Title: Over the Edge
Authors: Rolf and Ranger
Eric was going to go nuts. There was no getting away from it, no possible way around it; he was going to have kittens. Michael hesitated beside his open car door, then very, very slowly lowered himself down into the seat, wincing. As if last night hadn't been bad enough - he'd had to go and add to it today. He glanced at his watch as he turned the engine over. Half an hour. Eric came off shift in half an hour and would be waiting at the park, wanting to meet for lunch as they'd planned. Michael yanked the car into gear, neither in the mood for lunch, nor for meeting Eric. He needed his brains testing. Urgently. Ignoring the indignant honking of cars behind him he swung across the oncoming lane, turned, and headed back through town in the direction of the park at a little over the speed limit.
Poker. It was all Matthew's fault. It usually was. If he had kept his mouth SHUT last night- well for a start, he and Matthew would have got up this morning without wincing when they sat down. Growling, Mike swung into the park entrance.
It was hot, his backside still ached, and his mood was extremely sour. Not finding a parking place anywhere near where they were to meet didn't help anything either. He drove the long circle around, finding a few open spaces on the opposite side of the park. He chose to skip those, not liking the idea of a hike across open ground in the sun and heat, combined with the idea of walking that far with that aggravating ache. He figured he could find a spot the next time around. Pulling back into the entrance line, he passed by the first two parking areas without seeing an opening again. He knew there was only one more chance and with the cars in front of him that chance was slim to none. Looking across to the left he saw an open parking lot. The only things between him and it were a set of five steps and a few yards of green grass. There wasn't anyone in the vicinity to worry about.
With a wicked memory of The Italian Job, Michael hesitated for a moment. His backside smarted fiercely, Eric was about to kill him, life sucked- and silly things like driving the long way around seemed very unimportant.
Slamming the car back into gear, Michael swung left and stood on the accelerator. The car bounced up the curb and bounded over the grass to the top of the wide and shallow steps. There Michael slowed, caught one dizzying look down the steps and the steepness of the slope, then put his foot down and felt the breathtaking rumble and slide as the car drove down the steps.
It was brilliant and far, far too short. The car levelled out at the bottom and Michael let loose a hoot of triumph, crossing the last area of grass into the parking lot. And parking right at the front of it. Getting out of the car, there was no one in sight- no one who'd seen, no one who knew, and the feeling was the best Mike had had all day. With a couple of side-steps into a victory jig, Michael locked the car and started across the grass. His phone rang and he reached for it, scowling. "Hello?"
"Hi, sweetie. Already at the park?"
"Yes, where are you?" Michael replied.
"I had to finish up some paperwork. I'm just leaving now, and as long as the drive-thru isn't too busy, I'll be there soon."
"Love ya," Eric said, hanging up.
Michael shut his phone and pocketed it, snarling at the wait for the lunch he didn't want to eat. Topping the hill, he looked over at the wall that separated the park from the industrial area that it backed up to on one side. It was uninspiring- grey concrete, plain angles. It was supposed to be some kind of imitation of an English watch tower, with recesses above the top of the wall where the insane could stand and admire the industrial area and the park at one and the same time. Muttering, Mike headed up the stairs at something perilously close to a stamp. It was still hotter at the top. Mike sat on the top for a few minutes, aware he was starting to fry and that Eric would be still less impressed that he'd come out without suncream on in this weather. That was if he didn't die of boredom first.
The wall was as deserted as this stretch of park- clearly the town population had taken one look at today's weather and opted for leisure pursuits over on the other side by the water. The only sign of life was a row of beer bottles, marking the spot of some group gathering last night. Mike leaned on top of the wall and kicked over one of the bottles, watching the beer trickle away over the concrete until it ran down the wall in long, foamy drips.
This was so BORING.
The beer dried up quickly in the sun, along with the last vestiges of temper that Mike had been holding on to. He grabbed the bottle and flung it hard over the wall, watching as it bounced harmlessly in the grass. Leaning up over the wall, he spied a rock sitting just to the left of where he was. Grabbing a bottle, he aimed and connected with the rock. The bottle exploded in a very satisfying way, spreading glass in an arc about five feet wide. Looking around to make sure no one saw or cared, he picked up a second bottle and let loose with it. It popped loudly and broke into a few bigger pieces, rather than exploding into the smaller ones as the first bottle had done.
Looking along the wall, Mike spotted a good dozen or so bottles and settled in to break them all.
It took awhile. Eventually he discovered he got the best explosion of glass if he stood on the edge of the wall and slung them downwards by the neck, spinning them onto the rock. That caused an explosion of a good six-foot radius. He was balancing to sling down the last but one when a hand gripped his belt and yanked him firmly backward, making him drop down onto the main bridge of the wall, and a hand grabbed the bottle out of his.
"WHAT do you think you're doing?!"
Using his one remaining free hand, Mike picked up the last bottle from the wall and dropped it over the side. He had no clue why he did it; it was an impulse to finish what he'd started. And when he saw Eric's face, he realised it had been a serious mistake.
Eric let go of his arm and swatted him instead, once and hard.
"OW!" Mike yelled, rubbing the one smarting handprint on an already aching backside.
"I asked you a question, young man," Eric replied, pulling him down onto the ground and looking none too pleased.
"Just waiting for you," he said petulantly.
Eric's long glare made Mike very uncomfortable. "What?"
"Don't 'what?' me young man. Waiting for me doesn't give you license to do some dangerous littering."
"I didn't leave the bottles!" Mike said indignantly, looking around to see who else might be listening.
"Michael. Kids play in this park; just HOW much broken glass have you scattered down there?" Eric demanded in a tone that cut straight through Mike's. "IS that a good idea in a park?"
"No," Michael muttered, not having a better answer. But added sullenly, "I was BORED, you took ages."
"So you thought you'd spread broken glass everywhere?" Eric said grimly. "I could arrest you for that, Michael David."
"So go on," Mike snapped back. Instead, Eric reversed him, landed another blazing swat across his bottom and pointed at the next recess on the wall.
"Sit. I'm not talking to you about this until you can be civil. Move."
Mike stomped over and sat down hard on the concrete, regretting that move instantly but having too much pride to get back up. He swallowed his yell and sat sullenly for several LONG minutes as Eric leaned on the parapet, checking out the damage. As the few minutes lengthened into a few more, Michael settled down and really began to think about what was coming up, which made his stomach twist and churn. He pulled his knees up and wrapped his arms around them, still too proud to start talking to Eric first.
Eric gave him about fifteen minutes, waiting to see the drop of the shoulders that meant he was starting to settle down. He walked over to stand in front of him. "Are we ready to discuss this?"
Michael gave him a sulky look, not at all keen, but also not keen to go on sitting here. He nodded reluctantly. And jumped at Eric's bark.
"I ASKED a question."
"Yes SIR," Michael snapped back, a lot more sarcastically than he intended. Eric pulled him to his feet and put a McDonald's bag in his hand.
"Sit down and eat. If your mood is any reflection at ALL of your blood sugar you must be starving."
"It's not," Mike said snidely, opening the bag. Eric sat down beside him and started on his own hamburger.
"Then what is it?"
Michael shrugged one shoulder, chewing. And scowling.
"I hate mustard."
"It isn't mustard, it's something yellow and flavourless," Eric said shortly.
"I still don't like it."
"Michael, just eat." Eric finished his own burger and sat back, willing away indigestion between the heat and a truculent partner. Who clearly had no intention of becoming less truculent any time soon. He wondered briefly what on earth was bothering Mike- he'd been sunny-tempered enough when he left this morning to go on shift.
Mike chewed the outside of his hamburger and put the middle, which was covered in the most mustard, back onto the wrapper. Eric took it from him, not arguing, and wrapped the whole lot in the remains of the packing.
"Right, young man. There is not much at all I can do about the glass here other than ring the park authorities and report it. I'd LIKE you to clear it up yourself, but it isn't safe and this isn't the time. Home, please."
Michael got up, scowling, and headed towards his car.
"Where are you going?" Eric asked when he saw the direction Michael was going in.
"Home, like you said!" Mike spat back, not stopping.
Eric shook his head, knowing the discussion at home wasn't going to be anything close to calming with the attitude Mike was carrying with him. He took their trash over to a trash can and threw it in, walking over to the closest parking lot where they had a special space for the authorities. He was in the process of starting his squad car when his phone rang.
"My CAR's gone!"
Mike sounded panicked. Eric sighed and got out of his car, locking it.
"Are you sure?"
"I'm not stupid, Eric; I KNOW where I parked! The bloody car's gone!"
"Which car park are you in?" Eric said, starting to walk.
"The lot on the far side of the bridge."
Eric quickened his pace, frowning. "That lot's closed."
"It isn't; I parked in it this morning."
"HOW did you park in it, Michael? That road is shut down for construction; there IS no way through which is why that lot is closed."
"I was here, the car is GONE!" Mike said again.
"Calm down. Take a seat in the shade, I'll be there in just a moment," Eric said, snapping his phone shut. Walking through the park he could see where someone had driven across the grass recently. Following it from the far side of the hill, he saw where the tracks stopped at the bottom of the stone steps. Pace quickening, Eric began to get an ill feeling. When he topped the hill, Michael jumped up.
"I was parked RIGHT there!" he said, pointing to an empty spot.
Eric walked right up to him, a very unpromising look on his face. "Tell me how you came to park there."
"I drove," Michael said furiously. Eric put his hands on his hips, giving Mike what Mike always thought of as the Policeman look.
"Now tell me you didn't drive down the steps?"
There was a moment's silence while Michael looked everywhere but at him. And then said in a small voice, "Ok?"
Eric released tightly-held breath in an explosive sigh.
"MICHAEL. You drove across the grass to get here, and took the car down that flight of steps? Did you check and see how knackered the exhaust was afterwards? The car will have been towed, that road and this lot were shut! What on EARTH were you thinking?!"
"I was thinking that there weren't any stupid parking spaces except this empty lot, and I didn't want to park on the other side of the park and have a ten friggen mile hike to eat lunch!" Mike said, nearly stomping in frustration.
"So you drove down steps and across the grass to get here?" Eric asked, almost in disbelief.
"WHERE is my car??!"
"SIT DOWN," Eric said firmly, pointing at the curb beneath the tree. He glared until his partner finally sat down with a huff, then opened his phone and called the city's towing service. Two minutes later he clicked the phone shut.
"Your car is impounded at the city lot, as I suspected," Eric said, holding out his hand to help Mike to his feet. "Let's go, we have a lot to discuss this afternoon."
"We need to get my car," Mike said sourly, not moving. Eric reached down, took his arm and pulled him to his feet.
"We do not. YOU need to go get your car. Tomorrow. And pay the fine. Right now we're going home."
Mike had one serious try at yanking his arm out of Eric's hand and Eric stopped, giving Mike a look that was about as warning as Eric ever got.
"Michael, I'd think long and hard about how much of this discussion you want to hold here and now. Because if you make me, I AM going to do it."
Mike glared back for a long moment, well aware that while Eric was a good-tempered man and not at all given to dramatics, he also meant what he said. Finally he dropped his head and started walking again, and Eric walked with him across to the squad car in the far parking lot. The drive home seemed to last several hours. Michael spent the drive with his arms folded, his head down, fuming quietly and steadily. Eric shot him several more and more baffled looks. Mike was not given to tempers. The driving he could understand- under impulse, impatient, that was pure Mike- but the temper was very out of character.
He pulled up into the drive and parked the car. "You can make yourself comfortable in the kitchen corner, please," Eric said, getting out of the car and collecting his gun and bulletproof vest. The slam of the door made him wince. He made his way through the kitchen, the cant of Michael's shoulders indicating he was still extremely angry. He headed upstairs, hanging his vest in the closet and putting his sidearm in the bedside table. Stripping out of his uniform blues, he made his way into the bathroom for a short shower to wash away the dirt, grime and stress of the day. After towelling off, Eric pulled on jeans and a comfortable white t-shirt and headed downstairs in bare feet. Unscrewing the lid from a bottle of water, he drank deeply then set that on the counter, surveying his partner in the corner. Leaning against the counter, he spoke. "Are you ready to discuss today?"
"No," Mike said bitterly.
"Fine," Eric said matter-of-factly, and picked up the phone. Mike cursed himself quietly and leaned his forehead against the wall.
"Hello?" Eric said behind him. "Yes, I was ringing in a report for the bridge area of the park? There's a lot of broken glass around the foot of the wall, looks like some vandalism there. Yes. Well it was a good amount. Thank you. Thanks, goodbye."
Mike mouthed the word sarcastically at the wall, trying not to feel the sick wave of self disgust. Eric pulled out a chair at the table and opened the newspaper.
It was twenty minutes before Mike shifted his weight, the whine slipping out in spite of himself.
"Quiet, please," Eric reminded him, leaving him there for another five minutes before speaking again. "Ready to talk now?"
"Yes, sir," Michael said quietly, legs aching and his brain as well, for having stood and stared at nothing for the longest time.
"Come here," Eric said, standing and pulling a chair out for Mike to sit in.
Mike sat very gingerly onto the chair. Eric shook his head. As a plea for sympathy Mike was onto a lost cause. He and Matthew had been thorough nuisances the night before at poker and they'd both been soundly spanked for it, but not enough for Mike to be making this kind of fuss about it. If he thought that was going to save him now he had another think coming.
"Do you have ANYTHING to say for yourself?" Eric said sternly, waiting until Mike's face lifted to his. Still - less angry than defiant. The kind of last ditch defiance Eric saw in kids arrested when they thought they had nothing left to lose. Mike shook his head, looking back down at the table.
"Nothing?" Eric said grimly. "Smashing glass like a kid? Without any thought for the danger and disruption in a public place? Driving across parkland because you didn't feel like walking a quarter of a mile?"
"It's longer than that!"
"That is totally BESIDE the point, young man. You don't break laws because you're inconvenienced or because you don't think they apply to you. Michael, you KNOW that. There's something else going on here, and I want to know. NOW."
"NOTHING!" Michael said furiously. "I wanted to park there and I was only PLAYING with the glass. Ok it was stupid, I get it; we
"And that's all you've got to say?" Eric demanded. Michael gave him one furious look and ducked his head again. Eric waited a minute then unfolded his arms.
He pulled Michael to his feet in one clean yank, took his seat and rapidly unbuttoned Michael's jeans, pulling them to his knees and his shorts after before he turned Michael over his knee.
And stopped, hand raised.
Then lowered the hand and looked with dawning understanding at his partner.
"That's very decorative, Michael David."
"Go ahead, spank me," Mike ground out, trying to get comfortable in a most uncomfortable position. He was surprised when he found himself set back on his feet, and more surprised at Eric's next words.
"No, it's not going to be that easy for you, young man. Step out of your pants, take that chair and have a seat in the corner," Eric said, pointing.
"What??!" Mike demanded.
Eric looked right back at him, not moving. "You heard me. Move."
Mike kicked off his pants, nearly stumbling in his anger, grabbed the chair and settled in it, facing the wall.
Eric waited until he was sure that he was going to be obeyed, aware of his partner's shoulders heaving with barely-controlled rage. He was sitting flung back in the chair, arms folded, head down. And hips twisted so that no weight rested on the bright red patch on his left cheek.
"How long do I have -"
"QUIET," Eric said in a tone that left absolutely no doubt as to the death, brimstone and horror that would follow if he wasn't listened to. He got up, sweeping up the newspaper, and binned it, then set his hips to the kitchen cabinet and folded his arms across his chest, surveying his partner's bent head.
Mike stared at the wall, fuming. He'd been ready to get this day over with, now he was still waiting for the death and destruction that was sure to come. The tattoo was a painful reminder of that, and the cold of the chair on his skin was a further reminder. He couldn't remember the last time he'd waited in such a fashion for a spanking before.
If that didn't focus his mind, nothing would. Eric waited, in no hurry, now more than able to follow the events of the day. Well aware he'd already made a decision that was going to land him in a heap of trouble, apprehension had turned into defiance, had turned into several other bad choices. Partly born of temper, and partly, Eric suspected, to make sure of the fate he was dreading.
Tears burned in Michael's eyes as he thought back over the day. He cursed Chris, Matthew, and himself in equal amounts for the poker party, and himself again for listening to his pride rather than his brain. He shifted a few times in his seat, getting increasingly upset about the day and not being able to get past it. Finally the stress and the waiting overwhelmed him and after one big gulping sob to try to hold back the dam, it broke and tears coursed down his face.
Eric pulled himself up off the cabinets and went to him, taking Mike's hand and pulling. This time Mike stumbled to his feet and buried himself straight in Eric's arms, sobbing. Eric wrapped his arms around him and hugged him tightly, resting his chin on the top of Mike's head. It took several minutes before Mike started to calm, and when he did Eric hooked a chair out with his foot, sat down and drew Mike into his lap, once more wrapping him up in a hug.
"You want to talk to me about that mark?"
"I mentioned it at poker, that I'd always wanted one," Mike said between sobs. "Matthew dared me, so I did it this morning," finished, beyond all desires to obfuscate.
Eric stroked his back calmly, keeping his voice level although he was far from happy.
"Matthew dared you."
Mike nodded against his neck. "I wanted it - did you see what it said?"
"That has absolutely no bearing here," Eric said quietly but firmly. "Matthew dared you, and you went out and put a PERMANENT mark on your body without discussing it with me. Is that what you're saying?"
"No one can see it but us," Michael tried, knowing they were getting closer to the heart of this discussion. "I didn't put it on my arm, so employers won't see."
"That matters, doesn't it?" Michael tried in a last ditch effort, managing to hold eye contact for a minute.
"A permanent mark. In a potentially very dangerous procedure. Affecting your body. Without discussing it with me. Because someone dared you," Eric said, looking right back. "Is that what you're telling me, Michael David"?
Short sentences, each one bringing a deeper and deeper flush to Mike's face and twisting his stomach into a tighter and tighter knot. His voice crept up several notches against his will. "I didn't mean it like that."
"Michael, do you go making radical decisions alone?" Eric said bluntly. "Especially decisions based on impulse?"
"No," Michael said, swallowing audibly.
"Do you have the right to make radical changes to your body without discussing it with me first?" Eric went on, not changing his tone. "You're committed to me, Michael David."
Voice another notch higher, "No."
Eric put a hand under his chin, making him look. "You have a responsibility to me. WE make these kinds of decisions together, that's what a partnership is about. You do NOT make those decisions alone and tell me when it's too late, that kind of disrespect has no place in a relationship."
Those words hit home, burning Michael with shame. "I didn't mean to disrespect you, I'm sorry," he said, sobbing again and trying to bury himself against Eric's neck.
Eric held him back, not letting him look away. "What about the risks, Mike? Do you KNOW the risks involved in tattooing? Needles? SHARING needles? How CAN you go and take that risk, knowing what you might bring back with you!"
"I checked, I went to a good place, the one down on
"Thank God," Eric said bluntly. "Now all we have to worry about is allergic reactions, infections and nerve damage. It's going to take you a lot of cash to have that erased, young man."
"Erased??!" Mike said, hearing only that.
"Erased. It was not something we agreed on, it was not something you discussed with me, you don't just pull a fait accompli on me, Mike, and expect to get your own way."
"But...but I designed it, it has our initials in it!"
Eric heard the hurt in Michael's voice and for a minute very nearly softened. Then shook his head. "That makes no difference, Mike. This is a permanent mark; it was something you should have discussed with me first and it is not EVER okay to do something that seriously affects you without us having agreed on it. Apart from which I would NEVER have been happy with you marking your body. You might come to seriously regret that mark in years to come, that's without the risks involved in it, or the fact my partner was lying in a tattoo parlour this morning with his pants down. Don't think for a moment I am the LEAST bit happy about this, Mike, and you knew full well I wouldn't be. You've been acting out all morning in fear of what would happen when I saw it, and despite knowing I wouldn't be happy you STILL went and did it anyway!"
Michael looked away with no answer to that.
The tone snapped Michael's head up, searching his partner's eyes.
"Why, when you KNEW I wouldn't like or approve of this, did you still feel it was ok to go and do it?" Eric said sternly.
"I wanted to show Matthew," Michael said as quietly as he could.
"You wanted to show Matthew WHAT? That it's some tough gesture to defy your partner on his say-so?"
"Noooooo," Michael said, tears slipping again down his face. "That I wasn't afraid of the needle and that I could make a good design."
"And that was so much more important than what I'd think or whether I'd agree that was a good idea? Or I'd WANT your body marked? Or you lying around in some tattoo parlour with half the town staring at your butt?"
"Noooooooo," Michael said, stomach twisted into a knot. Eric wasn't letting this go away easily.
"How do you think that makes me feel, Michael?" Eric said sternly.
"You're mad at meeeeeeee," Michael said pitifully.
"Yes. And disappointed. How can you expect me not to be?"
A lump of sadness settled into Mike's throat, making words impossible. His head went down, tears slipping down his face.
"Beside this, the glass incident and some truly stupid driving make sense, don't they?" Eric said more gently.
Michael shook his head no, one hand wiping at his eyes.
"No?" Eric queried.
"It was stupid."
"Either could have got you arrested and charged, Michael. And rightfully so."
"Yes, sir," Michael replied quietly.
None of that was unexpected, but it was still a blow to hear. His head ducked further down, hating that Eric didn't trust him, even if it was fully deserved.
Eric slid Michael off his lap, with one final peer at the tattoo. "Go get the paddle please, Michael."
Michael gulped again, turning and going towards the drawer where the paddle resided. That too was not unexpected, but to know that his very sore tattoo was going to be the most pleasant sensation he'd feel for the next few hours still didn't help. He pulled the paddle out, wishing that he could break it into a million pieces, and made the too-short walk back to where Eric waited. He couldn't even raise his hand, just waited for Eric to take it from him.
Eric took it out of his hands and drew Michael back to him, turning him over his knee.
"You want to tell me what this is for?"
"For not consulting you about a tattoo,” Michael managed without sounding like a frightened mouse.
"Breaking glass and driving in the park, sir," he said, ducking his head and bracing himself for the first swat.
"And for taking serious risks with yourself," Eric said grimly. "I hate that, Mike. I can't explain to you HOW much I hate that, whether it's you smashing glass around yourself or risking being arrested for bloody stupid driving and risking rolling the car or letting some stranger stick you with a needle."
Michael risked a look, trying to see Eric's face. "I'm sorrrrrrrry, I am," he said through sobs, hating how much he'd upset Eric.
"I know," Eric said more gently. "But you can't make these kinds of decisions alone, Mike; that is NOT on. Not ever, not for any reason, no matter whether or not you've managed to convince yourself there's a good intention behind it."
He said nothing more, shook the paddle into a more comfortable grip and tucked a hand across Michael's back, tipping him into a more acute position before he brought the paddle down smartly across one cheek, well away from the slightly swollen tattoo.
Michael's head flew up as he inhaled deeply against the sudden and furious sting. He never seemed to remember exactly how BADLY that hurt until he was in this position, wishing furiously that he'd never done whatever it was that had got him here. The second swat landed and he lost every bit of air he'd just sucked in, unable to refill his lungs for a moment.
Three swats later and he was yelping, unable to handle the burning sting of the paddle as it connected each time, building the burn in leaps and bounds.
Eric paddled him soundly, covering and recovering ground until both cheeks were a deep red and Michael's twisting and kicking gave way into limp, heaving sobs. Then and only then he laid the paddle down on the table and stretched aching fingers, looking with sympathy at his partner.
Michael was past coherency. When Eric lifted him down to his knees he collapsed against Eric's legs, limp, his hot, red face wet with tears. Eric ran a hand gently over his forehead, pushing his hair back, and held out his arms, waiting until Michael moved to him.
It didn't take too long before Michael's knees were trying to scream louder than his paddled backside. He allowed Eric to pull him to his feet and rested thigh against thigh, burying his face against Eric's neck, heedless of tears or mucus. It took a long time for him to begin to settle.
Eric stroked his back slowly and steadily, massaging his neck and shoulders, listening to his breathing slowly calm out of its caught, unsteady rhythm. When he finally was relaxed, leaning heavily, his head limp on his shoulder, Eric turned his head and kissed him, patting his hip gently.
"Come into the living room and lie down, let's put some ice on that tattoo, it looks inflamed."
Michael got up on unsteady legs and let Eric help him to the couch. He lay face down, head turned towards the back of the couch, arms wrapped around the pillow.
Eric followed, unwrapping the ice pack that lived in their freezer. "Did they give you anything for it?"
"Antibiotic cream," he replied between hiccups.
"And what do we do with that?" Eric sat on the edge of the sofa behind him and gently rested the ice pack on the tattoo.
Michael tightened his buttocks against the cold, regretting the move instantly. "It goes on twice a day."
"And how do we keep it clean?" Eric settled more comfortably, once more starting to massage Mike's lower back under his t-shirt.
"Soap and water, pat dry," Mike replied from the depths of the couch.
Eric didn't answer, still stroking his back.
Mike really wished he could drift off into sleep but the pain radiating from the paddling wouldn't allow it. When some condensation from the ice dripped down his side he jerked a little. "Isn't that enough ice?"
"Ok." Eric rewrapped the ice and got up. "Go get ready for bed please."
"But it's not even five yet," Mike said, lifting himself up on his elbows.
"It's not even four. And you're going to bed." Eric stopped and waited, Looking.
Michael slowly worked his way up into a standing position, not at all willing to argue at this point. He walked upstairs and went straight into the bathroom, pulling off his shirt, the only piece of clothing he still had on. He dropped that on the lid of the toilet and risked a look at his face, wincing. Splotchy red, his eyes looking like he'd been on a three week drunk. He turned the taps on and washed his face with cool water, relieving only the cracked feeling of salt across his face. He was about to turn the taps off when he realized he should try washing his tattoo.
Eric, heading upstairs, heard the loud, "OUCH" and came to look around the bathroom door, watching a sweating Michael gingerly pat the tattoo dry.
"There isn't anything in that general vicinity that isn't," Michael said resignedly.
"Where's that antibiotic cream?" Eric said gently, holding out a hand.
Michael followed Eric back into the bedroom. "In the car...."
"Don't we have some here?" he asked, stopping just inside the door.
"I'd rather use what they recommended, but I suppose it'll have to do. Get into bed." Eric had a quick sort through the bathroom cabinet and came back with a tube.
Michael skipped on putting his pajama bottoms on, choosing just a shirt instead. He'd pulled a corner of the covers down but was face down on top of them.
Eric sat down beside him, squeezed some of the cream onto his fingers and very gently rubbed it over the tattoo, smoothing it over the outer lines where it looked sorest.
Michael closed his mouth against any complaints, looking back only when Eric's fingers had stopped rubbing.
"If you had said yes to a tattoo, would you have liked that one?" he ventured.
Eric looked at him. "I wouldn't have said yes to a tattoo, Mike."
Mike rolled a little to the side so that he could look better at his partner. "I'm sorry, I really am. It was a tattoo, that's all I was thinking, not that it was a violation of us."
"I wouldn't call it a violation. I would say it was a very bad idea, and definitely not something you should have done," Eric said gently. "I know it was done on impulse."
"I'm sorry," Michael repeated, lying back down on his pillow.
Eric leaned down, turned Michael's face back to his and kissed him, gently and soundly. "I know. Thankyou. And it's done now, we'll make the best of it."
"Do I really have to get it taken off?"
Eric paused, hand still against his face. "You don't in any way deserve to keep it, do you?"
"No," Michael said sincerely. "But even after all the work, there will probably be a scar there."
"That's no excuse." Eric paused, once more gently touching alongside the tattoo. "How are you going to feel walking around with my initials on your butt when you're sixty, hmm? The rest of your life is a LONG time to want a mark on you."
"I'd want no other marks upon my butt, except yours, and I much prefer my way to yours," Michael said slyly, grinning into the pillow.
Eric stifled a grin and landed a sound swat across the still-scarlet unmarked cheek. "And you THOROUGHLY deserved that. You do not at
Michael swallowed the groan and took a minute to compose his words. "Are you looking at it?”
"No, Michael, I'm staring in rapture at your left ankle. Yes, of course I'm looking at it."
"The handcuffs both remind me what you do, and of the bond we share together. That's why our initials are inside each one, and they overlap in the center. It also forms a sort of heart, to show our love. I can't make a permanent bond with marriage - yet - but I can show a permanent bond like that.”
"Mike.........." Eric began softly.
"I know it's stupid....but people in love do stupid things." Mike couldn't help it and as the flush rose in his cheeks he hid his face in the pillow.
"Honey..." Eric's hand cupped the nape of his neck, stroking. "I don't need your body marked to know you love me."
"Maybe not," Mike said. "And it didn't change your mind on spanking me any lighter, so if it's got to go, it's got to go."
That attitude was commendable. Eric ran a gentle finger down Mike's spine.
"Let's say we'll think about it. That doesn't mean yes, it means we'll talk about it. But I appreciate the gesture and it's certainly a beautiful thought."
Mike curled back up against his pillow, sore, shattered and not looking forward to the next few hours, never mind the next two weeks. Even if Eric did change his mind, everything else about getting the tattoo was so not worth it.
It had been a rotten day, it was going to be a rotten fortnight and he was as uncomfortable as hell... on the other hand as Eric got up with a final pat to his hip and headed downstairs, Mike twisted to look.
It WAS a beautiful tattoo.