Discovery (Steven & Shawn)
Shawn had always been able to surprise me but with that particular confession of “I'm not” a few weeks ago, he had stunned me. Simple as that.
A long, sometimes awkward, sometimes downright uncomfortable talk followed his confession. Shawn stumbled through his words, all the while clinging to me. I had never seen him as nervous before and I had seen him nervous plenty of times. He worried about details until he got so lost in them that he couldn't see the big picture anymore. The adage of “not seeing the forest for the trees” fitted Shawn like the dot on an i.
By now we had settled into our altered relationship. Shawn had also moved in with me shortly after that talk. I had been reluctant about the discipline at first, whether I could do or be what or whom Shawn needed. He begged me to at least try it and hell, who could say no when he directed those soft hazel eyes pleadingly at you? Definitely not me.
Life had become easier for us since then. Shawn smiled more, he laughed more, and his whole body language screamed relaxed. He'd always smiled a lot but those smiles had been hesitant, bordering on shy.
Shawn didn't offer many people a place in his heart. I could count those people on one hand. There was his sister Sabrina, his best friend Taylor, my parents and I. Even to me he often acted evasive, always pushing me away when I came too close or when he felt too vulnerable.
Giving me the last say in our relationship was the ultimate gift from him. He trusted me to keep him safe and not to rip his heart out. I cherished this gift for what it was.
After doing a keyword search on the internet and reading hundreds of websites together we decided on our rules and the punishments if those rules weren't met. Some of the pictures on those websites crept us out so much that we agreed on not using physical punishment if possible.
Punishment mostly consisted of Shawn writing lines and sometimes standing in a corner in our living room, with the task to think about why he needed a time-out. He absolutely loathed standing in the corner. He couldn't really explain why but since it was effective, I didn't prod.
On two occasions I had applied a few solid swats to his ass. Each time because he had forgotten to eat on time. Upon our mutual agreement I was officially allowed to remind him of eating and even enforce it. Shawn had fought me on this point but I had insisted. Either the discipline aspect worked in every part of our relationship or we didn't include it at all.
Eventually, Shawn gave in. Eating on time was a sore spot for us. Shawn is diabetic, which he doesn't like at all. He's also an artist who forgets his surroundings and basic needs once he emerges himself in his current work. Not a good combo.
I don't know how many times I found him white-faced and with trembling hands. So far, I'd been around when he called for help. After a few weeks of living together I knew that he needed sugar - quickly. We always had bottles of juice at the ready. Shawn's glucose level usually spiked up within minutes after drinking any kind of juice.
Whenever I found him in a low glucose level state it scared the living shit out of me. On the two occasions I had swatted him he had been shaking badly. Every time something like this happened he was clingy and in dire need of cuddling afterwards but the last two times I hadn't complied. At least not instantly.
When I was sure he was okay, I had stood him up, applied a few hard swats to his ass and guided him into his corner. By the time he stood there he was already crying. I didn't allow myself to soften; instead I let him stew in the corner for 15 minutes.
Both times Shawn had promised me to take better care of himself. We agreed on setting up an alarm clock to remind him to eat. Of course I cuddled him and showered him with tender kisses after the ordeal of standing in the corner.
I thought Shawn was doing better. I really thought the alarm clock was helping. Instead I got the shock of my life when I came home yesterday.
Shawn didn't answer to my “Honey, I'm home!” call, so I walked over to the room we had remodeled into a small atelier. At first I couldn't even process what I saw.
Shawn lay on the floor, the stool he usually sat on while he drew toppled over and the tin with brushes scattered around him. I was beside him instantly, checking for his pulse. I breathed a sigh of relief when I found one.
In a daze I called 911. After the call I grabbed the box with Shawn's emergency supplies. It held various foods to help raise his glucose level. I swiftly laid a glucose tablet carefully under his tongue hoping that it would help somehow. I had never seen him unconscious because of a low glucose level before, I didn't even think this was a real possibility. He always noticed in time if it got too low. Not this time obviously.
My heart pounded in my chest as I crouched next to him, brushing some of his unruly chestnut curls from his forehead. I didn't know what else to do. The feeling of utter helplessness and incompetence was terrible. When I wondered how low his glucose level was I bolted for his glucose meter. I could at least spare the paramedics a minute if I knew his glucose level.
Quickly I used the device. The seconds it took to determine his glucose level were the longest in my entire life. When the display blinked, I blinked too. 16. The display seriously showed 16.
I heard someone sobbing, belatedly realizing that it was me. I'd never have thought that I'd see such a low number on Shawn's display. How could he survive this? Without retaining severe complications?
There was no time for me to rush into a full-blown panic attack as I heard the approaching siren. Torn between wanting to stay at Shawn's side and letting the paramedics inside as quickly as possible, I compromised. I pressed a firm kiss on Shawn's forehead and told him, “Hold on, baby. I'll be right back with help.”
I dashed downstairs, flung the door open and waved the paramedics inside.
The next hours went by in a blur. I made sure to stay at Shawn's side, even though the nurses claimed I couldn't since I wasn't family. I threatened them with a lawsuit for discrimination. Sure, I might have told them I was Shawn's husband instead of his boyfriend but … well, I was desperate. No way in hell would I leave my lover.
Fortunately the threat of a lawsuit, the help of a doctor named Larkin later in the night as well as experiencing that I didn't hinder them in their work helped them to ignore I wasn't supposed to be there.
The first hours in the hospital were horrible. Shawn didn't wake up but his glucose level crashed several times. Even after they thought they'd stabilized him they checked on him every fifteen minutes at first. Each time a nurse came into Shawn's room my heart raced, fearing the worst.
In the early hours of the next morning Shawn started moving around, moaning and sometimes whimpering. It took him another couple of hours to regain consciousness fully. When he finally did he groaned. “Shit! Stevie? What happened? My head is killing me.”
His head? They'd examined him thoroughly, even made a CT scan because no one knew if he'd hurt his head. I blamed my lack of sleep for the belated realization that it was a natural reaction of his body to have a killer headache.
I got out of my chair and sat down on the edge of his bed, hoping against all odds that he didn't suffer from any kind of complications like losing his eyesight or whatever else could have happened to him. I had heard enough horror stories of other diabetic people losing their eyesight or foot due to a diabetic coma.
Gently, I cupped Shawn's face in my hands, savoring that he was still here, still breathing and talking. He was alive. Emotion choked me up and my voice was hoarse when I told him, “You went into shock because your glucose level was too low.” I took in a deep breath before I begged, “Can you open your eyes for me, Shawn?”
He had to fight visibly but eventually blinked his beautiful hazel eyes open. I held my breath, waiting for him to tell me he couldn't see me.
“You look like crap,” Shawn said.
I chortled. Leave it to him to make me laugh when I should … should … I didn't know if I should be relieved that he obviously didn't lose his eyesight or if I should be angry with him for getting himself in this situation as it was.
“I hate to break it to you but you don't look that great either.”
I smiled when his lower lip stuck out into a pout. Usually I'd roll my eyes but right then it was a beautiful sight to behold. I bent down to capture his bottom lip between my lips. When he opened his mouth I flicked my tongue inside it, teasing him.
Shawn gasped into my mouth while his arms came up around my neck. His still uncoordinated movements turned the whole embrace into a painful clutching session for me. Never had this kind of discomfort felt more pleasant.
We would have happily kissed the living hell out of each other if someone hadn't cleared his throat. Immediately, Shawn let go of me. Wide-eyed he sunk back into the pillow, his face a mask of barely hidden fear. Sure, he tried to look stoic, unfazed, but he couldn't pull it off. Shawn wasn't keen on displaying that he was gay in public. Something had happened to him in the past but so far he had evaded my questions on this topic. As did his sister, which translated into “Danger – Do not trespass”. I had yielded to this invisible warning sign though at moments like this I really wanted to know.
Doing the only thing I could right then, I used my body to block our visitor's sight of my lover. With a smile on my face I whispered, “Breathe, baby.”
“Baby?” Shawn wrinkled his nose as he echoed my sentiment. “Dear Lord, this day is getting better and better.”
He had obviously regained his equilibrium so I raised my left eyebrow, spared him with a long look and said, “Can it. Right now.”
Shawn nodded his agreement, his cheeks lightly flushing. I looked over my shoulder to find Shawn's attending doctor patiently standing in the doorway.
“Mr. Miller, Mr. Walker? I'd like to talk to you.”
I beckoned him over to us. I had taken a liking to him since he was the one who supported me when I fought for permission to stay with Shawn. He didn't care about our marital status or anything else beyond getting Shawn through his crisis with as less damage as possible.
I shifted my weight on the edge of the bed and took one of Shawn's cold hands into mine. He flinched and immediately had a try at slipping free from me. I put on my sternest expression, which thankfully had the desired effect on Shawn. Probably because he was still out of it.
Expectantly we looked at Dr. Larkin. He busied himself with checking IV lines, auscultating Shawn's heart and lungs, taking his pulse and whatever else it was he did. I should have studied medicine instead of computer software engineering. Since I had met Shawn medical knowledge seemed to be way more important.
“Do we have to expect any kind of consequences?” I asked finally, unable to keep quiet anymore.
Dr. Larkin didn't answer right away. Irritably, I caught a glance between Shawn and the doctor that was hard to interpret. Shawn's eyes darted quickly to mine, only to jump away when he discovered me looking at him. He squirmed deeper under the thin blanket, shivering and murmuring pitifully, “I'm cold. I wanna go home right now.”
I brushed his hair off his forehead before answering, “I know. We'll have to do what is best for you though.”
“I know what's best for me – to go home.”
“If you know what's best for you, how come your glucose level got so low without you noticing?”
Shawn's lower lip trembled and his eyes filled with tears. I closed my eyes briefly and squeezed his hand. I purposefully didn't look at him again. Seeing him cry always led to me caving in sooner or later. I wasn't sure if he played the tears up determinedly whenever he was in trouble or not. He so knew about my weak spot.
“I'd like to keep Mr. Miller overnight for observation,” Larkin started.
Shawn exploded. “No! I will not stay another night here. We all know I'm diabetic. Stuff like that happens. I'll recuperate way quicker at home!”
“Stuff like that happens?” I asked icily. “Since when? As far as I understood it, you shouldn't lose consciousness if your diabetes is handled correctly. Which leads me back to my question – why didn't you notice your glucose level was too low?”
“I just didn't. It's known to happen from time to time. No matter what you say.”
Shawn's behavior was seriously out of line and also not how he behaved normally. He only snapped like that if he felt guilty. Did he really feel that guilty about not noticing his low glucose level? Somehow I doubted it. There was more going on beneath the surface; I simply needed time to dig it free.
Larkin spared me the work on digging free the truth. “It would only happen if you had an extremely unsteady diabetes but you haven't. We have seen you doing very well while you attended our program here. Your glucose level was always balanced and your weight was at the right scale.”
I frowned. It was the first time I heard anything about a program. Bewildered, I kept my mouth shut and simply listened. I saw Shawn gesticulating to Larkin, probably to stop him from elaborating any further. Larkin seemed to ignore Shawn's gesture on purpose.
Grimly, he looked from Shawn to me before he continued, “In the last few months you've been admitted to the hospital many times. This is the second time in the last three months you've been admitted because of a diabetic coma--.”
“What?” I blurted. No way. I'd know about that.
As I stared down at Shawn I knew I was wrong. I didn't know about it because he had hidden it from me. I couldn't believe he'd done this.
“Steeeeeve! Steve, wait! Where are you going?”
I hadn't even recognized that I had gotten up. When I realized that I was walking into the direction of the door, I stopped myself. Even though I wanted to be alone, to have time to process what this meant for me, for us, I stayed. With great effort I turned around and stalked back. I didn't sit down on the bed again. Instead I stood at the end of his bed, grasping the rail there tightly with both hands.
Shawn's eyes brimmed with tears but he didn't avert them. For the very first time I didn't feel pity, just anger solely directed at him. Turning my attention to the doctor I said, “I'm sorry but I'm shocked. I only know about the current diabetic coma. When did you say the other one happened?”
Larkin thumbed through Shawn's thick file before he told me, “About eight weeks ago, also on a Friday night.”
In my mind I raced through my calendar, wondering where I had been. A Friday night, huh? I had been away one weekend because of work. I listened to Larkin insistently talking about the dangers of diabetic comas, how lucky Shawn had been so far and how much he'd profit from participating in the program again.
Whatever it was Shawn wanted to say I forestalled him. “He will participate in that program. Where do we get the necessary papers to sign him up? And we do understand the risks, I can assure you of that.”
Shawn shrunk further back into the bed, for all the world looking as if he wanted to become one with the mattress. He didn't challenge my statement, only nodded when Larkin asked him if that was what he wanted also.
Larkin got up and told me I could gather up the papers in about an hour at the nurse's desk. Meanwhile he told me he was happy to have me on board and how good it would be for Shawn to be monitored by professionals for another night.
As soon as he had left the room Shawn and I locked eyes. I was surprised that I didn't only feel anger but also thoroughly hurt and betrayed. Tonelessly, I said, “I can't believe you hid how bad it has gotten. Christ, Shawn! Don't you understand how much you mean to me? We don't lie to each other, especially not about something so vital and important!”
Shawn burst into tears, full body-wracking tears. In between heart-wrenching sobs he managed to croak, “I'm sorry, Steve, really, I am.”
“That's not going to cut it this time,” I replied.
I was still standing at the end of his bed and made no move to get closer to him. Even though he reached his hands out for me, I couldn't bring myself to round the bed and take them. When it registered with him that I wasn't following his unspoken plea, he slipped his hands under the blanket.
Even after realizing how heavily he shivered and how very upset he looked, didn't convince me to come to him. My mind was still whirling. “Who was with you the other time?”
“Taylor? And he never mentioned anything to me?” I was baffled. Taylor had seemed to be a responsible guy, not one who'd cover that Shawn had been in the hospital. Or maybe I simply didn't know shit all.
Shawn averted his eyes while he pulled the blanket up to his chin. In a muffled voice he confessed, “Taylor and I had,” he hesitated, “we had a disagreement about me not wanting to tell you about my hospital stay.”
Ah, so my opinion of Taylor was right. That was at least something.
“Why wasn't I called? Didn't I sign papers for them to call me in case of an emergency? I'm quite sure I did, right after you moved in with me,” I puzzled aloud.
Shawn's Adam's apple bobbed up and down, telling me all I needed to know.
“Shaaaawn,” I growled. It was enough for him to start crying again. “God damn it, Shawn! Where are those papers?”
“A-At h-home,” he hiccuped. “In my bedside drawer.”
“I wasn't so sure if it was a good idea for you to know when I needed to go to the hospital,” he confessed, his voice almost giving out.
“Translation: You didn't want me involved in that part of your life because you bloody well know you can't handle it on your own!” I shouted.
Shawn flinched. He surprised me by sitting up in bed and shouting right back, “Because I knew you'd be fussing even more than before. I'm perfectly capable of taking care of myself!”
I shook my head. Flatly, I responded, “You're not capable of taking care of yourself. You've proven as much already.”
“Fine!” he snapped.
“Fine?” I echoed. When exactly did I enter the Twilight Zone? “What do you mean with fine?”
“I mean it's fine, I knew you'd see it this way. If you'd be so kind as to leave my stuff alone until I come to collect it? I have to call Sabrina and I guess we'll be packing my stuff within a few days and--”
“Hang on a second here. What are you talking about?” Of course I knew what he was talking about but I wanted to hear it from him, wanted him to say aloud that the last few months meant nothing to him.
“We're done and I'm moving out. I can't live together with someone who treats me like a kid that doesn't know how to lead his life.”
I gaped at him. “Are you serious?”
Defiantly, he stared at me. The stare would have been more effective if the tears hadn't rolled down his cheeks. Suddenly laughter bubbled up within me. Totally inappropriate, I know, but I couldn't help it.
Shawn looked at me in shock before he balled his hands into fists and yelled, “Asshole! Get outta here!”
It was time to end this charade. I rounded the bed, sat down next to Shawn and pulled him into a rough hug. He resisted at first, all his muscles tensed up and taut but after a while he molded against me. He pushed his head under my chin and hot tears soaked my shirt.
“I don't want to move out,” he sniffed.
“There's no reason for you to move anywhere,” I assured him.
“A few minutes ago you didn't even want to hold me!”
“I would have strangled you.”
He shuddered. In a small voice he asked, “But not anymore, right? We're … we're going to be okay?”
I sighed. “We'll work something out. I'm mad as hell at you and I need to have all information before I can even attempt to think about how to deal with this mess. I'm going to drive home now and--”
“What? No! Don't leave me alone here! Take me with you. Steve, please!”
The panic in his voice tore at me. I pried him off me, cupped his face in my hands and looked into his red-rimmed eyes. “I'll drive home to get those papers. I'll have a shower, dress in fresh clothes and also pack a bag with some of your clothes and toiletries. I'll be back in an hour, two hours top. I'll call Sabrina before I go.”
His eyes widened and he hastily assured me that it wasn't necessary for me to call his sister. I just smiled at him. “I will call her and when I'm back I'll also ask for your file to get an overview of what's going on with your diabetes.”
Shawn's lower lip started quivering and new tears spilled over. “You don't need to! You really don't. I'll tell you everything you want to know!”
“I'm sorry Shawn, but that's not going to work. How am I supposed to trust you or anything you say? No, you've got to earn that trust back. For the time being I'll check anything you tell me. Are we clear?”
“Does that mean you'll check my glucose levels and so on?”
I frowned. Shawn usually hated when I checked on his latest numbers. Gazing into his eyes realization finally hit me. Christ! How could I've been so dense for so long?
He had put up a fight when we discussed including his eating habits and checking his glucose levels into our altered relationship, yeah, but that hadn't been a fight for independence. It had been a fight for me to take the everlasting task of checking on his glucose levels away from him. He couldn't carry that burden on his own. He very obviously couldn't bring himself to ask me to carry it for him, either.
He didn't have to ask anymore, I finally understood. Smiling, I replied, “I will.”
His face expressed his confused feelings so incredibly well – relief, reluctance, apprehension and a lot of other feelings. “B-But you can't … not all the time. I mean … you're working ...”
Ah, my work. Or, if I had to guess, my being away, especially at weekends. Not something Shawn liked though he always tried to put on a brave front. He'd never admit it but my boy liked it best if we both were at home. We could be in different rooms and be busy with whatever; it was just the knowledge of me being there that helped him relax. I had wanted to work more from home anyway so I merely shrugged. “I'll think of a solution. Don't worry about it.”
Shawn still looked doubtful but at least he stopped trying to pick apart the seam of the blanket. I pushed him back onto his back and kissed him firmly. “Be a good boy while I go and call your sister.”
I called his sister, who rushed to the hospital within 30 minutes after my call. Borrowing her car I drove home, knowing that Sabrina would take care of her little brother until I came back.
At home I grabbed the mail from the mailbox, riffled through it and then laid it onto the kitchen table. Tiredly, I walked upstairs into our bedroom where I instantly opened Shawn's drawer. After some serious digging around in his pajamas, I finally found the papers that would officially make me his primary contact in case of an emergency.
I sat down on the edge of our bed, holding the papers in my hands. For a long moment I stared at them as if from far away. My hands began to tremble so I laid the papers on top of Shawn's drawer. It hit me hard then. Yesterday could have been it. I could be home now, with only the remains of our short time together. If things had gone really, really bad yesterday – I'd be without my Shawn now.
I doubled over, clutched my head with both hands, and gave in to the inevitable sobbing. I tried to stop myself because I had promised Shawn to be back in no time … but I just couldn't. I needed to allow myself to break down, even if merely for a short time.
I laid down on the bed, on Shawn's half of it, where I let my tears soak his pillow. I cried myself out, feeling weak but at the same time much better than before. Sorting through my thoughts I always came to the same conclusion: Shawn needed me to be firmer with him, needed me to take some of the burden of his lifelong struggle with his diabetes off him.
I had been reluctant when we introduced elements of discipline into our relationship and I wasn't at all sure how I felt about punishing my lover physically but … yeah, I could finally see the point of it. If a spanked bottom was the reminder for Shawn to let anything like yesterday never happen again than I was all for it.
Bringing my hands up in front of my face I inspected them. I licked my dry lips, wondering about Shawn, me, us. I sighed deeply before I sat up in bed. I wished there would be ready-made solutions somewhere. Hell, I'd pay a lot of money if someone told me how to handle all this and not destroy what we had. No matter what, I loved my kitten. Not that he'd act like a kitten if I ever used this endearment aloud. I did that once, early on in our relationship and … it didn't go well.
My head pounded and my eyes felt puffy. I cast a quick glance to the clock and sighed again. Time to get a move on. I stripped out of my clothes, snatched a batch of fresh ones and wandered into the bathroom. I shaved, took a painkiller against the headache and then a long shower.
I felt more like myself after the shower. With a bit more energy I dried off, dressed and walked back into our bedroom. There I packed a bag with clothes for Shawn, as well as some toiletries and his e-reader. Shawn could live without a TV or even radio but not without his books, whether they were paperbacks or electronic ones.
When I left our bedroom I carried his bag and the papers downstairs. I packed the papers into a folder to prevent them from bending. Surveying the living room I saw the door to his atelier still standing ajar. Slowly, I walked over, intent on closing the door but when I reached the threshold I swallowed hard. Shawn would hate the chaos his fall and later on the paramedics had left.
Even though I didn't want to be there, I put the bag and folder onto the floor and started to clean up his room. When I finished, I decided to pack a sketchpad and a few pencils too. He might find those useful later today.
After locking up the house I walked over to Sabrina's car, put the bag and folder on the passenger seat and climbed behind the steering wheel. I took a deep breath before starting the engine. Shawn would probably have a fit because it was dinnertime by now, and I had been away four hours instead of two.
As soon as the elevator door swished open I heard Shawn yelling. Cringing, I swiftly walked over to his room, on my way passing several startled visitors and annoyed looking nurses. In front of his room I listened to Sabrina arguing with her brother, her loud voice giving away how stressed she was.
I entered Shawn's room where I found him sitting on the edge of the bed, wildly gesticulating for his clothes. He was only dressed in a thin hospital garment and shivered badly. Sabrina had her hands on his shoulders, trying to prevent him from getting up while a nurse fussed with the IV line.
Larkin stood at the end of Shawn's bed, frowning in displeasure. He turned upon hearing me entering and sighed in obvious relief. “I'm glad you're back.”
Shawn and Sabrina stopped arguing, both turning wide eyes at me. I glowered at both of them – at Shawn for making such a scene and at Sabrina for not getting him settled. She almost broke into tears when she saw me. “Steven, thank god! Come here, I can't deal with him. He's just … just...”
She surprised all of us by bursting into tears and fleeing the room. Shawn climbed from the bed, intent on following her. “Rina! Wait!”
Only he was allowed to call her Rina but this time she didn't react. He looked shocked by her outburst and I wondered what had happened in my absence. I brought the bag and folder to his bed, quickly snatching him by the waist when his knees started to buckle. Sitting him back on the edge of the bed I lifted his legs up and tucked the blanket around him.
“What the hell is going on here?”
Shawn didn't reply though he did snarl at the nurse who wanted to insert the line of the IV back into the cannula. “Get your fucking hands off me, I don't need this shit!”
My eyes almost popped out of their sockets. Dumbfounded I looked at my lover. I didn't even know he could swear like that! With whom had I lived together these past weeks? It was as if I got to know the Jekyll-side of Shawn.
“You'll need it probably very soon because if you don't start eating very quickly you'll faint within a few minutes,” Larkin said calmly.
My head swiveled from Shawn to the doctor. “Why should he faint? He's in a hospital! He was doing okay by the time I left.”
“That was hours ago! You wouldn't believe what happens during a whole day,” Shawn griped. He stopped short of foaming at the mouth to show me how angry he was at me.
“I'm sorry it took me longer than expected but that still doesn't explain what's going on. Shawn! Stop that and let the nurse do her job!”
I really thought he'd bare his teeth at me. He fell back against the pillow, sighing dramatically as he thrust out his hand for the nurse. She shook her head but swiftly joined the line and the cannula. Shawn's hands trembled. Not wanting to relive the experience from yesterday I asked worriedly, “Your hands are trembling. Shawn, we need to know your glucose level and get you something to eat.”
“He got his regular insulin injection but refuses to eat,” Larkin stated calmly.
Shawn looked at me sullenly. Shrugging his shoulders he said, “I don't like the food.”
I was floored. Really, really floored. Shaking my head to clear it, I repeated, “You don't like the food?”
“It's hospital food, it tastes like crap.” He crossed his trembling arms above his chest while he stared at me challengingly.
“You didn't have a problem eating lunch.”
“That's because they got me something from the cafeteria.”
“Aha. So, you'd rather go into another diabetic coma instead of eating the food you got served? Did I get that right?”
He glared at me. “I don't want to eat this crap, so I won't. We're in the hospital, they won't let me slip into a diabetic coma again.”
I heard the sharp intake of breath from the nurse and the doctor. With a strained smile on my face I turned to them. “Would you mind leaving us alone for a few minutes? I need to talk to my disturbingly irresponsible partner.”
Shawn sputtered indignantly, which we all chose to ignore. The nurse and Larkin exchanged a look then nodded. “Press the button and we'll be here within seconds.”
I nodded, hoping that it wouldn't come to that. My gut churned and clenched painfully as I waited for them to leave the room and close the door. As soon as the door clicked shut I whirled around, my hands balled into fists. Shawn sunk deeper into the pillow and also pulled up the blanket to his chin.
I spotted the tray with his dinner on a near-by table, went over to retrieve it and set it on the fold-out table of his bedside drawer. Pointing at it I said, “I'll give you one last chance to eat your dinner now before I start feeding you.”
“Feeding me?” Shawn snorted. He even went so far as to flip me off before he turned over on his side, facing away from me.
In one swift move I pulled the blanket away, revealing Shawn's bare back and butt. He had pushed too far. Ignoring the nagging worry whether we'd survive this hospital stay as a couple or not I applied a few ringing swats to his naked backside.
Shawn cried out before he remembered where we were and stifled his cries by slapping a hand over his mouth. He didn't try to fend me off though. I didn't swat him often but made sure he could feel each one thoroughly.
I sat down on the bed and manhandled him in between my legs. I made sure to press his hopefully stinging butt firmly onto the mattress. I seemed to be successful because he yelped. Pulling the blanket over his bare legs I secured him against my chest, pulled the foldout table to us and lifted the lid of the first bowl.
“Open,” I told him curtly. It was only then that I registered the tears rolling down his cheeks. I sighed. “Shaaaaawn.”
“I thought you wouldn't come back,” he sniffled.
He also opened his mouth. I was so grateful in this moment I felt like crying too. Neither of us said another word for a long time. I fed him soup, a sandwich, some grapes and a pudding. He was surprisingly docile the whole time. He even snuggled back into me.
When we were finished I pushed the table aside, cradled Shawn in my arms and pressed a firm kiss on his forehead. “If you ever refuse to eat again, especially after an insulin injection, I'll spank you until your ass glows like Rudolph the reindeer's nose, is that clear?”
Shawn chuckled, his face hidden against my chest, both arms tightly locked around me. “I'm sorry. I don't know what I thought I was doing.”
“You were pushing. What did you want to prove? That I'd leave you if you just behaved like an irresponsible jerk?” I asked.
“I dunno know. I don't want you to leave but … but what am I going to do if you decide you can't stand being together with me anymore?”
Trying to make sense of this I replied, “So, it's better to push me away in advance? I got bad news for you. I'm in for the long haul which means I'll make sure you stick to your diet. Among other things.”
I didn't really get what this was about; I admit that. What I did get was that I loved him to pieces and would do anything to make him happy and sure he'd stay safe and healthy.
Shawn turned further in my embrace, nudging his head under my chin. I tightened my embrace, dropping kisses on top of his head until he almost purred.
“See,” I told him, “you are a kitten. You have the purring-part down to pat.”
I felt him smiling against my chest. “I don't actually mind you calling me kitten. As long as it's not a permanent thing.”
I raised my eyebrows. “That's … rather surprising to hear but than again I had a lot of surprises in the last 24 hours.”
Shawn huddled closer to me. “I'm sorry?”
“Are you? You don't sound that convinced to me.”
Shawn swallowed but Sabrina entering the room cut off his reply. She looked horrible. Her eyes were still red, her face showed that she'd cried and her lips were pressed together tightly. Shawn's immediate reaction to the door opening was to crawl away from me but I had none of this nonsense.
“No,” I growled at him. “You stay where you are.”
He looked at me from big eyes, pleading silently to let him go but I shook my head.
“It's only me,” Sabrina spoke up. To me she said, “I take it you got him to eat?”
I nodded. Shawn shifted around, his hand reaching out for his sister. “Rina...”
“Do not Rina me. I'm mad at you. Really mad.”
I felt Shawn swallowing heavily several times. I sympathized with him. Sabrina was spitting mad and she made even me nervous when she stared at us like that.
“How did you get him to eat? I begged him, I threatened, I tried to argue with him and nothing worked. Not that it ever did, only mom and dad could handle him whenever he decided to behave like a silly, irresponsible, uncaring, stupid--”
“Sabrina, he got that you're angry with him,” I interrupted her tirade.
She glared at me and I feared she'd simply go on from where she'd left. She made the mistake of glancing at her brother who I could feel fighting against the tears. On the one hand, I understood that she needed to let off some of the steam but on the other hand, we were all upset and exhausted. Shouting at Shawn wouldn't do any of us good.
“How did you get him to eat? Please tell me your secret so I can get him to eat too when it's necessary. There has to be a hidden secret, there just has to be one. I know mom and dad's but I don't know yours, so what is it?”
I perked up. “What did your parents do?”
Shawn squirmed uncomfortably in my arms. He pushed himself up a tad so his mouth was close to my ear. Quietly he mumbled, “They did what you did.”
Stunned, I looked at him. “They did?”
“They spanked him,” Sabrina threw in, her eyes narrowed to slits. “Whatever he told you, the truth is that they spanked him. Even shortly before they died and he was 20 at that time. It worked like a charm. It's just not my thing so I never got through to him if he didn't want me to. Now, come on, Steven, how did you get him to eat?”
“Let's just be grateful that I got your brother to eat, okay?”
“Fine!” she snapped. She threw her hands up in exasperation, not at all happy about my answer. Taking in a deep breath, she asked, “Do you want me to drive you home now?”
Shawn's hands dug deep into my flesh, eliciting a grunt of disapproval from me. I cast a quick look at Shawn and shook my head. Impossible big eyes, which already started to fill with tears again, stared at me. It would be interesting to find out how accommodating the staff was going to be when I announced that I was staying for the night.
“How will you get home then?”
I shrugged. “We'll get a taxi tomorrow.”
“You're crazy for putting up with him.”
Shawn gasped in shock while I gaped at Sabrina. Before either of us figured out what to say she continued in a much softer voice, “I'm glad you're crazy enough to be there for him and that he's allowing you to be there for him.”
She came closer, cupped the back of Shawn's head with one hand before kissing him firmly on a cheek. He let go of me to wrap his arms around her neck. For a brief moment they clung to each other. Sabrina extricated herself from him, kissed me as well and said, “Give me a call when you're getting released tomorrow and I'll pick you up.”
“Thanks Sabrina,” I replied.
We watched her walking from the room, shutting the door behind her. Shawn slumped back against me, his back pressed against my chest, mumbling, “She was really pissed off.”
“She had all the reason to be, don't you think?”
Shawn nodded before he turned in my arms, probably wanting to get comfortable. Gently, I pulled him away from me, which earned me an irritated look. “I thought … I thought you were staying?”
“I am staying but I want to bring those papers to the nurses and I also want to read your file. Before I do all that I thought I'd help you change into your pajamas.”
Shawn froze, the deer-caught-in-the-headlights-look on in full force. “You don't have to read my file. I'll tell you everything you want to know! Are you even allowed to read it?”
“Shawn, what's with all the provoking?”
“I'm not provoking anyone!” he protested. Upon seeing my raised eyebrows he relented. “I don't want you to read my file.”
“Your file contains a truthful overview of your medical situation. Since I can't trust you to be absolutely sincere with me I'll read it.”
I ignored his wail of protest and instead retrieved his pajamas from the bag I had packed. When I looked back at my lover he sulked. Plain old sulked like a four-year old boy. Pushing his pajamas into his hands I turned around wordlessly and informed him, “I'll get a nurse to see if she can unhook the cannula from the IV line.”
The nurse could and did it most efficiently. She darted interested glances from Shawn to me, probably trying to figure out how I had convinced Shawn to eat. She also took the papers with her and promised me to bring me Shawn's file so I could stay with him.
Shawn glared daggers at me throughout my conversation with the nurse. I felt my blood pumping increasingly faster. When the nurse left I strode over to him, took the top of his pajamas out of his hands and said – well, mostly hissed but hey, I was at the end of my rope -, “You can stop glaring or pouting at me except if you want me to re-warm your bottom. It's up to you, I don't mind which way you choose but I assure you that you're done with this totally unacceptable behavior.”
Shawn swallowed before he gestured towards his top. “I'm getting cold here.”
“What's it going to be?” I repeated.
“I'll be a good boy and behave. Happy now?”
I took hold of his chin, brought our eyes on the same level and simply looked at him. Seconds later his eyes veered off to the side.
“I will read your file and we will deal with this mess. I won't leave you because I love you, get that through this stubborn skull of yours.”
Shawn's eyes snapped back to mine and a tentative smile appeared on his face. He held out his arms for me to help him slip on his top. I helped him pull on the sleeve of his top without it getting caught at the cannula. Hesitantly he asked, “Will … will us dealing with this mess be, um, painful for me?”
I sighed. I had feared this question because I knew I could only give him one answer. Collecting my thoughts I tried, “Shawn, this is different. You hid information, important information, from me. I'm disappointed, I'm angry, sad and a whole lot of other things. It's as if I only knew a facade of you and now I'm getting to know the real you. I need time to think but … just from my gut-feeling I can tell you that writing lines or standing in a corner won't cut it this time.”
Shawn gulped and his eyes filled with tears again. He did his best not to burst into tears though he still looked absolutely pathetic. All I wanted to do was to gather him in my arms, rock him and assure him that everything was going to be okay. When he didn't say a word I asked, “Do you understand?”
He twisted the fabric of the blanket in his trembling hands and I sat down heavily on the edge of his bed. When I opened my arms for him, he threw himself at me. Despite everything, I smiled. “Are you really that scared of me leaving you or because we'll add another element to our relationship?”
“Both. I've never trusted anyone enough to try this. I know I screwed up and … and I'm willing to, um, to take whatever you think I deserve but … I know you're not really comfortable with this turn in our relationship and … and I know I acted totally irresponsible but I don't know how to stop myself.”
“You don't have to worry about that anymore. I'll take care of it for a while and maybe you'll be able to cope with your diabetes better in the future. As for me not being comfortable – it's not something I'd ever expected myself to be involved in. You know how vanilla I am. It still boggles my mind to even think about spanking you. On the other hand, I had reservations about you writing lines and so on and now I'm cool with that.”
“Uh-uh. That doesn't sound promising for my backside.”
I chuckled and rubbed his back. I didn't know what to say so I stayed silent. Shawn accepted this all so easily whereas I had a much harder time. Maybe it was easier because he wasn't the one supposed to inflict pain on his loved one?
Internally, I still balked at the thought of spanking my lover. Sure, I had swatted him a few times, even had done so absolutely consciously and determined an hour ago. But somehow it was different to imagine me punishing him for something he had done instead of being out of my wits and reacting in the only way I thought would help.
A nurse came to check on his glucose level and I took his file to start reading. Shawn rummaged in the bag I had brought, smiling in delight when he found his sketchpad and pencils. He adjusted the overhead light, tucked up his legs and began scribbling.
An hour later my head swam from all the medical jargon. The gist of what I'd read was that Shawn did rather well under the tutelage of his parents. His coping mechanism deteriorated after their deaths. He had been hospitalized several times, a few times because he lost consciousness due to a low glucose level. His guardian angel must have been working overtime a lot. It was a miracle he was still alive. While I read through his file, worry began to nag at me. Seeing as Shawn was busy I took his file and wandered outside in the hope of finding someone to explain certain details to me.
Fortunately for me Larkin was at the nurse's desk and told me that Shawn's kidneys showed the first signs of not functioning correctly anymore. It was still in the reversible state or it wasn't too worrisome if he coped better with his diabetes. I thanked him for this information, handed the file back to the nurses and thoughtfully walked back to Shawn.
There, Shawn greeted me with an expectant smile. With a flourish he turned his sketchpad, which showed me, absorbed in reading his file. A thick lump was lodged into my throat. I walked to him, thanked him for the drawing and pulled him into my arms. The thought of Shawn maybe needing dialysis or even a new kidney had me shivering.
“Steve? You okay?”
I nodded against his shoulder, not trusting my voice and not wanting to scare him. Eventually I let go of him, drew the blanket from him and patted his hip encouragingly. “Get ready for bed.”
“I am already in bed. Why do I need to get ready for it?”
“Go, brush your teeth, wash up and come back. I'm beat, I want us to have an early night,” I said tiredly.
Shawn looked at me disbelievingly. “It's not even nine o'clock!”
“And we both can use an early night. Go on, now.”
Shawn rolled his eyes but crawled out of bed. On his way to the bathroom I heard him muttering, “The things I do for you.”
I fluffed up the pillow, straightened the sheets and pulled off my jeans and sweater. Shawn came back from the bathroom, slipped into the bed and it was my turn in the bathroom. After finishing up there, I came back and told him to check on his glucose level again. The level satisfied both of us and I too crawled into the bed. Shawn immediately climbed over me and between my legs. He sprawled on top of me, his head resting on my chest, right above my heart. It was his favorite sleeping position. I had found it endearing the first time we slept together like this and that hadn't changed a bit.
I dimmed the light, enveloped Shawn in my arms and closed my eyes. Shawn's deep breathing indicated that he was fast asleep maybe five minutes later. I followed swiftly.
We received a few disapproving looks from some of the nurses when they found out that Shawn and I had slept in the same bed but neither of us cared. Shawn injected his insulin on his own and didn't so much as bat an eye at his breakfast. Since I didn't want to take my eyes off him for too long we squeezed ourselves under the sparse shower spray. It took forever to rinse the shampoo from Shawn's hair and by the end of it we both giggled like mad.
After the shower and throwing on clothes, I went to the cafeteria to fetch me a quick breakfast. Shawn promised to stay in his room and not make a fuss during my absence. However, when I came back, still holding my cup of coffee in my hand, I heard him arguing snidely with one of the nurses.
I entered the room, barely suppressing the urge to roll my eyes. Two heads turned to me, both of them suddenly silent.
“Is there a problem?”
Shawn immediately shook his head. The nurse glanced from him to me before she smirked. “The problem suddenly evaporated into thin air. You must have a very positive effect on Mr. Miller, apparantly keeping the cannula in for maybe another hour, isn't a problem anymore. Thank you.”
I stared at my lover in exasperation. The nurse walked to the door, on her way telling me, “Dr. Larkin will be here as soon as possible. Mr. Miller's glucose level were all in the right range throughout the night and this morning. I'm sure Dr. Larkin will discharge him and when he does it, I'll pull the cannula.”
I nodded and she left the room. I sat my cup of coffee aside before sitting down next to Shawn. He was hunched over, his shoulders up almost to his ears. Sighing, I brought one hand up and around his neck and the other one under his chin. I squeezed his neck while lifting up his face.
“It hurts and it's unnecessary. Did you see how she looked at you? She knew I'd be in trouble with you! She's a cruel bitch! Can't you get a different nurse to pull it now? Or I could do it myself, no one would have to know.”
“Whoa! Slow down. Neither of us is pulling anything out.”
“Why not? Why am I even asking? I could just do it and you couldn't do anything about it.”
He glared at me, the provocation there and the ball in my court. Blinking at him, I wondered how to react appropriately. A manual would really come in handy at this time.
“What? No reply? Does that mean I can pull it out myself?”
“No need to bare your teeth, kitten. It's just me.”
It was Shawn's turn to blink. Seconds later he frowned and snarled, “I didn't say I want you to call me that all the time and I don't know what you mean anyway. I'm going to get rid of it whether you like it or not.”
“What are you so nervous about? Another lecture from the doctor? Sabrina telling you off when she picks us up? Or is this about going home with me and not knowing what to expect?”
“I'm not … I don't … I want …,” he broke off, embarrassed.
I got up from the bed, startling him with my movement. For a short moment he was unguarded and I could see the panic in his eyes. He still believed I'd run away. Grabbing his hand I towed him behind me to the small table where my coffee stood, waiting for me. I heeled out a chair, sat down and wrestled him on my lap, one hand securely covering his hand with the cannula. Shawn stared at my hand for a long time before he let out a long-drawn sigh. “You have to participate in the game and threaten me with whatever when I … behave like this.”
“Shawn, I didn't even have a cup of coffee yet. Games can't start before the caffeine kicks in,” I retorted.
Shawn smiled as his body relaxed against mine. He rested his head on my shoulder and I drank my coffee. We stayed in this embrace until Larkin came to check on Shawn. Larkin didn't bat an eye at seeing us together like this. Astonishingly, Shawn didn't either. I felt no wincing or flinching on his part. He merely lifted his head enough to peer at the doctor, basically enduring his speech about taking better care of himself.
Before Larkin went to sign the discharge papers he said, “I've good news for you. I made it possible for Mr. Miller to join our program from Wednesday on.”
Shawn's head snapped up. “That's not—”
“Thank you,” I cut in. “I'm sure it was difficult to make it possible for Shawn to join the program on such short notice. We appreciate it.”
Larkin raised an eyebrow, a small smile tugging at the corners of his mouth. “I see that. Mr. Miller is over the moon with the prospect of joining us.”
Shawn glared daggers at the poor man. Sarcastically he gritted out, “I'm thrilled.”
“Maybe I can add to that feeling with pulling out the cannula now?”
When Shawn nodded, a hopeful and somewhat ashamed look on his face, Larkin went outside to get the needed supplies. While he was outside, Shawn asked, “What? No scolding? Do you need another coffee?”
I let go of his hand, cupped his cheek in my hand and kissed him firmly on his mouth. Some comments just needed to be ignored.
“You're not playing by the book,” Shawn complained.
I widened my eyes theatrically. “Wait, there's a book about how to play this game? Does it include a manual? You know like stand him in the corner if he does X. Add writing lines if he does Y and--”
“What is it, dear?”
Shawn laughed, his soft, melodious laugh that had drawn me to him so easily. Larkin came back, smiling when he saw Shawn laughing. Swiftly the doctor pulled the cannula, but it took a while for the bleeding to stop. He dressed Shawn's hand in a light pressure bandage and we checked Shawn's glucose level again. Deciding that it was for the best to clear the room and go down to the cafeteria to eat something before Sabrina picked us up, we did just that.
Sabrina picked us up an hour later, hugged her little brother tightly before she ushered him into the backseat.
“Why do I have to sit here?”
“That's my revenge for yesterday,” she replied, smiling sweetly. The sweet smile didn't hide the underlying threat of “you just dare to say anything to me now and you're going to walk home.”
Shawn glanced from Sabrina to me before he sighed and shut up. No one said much on the ride home, although Sabrina and I tried to make small talk. Usually we didn't have a problem communicating but somehow no one seemed to be really interested in talking.
At home, Sabrina stayed in the car and waited for us to get the bag. She immediately drove off, waving and shouting to us, “Sorry guys, I have to be back home in half an hour. Melissa's having a tournament today.”
My chest constricted briefly as the image of Shawn riding one of his sister's horses and losing consciousness because of a low glucose level, popped up. Two days ago I would have vowed that he would never do something that stupid but now I had doubts. I couldn't bear thinking about it. Instead I pulled Shawn into my arms, kissed him hard and then towed him behind me to open the front door.
Once inside we heeled off our shoes and I headed for the kitchen, expecting Shawn to follow me. I heard him hanging up his parka but then his footsteps turned away from the kitchen.
“Shawn?” I called out. “Come into the kitchen, please. We need to talk!”
A loud, thumping noise caused my heart to beat faster. Swiftly running from the kitchen towards the source of the noise in the hallway I feared the worst. Maybe Shawn's glucose level had crashed and he was unconscious again?
I stopped dead in my tracks when a glowering Shawn with his hands balled to fists snapped at me. “I just came back from the hospital and you need to talk right now? Is this becoming your new hobby? Ordering me around?”
Honestly? I gaped, completely taken aback by his words. Shawn, however, had no qualms about taking this a step further.
“Or would you rather get on with it and start beating me? Isn't that what you wanted to talk to me about? I should probably consider this an improvement, given how you treated me in the hospital.”
“Excuse me? What are you talking about?”
He threw up his hands in the air before taking them down and leveling a finger at me. “You're actually pretending you don't know what I'm talking about? How about that impromptu beating you gave me in the hospital? Or the force-feeding or you simply being a pain in the ass? Ring any bells?”
“Would you rather be in a diabetic coma again? And just for the record, you were the one who wanted to introduce the disciplinary aspect in our relationship.”
“After you beat me! I was merely forestalling further abuse.”
Was this really how he saw me? As an abuser? Why did he stay with me then?
Of course I'd heard about people staying with their abuser for various reasons. I didn't want to be an abuser. I didn't feel like one and I really couldn't believe that Shawn saw me as one. He was lashing out at me for whatever reason.
No matter what the reason was – we needed some time apart. Surprisingly calmly I replied, “I'm not going to stand here, listening to your insults. You have to decide what you want. You--”
“You what? Oh, come on, you hated the idea right from the beginning and now you've seen how shitty it is to be together with me, spending endless hours in the hospital. We're no fit for each other; I should have figured that out earlier. Or maybe you don't have it in you to make a good top, maybe you're just a wuss.”
I tuned out the rest of his rant and concentrated on his body language. The increasingly reddening cheeks, the tousled hair, the wide eyes – all signs of him being really scared. He scurried back and forth on his spot, obviously not knowing whether he wanted to come closer to me or bring as much space between us as he could. Did he even know how much his body showed his confusion?
I couldn't help him with that. He had to find out for himself what it was he really wanted. I wasn't going to force him into anything. I could do without the disciplinary aspect of our relationship though I didn't mind it – much – anymore. Regardless of what he was saying.
“And now you're not even listening to me!” he yelled.
“Why should I listen to you insulting me? Shawn, I'm not playing this game anymore. I'll go for a walk now. I'd suggest you use the time to decide which way you want our relationship to go.”
I walked passed a shell-shocked Shawn, grabbed my jacket and keys and slipped into a pair of boots. When I opened the door he came up behind me. He even shoved me a little when he snarled, “Oh right, you just run away. Like you always do. That's the same you did when I was in hospital. You ran away for hours. It's a miracle you showed up there again. What was it? Felt guilty or what? Or did you think someone would think less of you when you--”
Roughly I slapped my hand over his mouth, shutting his stream of hurtful words off effectively. “I am not playing this game. I love you and I'll be back in an hour.”
I kissed him firmly on his forehead then turned and left. I heard him stamping his feet in frustration before the door slammed shut behind me. I shook my head. I was still a bit taken aback by his behavior but I was surprisingly confident that he was scared. I just didn't know if he was so scared because he was afraid of receiving a punishment or because that would mean he really trusted me, he really committed to us. Or maybe I had just gone nuts.
I spent the hour walking through the forest nearby, not for the first time thinking how nice it would be to have a dog. Shawn liked animals of all kinds so maybe he'd be interested in getting one.
As I walked back to the house I listened to my boots crunching earth, little stones and leaves underneath them. Autumn was my favorite time of the year; I just loved taking long walks and absorbing the variety of colors around me. Normally, such a walk would soothe me but not this time. What if I had read all of Shawn's signals the wrong way?
Sighing, I unlocked the door and placed the keys on the small table next to it. I hung up my jacket, heeled off my shoes and pricked my ears. At first I didn't hear anything. No human noise whatsoever. My gut coiled up. What would I do if he weren't here anymore?
That was when I registered sniffling noises coming from the living room. Slowly, I walked over and found Shawn curled up into a small ball in one of the oversized armchairs. He had his legs tucked up and his face pressed against his knees, a hanky crumpled in his left hand. I heard him hiccupping softly, a noise that tugged heavily at my heartstrings.
I cleared my throat to alert him of my presence. Shawn's head snapped up and my heart went out for him. He looked so miserable, lost and small. Wide but red-rimmed eyes blinked at me before he croaked, “You came back.”
“Of course I came back,” I replied, barely refraining myself from rolling my eyes. Extending my arms to him, I asked, “Need a hug?”
Within seconds I held him in my arms. He clung to me, his wet face pressed against my chest. When the sobbing increased, I lifted him off his feet and carried him over to the sofa. He sat astride on my lap, his voice hitching while he repeated how sorry he was.
“Kitten, breathe, no one is going to kill you.”
“You're going to spank me, how is that any different?”
“Am I going to spank you? Is that what you decided? Or will you accuse me of beating you again?”
Shawn cringed. “I'm sorry about that. It was rude and I … I'm really sorry about it.”
“It was a horrible accusation, simply said to hurt me and provoke a reaction from me.” I laid a finger underneath Shawn's chin and tipped his face up. He chewed his bottom lip. “Wasn't it?”
Shawn nodded, his cheeks flaming. “I wanted to get it over with,” he stammered.
“Yeah, and you didn't want to be a willing participant. If it didn't work out you could always blame me, which is exactly why I won't allow you to provoke me into punishing you. Being scared is okay but you're not setting the rules around here.”
Shawn actually relaxed while I spoke, his shoulders coming down and his breathing becoming more regular. “I'm sorry. Seriously. It's just … I thought you'd jump me and … and do, er, it right after we came back home.”
“I wanted to talk to you first. Discuss with you for what I'll spank you and for what not. You don't need me to guide you through your days and make all the decisions for you.”
“You making decisions for me would drive me crazy. Mostly anyway,” Shawn replied. “But you were right. I can't deal with my diabetes anymore. I don't want to anymore. I want it to evaporate miraculously.”
He leaned heavily against me, new tears spilling over. I rubbed my nose into his hair, inhaling his scent and reassuring myself that he was okay. Exhausted and overstrained right now but we'd work on that. “You know that's not a possibility. I'm willing to remind you of taking better care of yourself because I, selfish bastard that I am, want to spend many more years with you.”
“I feel like a freak for wanting … needing … and I don't want you to regret it. I don't want you to do this just to … to humor me. And … I am afraid of how much it'll hurt and …,” he trailed off.
I hugged him, kissing every inch of skin I could reach. Cupping a hand around the back of his head I said, “Shawn, you have to be sure about this. If you ever accuse me of abusing you again that's it. I won't leave you but discipline won't be part of the package. Do you understand me?”
“Yes,” he sniffed. “I do.”
“Okay, kitten. Do you need more time to think about it before making a final decision?”
Shawn swallowed. In a very small voice he whispered, “No, I don't. I want this even though it's the scariest thing I've ever done.”
“Tell you what – it's scary for me too.”
“But it won't be as hurtful for you as it will be for me.”
“I was hurt plenty when I found you unconscious two days ago or when I found out you lied to me,” I replied, not angry but also making no secret about my feelings.
It was time to finally get it over with so we both could let go off the hurt and confusion. I kissed Shawn then simply flipped him over so he lay across my lap. Sometimes our difference in height and stature came in handy though I probably wouldn't have been able to flip him over that easily if he didn't permit it.
Awkwardly, Shawn fumbled with his fingers for the floor, his breath coming in quick, shallow gasps. I surveyed his raised backside, suddenly wanting a training session for “how to spank your partner properly”. I had never spanked anyone before and felt out of my depth.
“Changed your mind? You know what? I don't mind, I think I'll rather faint instead of being in this totally undignified position.”
I lifted my right hand and slapped it down hard on Shawn's bottom. He yelped and I lifted my hand again. Soon I had established a steady pattern of slaps. Astonishingly, it was neither difficult nor did I feel awkward anymore. It felt right to show Shawn how much I disliked him joking about his health, how much he meant to me.
Shawn's breathing grew increasingly labored and he twisted over my lap. In between pained gasps he said, “Steve! I understand, okay? I got your message! I'll take better care of my glucose level. Actually I think I might be a little on the low side right now.”
I froze mid-movement. Seconds later I put an arm underneath his chest, pulled him into a sitting position and sat him on the sofa. He winced and muttered something about his burning bum but I was too busy with dashing for the kitchen to retrieve one of his blood glucose meters. Once back I snatched his right hand and pricked a finger.
“Hey, you don't need to go ballistic. I'm sure it's not that bad.”
Shawn squirmed uncomfortably on the sofa and first I believed it was because of the few spanks I had delivered. Then I realized he couldn't look at me. When the meter beeped I purposefully didn't look at the numbers. Instead I asked, “The numbers are okay, aren't they?”
“It looks like it,” he mumbled. “That's good, huh?”
“You decided that you had enough and played me. Again. We're done with those games, once and for all.” I put the glucose meter on the sofa table and turned to glare at Shawn.
“I-I … it was enough. You don't need to overdo it,” Shawn whined.
I shook my head and laughed. Unceremoniously I grasped his slender hips, pulled and draped him over my lap again. This time he tried to push up immediately. My hand slapped down really hard on his bottom, eliciting a pained yelp.
Without further ado, I popped open the button on his jeans and pulled them down, together with his underwear. Shawn sputtered indignantly while at the same time trying to wiggle off my lap. “You can't do it like this!”
“Watch me,” I replied.
I slung my free arm around his waist and threw one leg over his legs to stop the kicking. Shawn bucked in my grasp, suddenly frantic and screeched, “No! No! You can't OW! Steve! Ouch! Please, ah, n-not like this! Ow! Damn it! Ow! It hurts!”
What was the proper response to that? It's supposed to? I stayed quiet and watched Shawn's bottom changing from white over a light pink to red. Shawn's voice became more and more unsteady until he only “ow”-ed and begged me to stop. I was very much inclined to listen to his plea, especially since my hand started to burn as well. That was, until he had a violent attempt of levering himself up from my lap, snapping, “Fuuuuuck you! Ow! Stop it, you bastard! Ow!”
Deciding that I could cool my hand later I concentrated on the lower slopes of his buttocks. I cringed in sympathy when Shawn cried out at each slap. His skin was red and his feet drummed a panicked rhythm on the floor.
“Oh god! Ow! Steve, please! Ow! I'm soooooorry! Ow! Ow! I am! Please!”
How did you end a spanking? How did you know you had gotten your point across? When did you cross the line between consensual discipline and abuse? All these questions whirled through my mind as I smacked my lover's bottom, listening to his sobs and pleas. Shawn was incoherent by that point already.
“I will not allow you to endanger yourself or joke about your diabetes. If you scare me again like you did two days ago this here,” I landed a heavy swat on his sit-spot to emphasize my point, “is the consequence. Dare to play me again like you did a few minutes ago with your glucose level and it's the same. Do we understand each other?”
“Good,” I said.
I delivered two more solid swats to his bottom then stopped. Shawn flinched when I rested my aching hand on his glowing backside. Deep sobs shook his whole body. I rubbed his lower back soothingly while he cried. He made no move to get up from my lap whether because he hadn't realized that I had stopped or because he didn't want to get up, I hadn't figured out yet.
For a long time we stayed like this. Him over my lap bawling, while I stroked his back in soothing patterns. When his cries subsided I guided him to an upright position. He stood on shaky legs, immediately clinging to me. Kicking off his jeans and underwear completely he dove right under my chin with his head, his arms encircling and hugging me tightly.
I swayed us back and forth, almost slow-dancing on the spot without hearing any kind of music. Eventually I pried his face off my chest to look at him. An absolutely pathetic sight. His face was blotchy, his eyes red-rimmed and watery. The tentative smile on his face convinced me that I had done the right thing though.
“I'm not going to thank you for … for ...”
“For spanking you?” I offered.
“My butt really, really hurts.”
“My poor baby,” I cooed. “Don't mess around with your diabetes and your butt will be safe from me. How about I rub some lotion into your sore skin?”
“Only if you're really careful.”
I nodded and led him upstairs. After I helped him clean up a bit I told him to lie down on the bed. He undressed completely before he crawled onto the bed where he collapsed facedown. I applied some cooling lotion I found in the bathroom cabinet and busied myself with massaging his shoulders and back. Shawn's breathing evened out when my strokes became more softly, more tenderly until he fell asleep.
I glanced at the clock, calculated that I could let him sleep for an hour and covered him with the duvet. For a few minutes I simply sat on our bed cross-legged and watched my lover sleeping. Emotions welled up inside me, threatening to sweep me up.
I took a deep breath, brushed my lips over Shawn's forehead and headed downstairs into the kitchen to prepare dinner. I hoped we had made the right decision. I desperately wanted to keep him safe and well, if it took a spanking from time to time – I could do that. Maybe that made us strange, maybe even unstable, dangerous in the eyes of some people but you know what? Fuck them all. We would figure this out. Together.