss his bottom. Well before that twelfth swat landed, tears were streaming down Freddie's face. As that last swat resounded through the room, Ben placed the paddle on the bed.

Ben brought Freddie to his feet, and held him while he sobbed. He gently stroked his back and head until the tears subsided.

"Freddie, I want you to go straight to bed now. We are getting up early and we will be at that garage by 9 am. Do you understand?"

Freddie nodded yes, unable to form any words, completely worn out from the paddling.

"Alright then, to bed. Sleep well." Ben said as he grabbed the paddle and went to the door. Before exiting the room, he turned towards Freddie. "I love you." Ben turned again, and started down the hall.

"B-ben," Freddie squeaked. He waited for Ben to reappear in the door. "I love you too." He said quietly, while wiping his eyes and sniffling. Ben smiled and left Freddie to get ready for bed.

*****

"But Beeeeeeeeeeeeeen, I have been up here all day. It's as clean as it is going to get. Please, can't we go make an appearance at the mixer?"

"Freddie, I told you last week what you had to look forward to, and I meant it!"

"But Beeeeeeeeeeeeeen, you got the estimate reduced by half," Freddie whined.

"Yes I did manage to do that, but only because I was able to catch him in a lie."

"Well, since the damage was cut in half, I think it is only fair..." Freddie paused briefly. "I think my punishment should be cut as well."

"It doesn't work that way."

"That's not fair! Why doesn't it work that way?"

"It all comes back to the fact you should have been in the truck. Period."

"But Beeeeeeeeeeeeen -- "

"Freddie, stop whining. Your punishment stands. Now I see at least another half dozen boxes that need to be sorted through."

"But -- "

"But nothing. I have a paper to work on. And when you are through up here, I have some more things that you can do. I will be in my room. Don't be up here all night," Ben said, before leaving Freddie to his chores.

Freddie truly hated missing the party, and thought for sure his large Bambi eyes could break Ben. But he took comfort in knowing that Ben had his feet planted, and would be there to look after his wellbeing. Freddie turned to face the mess before him, and sighed heavily. It had been a long day, and was still going to be a long night.

~The End~

Copyright Rolf and Gayspankee 2010

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

Rolf and Ranger’s Next Book will be called The Mary Ellen Carter. The Mary Ellen Carter and other works in progress can be read at either the Falls Chance Ranch Discussion Group or the Falls Chance Forum before they are posted here at the blog. So come and talk to the authors and be a part of a work in progress.





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