Competition

 

Pairing:  Rick/Andrew

Warning:  None

Implement:  Hairbrush

 

Rick hesitated, one hand curled around the knob of the door, trying to quite his anger before he went in.  It was awhile before he was able to turn the handle, entering the small trailer that he and Andrew shared.

 

Andrew was sitting on the bed, head down, twisting the end of his bull rope in his hands.  Leaning against the narrow counter, Rick crossed his arms, looking at his partner for a long moment.  Andrew didn’t raise his head to return that look, instead fraying the ends of the rope, waiting in angry silence for Rick to speak.

 

“I want to know why, Andy,” Rick eventually said, not taking his eyes off the top of Andrew’s bent head.

 

“Doesn’t matter does it?” he answered grimly. “They disqualified me.”  And he’d never been so humiliated in his life.

 

“With good reason.”

 

Finally Andrew raised his head, surprised and hurt at Rick’s words.  “I stuck my ride.”

 

“Illegally,” Rick said bluntly.

 

Andrew flushed but more with anger than with shame.  “I did what I had to do.”  He tossed the rope on the bed and glowered at the floor.

 

“Had to?  Jesus Andrew.  As if there isn’t enough risk,” Rick replied, outraged at Andrew’s dismissive attitude.  He again had to fight to tamp down his rising annoyance.  “It’s called a suicide wrap for a reason.  It’s dangerous and illegal and I want to know why you thought you had to use it.”

 

After his successful ride, Andrew’s score had been almost immediately discounted and when Rick found him, arguing furiously with one of the officials, he had been shocked to find out why.  A suicide wrap was indeed illegal and for a very good reason.  It involved wrapping the bull rope around the wrist, rather than just being gripped in the gloved hand.  Difficult to release, the rider had an advantage in keeping his hold but was at far greater risk of his hand being trapped, an already grim possibility.  And one that Andrew had already experienced.  It had been noted in the chute by the official that Andrew had, at the last moment, wrapped the rope around his wrist and he had been summarily ruled ineligible.  That he had been so blatantly….stupid was beyond Rick’s understanding.

 

“I wanted to win!” Andrew exclaimed.

 

Hearing the raw desperation in that plea, Rick’s expression softened slightly.  Sighing, he went to sit beside his partner.  “We all want to win, Andy,” he said quietly.  “But not like that.”  That fact that he’d, in essence, cheated was something Andrew was slowly acknowledging to himself.

 

“I didn’t think of it like that, you know?” he tried to explain.  “I knew it was more of a risk, I didn’t think of it being unfair.”

 

“I know you didn’t,” Rick said.  “But why would you take that risk?”

 

“It would have been worth it if I’d won,” Andrew muttered stubbornly. 

 

“Worth it?” echoed Rick in amazement.  “Would it have been worth it if you’d been seriously hurt or killed?  Why do you need to win that bad, Andy?”

 

He said tightly, “Because I need to.”  It had been a hunger, an almost physical ache, this need to win and one that finally overrode his common sense.  It had been a foolish and dangerous decision to use a suicide wrap, one that had been made on impulse, the intense longing stirred by Rick’s latest win.  A competitive man, it was a hard thing for Andrew ‘not’ to win, especially when his lover often did.  It was an unsettling emotion too; this jealousy of his own partner, one that Andrew didn’t know how to handle.

 

Andrew was startled out of his contemplation by Rick standing up and holding out a hand to him.  “What?” he asked uncertainly.  From the first moment he’d been found out he knew what his partner would make of his actions and now that his humiliation and anger had settled somewhat, he was aware of what Rick’s intentions would be.  To spank him and soundly too.  “I didn’t,” he denied, a bit incoherently.  “I didn’t mean to.  I just wasn’t thinking.”

 

“Well, next time I’m sure you will,” Rick assured him, still holding out his hand.  Biting his lip, Andrew shook his head, refusing to take the offered hand.

 

“No.”  It was little more than a whisper but defiance just the same so Rick grasped Andrew’s arm and determinedly pulled him to his feet.  With the other hand he swatted him hard, his palm cracking across the seat of Andrew’s jeans.

 

“Rick,” he yelped, trying to twist away but Rick easily landed two more solid swats on his already stinging backside.  The trailer was small with little extra room when two grown men filled it and it was only a step away to the small table that they used for everything from eating to playing cards on.  “Sit down,” ordered Rick, steering Andrew to a seat on the padded bench beside the table.  “When you’re ready, let me know,” he said, not unkindly and then began to pull his gear out from the day’s ride, preparing to clean it.

 

Surprised, Andrew just sat in stunned silence.  It wasn’t that he didn’t believe that he deserved punishment but the underlying issue of his envy weighed heavily on him.  He couldn’t freely confess why he’d been so desperate to win and he was afraid, in the throes of a spanking, he might admit to those feelings.  And to Andrew those feelings were too shameful to be admitted to; to be resentful of Rick of all people, who he loved and trusted, who celebrated every success Andrew had.

 

Increasingly miserable, Andrew’s worried eyes followed Rick’s movements.  He couldn’t realistically expect to get out of being disciplined and the longer he waited, the worse his nerves seemed to jangle.  Finally, he couldn’t bear it any longer and he stood up and said unsteadily, “I’m ready.”

 

Rick nodded reassuringly to him and he reached out to take Andrew’s hand, drawing him close into an embrace.  Already Andrew felt somewhat better, the tension dissipating a little.  Now if he could just keep his mouth shut, Andrew thought.

 

Kissing his forehead, Rick released him and said, “Take off your jeans and get the hairbrush.”

 

“Yes, sir,” Andrew said quietly, moving to obey.  He unfastened his jeans and skimmed them over his lean hips, forgetting he had his boots on.  Impatiently he toed them off and slipped off his pants, leaving him in just his shirt and snug-fitting boxers.  Self-consciously he pulled his shirt down over his backside, giving him an illusion of protection.  Then he reluctantly went to fetch Rick’s hairbrush, wishing it wasn’t such an effective implement.

 

Rick had seated himself well back on the bed, his strong thighs ready for Andrew to lie across.  When Andrew handed him the hairbrush he placed it beside him and then guided his apprehensive partner over his lap.    He lifted the tail of Andrew’s shirt and peeled his boxers down to his knees, speaking firmly, “You don’t take unnecessary risk, Andy.  I love you and I want you in one piece.”

 

“Yes, sir,” Andrew gasped out, his feelings of trepidation increasing now that his backside was exposed.  He squirmed reflexively for a moment when he felt Rick’s heavy hand on his bottom before he could control himself and lie still.

 

Drawing him close against his stomach, Rick delivered a hard hand spanking that had Andrew on the edge of tears by the end.  Picking up the hairbrush he paused to let Andrew catch his breath before bringing it down firmly on the already pink backside.  The noise of the hairbrush striking bare skin and Andrew’s cries were loud in the small trailer and Rick was glad they’d parked well away from anyone else.  It was a serious paddling; Rick didn’t want Andrew to yield to that kind of temptation ever again.  As soon as they were done Rick pulled Andrew up into his arms and lay down on the bed, arranging his distraught partner so he was half on top of him.  His backside fairly sizzling with heat of the paddling, Andrew buried his face against Rick, trying to stifle his sobs.  It was unusual for Andrew to cry so hard, even with the seriousness of this particular spanking, it was obvious he was upset beyond the pain and the fact that Rick had had to discipline him.

 

When he could finally speak coherently, he said, “I love you Rick.”

 

There was such a profound sadness in his words, Rick stiffened in unease.  “I love you too, Andy,” Rick said softly.  “Very much and I want you safe with me.”

 

“I’m sorry,” Andrew pleaded and began to cry again.

 

“I know, sweetheart, I know.  It was a bad decision I know you won’t make again.”

 

The reassurance Andrew wanted wasn’t in those words and he continued to cry until Rick became increasingly troubled.  “What is it, Andy?”  Andrew was often more likely to talk in the intimacy after a spanking but this time he shook his head, unable to answer.  Eventually, more because he was exhausted than at peace, he fell asleep, still nestled against Rick.

 

Continuing to stroke Andrew’s disheveled hair, Rick lay worrying.  There was nothing else apparent to him in the situation that could account for Andrew’s level of distress.  He became even more worried when Andy still seemed uneasy…and patently guilty, the next day.  After they’d both dressed, they’d packed up and loaded the horses, heading for the next rodeo.  Even for him, Andrew was quiet, not resentful or sulking, but quiet.

 

They’d found a good spot for the trailer, at a little used campground and the owner had generously allowed the horses access to a small field beside them.  Happy to be well away from the rodeo grounds the two men quickly set up camp.  But when Rick said it was time to go to town to register and pay their entry fees, Andrew hesitated. 

 

“I’m not going to ride tomorrow,” he said, working hard to keep his voice level.

 

“What?” asked Rick blankly, not believing what he was hearing.  Andrew could be half-dead and he’d still insist he was fit to ride. 

 

“I decided I’m not riding.”

 

“Are you that sore?” asked Rick, dismayed at the thought that he’d spanked Andrew that severely.

 

“No,” denied Andrew impatiently.  “It’s not that, I’m fine.  I just don’t feel like riding.”

And maybe not riding would be sufficient punishment for his envious feelings and he could let go of this gnawing guilt he rationalized.

 

Rick took his hand, drawing him into the trailer.  “Let me see,” he insisted, gesturing towards Andrew’s jeans.  “Take down your jeans.”

 

“Rick,” protested Andrew.  “I’m fine.”

 

When Rick continued to insisted, Andrew rolled his eyes and dropped his pants, turning to show his partner that while his backside was still faintly pink, it wasn’t bruised or blistered.  “See,” he said, exasperated.  Yanking up his shorts and jeans, he kept his back to Rick, not wanting him to see his anxiety.

 

“Then why don’t you want to ride?”

 

“I just don’t,” Andrew said shortly.  “I got that right, don’t I?  You’re not going to make me ride, are you?”

 

“No,” replied Rick, stung by his attitude.  “I’d never do that.”

 

“Good.”

 

“Fine.”

 

Rick slammed the door on the way out, frustrated and angry.  There was something going on that he didn’t understand that went beyond what Andrew had done.  But damned if he knew what.  That there were still such gaps in Andrew’s trust hurt.  He went to the fence and King came running, hoping for a ride.  The horse nudged impatiently at Rick’s shoulder when he didn’t make any move to saddle him.  Sighing, Rick leaned against the horse’s neck, smelling the warm, spicy scent that was uniquely his.  When his temper cooled, he went back to the trailer, intent on trying to talk to Andrew again.

 

The door had rebounded open slightly when Rick had slammed it and he hesitated on the steps, looking through the opening.  Andrew was sitting on the bed, staring intently at something he held in his hands.  The light caught a flash of silver and Rick realized it was his championship buckle, won at the last rodeo.  Andrew was lightly tracing the outline of the lettering with a finger and the look on his face…such a longing that Rick had to swallow hard.  It was Andrew’s first year of riding professionally and while he often stuck his ride he never made it to the top three and the serious prizes.  But as a novice it would have been extraordinary if he had.  Rick had assumed that Andrew had understood that but obviously he didn’t buy into that wholeheartedly.

 

“Andy?” he called, scuffing his boots on the step to make some noise.  He gave his partner time to put the buckle aside before he pushed open the door and entered.  “I’m sorry for losing my temper,” he apologized.

 

Flushing, Andrew quickly echoed his apology.

 

Rick took the few steps necessary to cross the trailer and sat beside Andrew, gently bumping his shoulder.   “You worried the bulls are going to be too tough at this rodeo? “Cause they’re not.  Decrepit old things, they always are in High River.”

 

“Yeah, right,” snorted Andrew, the smallest hint of a grin flickering across his face.

 

“It’s true.  My first year out,” he smiled in remembrance.  “Well, I didn’t stick my ride here the first year.  But I only stuck it once the whole year.”

 

“Once?” asked Andrew, his mouth open in frank disbelief.

 

“Pathetic, eh?” Rick grinned at him.  It was true; he had a terrible first start his first year riding.

 

Andrew searched his partner’s face for any sign that he was being less than honest.  Finding none, he took a deep breath, “I want to win so bad I can taste it.”

 

“I know,” Rick said.  “It takes time to be a top rider, Andy.  You’re good.  Better than I was, that’s for damn sure.  Don’t be so hard on yourself.”

 

“Sometimes,” Andrew paused, obviously struggling to get the words out.  “Sometimes I get pissed off when you win.”

 

“You wouldn’t be a man if you didn’t,” Rick said easily.  “Or any kind of a rider.”

 

Well, that surprised Andrew, Rick could tell.

 

“Everybody gets jealous sometimes, Andy.  Just because we’re partners doesn’t mean it isn’t going to happen.”

 

“Then you’re not mad?” asked Andrew tentatively.

 

“No, of course not.  We dealt with you taking a risk you shouldn’t have.  It’s over.  The next time you’re feeling pissed off Andy, just tell me.  It’s the not telling that does the harm.”

 

“So, I can ride tomorrow?”

 

“Yeah, if you want.”

 

“I want to.”

 

“Great,” said Rick casually, getting up from the bed.  “Let’s take a ride before we go, King is getting pissed off.  He told me so.”  Andrew returned his grin with one of his own

and happily followed Rick out to the field.