Friday, February 12, 2010

A Little Attention

Title: A Little Attention - A Sullivan's Base Story
Author: Ranger

"We are a mid-security correctional facility, catering to B and C category prisoners in the early offenders’ age group - that is between 21 and 35 years of age- who meet two or more of our specific criteria."

Jake Sullivan clicked the powerpoint control, bringing up a fresh screen in the darkness of the boardroom. Beyond him, thirty dark-suited figures in the depths of office chairs, stared up at the screen in silence. Jake picked up a glass of water, took a quick swallow to clear his throat and continued.
"The criteria for referral currently stands at: Prisoners who are socially or emotionally vulnerable in a mainstream prison setting and/or are identified as being at high risk of self-harm or suicide. Prisoners who are first-time offenders. Prisoners whose offences relate directly to immature, irresponsible, or socially unacceptable behaviour. Prisoners whose behavioural disturbances have made them difficult to manage or led to them compounding their sentences within mainstream prison settings. Prisoners with a low identified set of skills and resources to replace criminal behaviours on release, including education. And at the discretion of our assessment team, prisoners with specific social and emotional difficulties who would benefit from our regime. These may at times include prisoners who are aggressive and/or violent, but only as a direct result of one of those listed difficulties. We do not reject prisoners from our setting as a direct result of violence or aggression, but inmates are well aware that their continued placement with us depends on their showing clear commitment to and evidence of progress. Failure in that area can and has led to prisoners being returned to mainstream placements and approaches. However, we tend to find that those correctly placed with us are highly motivated to remain with us once settled, and show good patterns of improvement."
"I would imagine because many of them realise they have been placed in a far softer option," one of the men commented from the back. Jake gave him a cool smile, recognising the voice and face.
"Not at all, councillor. Men incorrectly placed with us very quickly seek a return to prison simply because we are NOT the softer option. One of our inmates can expect to have his behaviour challenged consistently and constantly, in every single manifestation. Not merely when he becomes actively disruptive. He is also expected to take an active part in recognising, understanding, managing and curbing those behaviours. It is demanding, it is intense, and in the early stages it can be exhausting. We do, however, have less than a 15% re-offender rate, a zero suicide rate over the last five years, and a high success rate with prisoners who have consistently failed elsewhere."
Silence met that statement. It always did. Sullivan quietly clicked
over to the next slide.

"Allerton Correctional Facility is deliberately isolated at a good distance from all surrounding towns and areas, since our aim is to make a clean break from the social habits and environment causing our inmates' problems. Nor do we maintain the familiar ethos of the standard prison. However, we do believe in giving maximum support to the inmates' family relationships and ensuring good contact on as regular a basis as possible...."
"Hey, Paul. How are things going?"
Jacob Sullivan dropped his bag in the Red block guardroom doorway and smiled at the uniformed man sitting at the admin desk. Paul stared at him across the table for a moment and then got up with active relief.
"Jake! When did you arrive?"

"I picked up a lift, thought I'd get back early."  Sullivan poured himself a coffee from the machine and propped himself against the counter. "Where's the Governor? His car wasn't in the motor pool when I came up."
"He had a meeting at Central." Paul sat down again, "How did your presentations go?"
"Not bad. They were cynical, they always are, but they can't get around the statistics. How is everyone? Any problems? All the duties covered for tonight?"
"Covered, fine, no major incidents, no difficulties, we've been fine all week without you," Paul said grinning. Sullivan grinned back, swiping his kit bag up off the floor.
"Okay, I won't check right now."
"I'm amazed you haven't already had a scout around," Paul said dryly.
"I walked up through the exercise ground and through the canteen. Not a riot in sight." Sullivan shouldered his bag. "So I'll go have a shower and leave you to it."
Unpack, change, and then find Jordan . The thought of whom, slim, supple, warm and ever enthusiastic, had sustained him through a week of lonely, sterile hotel rooms.
He was too fixed on that thought to see the look on Paul's face as he left.

It was a short walk across the base from the secure and locked doors of Red block to the residential block where the majority of the single guards lived. The base was isolated in the valley: very few guards commuted to St. Michaels, the small town nearly twenty miles away, or chose to pay the exorbitant rental costs there. At this hour of the afternoon when the inmates of all four blocks were moving from assigned activities to their free time, almost all guards were on duty; the residential block was deserted and on the top floor, Sullivan found his door locked and his small flat in darkness.  He briefly searched the bed and the dresser for a note in Jordan 's neat, looped handwriting; nothing met his eye. It didn't even look as though Jordan had slept up here. Which surprised him. The brat rarely lost an opportunity to sleep in this bed instead of his own. Sullivan unpacked his bag, hung up the few articles of clothing and changed, leaving the dusk green of the guard's uniform off for a few hours more and selecting instead a shirt and jeans, creased despite all Jordan's teasing on the subject. Then he jogged back down the four flights of stone stairs and crossed the square outside in the growing dusk towards the Governor's house.
Jordan 's room had its own outside door, and Jake used his own key to access it. The door opened on a bombsite.
It looked like a barroom brawl had taken place in the room, followed by a plague of locusts. Furniture was overturned. Clothes strewed the floor. Every article Jordan owned seemed to have been thrown across the room, and several articles were smashed.  Sullivan stopped short, shaken. Then leaned against the door frame to take in the details, through growing and grim exasperation. No wonder his brat was keeping a low profile. Testosterone rapidly began to ebb, overtaken by other instincts and chemicals that ran ever high in him for Jordan Dayne. He closed and re-locked the door and jogged straight back across to Red block and the guardroom. Paul was waiting for him, arms folded across his uniformed chest, face sombre.
"I know; I'm sorry, but it's not something I could just blurt out," he said before Sullivan could say anything. "And I don't know where he is. He cleared off sometime yesterday; no one's heard from him since."
"And that mess?"  Sullivan demanded. Paul flinched.
" Jordan ."
"That much I worked out for myself. What happened?"
"The Governor's staff heard him and one of them came and got me- I tried to talk to him, but he wouldn't listen to me. And then he had a barney with the Governor himself and ran out."
Jake took a deep breath, mostly to stop himself swearing. "I was gone a week. You lot are TRAINED for crying out loud, and you couldn't keep him in hand for a week?"
"We're not allowed to put him in a holding cell," Paul pointed out. "Besides which, he's only a kid-"

"He is NOT a kid," Jake said sharply. "And you don't need a cell, you just need a little resolution!"
"Whatever you say," Paul agreed.
The tone was acerbic. Sullivan took the hint, pulled out a chair and sat, making a deliberate effort to calm himself.
"Come on Paul, tell me. What happened?"
Paul looked wry.
"He wasn't too happy while you were away."
"I suspect that's an understatement."  Sullivan controlled his immediate concern and instinct to hunt Jordan down, right now. "What did he do this time?"
Paul hesitated. Jake Sullivan was the one person able to manage the Governor's problematic Godson, but he was not going to like the news.
"The brat got into trouble a few days after you left."
"I knew it," Sullivan said resignedly. "What?"
"No one really knows. The Governor's staff said he and the Governor had words over dinner Tuesday night. Jordan lost his temper enough to throw his plate and went up to his room. The Governor ate in the staff dining room all Wednesday; I saw him there."
And without saying a word to Jordan, Sullivan thought grimly, knowing his brat would have received instant and painful attention for his gesture had he been on the base at the time.
"And then what?"
" Jordan stamped around for a few days."
Sullivan met his eyes. "Go on. Give me a list."
"There was an incident with his motorbike-"
"The bike wasn't even booked out of the motor pool," Paul admitted. "Racing around the ring road here. The guards on gate duty tried to stop him, which took them awhile, and ended up confiscating the bike. By which time the guys out exercising in the courtyard were high as kites and cheering him on- and it was our lot out there, acting just as they do when they see someone in mid-flip. Jordan swore a blue streak at them and the guards and stalked off. And you know how he is when he's in a mood. Under everyone's feet, wandering around the base, getting everywhere he shouldn't. I kicked him out of the guardroom twice on Thursday."
"What about his classes?" Sullivan asked grimly.
Paul pulled an expressive face at him. "The last I heard was Friday evening when the Governor's staff came and got me to stop him wrecking his room. I tried talking for twenty minutes, then the Governor came home and I had to leave. The next thing I knew, the gate staff said the Governor had headed over to Central for his meeting and Jordan had taken off like a bat out of hell."
"And you didn't think to look for him?"
"Of course I looked for him," Paul said impatiently. "So did Mischa, so did Jase. But he's not an inmate and we've had duties to pull here; we can't turn out the full resources for a guy of age, fully entitled to walk out of the gates any time he pleases. And I thought most likely he'd gone into St. Michaels anyway. Somewhere with cinemas and kids who don't have a nine-thirty lock-in time."
Actually that was unlikely. Jordan - for all he called the base a variety of names- had no friends outside it. No, Sullivan had a fair idea where his brat would have gone.
"Did he take anything with him?" he asked, getting up.
Paul gave him rather a nervous look.
"He, er, took the Jag with him."
 Sullivan closed his mouth. Jordan was a dead brat.
Jordan Dayne sat on a rock with his knees up to his chin, and tried not to think about how dark it was. The fire seemed pitiful and flickered in the wind which even the rocks didn't give shelter from. He was tired, he was very unhappy and he'd never felt more alone in his life. He was terribly aware of just how alone he was up here, and still more aware that no one knew where he was or intended coming up to see if he was all right. He tried to concentrate on the last time he'd been up here: the warmth of summer, Jake's teasing as they climbed the steep slopes together, lying in Jake's arms by the fire which burned far more brightly when Jake built it. Jordan's eyes stung at the memory.
"Just a week," Jake had said as he packed. "Seven days. That's all."
Except without him, life on the base was beyond bearing.  Jordan hugged himself against the wind and tried to lift his mind away from his miseries. He had no idea what he was doing or what he intended to do when his food ran out. There was little danger of that at present, he was too unhappy to want to eat at all.
The sound across the clearing made him stir and his heart began to beat unpleasantly hard. Jordan slid off his rock and felt for a loose stone as a weapon.
"Who's there?"
"Your worst nightmare," a familiar voice said in the darkness. "You are seriously busted, Cary Jordan."
The stone dropped out of Jordan's numbed fingers. "Jake?"
The guard moved out of the shadows, jacketed, booted, his collar turned up against the night wind, his dark blue eyes full of meaning. Jordancouldn't have cared less. Instead of the pleading, the coaxing and defiance Jake was used to when Jordan was caught out in trouble, his lover looked up at him and burst into tears.
Any thought of sudden and immediate retribution went instantly out of Jake's head.
There was Jordan play-acting, Jordan upset and there was Jordan deeply and seriously distressed. Jake covered the distance between them in a few short strides, pulled Jordan up into his arms and held him tight, feeling him shudder all over, without any doubt at all as to which this was. And more than alarmed by it.
"Jordan? What's wrong? What's the matter?"
Jordan's arms wound around his neck in a stranglehold. His tears went on so long that Jake eventually picked him up and carried him across to the fire, sitting Jordan between his knees by its warmth. His hands rapidly discovered that his young partner was wet, cold, deeply miserable and far from properly dressed for the conditions of the open hillside.  Jake dipped his face into Jordan's neck for a minute, controlling his own emotions before he lifted Jordan's chin and spoke to him quietly and clearly, turning on his professional voice. The one that separated fights, and reached young men with far less manageable emotions than Jordan Dayne.
"Stop that now. Jordan, calm down. I'm here; I've got you, whatever is wrong we can sort out. Just settle down so we can talk."
The calm, firm voice reached Jordan as nothing else could. He gradually swallowed his sobs, leaning hard against Jake, until Jake felt his tense body relax a little. He ran a hand down Jordan's back and felt under his jacket, too worried at the chill there to ask questions.
"Jordan, listen to me. Pack up your belongings. I'll see to the fire. We need to get down as soon as we can."
Let Jordan think he was concerned about the weather or the darkness.  Jake put his partner on his feet and hoped he had the stamina left for the hour's climb.

Jordan didn't talk at all on the way down. Somewhere in the darkness, Jake realised he was crying again, very quietly. They needed breath for walking and now was not a good time for discussion. Jake pulled Jordan against him, put an arm tight around his waist and held him while they walked, his own footfall quick and sure on the rocky path and controlling Jordan's far less expert pace.
He pushed Jordan hard, moving him at a speed rather too much for an amateur, but too concerned to let him take his time. The Jag stood undamaged and locked at the bottom, one of the base motor pool motorbikes parked beside it. Jake let Jordan go and held out his hand.
Jordan pulled them out of his pocket, his face as blank and exhausted as his voice.
"I'm sorry, Jake."
"We'll talk about it later. You get in and turn the heater on."  Sullivan unlocked the door, pushed the rest of the coffee flask into Jordan's hand and began to load the bike into the back of the Jag. By the time he got in, the heater was warming up and Jordan was curled up in his seat, beginning to shiver as his chilled body thawed.  Jake pulled off his jacket and wrapped it over him, turning the radio up loud. It was a two hour journey home and until he was sure Jordan was not hypothermic, he couldn't let the boy fall asleep.

Jordan woke to Jake's deep and familiar voice over him, strong arms surrounding him and lifting him from warmth into chilled night air.
"Stand up, kiddo. We're home."
Jordan found his feet with an effort.  Jake locked the car and steered him out of the car pool, abandoning the haversacks to be unpacked in the morning. The single guard on duty nodded as he recognised them and stood back, shouldering his rifle. Jake steered Jordan away from the Governor's house and towards the staff residential block, keying himself into the main building and along the corridor to the small suite of rooms he owned. Once inside, he took Jordan into the bathroom, turned the taps on full blast and peeled Jordan out of damp clothing. His young lover was damp to the skin and still chilled, cold and white to the touch.  Jake felt his legs with a mutter of annoyance and paused to administer a firm smack on the curved bare bottom.
"You know how to dress for climbing conditions, my lad. You’re lucky you weren't airlifted off that hill."
"It rained last night," Jordan said softly, barely defending himself. And he'd scarcely winced at the swat.  Jake felt the temperature of the water, pulled Jordan close and lifted him into the bath.
"Stay there. And don't fall asleep."
He raided the tiny kitchen area at the back of the flat and poured Jordan wine and coffee, made him drink both, insisting when Jordan sleepily protested.  Jake let him stay in the bath only as long as it took him to get warm, lifted him out and dried him down and sent him to his bed, covering him warmly. Jordan turned over to watch him undress and pick up the dropped and drenched clothes.
"When did you get back, Jake?"
"About four PM ," Sullivan said shortly.
"You came home early."

The voice from the bed was very small.
"Don't be mad at me?"
Jake turned out the bathroom light and pulled back the covers. "That's a bit optimistic even for you. We'll talk in the morning. Be quiet and settle down."
Silence.  Jake saw Jordan quiver and knew his young lover was struggling hard not to cry again. He turned over and hid his face against the wall, slight shoulders stiff.  Jake hesitated, torn between emotions, then reached for the Governor's Godson, took him firmly by the arm and dragged the brat down into his arms.
"No more tears and no more dramatics, young man; you're worn out. Settle down and go to sleep, I'll deal with you in the morning."
His rough kisses to Jordan's forehead and mouth held as much exasperation as love, and even Jordan was too tired for once to respond, but he felt the younger man relax in his arms and burrow tight against him.
"How did you know where I was?"
"I guessed." Sullivan pulled Jordan tighter against him. "Now be quiet and go to sleep, unless you want your bottom heated. I don't have a lot of patience left for you tonight."
Jordan woke to the smell of fresh coffee and rolls. He turned over and struggled free of the quilt, coughing a little as his head emerged.  Sullivan was dressed from the waist down, drinking coffee and pouring a second cup. Jordan held out his hands gratefully.
"What time is it?"
"Past ten. I thought you needed your sleep out."  Sullivan passed him a plate of rolls. "Now you're awake we need to do some serious talking, sunshine."
"Oh no," Jordan said involuntarily, remembering last night.  Jake sat down on the end of the bed.
"Oh yes." The dark blue eyes were grim. "Like how you ended up on Chorey pass without proper clothes and without anyone knowing where you were. And what happened to your room?"
Jordan flushed darkly. Sullivan waited.
"Jordan," he said eventually, deceptively gently. "Don't make this any worse. Just tell me."
"Don't you have to go on duty?" Jordan hazarded. "I don't want to-"

"I'm not on shift until this evening, thank you; I have all day," Sullivan said sternly. "And I'm waiting."
Jordan swallowed. "I got kind of mad."
"I can tell. Your room looks like a nuclear accident."
Sullivan saw Jordan's eyes as he dropped his head. "The Governor-"
"What?"  Sullivan prompted as Jordan trailed off. Jordan shrugged.
"I got into some trouble."
"I'll paraphrase that for you,"  Sullivan said grimly. "Making a thorough nuisance of yourself on the base and at least two tantrums I can account for."
Jordan stared at the sheets. There was something about his face that worried the captain guard. This wasn't standard Jordaning: there was more to this than met the eye.  Sullivan tapped the mug in his hands, worried.
"Breakfast. Eat something. We'll deal with that later, sunshine. Right now I want to know what happened between you and your Godfather."
Jordan shrugged without looking up, usually mobile face blank. "We had a fight. We have plenty of fights, you know that."
"I want to know about this particular fight."  Sullivan watched him, voice deepening to the tone that always reached his brat, even at his most headstrong: a tone that made the dark head duck even further down, " Jordan I'm warning you-"
"He doesn't like me," Jordan said eventually and very softly.  Sullivan gave him an exasperated look.
"We keep going over this, Jordan . If you were trying to work around someone working hard on being as difficult as possible, would you like him very much? Love and like are not the same thing. You can't spend all your time being thoroughly unpleasant to someone and demand unconditional approval in return!"
Except unconditional was exactly what his brat needed, and exactly what Governor Dayne understood with the two hundred other difficult young men he was responsible for in this facility.
Jordan stared mutinously at the bedclothes.  Sullivan got up to pull a shirt on, deciding once more against following his immediate desire to turn Jordan over his knee and mete out some prompt and effective behavioural guidance.
"All right, sunshine. I'm going to get the whole story on this. If not from you, then from your Godfather."
"Eat," Sullivan interrupted. "I'll leave the tray for you."
"I need some clothes," Jordan said, realising his own were in the laundry by now.  Sullivan's flat was as regulated as he kept Red block: no clutter, nothing out of place. Sullivan picked up his keys.
"You do not. After you gave yourself hypothermia camping on a hillside in street clothes, you'll spend the day right here in bed."
"In bed. This once in your life I'll let you go back to sleep."  Sullivan shouldered into his uniform jacket, tugging it into its usual immaculate lines. "I'll wake you up when I want to talk to you."
That was not inviting.  Jordan was already sorting through several mental plans when Sullivan turned to Look at him from the doorway, the blue eyes piercingly acute.
"And don't you dare be anywhere else but in that bed when I get back, matey."
* * * *
For some reason, Jake Sullivan was on duty outside the Green block canteen, not the usual guard. Governor Dayne emerged with a handful of papers, glanced twice at him and then paused, looking somewhat startled. "Everything all right, Jake?"

"Yes sir, just a change around of shift today."
"Ah." The Governor folded his papers, glancing back at the dining hall. "I thought how calm lunch was today; I noticed that group from Red block you've had integrating here. They're doing rather well."

"I think so, sir. I'd like some of that group to transfer across full time to Green block in the next few months."

"Excellent. I'd be interested to see their files."
"I'll bring them over to the meeting this evening, sir." Jake fell into step with him down the hallway. The Governor sighed.
"Unfortunately, the meeting's had to be cancelled; I need to go over to Central again. More funding arguments. At least that means you get a night off to spend with Jordan ."
Sullivan snorted silently. Dayne glanced across at him.
"How is Jordan? Over his chill?"
"It was hypothermia," Sullivan said shortly. "He was up on the hillsides overnight with anything but the proper clothing on."
Governor Dayne sighed. "I suppose it didn't involve breaking anything. Or inciting riots."
"I found him up on Chorey Pass last night, sir. He'd been camped up there for 24 hours, alone in winter weather without any proper equipment. He was virtually hypothermic when I brought him home."
The Governor sighed again.  Sullivan stifled irritation.
"Something upset Jordan badly and I need to know what it was, sir. I heard about his performance while I was away."
"He merely did what Jordan usually does," the Governor said wryly. Sullivan resisted the urge to growl. 
"He doesn't usually go totally off the rails. There's no excuse for making a nuisance of himself on the base. Or causing damage. Neither of which would be tolerated by an inmate, for the very reason we label it as unacceptable behaviour."
"He's family, Jake, not an inmate. At the very least he was left to my guardianship, and family needs different things-"

"Sir, I've heard you at Central describing the very need for structure and a sense of clear boundaries as a means of making people feel they belong and are secure! You wouldn't tolerate for a moment the kind of tempers he shows you from anyone else on the base."
"He's young, Jake," Dayne said patiently.
"With respect, sir, you do not accept that as an excuse from much younger inmates than Jordan." 
Governor Dayne gave his captain guard a rather hunted look. Sullivan managed Jordan without difficulty. There were few people who ever did manage to cause Jacob Sullivan any difficulty and the Governor was afraid he was one of them.
"Jake," he said again, patiently. "Jordan and I have always had our disagreements- it's normal in a family."
"During adolescence, yes,"  Sullivan said inflexibly.. He was dominating the corridor like a large crowd of one; the governor had a good idea why the Red block inmates had a healthy respect for him.
"He was angry," the Governor said placatingly. "He just has a hot temper, Jake. His father was the same. I must go; I have a meeting to attend. I know you'll take good care of Jordan, you're very capable with him."
"Oh, I will,"  Sullivan said grimly.
* * * * * * * * * * * *
Jordan was lying in bed, anxious, bored and not the least bit sleepy. For once he could laze in bed with Jake's full permission, and what was he doing? Waiting with butterflies in his stomach for the moment when the captain guard returned and began discussing the several issues which were bound to be preying on his mind. Tantrums annoyed Jake. Messing around on the base REALLY annoyed him. And then there was the matter of heading up Chorey Pass. Alone. With Jake's Jag….Jordan shivered under the duvet, wondering forlornly where he'd lost his mind in the previous week. Except an angry and spiteful demon muttered that it had made damn sure Jake stopped messing around and came straight to where he was needed….Jordan saw the shadow and looked up.  Sullivan stood at the foot of the bed, arms folded. The man moved like a cat. And he was BIG.Jordan looked up at him with apprehension and unwilling appreciation. With brows down, clearly not happy, Sullivan still had a presence that registered on Jordan's nerves and pheromones, loudly and clearly. His tone, however, was anything but encouraging. Capable of a soft, deep rumble that turned Jordan's knees to water, Sullivan's voice at this moment would have cut through glass.
"All right, sunshine. If you've got any excuses, you let me know now."
"For what?" Jordan said uncertainly.  Sullivan ticked them off on his fingers.
"Making a thorough nuisance of yourself with the bike AND in the block where you have no business being unless you're attending classes, for a start. And the mess you made of your room."
Jordan looked down at the bedclothes.  Sullivan surveyed him.
"We'll leave Chorey pass and my Jag out of this for the moment. Right now I'm going to try asking you one last time before I start using more forceful methods of persuasion, Jordan." The captain guard's voice held a warning note. "What's been going on?"
"I've done all this before, what are you so surprised about?" Jordan burst out.  Sullivan's eyes altered slightly.
"I've seen plenty of tantrums from you, not to mention sheer bad temper, yes, but not one strop after the other like this."
Jordan shrugged.  Sullivan took a meaningful step towards him. Jordan's nerve cracked and he raised his hands, sliding to the safety of the other side of the bed.
"I told you, I got mad!"
"And that's it, is it?"  Sullivan said sternly. "That's why you were sitting up on Chorey pass?"
"Damnit, I missed you!" Jordan exploded. "I HATE when you go and do those stupid presentations; you even hate it too, and you should be here!"
"So what's your solution?" Sullivan inquired. "Believe that you'll only behave when I'm here to make you? Is that what this is all about? Making sure I'm too worried to leave you alone?"
"Would it work?" Jordan said petulantly.  Sullivan gave him a quiet nod.
Jordan blinked, taken aback. "You'd stop going out? Even with the assessment teams?"
"No,"  Sullivan said just as quietly. "But I could arrange for crèche facilities with Paul if necessary, if that's what it took to keep you safe and everyone else sane."
Jordan's face was almost comical in its dismay. He'd spent enough time with Sullivan and his colleagues to know what confinement here meant, and he spent enough time in Red block and with its inmates for its realities to be fully realised by him.
"That's your answer. If this is about trying to manipulate me."
"It is," Jordan snapped, scowling at him.
 Sullivan waited a minute, looking at him carefully, then shook his head.
"Nice try, kiddo. Now try again. I don't believe you."
"I do miss you, Jake," Jordan said softly.
"I know. I miss you too. Now talk."
Jordan wriggled, hating this. And hating the inner voice which was revelling in the sternness of  Sullivan's voice and face, the implacability in his stance, the sure knowledge that if he had to stand there all night,  Sullivan would carry on until he had the answers he was looking for. And that he would know if he was fobbed off with anything less. The demons bubbled up towards the surface and broke.
"No, I won't! And you can't bully me into it! You go away and I'm supposed to stay ready and waiting, keeping the bed warm-"
"Jordan," Sullivan said softly and warningly.
"I'm not listening to this! If you can go away for a week then I can do what I want for that time without having you do a post-mortem on it afterwards! How come you get the rights over my life?"
Sullivan's eyes narrowed.  Jordan faltered for a minute, not sure, then slid out of bed looking for something - anything which came to hand. He found a coffee mug, left over from last night, and picked it up.  Sullivan didn't move but his voice promptly deepened, taking on a very warning tone.
"Throw that, my boy, and you're in serious trouble."
Jordan looked him right in the eye, standing poised, lithe and naked and totally unselfconscious. Sullivan looked right back, unexcited, un-encouraging. Then Jordan raised his hand and hurled it straight at the captain guard's head.  Sullivan caught it without difficulty, put it down on the dresser and advanced on Jordan who stood his ground for about two seconds, then retreated until his back met the wall.
 Sullivan's stride didn't falter and Jordan could read the determination in his eyes.
"Jake -" Jordan's nerve broke and he raised his hands in helpless supplication, knowing what was coming. "Jake, no- I'm sorry; Jake, please-"
Sullivan's hands closed on his wrists, yanked sharply and Jordan abandoned all hope. He fell forward- into strong, inexorable arms, which wrapped around him and pulled him up to lips which covered his deeply and warmly, stifling all his protests. Jordan wrenched, startled, then the warmth of those arms and the power within those familiar lips started to worm their way through him. He struggled hard, anything to get out of Sullivan's grip, but Sullivan held him too firmly. Temper drained away, and almost as fast, Jordan was flooded with everything he'd managed to shut out on the top of Chorey Pass. He shuddered, hard, and Sullivan felt him dissolve into helpless tears. 

He took very little notice of anything for a time. When he calmed enough to know what was happening, he found himself curled on Sullivan's lap in the overstuffed, two-seater sofa, Sullivan's arms tightly around him and his eyes burning from too many tears. Sullivan's hand was rubbing his back, deeply and slowly, and the beloved voice was talking softly to him - words Jordan barely heard but was deeply calmed by.
"All right," Sullivan said eventually. "If you can talk, now you tell me. What's all this about?"
"I told you," Jordan choked out. "I miss you."
Sullivan's hand slid down Jordan's spine and patted his rump warningly. Jordan swallowed.  "I do."
"So what's that got to do with making a thorough nuisance of yourself?"  Sullivan said inexorably. Jordan fumbled in Sullivan's pockets until he found a handkerchief.  Sullivan let him wipe his face and then pulled him firmly back down into his arms, encircling him again.  Jordan sighed, cuddling back up to him.
"You weren't here. And I needed you, Jake. I really needed to talk to you."
"Why?" Sullivan stroked his hair, troubled. "Jordan, tell me. Please. What happened?"
"Nothing happened." Jordan shifted a little and his voice froze into something approaching flippancy. "Just a date, that's all. Something silly."
Sullivan frowned. No birthdays, no anniversaries? He ransacked his memory, anxious, but found nothing.
"What date?"
Jordan sighed. "It was ten years on Thursday."
Jordan shrugged, sounding all too casual. "Since my father died."
Light dawned.  Sullivan took a deep breath and pulled Jordan close to him again, returning to rubbing his back.
"Oh honey-"
"HE didn't notice, Jake. He didn't even say. He and my dad were supposed to be such close friends and it's like he never existed!"
"Did you tell him how you feel?" Sullivan asked gently. Jordan shivered against him.
"You weren't here, Jake! I just wanted-"
"What?" Sullivan asked. Jordan buried his face in Sullivan's neck.
"I don't know. Just to make him stop looking so damn calm. Make him show some God-damned feeling!"
"Hey," Sullivan said sternly. Jordan turned his head against Sullivan's shoulder.
"Nothing touches him, Jake. I could cut my wrists in front of him and he'd call the guardroom. Or go over to Central.  Nothing I do is ever enough!"
"Is that why you're pushing me to wring your neck?"  Sullivan asked him dryly.
Jordan laughed, but it was a trembling, unhappy laugh.
"I know you will. Every single time. You won't ever let me lie to you, or put up with me shouting or running away. You won't even let me cry in peace."
"Whatever happens, Jake," Jordan said, almost inaudibly, "He won't talk about it and he won't do anything. He doesn't care. He couldn't care less."
"He loves you."

"No, Jake, he really doesn't. I'm a responsibility and that's all. That’s the only reason he has me here."
Jordan struggled free of his arms and went to the bathroom.  Sullivan followed him and watched him bathe his face, splashing the cold water over his swollen eyes.
"He does want you here."
"Because what's left of my family wants me here, in prison, along with the other rejects on this base."
"Cary Jordan…" Sullivan began heavily.
"It's NOT far off true," Jordan said bluntly.  Sullivan sighed.
"But it's not true of us. Is it? And with me, it most certainly does not excuse you getting yourself in trouble up to your neck."
"Oh boy," Jordan said under his breath.  Sullivan pushed his hair out of his eyes.
"You're going to straighten your room out to pristine condition by six PM tomorrow when I inspect it."
"And I'll forget about that tantrum you threw for me earlier, unless you want to remind me?"
Jordan shut his mouth.  Sullivan drew up his chin and kissed him, mutely approving of the seal on the retort he knew his younger lover was wrestling with.
"And that leaves us with the inconvenience you've caused everyone with your behaviour this week."

"I'll FIX the room-" Jordan began. Sullivan shook his head.
"It's not that easy, young man. Want to explain the bike incident to me?"
Jordan went scarlet. "I was upset-"

"You wound up every inmate of my block who saw it, not to mention the guards who had to stop and argue with them AND with you. And I heard about the mouthful of abuse you threw them. And the abuse you threw at Paul when he turned you out of the guardroom. Every one of those guards is going to get a personal apology from you this evening."

"The guard room IS out of bounds to you unless I take you there, young man; you're well aware of that. And I have it on good authority that you skipped every class and commitment you had last week-"

"Only since Tuesday!"

"I'll check that, Jordan," Sullivan warned. Jordan's head promptly ducked. Sullivan raised his eyes skyward, not really surprised. Jordan never stopped trying, he had no sense whatever of self-preservation.
"You'll make up the work from every class you missed, and you're out of every privilege group until you prove to me you deserve to rejoin them," he said severely. "And you'll spend the extra time helping out around the base, there are always plenty of chores in need of doing, and you'll follow the early hours schedule, including the early lockup: you can bring yourself back here at five PM sharp and be in bed by eight."

THAT shaft went home. Jordan's eyes went wide with horror.
"JAKE! That's not fair, everyone will KNOW-"

"Jordan, YOU made it clear to everyone on this base that you were acting out!" Jake said firmly. "No one around here expects that kind of behaviour to go unnoticed, and I intend to make very sure none of the inmates think you get away with the kind of behaviour they get jumped all over for. And anyone disrupting the way you have this week would very definitely be moved onto the early schedule."

All said in tones of utter finality. Jordan swallowed, overwhelmed. The early schedule ran throughout the base as a means of separating disruptive elements from their audience- mealtimes forty minutes ahead of the main ones - that meant eating alone in the canteen, arriving at compulsory activities ten minutes earlier and leaving ten minutes later than everyone else without time to socialise. Separate exercise times and free time, including getting hustled through the showers and to bed before the other inmates ended their evening free time and came back into the residential sections. Since this meant that the two or three inmates on this programme on any day were supervised very closely by several guards and barely had a chance to speak to anyone else, it was a penalty universally loathed.
"And that just leaves us with the issue of you vanishing without a word to anyone IN my car," Jake went on grimly, not giving him time to debate further. "If you were an inmate, I'd be advising an insanity plea about now."

There really was no good way around that. Jordan winced, trying to find an appropriate tone of voice, still stunned at the magnitude of Sullivan's reaction, much as he'd gone out of his way to provoke it.
"I'm sorry? Really sorry?"

"The entire business was a means of demanding my attention. Well you have it; what would you now like to do with it?" Jake invited. Jordanresisted the urge to climb back into bed and hide under the covers.
"I shouldn't have taken your car- I know that, I'm sorry-"

"Yes, I know you're very sorry you're in trouble." Jake took a seat on the sofa and crooked his finger at his recalcitrant partner. "Come here, matey boy."
That was never an instruction Jordan could follow through on, although he knew perfectly well that Jake expected him to do the adult thing and walk straight over to his outstretched hand. Instead he gulped, hovering where he was and looking for the right words.
"I promise NEVER to touch your car again? Ever?"
That finger was still beckoning.
"OR to go off the base? I should have left a note; I really meant to. I was upset and I forgot all about it-"

He cringed as Jake got up, covering the distance between them in three long strides. Jake took his hand and towed him back to the chair, flipping him over his lap without difficulty and tucking him securely under one very well-muscled arm. Panic-stricken, Jordan twisted, hating the vulnerability of his now upturned, bare butt and not at all prepared for the justice about to be meted out on it; he never was.
"I DID mean to! Jaaaaaaaaake…….."

"You do realise you could have died up there?" Jake's sharp query was punctuated with a swat across the two small, well curved buttocks that raised an unmusical yell from his penitent. "You could have broken your leg- your neck- NO ONE would have known, no one even had a clue where to go looking for you!"

"You knew!" Jordan wailed, struggling to clamp his hands over his already smarting bottom. Jake fended them off without difficulty.
"YES I knew. And YOU knew I wouldn't be home for another 24 hours! Were you hoping they'd call me?"
Since the demand was punctuated with another searing swat, Jordan responded promptly, voice leaping another octave.

"You were planning on me leaving a conference to race home and come looking for you, and let everyone worry about what was going on and what had happened to you? Did that strike you as nicely dramatic?"
"No! I just wanted you to come home!" Jordan wailed, kicking wildly as another hard swat landed. "Jake! I wanted you to know I was upset, no one knew and no one CARED!"

"Paul cared. Mischa cared. They both spent considerable time trying to explain to you that they cared," Jake explained, resting his hand on the already very pink and warm cheeks over his knee. "And if you wanted me to come home, or to talk to me, why couldn't you ring the hotel and leave a message? You know I would have called you back at any time. When I rang you midweek you didn't mention a word of this!"
"I didn't want you to go!"

"Then you TALK to me, Cary Jordan."  The use of Jordan's full and mostly loathed name was punctuated by another stinging swat. "I am not psychic. You do not play games with me while you wait for me to work out what you are thinking. Play me, little boy, and sooner or later I will catch on, and when I do, I am going to see to it that sitting is a far distant memory for you. IS that clear?"
Jordan's response was prompt, enthusiastic and desperate. "YES, Jake, I promise!"

And right now he meant it. Except Jordan Dayne had not yet really worked out meaning anything for very long. It was something Jake knew, accepted, and fully intended to work on until they got it right: a concept he planned on helping his lover grow into as he matured. Today, he just intended on Jordan having a strong memory of why he wasn't going to run away again any time soon.
It was nearly an hour before his gulping, sniffling lover would look up from his chest where he'd plastered himself as soon as he was released from the isolation of Jake's office corner. Jake, who'd been outlining the slender definition of each bone and muscle in Jordan's slender and perfect back, ran a hand through Jordan's heavy, dark hair and brushed a thumb over very tearstained eyes.
"You look a mess."

Jordan instantly turned towards the nearest mirror. Jake stifled a laugh, pulled him close in a rough hug to kiss him and put him on his feet.
"Go and straighten yourself out before someone sees you. And then put some clothes on. Something warm that you can walk in."
"I don't WANT to go out!" Jordan begged. Loathing exercise, which his athletic partner revelled in and made an inexorable part of their daily routine, he hated the walks and jogging and weights and swimming at the best of times, but right now, sore and drained and feeling extremely fragile, he wanted nothing more than to curl up against Jake and sniffle for several hours more until he fell asleep.
Jake steered him heartlessly into the bedroom, opening the wardrobe.
"Find something of mine you can wear, you need a walk. You've been in a bed all day."

There was no point in arguing with Jake. Especially when his bottom was already sore; Jordan had absolutely no desire to risk even the gentlest of swats this evening. Pulling faces and muttering, he headed for Jake's wardrobe.
"Nothing will fit, you're too big. And too heavy. And your taste is horrible, NO ONE wears this kind of stuff."

"It'll be loose."

"It had better be," Jordan groused, quietly. "And we'd better not be walking far, either."
Sullivan smiled. "To the reservoir and back. Just an hour to blow the cobwebs away."
And spend some time playing, talking, cuddling- all the things Jordan desperately needed to feel loved again. Ending, if Sullivan had any say in the matter, in a night which would leave his young lover firmly convinced that no matter where he stood in the somewhat ambivalent eyes of his Godfather, he was the unrivalled centre of Sullivan's universe.
The captain guard had all too much sense of responsibility and he took things far too seriously for Mr Dayne's liking. Jordan scowled at the notepad and pen spread in front of him on the base library desk.  Sullivan had sat his lover down after an isolated breakfast in the canteen that morning a good forty minutes before the inmates arrived for their meal, and read him a short, quiet lecture that still had Jordan's ears burning an hour after his captain guard had left him to go on duty.
A dictionary lay open on the desk in front of him, along with a slip of paper marked with Sullivan's strong, slanting handwriting. Three words were listed.
Safety. Responsible. Discipline.
Each word to be looked up in the thick dictionary, and the definition written out 100 times.
"That'll take hours!" Jordan had protested in outrage.  Sullivan had merely nodded.
"I'll be back to collect you at eleven thirty, and I'll expect them finished. And I'll count."   
"That's stupid! What for!"
Sullivan gave him an amused look. "Take a guess."
Jordan flushed scarlet then looked sourly at the list in his hand.
"There's no POINT to this, it's just boring for the sake of being boring!"
"You clearly aren't sure on the meaning of any of those words," Sullivan said pointedly. "And the way you've been behaving this week you don't get to go to classes. So it's up to me to organise your time productively. You can spend this afternoon with me in my office and catch up on your missed school work, but at the moment I need to go on duty and you need something useful to do. So get to it."
Jordan scowled at the thought. Sourly he picked up a pen and fumbled for the first word in the dictionary.
Discipline. His guts rebelled at the word. And the definition was huge, not to mention explicit.
This is ridiculous! An inner voice argued with him. Look at you meekly sitting here, writing stupid, humiliating words for some he-man with more muscles than brain cells?
That isn't true. Jake doesn't see it like that. I don't even see it like that.
Jordan sighed and rolled the pen between his fingers.
What are you, a masochist? Who the hell is Sullivan to treat you like an inmate anyway? The demon argued furiously. What’s it got to do with Sullivan what you do when he's away if he swans off and leaves you? And whatever you did, he's got no right to treat you like a child! He wouldn't treat one of his precious prisoners like this!
His inner reason pointed out quietly that the captain guard was likely to take immediate and effective action that would make him feel very much like a child if he tried anything further. But the demon was having a good day.
He put the pen down, pushed the chair back and grabbed his coat from the back of the chair as he got up.
Come on, man. Make it clear you're not scared of the jungle noises; you're his lover, not his dog. Make him do a little thinking on how his lover OUGHT to be treated.
Jordan hesitated in the doorway, then took his swipe card out of his pocket, passing himself through the closed doors and out into the front entrance, where the guard on duty at the desk nodded to him and buzzed him through.
And this ought to make him realise he's gone too far.
* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *
"That's everything he's missed."
The tutor shut the folder and handed it with a stack of books to Sullivan. The facility had nearly twenty tutors visiting on a daily basis, giving individual, group and class teaching on a wide variety of subjects. The massive majority of inmates came to them either with a history of academic failure or with a hatred of education often rooted in fear. As many of them, especially the Red and Orange block inmates, frequently had mild to mid-level attention deficits, hyperactivity difficulties and poor emotional, concentration and organisational skills, it was hardly surprising they'd had a bad experience of education. Jake's private theory was that over two-thirds of the Reds could have avoided the events leading to their conviction in court, if they'd had the right support and intervention before the age of twelve. Here, backed up with the rigid rules and expectations of the system, and with tutors very experienced in structuring work for the variety of needs and difficulties throughout the base, all the inmates left with much improved literacy and numeric skills, and many with a higher level of qualification. Jordan was a case in point. A handful of GCSEs had been followed by the failure of two A levels, and no further attempt at improving half-learned skills partly the result of laziness and partly the result of simply not having been taught the most basic study habits. He'd pushed Jordan into the hands of this particular tutor eight months back, as the most patient and the firmest of their staff. And he was older than the majority of them, too; Jordan tended to respond better to older men. He went to some of the set classes too but he still did best with this man.
"Thanks, Martin. That looks like enough to keep him busy for a few days."

"I'll have him back as soon as you're ready," Martin said comfortably. "Even if it's sitting at the back catching up on all this while I'm running other classes if you don't want him under your feet."

"You're soft," Jake said severely. "You know the rules; classes are a privilege and only the civilised get to go to them. When he's civilised again, I'll think about it."

Martin smiled but without surrender. "I never have any trouble with him here, he just needs keeping busy."
"You can keep him busy when he stops keeping everyone else busy," Jake said ruthlessly. "I'll see he catches up with all this." 
Martin gave him a placid wave and went back to sorting out the mountains of files on his desk.
Sullivan tucked Jordan's work under one arm and headed down to the library.
At this hour of the day it was usually unoccupied, but he didn't expect to find it Jordanless as well as inmateless.
The notepad was on the table beside the dictionary without a mark on it.  Sullivan frowned and quickly searched the library before he headed down to the front desk who confirmed Jordan had left over an hour ago. From there, he tried his rooms before he headed across the courtyard to Jordan's own room. There he found a member of the Governor's staff on his knees, collecting up the last fragments of broken china from the carpet. He flushed at the sight of the angry guard.
"Mr Sullivan-"
"I asked you to leave this for Jordan to deal with. Did he ask you to clear up?"
"Oh no, sir-" the man said hastily. "It was just that the cleaners were starting to complain."
"In some homes, young men manage without ever having cleaners at all. They actually pick up their own rooms and it gives them an incentive not to have destructive tantrums at will."  Sullivan surveyed the room with exasperation. "Where is Jordan ?"
"He came in shortly after ten this morning, sir." The man eyed Sullivan somewhat nervously. "He took the Governor's private car."
"Of course," Sullivan said through his teeth. He ran up the next flight of stairs, pulling his cell phone from his pocket. Jordan's private number rang several times before it was answered.
"Where are you, Mr. Dayne?"  Sullivan said grimly. He could see the pout on Jordan's face, just from hearing his voice. The full blown, high gear, truly horrible SCOWL that made mothers pull their children off doorsteps and rats flee for cover.
"I'll come home when I'm good and ready!"
And the voice was the one that made Sullivan's teeth grate.
"You'll come home now, or I'll come and get you," he said matter-of-factly, not rising to it. "And I promise you, matey boy, if you make me come and find you then I'll put you over my knee in front of everyone available and I'll tan that gorgeous ass of yours ten shades of purple. Where are you?"
Silence. Sullivan took a deep breath. "I'm WARNING you, Mr. Dayne. I'll radio around the entire base if I have to."
Silence. "I drove into St. Michaels; I'm not even ON the base," Jordan said sulkily.  Sullivan glanced at his watch.
"You have exactly an hour to get yourself back here."
Jordan broke the connection.
Sullivan stood on the front porch, eyes moving between his watch and the car pool compound, and tried to cool down. Jordan was down to two minutes when the Governor's grey Legend floated to a stop in front of the garage and Jordan got out, surrendering the keys to the guard on duty. Dressed in clear 'town' gear, the skin tight designer jeans and a leather jacket over one of the cut-off t-shirts Jake loathed. He walked up the path with a distinct sashay that said he was well aware how available he looked, and an attempt at cockiness that read as defiance. And no little apprehension.  Sullivan nodded him towards the front door of the residential block, closed it behind them and held out a hand.
"The rest of your keys. And jacket."
Jordan surrendered them, eyes darting between the floor and Sullivan's face, confused by the polite detachment in the captain guard's voice. Sullivan took them and pointed at the stairs. "My room. Now."
"I don't WANT-" Jordan began in the petulant semi-screech. Sullivan interrupted it without compunction.
Jordan fled, not quickly enough to evade the single, sharp swat the infuriated guard applied to his backside as an incentive.  Sullivan hung up the jacket, getting a rein on his temper before he followed. Jordan was standing by the window, his arms tightly folded, and Sullivan saw him gulp as the captain guard entered and locked the door behind him. He still managed a stamp to emphasise his protest.
"I was only shopping! I don't see what that has to do with you, I wasn't doing anything wrong!"
"If you remember," Sullivan said grimly, "I told you your schedule last night. And it most certainly did NOT include shopping trips, NOR access to anyone's vehicle!"
"That's ridiculous, Jake." The dark head tossed, Jordan's brown eyes flashed defiance and high-handed arrogance at him in a way the captain guard hadn't seen in several months.
"I won't be treated like a child, you can't-"
"Oh can't I, little boy?"  Sullivan said and lunged. Jordan had one single attempt at fleeing for his life before the captain guard caught him. Jordantried struggling, screeching and pleading; nothing made any difference. Within twenty seconds his trousers and pants were at his knees, despite the closeness of their fit, and Sullivan marched him over to the sofa. There, no matter what Mr. Dayne had to say or do about it, he was pulled down across a well-muscled lap, a heavy arm was locked around his waist and one leg encircled his two kicking ones, pinning him still. Another hand, frighteningly gentle, ran over his helpless, bare behind.
"Still think I can't treat you like a child?"
"Fuck you!" Jordan spat, struggling. The swat he received on his bottom was so hard he yelled. "Jake!"
Sullivan didn't answer. Five more of those thunderous, appalling spanks fell, each one drawing a yell of pain from his brat.
"I told you yesterday," Sullivan said, pausing, "That you were restricted until further notice. And I explained to you just what that meant, sunshine. Now you have ten seconds to explain just what you thought you were doing before I see to it that you can't sit down for a week!"
Jordan stubbornly clamped his lips together.
"Seven," Sullivan warned. "Eight. Nine…ten. Okay, Jordan, we'll play it your way."
Jordan's bottom clenched tight in anticipation. It didn't save it in the slightest from the downpour of spanks that rained over both cheeks for several minutes, making the recipient yell, then wail loudly, struggling against the powerful guard.  Sullivan held his wriggling lover still and spanked him soundly. When he finished, Mr. Dayne was sobbing without reservation or care for dignity.  Sullivan put him on his feet and steered him to the nearest corner.
"Face the wall and don’t move," he interrupted as Jordan's mouth opened. "And not a word. I gave you the chance to explain and you made it clear what you wanted."
Jordan buried his face in the wall and wondered at what point he'd lost his mind. Half his sobs were of discomfort and dismay, the other half had to do with the knowledge that he had thoroughly deserved the punishment so firmly meted out.
Sullivan sat on the windowseat and watched him, half-torn between firmness and wanting desperately to go and hold him. It tore his heart listening to Jordan cry, and from the way his hand stung, he was sure his lover was sore- but he also knew Jordan had begged for serious trouble. Sullivan reviewed the facts, thinking grimly that Jordan had done everything except write him an engraved invitation. Every single thing that he knew Sullivan most hated- the smart mouth, the swearing, the disobedience, the contempt-
Sullivan surveyed Jordan's shaking shoulders, suddenly thoughtful.
This'll blow over? Like hell it will…
Twenty minutes dragged on forever. Finally, Sullivan looked at his watch.
"All right, Jordan."
Jordan didn't move.  Sullivan waited. Usually, Jordan's first move was to throw himself into his arms, desperate for comfort and reassurance. After a few seconds, he got up and physically turned the Governor's Godson around to face him. Jordan's face was still tearstained and he wouldn't meet Sullivan's eyes.
"Is this defence or defiance?"  Sullivan asked him, half-humorously. Jordan said nothing. Sullivan held out a hand, demanding until Jordan came close enough and then pulling the younger man down to his lap.
"All right, matey boy. What exactly were you doing this morning?"
The growl in his ear was purest Jake- half stern, half amused and totally loving. Jordan turned and buried his face in Sullivan's neck.  Sullivan stroked his hair.
"You were already in trouble. What made you go and add to it?"
He peeled Jordan away from his chest to look at him. Jordan wiped at his eyes.
"I don't know."
"That won't do,"  Sullivan said sternly. Jordan's shoulders hunched in a helpless shrug.
"It seemed so stupid-"
"What did?"
"Sitting in the library- writing lines like I was a kid!"
"Jordan, you behaved exactly like a child while I was away. And if you behave like a spoilt, bad tempered brat, you'll be treated like one; you know me well enough to be absolutely sure of that."
"And I got mad- and just-" Jordan trailed off. "Took the car."
Jake looked at him in silence. Then held out a hand.
"Swipe card, please."

"Noooo, I'm not an inmate!" Jordan pleaded.
Jake didn't even debate it. Just waited. Tears welling again, Jordan pulled the card out of his pocket and surrendered it. Jake pocketed it, meaning to lock it in his office, knowing full well at the moment to lock it anywhere in his flat would be to offer Jordan pure temptation. Then he got up, sliding Jordan to his feet.
"Wash your face; I'll get you a change of clothes."

"I want to stay here!" Jordan wailed, still tearful. Jake gave him another quick and hard hug, but didn't relent, pushing him gently towards the bathroom.
"I'm still on duty, sunshine. If you choose to be a brat on-shift, you stay on shift with me. Quick, please."
Subdued and miserable, Jordan went. Jake sorted rapidly through his wardrobe for the not-a-few articles of his lover's clothing, picking out a loose pair of sweats and a sweater far more suited to the weather than the rag of a t-shirt. Jordan cringed at the sight of them, voice rising.
"I'm not going out dressed like-"

Jake caught his eye and Looked. Jordan stamped. And hastily picked up the sweats as Jake took a step towards him. Five minutes later, head down, clutching Jake's hand despite himself, Jordan trailed the captain guard into Red block.
"Sloooooow DOWN!" Jordan whined, grinding to a halt on the pine-needled path. Jake, a good twenty feet ahead, paused and turned back, keeping pace on the spot.
"Come on."

"I HATE running, you go too fast!"

"Come and stop me," Jake invited. Growling, Jordan picked his pace up again, breaking into a sprint which Jake promptly outdistanced- just enough to keep his brat in pursuit for the last five hundred yards to the lake. There, finally, Jordan grabbed him and pulled the captain guard down off his feet and onto the dry pine carpet beneath the trees. Jake flopped on his back and yelped as Jordan landed on his chest, sitting astride him.
"There, what?" Jake automatically reached to flip brown hair back out of his brat's face, well aware that for all his whingeing, Jordan wasn't really even out of breath.
"Got you." Jordan gave him a smirk and ground his hips slightly. Jake dug him in the ribs, making him yelp and flinch.
"We came up here to admire the view, remember?"
"It's Sunday morning and you're off duty. What view?" Jordan demanded, fending off Jake's hands. And sliding them under the edge of his t-shirt. Jake shook his head and grabbed Jordan's hips, rolling him over and pinning him, well aware of the cat got the cream glint in his partner's smile. With a partner who was stunning when he was dishevelled, and, at best, fairly insatiable, there was no better way to spend an hour that he could think of.

Still more dishevelled and in no hurry, they walked back to the base some time later, hand in hand and staying in the sunshine to avoid the mid winter chill. Jordan was still purring, too satisfied temporarily to care about the cold or the expenditure of energy. Jake thought he'd been noticeably calmer the last few days. He might fret and stamp and complain about the tight restrictions of the base, but like most of the inmates, he found a deep reassurance and calmness in the structure, the routines and the clarity of the rules. And while he'd sulked at Jake refusing him permission to return to classes until Monday, he'd been very settled in Jake's company, trailing him around the base and working in his office, either alongside Jake or alone. The close contact and the simplification of the routine alone had settled him. It was a common strategy in the base and one that raised no eyebrows either; many of the other inmates had spent a few days trailing one of the guards when excluded from their usual activities, and they thought no less of Jordan because of it.
They were reaching the first set of gates on the base when Jordan saw the car parked outside the car pool. And stopped, making Jake slam hard into his back. And rub his shoulders gently as he saw where Jordan's eyes were.
"It's okay."

"You knew about this?" Jordan demanded. Jake nodded.
"The Governor told me yesterday that he was planning this, he just wanted it to be a surprise."

"You mean a shock!"
"No, a surprise," Jake said quietly. "He meant this to be a good day for you; he loved your father a lot. He wanted to do something special for the anniversary."

Jordan was trembling a little under his hands. Jake took advantage of the Sunday morning quiet around the base to kiss his neck, lipping over the one place guaranteed to make Jordan shiver.
"Come and have a shower and change, and I'll walk you over. It'll be okay."

"I haven't seen them since I was sent here," Jordan said almost inaudibly. And clutched at him as he was steered through the gate.
"Are you coming? Jake?"
"If you want me to," Jake said mildly. "I told the Governor it was your decision. I really don't mind."
Hard enough for his poor brat to face his family here, without admitting to a large and staff-membered boyfriend as well.
Jordan still stood where he was, staring at the car. A tall, dark man in a well-cut suit emerged from the car pool, glanced across at them and stopped. Then lifted a somewhat hesitant hand to wave. Jake cast a look at Jordan, seeing his expression.
"Your brother?"
Moving slowly, Jordan started across the road. Jake watched him, seeing his pace quicken gradually until he ran the last two steps and flung himself into his brother's arms. And from the way the suited man hugged him back, he was more than welcome there. Reassured, Jake started towards the residential block. Jordan's brother, sister-in-law and their children were the only family left to him, and he didn't keep much contact with them. Which was something Jake had every intention of looking into now he'd seen that hug of welcome.
He was nearly at the door when he heard Jordan's yell and glanced back.
And found both his brat and the suited man heading across the road to him, Jordan in the lead.   Jordan still looked pale and a little shaky, but he reached for Jake's hand without hesitation, turning him to face the man in the suit.
"Jake, this is Oliver."

Heedless, impulsive and very sincere. Jake squeezed Jordan's fingers gently, with very much love and with a deep sense of protectiveness, hoping almost that he wouldn't make the declaration.
Don't hurl yourself in at the deep end, little one. Not for me, I don't need proof or sacrifices.
He wasn't at all surprised when Jordan made the gesture anyway. He looked very nervous but he spoke clearly and warmly, without hesitation.
"Oliver, I want you to meet my partner. Jake Sullivan."
~ The End ~    

Copyright Ranger 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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