Wednesday, February 3, 2010

Transitions - Whole New World Part 6

Title: Transitions - the next story in the Whole New World series
Authors: Rolf and Gayspankee
Warnings: Beware of men in flasher macs (ask Ranger!)


If you think you're outgrowing your britches, make sure to get new ones QUICK!

Many thanks to Ranger for expanding a significant conversation to make the story come alive. :{)






Marc's index finger lazily circled the brim of his lukewarm cup of coffee. His eyes focused on a crumb in the middle of the diner table.


"Wow. That sounds...just horrible," Jason replied, at a loss for words.


Marc shook his head, then looked into Jason's baby blues.


"I'm sorry. I didn't mean to dump this on you," Marc said.


"It's okay. I knew something had been bothering you. It helps talking about it," Jason replied with optimism. He placed his hand on top of Marc's, and gave it a squeeze.


"One piece of advice I can relay, everything will be alright," he said with a half chuckle.


Marc nodded. "Alright, now let's talk about you. I gather you have mulled over my offer?"


"That was really generous of you," Jason said with a pause.


"But?" Marc asked.


"Are you sure you are still up for it? Sounds like you are dealing with more than your fair share."


"The diversion will be good for me. But I will warn you, I am tough. I am patient, but you gotta be giving your all."


Jason smiled, a slight twinkle in his eyes.


"I am serious," Marc reinforced.


"Oh, I don't doubt you are. You just remind me of Steven."


"Well, with that kind of reaction I will take that as a compliment."


Jason nodded in agreement. "When do you want to begin?"


"How about this evening, at the library?"


"Umm..."


"What? There is no time like the present to-"


"I know. It's just I am...not...comfortable in the library..." Jason said trailing off. He hung his head, still wondering if Steven would approve.


"Of course, I'm sorry. We could...where would you feel best focused?"


"I guess my apartment?"


"Alright."


"I am at 869 Sicamore, you know where that is?"


"Is there a gas station on the corner?"


"Yeah. I am just a few up from that. Brick, two family."


"Ok." Marc looked at his watch, his lunch hour quickly winding down. "Six sound good?"


"Yeah, that will be good. I will order a pizza."


"Only if you let me pay for half."


"You're doing MORE than enough. The least-"


"I SAID, only if I pay for half," Marc replied firmly, with a wink.


Jason sighed and nodded in compliance.


"I should be on my way, lunch hour is almost over."


"Are you doing alright?" Jason asked with sincerity.


"Yes, talking helps ease the mind."


"Things will blow over. It sounds like you have a strong bond."


Marc nodded, and reached for his wallet. Jason beat him to the draw and laid down a $5. Marc gave him a look, but Jason held his ground.


"Coffee isn't going to break me."


Marc shook his head. "Thank you. I will see you tonight." As he headed towards the door, Jason hollered.


"Mushrooms or pepperoni?"


Marc stopped and shrugged. "Surprise me."


-------------------------
My Dearest Matthew,
I keep trying to find you on IM, but so far I keep missing you.  I am hoping you don't have me blocked, but I suppose I wouldn't blame you if you did.  What I said must have come as quite a shock, but...I swear it's not as bad as you think.  It really isn't.  I beg you to talk to me, let me try to explain. We've been friends far too long, and I don't want to lose you.  
Your Best Friend,
Marc
Marc waited a few minutes before pressing send. He just hoped that Matthew would read it before putting it in his trash. A moment later his computer beeped to alert him to a new message. Clicking into his mail, he saw it was a message with the same header he'd just sent Matthew. His hopes were dashed when he opened the mail as it was a return - denied - from receiver. Marc shut down his mail account and turned away from the computer. He pulled out the latest budgets and worked through the numbers simply to get his mind off of his best friend.


As five rolled around, Marc thought about checking his mail. Deciding that he didn't need any further reason to be upset, he shut his computer off without looking. He headed home for a quick change of clothes, and headed back out to find Jason's house. Fifteen minutes later he pulled into the driveway. Marc got out of his car and walked up onto the porch. He smiled as he stared at the two doors. Marc was startled as the door on the left opened suddenly.


"Sorry, I forgot to tell you which floor didn't I?" Jason said as pushed open the screen door.


Marc nodded. "I could have looked at the mailbox, but that's a lot of work," Marc said with a chuckle.


Jason laughed and stepped to the side to let Marc in. Marc entered and surveyed the apartment. It was clear that Jason's studies weren't the only area in need of organization.


"Excuse the mess, I tried to pick some stuff up, but got discouraged." Jason said, after noticing Marc's reaction.


"Perhaps that is something else I can help you with." Marc replied, and continued after a brief pause. "And that was NOT an offer to clean."


"Too bad, I was going to take you right up on that." Jason laughed. "I've got everything on the table in the dining room."


"You lead."


Jason led Marc thru the apartment to the dining room. Marc's gaze unconsciously focused on Jason's tight jeans as he followed him. Jason stopped at the table and turned his head towards Marc. He noticed Marc eyeing his rear end, but didn't comment on it.


"I...I thought we could start with Trig."


"Let's sit down, and show me what you got."


Jason quickly sat down, and Marc took a seat next to him. Jason leafed through a stack of papers and handed them to Marc.


"These are my last few quizzes and tests."


Marc looked over them. He noticed that the grades, while failing, were consistent. Marc laid the papers on the table.


"Do you have a copy of your homework schedule?"


Jason leafed thru another stack of papers, and handed it to Marc, their hands brushing one another gently. Marc laid it down on the table, and skimmed it, using his hand to follow along. Jason stared at Marc's large, strong hand. He watched it glide across the paper, completely unaware that he was evening doing it. Marc turned to Jason to inquire about his study habits. He saw that Jason's gaze was affixed to his hand. Marc found that odd, but didn't draw attention to it.


"Did you complete these first four assignments?"


"Well, I-"


"Did you complete the first four assignments, yes or no?" Marc asked, wanting a simple answer.


"No, I didn't." Jason admitted.


"And your test results reflect that. Have you missed any classes?"


"No."


"Make sure you don't. First thing you need to do, is go back and complete those assignments. They aren't very long, and probably can be done in a few hours over two or three nights."


"Ok." Jason replied.


"I expect all of your assignments to be done in full, on time. This doesn't mention it, but is there an additional workbook?"


Jason pointed to his book. Marc picked up the main text book, and pulled out the hidden workbook.


"Does your professor refer to this at all?"


"He told us to complete the sections as we go along, for our own benefit. But it's not checked or graded."


Marc flipped through it. "So you have left it unused."


Jason nodded.


"I want you to work on your backlog as you have time, but I expect you to complete the exercises in that regularly. I WILL check."


"Ok." Jason replied.


Marc grabbed a notebook from the table, checked to make sure it was fresh, and began writing in it.


"I am making you a study log. I am writing down everything that I have told you, so there isn't any confusion. I want you to refer to this, and make sure you check off everything each night."


"Ok." Jason replied, processing everything that Marc said. Despite his subdued exterior, he was pleased to have such rugged guidelines to follow.


"What's next?" Marc asked.


*************


Rolf shook his head and hung up the phone.


"Who are you calling?" Matthew asked, as he tore his attention away from the television.


"I was trying to get a hold of Marc, but his machine isn't on."


"What are you calling HIM for?" Matthew barked.


"I am worried about him. He hasn't written since the other day."


Matthew blushed, and turned his attention back towards the television.


"Matthew? What is it? Have you heard from him?" Rolf asked, knowing that blush all too well.


"No, and we WON'T either!" Matthew replied, staring at the tv.


"Why not?"


Matthew faced Rolf. "Because I blocked that lying, rotten snake from our inbox!"


"Matthew Christopher is that ANY way to speak about a friend? Is that any way to TREAT a friend?" Rolf asked firmly.


"Nope. That's why it applies to 'him' though. He's no friend of mine. No friend of yours."


"Speak for yourself." Rolf replied.


"WHAT?!?"


"I still value and care for Marc very much. As much as you are angry and hurting, he is hurting and pained too."


"Good!" Matthew replied. He stood up from the couch. "I am suddenly tired, I'm going to bed."


Matthew walked quickly upstairs, not wishing to discuss things further.


Rolf remained seated, exhaled heavily and shook his head. He stared blankly at the floor, wishing he knew how to resolve this mess.


****************


Marc pushed the on button and scanned through his mail while the computer booted up. All that he found were a couple of bills and junk mail, which Marc set to the side. The computer finished it's cranking and Marc immediately logged onto his IM, as was his habit. Matthew was shown as offline, though a mutual friend was there. Marc quickly logged off, not interested in talking to anyone but Matthew at the moment.


He surfed to a few spots finding nothing of interest. Finally he could stand it no longer and loaded up his email. He looked quickly down the list of new messages with his breath held. He slowly released it as he got to the bottom with nothing but spam in his inbox. Totally depressed, Marc turned the computer off and opted for a movie from his collection. Even his favorite horror film could do nothing to cheer him up and he ended up in bed by ten.


Matthew lowered his sleeping shorts, and pulled on a fresh pair of underwear. He reached into the top drawer and grabbed a pair of socks.


"I have a meeting until six," Rolf said as started buttoning his dress shirt. "I was thinking, Chinese take out for dinner?"


Matthew smiled. "With egg rolls?"


"Well of course!"


"Sounds good," Matthew replied as he walked past Rolf to the closet.


"What if I pick that up, and you meet me over at Marc's? Have dinner there?" Rolf ventured.


Matthew froze at the mention of Marc's name, and turned slowly, facing Rolf.


"I told you before, I don't EVER want to see that FUCKER again!" Matthew spat angrily.


"Bathroom NOW!" Rolf replied pointing.


"Rolf?!?" Matthew snapped.


"You are entitled to your feelings, and I respect that. You, however, are NOT entitled to language like that, EVER! Now I will not ask again," Rolf replied firmly, pointing.


Matthew stared hard at Rolf, lips pursed, ready to combat, but Rolf's firm gaze warned him not to. Matthew exhaled heavily and walked into the bathroom, still dressed in only his socks and underwear. Rolf followed, rolled up the sleeves to the shirt he just finished buttoning. He walked to the sink and grabbed the fresh bar of Ivory. He turned on the hot water, and pointed at the toilet seat. Matthew sat down and stared at the rug. After gathering a good lather, Rolf turned to Matthew.


"Open."


Matthew looked at Rolf one more time, pleading, to no avail. He closed his eyes tightly and opened his mouth. Rolf expertly coated Matthew's mouth with the bitter flavor.


"Bite down," Rolf instructed.


Matthew did as he was told. Rolf returned to the sink, rinsing his hands. He grabbed a small hand towel and turned towards Matthew.


"Despite your ill feelings towards Marc, cursing of ANY caliber will not be accepted. Is that understood?"


Matthew winced as the soap hit a particularly sensitive taste bud, but nodded.


"Sit there and think about it. I will return when I have finished getting dressed," Rolf finished and exited the room.


Matthew sat there in silence, trying his best to make sure the soap didn't coat any new areas. He felt bad for snapping as he did, especially when he knew better. Rolf returned relatively quickly, much to Matthew's surprise and grabbed the bar of soap.


"Open." Rolf said, as he waited for Matthew to comply. He grabbed the bar but didn't replace it on the sink, a gesture which Matthew didn't like. "You may spit a couple times, then sit back down."


Matthew's stomach turned, not wanting a second coating. He spit a few times before Rolf cleared his throat, signaling the end. He took his place back on the toilet seat and Rolf set the soap down in it's place, wiping his hands on the towel.


"I hate to see you hurting so much. And you are completely entitled to those feelings." Rolf paused, and finished drying his hands. "I am in an awkward position here. You, are now and always shall be, my first priority. Understood?"


Matthew nodded cautiously.


"I also have an obligation to Marc." Rolf raised his finger to silence Matthew, who was ready to combat that. "Just as much as we let him become a part of our life, he let us become a part of his. I would like the ban lifted from our e-mail account. If you choose to read or discard any mailings with YOUR name on it, that is your choice."


"No way. No fu-fudging way. I don't want anything to do with HIM, and I don't want YOU doing anything with him," Matthew said, soap running down his chin.


Rolf reached out and placed his hand on Matthew's shoulder. "Do you trust me?"


"Of course!" Matthew started, looking up.


"Think about it for a moment. Do you trust me?" Rolf asked again, slowly.


Tears stung Matthew's eyes. "Yes, I do. It's just…."


When Matthew didn't continue, Rolf did. He pulled him up and wrapped his arms around Matthew, enveloping him. "There is no one – not EVEN Marc – who can change how I feel about you. There could be a hundred Marcs, a hundred far more eager young men that want to be part of us, or have me or you, but not one of them will change US. That's a promise I made to you years ago, and one I intend to keep."


Rolf pulled away and looked deeply into Matthew's eyes. "You are the one I'm committed to. What you say matters, and I'll always be willing to listen. If you have a question or concern, just talk to me about it. You have every right to tell me when I'm doing something that upsets you."


Matthew nodded, not saying anything. He tried to step back towards Rolf's embrace but was stopped.


"Do you trust me around men? If I were somehow dropped onto the set of Queer as Folk, for example, do you trust me enough to know that no matter who's around me, and what they're doing, that it's only YOU I have eyes for? Only you I'll come home to? Only you who'll know me in that way?"


Matthew nodded, near tears.


Rolf linked his hands in the small of Matthew's back, holding him and gradually making his voice and body more relaxed, hoping some of that would filter through. "Ok. So how about online. Do you trust me there? Trust me not to get involved or talk to people behind your back?"


"Of course! That isn't the question," Matthew said miserably.


"No," Rolf said gently. "I know you do trust me. The same way I trust you. So what IS the point here, hmmm? What do you think might happen between me and Marc?"


Matthew tried to back out of Rolf's grip but wasn't successful. This was where things hurt. "I don't know what HE'D try to do!"


"You think I'd let him?" Rolf said quietly. "Look at me."


Matthew managed to shake his head no but couldn't bring his eyes up.


Rolf put a hand under his chin and made him look, holding him there. "What is this, hmmm? What really bothers you here?"


"Marc's different. I don't know what to think about him," Matthew said, a tear slipping out against his control. "He'll try something with you, ruin it more," he trailed of miserably.


Rolf drew him close and held him tight, doing nothing but hold him for a long moment. "It's okay," he said eventually. "It's alright, it WILL be alright."


Matthew took comfort in the hug, though he wasn't nearly as sure as Rolf seemed that things would work out.


Rolf went on holding him, trying to find a way through this that covered both sets of responsibilities. Finally he drew back a little to see Matthew's face. "You do know, if you told me you were unhappy for me to see or contact Marc – in any way – that I'd do as you asked?


Matthew's eyes grew a little wider as he realized what Rolf had just said. "You..would?"


"Of course I would. You have as much right to be clear in what you expect of me as I do of you. And I don't have the right to continue any relationship you're not happy or sure about."


"Then I don't want you to see Marc," Matthew said.


"Then I respect that, and I won't," Rolf said quietly and firmly. "That's a promise."


Matthew was slightly cheered by that, but at the same time felt mean for asking.


Rolf didn't let him go. "However, as I said, I do feel responsible for Marc."


"What does that mean?" Matthew asked.


"All I am asking for right now is a line of communication. What if things were reversed? What if it was me who was angry at Marc, and asked you to sever this friendship? Would that be fair of me?"


Matthew looked at the floor, hating Rolf's logic.


"Come on, look at me," Rolf replied, gently taking his lover's chin into his hand. "Would that be fair of me to ask?"


"No, sir," Matthew replied quietly.


"I didn't think so. Will you lift the ban this morning?"


"I just don't want YOU around him!" Matthew replied, choking back tears, and trying not to swallow the lingering soap suds.


"For now, that's fair enough. E-mail contact is all I am asking for. Will you give me that?"


Matthew nodded, his eyes teary. Rolf pulled Matthew in, and kissed him deeply and firmly. He released his lover and nudged him towards the sink, wiping his own lips.


"Now go rinse, your mouth tastes like soap." Rolf replied with a gentle chuckle.


"How do YOU like it?" Matthew responded light-heartily.


"I wouldn't recommend it." Rolf laughed. "Clean up, and get dressed. I will get breakfast ready. Be downstairs in ten minutes."






Marc woke up at eleven am. Sitting up on the side of the bed, he ran his hands through his hair and tried to get his eyes to remain open. He had spent two hours last night trying to sleep without success. Getting up, he rang into his office and used a sick day, then popped two sleeping pills and zoned out until now. When he thought his legs would support him, he got up and slowly walked downstairs. He grabbed his box of orange juice and shook it, then drank deeply. The tartness woke his mouth up but did nothing for his sleeping pill hangover. He slipped out the front door to get the paper, then settled at the table to read it. He jumped at the sudden ring of the phone but made no effort to answer it.


BEEP.


"Hi Marc, it's Jason. I just got my first Trig quiz back since we started working together. I got a B! I know, it's only been a few days, but I seriously think you really helped with this. I owe you something. How about I pick you up and we go to that club on Birch Street. Peavey's I think it's called. I'll swing the cab and the cover charge. Just call if there's a problem, otherwise I'll see you at seven. Bye."


Marc managed a smile at the happiness evident in Jason's voice. He'd have to call and cancel, but that would be done later, when he could think.


Two hours later he felt more like a human. He decided to check his email, then he'd think about calling Jason, who should be home from class by then. He was shocked to see a note from Rolf. Clicking on it he read.
Hi Hon,
I talked with Matthew this morning and got his okay to get you off the block list and send you some mail.  Things are still pretty tense, but this is at least a small step in the right direction.
Are you doing well?  I know, it'd be better if Matthew was speaking to you, but he needs time right now.  Just keep you own head up.  
 He'll come around eventually and we'll get back to some semblance of normalcy. 
Please respond soon, so I know that you're all right. 
Love,
Rolf
Marc sighed and pressed reply. He sat for a long time trying to figure out what to say, then just dove in. Fifteen minutes later he pressed send. He then wrote a second email to Matthew.
My Dearest Matthew, 
Thanks for unblocking me.  I know it was for Rolf, but I hope you're listening too.  You can't imagine how sorry I am that things got so far out of control.  You must believe me, I never intended to hurt you.  Please talk to me and let me explain.
I miss you.
Marc 
He pressed send on that note and logged out of email. Picking up the phone, he dialed Jason's number but couldn't get an answer. He decided to start surfing – and three hours later he looked up as his stomach growled.


"Damn!" He got up headed into the kitchen to make himself something to eat. As he settled down at the table with a sandwich, he decided it really WAS too late to call and cancel with Jason. He'd go, Jason deserved a celebratory night, but he'd just cut it short. He had work tomorrow, and Jason had class.


*****************


"I will only be a couple of minutes, you can wait right here," Stephen said, getting ready to get out of the car.


"Don't take too long," Todd groused. "It's boring out here."


"You've got the radio, you'll be fine. You can watch the people enter."


"Fun," Todd said sarcastically.


"Would you like to go home and go straight to bed?"


Todd shook his head. "Hurry, please."


"I will, I just need to get a couple names and addresses from Edwin," Stephen replied, as he got out of the car. He walked around the rear of the vehicle, and up to Todd's window, knocking on it.


Todd jumped, rolled his eyes then rolled down the window. "What?" he replied, exasperated.


"Don't go anywhere," Stephen said firmly.


"I KNOW."


Stephen nodded and headed into the club. Todd rolled his window back up, sat and listened to the radio for all of thirty seconds before his least favorite song blared across the airwaves. He quickly turned the radio off, and the car too. He turned his head and stared out the window.


"Marc?" He said to himself inquisitively.


Todd watched as Marc pulled up just two cars over, and got out of his truck. He adjusted himself and walked towards the entrance. Todd reached for the door handle, ready to call out to him, but saw a young man bound over to him and grab a hold of his arm. Todd watched with curiosity, as the two disappeared inside.


A few minutes passed, and Stephen reemerged from the club. He walked briskly towards his car and Todd clutching several papers. He got in and tucked the papers up on the visor.


"You'll never guess who just went in there!" Todd said, bursting with curiosity.


"Marc," Stephen replied.


"Hey! How did you know?"


"I saw him in there," Stephen said, laughing.


"Oh? So who was that he was with?" Todd returned, eager for the whole story.


"I don't know. Marc didn't see me, but they did seem friendly."


"Hmmm, maybe Matthew knows."




***************




"I told you I would foot the bill for a cab!" Jason said over the music.


"Sorry. Guess I forgot," Marc replied.


"You are WAY too distracted, we need to loosen you up!" Jason replied as he sat Marc down at a table. "I will be right back."


Marc looked around the club, and closed his eyes. The music was deafening...something Matthew would LOVE. Before he could get himself further depressed, Jason returned, with two drinks.


"Virgins?" Marc asked.


"No more than you and I are!" Jason replied with a grin.


"And how did you get these?" Marc asked, sipping on his fruity cocktail immediately.


"Wouldn't you like to know?!" Jason winked.


Marc skipped the obvious bait, not feeling into a scene tonight, nor knowing if it were appropriate. He downed his drink quickly, thinking about Matthew as the music made conversation near impossible.


Jason matched Marc's drinking pattern, so that when Marc was ready for a second he would be too. As he got up to get another round, Marc stopped him.


Yelling over the music, Marc said "Let's wait on a second round. I think we need to dance."


"Sure," Jason said, eyes lighting up. He took Marc's hand and pulled him out near the middle of the floor and began dancing to the pulsing beat.


Marc managed to get lost in the music for the next hour, imagining that Matthew was just off on another part of the floor. Jason also made it easier to not think of Matthew, his slight muscles rippling under his skin-tight shirt and pants. Every time Jason turned around, Marc's eyes were drawn to that tight and perfect ass. The only thing that kept him from putting his hands on Jason was wondering how Jason would react.


*****************


"Hey, Matty, what's up?"


"Nothing. What're you up to?"


"Well.....I was calling to see what the scoop was," Todd said, plopping down in the corner of his couch.


Matthew grabbed his coke and settled back down in the recliner, the cat jumping right back into his lap. "What IS the scoop?" Matthew asked, anxious for something aside from Marc to talk about.


"Come on, tell me you aren't in the dark TOO," Todd said.


"Obviously I am, or I wouldn't have asked. What the hell ARE you talking about?" Matthew said, losing a little patience.


"Okay, if I have to spell it out, I will. Who's Marc's new boy toy?"


Silence greeted that remark. "HelllLLOOO there. You don't get to keep secrets in this town. Spill, I know you know his name," Todd badgered.


Matthew, as much as he hated Marc right now, didn't want to turn the rest of the world against him. He'd chosen to not say anything to his friends about what was happening, both for Marc's sake, and his own sanity. He didn't think he could stand being asked over and over what went wrong and why. Knowing his friends, they'd rally around and do everything they could to make him feel better, but that would mean siding with him against Marc, and that he couldn't stand. Not right now, not when it was still so raw. There was a tiny part of him that was interested in who this person was, but he didn't want to seem interested, as he really didn't WANT to talk about Marc.


"Where was he?" Matthew asked cautiously.


"Peaveys. WHO is he?" Todd demanded.


"I don't know," Matthew admitted slowly, trying to figure out how to get Todd off the phone. He was saved by the bark.


"Matthew! That trash better be on the curb in five minutes or you'll find yourself out there with it!" Rolf said from the top of the steps.


"The wolf's on the howl about trash. I gotta scram. I'll call if I find out anything. You do the same?"


"Yeah. I can't BELIEVE you don't know," Todd said.


"He's been busy. Bye," Matthew finished and hung up. He sat, staring at the phone until he was interrupted.


"Four minutes!"


He stood and executed a sharp salute before heading upstairs to take the trash out.


******************


"This is it, I think he's going to kiss me!" Jason thought to himself as they sat at a table, resting and sipping the water Marc had switched them over to.


"It's getting late," Marc said as he leaned in to talk to Jason.


"I guess it is," Jason replied over the music, having no clue what time it actually was.


"Don't you have class in the morning?"


"Yeah, at nine."


"I've got work early too. We probably should head out," Marc replied, having had a good time despite himself.


"I guess," Jason said, not really wanting to leave.


"Come on, I'll drive you home."


Jason finished his water and followed Marc outside. Marc immediately put his fingers in his ears and twisted them.


"Oh come on gramps, it wasn't THAT loud!" Jason said, watching Marc's motions.


"Gramps? I'll gramps you right across your tuckus," Marc replied, instantly wishing he could take that comment back.


"Uh-huh," Jason said as they approached Marc's truck.


Marc opened the door and let Jason in first, then got in on the driver's side and started it.


"Holy shit, it's almost ONE!" Jason said in disbelief as he stared at the clock. "That can't be right."


"I told you it was getting late. Time flies when you're having fun."


"Did you?" Jason asked, as Marc pulled out of the lot and onto the street.


"Probably more than I should have allowed myself."


"Like the song says, there is no such thing as too much fun," Jason replied, content.


Marc smiled, and soon found himself in front of Jason's place.


"Would you like to come up?" Jason asked, then shook his head. "I mean, if it's easier, you can stay here tonight, instead of driving home?"


"It's only a couple blocks. I'll be there in no time."


"Oh. Ok. Goodnight."


Jason got out of the car and started walking up towards the front porch. Marc leaned over and rolled down the window.


"Jason?"


Jason stopped and turned, startled by Marc's voice.


"Thank you," Marc said sincerely.


Jason walked back over to the car and leaned in. "No, thank YOU. Without your help there would have been nothing to celebrate."


"You did the hard work. Now just make sure you make it to class on time tomorrow so there are MORE things to celebrate," Marc replied with a wink.


Jason nodded and continued towards his front door. Marc waited until he was secured inside, and headed home, yawning instantly and repeatedly.


*****************


"What's a guy gotta do to get a little service around here?" Rolf asked playfully as he banged his hand on the bar top.


Stephen turned from his inventory and looked at Rolf with his eyebrow half cocked. "Try coming back during business hours!" he replied with a chuckle.


"Touche!"


"So, what do I owe the pleasure?" Stephen asked, putting down his lists.


"I was in the neighborhood and wanted to drop off the tickets for the concert on Sunday."


"Oh, great! Are you sure you can't use them?"


"Yes, I'm sure. Matthew has an office function, so they would just go to waste," Rolf said.


"Thanks for thinking of us."


"I knew you two would be best suited for it."


"I am glad you stopped by, I had something to ask you about."


"Oh?" Rolf asked, curious.


"I had to pick up some information at Peaveys last night."


"The club on Birch Street?"


"Yeah. And I saw Marc there."


"Really? On a Thursday?" Rolf replied in some surprise.


"Yeah, didn't realize that was a party night. But what piqued my curiosity was, who was the guy he was with?"


"He was there with someone?" Rolf asked, still more surprised.


"Yes, very clean cut, young looking guy. You don't know who he is?" Stephen asked.


Rolf shifted his weight and cleared his throat uncomfortably.


"What?" Stephen asked, sensing something was amiss.


"It's a long story. One that is entirely too complicated to even begin to attempt to discuss. Marc currently isn't exactly a welcomed person with Matthew these days," Rolf said, his voice clearly unsettled.


"What? Those two are inseparable. You've got to give me more than that. What happened?"


Rolf settled down in the chair. "It's a serious case of miscommunication between the two - with Matthew getting the brunt of the hurt feelings. Marc - Marc had some questions about how he fit into our life. He worked it out, but Matthew now has questions and is too hurt to think through that yet," Rolf finished quietly.


Stephen quickly poured two glasses of water, handing one to Rolf as that sunk in. "Sounds like you're treading some dangerous water there," he said gently.


"It's been a little difficult I admit, but we'll come through this eventually. And to answer your earlier question, no I haven't heard anything from Marc about a new friend. I'll have to inquire about that as clubbing on Thursday doesn't sound like a good habit to begin."


"It was early, but I can't say what time they left." Stephen looked up as the door opened again. "Hey there."


"Hi," Matthew said, coming up behind Rolf and pulling on his belt. "Come on, the show starts in ten minutes."


"Just a minute, I was talking to Steve," Rolf replied, removing and holding the hand that had been on his belt.


"What about?" Matthew inquired.


"Nothing you'd be interested in."


Matthew's lip immediately came out in his famous pout. "What, is it some secret that I'm too young for?" he asked sarcastically.


"No," Rolf said simply. "Go on back to the truck, I'll be just a moment. Go on," Rolf said when Matthew went to speak again.


Matthew turned and fairly stomped out of the bar. Rolf came out a moment later, true to his word.


"That wasn't very nice of you," Rolf admonished.


"You didn't want to tell me what you were talking about!" Matthew said heatedly.


"We were talking about Marc," Rolf said.


Matthew went to make a sharp reply before he realized what Rolf had said, then stopped. "Why didn't you want me to hear?" he asked angrily.


"You've said you don't want to hear about him. I didn't want to upset you in front of Steve."


Matthew wanted to think that Rolf was plotting behind his back about Marc, but he could tell from the straight look that Rolf was giving him, that was the truth. He still wanted to know what was going on with Marc, but he refused to ask.


"You KNOW how I feel about that fu-him." Matthew replied, still steaming.


"I do. And as I said, that is why I asked you to return here. Stephen had seen Marc out-"


"I DON'T care." Matthew said, ending the conversation.


Matthew turned and looked out the window for a minute, when he didn't hear the truck start up, he turned to Rolf.


"I'm sorry for stomping out."


"Thank you," Rolf said, starting the truck.


*************


Marc tapped his pen on the desktop as he reviewed the reports. The office was quiet and still, since Marc was the only one in the building. He refused to work Saturdays if they were demanded of him, but since he fell behind on some of the work, it was now necessary. After reviewing the reports, Marc found that the newest store location was lagging in sales, which meant the hours would have to be cut, which meant the manager and employees would be in a constant state of complaining. Marc exhaled heavily, and closed the folder. He turned his attention to the computer, for a much needed head clearing. He promptly logged in to check his e-mail, and found a note from Rolf.
Hey Sunshine,
How are things with you?  Good I hope, all is well here.  Can't chat long got to head out to the store, but I had something I wanted to talk with you about.  I heard through the grapevine that you were out at a club on Thursday night...that doesn't sound like the best night to be out clubbing, now does it?  When did you get in?  And how is your production at work?  I expect to see details young man.  
I have to go.  
Love,
Rolf
P. S.  Who is this young man I heard you were with?
"Christ, can't take a piss in this town without someone seeing!" Marc said to himself. His stomach turned as he reread the message. All the questions Rolf asked, all had negative answers, none of which Marc was eager to relay. After a moment of reflection, he took comfort in knowing that there was little Rolf could do from the other side of the computer screen, where he seemed to be securely located. With that comfort, Marc returned a mail to Rolf.
Hey, 
I guess the hills do have eyes.  I forget that someone is always watching.  I was with a new friend.  His name is Jason.  He is a student, and I have been tutoring him.  He scored well on a test and wanted to Celebrate.  His choice, not mine.  Got in late, after midnight, maybe later.  Work is alright, a little slow now, and some tough things coming up.  But enough about me.  How are you doing?  And Matthew? Let him know I miss him...
Love, 
Marc
Marc snapped the computer off immediately after hitting send. He returned to his reports, hoping to find some improvements.



*********



"Are you just NEVER home? Or do you screen? Are you screening me? God I hope not, I am not that much of a pest, am I?" Jason said in between deep thoughts. "Alright, guess I can contemplate that by myself, as I know this won't let me talk forever. I survived class yesterday, thought you would want to know. But that's not my sole reason for calling. I've got a test coming up on Tuesday, and I am majorly stumped. Economics, god this will be the death of me. Any chance of getting some help tonight? Call me. Oh, um this is Jason, if you didn't figure it out already. I will-" Marc's answering machine interrupted recording.



***********

PEAVEY'S THE SITE OF THE CITY'S LATEST DRUG BUST
The usual partying crowd was interrupted last night as the city's officer's executed a drug bust, corralling nine suspects from Peavey's Bar in their latest attempt to stop the growing drug problems. Officer Chapman tells this reporter that everyone was arrested without injury. Five guns were confiscated and the bar closed for the remainder of the evening but was expected to reopen on Monday as usual...

The article went on to explain who was arrested and what their connection had been to the drug ring they were accused of belonging to. Rolf shuddered to think how easily something could have gone wrong, and how close Marc had been to that danger. The return note he had received from Marc told him far more than Marc had said, and he had a few firm words for him which he'd pen before he headed out for his morning ride. He headed into his office and turned on the computer.
Good Morning, 
If you haven't checked out the city section of today's paper, please do so.  There is an article concerning a drug bust at Peaveys.  As of today, that club is completely off limits, along with any OTHER club during the week.  You know full well what's acceptable and what isn't. 
From your answer to the question on your arrival time, I take it wasn't all that close to midnight.  You can practice a nine p.m. bedtime for the next three nights which I expect to be confirmed each evening.  If you make it necessary, I will spank you.  Be Good. 
On a better note, tell me more about Jason.  Where did you meet him and how is the tutoring going?
Love, 
Rolf

Rolf pressed send and shut down the computer. He headed upstairs to kiss his sleeping lover on the forehead, before heading out for his usual Sunday morning motorcycle ride.



*************


Marc clutched a small bag and drink tray as he rang the doorbell for the second time. He waited semi-impatiently as he tapped his foot. As he poised his finger over the button for the third time, signs of life were heard on the other side of the door. Jason slowly opened the door, his hair disheveled, sleep lines still visible on the left side of his face and his eyes thoroughly unadjusted. His sleepwear consisted of a tank top that clung to his young, buff body and a pair of shorts that appeared to be two sizes too small, though anyone looking would not complain.


"G'morning sleepyhead," Marc said cheerfully, beaming at the adorable sight in front of him.


"Mmmm. S'early." Jason replied, as he stepped aside to let Marc in.


"It's almost nine. I told you I was coming over early," Marc said as he walked into the living room and put the breakfast items on the coffee table.


"I was thinking you meant, Sunday early, like noon," Jason replied with a chuckle.


"With that kind of logic, no wonder you are having problems in economics. Go get cleaned up, I brought breakfast," Marc said as headed for the kitchen. "Got any paper plates?"


"Third cupboard on the top left," Jason said as he headed for the bathroom, perking up at the word 'breakfast'.


Marc turned and watched Jason walk towards the bathroom, staring at his rear end as Jason gently scratched his upper thigh. Marc turned back and headed into the kitchen. He quickly found the proper cupboard and opened it up. The plates were on the first shelf. Marc grabbed them and began to close the cupboard but stopped when something caught his eye. On the second shelf towards the back was a small wooden paddle. Marc shook his head and closed the door.


"Cutting boards go ON the cabinet, not above them," he said to himself before returning to the living room.


Jason returned within five minutes, looking alive and well. His hair was combed, the sleep lines were replaced by a gentle smile, and his sleepwear had been exchanged for jeans and a tee.


"Well you clean up nice," Marc said with a smile.


Jason nodded with a yawn, and collapsed onto the couch next to Marc. Marc handed him a plate: a fresh croissant with melted butter and fresh fruit on the side.


"Hope that's to your liking?" Marc ventured.


"It looks great."


Marc handed him a piping hot cup of flavored coffee from the corner beanery. "And that should help wake you up this balmy morning."


The only replies Marc received after that were grunts and moans. They ate mostly in silence as Jason slowly woke up. "I had fun the other night," Jason finally said.


"Did you?" Marc asked after swallowing what he had in his mouth.


"Yeah, it was just what I needed. And I suspect the same can be said for you."


Marc nodded in agreement. "I wasn't sure at first, but I definitely enjoyed myself."


"Good. We'll have to do it again. Peaveys is da bomb."


"For shizzy." Marc replied, trying to keep up with the new lingo of today's youth, before returning to more familiar territory. "We'll go when you ace this econ test."


"THAT could prove problematic."


"We'll work on it. Now, tell me the parameters of the test."



*************



Matthew slowly padded downstairs and plunked himself down on the couch, next to the paper. Normally Sunday mornings would be spent online harassing Marc about his choice of movies or his goody-two shoes behavior, but now the internet held things of less interest. Matthew stared at the darkened television screen, too lazy to retrieve the remote from on top of the set.


"What's the point of having a remote if you DON'T keep it on the COUCH!" he whined to the cat next to him.


Instead, he grabbed the paper and skimmed over the headlines. He had just skipped over the story about the drug bust when the word Peaveys popped out at him. "Marc was there!" he said, as he read through the article. He skimmed it quickly the first time then read more slowly the second, making sure that Marc's name wasn't anywhere in there. He got up to get a glass of orange juice, then walked back down the hall. Stopping in front of the office, he debated going in and turning on the computer. Finally he did, though he only played games on it but didn't do anything with the internet.



****************



"So, the supply demand curve works THAT way?" Jason asked incredulously.


"It's kind of simple when you remember that one little trick," Marc said. "I'd have flunked out of it myself if it wasn't for that one hint that tutor gave me. It does take a lot of hard work, but you'll find that pays off. Now, why don't you try those three problems there, without the answers, and see how you do?"


"Okay," Jason replied, pulling out another sheet of paper. He bent his head down and worked diligently for the next twenty minutes, while Marc looked over the rest of Jason's homework journal.


"I think I'm finished," Jason said, sliding the paper across to Marc.


"Let's see if I was any help," Marc said, pulling out the workbook and checking Jason's answers. "The first one is right, the next two are wrong. See if you can tell me where the problem is," Marc said, sliding the sheet of paper back over and standing up to go around the table to Jason.


They worked together easily through to lunch. Marc decided they'd worked at the table long enough and they headed out to pick up a couple burgers and fries and settled under a tree in a nearby park to eat.


When Jason was finished, he stretched out and put his head on Marc's leg as a pillow, looking up into the clouds and picking out animals and other figures. Marc laid back down to try seeing what Jason was seeing. Jason picked out things a little slower, and before either of them knew it, they were both dozing in the shade.


Marc was the first to wake up, some twenty minutes later when the sun had moved enough that it was just starting to hit his face. He rubbed his eyes before sitting up, taking a moment to gather his wits about him and realize where he was and why. When he sat up, he saw Jason's face, which was facing him. He was staring at Jason when Jason woke up.


"Why are you smiling at me? Do I have slobber leaking?" Jason asked, sitting up and running the back of his hand across his mouth.


Marc hadn't realized he was smiling until Jason mentioned he. He quickly reassured Jason. "No, no slobber. Sorry, I was just finding it funny that we both fell asleep," he said, though that wasn't why he had been smiling. "I think we should pack it in, get back to the studying if you want to pass that test."


"Yeah," Jason agreed, though facing economics wasn't his idea of a good afternoon.


They picked up their trash and headed back to Jason's, to continue the work.



********************



Matthew sat on the sofa, still staring at the news article. A part of him felt compelled to make sure Rolf had seen it, and knew that Marc had been there hours before. But his pride and ego, both of which had been badly burned by Marc, made it difficult for him to do so. After nearly a half day of debating, Matthew knew he had to show it to Rolf. He gripped the paper tightly, and walked upstairs to the office, where Rolf was doing some work on the computer. As he approached the partially open door, he overheard Rolf talking. Matthew squatted down near the door, and listened quietly.


"Just trying to do some research for the MacMillian project. I know, all work no play. Yes I did see the paper today."


Matthew leaned in slightly, still unsure who Rolf was talking to.


"I am not ignorant enough to believe that there isn't a drug problem in our city, but to think of it being so blatantly public. It's kind of scary."


Matthew listened intently, glad that Rolf was aware of the drug bust, now he just needed to figure out how to relay that Marc was there.


"I agree, Peavey's IS off limits for them all. That's a no brainer."


Eric, Joe or Stephen. Matthew thought to himself, narrowing down the potential person on the other end of the phone.


"He hasn't responded yet, but I informed him this morning."


Who hasn't responded? Matthew wondered.


"It is a rough situation, for all involved. But Marc is still an important part of our lives, and I hope things can get back to some resemblance of what they once were."


Matthew tensed up slightly, after hearing Rolf talk so highly of Marc. But he curbed his ill thoughts, relieved that he didn't have to be the one to tell Rolf.  Matthew quietly got up, ready to walk back downstairs, until something else Rolf said caught his ear.


"His name is Jason. Marc said he is a student who he has been tutoring. Clubbing 101 I guess."


Jason? That must be who Todd was talking about. Matthew thought.


"I asked him for some more information, so I am curious to see how they met."


Probably took him from some poor guy, right off the street. Matthew laughed as that visual materialized.


"Matthew, you there?" Rolf asked from the office, excusing himself from Stephen.


"Maybe?" Matthew replied.


"I will talk to you later, got a peeping Matthew at the door." Rolf laughed, as he hung up the phone.


Rolf got up and walked over to the door, and opened it fully. "How long have you been standing there?" Rolf asked.


Matthew shrugged, prompting Rolf to give him the eye.


"Do we stand outside of partially closed doors and listen in?"


"Marc does," Matthew replied bitterly, unable to avoid the jab.


"Hey! That's not fair. Besides, I am talking about YOU, not Marc."


"Sorry. I was just going to see if you read the paper, and heard you were on the phone."


"So you stood there and listened?"


Matthew looked down at his feet. "Yes."


Rolf crooked his finger, and beckoned Matthew closer. Once Matthew was within reach, Rolf landed one firm swat across the seat of his pants.


"Brat." Rolf replied, before kissing him on the forehead. "What were you going to show me?"


Matthew looked at the paper in front of him, not wanting to mention the Peavey's article. He quickly flipped the paper around and found an article that would substitute just fine.


"Tim McGraw and Faith Hill are coming to the coliseum in a few months, did you see that?"


Rolf saw Matthew flip the paper around, and suspected maybe he did want to show him the drug article, but wasn't certain.


"I did see that, and I can only imagine the price of the tickets, which is conveniently omitted."


Matthew shrugged. "You still working?"


"Yes. I could use a break though. Want to take a walk?"


"I guess."


"Please, don't be so enthusiastic." Rolf replied, guiding Matthew out of the office and downstairs.


***************


Marc walked through the darkened living room, and turned on the lamp next to the phone. He checked the answering machine, and found he had one new message, which he played.


"Hi Marc, it's your favorite tutoree. Tutoree? Is that a word?" Jason laughed on the machine. "I know you are probably SICK TO DEATH of me, but I just had to call and say thank you. I know I can ace this test now, thanks to you. Night night."


Marc grinned ear to ear, his face beaming at the gentle tone and energy from the message. Marc collapsed onto the couch, and stared at he blank television screen, exhausted from the full day's events. He finally managed to find the remote and turn the television on. It was nearly ten, and despite being tired, he knew he had to stay up for the latest installment of Queer As Folk. After the exciting, sexually charged episode ended, Marc decided he was in need of a quick shower before bed, and quickly bounded upstairs, stripping as he went. He entered the bathroom, stripped to his maroon fruit of the loom's briefs, and turned the shower on cool. He exited the bathroom, and entered his bedroom, tossing his clothes into the hamper. He walked over to his computer and powered it on, connected to the internet and got it ready to check his messages after the shower. He pulled off his briefs and deposited them in the hamper, as he returned the bathroom.


Marc let the cool water cascade down his hot, sticky body. He lathered a bar of soap and glided it across himself. Images of Jason kept running through his head. His mind kept toggling between two "still frames". The first was Jason's peaceful face as he slept in Marc's lap, and the other was Jason's full rear end, in those too tight shorts. He finished his shower quickly, wanting to get online and see if he had any messages.


He returned to the bedroom a few minutes later, wearing only the towel around his waist. He sat down at the computer and logged into his e-mail. Rolf's note caught his eye first, so he promptly read that. He read as far as Rolf's decree, and quickly padded downstairs to read the article in the morning's newspaper. Marc read the article quickly, not completely shocked that there was drug use in the club, after all, he HAD just seen Queer As Folk. He returned to the computer and continued reading.


"Fuck me!" Marc replied, as he read the mandated bedtimes, which was now missed by well over two hours. Marc contemplated sending his reply now to Rolf, but knew that the blow would be less hardening, if he simply powered down and went to bed, which he did.


************


Marc got to work a few minutes early, and decided to pull the band- aid off in one fast swipe. He got into e-mail and composed his note to Rolf.
Rolf, 
Hey, how are you? Thanks for the e-mail, I guess.  I hadn't seen the paper until you pointed it out.  I can't say I'm all that surprised about the bust, I mean, we do watch QUEER AS FOLK after all.  LOL
Things are going well with the tutoring.  In fact I spent all day with Jason yesterday helping him prep for an economics test.  I think he will do really well on it. 
But since I was with him all day, I wasn't on the computer.  I got home from being with him just before ten p.m., watched QAF, showered, then got online.  After I read your note, I went right to bed, at eleven fifteen. 
I need to get some work done, having major problems with one of the stores, it's like business has been cut in half.  
Love you and Matthew, 
Marc
Marc pushed the send button, and turned off the computer, immediately trying to find a solution for the weakening store.

******************


Rolf read Marc's note later in the day as his morning was taken up by meeting after meeting. He composed a reply to Marc, asking more about Jason, and telling Marc that his nine pm bedtimes would start this evening and last through Wednesday, since he missed the first one. Hoping that was going to be the only problem with that, he pressed send. Looking in the trash on screen, he could see that Matthew kept sending Marc's notes there unopened to the trash. It saddened him to think Matthew was still hurt enough over Marc, but knowing what a strong bond those two had since the day they met, he knew things would work out eventually.


******************


"Hey Marc, it's Jason. It's 9:30. You must still be at work? Wow, really burning the midnight oil." Jason said as he left a message on Marc's machine, sounding a bit depressed. "Well the test was today, and my fate will be decided on Wednesday. I hate to say it, but I fear yesterday was wasted. Well not wasted, I DID enjoy your company. But perhaps next Sunday we should do something more fun and worth our time. The test was like impossible! Alright, I am depressing myself here. If I don't catch you before, I will call Wednesday with the news. Pray for me."


******************
Message Header: UGH, Nine is like toddler time!
From: Marc
Hi Matty, 
I still don't know if you're reading mail or not, or if you've even talked to Rolf about me, but I know you'd get a kick out of this.  I told you in an earlier e-mail that I went to Peaveys on a weeknight. 
As you an imagine, Rolf was far less than thrilled.  I have a nine p.m., yes NINE P.M. bedtime through tomorrow.  I know you enjoy thoughts of me in bed while you do whatever, since it's usually the other way around. 
Anyway, I have to say it's really getting on my nerves.  It's like I get home, eat, and BOOM, it's time for bed.  No sense really in taping tv shows as I never seem to find the time to watch them.  You know me and reality tv, and it's only ever good live anyway.  I'm trying to figure out why I"m listening to Rolf about this.  Just hate the early bedtime, but don't feel up to arguing about it.  I know you'd hate if he came to see me.  
I really hope you're reading this.  I can't keep telling you I'm sorry, if you're never going to listen.  
I really miss you, 
Marc
Matthew sat back in his chair, his finger over the mouse which was over the reply button. His instinct to send a smart reply, along the lines of "na na na na boo boo," was almost too strong. Then he thought of Marc standing outside the door and moved the mouse over delete, sending the note straight to the trash. He didn't mean to hang onto that anger, but later that night he snapped at Rolf and ended up in the corner for twenty minutes, blaming Marc for the entire time.

"Come here," Rolf finally said.

Matthew turned from the corner, no less angry than he went in. He stepped over to Rolf, staring a hole in the floor.

Rolf could tell Matthew was still angry from the set of his shoulders and the short breathing he was doing. He didn't want any reason to have to spank Matthew, nor send him off to bed as that just wasn't going to get to the root of the problem, which was more than likely rooted in Marc. He pulled Matthew's hand, and settled him on his lap, nuzzling his neck affectionately.

"What's upset you so much this evening?"

Matthew tried ignoring Rolf's kinder tone, not wanting to talk about anything, but between that and the tingling chills that Rolf was sending up his back from the neck was too much. He struggled hard for a moment, trying to get away from Rolf, and  then just gave in and sobbed, lying against Rolf's chest, drinking in the smell of his shirt and all that was his man.

Rolf held him, casually rubbing his back until Matthew was settled from his short outburst. "Was that about Marc?" Rolf asked, intending to direct the questions so that Matthew could answer easily.

Matthew shook his head no, his head still pressed hard against Rolf.

"Are you mad at Marc?"

Matthew tried to shrug that question off.

Rolf pulled up his chin to get a good look at his tear stained face. "It's doing nothing for you to keep this bottled up. Just try answering my questions, hmmmm?"

Matthew nodded, then put his head against Rolf's shoulder again.

"Are you mad at Marc?"

Matthew nodded.

"Is that a yes?"

"Yes," Matthew finally managed.

"Did he do something today, or does it go back to a few weeks ago?"

"It's because he's a dumbass-sterick."

"Do you miss him?" Rolf asked.

Matthew flinched as though stung. He wasn't yet ready to admit to ANYTHING regarding Marc except hate or anger. He sobbed again, rubbing his forehead.

"Matthew?"

"My head hurts," Matthew said pitifully against Rolf's neck.

Rolf knew his question had hit home. He pulled Matthew's chin up again to further inquire on that question, but the paleness of Matthew's face showed that Matthew did indeed have a headache. He kissed his forehead. "Go on up to bed, I'll get some Tylenol, and be just a moment."

Matthew slid thankfully off of Rolf's lap and walked slowly upstairs, feeling the pain in full force. He laid on the bed and waited for the drugs.

*******************

Marc collapsed against the front door, pushing it shut. He looked at his watch and cringed.

"8:39?" He sighed. "Guess dinner is out. So FUCKING glad it's Wednesday."

He turned around and bolted and chained the door. He walked over to the answering machine and saw he had three new messages. Turning the light on next to the machine, he pushed play.

"Yes Marc, this is Mrs. Riaz, I need you to return my call at 1-800- 365-0-"

Marc deleted the message, not caring to call back that debtor.

"Mr. Diablo, we're sorry to have missed you this afternoon, but we have GREAT news. You have been selected for an economy cruise to Barbados. We just need you to call us back at-"

Marc deleted that message too, having not been born yesterday.

"Are you EVER home? It's 4 o'clock. I was HOPING to catch you, but I guess not," Jason said, sounding a bit depressed. "I got my test back today." Marc's face fell as there was a long pause in Jason's message. "And, well, I guess Sunday wasn't such a waste after all!" Jason said, his voice having perked up considerably. "I got an A fucking plus!" THANK YOU! Now we HAVE to celebrate. I was HOPING tonight, but that doesn't look promising. Call me. PLEASEEEEEEEEEEE!"

Marc grinned ear to ear, listening to Jason's energy. He immediately grabbed the phone and dialed.

"Hello?" Jason answered.

"A fucking plus, huh?" Marc replied.

"HEY! You got my message!" Jason beamed, as he plopped down onto his sofa.

"Yes I did. Congratulations! I knew that hard work would pay off."

"Thanks to YOU!"

"All I did was stir the pot a little bit, you did the hard stuff," Marc said, giving credit where credit was due.

"So, when are we going to celebrate? Tonight?!" Jason asked eagerly.

Marc looked at his watch again, 8:44. "I would love to, but I am...exhausted. Work has been so draining. How about Friday?"

"Aw man, I have to wait THAT long?"

"It's only two days," Marc laughed.

"Fine. Friday. 8pm. Peaveys!"

"Peaveys? Are you...sure about that? I mean, with all that happened there this weekend," Marc replied, not wanting to disobey Rolf.

"That could happen ANY where. Besides, the music is killer there."

Marc hesitated, as his angel and devil on his shoulders duked it out.

"Are you still there?" Jason asked.

"I'm here," Marc replied, as he swallowed hard. "Ok. It's your accomplishment, your choice. I will pick you up at 7:45."

"See you then!" Jason said, hanging up the phone.

Marc was slower in putting his phone down. He sank into the couch and thought about what he had just agreed to do. Rolf had forbade him to go to Peaveys. Not just him, but anyone in their circle of friends was probably not allowed to go. Yet here he was, having gone to bed at nine the last two nights because Rolf said to. And he was going to do it again. AND he'd talked Jason into going to Peaveys on Friday, not during the week, mostly because Rolf would not have approved either. Some of it was definitely work, as having just got home proved that, but still. He truly felt like a small child, going to bed at nine. He'd done it before, at Rolf's insistence, and not thought more about it. But now, now things were different somehow. He didn't quite understand why, but it was. He looked back up at the clock and saw that it was now 8:55. Compromising, and not knowing why he was still doing it, he made a plate with a sandwich and a few chips, grabbed a coke and headed upstairs to bed. He'd be IN bed at nine, just not necessarily ready to sleep.

Marc woke up late the next morning, having needed every hour of sleep he'd got, and more, but he wasn't going to tell Rolf that. He jumped out of bed and dressed quickly, getting to work fifteen minutes late without breakfast. He talked his secretary into running across the street for McDonalds, and settled down with that over the reports he'd been reviewing just over twelve hours ago. Realizing he couldn't eat over the paper, he shoved that to the side and did some surfing as he scarfed down breakfast. When his fingers were finally licked clean, he opened his mail, looking for any signs of life from Matthew. Still nothing. Marc picked up the phone and got halfway through dialing Matthew's number before he stopped, then slowly put the phone back down in it's cradle. As much as he wanted to talk to Matthew, he didn't want to take a chance on being rebuffed, nor did he intend to upset him when Marc knew he'd be most busy. Rolf wouldn't appreciate that either. Finally, he started an email.

Matty, 
I'm still not sure if you're reading anything I'm sending, but I can't help but keep trying.  I almost called you today, but decided that maybe you wouldn't appreciate that.  I so want to shake you, make you realize that I didn't mean anything, and that I'm still so very sorry. 
Remember, maybe, that I said I had an early bedtime? It's finally over, THANK GAWD.  Just in time for Thursday night's great lineup.  Just hope I can leave work and eat before eight tonight.  Word's been a real B*TCH lately.  I've got a store doing half it's expected revenue and it's up to me to find out where the problem is.  Could really use your help in looking at the numbers (hint, hint).
Remember last week? When I told you I was at Peaveys on a work night? LOL Well, I never told you who I was there with.  I met this guy, this kid, his name is Jason.  He is a student over at the university.  He's been having a rough go with his studies, so I have been helping him.  It is so nice to be tutoring someone again.  I helped him all day Sunday, which is why I missed my bedtime.  Anyway, I'm doing something WILD this weekend.  I'm going back to Peaveys, can you believe it? You'd love the music there, you really would.  Jason passed his Econ test and he wants to celebrate there, so of course I agreed.  He did the passing, I'm just along for the ride (and free drink!)
Missing you, 
Marc
P.S.  DON'T TELL ROLF!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
*************

Matthew stared at the computer screen in silence. He hadn't intended on reading any more of Marc's mailings after the one on Tuesday, but he couldn't resist. And this one left him with entirely too many unexpected feelings. A part of him was happy to hear about Marc's new project, Jason. And a part of him felt even more anger, that he had been replaced so quickly. Then Marc threw that curve ball. Matthew agonized for hours on Sunday, debating what he should do with the little blip of information he had then. Now he had a written confession. The bouncing brat inside wanted to egg Marc on, urge him to go to the club without worry. But the vengeful, hurting brat inside wanted to go straight to Rolf with this information. But neither option made him feel better. He snapped off the computer and returned his attention to his work.


***********************

Marc eyed the computer nervously as he saw his new message arrive on Friday morning.

Message Header: Read NOW Young Man
From: Rolf

Marc could feel the sweat bead up on his brow. Did he cross up his messages in a work induced delusion? Did Matthew squeal? Marc's stomach turned, but no sense delaying the inevitable. He clicked on the message and opened it.
Good Morning Marc,
Did I scare you? What is that guilty look for then? LOL Sorry, just wanted to thank you for completing your early bedtimes without hassle. 
The message continued on for a couple more paragraphs, but Marc paid little attention, as he tried to swallow the enormous lump left in his throat.


"I can't go to Peaveys, Jason will understand," Marc said quietly, as he reached for the phone. The lump was still there in his throat, just the THOUGHT of Rolf finding out made him nervous.


But something stopped him. WHY was this such a big deal? He loved Rolf, as a friend, and valued his opinions very much. But that is all it seemed anymore, just an opinion. Marc's hand pulled away from the phone. He was tutoring Jason now, he was `caring for a brat.' That made him a top. He had worked with Chris before, that made him a top too. And even if Jason was just a student, it …. Damnit, it was just different now. Besides, Matthew was keeping a VERY short leash on Rolf, an image which Marc found incredibly amusing. But that leash prevented Rolf from doing any real damage, any PHYSICAL contact...in the form of in person lectures and spankings. Things had changed and it was time Marc explored his new independence, anyway and anywhere, he pleased.


Marc leaned back in his chair and smiled, a leisure that lasted less than a minute, as he realized it was time to attack the struggling reports in front of him again.





"You look great," Marc said approvingly as Jason slid into the front seat of his truck. Jason had on a skin tight pair of leather pants, cut low, and a bright purple shirt. His hair was fixed, though it was a carefully controlled style that looked windblown, which suited Jason's personality to a tee.


"You don't look so bad yourself," Jason said, blushing and trying to change the conversation from himself. "All ready to dance the night away?"


"I'm all set," Marc said brightly, backing out of Jason's driveway. "Nice not having to work in the morning, we can stay out later this time."


"Yeah. I've actually got a light homework weekend. Hard to believe."


"Really?" Marc asked. "How did you swing that?"


"I got bored on Thursday, and read through the next chapter on Econ, with no homework due. I've probably only got about a quarter of the work left in Trig, and only a couple of big projects in the other classes that I'm waiting on meetings with them for. Done all I could there," Jason said easily.


"That's great!" Marc replied, keeping his eyes on the road and almost without knowing it, keeping an eye open for Rolf's vehicle, or anyone else's that might see them. It probably would have been a far better idea to go in a cab, but it was always nice to be able to leave whenever, and not have to wait for someone else.


"I know! It is SUCH a relief to be able to say I'm caught up. Hey, how did work go?" Jason said, eager to change the conversation's direction again.


"It sucked, again," Marc said expressively. "The manager of the store that's doing so bad is CERTAIN there must be a reason that has NOTHING to do with him, that's causing the low sales. I KNOW that the people quotient is down, but that also means that some of his other expenses should be down and they're not. It's hard trying to really review this stuff when the manager is worried about his job, and not helping too well. That keeps MY boss on my ass, and I don't appreciate it!"


"No, I can imagine not," Jason replied. "IS the manager's job in jeopardy?"


"I guess in a way, yes. It's not like he's going to be fired, but if his stuff doesn't come out looking any better anytime soon, then he's not going to be looking at any good promotions. This store is NOT one of our bigger and better ones, it's more of a training store. He knows it too, and it's not making him feel any better. I don't know. Come on, let's talk about something nicer," Marc said, tired of the work conversation.


"How long are we going to dance?" Jason asked as they pulled into Peavey's parking lot.


"As long as we feel like it," Marc replied, winking, as he drove through the lot, looking for a parking spot. There was a short line at the door and the lot was mostly full. Marc finally found one spot and pulled in. He looked through the windshield at the road, but figured his truck wasn't THAT obvious, just in case someone happened to be driving by. He rolled his eyes at his own thoughts and got out of the truck, pushing Rolf and all that far from his mind. He looked rather surprised for a second when Jason put his hand in his and tugged.


"Come ON pokey pants, let's get in line!"


He allowed himself to be dragged towards the door, enjoying the brief touch as long as it lasted. Twenty minutes later they were inside with their first drinks. Unable to find a table, they just held onto the glasses and moved onto the floor, bodies gyrating to the beat.

*************



"What do you want to do tonight?" Rolf asked his partner. Matthew had been moody and quiet all through dinner, but wasn't sitting still as if he weren't feeling well, confusing Rolf.


"I dunno," Matthew responded dully.


"The baseball team is in town. Want to try that?" Rolf asked as he started to clear the dinner dishes.


"Too hot. And boring," Matthew added, bringing his glass over to the dishwasher and putting it in.


"Alright. Too hot outside, then we could try something inside. There's a new exhibit at the arts cent –"


"I don't feel like going OUT," Matthew interrupted.


Rolf grabbed Matthew by the belt buckle and pulled him back towards him, wrapping his arms around his shoulders and nuzzling his neck. "Want to tell me what's going on?"


"Nothing!" Matthew said, trying to pull away.


Rolf turned him around, making escape impossible. "Either tell me what's on your mind, or tell me what we're doing tonight and I'll let you go."


"A movie. Let's rent a movie. Whatever's next on our list," Matthew said, hoping that Rolf would indeed let him go. He still didn't know what he wanted to do with the information he had about Marc, and didn't want to be pressured into saying anything.


Giving Matthew the once over, and realizing that he wasn't going to get any more information from him about how he was feeling, he let him go. "Alright, a movie. Want to go with me?"


"No. I need to scoop the cat boxes," Matthew said, leaving the kitchen.


Rolf finished the quick cleanup and grabbed his keys. "I'll be right back!" he yelled, heading out the door. He chose to go past the first video store as they were pretty small and rarely had anything in stock on a Friday night. He easily found a parking spot at the larger store and headed in, coming out with a movie in five minutes. He rolled down his windows and headed towards the house, looking forward to a quiet night on the couch with his partner.


Pulling up at a red light, Rolf's quiet musings were interrupted by a loud blast of music. He turned his head and realized that someone must have gone into Peavey's bar, as the music was far more muted now. He could almost feel the beat of the bass, even with the door shut. When a second couple went inside, Rolf winced at the music again, wondering how in the world anyone could enjoy themselves in there without going deaf. His eyes were on the way back to the stop light when they caught sight of a familiar pickup truck. Rolf looked a little closer, not sure if that was Marc's or not. When the light turned green, Rolf turned the corner instead of going straight and pulled into the lot. He didn't know why he was on this wild goose chase as he was certain it wasn't Marc, but for some reason he just wanted to be sure. He rounded the front of the building and pulled up to the back of the truck. His blood pressure shot up dramatically as he read the license plate, knowing it was Marc.


Someone backed out of a spot a few cars away and Rolf pulled in. He went to get out of the truck, then thought better of it. He rolled up the windows and shut the door, pulling out his phone. He pushed quick dial.


"Hallo?"


"Matthew, it's me," Rolf said.


"Having trouble finding a movie?" Matthew asked, sitting back down with the phone.


"No sweetheart. I found a movie and was on the way home when I saw something." Rolf wasn't sure exactly how to go about asking what he needed to ask.


"What did you see?" Matthew asked, no idea what was going on.


"I'm parked at Peaveys, the bar?"


"Yeah?" Matthew responded, a million thoughts surging through his head at once.


"I need….I'd really like…-"


"Marc's there, isn't he?" Matthew interrupted.


"Yes, yes he is," Rolf said, breathing a little easier now that Marc's name had been mentioned. "I was going to go inside and say something to him, but I wanted your approval first. Sweetheart, I don't want him here. I think it's –"


"You can."


"What?" Rolf asked, confused.


"It's dangerous there, isn't it?" Matthew asked.


"Yes, I think so," Rolf said, thrown for a loop with Matthew's responses so far. "I don't expect anyone's going to get killed or anything tonight, but I did ask that Marc not come here again."


"You can go get him out."


"Honey, it's not going to be that quick. I want to take him back to his house, and have a discussion with him about obeying me. I intend to spank him," Rolf said clearly. "Will you allow that?"


"Sure," Matthew said very slowly.


"No, that's not going to do. I need to know that you trust me, and that it IS okay for me to take Marc home and spank him. If you say no, I won't go," Rolf said firmly, leaving the ball solely in Matthew's side of the court. He had NO idea what he'd do if Matthew refused him, but it WAS his right, and he was going to make damned sure that Matthew realized that.


Matthew was still in complete turmoil. He was still angry with Marc. Still curious and angry about Marc's new friend. Still not sure of ANYTHING to do with Marc. But, he realized, he was sure of Rolf.


"You can take him home and spank him," Matthew said, feeling very awkward in saying the words, but very sure he meant them.


"Thank you. I don't know how long I'll be, but I'll be home straight afterwards. If you need ANYTHING, you call me, got it?"


"Yes, sir," Matthew said, before hanging up the phone. The millions of thoughts still swirled around his head. Bits of feeling bad for Marc being in trouble. Bits of feeling smug that it wasn't his ass on the line right now. Bits of feeling proud of Rolf for standing up for what he thought was best. He sat, watching but not really seeing the tv.


Rolf hung up his phone, only momentarily pleased that things were getting easier for Matthew. As he stepped back out of the now nearly suffocating heat of the truck, the grim look returned and he headed for the entrance to the bar, his mind now on his part-time brat, one that was going to be extremely sorry pretty quickly about disobeying him.


Rolf made his way in with relatively no problems, aside from the cover charge, which he found appalling. He made his way to the bar, and surveyed the dance floor and adjacent tables, hoping to find Marc quickly. It took him several minutes to scan the floor, but Jason's vividly colored shirt caught his attention. Rolf watched the two young men interact for a moment. Both seemed at complete ease mere inches from one another. And the broad smiles on both faces, told Rolf they enjoyed each other's company. Rolf watched only for a minute, then made his way through the pulsing club, just as Jason broke off and headed for the bathroom. Marc kept their place on the dance floor, completely oblivious to the towering man standing behind him. Rolf tapped Marc on the shoulder. Marc turned partially, not really looking.


"Sorry, not interested." Marc replied, as he continued to groove to the beat.


Rolf tapped him again, this time with more intensity and purpose. Marc turned around fully and started to speak.


"Are you DEAF?? I said-" Marc stopped as the man in front of him registered.


"As a matter of fact I am." Rolf replied. "Enjoying yourself?"


Marc swallowed, but his mouth was dry. He opened his mouth to reply, but no words escaped his lips.


"I have plenty to say, but I do not intend to do so over this...noise. Did your friend drive or come with you?" Rolf stated, over the music.


"I...I drove." Marc managed to reply.


"When he comes out of the restroom, tell him its time to go home. Drive him directly home, and meet me back at your house." Rolf said matter-of-factly.


Marc hung his head, then raised it with certainty.


"No." He replied firmly.


"Excuse me?"


"I SAID NO! I am here with Jason, this doesn't pertain to you. NOTHING I do, anymore, pertains to YOU." Marc replied.


"You were told in very clear terms that you were NOT to return to this club. Therefore this pertains DIRECTLY to me," Rolf replied, trying to remain cool.


"You don't get it, do you? I am here with Jason. It's been made clear that I am not a part of your future, so what we had in the past, is just that. IN the past!"


"Young man, I am about TWO seconds from hauling you out of here by the ear. I don't care if you are here with the queen of England!" Rolf replied, teeth clenched. "I am going out to my truck, and I expect to see you getting into YOUR truck in less than five minutes. If you are not outside, I WILL come in here and escort you out, and you will NOT be a happy young man."


Rolf didn't allow Marc to dig himself in any further. He simply turned and exited the club. Marc remained on the dance floor, blushing at the tone Rolf used. His mind swirled in twenty directions, knowing Rolf wasn't bluffing. His heart raced, as he wondered how Rolf had found out and more importantly, what was he going to do next. Marc was startled by the hand on his shoulder. He spun around and saw Jason had returned.


"Jumpy!" Jason said, laughing.


"Oh, I didn't hear-see you coming."


"Are you alright? You look a little hot," Jason said in some concern.


Marc shook his head. "I think my week is catching up to me. Would you be terribly heartbroken if we called it a night?" he asked, not knowing what he would do if Jason replied yes.


"Yes." Jason replied.


Marc's head began to spin in another hundred directions.


"But I want you to enjoy yourself as well. We'll do this again when we can do it properly."

************

Rolf sat in his truck, staring out the passenger window. He touched a button on the dashboard, and checked the time. His jaw was still taunt and locked as he watched Marc's truck, waiting for someone to occupy it. Rolf placed his hand on the door handle, ready to go inside and collect Marc physically as promised, when he saw Marc and Jason approach the truck. Marc's head swiveled as he tried to locate Rolf, and soon locked eyes with him. Rolf nodded, then turned his attention forward. He started his own truck, and pulled out before Marc did.

**************

Marc pulled into Jason's driveway, having barely spoken a word since leaving the club.

"Sure you're ok? You could come in and spend the night if you want," Jason offered.

Marc shook his head. "I'll be fine. I'll call you."

"Ok." Jason replied quietly as he got out of the car.

He barely got his front door unlocked before Marc was on the street and away from him.

Marc's stomach churned and twisted as he drove. The drive home was entirely too short, and upon pulling into his driveway, he saw Rolf waiting for him on his front porch. He parked his truck on the drive, Rolf having left him plenty of room to do so and walked on unsteady legs up the porch steps.

Rolf uncrossed his arms and stood up from where he had been leaning against the porch support, a very grim look on his face.

Marc went to unlock the door but his hands shook too much and he dropped his keys. He felt Rolf bend over for them and stepped to the side as Rolf made quick work of the door. He proceeded Rolf into the darkened living room.

Rolf shut and locked the door behind him, turning on the light. He walked past Marc, who was at a total loss as to what to do, and brought a kitchen chair into the living room. He set it down. "Sit."

Marc's stomach, which had been twisting and turning up to this point, all of a sudden wanted to exit his body through his mouth. He swallowed hard and took two steps towards the chair, before raising his head to argue a point –

"SIT DOWN," Rolf thundered.

But quickly changed his mind and decided having his bottom on a chair might not be a bad idea. He sat down, trying hard to grab onto any shred of anger or self-righteousness before his stomach made thinking impossible. This wasn't going as he thought it should.

As much as Marc thought he shouldn't be here, in this position, he couldn't help but feel about 3 inches tall under the glare that Rolf was giving him. He could almost physically feel the disappointment the look was sending his way. Tears threatened, and Marc bit his lip to keep them from falling. He WASN'T going to keep feeling this way.

"We've got a lot to discuss," Rolf started firmly, "the most of important of which is your comments in the club."

"I meant what I said," Marc said just as firmly.

Rolf quickly stood to his feet, his arms getting into the conversation of their own accord. "What EVER gave you the idea that 'we're in the past?'" Rolf asked. "You know very well how much work I've been doing to get things back to some semblance of normal! You KNOW this isn't going to be solved overnight but it IS correcting itself. In the meantime, WHERE did you get the idea that I'd just forget about you? WHERE?"

Marc swallowed hard. Everything he had thought about saying didn't sound so good all of a sudden. He squirmed under the look that wasn't letting up. Finally he couldn't stand it anymore and said the first thing that came to his mind. "I'm tutoring Jason. That means I'm looking out for someone, and I didn't think things would continue –"

"I'm not asking about why you think you don't need to listen to me, yet," Rolf said grimly. "I asked you why you thought `we were in the past.'"

"Because you aren't allowed to see me!" Marc said hotly. "How the hell did you manage to get here now? Does Matthew know or is he going to flip –"

"I am only going to tell you this once, young man. I don't want to hear another curse uttered by you today. It's rude and disrespectful," Rolf said in his deadly calm voice.

Marc knew better than to say anything other than, "Sorry, sir, it won't happen again," when Rolf's voice changed. There had been very few times when things got to that point, and when they did there was a whole lot of unhappy coming his way and he knew he didn't want it to be any worse. Besides, you didn't have to be a brat to be called down for language when Rolf was around.

"Thank you. Since you asked, however rudely, I'll tell you. I called Matthew before I went into the club to make sure he'd understand. What confused me at the time was that it sounded like he knew you'd be there." Rolf let that comment settle into the open air.

Marc flushed under the look, knowing that his actions now seemed premeditated. At least Matthew hadn't squealed, which left Marc wondering whether he was pleased or not knowing that. When Rolf didn't continue, Marc started talking, trying to explain himself.

"I'm sorry that we ended up at the bar," Marc began earnestly. "Jason passed a test, one that he'd had a lot of trouble with. He deserved a celebration, and he asked if we could go back to Peaveys. They've got great music……..but anyway, I didn't want to turn him down. It was safe, nothing happened, I –"

Rolf moved in for the kill with skill. "What did *I* say?" he asked in his deadly calm voice across Marc's explanation.

Marc stuttered for a moment, before recovering his train of thought. "You said no, but it's different now," he said, looking pleadingly into Rolf's eyes.

"IS it?" Rolf asked conversationally.

That stunned Marc for a moment. Of COURSE it was different, wasn't it? "I'm taking care of Jason. That puts me….at a different level," Marc finished lamely, not quite able to see himself on Rolf's level.

Rolf almost let the smile he was feeling inside slip to the outside. He could see it in Marc's eyes, hear it in his voice, and see it in his body. He was falling hook, line, and sinker for this guy named Jason, and he didn't even know it yet. But now was not the time to discuss love, and what that meant. Now was the time to make sure Marc knew exactly what he'd done wrong, and what the consequences were going to be. He kept the smile hidden and rounded on Marc in full steam.

"Whether or not you're caring for someone else has NOTHING to do with our relationship, young man. If you're going to use that card, then I have some words for you on that subject. IF you're taking care of someone else, and being responsible for their heath and well-being, then you need to police yourself far better than you did tonight. I didn't tell you to stay away from Peaveys because I like restricting what you do. I told you to stay away from Peaveys because in my opinion, it's not the safest place to be. Having read that story, you should have come to same conclusions and steered Jason to another club. There are SEVERAL in this town that should suffice in place of Peaveys. But, I digress. I said 'don't go to Peaveys.' Would you please tell me what I meant by that?" Rolf asked, keeping his icy blues locked firmly on Marc's eyes.

Marc dropped his eyes quickly, squirming inside and out. Rolf was getting to the point of this discussion and he wasn't ready for it.

"I'm not lying on the floor," Rolf said grimly. "Look at me and answer the question, please."

Marc somehow managed to raise his eyes up again, feeling the hot stain of shame overcoming his face. "You meant no, but –"

"I MEANT NO, PERIOD," Rolf said loudly. "I said no, I mean no unequivocally, no ifs, ands or buts. I don't speak in tongues. I don't mince words. I say what I mean and mean what I say. You received my email, telling you not to go to Peaveys, correct?"

Marc almost jumped at the chance to plead innocent, but the look he was getting from Rolf made him rethink lying. "Yes, sir," he managed at barely above a whisper.

"Excuse me?" Rolf said.

"Yes, sir," Marc replied a little louder.

"So you received my email, read and comprehended that I said you were not to go to Peaveys again, and you went anyway?" Rolf questioned.

Ouch. No, more like fucking hell. The entire evening was now centered around two words that Marc could utter. He could say, "Yes, sir," and the end would begin. He could say "no, sir," and argue some other point that he was certain he could make if given half a chance and five minutes out from under the wolf's gaze, but he knew even that small respite would very probably end in the same scenario, maybe worse, but by no means better, only later. He looked back up at Rolf with the largest eyes he could muster, then burst into tears when he saw that Rolf wasn't going to give him an inch. He felt like a huge baby, but that was about what he was at this moment. A child, paying the price across his father's knees for a transgression made. Lessons learned, and they were neither easy nor cheap.

Rolf watched, not without pity, but now was not the time to show it. Marc had made several assumptions, however misguided, and Rolf wanted to make sure that Marc realized they were wrong. He let Marc sob for a moment, then cut across it. "I'm waiting for an answer."

Marc sobbed louder for a moment, then tried to gather himself, wiping the back of his hand across his face. "I…I didn't mean –"

"I didn't ask what you did or did not mean to do, young man. DID you go to Peaveys against my wishes?"

Marc nodded, then managed a half-strangled "Yes, sir," when Rolf prompted him further.

"Go get your paddle," Rolf commanded.

Those four words had the force of Rolf's icy blue eyes behind them. It was almost like the Batman and Robin cartoons, where Mr. Freeze could turn things to ice just by looking at them. Marc's insides froze up, his legs refused to move.

"NOW," Rolf prompted, not wanting to drag out this scene much longer as it was wearing thin on both of their nerves.

Marc managed to get up, stumbling into his kitchen to the bottom draw where he had it hidden, far in the back. He felt like such a baby that by the time he had gotten back to the entrance to the living room, he was no longer sobbing. It was taking all his willpower to hold it down.

While Marc was busy in the kitchen, Rolf had moved the kitchen chair more into the center of the room. He sat down on it, looking no shorter for having done so. When he saw Marc in the doorway, he snapped and pointed to his right side.

Marc somehow managed to make it over to Rolf, and handed the paddle over when Rolf's hand outstretched for it.

"Pull your pants down, please," Rolf said.

It sounded to Marc like Rolf had just ordered a drink from a waitress. Calm, matter-of-fact. But those five words to him made this all more real. Those five words meant that in a minute, he was going to be in his most vulnerable position, most embarrassing position, and within just a few minutes, a most painful position. His shaking hands settled on his belt and he slowly began to undo it. He never preferred to be spanked, but he DID like it better when Rolf just took care of things himself, and didn't make him participate like this. Baring his own bottom for the paddle took every bit of self-will that he possessed. The sexy, new pair of jeans Marc owned almost fell down of their own accord once the button was undone. He felt the cool of the air conditioner across the back of his thighs, which to that point had been just shy of sweaty. It took a moment more for Marc to lower his shorts. He could still back out now, and he seriously thought about doing that. But when Rolf held out his hand to help settle Marc face down across his knees, Marc slowly accepted the help. As soon as his chest hit Rolf's legs, Marc knew there was no going back. He swallowed harder as Rolf adjusted him so that his bottom was in a better position, and tried, as usual, to find something to do with his hands. Looking straight at the floor, he bit down on his lip to stop himself from bursting into more tears.

Rolf got Marc situated as best he could, as this wasn't going to be a really quick and easy spanking. And he wasn't done with the lecturing yet. Pulling Marc close and locking his left arm around Marc's chest, he rested his hand on the white bottom.

"Why are we here, Marc?"

Marc winced hard. So this wasn't going to begin just yet. He let go of his lip and spoke. "Because I disobeyed you, sir."

"Yes, you did. Why did I not want you to go to that bar?" Rolf questioned.

Marc twisted a moment, trying to get more comfortable while he worked on the answer. "Because you thought it was dangerous, sir," Marc said, closing his eyes again and wishing it would begin before his stomach twisted itself so tightly that he'd never eat again.

"Why would I make such a statement?"

Moving his hands to the rung of the chair to push himself up a bit and try to twist and see Rolf's face, Marc thought about that. He wanted to come up with the answer that would let this torture end and the real hurt to begin, just so it would be over. He couldn't come up with anything. "I don't know?" he said lamely, to fill the void of silence.

"Was it for my health? Because I like to control your every movement?" Rolf prodded, still keeping firm hold of Marc.

"No, sir," Marc said, his resolve slipping with every second. He jumped when a steel handed swat landed across his bottom.

"I'm waiting for an answer, and it's not that difficult," Rolf said, resting his hand on the handprint he'd just made.

Marc searched and searched, and finally came up with something. "Because you care, sir?" he asked uncertainly.

"Yes, that's it exactly. I care. And I will continue to care in the future, no matter how old you or I get, how far away we may live from each other, who you may be seeing. It DOES NOT MATTER. The bond we have is strong, and it will not break. You'd do well to remember that. It's not something that either of us can just turn off. If I see you heading into a dangerous direction, I will stop you, with whatever means I have at the current time. That is a constant, and it will remain so."

Marc was thinking all the way through that recital. He thought that taking care of his brat Jason, no…wait. His student Jason, would mean he wouldn't be subject to this type of embarrassment again. But he realized then that he was only getting this spanking because he defied Rolf, and Rolf only set down a rule because he cared. It was NICE that someone cared that much about what he was doing, even if he didn't see them everyday. That if something happened, he'd have backup to talk it over with. He was just starting to get a warm, fuzzy feeling in his stomach when that thought flew completely out of his head as Rolf's hand began to come down with ever increasing force and rhythm. Marc uncurled his fingers from the chair and put them back on the floor, tensing up as the swats rained down.

"I don't expect in the future to be disobeyed like this again, and I doubly don't expect to get told `No,' when I tell you to do something," Rolf said, rapidly turning the pink bottom a darker shade of red.

"Yes, sir!" Marc said, trying to twist away, or lever himself up from Rolf's lap. "Please, sir! It won't happen again!" Marc tried, to no avail.

"I'm going to make sure that you remember that well," Rolf said, continuing to spank without missing a beat.

Marc's hand's alternately grabbed the chair leg, Rolf's leg, and struck the floor as he tried to adjust to the ever increasing heat and sting that was exploding across his backside. He gulped one last time before a particularly sensitive area was swatted soundly.

"Ahhhhhh!" he said, jerking his leg reflexively. Each new swat brought another outcry of pain, until they blended together into one.

Rolf stopped a moment later, shaking the sting from his hand. He then pulled the paddle up from where it had been resting on the floor and placed the cool wood against Marc's searing backside. That elicited a torrent of tears and movement from Marc.

"Pllllllleeeeeeeeaaaassssssssssssseeeee!" was about all that Rolf could make out from Marc's cries. He lifted the paddle up and brought it sharply down, catching Marc's right cheek solidly, wanting this to be over quickly.

Marc kicked both legs, his jeans now twisting around his shoes. His right hand flew back to protect him from the next swat instinctively, when his try to dislodge himself from Rolf's lap didn't succeed.

"Hand down," Rolf said sternly, waiting until Marc had it untwisted, when he caught it and held it securely against his side. He brought the paddle down again on the left cheek, feeling Marc jerk forward from the blow.

"Ohhhhhhh GOOOOOOOoooooddddddd!" Marc managed to yell, before the third swat landed and nothing issued forth at all. Marc was too busy sucking air in, trying to get on top of the pain before the next swat landed. It came before he was ready and the air escaped in a strangled cry.

Rolf continued bringing the paddle down, listening to Marc to make sure he wasn't in any danger of hyperventilating, paddling the crimson skin enough that Marc would feel it for a long time to come, but causing no permanent damage.

Marc's hand finally came to rest on the chair rung, curled tightly around it while he tried kicking with all his strength, his legs wind- milling as well as they could with the pants twisted around both shoes. He stopped sometime later, almost without knowing, as the paddle continued to fall. He really didn't realize it had stopped, as his bottom was pulsing with heat, and a sting that was quickly fading into a roaring pain. He felt every inch of the skin, and knew he'd be feeling it for some time to come.

Rolf reached over and dropped the paddle on the coffee table, allowing Marc to sink to his knees next to the chair, hands wrapped tightly around his leg as Marc continued with great, heaving sobs. When Marc managed to get on top of the pain, Rolf pulled him up and half dragged him the two steps to the couch, where he settled down and pulled Marc down next to him.

Marc barely knew where he was. His head was buried in Rolf's chest, lying face down the length of the couch, his feet still twisted in his jeans. He could feel strong arms around him, gently pushing the hair off of his hot forehead once in a while, or gently running down his back. When Marc's sobs moved from those of pain and misery to those of self pity, Rolf slid out from under Marc, giving him a pillow to rest his head on. He felt his legs being pulled, and a few moments later his feet were bare and he was freed from his jean shackles. Rolf then pulled down the blanket from the back on the couch and lightly covered Marc up and headed into the bathroom to get a wet washcloth and some tissues.

He'd just left the bathroom when the phone rang. He quickly pressed the button to answer, seeing it was Matthew.

"Hi sweetheart."

"Hi," Matthew said sadly. "Are you coming home?" Matthew could hear Marc's sobbing in the background. His stomach jumped unpleasantly.

"I will, soon. I need to make sure that Marc's situated for the evening. You're not worrying, are you?"

"….no."

"Promise?" Rolf asked.

"Promise," Matthew answered, meaning it. He hung up quickly, never having enjoyed hearing Marc sobbing in pain. If Rolf ever told you not to do something, flat out, and you did it, it was NEVER pretty.

Rolf went back to Marc and settled again on the couch, pulling him up more comfortably. He used the cool rag to wipe Marc's tearstained face, and gave him several tissues as Marc continued to clean out his very runny nose.

Later, Rolf walked Marc to his bedroom. He pulled off his dress shirt and replaced it with one that Marc slept in, then pulled back the covers.

Marc slid under the covers on his stomach, and winced when the sheets made contact with his bottom. It hurt too much to try and move and get them off. The words that Rolf left him with that night both warmed his heart and increased his self pity, while the gentle kiss on his cheek left him feeling both warm, and empty. His sobs increased when his light was turned out, and increased again when the door shut behind his friend.

*********************************

It was after noon, and Marc was still lying on his bed, half sleeping as he did all night. Rolf's words impacted his thoughts almost as much as his still throbbing backside. He stared at the phone extension on the nightstand as it rang, but he had no desire to answer it. The downstairs answering machine finally picked it up after a half dozen rings.

"Marc? It's Jason are you there?" He asked with genuine concern, pausing in case Marc could pick it up. "I guess not. Guess you're feeling better. Call me."

****************


"Hello? It's after 5, are you home yet?" Jason asked, his tone flat and emotionless. "Hope you're alright. Call me. Oh, it's Jason."


****************


"I really HATE this damned machine. Are you home? It's after 10? Maybe you are there and just don't want to talk...to me." Jason said, frustration evident in his voice. "Call me when you get this message,
any hour, whatever."


****************


Marc stared at the machine after the last message played. He felt bad for having ignored Jason all Saturday, but he had been too involved with his own self pity to be concerned about putting up a front for someone else. Marc looked at the clock, it was nearly 9:30 Sunday morning. He reached for the phone, wanting to call Jason, but he just couldn't at this moment. He absent mindly sat down on the hard wooden rocking chair, and nearly jumped out of his skin. It had been less than 36 hours since his paddling, and the wounds were too fresh for comfort. Fresh tears escaped his eyes, for reasons he couldn't explain. But his cry was interrupted by the doorbell. He wiped away the tears as best he could, and opened the door.


"You are alive, good! Thanks for calling!" Jason replied bitterly, as he turned and stepped off the porch.


Marc's mouth was dry, as he hadn't expected to see Jason in person. "W-wait, come here." He managed to utter.

Jason stopped, and came back. "If you didn't want to go with me the other night, you should have just said so! I am a big boy, I can take rejection just fine!"

Marc held his own head in his hands, rubbing his forehead. "It wasn't like that. Not in the least."


"Oh no? You could have fooled me! You have to leave in a hurry, then you don't talk to me at all the next day. Where were you? I was worried!"


"Come in, please?" Marc said, not wanting to have any kind of discussion on the front porch for the nosey neighbors to hear. Jason was still steaming, but agreed to come inside. Marc guided him into the living room, where he sat down on the sofa.


"Want something to drink?"


"No! So you going to tell me where you were ALL day yesterday?"


As Marc tried to find a way to tell him as much as possible, with as few details, he sat down on the wooden chair again. His face contorted as he jumped from the initial contact. He shifted his weight from side to side, finally able to find a location that was bearable, but just barely. Jason watched Marc's movements, finding something familiar in them. Jason's demeanor changed from anger to inquisitive. He looked at Marc closely and intently, as Marc raised his eyes to meet Jason's. They were slightly puffy and bloodshot, another sight that was all too familiar.


"What?" Marc asked, as Jason stared at him with large eyes.


"What happened to you Friday night?" Jason asked, his tone softer.


"I...I told you, work just-"


"I know what you told me, but I want you to tell me what REALLY happened."


Marc just stared at the floor, unable to discussion this with a "civilian" who wouldn't understand.


Jason stood up and paced around in a small circle. "Steven was a wonderful man with excellent values. He had many beliefs, and those beliefs included 'spare the rod, spoil the child'. I may be a lot of things, but I am NO child. The first time Steven spanked me, it caught me totally off guard."


Marc raised his eyes in shocked silence, as Jason continued to share his tale.


"I still remember it like it was yesterday. We had just moved in together, and we had agreed to split the household duties fifty/fifty. But what 18 year old WANTS to do housework on a Friday night? Well I kept delaying, and telling him later, and just flat out refusing to do anything. Finally he had enough. I didn't know your lover COULD spank you. You know?" Jason asked rhetorically. "It only lasted a minute or two, but it felt surreal. It set the tone for the remainder of our time together." 


Marc heard the twinge in Jason's voice, as the last line tore through his heart. He got up, and walked over to Jason, hugging him tightly. Jason put his head on Marc's shoulder and rubbed his back. For a moment, it was hard to tell who was consoling whom.


"I am sorry I didn't call yesterday, I just wasn't in a good place." Marc replied.


"Tell me about it?" Jason asked.


They sat down on the couch, sitting close to each other. "I told you about Matthew and his partner Rolf, right?"


"Yes, they were the two whom you got confused about?"


"Right. But our relationship has always been more "involved" than most friendships. I don't want to get into the nitty gritty details of how or when, because I don't remember, it just seems like its always been that way."


"I know what you mean, I think."


"As of late, I find myself on the authority side of things. But every now and again, even the high can fall, and need to be reminded of their lot in life."


"And that is where...Rolf comes in?" Jason asked.


"Yes. He's always looking out for what's best for me. Even if what's best for me, isn't what I WANT. After that drug bust at Peaveys, I was asked, no, told not to return there."


"And yet we went the other night." Jason replied.


"And as fate would have it, Rolf found out."


"And he was none too happy?"


"No. I think I made matters worse by trying to sever a tie that just can't be severed with a pair of scissors. It wasn't a good night. I spent most of yesterday in bed, feeling sorry for myself." Marc chuckled as he recalled something Rolf had said.


"What?" Jason asked.


"Rolf had seen us dancing at the club, and he said he saw the way we looked at each other. He guessed there was more just from that."

Jason looked at the floor, then back at Marc's face. "Rolf is very observant."

Marc's eyes rose and met Jason's.


"I wasn't looking for it. I never thought I would, or even could, find it again. But I have." Jason said, as his throat began to tighten and his eyes moistened. "I don't know when it happened. But it did. A part of me has been waiting a while to feel that hug you gave me earlier. It just made me completely melt, to feel your touch, feel your heart beating against mine."


Marc didn't respond. There were no words for what he was feeling. Jason stared hard at Marc, seeking some type of response. Marc leaned in, and kissed Jason fully on the lips. Jason wrapped his arms around Marc, as Marc did the same to him. They fell backwards onto the couch, with Marc resting gently on Jason. The kissing stopped after the moment had been savored, but they remained in that position, holding each other, staring into the other's eyes.

*******************

Marc sat at his desk beaming. The harder he tried to focus on work, the more he thought about Jason. He was very anxious to share his news with someone, anyone who would listen. He logged onto his e-mail account, ready to type, but just couldn't. He wasn't ready to talk to Rolf just yet, his pride still hurting. And he wasn't sure Matthew could handle the news, especially through an e-mail. Marc closed the window, and turned back to his work, startled.


"Lost in a fog?" Lisa said, standing over his desk.


"Geez, we've got to get you bell or something." Marc replied with a laugh. "What's up?"


"Mr. Ringer wants to see you in his office in ten minutes."


"Oh?" Marc replied, finding his mouth instantly dry. "Did he say what he wanted?"


"He just said to bring the paperwork for store six."


"Uh, ok. Thanks."


Lisa nodded then exited Marc's office. Marc sat back in his chair, his head swirling with thoughts. Store six was the troubled store, and Marc had a sinking feeling about it. He rummaged through his desk, and gathered all he could on the store. He checked himself in the mirror, then walked slowly to Mr. Ringer's office. The closer he got, the more he felt like dead man walking. He knocked on the door, and waited. Mr. Ringer soon opened the door.


"Mr. Diablo, please come in and have a seat." Mr. Ringer replied.


Marc swallowed, and entered the room, the door closely swiftly behind him.


***************


"I don't know, not that!" Matthew replied.


"You're options are limited. I am NOT going out to dinner again, we were already out twice this week. Either sandwiches or the meatloaf. Your choice." Rolf replied firmly.


"Sandwiches." Matthew replied through his teeth, not really want either one.

Rolf looked at Matthew as the doorbell rang.

"Maybe it's the pizza guy, and he felt bad for you!" Rolf replied.


Matthew laughed. "It's probably Michael, he wanted to borrow a movie for schoo-of Scooby Doo."


Rolf looked at Matthew, grinning at the nice save. Matthew bounded to the door and opened it.


"What do YOU want!" He said gruffly.


Rolf made his way to the door, hearing that tone in the kitchen.


"Can I, I come in?" Marc asked, looking pale and sheepish.


"Matthew, let him in." Rolf replied.

Matthew looked at Rolf, cringing. But he stepped to the side and let Marc in.

"Is everything alright?" Rolf asked.


Marc shook his head no.



"Come in, sit down." Rolf said, pointing to the couch.



Marc started to go, but Marc looked at the hurt still visible on Matthew's face and stopped. "That's alright, I'll only be a minute."



"What's up?" Rolf asked, intrigued.



"I had a meeting with my boss today." Marc said, his voice waivering. "Remember the store I was telling you about, the one in trouble?"



"Yes. You said the numbers were way down. They're not closing it, are they?" Rolf asked.



Marc shook his head. "No, I managed to find the problem. It appears an employee was stealing money and undercharging for videos in the computer, and no one caught it. I barely noticed it myself until I was talking with Mr. Ringer."



"Wow, good find. It just amazes me what people will try and do." Rolf replied.

Matthew continued to listen, happy that Marc had broken a big case like that, but refusing to show it.



"Mr. Ringer was pretty impressed. I, then he, wow, this harder than I thought." Marc replied, tears starting to well.

"What is it?" Rolf asked.


"Mr. Ringer has decided to expand the chain, to the east coast. He's going to open several stores in a small strip between New York, Pennsylvania and New Jersey."



Matthew watched Marc closely, not liking where this conversation was going.



"He has asked me to serve as head district manager for those stores. That means doing the hiring for management, setting each locale up and monitoring them."



"Wow, congratulations. That sounds like quite the opportunity." Rolf replied. "How long will you have to be away supervising?"



"That's why I'm here. I would have to relocate to the east coast. And well..." Marc looked from Rolf to Matthew. "There is very little reason for me to stay here, and I can't pass the opportunity up. I leave on Monday to check out the locations and find an apartment." 


Matthew's emotions erupted at the announcement. The hurt and anger immediately left his body, as tears flooded his eyes. He turned and bounded up the stairs and slammed the bedroom door behind himself. Marc locked his jaw, to keep his own tears in check. He motioned for Rolf to go check on Matthew.

"I will talk to you before Monday." Marc said, trying not to cry, as he turned and exited Matthew and Rolf's, quite possibly for the last time.


Marc walked down the front stairs, stopped and turned. He stared at the front door. A door that once meant comfort and family. Marc shook his head, and walked to his truck. The tears coralled back easily, as he saw the warm face waiting for him. He walked briskly, and got in.


"How did it go?" Jason asked.


"About as well as I anticipated," Marc replied.


Jason leaned over and hugged him, and rested his head on Marc's shoulder. "I'm sorry."

"Me too." Marc replied as he kissed his forehead, and stared one last time at Rolf and Matthew's home, before starting the truck and pulling out.

They drove down the street, both quiet, until Marc broke the silence.


"Are you sure about this?" He asked.



"It's the opportunity of a lifetime for you. You HAVE to take it." Jason replied, sitting up.

"And what about you?" Marc asked, for the second time that day.


"I already told you."


"Long distance relationships rarely work out." Marc replied.



"The semester is half over. You're going to be so busy the next couple of weeks, you won't know up from down. By the time you settle in, I will be done with the semester, and ready to join you."

"Won't you miss it here?"


"The only thing I have here are memories...and those I will take with me. New York has some fine schools, and so does Pennsylvania and New Jersey. I will be happy, as long as I am with you."


Chills rode up and down Marc's spine as Jason uttered that last sentence. Marc stopped at the traffic light, and turned towards Jason. Their eyes met, both sincere and true. Marc leaned in and kissed Jason, deeply and passionately. They parted in time to catch the second green light, having been oblivious to the first passing, in the quiet intersection. Marc focused on the road, and continued driving.


"You've got lots to do in under a week. Where do we start?" Jason asked.


"WE start by making sure you pass that trig test tomorrow."


"Always me, me, me!"


"You've got it."


They continued to drive down the long, open road.



~The End~



Copyright Rolf and Gayspankee 2010

1 comment:

Kendra said...

I must admit, I'm pretty bummed by the ending of this tale. Lol. I got so into it and felt so bad for Marc. I love how realistic the characters are and the plot progression was amazing. I do wish there was some sort of epilogue though..one where Matthew and Marc hug it all out. Lol. Maybe I just haven't got to that story yet.


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