Picking Fights

by Adele

Mark unlocked the door to their apartment, opened it and strode in, tossing his keys on the chest to the left as he went. Peter followed him a couple paces behind, unhappy and unsure. Peter was gently pushing the door closed when Mark said, "Why don't you go take a shower," without turning around.

"What are you going to do?" Peter asked.

"I'll make some coffee."

"No, I mean, what are you going to do . . ." Peter hesitated, ". . . to me?" ". . . about me?" He settled on "with me," though it gave him an unpleasant memory flash of his mother sighing, "What am I going to do with you?" after he brought home yet another note from his third grade teacher.

Mark finally turned around to face Peter. Mark was two inches shorter but he still managed to look imposing even while admitting, "I don't know. I don't know what to do, Peter, but you have got to stop this."

"I will, I pr -"

"Don't. Please, just go take a shower or do something and let me think, all right?"

"All right," Peter agreed practically in a whisper.

Peter walked down the short hallway to the bathroom, stripped off his clothes, turned on the water and stepped into the shower. He quickly washed his short, curly, black hair and then just stood there letting the hot water flow over his shoulders and down his back and mentally kicking himself. Stupid, stupid, stupid. He had not gone out to pick a fight that night. He just wanted to relax and drink a few beers. That's it. That guy was being an asshole. It wasn't Peter's fault. But that was bullshit and he knew it. Why did Brad have to go and call Mark though? Of course, when Peter had complained about the call on the drive home Mark had snapped, "Would you rather he had called the cops? You were trying to start a fight in his bar, Peter. What did you expect him to do, sell tickets?"

Peter leaned against the wet tile of the shower wall. He simply would not pick fights anymore, that was all. Sure. He had said that on the drive home too. And the last time. And the time before that. No wonder Mark didn't even want to hear him say it anymore. Peter stood under the water until it turned cold and then grudgingly got out and grabbed a towel. He dried every speck of moisture from his body, and then wound the towel around his waist, carefully twisted the corners together, and turned them under to secure it. Finally, he opened the door and stepped around the corner into the bedroom.

Mark was sitting on the side of the bed waiting for him. A cup of coffee was waiting on the bedside table too, but Peter did not make any move toward it. He stopped several feet away from the bed and asked bluntly, "Are you going to beat me up?"

Mark was equally blunt, "No. That would just be giving you the fight you went looking for in the first place."

Privately, Peter thought there was a world of difference between provoking a fight that he had every expectation of winning decisively with a drunken slob in a bar, and receiving a deliberate, methodical beating from his strong, healthy, and completely sober lover, but if Mark had already decided against it, Peter certainly wasn't going to argue with him. Unless -

"Are you leaving me?" The sudden panic in Peter's voice was obvious.

"No, Baby, no." Mark rose from the bed, caught Peter's hand and drew him down to sit beside Mark on the bed. "I would never leave you or kick you out. I want to be with you more than anything, you know that." Mark's speech slowed and he seemed to be choosing each word with care and watching Peter's reaction to every phrase. "I get so scared . . . that you're going to end up hurt . . . or in jail . . . or worse."

Peter opened his mouth to offer meaningless reassurances, but Mark overrode him, "I know you don't mean to. And I believe you mean it when you say you'll stop. But you don't stop. You just keep doing it. So . . . I think . . . maybe you need some help."

Mark stopped talking completely and after a moment of silence, Peter asked suspiciously, "What kind of help?"

"I think you need some real incentive not to fight. Not the possibility or risk of something that might happen, even probably will happen eventually, because that doesn't seem to stop you. I think you need to know for sure that something you don't like will definitely happen every time you pick a fight. So, I'm going to spank you. Right now, and every time you go looking for a fight. Whether or not you actually find one, and whether you win or lose any fight you get into."

This was so unexpected that Peter's mind jumped right past how completely ludicrous the idea was and latched onto the last bit. "You'd spank me when I had just gotten beaten up in a fight?" he asked incredulously.

"I'd wait until you healed up if you were injured, but then, yes. Every time you try to pick a fight. No exceptions."

Mark had apparently been thinking about this a lot while Peter was in the shower. It was a thought that had never crossed Peter's mind for an instant. "You'd really spank me? Like a little kid?"

"I think it will be harder and hurt worse than the spankings you got as a boy, Peter."

Peter's parents had been stout advocates of Attachment Parenting. He actually couldn't remember receiving a single spanking as a child. He had no frame of reference for the concept. But Mark's face was calm, serious, but also loving. He was still watching Peter intently, wanting him to understand. Mark really thought this would be helpful. Peter thought it highly unlikely that a spanking would help him stop picking fights in the slightest. But what it might do was help Mark feel better, more in control, and, maybe even less angry and disappointed. Peter couldn't stand knowing Mark was disappointed in him. He would do almost anything to make that stop. And how bad could it be? Ten minutes and it would be over. Ten minutes? How long did a spanking take anyway? Peter had no idea. Didn't matter. He was already saying, "OK."

Mark wasted no time. He half guided, half pushed Peter from his side to over his lap. Peter hated it immediately. He felt awkward, unbalanced and uncomfortable. Then Mark pulled the towel off and Peter felt exposed and vulnerable too. Mark had seen him naked millions of times of course, but never in such a humiliating position. Peter felt his cheeks get red. The ones on his face that is.

The first slap on Peter's bottom stung quite a bit more than he expected. It was followed by another and another, faster than he had expected too. He closed his eyes and thought, "Just get through this. In a few minutes it will be over. All you have to do is be still for a few minutes. That's all." But as the slaps continued and began to strike skin that had already been stung before, the pain built and Peter found it harder and harder to be still. He was now making little gasps and grunts with each blow and squirming a little. His thoughts changed to "How much longer is this going to go on?" and then, "This better stop pretty soon!"

Finally there was a pause in the blows. Peter sighed with relief and started to push himself off Mark's lap. Mark tightened his grip around Peter's waist, and then there was a sharp and startling pain across the center of Peter's ass that made him yelp. He craned his head around to look over his shoulder and see what on earth Mark was doing. Mark had the ruler from the junk drawer in his hand. While Peter watched, Mark raised the ruler and brought it down quickly out of Peter's rather limited field of vision and smacked him again. Peter wailed.

Mark began to use the ruler as rapidly and determinedly as he had used his hand, and the endless self-analytical monologue in Peter's brain ground to a halt. Or was drowned out by pain and desperation and misery anyway. Peter kicked and yelled and cried and even begged. Mark paused, but just for a moment. He swung one leg over Peter's kicking ones, pulled Peter firmly against his stomach, and held Peter tightly across the small of his back, even pinning him with downward pressure. Then Mark took a deep breath that Peter could actually hear, and whacked the ruler down across Peter's thighs four times in rapid succession. Peter screamed.

The blows stopped. Mark removed the leg trapping Peter's and loosened the arm around Peter's waist. Peter hung over Mark's thigh crying and waiting to see if something even worse would follow, if that were possible. Mark pulled Peter up, but Peter slumped heavily against Mark's chest. Mark lay back and they both ended up lying tangled on the bed with their legs hanging off the edge. Peter stopped crying fairly quickly, but did not move off of Mark. He laid his cheek on Mark's chest, closed his eyes, and rested for a time. Finally, he succeeded in being still.

Peter spoke first, going for reasonable and explanatory and achieving something closer to whiny, "That hurt so bad, Mark. I get what you were trying to do, but that was too much. Way too much. You hurt me!"

Shockingly, Mark was unsympathetic, "Well, good. Maybe you'll think about it before you go looking for a fight next time."

Peter opened his eyes ready to be outraged, and the first thing he saw was the mug on the bedside table. What came out of his mouth was, "And now my coffee is cold!"

Mark laughed out loud. Peter looked at Mark's smiling face full of affection and love with no trace of anger or disappointment remaining and thought, "Well, good".

~ Adele