A Friend in Need

 

Pairing:  Ben/Kyle

Warning:  None

Author:  Jenny

 

I drank my Coke as I listened, patiently waiting for a break in his steady stream of grumbling.   To be honest, light seemed a bit slow to dawn for Rob but I think he realized that Thane’s tolerance for sulking was likely to be limited.  And that’s what he was doing, granted in a rather charming way but it was sulking just the same.  Now I understood why he’d wanted to meet me for a drink today; to provide an outlet for his complaining.  A safe outlet, one that didn’t have swatting privileges.  And to commiserate with him as a poor misunderstood sub.  Except that wasn’t going to happen.  I knew Thane, Ben and I had spent a lot of time with him when he’d first moved to town and I respected him as an experienced Dom and an essentially kind man.  Rob was perfectly safe with him in every way, emotionally and physically and he knew that.  He just wanted to moan to a sympathetic ear.

 

I could do sympathy but I wasn’t going to encourage him to work himself up either.   If he went back to Thane with an attitude, he’d be in trouble again.  I wasn’t really sure why he was so agitated, the story he was dragging out was pretty damn confusing.  So when he finally paused to catch his breath, I decided to cut to the chase and asked, “So, he punished you for disobeying him?”

 

He flushed red and looked wildly around the bar to make sure no one had overheard.  Since it was mid-afternoon and the place was deserted, it wasn’t even a distant possibility.  “No,” he said indignantly. 

 

Uh-huh.  I recognized the signs of a well-spanked sub.  The self-conscious way he’d sat down and the still lingering tearfulness. An awkward silence settled over us and Rob’s napkin turned to shreds in his fidgeting hands.  His eyes, large and wet, lifted to meet mine.   Poor Thane, I felt a flash of pity for him, having to deal with those eyes.  Regretting my earlier smugness, my attitude softened.  Good thing I wasn’t a Dom, I would have sucked, big time. 

 

“Rob,” I said gently, reminding him whom he was talking to.  “If I disobey Ben, he punishes me.”  I had deliberately used the word punish, it could cover a range of possibilities and if he didn’t want to admit that he’d gotten his bottom warmed, he could keep up some sort of pretense, as could I.  He’d already told me that none of his close friends shared his lifestyle preference.  Our lifestyle preference.  So I could understand that it was a shock to hear it discussed so casually but I wasn’t going to do him any good pussyfooting around his delicate sensibilities all afternoon.  He was a sub in a relationship which included corporal punishment.  Same as me.  It was the elephant in the room and we could talk circles around it forever and never come any closer to the real reason he was upset.

 

He searched my eyes for reassurance that I could be trusted and then finding it I guess, gave a reluctant nod, admitting that I was right.  With that, a few tears overflowed and he wiped furtively at them as they trickled over his high cheekbones.

 

I shifted my chair, making sure he was blocked from anyone’s view that came into the bar.  “Hey,” I said, squeezing his arm.  “It’s all right.”  I waited while he got his tears under control and then tried to get him to talk about what he was feeling.  Mostly ashamed of how he behaved it came out in the end.   When I asked him point blank if he trusted Thane, his answer was an immediate and obviously sincere, yes.  Saying it out loud seemed to reassure Rob and I could see his angst slowly drain away.  

 

It took a little while to get used to, the jumble of emotions that sometimes followed an even clearly deserved punishment, especially in the beginning of a relationship.  An understanding shoulder to cry on, so to speak, could help cut through that and I was flattered that he’d come to me for that.  A little perspective is sometimes all that’s needed.   

 

When I returned to our table from the men’s room, a tall glass of beer had appeared at my spot. 

 

“Thanks,” Rob raised his drink with a small rueful smile as I sat down. “I mean it, Kyle.  Thanks for listening.”   

 

“Anytime.” I returned the smile and lifted my own glass, touching my lips to the liquid but not actually drinking any.  I couldn’t quite bring myself to confess that I wasn’t allowed a drink without Ben’s permission.  Pride, one of the seven deadly sins.  Deadly all right.  I was enjoying my role as mentor and I didn’t want to be diminished in Rob’s eyes. And I had no intention of consuming any of the beer.  Except as we talked, the conversation having moved onto less sensitive subjects, the drink somehow vanished.  Force of habit, I suppose.  Lost in our conversation, I must have unconsciously downed the cold beer in front of me. 

 

My stomach gave an unpleasant flutter as I put down the empty glass.  Oh shit.  It was my turn to flush as I remembered what Ben had promised the last time I’d ignored this rule.  That any further defiance would be dealt with using the strap. 

 

Rob signaled to the bartender for another round but I shook my head, rather desperately.  “No, not for me thanks.”   My legs jiggled under the table despite my efforts to still them.

 

“Just one more,” he insisted.  He grinned appealingly at me, his previously sad eyes, sparkling now.

 

“No, Rob,” I said and his face clouded over.  I had a feeling it was a word he hadn’t heard very often, at least not often enough.  But then he shrugged and launched into a story about one of his decorating clients, making me laugh despite my worry.

 

The bar was filling up as the afternoon melted into evening, the Saturday night crowd coming early to start their drinking before moving onto the clubs.   Several of the young men stopped at our table to say hello to Rob, looking at me with open interest, obviously wondering who I was. 

 

Soon after, we said good-bye on the pavement outside the bar, Rob eager now to return to Thane.  I felt a stab of resentment at the change in his mood, as if he’d passed on an unwanted burden to me.  It was a ridiculous thought though; I had no one to blame but myself. 

 

I drove home, rehearsing the best way to word my confession the whole way.  And there would be a confession.  I had no hope of hiding what I’d done.  My own conscious would eventually demand it.  

 

Ben was sitting at our large dining room table, buried in paperwork when I arrived.  Lifting his head he gave me a preoccupied greeting before returning to his work.  I needed his reassurance, badly, so despite his distraction I bent to rest my cheek against his for a moment.  I breathed in his scent, the faint smell of cigars, comforting me.  He lifted his head again but this time he cupped the back of my neck and kissed me deeply.  I was always aware of his physical presence when I was in trouble and my groin pulsed despite my dread.  He looked searchingly at my face and losing my nerve, I backed away.  Not yet.

 

“I’m going to shower.”

 

“Don’t worry,” he assured me, tapping his pen on a pile of papers.  “I’m almost finished.” 

 

“Good.” I forced a smile and quickened my step out of the room. 

 

I showered, aware of the vague nauseous feeling that always accompanied any guilt.   I admit I have an over-developed conscious; the smallest things could torment me mercilessly.  And there was a special sharpness in the remorse I felt when I disobeyed Ben.  I finally twisted the controls, shutting off the water and reached for a towel.  Drying my wet skin with unnecessary roughness, I covered the same territory over and over.

 

Lost in self-recrimination I didn’t notice Ben had come into the room until I felt the towel removed from my grip.

 

“That’s enough, Kyle,” he said firmly.

 

“I’m not done,” I barked and yanked the confiscated towel back into my possession.  I looked in amazement at it in my hands.  I must have caught him totally by surprise to have won it, as he was far stronger than I and when I chanced a look at his face I could see my astonishment mirrored on his features.

 

He held his hand out, his unhappiness clear on his face and I relinquished the towel without a word, having come to my senses.   He dropped the towel into the hamper and held out his arms.  Never able to resist that invitation I went to him. “Sorry,” I whispered into his shirt.

 

“Whose property is this?” he stroked his hands possessively over the chaffed skin of my back.  

 

“Yours, sir,” I answered. 

 

“That’s right,” he said.  “And you treat it with the care it deserves.”  He bent his head to kiss me on the side of my neck and I shivered in response, excited by his blunt reminder of what we were to each other.

 

But he was already moving, entirely too fast, onto other matters, leaving me no time to enjoy the pleasant tingling sensation in my balls.  Having led me into the bedroom, he pulled one of his tee shirts over my head but left my bottom ominously uncovered.  He pointed to the bed and I sat down.  Horribly aware of my bare backside, I could feel the softness of the blanket under me. 

 

He’d crossed his arms over his large chest, making the muscles in his arms bulge worryingly and I swallowed with an effort. “What’s the matter?” he demanded.

 

“Nothing,” I insisted as if I rubbed my skin raw after every shower as a matter of course. 

 

“Do you need me to spank you?” he asked.  He wasn’t kidding either.  If I needed to deal with some of my guilt first, he would oblige.

 

“No,” I whined, putting Rob’s best efforts of the afternoon to shame.  I tried to mimic Rob’s eyes, letting mine go wide and innocent, but it didn’t seem to have any effect on Ben.

 

“Then you tell me, right now, Kyle.”

 

That was very firmly said and I finally answered.  “I met Rob this afternoon,” I started awkwardly.

 

“Yes,” Ben encouraged.

 

“He was upset, Thane had punished him.”

 

Ben nodded, waiting expectantly for me to continue.

 

“So I listened…”  I trailed off.

 

He made an impatient gesture with his hand to continue and I assured him, “I didn’t want him to get in more trouble, so I talked to him for a while.  Calmed him down.”

 

When I didn’t say anything else, Ben looked perplexed.  I hadn’t admitted to anything that could have landed Me in trouble. “So?”

 

My hand crept up to my mouth so I could bite my nails.  It wasn’t that a strapping was necessarily any more painful than a paddling.  I hesitated because it was the ultimate punishment, reserved for repeated disobedience and I was bitterly disappointed in myself that I’d made it necessary.   

 

He reached out to take my hand in his, holding it tightly.  His eyes sent the silent message that I’d better quit stalling or he was going to assist me, whether I thought I needed it or not.  “Kyle,” he growled, the warning clear in his voice as well as his eyes.

 

I licked my lips and finally blurted out the truth, “I had a drink, at the bar.”

 

“You had a drink?” he repeated blankly. 

 

I nodded, keeping my head down, unable to look at him and see his disappointment. 

 

“Why, Kyle?  We’ve been through this several times lately.  I thought I’d made myself very clear on this.”

 

“Yes, sir,” I agreed, cringing at his unhappy tone.  “I know, it was an accident, sort of.”

 

“An accident? How do you have a drink by accident, Kyle?”

 

He wasn’t being sarcastic; he was calmly waiting for an explanation.

 

I kept my eyes on his hand, playing with the gold ring on his finger while I explained what had happened.

 

“You didn’t tell Rob you weren’t allowed a drink without my permission?”

 

I squirmed, knowing that’s exactly what I should have done.  “No, sir,” I replied reluctantly.

 

“Why?” he asked.  He sounded more curious than angry and I looked up in surprise.

 

“Because I was embarrassed,” I said, as if it should be obvious.

 

“Rob is in a similar relationship to ours.  Why would you be embarrassed?”

 

“I’ve had a lot more experience than Rob has,” I protested. 

 

“So, you think you should be perfect then?”

 

“No, I know I’m not perfect,” I said angrily.

 

“And I don’t expect you to be,” Ben countered grimly. 

 

“Yes, sir,” I acknowledged.  Perfection was My expectation.

 

Ben sat down beside me, keeping hold of my hand.  He spoke quietly, without any condemnation but I still flushed.  “You don’t have to be perfect or pass some kind of a test for me to love you.”

 

I didn’t answer.  I couldn’t explain just how I how much I longed to be perfect for him.

 

“You know you shouldn’t have accepted that drink, Kyle.”

 

“Yes, sir,” I admitted, tensing as his tone hardened.

 

He tugged on my hand, starting to draw me across his lap.  I pulled back, looking at him uncertainly; he couldn’t wield the strap with any kind of effectiveness in that position.

 

“I thought …I mean I thought you’d be using the strap.”

 

“Who makes the decisions about discipline here?”

 

“You do,” I answered promptly.  “But…”

 

“When I punished you those other times, you were using drinking as a way to defy me, Kyle.”

 

It was true, much as I hated to admit it, I had been deliberately disobedient.

 

“I don’t think that was the case today, was it?” he asked.

 

“No, sir,” I agreed, able to meet his eye for the first time. 

 

“I can see how that could happen and I’m sorry that you don’t trust me enough to know I would see it that way.  And I’m very proud that you stopped at one drink, I’m sure it was tempting once you crossed that line to keep going.  But you wouldn’t have put yourself in that position if you’d been honest with Rob.”

 

This time I didn’t argue when he settled me over his knee, the conversation was over now and he simply pushed my tee shirt out of the way to begin.  While I was grateful that I was being spared the strap, I was still nervous, aware of how hard Ben could spank.  A solid volley of swats caught the fleshiest part of my backside and I couldn’t help but try to shift my bottom out of the path of his falling hand.  He continued, holding me easily in place, for a couple of minutes before he paused, letting me feel the full effect of his handiwork.  Christ but it burned and I whimpered as I lay waiting.  Another set, just as hard and I was apologizing between gasps but I don’t think he could hear me over the loud smacking sound of his hand meeting my ass.  Again he paused, making sure the nerves didn’t have a chance to go numb under the onslaught.  I started to cry on the last set, letting go of my shame, allowing myself to be punished and forgiven.

 

When he lifted me up I pressed against him, wanting his comfort.  He held me close, letting me take as much time as I needed before I eventually moved away.  I wiped my wet face on my tee shirt and tried to get my breathing under control.  I still felt shaky and I was relieved when he stood up and drew the covers of the bed down.  “Lie down,” he ordered quietly and I flopped onto the pillow face first, grateful that my smoldering backside didn’t have any pressure on it.   His hand, still hot from spanking me, slid under my shirt to rub my back. 

 

“I’m tired,” I complained unsteadily.

 

He lay down beside me and hauled me over so that I lay with my head on his chest.  “Then go to sleep,” he murmured into my ear.

 

 “I can’t,” I didn’t make any effort to stifle the tears that had started up again.  “I’m too sore.”  It was a lie, the pain had already faded to a manageable level but I couldn’t seem to calm down.

 

He rubbed his hand, none too gently, over my reddened skin and I squirmed.  Ow,” I protested. 

 

“Are you still feeling guilty, Kyle?” he asked, his hand in place on my bottom.  “I can get the strap out if you think I let you off too easily.”

 

I thought about it, I actually considered whether I felt punished enough for disobeying him.  And I did.  “No, sir.”

 

“Then settle down.”

 

I subsided against his chest for a moment before squirming into a sitting position.  The blanket didn’t feel quite as soft against my tender backside now.

 

I didn’t know why my mind was on Rob again, considering I had my own sore butt to occupy my thoughts.  Life was a learning curve and he was just starting out on this particular journey so to expect that he Wasn’t going to struggle somewhat was naïve.  “Rob’s not finding it easy,” I offered uncertainly.

 

“I know,” Ben replied.  “Thane’s told me.  He also told me he thought Rob was jealous of you.  I’m surprised he looked to you for advice.”

 

“Why would he be jealous of me?” I asked, puzzled by that idea.

 

“Well, according to Rob, you make it all look disgustingly easy,” Ben said with a wry grin.

 

“What do you mean?”

 

“Being a sub,” Ben explained, reaching out to pull me back to lie with him.  “I have a feeling that Rob has a competitive streak and he’s feeling a bit inadequate.”

 

I flushed when I remembered how I’d initially dismissed Rob.  Ben was making his point too, submission wasn’t a competition and I didn’t need to be comparing myself, favorably or unfavorably, to anyone else.   I did know subs that approached it that way.  You could see them at the clubs, vying to see who could outdo each other with a show of submission.  Even if I’d been tempted, Ben would never have let me be drawn into those kinds of games. 

 

“I’m sure Rob will figure it out.  With Thane’s help,” he added with a slight smile.

 

He smoothed the crease on my forehead with his thumb.  “Quit worrying, Kyle.  Rob is a big boy.  He’s going to be fine.”

 

“Yes, sir.”  I did feel better for having talked it over with him.  I yawned and settled myself more comfortably against him.  I Was tired and I didn’t fight the drowsiness that was pulling me into sleep.