With many thanks to Dizzy for the beta!
There was something to be said about kneeling on the bed, bare body supported by pillows and ass sticking out in the air, Joey thought. He clutched the pillow under his chest tightly as he willed his breathing to slow down to a normal pattern instead of the panicked little puffs he emitted.
“Sweetheart, breathe. I'm not going to kill you,” Ben said.
Joey jumped when the bed dipped and one of Ben's hands squeezed his neck lightly. Said hand wandered down, rubbing and stroking gently, taking special care of the skin on Joey's already sore butt.
Joey squeezed his eyes shut in a vain attempt to prevent the tears from spilling over. Shuddering, he pleaded weakly, “Ben, I won't do it again. Never. I promise. Please not the strap.”
“This is not up for discussion, Joey.”
Joey swallowed. He knew that. Still, he couldn't help but beg Ben not to use the evil strap. They didn't use many implements. Ben was a firm advocate of hand spankings, and only occasionally used a wooden spoon or hairbrush. Joey didn't like either of these implements but the strap... that was the one thing to turn Joey's legs into jelly, and not in the good kind of way.
“You'll count the licks for me,” Ben announced before he got up from the bed.
Joey shoved his face deeper into the pillow, hiding it. He couldn't hide how much he feared the strap though. His body trembled, goose bumps arose all over his skin and his heart thudded painfully in his ribcage.
The younger man jerked slightly when Ben positioned the pillows differently, raising Joey's ass even higher in the air. The strap scared Joey, yes, but what really got to him was the lack of physical connection to Ben. This was punishment.
Over-the-knee-spankings were punishment too, of course, and Joey had never felt anything but thoroughly punished after a trip over Ben's knees—but he hated this particular position. He had no chance at sensing the next blow and to prepare himself for it. But the worst of all was he didn't feel loved. Even when Ben spanked Joey until the younger man knew he wouldn't sit comfortably for the next couple of days, Joey never questioned Ben's affection for him. Only in this position.
A distressed whimper tumbled from his lips, most of the sound suffocated by the pillow. Joey's body was taut; every muscle tensed so sharply it hurt. Expecting the loud whack of strap on bare flesh, Joey choked on his own saliva when Ben wound one arm under his ribcage and lifted him off the pillow.
Within seconds Joey was settled on Ben's lap, his sore behind carefully cradled in the free space between Ben's thighs. Ben's arms wrapped securely around Joey's frame, caging him in, anchoring him.
Joey leaned his head against Ben's chest, curling up as much as possible, and tried his best to stop the shivering fit.
“Sweetheart, what's going on?”
“What's going on?”
“Yes, what's going on? I thought you'd faint. I know you're afraid of the strap, which is why we very rarely use it, but that was outright panic.”
Joey rubbed his stinging eyes, then dared to look up at his lover. In a thick voice he rambled, “I am sorry. I apologized for what I did. I didn't endanger your life. I knew it was safe. You said we'd only ever use the strap if I endanger my own or someone else's life. I only did that twice and never the life of someone else, much less yours, and that was only because I didn't see the risk. I don't believe what I did this time warrants the strap.”
“Joey, you gave me some kind of magic tea. Minutes after drinking it, I shifted into a huge Bernese mountain dog, for Christ's sake! You couldn't possibly know how I'd react to this tea!” Ben took a calming breath before he went on, “And we talked about how wrong it was to give me this tea without my consent. In our relationship we don't do anything without consent.”
Joey sniffed, pointed at the comforter and threw a pleading glance at Ben. The older man grabbed the comforter and covered his partner with it. “You are not in your pup form at the moment, so how about you talk to me about what you want instead of just turning your puppy dog look on full power?”
A tiny smile appeared on Joey's face. “Why should I? It's working just fine.”
In one swift move Ben captured Joey's right earlobe with his teeth and gave it a sharp nip. Growling, he said, “Behave.”
“You were cool in your dog form, and if you're honest you could just admit you had fun.”
“I did, I told you that much. I also told you that is not the issue. Do we seriously need to have the same talk again?”
“No.” Joey shook his head, his hair whirling around his face wildly, leaving some stray strands on his forehead.
Ben cupped Joey's chin, dipped his thumb into the cleft there, and locked eyes with him. “Joey, something went horribly wrong a few minutes ago. You were panicking. What's wrong? Oh, and no evasion tactics, okay?”
Joey was held captive by Ben's intense gaze. Swallowing convulsively he pondered what he should say. Unfortunately nothing but the truth came to his mind. Dark brown eyes filling rapidly with tears, Joey stared at Ben silently.
Ben applied light pressure on Joey's chin, tilting Joey's head back a tad with this action. Raising an eyebrow, he scrutinized Joey for a long time. Eventually, he pulled the comforter off his lover and set him on his feet.
“Calm down, sweetheart. How about you shift and tell me then what got you so upset?”
Stunned, Joey needed a minute to absorb Ben's suggestion. When it finally clicked, and after a reassuring nod and smile from Ben, Joey shifted without hesitation.
Seconds later Joey stood between Ben's feet in his dark-furred puppy form. Tentatively he wagged his tail, and gazed up at his lover. Ben smiled down at him, then patted his lap. “Jump up.”
Joey did as he was told. On Ben's lap, he crawled up his lover's chest, nuzzling Ben's face and collarbone. When Ben laughed but didn't do anything to discourage Joey's playful show of affection, Joey crawled up further and rubbed his face against Ben's.
Ben indulged his partner for a while before he gently pried him off his face, cradled him in his arms and scooted up on the bed till he could lean with his back against the headboard. There he slouched down a bit, then positioned Joey on his belly with one hand supporting his butt.
“Can you tell me now?” Ben asked softly.
Joey sighed heavily but replied, Yes.
“Go on then.”
I... I don't know... it's hard to explain.
I'm scared of the strap. Really scared, Joey offered.
“I know that. I want the whole truth, please. I love you, and I'll only punish you if you agree to what we're doing and using.”
I do agree. It's just... just...
Ben gently turned the little puppy on his back, his arm and belly supporting the small form. With his other hand he began creating a soothing stroking pattern on Joey's softly furred belly. As always, Ben was amazed about the fine, silky fur. He enjoyed comforting his partner, no matter which form he took.
Joey stared up at Ben, every muscle still tense. Ben didn't pressure Joey into talking, merely petted until he felt Joey's body yield under his ministrations. Almost half an hour later, Joey said, I'm afraid of you when you use the strap.
Ben's mouth fell open in shock. “What? Why?”
You are... different. Or maybe it's me. I don't know. I... you... I don't know where you are. I can't anticipate the next slap and..., Joey swallowed, and a small yip became audible, there's no connection between you and me. Physically, I mean. I don't like that. I feel... kinda lost, I think?
Ben's frown smoothed out as soon as Joey finished his explanation. Thoughtfully, he replied, “That makes sense to me.”
“Yes, and I'm sorry I scared you so much. I don't ever want you to be afraid of me. I need to think about this for awhile, but I promise you we won't use the strap for the time being. I can't stand to think of you being scared of me, sweetheart. That just breaks my heart,” Ben answered, emotions clear in his voice.
Joey snatched one of Ben's fingers in his mouth and playfully tugged it closer. I'm sorry I didn't tell you.
“I'm sorry I didn't realize how you felt.”
You're not a mind-reader.
“No, I'm not,” Ben sighed. “We should work on our communication again.”
Ben's finger slipped from Joey's mouth as the pup groaned, which sounded like a peeved growl. Oh God! You're not re-establishing the nightly thirty minute talks, right?
The corners of Ben's mouth twitched in amusement. “Actually, I thought about doing the weekly one hour talk on Saturday but your suggestion sounds better to me.”
Noooooooooooo! Joey wailed. He squirmed in Ben's grip, who conviently had tightened his hold on Joey.
Joey stilled immediately. For Ben to use his full name, this must be dead serious and nothing he wanted to hear jokes or moans about. Darting a wary glance up, he saw Ben gazing down at him with love but also with sternness. Something inside Joey responded to Ben's words instantly, and Joey had long learned to listen to his gut feeling, specifically when Ben was the cause of it.
Okay. Nightly talks it is again. What... what about the rest of my punishment? Or we could just say we're done, Joey added hopefully.
“Would the spanking I gave you be enough for you?”
Joey's first reaction was to yell that the spanking had been more than enough for him. Not acting on his first impulse, he really thought about Ben's question and with a bone-deep sigh admitted reluctantly, No. I'd probably have a major tantrum within the next two hours.
“What would you believe to be appropriate?”
Joey cringed, then wriggled until Ben let him go. He jumped from the bed, ran out of the bedroom and into the living room. There he walked to the coffee table and stood up on his hind paws. His hairbrush lay where he'd left it earlier. He never combed his hair in the bathroom, a fact that had driven Ben nuts in the beginning of their relationship. Now, he didn't bat an eyelash about the brush in the living room, kitchen or wherever Joey forgot it.
Stretching himself long, Joey snatched the handle of the brush and carried it back to Ben. Ben took the hairbrush from the puppy's mouth, and sat on the edge of the bed expectantly. Joey eyed the brush for a few long seconds before he plucked up his courage and shifted back into his human form. Ben drew him in for a kiss, then helped him settle over his lap.
Even though Joey knew how much the spanking applied with the brush would hurt, he wasn't afraid of what was coming. Neither was he scared to death of it. It was simply a part of their relationship.
“Ready?” Ben asked.
“Just a second,” Joey replied. He braced his toes on the carpet, wrapped his left hand around Ben's ankle and put his right hand onto his back, wiggling his fingers for Ben to grab hold of them. Ben complied at once, then slapped the brush down for the first time. Joey's body jolted forward and he gasped at the first blow.
“You'll count to fifteen,” Ben demanded.
Joey nodded and counted aloud. The first blows weren't too bad, and Joey managed to breathe through the stinging pain. By the tenth slap, he was profusely sweating and whimpering. His voice turned higher at each slap, the last two smacks racketing his voice up to a falsetto. “Fifteen! OW!”
Ben threw the brush onto the bed, released Joey's hand and stroked with both hands over Joey's heaving and quivering back. “All done, sweetheart.”
“How bad is my ass looking?” Joey gritted out.
“It has a nice shiny red hue with two very dark red blotched areas shaped like an oval.”
Ben chuckled as he gave Joey a very light tap on his butt. “Want to sit up?”
Joey nodded and Ben helped him to upright himself. Instead of settling on Ben's lap, Joey slid between Ben's thighs, kneeling in front of his lover. He wrapped his arms around Ben's waist and pressed his head firmly against Ben's belly.
“We're really okay now, right?” Joey asked.
“You still have to ask? Maybe fifteen slaps weren't enough,” Ben mused.
“They were! They were! Really!” Joey hastily exclaimed.
“Good. What do you need now?”
Joey thought for a moment, then lifted his head, his eyes sparkling with mischief. “You.”
Both of Ben's eyebrows rose up as he smiled at his gorgeous lover. “You sure you're up for that?”
“Only one way to find out. Think you're adventurous enough to give it a try?”
“Oh hell, yes.”