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.
"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...."
"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 is NOT a kid," Jake said sharply. "And you don't need a cell, you just need a little resolution!"
"I'm not on shift until this evening, thank you; I have all day," Sullivan said sternly. "And I'm waiting."
"Yes sir, just a change around of shift today."
"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."
"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."
"No, Jake, he really doesn't. I'm a responsibility and that's all. That’s the only reason he has me here."
"I'll FIX the room-" Jordan began. Sullivan shook his head.
"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."
"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.
THAT shaft went home. Jordan's eyes went wide with horror.
"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.
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.
"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.
"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."
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.
"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.
"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?"
"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!"
"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?"
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.
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.
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.
"It'll be loose."
"It had better be," Jordan groused, quietly. "And we'd better not be walking far, either."
"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."
"Noooo, I'm not an inmate!" Jordan pleaded.
"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.
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.
"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.
"You knew about this?" Jordan demanded. Jake nodded.
"You mean a shock!"
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.
"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.
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.