Handle With Care
by Farad and Eclipse
WARNINGS: Escorts AU, BDSM, all nice and consensual. Thanks to Dail and all the fine people on WEC who have helped us with several rewrites. They are in no way accountable for anything the readers don't like or disagree with -- it is, after all, kink!

"Vin? You coming?" Josiah called from the stairs.

Vin swallowed, wondering what the hell he was doing. Yeah, they'd "talked about things," and yeah, he'd actually read the books Buck had pointed him to--a little more porno than textbook, they'd let him get the idea into his head in a way that didn't make his ass cheeks clench in fear, and yet... what the hell was he doing?

A shadow crossed the door across the hall: Buck, sniffing out the erotic like a bloodhound sniffed out drugs, he strolled into the den's doorway and leaned his shoulder against the jamb, crossed his arms over his chest and just stood there looking good. And amused. And smug, God damn him.

"Wish you'd let me watch," he teased, way too full of himself, and--

"Okay." Vin didn't quite look around to see who'd said that. He knew he had, even knew why.

At least it wiped the grin off Buck's face.

Buck's brows had drawn down together and he tilted his head, ducking a little to seek out Vin's eyes straight on. "Vin?"

Vin shrugged, trying for an indifference he didn't feel. "Well, why not?" he asked, and swallowed. "Ain't like you ain't seen anything I got on offer anyway."

Buck stared for a second longer and his face smoothed out. "Hold on a minute."

Vin kept standing there while Buck took long strides for the stairs. When Buck was out of sight Vin listened, heard the creak of the steps and whispered masculine voices, then Josiah's baritone rumble of laughter. "Fine by me, Buck," he said. "Good idea, really," Josiah said, plenty loud for him to hear this time. "Fun and games should be family affairs."

Buck's laughter in response sent a chill through Vin.

"You're that worried, you ought not to do it."

He jumped about a foot off the floor when Chris's quiet voice drifted over his shoulder, and he spun around to shoot Chris Larabee a sharp-edged glare. "Asshole," he said in the face of Chris's calm countenance. "Don't go sneaking up on a man." His heart was beating so hard he thought he could probably look down and see it pounding against his ribs.

"Wasn't," Chris said. "Guess you're a little focused elsewhere."

"Bite me."

Chris frowned a little. "I'm serious, Vin. You're that worried, don't do it. It's..." He frowned harder. "Everybody has different reasons for trying it. Me, I think you'll take to it fine, just like I told you before. But I'm not the one offering himself up tonight, you are. And if you aren't interested, and aren't sure, then don't do it."

"I ain't--" He didn't know what he was. He figured Josiah had psychologized him right into the position he wanted him, because after months of hands-off--Josiah's own rule: no kink, no domination games, absolutely no hitting or spanking or restraint or, well, the list was pretty damned long--Vin had started to feel like Josiah had kept him from something he wanted. He shot Chris a glare again, mostly to keep his mind from spinning around in circles. "Ain't your business anyway."

"You're wrong about that," Chris said quietly. "I told you before, we protect our people. Sometimes, the ones they need the most protecting from are themselves."

"I don't--" Vin caught his bottom lip between his teeth, thinking. "I'm curious, damn it."

Chris held his gaze for a few seconds, then said, "Curiosity might not be a good enough reason. This isn't like trying spicy Thai food or watching a chick flick." Chris tilted his head to one side, studying Vin. "It's something else."

Vin swallowed, annoyed that Chris understood him so well. "Ain't nothing you need to worry on," he said shortly, looking away.

"Fear?" Chris asked softly. "That why you're doing this, because you're afraid of it?"

Vin shifted. "Yeah," he said, "reckon so. Don't like letting this have the upper hand on me." It was true, that was a large part of why. But not all of it. There were other fears, too, ones that he wasn't certain, yet, that he wanted to name to himself, much less to Chris. "Figure that if I'm going to get past it, I won't ever be in a safer place with people I trust more."

Chris's lips twitched, and he almost smiled. "I suspect you're right about that. You want us in there?"

Vin swallowed but he turned back to meet Chris's gaze. "I trust Josiah," he said, refusing to think about the truth in it. "But . . . "

Chris nodded and reached out, his hand dropping to Vin's shoulder. "We'll watch out for you," he said softly.

"You aren't gonna..."

"We're not gonna do shit, Vin. Don't worry about that."

That was a little bit of a relief, both having them there and knowing that they wouldn't be involved. Not that he'd thought they would but . . .

"Remember," Chris said, "if it feels more like a roller coaster to you, well... it's still just a ride. You can stop it and get off any time you want to."

Vin liked the sound of that, mostly because it was something like what he'd been telling himself, and a lot like some of the stuff he'd read. Mind games, body games. There was nothing to truly be afraid of -- nothing but himself. And that was something he couldn't stomach, not any more.

"Vin?" Josiah called again, and footsteps on the stairs heralded Buck's return. Josiah at least was giving him a little room to breathe here. Hell, Josiah hadn't been sure it was a good idea at all, and even now, after hours of talking about it, Vin wasn't sure the other man was still on board. He'd told Vin what to expect, with a detail that had made Vin wonder if Josiah were intentionally trying to scare him. Vin had finally managed to get him to promise that they could try it, but Josiah had still built in all sorts of rules about how it would work.

He'd even scheduled it, putting it on his calendar for this morning. He said that it would make Vin really think about it -- and it had. It was all he'd thought about for three days now.

A spanking, he reminded himself. It wasn't like a beating or like he was going to be tied down or anything. A simple spanking, to introduce him to the idea of mixing pain and pleasure together. To help him get past the fears that could still overwhelm him from time to time, fears tied to memories of pain forced upon him.

Chris stepped up and ran a finger lightly over the curve of Vin's ass. "Get this all cherry red," he grinned, teasing and comforting for it, "it'll be the only thing cherry about you. I might like to see that myself."

Buck's timing put him around the corner right then. "Hey now, don't manhandle the merchandise!" he said, laughing. Then he crowded Vin from the other side and patted his free ass cheek. "Relax, Vin," Buck teased. "You might like it." He cast a quick look at Chris then said more seriously, "And if you don't, you can stop it any time."

Buck had managed to get through his own fears and memories. He'd learned to revel in it--Vin had never once thought Buck lied to him about it, not that he'd talk too much about it either. Buck wasn't what anybody could call a natural submissive, and he'd arrived at a place where his memories didn't scare him, and neither did anything else about shit like this.

Vin sighed and shook his head, then sucked in a sharp, pleasured breath when Buck ducked his head, mustache a prickly contrast to the wet velvet warmth of his tongue, licking up the side of Vin's throat. Chris's hand drifted over his ass again, an easy stroke that sent its own signals through him, then Chris and Buck's free hands met and clasped in front of his groin, right over his rising cock.

"Hey now," Buck breathed across the just-wetted skin on his throat. "This'll be fun or there's no use doing it."

Vin thrust into their pressing fingers almost against his will.

"You sure you want us in there with you?" Chris asked, his voice serious and sober. Buck opened his mouth, probably to argue, but Chris shot him a telling look and Vin actually heard Buck's teeth click as he clamped his jaw shut. "Vin?"

"I... yeah." He drew a deep breath, added, "Makes it feel a little more... normal, you know?"

Buck sighed beside him, and Vin looked up to catch his nod. "I promise you, anything looks like it's getting out of hand, you'll hear it from me." Then he grinned. "But it won't. I can pretty much promise you that, too."

"Vin!" Josiah called, his voice deeper and darker, more promise and no little threat.

"You can stop it at any time," Chris said from beside him, a smile still in his voice.

If JD showed up and reassured him too, he was gonna have to kill somebody.

He pushed away from the other two, swatting away their hands as he made his way to the stairs.

Josiah stood at the first floor landing, looking down at him. There was a slight grin on his face, more a twitching of his mustache than a set to his lips. He was dressed in his teaching gear: grey slacks, pressed to a sharp crease, grey linen shirt under a black cashmere sweater, black tassel loafers, probably a matching black belt under the sweater. He stood with his hands in his pants pockets, head tilted slightly, and Vin felt the little flutter in his belly that he always did when he saw Josiah dressed like this.

That was what had started it, really, seeing Josiah in his 'college professor get up', as Vin termed it in his head. He looked so harmless, so intellectual. It was hard to be scared of him, even knowing that he was a professional 'top', a man who people paid to discipline them.

The first time he had teased Josiah about it, Josiah had frowned, then pulled Vin tight against him, kissing him as if the kissing was all that mattered. They'd ended up in Josiah's room, sprawled on his bed with Vin naked and Josiah still dressed, only his pants open. Vin had thought it odd, but only a little.

He'd stopped thinking about it after about the third time, just enjoying the way the fine cloth rubbed against him, soft and warm, and smelling like Josiah.

After sex, they'd lie in bed talking about different things, and it usually happened that Josiah would talk about something deep and thinky and before Vin knew it, he was enjoying himself in ways he never had with anyone else.

And they'd usually end up having sex again, Josiah claiming that Vin had that effect on him, even though Vin suspected that it had more to do with all the talking they were doing.

But Josiah did look a picture, standing there, and Vin was halfway up the stairs before the recollection of what they were going to do this time caught up with him.

"You don't have to do this," Josiah said quietly, as if reading Vin's mind. He held out one hand, palm up, and Vin took it without a thought.

"Yeah, I think I remember something about that," Vin said, quirking a grin at him.

Josiah held his hand tighter, pulling until Vin was on the step below him. He caught Vin's chin in his free hand, tilting his head back so that they were looking into each other's eyes.

"I won't do this unless you want it," Josiah said quietly. "And I'm not certain that I want to do it, myself."

The rational part of his brain knew that it started right here, as it had the first time he'd hinted at trying a little something and Josiah had shut him down. It was a polite way of saying 'no', he thought, a nice way to tell Vin he was too 'nice' or too 'wounded' or too -- something. Vin didn't know what, exactly, but he knew that Josiah was trying to coddle him.

There was nothing that Vin Tanner resented more than being coddled.

He heard the stairs creak behind him but didn't turn, figured whether he resented it or not, his friends back there would coddle him right now and he'd be all right with that.

He pulled his head back off of Josiah's fingers and glared. "Wouldn't have said it if I didn't mean it," he said stiffly. "You scared I might like it?"

Josiah blinked, surprised, but he shook his head. "One of us certainly is." Vin jerked, and Josiah sighed. "Come on, then." He turned, keeping Vin's hand in his and leading the way to his apartment. As they rounded the banister on the landing, he caught sight of Chris halfway up the stairs, leading Buck by the hand.

Vin just barely tamped down on the urge to change his mind. Part of him wanted this to be just between him and Josiah, a sign of his trust in the other man. A sign of -- something else. Something deeper.

But that was part of the fear, a layer under everything else. Josiah . . . he wasn't sure how the other man felt about him. Wasn't sure if he was willing to be that honest, yet, or face that particular rejection.

Having Buck and Chris in the room would keep him from doing something stupid or saying something he wasn't sure he was ready to say.

It was reassuring in other ways, too; he wasn't going anywhere Chris and Buck hadn't been before, plenty of times, and loved. That was something Larabee didn't lie about either. Chris was more close-mouthed than Buck was, but when he did talk all Vin ever saw was power and honesty and truth. Chris really did love what he and Buck got up to, loved it somewhere down deep, and Vin wanted to know if there was something down deep in him, too, that might like this stuff. Chris seemed to think there was, and Chris knew him better than anyone else but maybe Josiah.

When he looked away from Chris, he had some trouble with where to put his eyes, and realized that maybe he was the slightest bit panicky. The firm mounds of Josiah's ass tugged the fabric of his trousers, showing off the well-defined muscles. Buck had one hand tucked deep in between Chris's legs, goosing him up the last two steps, but Chris wasn't flinching away. If anything it looked like he was widening his stance a little, settling in for whatever Buck was trying to do through thick black denim. Chris was so controlled, though, not a hint of pleasure showed on his face even though Vin knew for a fact that Buck had damned talented hands.

Bright afternoon sun slanted through the skylights at the top of the stairwell and glanced off varnished wood in the hall, and Vin caught himself sucking in a breath for courage or resolve when he reached the door to Josiah's apartment.

He wasn't quite sure what he had expected, but as he came through the door, he found it to be just as it always was -- light and breezy, books scattered about on the tables, pillows and afghans littering the couch and chairs.

Josiah turned and smiled at him. "No," he said, "I didn't get out the whips and chains and leave them around. They're not out in the bedroom, either."

"I didn't say -- "

"No, you didn't," Josiah cut him off. "But you did think it, didn't you."

Vin glared at him, but he couldn't lie. "Don't know what I thought," he said, and he meant it.

Behind him in the doorway, Buck chuckled. "Spanking, Vin -- good old hand-to-ass spanking. No extras needed."

Vin felt his face heat at the words, and at the thought. It was gonna hurt. Sting, anyway, but it wouldn't be anything he couldn't take. Just a spanking, like Buck said. Just a stupid, bare hand to his bare ass spanking, For a man like Josiah -- hell, for Chris and Buck, this was a walk in the park. They all got up to things that were a lot darker and heavier and intense than this - this was nothing to them. It should be nothing to him -- and why wasn't it?

Maybe it was because not all the blood went up to his face; some of it was headed down just as quickly.

"Boys," Josiah called over his shoulder, "make yourselves comfortable. But if you're going to stay, remember the rules."

"You bet," Buck answered for them both.

Vin looked up, surprised. "They got rules, too?"

Josiah turned to look at him, his grey eyes calm. "There are always rules, Vin, rules to keep everyone safe. You and I have agreed to let them join us, but this is my house. This is about you and what I can give you."

Something twitched in Vin's belly, a sort of fear but a sort of heat as well. It wasn't sexual, but it sure as hell could be.

"Something to drink?" Josiah asked them.

"I'll take a beer--"

"No, thanks, we're good," Chris said, talking right over Buck.

Josiah's voice was warm and amused when he said, "That the idea, boys?"

"Unless you plan on offering us something else," Buck said, grinning and clearly joking.

"Buck," Josiah said sharply, his tone a clear rebuke.

Vin turned to see what Buck had done to earn it, and caught Chris's smirk at his partner, and Buck's contrite throat clearing.

"Sorry, Josiah," Buck said.

"For what?" Vin asked, glancing between Buck and Josiah.

Josiah raised his eyebrows expectantly, and Chris poked Buck's side. Buck flinched and frowned at his partner, then took Chris's hand in his and drew in a breath. "Part of the rules," he said easily enough. "This is pretty serious for you, Vin. Not something for me to joke around with."

"But not serious for you," Vin said, feeling his way.

Buck shrugged. "Not exactly, no," he admitted -- and Vin was glad, because he wouldn't have believed anything else. "But us being here for you, helping you know you're okay, that's as serious as a heart attack."

Vin felt something ease in him a little. It was what he wanted them here for, but Buck could act up a little when he wanted to. "Yeah, all right," he allowed.

Buck commandeered Josiah's big overstuffed armchair and dropped into it, spreading his knees wide. "Chris," he said, holding a hand out.

It wasn't a question, wasn't even an invitation really, and something shivered in Vin's gut. He watched the derisive little sneer Chris threw at Buck, but Chris still moved, still settled his ass right on the edge of the chair between Buck's legs and leaned back against him. Chris got comfortable and hooked his fingers behind Buck's knees while Buck's hands dropped over his shoulders and kneaded absently at him. Soon as Chris was comfortable, he tilted his head back and up to grin softly at his partner. "You okay under there?"

"Oh yeah," Buck sighed.

"Vin?" Josiah's voice was warm and close and he looked up to find those grey eyes still on him. "This is the last time I'm going to ask -- are you sure about this?"

No, he wasn't. But he was sure that he had to try it, had to get through this to try and put some of his demons to rest. He did trust Josiah, and he trusted that Buck and Chris wouldn't let it get out of hand if for some reason he was wrong about Josiah. So what the hell was he afraid of? He nodded, tamping down on his nerves. "Can we get started?"

Josiah raised an eyebrow, but whatever doubts Vin thought he saw faded behind a smooth, calculating stare. "Sure, Vin. We're just waiting on you."

"Uh... what?"

"Somebody needs to be naked for this to work," Josiah said, smiling a little. This time, his raised eyebrow seemed filled with hidden meaning.

"You uh, I...?"

Josiah nodded, tilting his head to one side like he was analyzing the situation, and him. Which was exactly what Josiah was doing.

Vin flushed again, which was damned ridiculous; he stripped for money, did it professionally and well. He could damned well do this. He shot a practiced grin Josiah's way and reached for the hem of his shirt.

"No," Josiah said, and Vin froze. Josiah stepped up and touched his knuckles to Vin's cheek, an affectionate gesture Vin had grown to love. "Remember your safe word?"

Vin nodded. "Yeah." Josiah raised his eyebrows, and Vin flushed, then grinned in spite of himself, shooting a glance to Buck. "Cherries."

Buck didn't even crack a grin though, just looked at him with reassuring eyes and a little nod of his head.

"Chris?" Josiah called without looking away from Vin. "What's your safe word, yours and Buck's?"

Vin blinked, a little fear tickling as he wondered why they needed one. Josiah held up one finger, touching it to Vin's lips as Chris called out, "Let's make it something simple -- how about 'voyeur'."

As Buck snorted, Josiah said, "They can watch, but they won't interfere unless they use their own safe word. Right, boys?"

"Yes, sir," they answered in unison--flippant enough that Vin didn't think they'd been taken over by pod people, but serious too, and Vin almost laughed.

Josiah nodded and stepped back. "If we're set, then let's get started. No artifice needed, Vin. Just take off your clothes. Nobody's looking for a show. In fact this might be the opposite of that. It's you we want to see."

Vin cursed himself for the flush he knew stained his cheeks again. Chris, damn him, looked ridiculously at ease, and Buck looked bright-eyed and eager, but so damned relaxed he could have been waiting for a football game to start.

"Vin?" Josiah said, his voice calmer now, deeper, a tone not to be trifled with. "Take off your clothes.

He pulled up the shirt, catching it in his hands as it came over his head and automatically folding it before dropping it onto the couch. He didn't look at any of them as he toed off his sneakers then opened his jeans, pushing them to the floor.

It was a little harder to ignore Buck's low wolf whistle, but it was cut off short by something that Chris did that Vin didn't see. Then Josiah spoke with a sharpness that startled Vin.

"Do you need a reminder of the rules, Buck?" He sounded pretty pissed.

"Sorry," Buck said, and he sounded it. "Wasn't thinking."

"Don't let it happen again, Buck." The words were sharp and hard and Vin had no doubt that Josiah meant the threat that they carried.

"He won't," Chris promised, and Vin knew that tone, too. But a quick look at Buck showed him still relaxed, and Buck nodded to him.

"My fault, Vin," he said.

Vin drew a breath, a little more anxious now. Josiah spoke again, but his voice was softer and quieter. "Now, where were we?"

Vin folded his jeans and set them on a nearby rocking chair, then he looked up to Josiah. The flush he felt this time had more to do with the look on the other man's face, a look he knew well.

Josiah's eyes were moving over Vin's body, a sort of possessive evaluation that Vin had come to like. He knew he looked good, knew others looked at him that way -- it was the nature of their business. But somehow, it felt different when it was Josiah, more personal.

It made something shiver inside Vin, had for weeks now, something that wasn't just sex. That was -- that was the other part of why he was doing this. To prove himself to Josiah. To give Josiah something that he wanted, something that would make him see Vin as more than a kid or -- whatever it was that Josiah thought.

Josiah moved, walking slowly around Vin. The cloth of his slacks made soft whisking noises, and he was so close that Vin could smell his cologne.

"Nice," Josiah said, the sound lower than any he'd made so far, and Vin jumped as one finger stroked slowly down his spine, the contact so light that it almost tickled.

That same finger traveled lower, the touch no stronger, and despite himself, Vin's ass tightened at the sensation.

He heard a sigh from the chair and glanced at over at the other two men. They sat still, Chris leaning back against Buck, but their eyes were bright and Vin could tell he had all their attention. Maybe he had from the beginning of this.

"For tonight, this is mine. I promise to take very good care of it, and to take care of you in the doing." Josiah spoke in a sort of monotone, as if this were some sort of ritual.

Vin frowned, turning to look at Josiah. But the big man was directly behind him, and before he could catch sight of him, Josiah moved in close. He was warm against Vin's back, the fabric of his clothes familiar and welcome. Despite himself, Vin relaxed as Josiah's hands found his hips, then coasted lightly up and down the area along his outer thighs to his waist.

"Don't fight against the pain," Josiah said, his voice a little deeper now, a little harder. "Let it wash over you, through you, but don't embrace it, don't hold on to it."

"What?" Vin asked distractedly.

Josiah stepped around in front of him, close and smiling. The long, light strokes along flesh that was rarely treated this way made him shiver again. Something flittered in his belly, and he looked again to Chris and Buck.

Buck grinned and nodded reassuringly. Chris had lost his intent look, but not because of anything Vin had done; his eyes were heavy-lidded, his attention more on Buck's hands which were digging deep into his shoulders. A massage, Vin thought. That'd be nice right about now.

Then Josiah's hands changed their path, just a little, but it was enough. The light caresses still moved between his waist and upper thighs, but it was a little further back now, coasting over the outer swell of his ass on each side. Not a tickle, but almost, just on the border of itching and tickling -- just enough to make him want to stop it. But not quite.

"Feel good?" Josiah asked, his voice more a vibration than a sound.

Vin took a few seconds, concentrating on what he was feeling. "I . . . I think so," he said, surprised when his voice wavered.

Josiah chuffed a little air. "Relax and concentrate on what you're feeling."

It seemed a strange thing to do, and the idea of it made him a little uneasy. He was glad his friends were here; he wasn't afraid of Josiah, not the man and not their growing relationship, but he was afraid of this. Having those two here made him feel... safer, he decided.

Just at that instant, Josiah altered his path once more. His fingers trailed oh-so-lightly over the curve of Vin's ass, this time working the space between his lower back to just above the backs of his knees.

It was more intimate, less an itch now, closer to a tickle but still not quite there. Goosebumps pebbled his skin and his back arched, his head brushing against Josiah's shoulder.

"Sensitive," he heard someone whisper, and he thought it was Chris.

"Beautifully so," Josiah answered, his voice louder but still holding the low thrum.

He was sensitive, always had been, but he wanted to touch in return. Every time he reached back to do some touching of his own, though, Josiah would grab his wrists, silently telling him to quit it. His cock stirred and stretched, oddly disturbing, distracting him from the richer layers of feeling that Josiah was creating, and he thought maybe he should just grab that instead.

He knew what Josiah was doing, or thought he did. He did something like this for clients sometimes, when they couldn't get their heads out of their work or the troubles in their lives, or away from the knowledge that they were paying for what they were getting from him. It hadn't led to twisted stuff and he didn't see this heading there either.

"Chris," Josiah called, "Vin can't seem to concentrate. Would you mind assisting?"

"Best go help them out, pard," he heard Buck murmur, and he realized that he'd closed his eyes. He opened them in time to see Buck's hands under Chris's ass, "helping" Chris off the edge of the chair. The look Chris shot over his shoulder--that was familiar. The pinch on the inside of Buck's thigh, hard enough to make the man flinch, then smile at Chris, wasn't.

Vin let his eyes drift closed again. Seeing wasn't telling him much of anything anyway.

"Think you'd enjoy a little help?" Josiah asked, friendly, his voice relaxed enough that it relaxed Vin, too. Josiah eased around him, pressing close against his back again, and Vin hissed out a breath when those big hands reached around him to frame his groin.

"Would you?" Chris's voice was surprisingly close, and Vin opened his eyes to see Chris two feet in front of him, watched him drop fluidly to his knees and look up with a lopsided grin.

His cock bounced at the picture of Chris Larabee on his knees, licking his lips. It always had. "Couldn't hurt," he grinned back. He felt like he was being played, but maybe that was part of this, and right now it felt like he was winning, so he wasn't about to complain.

"Buck," Chris called without even looking back.

Rustling now, and Chris turned to catch the condom Buck tossed him. Chris looked up again, wry, as he bit off one corner and slid it out, then looked further--at Josiah?--a silent something passing between them before Chris settled the rubber over the tip of Vin's erection. Josiah's hands pressed, pulling Vin back against Josiah's groin. Chris smoothed the rubber down Vin's shaft with gentle fingers, then with soft, warm lips. Vin bit back a gasp and tried to thrust into Chris's mouth, but Josiah's hands held his hips in a firm grip, keeping him still.

A zipper rasped somewhere and Vin knew Buck would be pulling it out. The man wouldn't resist this picture, wouldn't even try.

Chris pulled back, sitting on his heels. "Where?" he asked, looking over Vin's shoulder.

"Coffee table?" Josiah suggested, speculating. His voice was low and warm in Vin's ear, and Vin could feel the vibration of the words in his shoulders.

He went where Josiah directed, liking the feel of those hands on his hips as he crawled onto the middle of Josiah's heavy coffee table. Chris knee-walked over and leaned on his elbows in front of him, giving his erection a friendly look and reaching up to stroke behind his balls.

"Little wider," Chris suggested, using his elbow to tap gently inside Vin's knees.

"Can't get much wider without falling off this thing," Vin said, but he did as he was bid and spread his knees a little more, until they were barely an inch inside each of the table's edges.

Vin was still side-on to Buck, and his nerves had left him completely. He was about to get himself a nice blowjob, and whatever Josiah was doing, it didn't seem to be leading to pain. Maybe, he thought, half-annoyed with himself because he was also half-hopeful, they'd given up on the whole spanking idea.

Chris's mouth closed over him again, just the tip of his erection, and Chris laved the slit through the rubber. Vin sucked in a breath and sighed out his pleasure, then looked over to throw Buck a wink. He was surprised--yeah, Buck was unzipped, his pants folded open a little, but his cock was still in his underwear, poking a tent up, and Buck's hands were relaxed on the arms of the chair.

Buck winked back, as relaxed and attentive as Vin had ever seen him, and Vin wondered on it -- but only for a second. Then Chris's mouth engulfed his cockhead and sucked, and his concentration shattered into pleasure.

He'd forgotten how good Chris was at this, forgotten how much he loved it --

The first blow caught him unprepared. It was only Chris's hands on his hips that kept him from tumbling off the table.

"Ow! What--oh." He flushed, embarrassed, his hand going back without a thought to rub at his ass. "That hurt..." He paused to think about it, because yeah it had, but Chris was still sucking his dick and that was sending all the right messages.

Josiah caught his wrist, pushing it away easily, then he smacked Vin's ass again. Vin shuddered, almost reaching back a second time to rub at his stinging cheek, but he caught himself. "That ain't helpin'," he muttered, but he kept his eyes down, darting a look to Buck again in the vain hope he'd find enlightenment there. Buck had leaned forward in the chair, hands clasped between his knees, staring with intent speculation, measuring, measuring--he looked a lot like Josiah did, sometimes, and Vin sucked in a sharp breath.

It wasn't understanding, nowhere near it. But some piece of Vin's head wrapped around the idea that this was so familiar to all three men in the room, that they were all doing this for him. It embarrassed him, being the center of such acute attention, but it made him feel safer, too. Whatever was coming, they were taking care of him.

He dropped his eyes on the top of Chris's head, and tried to concentrate only on what Chris's talented mouth was doing to him, how his tongue slithered back and forth along the underside of his erection.

A single smack landed on his ass, barely hard enough to sting. "Let it wash over you," Josiah said, his voice rumbling in a complement to what Chris was doing. "Let it move through you, don't hold on to it."

The next smack wasn't a surprise, but he still jerked forward, pushing deeper into Chris's mouth. Somebody sighed somewhere, probably Buck.

The next hit was the hardest yet. It stung like a bitch and for a space, he forgot everything else. But only for the time it took for Chris's tongue to move back up and around the head of his cock, which stood tall and hard. His dick obviously didn't care whether he was getting his ass spanked or not. But other pieces of him did: his stomach ached, like it was trying to tie itself into knots, and he felt a tightness in his throat almost like he wanted to cry. Which was stupid. It hadn't been that hard, hadn't been anything like the marks he'd seen on Chris that day months back, or bruises he'd seen on Buck more recently.

It sure as hell hadn't been anything like the things he'd suffered himself, back in the days when he didn't have friends like these to watch his back.

Chris was still working him, just playing with the head of his cock, and Josiah was doing something else back there now, the touch of fingertips so gentle over his smacked ass that it felt like a live wire touching him.

He tilted his head so he could see Josiah, but Josiah caught his hair at the base of his neck, holding him still. "Easy now," Josiah said, which was all the warning he got before the next slap.

This one wasn't as bad, he thought as he clutched at Chris's shoulders. Maybe because he was ready for it, maybe because he was braced on Chris. Probably because Chris was sucking him all the way down to the root.

He drew in a breath, wanting to stop this, to say something. He was jumbled, his backside hot and hurting, but his cock more than happy, and his balls ached with different kind of -- pain? Was that it?

Vin looked over where Buck still leaned forward in the chair, relaxed and alert, just watching. Watching his face--not Chris's great dick sucking and not whatever Josiah was doing behind him. Just his face.

Vin flushed with embarrassment, and fear slithered through him anew. Not of Buck, but of whatever the hell it was that Buck was watching in him so intently. Buck had locked eyes with him the minute Vin looked his way, and Vin couldn't help wondering what those sober eyes were seeing, what was supposed to be happening. He didn't remember anything in Buck's porn that would explain why fear would make his dick throb so bad.

"Let it go," Josiah said, ordered.

Another slap, and this time it felt like it had the full force of Josiah's strength behind it. Vin grunted, the muscles in his ass clenching tight, tight. He reached to tug Chris off him, just for a second. Concentrate on what you're feeling, Josiah had said.

Chris went still in his hands, and his mouth was damp under Vin's thumb. His body quivered like a guitar string, and his ass itched and burned. His senses were all on high alert, noticing everything--every brush of air, every shushing scrape of Josiah's shoes on the carpet.

"Pretty," Josiah murmured, and something tickled a path down one side of Vin's ass. Josiah's finger, Vin thought, but the touch was so light, such a contrast to the burn that it shocked him anew. It traveled over the curve of one side, then lightly back up the other, distracting him from Chris's gentling mouth. The muscles of his ass and back were tight, almost cramping in their contractions, but it wasn't as much in anticipation of another slap as it was at the weird discomfort of the light touch.

When the next slap came, he almost welcomed it; it simplified things, a sharp hurt that matched the warm thrum in his balls and cock.

Chris drew back, only his hands holding Vin's hips, and Josiah's hand twisted in his hair. He tingled everywhere, his ass, his groin, even his nipples seemed to spark with internal explosions that bordered between pain and pleasure. Worse though, was the fear that kept coiling through him, dredging up memories of other times, other places, of things a damned sight worse than what was happening now. He felt like a kid caught for doing something bad. Felt like the worst was still out there, hanging over him, ready to come crashing down to destroy everything he had let himself believe he could become. He felt too damned vulnerable, too exposed, when all that was truly happening was he was getting himself a damned good blowjob while Josiah messed with his ass. That was all.

His hips thrust forward, but Chris held him still. Buck moaned, a throaty sound that drew Vin's attention from the whirl of sensations, the chaos of his fears.

Without the distraction of Chris's mouth, he felt the current of air a split second before Josiah's hand hit him. The sound of it was loud, so fucking loud it seemed obscene. He grunted at the impact, then again as another slap followed almost instantly, this one not as hard but stinging more, and then they pelted into him, fast, sharp, hard, and when Chris's mouth took him almost all the way down, too fucking scary for what this really was.

Pain in the back and pleasure in the front met fear in the middle. "Hey!" he yelped. "Cherries! Hold on!" He struggled against Chris's hands, and Josiah's grip pulled at his hair.

Everyone went still. Chris stopped what he was doing, Josiah was silent behind him for several seconds before he leaned down, his voice calm. "Do you want to stop? No one will think less of you."

He waited for Buck to say something teasing like, I will!, but nothing came, not a word from any of them. In fact, Buck was half out of the chair, his hands braced on its arms like he was about to do--something. Stop this?

"Vin?" Buck asked, just the one soft syllable.

Vin was breathing hard. He didn't know why he was panting; his body clearly didn't know what the hell it was doing, shivering now, hot and cold and strung tight. The reasons for why he was doing this raced through his head, tumbling in and around all the memories of times before, when he hadn't had a choice and things had been far more painful than this was.

"Vin?" Josiah said quietly. "We done?"

Worst, though, wasn't them, it was the acid in his belly. He drew several breaths, forcing his head to clear. Far worse things, and he'd lived through those, he thought. "No," he said, calming a little, "finish it."

Josiah drew a deep breath. "This isn't an endurance issue. We understand." He leaned in against Vin's upper back, his words warm and soft in Vin's ear. "I understand. It's all right. Stop if you want."

"I don't want to," he said stubbornly, though he felt like an idiot, and he wasn't getting the sexual thrill that Buck's books and Josiah's past lectures had promised.

"Certain parts of him are still interested, Josiah," Buck said, settling back in the chair, and Vin knew that even though his erection had faded a little, it was still there.

He wasn't sure why that was such a relief. Wasn't sure why he wanted it to be.

Josiah sighed again, but he moved back. "Okay," he said, "here's what's gonna happen. Chris is going to go back to what he was doing, and every time you move, every time you make a sound, you'll get a smack. Do you understand?"

He nodded, uncertain. "Yeah."

"Relax," Chris said, and Vin looked down to meet his eyes. "Don't anticipate, just let it happen. Let it wash over you."

The words were Josiah's and it caught him off guard to hear them from Chris's mouth. He couldn't make sense of not anticipating something he knew was coming, and he spoke before he thought. "How the hell am I supposed to not anticipate it when--"A series of hard slaps rained down on his ass then, and Vin clamped his mouth shut, gritting his teeth and tensing his muscles against the pain. He'd have jerked away from it if Chris hadn't swooped back in and sucked him down and dirty, all the way, swallowing and sucking like he wanted to make the come boil in Vin's balls.

Chris drew back the same time Josiah's hand stopped landing on him, and Vin just knelt there, body tense as an overwound spring, shuddering. "It's a fine distinction," Josiah said quietly from right behind him. "People like to think they can prepare themselves somehow, act before the blow comes to steel themselves against it. That's pretty much the opposite of what you're aiming for here. Yes, you know it's coming, eventually. But there's no preparing, there's just waiting, and accepting it when it happens.

Vin's ass throbbed to the beat of his heart, in the same time his cock throbbed, and he wished one of them would touch him, do something to break this fine tension in his body.

Josiah was right. Vin figured that out even before Josiah's fingers finally touched him again, just brushed over the hot skin of his ass cheek. It wasn't pain--he didn't know what to call it--but he flinched and cried out, and Josiah smacked him again. This time... he sucked in a deep, sharp breath. Accept it. Wash over you.

It shocked him when Josiah slapped him again and sensation flared through him, racing like a warm breeze over every inch of his skin, reaching into him and doing... something. It shocked him because he hadn't moved, he hadn't spoken, he hadn't made a sound, so he hadn't expected it--Josiah's fingers just traced over his hot skin again, and Vin moaned at the sensation, long and loud.

"That's it," Josiah murmured, and something in the room changed. It was in Josiah's voice, but there was something else, something deeper. Something in him.

"Josiah?" Buck's voice, barely more than a whisper, breezed over him. "You mind giving Chris back to me now?"

"Thanks, Buck, Chris," Josiah said, and Vin blinked his eyes open to watch Chris rise to his feet. He didn't know when he'd closed them.

"You got him?" Chris asked as he rose to his feet. Josiah moved in close, almost against Vin, and reached around him to roll off the rubber. The new touch, the feel of bare thumb and forefinger stroking down his cock as Josiah peeled the latex away had Vin moaning again, trembling to press forward into the touch.

Josiah's voice was in Vin's head, his words low and hot. "Oh, I'd say so."

Vin stared down at Josiah's hand barely touching his leaking cock, and trembled when an echoing touch from behind him traced that path over the hyper-sensitive skin of his ass. It made him shudder, and he moved, trying to get away from the too-soft touch. His belly knotted and his ass tightened -- and his cock twitched and leaked.

"I've got you," Josiah said in his ear. "That's it."

The too-light touch went down his ass once more, and he shivered again. This time as it came back up, it picked a new path, starting just behind Vin's balls and coming up between his cheeks slowly and teasingly, just brushing the entrance to his body.

Vin's cock jerked and his body reacted instinctively, arching into the touch. He wanted those fingers inside him, wanted Josiah inside him --

Another slap, hard and to one side of his ass. The pain erupted in his head, overwhelming anything else -- until one finger pushed against his anus, sliding in just a little.

He thrust back, wanting more, wanting it deeper --

Another slap, and he grunted -- then another, and his ass was burning. The fear came back in a hot rush, but it wasn't in control. He didn't know what was in control, too many things whirling around inside him, pain and want and heat and dread.

The finger came back, pushing in but only a little, just enough to feel it.

"Please," he choked out, knowing he shouldn't.

The next slap might have been harder, or he might have just been that sore. It burned all the way up his spine, made him moan again, but the explosion in his head came from the two fingers pushing into him -- still not far, just enough to be inside. They stretched him, tugging against the thin skin of the ring and he couldn't stop himself from pushing back, wanting more, wanting them deeper --

"God damn," Josiah breathed, and distantly, Vin heard Buck stutter a breath.

Voyeur. That was the word Chris had picked for them. His breath caught in his chest and for the first time in all of this, he wanted to smile. He couldn't say why, but he wasn't embarrassed anymore. Blinking his eyes open, he looked down at himself, at his blood-dark cock, and sighed.

The rasp of Josiah's zipper sounded loud to his ears. The heat in his stomach spread down into his balls, and his cock dripped, a thick drop falling, trailing a glistening thread. His hand moved of its own volition, almost touching himself.

"No," Josiah said sharply. "Bend over and put your hands on the table."

There wasn't a lot of room for that, but he did as he was told without a second thought, the heels of his palms supporting his weight. As he found his balance, Josiah's arm drew off of him and he heard the tearing of another foil pouch.

"He needs a bigger table," Chris said almost too soft to hear, and Vin opened his eyes to see the other two men. Buck was as he had been, his long legs kicked out in front of him, his pants open. But his cock was out and up now, and being loosely stroked by Chris, who was tucked in snugly between Buck and the arm of the chair. His eyes were on Vin, though, just like Buck, and for an instant, Vin felt the self-consciousness he had felt before.

"Chris." Josiah's voice growled in clear displeasure.

"Sorry, Josiah," Chris said, not quite as quiet. "Didn't think he was listening anymore."

"Close your eyes, Vin," Josiah said, his voice distant and vague beyond the pain and the need and the heat, all that heat.

"Fuck - " He got no further before Josiah's hand descended again, and he hissed air through his teeth.

His ass blazed, and he thought it might be twice its normal size. The pain was once more on top and he gripped the edge of the table so hard that his knuckles were white.

He should have stopped this.

Then Josiah was on him, the head of his cock snug against Vin's opening, and one of his hands closed on Vin's hip. "Don't fight it," he said. "Let the pain go, Vin."

Close, so close to what Vin wanted. He relaxed, willing Josiah to thrust, just a small move was all it would take.

He wasn't aware he'd moaned until the sound was fading, and it was too late. He didn't have time to anticipate; Josiah's hand caught him hard on one side of his ass, and he was held in place only by the grip Josiah had on his hip.

"You keep hovering there like that, I can't not rub up against you," Vin grated, and he didn't care anymore if Josiah smacked him for it because he needed to say it. "I don't know . . . I don't know that I want more of -- of your hand, but I need you in me. Now."

"How about this?" Josiah asked, and two fingers pushed into him again. He managed to catch the whimper that tried to crawl up his throat, willing himself to silence.

Buck wasn't as restrained though, and a low moan drew Vin's attention. He looked over to find Chris bent down over Buck's cock, taking intent licks all over the crown. That scene did make Vin groan, and he didn't care when Buck glanced up, surprised, and smiled at him, or when Josiah's free hand came down on his overheated ass because the fingers in him twisted and pushed, and he was right back on the edge of coming, clinging to the table and to his control with the same desperation, caught up somehow between Josiah's fingers and the pain and pleasure that coursed through him and the tender look in Buck's eyes.

"Go ahead," Josiah said again, and Vin didn't know what he was being told to do, but he knew what he wanted. He reset his weight so he could use one hand and grabbed his cock, pulling hard once, twice--Buck groaned and so did Vin, and then Vin started coming all over the table top, a long and protracted orgasm with stars bursting behind his eyelids. Josiah's fingers worked hard in him, and Josiah's free hand traced patterns over his swollen ass. He could feel all of it, discrete sensations warring for dominance as his cock spat again, and maybe he understood a little then, what this was all about; he felt like his whole body was coming, not just his cock, like his head and his ass and his belly were part of the wave.

Vin lost his sense of everything, release and relief and whatever the hell Josiah's spanking had stirred up in him all rolling into one ball of sensation. Pleasure, even. All of it. He'd never felt this sort of high before, not even with the best sex.

When he came back to himself he blinked his eyes open, shivering with the aftershocks. Buck must've wrenched Chris's mouth off him because he was still hard, and Chris was wedged in beside him in the chair again, their hands laced together and resting over Buck's erection.

Buck looked pretty fucking calm, which made Vin wonder how long he'd been coming. He grinned at Buck, panting, then shifted his eyes to Chris and nodded. He didn't quite know what he was saying, but he wanted them both to know he was all right. That he'd appreciated them hanging around to make sure of it.

Behind him, Vin could feel Josiah, power and strength and heat, and he watched as Chris looked to Josiah before asking, "How was it?"

"It was..." He paused, thought about it. The knot of fear and anxiety was gone, but his ass ached and he honest-to-God couldn't say he'd ever want to try it again. Maybe he'd gotten what he was looking for out of it. "Not what I was expecting."

"That's clear enough," Buck chuckled. "Good though, huh?"

"I... yeah." He was still panting and, he realized, still holding his cock. Josiah's free hand was cupping Vin's sore ass, and the combined heat of his skin and Josiah's palm felt like a brand. He forced himself to let go of his cock, settling his arm to take his weight again. "Yeah."

"How about you, Josiah?" Buck asked, and Vin stiffened, wondering. This must be nothing for a man like Josiah, but when Josiah answered his breath was heavy with air, almost thready. He didn't know if he'd ever heard the man sounding so ragged.

"Not what I was expecting," he said, a smile in his voice. "Vin?" The fingers in him twisted and pulled out, and something bigger pressed against his asshole. "You mind?"

"You kidding?" Vin asked him, smiling. He lowered to rest his elbows on the table and dropped his head down, replete and relaxed and more than willing to let Josiah plow him. That'd feel good, too. "Go ahead."

Josiah's hands settled familiarly on his hips and Vin let out a breath. His body was buzzing on something, like a drug, still riding waves from the pleasure and pain thrumming through him. His cock still hung low, heavy with blood that hadn't left it, and his balls weren't empty. It was an odd sensation, as if he'd been stopped in the middle of release, or put on 'pause'.

He didn't have time to puzzle on it, though; Josiah pushed in, the first thrust hard, taking him deep, and the blood started moving again, back to Vin's cock.

He moaned, but the sound of it was covered by Josiah's moan. "Not going to last long," Josiah said, gasping out the words.

"Come on, then," Vin challenged, and he pushed back. His skin was sweaty and he kept slipping on the tabletop, palms and knees, relying on Josiah's firm grip to keep him upright.

Josiah moaned again, but he didn't hesitate. He thrust in, going deeper, and didn't stop until his hips rested against Vin's ass.

The cloth rubbed harder now, almost unbearable against his skin. He tensed, tried to draw away just a little, but Josiah's hold on him tightened. Then Josiah pulled back and shoved forward, the motions quick and hard.

Just the way Vin usually liked it. The pleasure and the pain came up so fast that he felt dizzy, his still-hard cock throbbing again to the rhythm of Josiah's cock driving into him, the rhythm of the man's hipbones as they bumped again and again at the sensitive, hot skin of his ass cheeks, and he heard Buck's low laugh from the chair.

He'd come back to himself enough to wonder if he ought to be embarrassed again, but his body felt too high and too wrung out, all at the same time, to care just yet. Josiah paused in him, deep, and the cloth rubbed against his ass. Pain flared, but behind it was a rush of -- something, heat, but not the burn of pain, more the burn of desire.

Josiah shifted, one hand reaching around to gather up Vin's cock. He leaned over so that his mouth was at Vin's ear, his words for Vin alone. "Think you can come for me again?" he asked. He ground his hips against Vin's ass and the contact was brutal, the pain shooting through the top of his head and he might have cried out.

But Josiah was also pulling on his cock, the big hand drawing on it in time to the sway of his hips against Vin. He was back in the whirlpool of sensation, the conflict of pain and pleasure and a little fear.

Buck cried out and Vin looked over to see his shirt pulled up, his chest bare, and Chris suckling on one nipple, his cheeks hollowed with the strength of his effort. Buck's hand cradled Chris's head, holding it there, and the look on his face -- it was beautiful and sensual and even as the pain zinged up his spine so did a deep, dark pleasure, and he knew he was going to give Josiah what he wanted.

Josiah grunted then drew up, balancing on his knees on the floor. His tempo didn't waver, but he pounded hard, driving deeper. The pain diminished as Vin stopped grinding, taking a back seat to the pleasure of being filled up, of the thick length sliding in and out of him and the wide flare of the head dragging over his prostate. Possessing him.

Of the big hand that was working his erection perfectly.

He was going to come, soon, he knew, the tension of it coiling from his balls through his belly. Not long at all, all he needed was --

Josiah let go of his hip and he barely caught himself, bracing against the lunge that almost pushed him off the table. The hand working his dick tightened as if to hold him, and he writhed in discomfort.

But before he could say anything, he felt the whoosh of air that heralded another slap.

"No!" he cried out, but it coincided with the white-hot impact that jarred him forward, and with the twist of Josiah's hand over the head of his cock.

Then he was coming again. It was like the last one -- whole body, every nerve and muscle a part of it, and he couldn't stop it or control it. He was aware of Josiah following, crying out as he let go, his hips still pumping, his cock still moving deep inside Vin's body. He was aware of Buck cursing Chris, and Chris's hand tight at the base of Buck's cock, of Chris chuckling that low sound that was always dangerous.

Mostly, though, he was aware of the pain in his ass that was wrapping around his release, drawing it out longer and harder than any one he'd ever had before. Washing through him, like Josiah and Chris had both said, so different from the first time somebody had tied him up and hurt him that he knew he couldn't even call them the same thing anymore.

Yeah, he reckoned he could understand the draw of this kind of thing, when it was done right.

He blinked sweat out of his eyes and looked for Buck, even though Buck's first time with Chris had been nothing like this. Had been a lot more like Vin's own first time, he suspected. What had just happened here was as tame as kindergarten compared to Josiah's vast experience, and what Chris gave to Buck. Tame compared to what he'd been through himself.

Buck was glaring at Chris, breathing hard, but something passed between them, a look from Chris that made Buck's face soften, made Buck's whole body gentle down. It made Vin wonder what his own face revealed, and he was glad they weren't looking at him right now, glad Josiah couldn't see it either.

Josiah eased out of him, and he moaned with the loss of that filled-up feeling, moaned louder when Josiah smacked his ass--but gently this time, barely a stinging counterpoint to the trailing end of his orgasm. He sighed and dropped his forehead to his arms, maybe exhausted from coming twice so hard, so fast, but maybe just hiding a little.

"Vin?" Josiah called quietly.

Vin squeezed his ass cheeks together, feeling the burn outside and the sweet ache in, listening to the rasp as Josiah zipped up, to the whispered murmurs between Chris and Buck now, sounds so quiet he couldn't make them resolve into words.

"We'd best be going," Chris said, and Vin turned his head to look. Chris was standing while Buck carefully tucked his erection back into his pants.

"Don't run off on my account," Vin offered. He figured they'd be talking about him a little, and the thought made him feel unaccountably shy, which was pretty damned dumb given what they'd just watched. Besides, "I showed you mine," he added with a grin. "Only fair you show me yours."

"Vin," Josiah said, a warning in his tone, and he saw the fierce glare transform Chris's face before he got control of himself and it faded away. The look on Buck's face, he couldn't read at all.

"Sorry, Vin," Buck said, a deepness in his voice that made Vin shiver, "but we've got some things to do."

Vin couldn't help worrying a little, especially now after what had just happened. He didn't want to see Chris marked up on his account, and it was clear why they wanted their privacy. He'd felt safer with his friends in the room. Seemed they felt safer without company.

"See you later, boys," Buck said, and grabbed Chris's hand.

"Josiah, Vin," Chris said as he let Buck drag him along toward the door.

Vin crawled off the table then and moved to sit down on it, but jumped up just as quick. "Ow," he said, frowning. He wanted to rub at his backside but he was clear that wasn't going to help.

"Very pretty," Josiah said, teasing him a little. Josiah went to grab Vin's clothes, and Vin watched the man, powerful muscles moving smoothly under the silk, so damned self-controlled. Hell, he looked like he'd just stepped out of a lecture hall, not like he'd just fucked a guy senseless on his coffee table, in front of an audience. "How do you feel?" Josiah asked.

"Like I just got my ass whipped," he said, uncomfortable again. "How am I supposed to feel?"

Josiah shrugged and sat down on the sofa, started to put his feet up and then glanced at the top of the coffee table: semen spattered it, and there were sweat marks where Vin's knees had been, and his hands and arms.

"I'll get it," Vin mumbled, and headed off to the bathroom to fetch a towel and to clean up. He lingered once he was in there though, just long enough to turn his back to the mirror and see what had been done to him.

It didn't look like much; his ass was bright pink, and he could make out some places where Josiah's fingers had marked rather than the flat of his palm, and he figured for how swollen he felt it ought to look worse. He grabbed a towel and wet the corner, wiping it over his belly, then squared his shoulders and walked back to the living room. "Guess I..." He trailed off, but Josiah didn't prompt him, just watched while he wiped the table down and went over it again with the dry part of the towel. "Didn't expect it to hurt quite so much. Expected it to hurt worse though, too, be worse..." He wasn't making any sense and he knew it. He reached for his shirt and slid it on, but the jeans, he just stared at, hesitating until Josiah chuckled.

"I've got some lanolin," Josiah offered, and stood.

Vin stared at the tabletop while he waited, wondering what the hell he was getting into. Josiah walked back in and around behind him, and he heard a cap snick open, felt Josiah's hands gentle now, the liquid cold and soothing to his hot skin.

"Nice," he sighed.

"I'll say," Josiah answered, amusement in his voice.

"Come off it, Josiah," Vin muttered. "That couldn't be much to you."

Josiah finished off with a finger up his crease, his touch lingering as it passed over the entrance. "I suppose if you continue on this path, you'll understand eventually that the first time, the struggle, the tension--that's a special thing to share."

"And I put on a goddamned show," he said, flushing.

"That, you did," Josiah said, but he didn't sound teasing. If anything, he sounded fond.

Vin tried sitting again, and ended up propped sideways on his hip, throwing Josiah a glare when the man smiled at him. The cloth of the denim was rough enough, even with the lanolin on his skin.

"Come here," Josiah said, reaching out an arm in invitation. "You can lean on me, put your feet up on the couch."

Vin frowned, hesitating -- but not certain why. Usually, he loved being close to Josiah. Right now though, he felt. . .

"You want to talk about it?" Josiah asked. His voice was softer, and his expression was concerned.

Vin shook his head, but he got up and walked the short distance to Josiah, settling carefully into the position Josiah guided him to. It was easier, his knees up, his back curved and most of his weight on his lower back, not on his ass. He leaned his head against Josiah's shoulder, appreciating the warmth of Josiah's arm under his back and curving over his belly.

He still smelled good, too.

"Were you scared of what had happened before, those other times?" Josiah asked. His hold on Vin tightened a little, a comfort.

"I guess," Vin said. "Doesn't make any sense to me."

"Most everyone is scared their first time," Josiah said. "Even people who don't have your experience to move past. We all know a little about what it took for you to trust us, Vin."

Vin hesitated, then closed his eyes. "You really didn't think it was, well, you know . . ."

"No, I don't know," Josiah said with a sigh. "What is it you're afraid of now?"

Them thinking that he was exactly what this conversation was proving him to be, he thought, cussing himself. "Nothing," he mumbled, heat rising in his face for a change.

But Josiah knew better, and in that way that he had, he even seemed to know what it was that was bothering him. "Did I act like it was a chore?" he asked, amusement coloring his tone. "Did I seem to be bored when I was fucking you?"

"No," Vin said, hearing his own irritation. "But it wasn't like you had much to do there."

"Hardly the point," Josiah agreed easily. "I don't think you're ready for more, anyway -- do you?"

The mere thought of it made him queasy. "No," he said it fast. "I ain't even sure I if I want more of what I just got!" He felt Josiah sigh, and turned his head just a little, resting it more closely against Josiah's cheek. "You've gotta feel like it was amateur hour with me," he said, his heart beating just a little faster. It annoyed the hell out of him that, now that it was over, he was hating that it hadn't been much at all. At the time, it had felt like too much, too--everything.

Josiah chuckled, the sound reassuring. "Amateur hour? No. You're more a challenge than some of my more experienced clients."

"Sorry," Vin said.

"It's a good thing." Josiah's hand rubbed gently over his belly, soothing. "I always feel good when I'm with you. Too good, sometimes."

Vin liked the sound of those words. Something inside him loosened, something he hadn't known he was holding in. "Thanks," he said, smiling.

Josiah's hand moved down and around, cupping his ass. "No, thank you," he said as Vin hissed.

Chris slowed way down as Buck took his turn dragging him, taking his time up the stairs. "Somewhere to be?" he asked, taking another look back down the hall. The last thing he'd seen was Vin's ass, still flushed red, and the way his ribs moved with his heaving breaths. Looked like he'd gotten more out of it than he'd expected, and Chris was glad for him, glad he'd had somebody who knew what the hell he was doing.

"You shittin' me?" Buck growled. "Hell, yeah, I got somewhere to be - and you'd better damned well be there with me." He didn't hesitate, grabbing Chris by the arm just above his elbow to march him on toward their apartment.

Chris chuckled, ignoring the glare that Buck turned on him. "I think you've got a thing for Vin," he accused, half-teasing, but half-serious, and more than a little jealous over the idea.

Buck turned and stared at him, even as he kept them moving. "Hey! Who was the guy sucking his cock back there?" Buck demanded, his voice low and, for Buck, dangerous. He pushed Chris into the room then turned and closed the door before stalking over to where Chris stood, watching.

"Because you told me to," Chris shot back. He wasn't sure when he'd turned serious, but somewhere along in there...

"Yeah, that took a lot of convincing," Buck groused, but he pulled up short, his eyes narrowing. "Maybe I do have a thing for Vin," Buck said. "Because he reminds me a lot of you in some ways. In some good ways. And one of them is how damned pretty his ass was up in the air, begging to be fucked."

Chris tensed, then dismissed the idea. "I don't think I'll ever be as desperate as he is to get fucked."

Buck arched his eyebrows high. "I've seen you beg for it, and you can be just as demanding. Just as needy."

Chris frowned at him. "To get off, sure. But not to have my ass plowed, certainly not the way Josiah was doing it."

Buck caught him by the shoulders and tugged him close. "You can't tell me that you don't like to get fucked after a nice whipping," he said, his voice vibrating with desire. The sound cut through Chris' belly like a knife, diving deep into all the right places. "Or just about any other time we get together. I know better, Chris. Strip down and I'll prove it."

Chris met his gaze, saw the heat in it and the demand, and felt the tension curl in his belly just like it always did. He wasn't going to have to go to war with himself to lie down and spread for Buck. Those days were long past. He shouldn't have been surprised; Buck didn't often start the game, but after what he'd seen this evening, watching Vin's initiation, Chris should have seen it coming.

It was odd, he thought as he stepped back and reached for the hem of his shirt. Something about Josiah in dom mode brought out the kink in Buck, the need to control. And a nice red ass -- well, that always did it. Even though, now that he thought about it . . .

He paused, dropping his shirt back into place. "Have we ever done that?" he asked, frowning as he pushed through the memories of their past together.


"Spanking -- I mean, just a spanking, nothing else."

Buck's frown deepened. "Of course we have," he said, "don't you remember that night last Christmas, just you and me and the fireplace?"

Chris shook his head. "We started out with spanking, but it went a lot further -- a lot further." During that little vacation, a riding crop had caught Chris's eye and his imagination and later, Buck's ass. "I don't remember a time that we've ever just spanked -- hand-to-ass, as you put it, and that was all. Do you?"

Buck looked at him but his focus was internal. After a while, he said, "You know, I think you're right. When we started, we went straight for the belt."

Chris drew a breath, but he refused to look away. The memories of those early years, before they'd met Josiah, could still shame him. The pain he'd put Buck through -- and not the good, sexual pain. No, at first it had been real pain, violent and ignorant, with only Chris getting off on it. The kind of pain Vin had been rightfully frightened of.

They'd learned, slowly, how to make it good for both of them, but it hadn't been until they'd met Josiah that they'd come to understand the true balance between pleasure and pain, and how to mix them.

A spanking had been far too tame for them by then. They'd retreated back to paddles at one point, but that had been later, after the belt had become a danger and before Chris had really learned how to wield it.

Buck stepped over to him and caught his face in one hand, his palm cupping along Chris' cheek. "No regrets," he said quietly, then he leaned down and kissed Chris. His mustache tickled as it always did when the kiss was like this -- almost too gentle, and out of love, not passion.

As Buck pulled back, a smile ghosted over his mouth. "So Josiah's teaching Vin a little about the life," he said quietly. "You think maybe we should take some of those lessons we missed?"

Chris frowned, letting his hand drift along Buck's waist. "You mean . . . "

Buck grinned. "We got a coffee table," he said, tilting his head toward the living room area. "And I got a hand."

That, Chris thought, he did. He frowned though, and shrugged off the idea. "Don't want a coffee table," he said. "Don't want just your hand, either," he said, looking up at Buck through his eyelashes.

"Well too bad you're not the one in charge here," Buck replied, his voice dark and hard. "I thought I told you to strip," he said, and looked pointedly down at Chris's jeans.

Chris sucked in a breath. "Guess you did," he said, but he just stood there until Buck reached out, jerking at the buttons on his fly. Chris planted his feet against the tugs on the denim.

"You gonna be like that?" Buck asked him, a warning in his voice.

Chris closed his hand over Buck's and pressed it to his cock. He'd been hard since the first smack Josiah had laid to Vin's ass, and he was still hard now. "Maybe."

Buck stepped right up against him then and grabbed his hips, bending his knees to press their groins hard together. "What are you angling for, Chris?" he asked him, staring into his eyes.

Chris wasn't exactly sure, but he wanted to shake Buck off this spanking idea. He opened his mouth, then closed it, and Buck sighed.

"Strip, I said," Buck said, peeved, and stepped back. Chris wondered if there'd be a fight if he didn't, if they'd end up rolling around on the floor and struggling for dominance, dominance he didn't even want but somehow, he wanted Buck to have to earn.

Looked like there would be. Buck reached for his shirt himself and Chris shoved his hand away, still surprised when Buck grabbed him around the waist and tumbled them both to the floor. It felt good though, the strain of muscle against muscle and the heat, Buck's weight when he pinned Chris down and the effort it took to try and throw him off.

It ended as Chris had expected, when Buck gained the advantage that his size and weight afforded. Chris lay on his belly, his arms pinned over his head, and Buck's fingers gripped so tight that he knew he'd have bruises. They wouldn't be the only ones, he thought with a grin.

Buck's cock pressed against his ass, bruising in its own right, and he humped back against it, relishing the low groan it caused.

"You'll pay for that," Buck snarled, and raked his teeth over the skin of Chris' neck. "You give up?"

Chris debated for a few seconds, then bucked hard, testing his partner's resolve. When a knee shoved between his thighs and Buck banged his wrists against the carpet, Chris felt it, that rush of lust that slammed through him like a tornado. "What's it going to cost me?" he panted.

Buck shifted, using one hand to pin Chris' hands. His knees moved to either side of Chris' hips, and he edged them forward a little, getting his weight on them, and rose just enough to jerk at Chris's belt.

Despite himself, Chris shivered. He remembered Vin doing the same, but he knew without a doubt that his shiver was far different from Vin's.

The sound of the leather as it slid through the cloth loops was as erotic as Buck's moan, a sound he had come to associate with orgasms as violent and good as they came.

Pavlov's dog, he thought as he listened to the belt buckle clank, conditioned responses. He was almost drooling. He wondered if Vin had figured it out yet, associated what he had felt when he came with what Josiah had done to him. Vin was a bright boy, and that second one should have clued him in. The next one would, if those two hadn't. Or the next.

Buck's weight shifted again, his hips moving a little higher, then the hand that had pulled at the belt slid under Chris, reaching for the opening of his jeans.

He smiled to himself, not resisting as Buck fumbled to work the pants open, his fingers obstructed by the floor and Chris' weight. He didn't help either, making Buck work for it.

He was wearing underwear, so he didn't worry too much as Buck worked the zipper down, but it did make it harder for Buck to work the layers of cloth over his ass. By the time he had Chris' ass bare, Buck was breathing hard.

"Nice," he said, his voice as low as Josiah's had been. His hand was rough, though, pushing Chris' t-shirt up to bare most of his back.

It was -- erotic, this partial undressing. The air was cool on his exposed skin, making him more aware of it, and of Buck, who was still dressed. Josiah had taught them this lesson long ago, in the course of their education about dominance and submission. The exposure of just certain parts of the body made one more aware of those parts. Made one focus on them, as Chris was now.

As Buck was too, Chris knew, waiting for the blow to come.

It didn't, though, and the wait -- the wait had always been Chris' weakness. He tried to be still, to relax into the moment, but the anticipation gathered in his belly and his balls, even in his bared ass and he felt his muscles tensing. In the back of his mind, he knew that this was what Vin had been edging up on, not just before the first blow, but through the course of the day: the dread coupled with the desire, the not knowing.

Chris had plenty of knowing on his side, but goosebumps still broke over his lower back and ass, and he heard the soft huff of Buck's laugh -- not a sound, Buck wouldn't give him that. All of Chris' attention was on his ass, knowing that that was where Buck was going to attack. He strained to feel the precipitating rush of air, strained to hear the rustle of cloth as Buck shifted, strained to see even the slightest movement in his peripheral vision.

He was so focused that when it came, it was almost anticlimactic.


The slap was loud in the silence of the room, the sting of it so sharp that he grunted despite himself. The flesh of one side of his ass burned, and he was certain he'd see the imprint of Buck's hand later, just as he'd seen the imprint of Josiah's on Vin earlier.

The second blow was actually more intense, even though it was expected -- perhaps because it was expected. It landed as solidly as the first, on the other side of Chris' ass, just as hard and just as painful, leaving a symmetrical imprint, Chris was certain.

"I like that," Buck said, "my hand marking your ass. Making it all mine."

"Bet you do," Chris bit out, working with every ounce of his strength not to start humping the floor. It was too damned early to prove Buck right.

Fingertips stroked the outline of heat on Chris's right ass cheek, tickling and almost burning, it was such a contrast to the sting.

"Bet you do, too," Buck breathed, and smacked him again. The man had good aim, that was certain; Buck's hand landed in exactly the same place, shooting a stinging heat up his spine and down through his balls, and Chris did thrust then, just once. Buck laughed low, and Chris felt the flush of embarrassment heat his neck.

"We gonna do it on the floor?" he asked, feeling sullen and resentful all of a sudden. If he'd wanted a stupid spanking, he'd have asked for it. He wanted--he wanted--

"Depends on how cooperative you're planning to be," Buck said, and stretched out over him again, blanketing him with his heat and his weight. Chris had to work to draw in air, and the fabric of Buck's trousers scratched thrillingly at his smacked ass. The waistband of his own jeans dug into his upper thighs, reminding him again of exactly how he was naked.

"I'm not in the mood for games," he snapped, irritated.

"Here's what I'm in the mood for," Buck said, his voice low and hard. "I'm in the mood for you doing what I say, when I say it. I'm in the mood for you manning up, Chris," he challenged.

"Manning up?" Chris laughed. "Not my problem."

Buck rolled off him then, and he turned his head to see Buck's boots by his face. "Prove it."

Chris rolled to his side and looked up Buck's long body. The perspective from down here made him look even taller, and his cock look bigger where it pushed out at his pants, tenting the front of them.

For a second he thought about fighting, but he knew Buck was right; he was feeling weak, vulnerable for wanting this, and he wanted Buck to make it easy on him, to take his choices away. "Nothing to prove," he said.

Buck snorted, but there was fire in his eyes. "Vin could do it," Buck taunted, staring down at him. "You saying he can do something you can't?"

Chris went almost blind with anger at that, stiffening on the floor, and Buck chuckled softly. "See my point?" he asked, his voice as gentle now as it had been hard a second ago. "He's not stronger than you, Chris. Nobody is."

It took a moment for the anger to dissipate, and Chris just lay there, staring up at Buck as it passed. Maybe Vin was stronger, in this. Vin was a natural bottom, and handing over control was easier for him even with the shit in his past haunting him. Chris had seen those ghosts the same as Buck had--hell, it was why Buck had pushed him to help.


"Man up, Chris," Buck prodded, still gentle.

Chris pushed up into a sit, his pants still bunched around his thighs, and sucked in a deep breath. "Where do you want me?"

Buck smiled at him, the look so full of love and heat that Chris flushed, embarrassed. "Ain't gonna be easy," Buck said, promise and threat all in one.

Chris swallowed, understanding exactly what Buck meant. It'd be easier if Buck held his belt in his hand, easier if Buck tied him down and took away his options. But Buck was in a mood too, inspired by watching Vin struggle with himself. He wanted to see more of that, and Chris knew it was damned easy to get that kind of struggle from him, even after all this time. "Where?"

"In the bedroom," Buck said. "Turn down the sheets, fold 'em across the bottom, then spread out on your belly."

He nodded. In this mood, doing what he was told was harder than taking the pain, harder than anything else, and Buck knew that, knew how to use it against him--and for him. He pushed up off the floor to walk into the bedroom, leaving his jeans bunched around his thighs. "Pull your shirt up," Buck called. Chris felt himself flushing, which was ridiculous, and pulled up his shirt to show his bare ass. "Keep it up," Buck said.

That was a little harder to do while turning down the bed, a tedious little order that gave him time to think, which was exactly what he didn't want to do. Buck was making things hard on purpose, and he wondered if he'd thank him or not, after. "I want the belt," he blurted out as he folded the linens down. It was still hard for him sometimes, to ask for what he wanted, to admit to what he wanted. Harder to circumvent what he didn't. "The one you were wearing."

"I'll bet you do," Buck said. He'd followed Chris in and stood tall now, belt nowhere in sight.


"On your belly."

Chris met Buck's blue eyes then, saw the dark pleasure and the cunning, the promise of pain and more. "I won't let you down, Chris," Buck said, his voice gentle and sure, and wrong somehow. Annoying.

He stretched out flat on the bed, and after a second rucked his shirt up again, exposing himself from shoulder blades to upper thighs. He wasn't surprised when he heard Buck's footsteps leave the room, wasn't surprised when Buck came back with a tumbler of bourbon and a bottle of beer.

He was a little surprised when Buck set both down on the side table and immediately started smacking him, hard blows with his hand that pelted Chris's ass and worked down over the tops of his thighs. He breathed into the blows, feeling his ass heat up and start to burn, and Buck stopped then, laughed low, and reached for his beer.

Chris cursed under his breath.

"What was that? Didn't quite hear you, pard."

"Nothing you want to hear," Chris admitted. His cock had softened a little between the living room floor and getting himself to lie down for this, but it was hard again now, uncomfortably mashed between his pelvis and the mattress. He closed his eyes and concentrated on that, on the burn on his ass cheeks, how it didn't really reach into his body like it did when Buck used something besides his hand. Blood pulsed just under the skin, annoying in the way it didn't reach in and grab him by the balls, and--he gasped in shock when Buck pressed the ice-cold beer bottle against the hot skin.

"Shit! Shit!" he hissed, writhing. That, he hadn't expected at all.

"There's something to be said for the simple things," Buck told him, rolling the icy bottle over his burning ass cheeks and sounding so fucking relaxed, so pleased with himself that Chris cursed again.

He heard the bottle clink on the tabletop and was ready this time when Buck smacked him again. The sting went deeper because of the cold, and Buck worked just his right cheek, the same spot over and over until Chris's body didn't know whether to hump toward it or squirm away. Buck stopped hitting and squeezed into the meat of his ass, and tiny explosions of pain danced over the skin and into the muscle.

"Grab the headboard, Chris," Buck ordered, his voice hot with lust. Chris fumbled, reaching until he got his hands wrapped around the dowels, and squeezed the smooth wood tightly.

"That's it," Buck said, and squeezed again.

This was different, no doubt about that, not what he'd call hard pain at all. It was just focused on his skin and didn't pulse down into the muscle like the belt or the crop could. That still felt superficial to him, even a little annoying.

"How're you doin'?" Buck asked.

"Annoyed," he said honestly. "It's--it's not enough." That was harder to admit, but between Buck and Josiah, he'd learned that if he was going to say anything, it might as well be the truth.

"Know how I'm doin'?" Buck asked, and Chris thought about it, replaying his tone of voice. Buck was close, too horny and too hot, which satisfied some deep part of him--that Buck needed him so much, that Buck got so hot for this kind of play now. But that annoyed him too because it meant he wasn't going to get what that deep, hard part of him craved.

"Worse'n me," he said anyway, turning to grin up at Buck.

Buck smacked him again on principle, but then Chris felt the mattress dip, his hip trying to roll in the direction of Buck's body. Fingers played along the edges of the heat on Chris's ass again, then through it, drawing what felt like a star with its center right in the middle of Buck's palm prints.

"I am," Buck said then. "Feel like I'm gonna die if I don't fuck you..." the finger strayed into the crease of his ass and into him dry, gentle but demanding pressure until it was buried all the way, "right this minute."


"Don't argue, Chris," Buck said, and Chris heard the loud rasp of Buck's zipper opening. He almost let go of the bedrails and rolled to fight, because God damn it, this wasn't enough, wasn't what he wanted, and Buck was supposed to take care of him. He didn't do it, though. He'd taken what he needed from Buck without giving back before. Without even knowing how to give back.

Frustrated as hell, he grit his teeth, asked, "What do you want?"

"Up on your knees," Buck said, but he was already worming his hands under Chris's hips and tugging him back and up. That different stretch across his cheeks, that was all right, and then Buck's mouth and his fingers and his cock were all right too. Not great, not what his body was craving, but it wasn't bad, either. Just utterly disappointing, and the frustration ate at him even as Buck thrust, hard and sure.

When Buck grabbed his wrists and spread his arms out wide across the bed, forcing his chest to the mattress and not letting him jerk himself off, he moved from frustrated to pissed, but Buck just kept fucking him, hard and deep and strong, in a rhythm that Chris knew was going to bring Buck off fast. He grunted, pushing his ass back to meet Buck's thrusts, working for his own climax because Buck sure as hell wasn't helping him, and sure enough it was only a few minutes later that Buck slammed against him, holding there, and groaned long and loud and right behind his ear.

Chris shuddered, frustrated, his balls lax, his ass stinging, and none of it was enough. Maybe he'd get the damned belt now. Maybe Buck would tie him up and take away his options, because keeping quiet and lying relatively still through Buck doing him had been hard.

Buck's weight eased forward by slow degrees until Chris was mashed flat against the mattress again, panting for breath and struggling with himself, ordering himself to keep still and keep his damned mouth shut. "That was..." Buck slurred, his voice half-sleepy-sounding and tickling against Chris's neck.

Chris just barely resisted jerking his wrist out of Buck's grip and pounding the pillow. A soft huff of laughter tickled his skin more, irritating it and him, until Buck started talking. "You..." he sighed. "You got no idea what you look like, no idea what you do to me when you admit you need this, when you give it all to me. So tough, so tight..." the soft sound of laughter and affection, "so goddamned pissed."

He huffed an annoyed breath because yeah he was pissed. Buck had just gotten off and left him lying here strung out and frustrated, of course he was pissed.

"Think you know what you need, and I gotta say," Buck whispered on, "that makes me horny enough to want to get it up again for you, 'cause I do know what you need right now. Know what you're gonna get, too."

His stomach tightened reflexively, and he felt his body ratchet up like he'd been touched with an electric wire as tension wormed back into him. He squeezed his ass cheeks just to hear Buck grunt and sigh. But Buck pulled out of him, slow and steady, and Chris felt positively bereft.

Buck still held his wrists, and he pushed them up again, nudging them back to hold onto the headboard. "Widen your grip some," Buck said quietly. Chris did as he was told, shifting his hands to the next dowels out. "Now, stay here."

Chris sighed but nodded as Buck pushed off the bed walked away, out of his line of sight. Not to the bathroom, he thought distantly, his awareness centered more in the dull ache in his groin and the need centered in his belly.

It was why he didn't realize at first where Buck was and what he was doing. It was only when he heard the door of the armoire close, smelled the faint scent of cedar on the air that meant Buck had gone for the special box.

"No," he said without hesitation. "That is not what I want." He knew what Buck held and what he was thinking, and he wondered if Buck had been thinking it since before they'd come into this room -- why else would he have broken his own rule about getting off before Chris had? With rare -- and usually intentional exception -- Buck never let himself go before his partner did, whether it was a professional situation or here, in their bed.

"This is exactly what you need," Buck said, and Chris could hear the tread of his feet as he walked slowly back to the bed.

"I want the crop," he said as a rare fear twisted around in his gut. "Or the whip or - not this." Buck had probably been thinking about it since the idea of bare hands and no toys had entered his mind. He should have known, after all the talk this week, with Vin, with Josiah, all the conversations about how the submissive was actually in control and how he could end it at any time . . .

"Been a long time since we've done this," Buck said with a delight in his tone that made Chris shudder. "Too long, maybe. But watching Vin, seeing his face . . . I want to see that on you, Chris. He was beautiful, just like you are when you get there, when you can't trust your own self so you have to let go and trust me."

The sounds were muted by the cloth of the sheets and Buck's steady voice, but Chris still heard the low rasp as Buck pulled on the glove.

"Buck," he said sharply, but the word was lost in the tiny sound of a plastic lid being removed and dropped into the cedar box.

It was just Crisco, odorless and smooth, but Chris wished he could blame a smell for the fear in his belly that reached out to coil up his spine.

"Hold on now, Chris," Buck said. "You know you don't want me to rush this part."

He barely heard the words, barely respond to the quiet-voiced order to spread his legs wider, but he did it because his damned body had learned to listen to Buck. His damned body knew before he did when he wasn't the one in control.

When Buck touched him, right in the small of the back, and spoke, his voice was low and thick, cutting into the heart of Chris and through the fear. "I know what you need, Chris. You know I do. Relax and let it happen."

He flinched when the gentle hand moved along the small of his back and pressed down, hard.

"That's it, spread your legs for me."

It was the touch more than the words that drove his thighs further apart, a soft wet pressure against the thin skin above his knees.

"What's your safe word, Chris? The safe word for me?" Buck asked, deeper, richer, the voice that was Buck, but wasn't, the one that got into Chris's head and took over.

His throat was dry and he had a hard time getting his mouth to work, so that when it did, the sound was choked. "Goldfish."

"Goldfish, that's right," Buck sighed. "You use it if you need to, if you think you can't take this."

Goldfish, Chris told himself, goldfish. The word rolled around in his head, on his tongue as Buck traced a path over his ass and into the cleft, slow and teasing, rubbing lightly over the entrance Buck had already opened up with a far more familiar part of his body.

Goldfish, he told himself, and he tried to relax when one of Buck's fingers, unnaturally slick and covered by the rubber glove, eased into him. Goldfish, he thought when a second gently entered, but it wasn't as loud in his head now. Buck's voice banished the fear, replaced with a growing irritation because his body still wanted more, wanted something else. If Buck thought he needed this, Buck was sorely mistaken. He needed, he needed--another finger joined in, stretching him and pressing firmly in, and he hissed out a harsh breath. Still so damned gentle and slow, the knobs of knuckles pushed past the tightening ring of his hole, and Buck's other hand pressed a little harder at the small of his back. Buck's fingers pulled slowly out. Then Buck added the fourth finger and pressed back in.

Oh, shit.

"Been a while since we done this," Buck said pleasantly, but still with that tone. "But if I remember correctly, you always beg for it, just like Vin was begging Josiah for cock."

"Buck," Chris heard himself say, his voice choked. "This ain't what I had in mind."

Buck's fingertips turned slowly inside him, pressing in a little and stretching him to the point of burning. The pain was a lot like the one on the skin of his ass, the one he'd thought of as 'surface'. It wasn't surface now, not at all. And it was edging slowly deeper.

"Relax, Chris," Buck said -- ordered, his voice deeper. "You know you want it."

"Belt," Chris bit out, trying to keep his word crisp and clear, not tinged with any of the fear or desperation that swirled anew in his belly. Goldfish drifted through his mind. "Want the belt."

Buck's fingers backed out a little, still gentle and slow, and Chris thought he might have made his point. It wasn't a conscious thing, but his body relaxed a little in relief -- and Buck's thumb pushed in, stretching him past the point of a burn and into a full-on hurt. Five fingers, held tight together, smaller than some things he'd had in him. Smaller than the rest of Buck's hand.

"Damn," Buck breathed, pressing harder with the hand on Chris's back. The pressure lifted his ass, giving Buck better access, and it also gave Chris's traitorous erection a little friction as it dragged against the fabric of the sheets.

Distantly, he figured this was how Vin had felt, his body at odds with itself and with his mind. It'd been years since Chris's first time -- almost too long for him to remember. He hadn't had the doubts Vin had had, though. He'd known even then that the pain was something he needed, something he craved--and from Buck, for whom the giving had been an effort back then, not a natural part of his personality. All of that was with him now, rolled together and wrapped up in the deep pitch of Buck's voice, into the sound that he responded to even when he didn't understand the words.

This though -- damn Buck, damn him to hell. Buck knew that this was one of the things Chris -- didn't fear, never fear, he told himself. But he didn't embrace it, not with the intensity and desire that he did a good whipping. This snuck up on him with the force of a freight train, but still. It snuck up. From the inside, it snuck up in subtle and not-so-subtle ways.

Buck flexed his fingers, widening them, and Chris shuddered from ass to toes to fingertips where he held onto the bed in a white-knuckled grip. A grip he had never let go, even when this had started.


"Yeah?" Buck asked, distracted. Watching his own show, Chris knew, and swallowed hard.

"Tie me down."

Buck's fingers moved deeper in him, pushing him apart from the inside. "Kind of busy here," Buck replied, his voice teasing and happy and low, so low that he felt it in his balls.

Buck had reached the widest part of his hand, where the knuckle at the base of his thumb demanded just that much more give from Chris's body, and Chris sucked in a breath and held it, shaking. His body wound taut, his ass opened wide, everything in him was at a breaking point, and the urge to fight rose up again, to resist this--this giving in. Giving over.

Giving everything.

His whole body felt like it was shaking, but it couldn't be, not the way Buck worked him. His hand backed out an inch or two, giving him time to breathe before Buck pressed back in that same inch, no more. It still hurt but the pain was ebbing a little as his body adjusted, giving way to a burn and stretch that licked up his spine and down into his balls. It hurt, not with the fire of a good whipping, but a deep-muscle heat that made him more aware of how vulnerable he was, how far into him Buck could go.

How far into him Buck was already, in more ways, so many more ways, than just this.

"Lift your pretty ass," Buck murmured, his voice close. "Let me see how much you want this."

"I don't want this," Chris gasped out.

"Chris," Buck chided, and made a fist.

He cried out and got his knees under him, wincing as the movement changed the angle of Buck's hand inside him, made the ache grow and sharpen. Made it own him. People who went under craved the freedom, Josiah had told him more than once. Chris didn't. There was no freedom in surrender for him, but in the being owned... he sucked in a breath and blinked open his eyes, but he couldn't make them focus. Nobody owned Chris Larabee.

Nobody but Buck.

"Slow, now," Buck said, a command under the soft tones. "Slow and easy." He shifted, tugged his hand out a little and Chris thought, hoped -- "Oh, that's right nice," Buck chuckled, and Chris moaned as Buck's free hand, slick and warm, wrapped around his erection.

From there, it was hard to think, to sort out the pain from the pleasure. This wasn't like anything he'd ever asked for, or anything else he'd ever felt. It was something Buck had discovered all on his own, after they'd been working with Josiah. Buck was all over him, in his head and his chest, in his ass and his gut. They didn't do this often, but Buck knew what he was doing. The movements of his hands synchronized, steady and slow. When he pushed forward, deeper into Chris, he pulled more firmly on Chris's cock. When he pulled back and the pain backed off, he relaxed his grip so that his strokes to Chris's leaking cock kept him going, kept him hard without bringing him anywhere near the edge. Balance, Josiah had once told them, it was all in the balance of pain to pleasure, building the tension.

Buck was an expert now; pain and pleasure ran neck in neck. When Buck curled his fingers down, his knuckles spreading wide inside Chris, he countered with a twisting caress over and around the head of Chris' erection, a move that was practiced and perfect. Between them, Chris was wound so tight that he couldn't move, couldn't breathe. He barely squirmed, rubbing his chest against the sheets and groaning as Buck just kept moving. The hand inside him stilled, and the hand on his cock gripped harder, sped up, pushing him toward pleasure until he was just about there, almost almost almost --

Buck sighed, the sound loud in the room, loud enough to cut through Chris's own gasping breaths. "Hold on now," Buck said, and let go his cock. "It's okay," Buck soothed, though Chris thought he hadn't said anything, hadn't moved at all. He wasn't sure, though. He was lost in it--and that was the hardest part of it all, getting lost.

His skin was slick with sweat and pain and need, with that vibrating tension of holding himself still and just taking it. Buck slid his palm everywhere, over Chris's sides and his back, up to grip gently at his neck, and all the while, Buck's hand moved in him again. One slow inch forward then back, the movement kept the widest part of Buck moving past the tightest part of Chris.

"Okay now, you do it," Buck whispered.

Chris moved. He didn't want to, he didn't mean to, he fucking hated obeying, but he sucked in a breath and pushed back, heard the whimper crawl up out of his throat as he pulled Buck's hand deeper into him and his ass sealed around the wrist. God damn, it hurt, but it felt like nothing else did or ever had.

"Let go of the bed. Relax."

Chris barked out a harsh laugh at the idea of relaxing, but he forced his hands away, felt the cramp in his fingers.

"What do you want?" Buck whispered against his shoulder. "You want me to stop this and get you that belting?"

"Buck," he managed to hiss, but only because Buck had slowed the work of his hands. "Don't stop."

"Thought you didn't want your ass filled up," Buck said, his hands slowing just a little more. "Thought you didn't need me to fill your ass up like Vin likes it--who were you lying to, Chris?"

He quickened his pace, and Chris cried out with the shock of it, the hurt and the jolt of electricity that raced up his spine. He was back on the edge that fast, the need for release so intense that it hurt, too, but a different kind of hurt, one that surrounded him, mixing up with all the other sensations.

Everything stopped then. Buck's hands went completely still and all that was left was the tickle of his breath on Chris's shoulder, the itching of sweat as it drifted down Chris's chest and back, the throb of blood in his groin.

"Up to you, stud," Buck said after a few millions years, "all you gotta do is move backwards, fill up that pretty ass. Or beg for it."

Never, Chris thought, never would he beg for it, and he never needed it like that--

"God dammit," he swore, and pushed back. He heard Buck chuckle, and the sound made something inside him cringe, made his skin crawl. But the stretch and fire and Buck's voice had him, and he was too consumed by it all to bitch, too caught up by the charge of sensation as his prostate rubbed hard and flat over something, then the toe-curling shudder as Buck worked his cock.

"How much do you want, Chris?" Buck asked.

Chris barely registered the words. He was aware of his own actions though, of how he pushed back and begged with his body for more, always more at this point, and Buck gave it to him, sliding deeper even as his fingers on the tip of Chris's cock eased away.

"You need to say it, Chris," Buck whispered, his voice tight with--something. "I need to hear it." Dark and hard and tinged with the edge of violence, Chris understood that voice.

He closed his eyes. He had to close his eyes to manage it, but then, as Buck tightened his grip on Chris's cock for him, it was easy. "Please. Please, all right, just fist me good, hard, all the way, do whatever you want to do to me...." Orgasm was out there somewhere, a distant urge in the face of everything else he was feeling.

"I want you to do it," Buck said, and his voice was tight now, tight enough that Chris arched and fucked himself on Buck's fist, groaning and surrendering and doing all that shit he swore he didn't do, swore wasn't him--but it was. Right here, right now with Buck, it was.

Buck grunted and gripped his cock, greasy hand sliding over the head and teasing at the slit, like Buck wanted in there too, and Chris shuddered as climax closed in. All of his attention was on the spring of climax as it wound tighter and tighter, coiling through and around him, on how he moved back onto Buck's hand and forward into Buck's sure grip.

When it snapped, it was like an explosion that sucked out his brain and his breath and his very being, throwing him out of himself, into nothing and everything.

When his sense of self, of his own body, came back to him, it wasn't the deep ache or the complete laxness of his muscles that caught his attention, but something prickling against his ear. He ignored it for a while, the annoyance of it not enough to break through the perfect post-orgasm lethargy, that pure absence of thought or will where all he needed to do in the world was keep breathing in and out.

Eventually though, he found a last reserve of energy and forced his hand up, instinctively swiping at his head -- only to encounter a larger, heavier body.

"You are alive!" Buck called in a voice far too loud and intrusive. "I was beginning to worry."

As his ears were forced to work, so too did other senses and other nerves. He identified the bed under him, his body stretched out on top of the sheets. Buck was beside him and close -- his face alongside Chris's, which meant the prickling had probably been from his mustache. He tightened his muscles, feeling sloppy and sore and too lax to do more than breathe.

"You gonna open your eyes and let me know how wonderful I was?" Still too loud and far too damned happy.

"Fuck you," he said or tried to. He wasn't certain that it came out that way.

Buck laughed. "Maybe next time," he said, letting Chris know that he had understood well enough. "Don't think you're up to the challenge right now."

Anger sparked in his belly and caught -- for about a twelfth of a second. He felt too good, even with the aches and the residual pains--because of them. The way he felt now was the way he felt after a strenuous workout or a rough game of football or -- a particularly energetic bout of sex with Buck. Endorphins flew high and fast.

He moved his hand again, but this time, he let his fingers catch on Buck's arm, pulling at him.

"Yeah?" Buck asked, leaning in close enough for his lips to brush against Chris' cheek. It didn't take but a slight turn to meet them with his, and he did.

"Thanks," he mumbled, his eyes still closed.

"You did most of the work," Buck said smugly. He shifted, leaning up, but before Chris could decide what he was doing, Buck's fingers touched his ass. The touch was gentle, a brush of fingertips over the swell of one cheek, but the contact jolted Chris.

He jerked, arching back, curling his toes, digging his fingers into whatever was under them.

"Pur-tee!" Buck laughed out loud, and his fingers skimmed again. "I never realized my fingers left such nice lines -- we really have to do this more often, Chris."

"What the fuck -- " Chris started, but he knew; he'd seen the same marks on Vin earlier.

Buck was still chuckling, but he backed down, falling back into the pillows and meeting Chris' glare. "You're tough, Chris, maybe the toughest man I know. That makes you a damned fine bottom-man, when the mood's right. Don't know why you fight it so hard."

Chris opened his mouth, but no words came out. He didn't know why he fought it so hard, either, not with Buck, but he knew he probably always would. It was that balance thing again, that craving for parity and submission that got mixed up with his aggressive instincts.

Buck's laughter faded into a grin. "Save the belting for later?" he asked, reaching out to push the hair out of Chris' eyes.

"Reckon so," Chris sighed. "Much later."

He was deeply content to just float along, riding the endorphin high, but Buck started chuckling. "What?"

"Just thinking about the matched set of asses we've got in the house, yours and Vin's," Buck smiled.

Chris couldn't stop the grin that followed. "Think Josiah can get Vin to that level?"

Buck arched an eyebrow, thinking on it, and his hand lazed over Chris's ass cheek, where just touching the skin rattled his sensitized nerves. He could feel the welts, and knew when he looked he'd have a bruise the size and shape of Buck's hand right there on his ass. The clients had better be okay with the lights off, the next few days. "Maybe," Buck said. "But not anytime soon. Gonna be a while before he gets him back on that table."

"You think?" Chris grunted, pushing himself up enough to roll onto his side. "I thought Vin had a damned fine time. Twice."

Buck looped his arm around Chris' waist, drawing him in until they were pressed together. "No way to argue that," he agreed. "But that's gonna be part of the problem, at least for a little while. He enjoyed it, but I reckon at some level, that's gonna scare him more than if he hadn't."

Chris let himself be positioned, and Buck nuzzled in against his throat, his hand splayed across Chris' lower back. "Josiah will talk him out of that," he said. "Nothing for him to be scared of."

"Says the man who'd rather take a beating than admit he likes getting his ass plowed but good," Buck said easily.

Chris snorted and pushed against Buck. "Completely different," he said, even though he knew it wasn't. Maybe he and Vin were that much alike.

The sweat was tacky, uncomfortable as their bodies rubbed against each other, and his ass felt greasy and loose. He pushed again and Buck's arm loosened.

"You ain't gonna want to -- " Buck said as Chris rolled away and onto his back.

For about one second, until his ass, hyper-sensitive from the spanking, took his weight.

It was odd for him to be the last one down to breakfast--he was usually one of the first ones up--but his phone had rung as he started out of his apartment door, and the call, from one of his editors, had lasted almost an hour.

He was lured into the kitchen by the smells of bacon and butter, and the sound of Buck laughing while Vin grumbled and Chris snapped, "It ain't funny, Buck!"

"Josiah!" Buck called out as he walked through the door. "Someone to sit down with me!"

He understood.

Vin was standing at the kitchen's island bar, leaning against it, actually, his plate in hand, his eyes on his food, and his cheeks flushed a lovely shade of pink -- one that reminded Josiah of the night before and a similar shade on a different set of cheeks.

Oddly, Chris was also standing, glaring at Buck over the rim of a coffee mug. He wasn't flushed, but then, he wouldn't be embarrassed. Not in a way that showed.

"Morning," Josiah said, moving over to the coffee pot. "Everybody have a good night?"

"One of the best!" Buck piped up as Chris snorted.

Josiah glanced toward Vin who didn't say anything and who didn't look up from his plate. He was dressed in sweats and a t-shirt, his sleeping gear, and his hair was still mussed. He'd not gotten a lot of sleep, either, if the puffiness around his eyes was any indication. Josiah sighed, letting the sound blend in with the splashing of coffee into his ceramic mug.

A little over twelve hours, he thought, which was close to what he'd expected, even though he'd hoped otherwise. They hadn't slept together last night, which Josiah hadn't liked, but Vin had wanted to watch TV with JD when he got in from his date and Josiah hadn't pushed it.

So -- damage control this morning. He added a little milk to his coffee, thinking.

"Bacon?" JD mumbled, stumbling into the kitchen. "Do I smell bacon?"

"Morning!" Buck called. "Grab a plate and come park your ass on a chair!"

Josiah turned and stepped away from the counter, giving JD room.

With Chris and Vin both standing, the usual prep area was a little crowded. He started for the table, but as he neared Vin, he slowed to a stop. Carefully, he put his mug on the bar next to Vin's and reached out, taking Vin's plate with one hand and also setting it aside. Vin met his eyes, frowning, but there was something else in his eyes, a fear and wariness that Josiah didn't like. Ignoring the others, he caught Vin's shoulders and drew him in close, speaking to him alone.

"Missed waking up with you," he said quietly. "We're not doing anything like that ever again if it's gonna drive you away from my bed."

Vin stiffened against him for a second, until the words sank in. Then, as Josiah intended, he felt Vin smile, felt the release of tension. "Reckon so," Vin agreed.

"Why's everybody standing up?" JD asked, forking food onto a plate. "Buck smell bad?'

Josiah grinned then laughed when Vin did as Buck, caught off guard, sputtered, "Me? I'm sweet as a rose!"

Buck settled into a chair still defending his honor -- and making not-so-subtle statements about Chris having a sore ass, which had Vin once more a little on the defensive. But he didn't argue when Josiah caught him by the wrist and drew him over to stand beside him when he took a chair across from Buck, and after a minute or so, Vin folded one leg under himself and sat in a sort of lean on his own chair, which made Buck grin wider.

But Buck didn't say anything, not about Vin anyway, and Josiah saw Vin slowly relax. Maybe it had been that easy, he thought. Hoped.

Buck couldn't stop teasing his partner, though. "Chris? You don't want to come over here and sit a spell with us?"

"I'm just fine over here," Chris assured him over the rim of his coffee cup. His eyes sparkled with deep satisfaction, a look that Josiah noted with a certain satisfaction of his own. He hadn't been sure, last night, which way it would go for those two; he knew Buck tended to go dominant when he watched Josiah in a scene, but he'd expected that Vin being the subject of that scene would have its own impact on the pair. Chris's waters ran deeper than most people's, and Josiah indulged himself for a moment, grateful that Chris was so self-protectively monogamous when it came to this.

He wondered what Buck had used on Chris, to keep him standing; the man was made of stern stuff, and he was the last person in the world to reveal any result of his and Buck's play. Eying the softness around Chris's eyes and the smug satisfaction on Buck's face, he wondered if perhaps they hadn't used anything at all. Chris's stiff-legged stance offered plenty of evidence to Josiah that this ache wasn't necessarily external, and he caught Buck's eye, raising his eyebrows in silent question. Buck, subtly for him, fisted his hand beside his plate and grinned, so Josiah grinned back, suspicions confirmed. Buck had never been much for being fisted, but Chris... well, his waters ran deeper than most men's. That sort of thing tended to take him apart and put him back together smoothly, and a quick glance up caught Chris frowning at him, mouth a moue of injured privacy.

"You know I'm not judging," Josiah said easily, and raised his coffee mug in toast. "Well," he added, "I'm not judging anything more than how well things went for you both." He smiled to take any sting out of his words, and after a second Chris shrugged.

"What the--oh," JD said, his eyes widening in puerile curiosity. "You guys did something, huh? What? What did you do?!"

Buck reached out and casually whapped the back of JD's head, which brought a grin to the young man's face. JD's self-confidence had grown immeasurably in the time he'd been with them, and he was more than willing to experiment, to try anything--even more willing when big money was on the line. Josiah had worked with him more than a few times, for special clients.

"Hey!" JD quipped. "I charge for that kind of handling, you know."

"Yeah kid, we know," Buck said, and whapped him again.

They settled down to eat then, and Chris eventually strolled over to lean heavily on Buck's shoulder, reaching over him to filch food from his plate. When they finished eating, Chris wandered off with fresh coffee, no doubt to his office.

"Rock, paper, scissors on the clean-up, boys?" Buck asked.

"Nah, I've got it," Vin offered. He was always helpful around the kitchen, but he seemed a bit more docile this morning.

Josiah shot Buck a look and tilted his head toward the door. Buck, smiling, nodded in return. "Come on, JD, let's go hit the gym, hone these fine bodies to perfection."

"I hate the gym," JD grumbled, but he dutifully dumped his plate in the sink.

"You hate that I can out-lift you, outrun you and out fuck you, is all. Don't worry, not everybody's an Adonis."

"You sure as hell aren't," JD teased as they walked out of the kitchen together.

Nathan was already gone, off to campus, Josiah knew, and Ezra wasn't stirring. He put away the dishes while Vin washed, pleased that Vin didn't mind how close they were to each other.

As Vin rinsed the last pot and put it in the drainer, Josiah stepped in close behind him, pressing against him. Vin tightened up at the contact, and he stopped moving, his hands on the edge of the sink.

"Hurt?" Josiah asked quietly, his own hands curving over Vin's shoulders.

"Some," Vin said, his shoulders rigid under Josiah's hands.

"Scared?" Josiah asked.

Vin drew a breath, long and slow, and Josiah knew he was thinking about the answer. Which was all the answer he needed.

He stepped back, letting his hands fall away. He'd known this was a bad idea, known he shouldn't do it -- wouldn't have, had Vin not invited Buck and Chris along. He could have talked Vin out of it, or distracted him or -- something. He'd done it enough as of late.

Now -- now he was going to have to start all over again, win Vin's trust again, even though Vin had wanted this --

"Ain't scared of you," Vin said, and turned around to face him. He reached for the dish towel Josiah was holding and dried his hands on it, held it after to fiddle with. "Scared of myself, maybe. Scared that . . . that I liked it. Don't know what to make of that."

It was -- better than starting at the beginning, but not by much.

He shook his head, running a hand through his hair.

"'Siah?" Vin said, reaching out to catch Josiah's hand. "It ain't you."

"Doesn't matter, does it?" he said, drawing free of Vin's touch. "Me, yourself - it doesn't matter where the fear comes from, it's there. It affects us, who we are to each other, what we do -- "

"No, it doesn't," Vin said, stepping up to him. "Not -- not the way you think," he said, talking faster as he argued, "I might not, you know, want to do what we did yesterday again, but the other stuff we do, the good stuff, the talking, being in bed together -- that don't have to change."

Vin looked away, toward the window. The morning sun was bright, catching his face and casting it in a stark light. The puffiness was clearer now, as was the faint purple bruising under his eyes, both from lack of sleep.

More vivid, though, was the depth of his eyes, the flicker of pain and the -- dammit, the self-doubt.

Josiah sighed again, wishing that he had never let himself get talked into what they had done. What he had done.

"You hurting?" he asked, putting his hands in his pockets as he looked back at Vin.

Vin blinked, turning back to meet Josiah's gaze.

"Lanolin," he elaborated. "You need more?"

Vin shrugged. "If you don't mind, I wouldn't say no."

"Come on, then." He led the way out of the kitchen, hands still in his pockets until Vin caught up with him and pulled one free, holding it in both of his. It was -- reassuring and irritating, but he knew what Vin was trying to do.

And it worked, in its way. By the time they got to his apartment, he was calmer and less angry at himself.

The lanolin was where he'd left it the night before, on the end table beside the couch. He caught it up and held it out to Vin.

"Thanks," Vin said, a little coy, looking at Josiah through his eyelashes. "Can I get you to put it on? You did a good job last night."

Now, he was being played. "You just stood in the kitchen and told me you were afraid -- "

"Not of you. Of me," Vin jumped in. "But I ain't afraid of wanting sex, like we usually do." He smiled then, pure and content and beautiful. "Man'd have to be a fool to be scared of something that good."

Josiah didn't point out the obvious, that Vin had obviously thought the domination had been good too--at the time. He didn't point it out because Vin wasn't a fool... and Josiah wasn't either. The battle was already over, at least as far as his cock was concerned. "Let's see your ass," he said instead, sitting down on the couch and taking the lanolin back.

He did see the quick flash of a grin on Vin's face as he turned around and pushed at the elastic waistband of the sweat pants.

It was pretty, Josiah thought, eyeing the fine pattern of fingerprints that still showed on Vin's ass. The pink had faded away, leaving faint red outlines here and there, a little purpling in places where bruising had occurred. Vin might be a little sore, but he wasn't in any true pain.

Josiah took his time with the lanolin, moving slow and lightly over the muscles that tightened up at his gentle caresses and the application of the cool cream. After the first few strokes, Vin spread his legs more, as far as the puddle of cloth around his ankles would allow. An invitation, Josiah knew, and his dick jumped.

He wasn't really aware of when he started rubbing along Vin's inner thighs, but he was more aware when his fingers slipped into the warm heat between the perfect mounds of flesh.

Vin made a noise, a little moan, Josiah thought, and his back arched, offering more access. Damned pushy bottom, as Buck would say, but Josiah was all right with that.

He leaned forward and kissed one cheek, ignoring the taste of the lotion. Vin shivered at the contact, and he tried to bend a little more, but Josiah rose, dropping the lanolin tube to the couch and catching Vin's hips in his hands.

"Bedroom?" he asked against Vin's hair.

"Couch," Vin countered, pressing back against Josiah, his ass rubbing, intentionally, against Josiah's groin. Against the rough denim of his jeans.

"Easier on the bed," Josiah said, pushing a little with his hands, trying to keep Vin from hurting. "Put you on your back, keep your ass from getting too much -- "

"Want to sit in your lap," Vin said, his voice darker now, in a way Josiah knew. "Want my ass to feel every part of you."

He thought about it, as much as he could with all the blood running straight to his crotch. "Thought you were scared of liking it," he said.

"Ain't but one way to deal with being scared," Vin said. "Go through it."

Josiah almost laughed, would have but the sound turned to a gasp as Vin pushed back, his ass grinding against Josiah's erection.

After that, it was quick and intense. He fumbled with the button on his jeans, distracted as Vin bent over to get a condom from his sock, showing everything he was offering. Josiah's finger went unerringly to the small opening, the ring of flesh shiny and soft in the morning light. Vin swayed a little at the touch, moaned once more, then whimpered when Josiah slid one finger just inside, teasing.

He would have taken him right there, bent over like that, except that his zipper wouldn't cooperate and by the time he got it open and his own cock free, Vin was ripping open the foil pouch of the condom and standing, half-turned, to roll it on.

His cock brushed against the hem of his t-shirt, a dark stain spreading slowly over the light-blue fabric, and Josiah caught it in a loose hold that distracted Vin for several seconds.

"Need you," Vin gasped out eventually, his voice reedy. He was pushing back, standing on his toes, the cleft of his ass trapping Josiah's erection in a nice heat. If he'd been an inch or two taller, Josiah thought he might have managed to impale himself without Josiah having to do anything at all.

"Let me get my jeans down -- no, no," he said, catching Vin's hands as they left his hips, "leave your shirt on. Want just your ass bare, concentrate all your attention there," he said.

"Yeah, all right," Vin agreed, his voice raspy with his need. His hand snaked back when Josiah released it, catching Josiah's cock in a familiar grip. "Can't wait -- fuck the pants."

"Zipper!" Josiah said, but Vin was already pulling him forward, guiding him as Vin rose up again on his toes and bent forward.

"Fuck the zipper," Vin snarled and Josiah lost the ability to speak as he was positioned and mounted, Vin crying out with the breaching.

Josiah wasn't certain if it was pleasure or pain, suspected a little of both but those thoughts were lost in a haze as higher thinking was overwhelmed by pure physical sensation.

Hot and soft and clutching, Vin drew him and held him deep. He wanted to thrust but Vin was doing all the work, moving on him, and it was all he could do to keep his balance and Vin's, as Vin shoved back hard against him. There was rhythm, at the start, but Josiah lost it as Vin grew more demanding, more frantic, grinding against him, taking him in deeper and deeper until he could feel the beat of Vin's heart through the skin of his ass, could hear the whimpers and moans and knew there was some pain.

Vin drew forward, breathing hard and giving Josiah a second to calm. He braced his arms, trying to hold Vin away, trying to formulate a thought, but Vin didn't relent. He thrust back hard, too hard, and the back of Josiah's knees hit the couch. He grunted, tried to catch them, but the weight had shifted and Vin was riding him down.

They hit with a jolt, Josiah managing to get one arm down first so that it wasn't as hard as it could have been. But it was hard enough. Vin cried out, more pain than pleasure as the penetration went deeper than it ever had before.

As his ass made full contact with Josiah's body, his clothes, and the metal teeth of the zipper.

The cushions were thick, absorbing the shock so that there was no bounce, and for a few seconds, they were still. It was enough time for Josiah to adjust to the pressure around his cock, a pressure that was just on the border of being too much.

"Vin," he said, working his hands under Vin's thighs, thinking to lift him some.

"No!" Vin called, his voice shrill. "Don't move, don't move -- "

"You hurt?" The fear of it pushed him away from the orgasm that had been so close.

"Shhhh," Vin hissed, and his back slowly relaxed, his head falling back to rest on Josiah's shoulder. He was covered in a sheen of sweat, his hair sticking to his cheeks and neck, and his eyes were glazed and dilated, but he didn't seem to be hurting. "Feels -- feels good, hurts, but -- oh, yeah...." He flexed his lower back, shifting, rubbing a little.

Josiah grunted when the zipper cut into his skin, but it was a distant pain. He thought of Buck's hint this morning, and the satisfied look on Chris's face, and imagined how Vin might respond to that kind of penetration. He had long suspected that Vin would really enjoy being fisted, with his predisposition to taking a lot and taking it deeply. He knew it, now. Vin's rising intrigue with pain told him as much as the speed with which Vin had sunk down on his shaft: sore and stretched, the skin of his buttocks still sensitive from the spanking last night, Vin had looked for and found the position that required the most tension to settle into, and the one that gave him the deepest possible penetration.

Just thinking about that made Josiah's balls draw up tight and his cock twitch with the urge to spill inside this man. He cast his eyes wildly around the room, looking for something--anything--to distract him.

Vin squeezed his muscles and gasped, and the contraction of Vin's body around his cock was again too much, too tight --he was back on the edge, the discomfort balanced against his release.

Vin canted his hips, just a little, rising enough to give relief, then he twisted as he dropped back down. Josiah felt the flare of his cockhead bump past Vin's prostate, then Vin was coming, his body rigid, his back arched, his thighs flexing against Josiah's.

It rippled over Josiah's erection, compressing it too much to be enjoyable but not enough to stop his own release, which was pulled from him with a force that left him helpless and dazed.

When he came back to himself, he was leaning back in the cushions, holding Vin against his chest. His cock was still inside, pulsing to the slowing thrum of Vin's body. Vin's head rested on his shoulder, his long hair tickling Josiah's neck, and it seemed to take a great effort to turn the scant distance to nuzzle into that soft, damp hair.

Distantly, he wondered what it meant that a man as heterosexual as himself was gaining more and more intimate gratification with Vin Tanner. Josiah loved women no less today than he had last week or last year. He loved gay sex no more. It was all wrapped up in Vin, and he sincerely hoped it wasn't the newness, or Vin's journey into bondage and domination, into learning his own submissive and masochistic tendencies, that so richly and lavishly colored Josiah's pleasure in the man.

He didn't want these feelings to fade with time and familiarity. And that -- that was something new in itself. It seemed balanced though, with pleasure of having Vin here, in his arms. Balance, he thought, and he felt a ghost of an old pleasure, one he had thought lost: the corkscrew of anticipation and dread and want, the heady mix that he wound up in others. In Vin.

"You all right?" he asked, or tried to. His voice didn't work all that well.

But Vin seemed to understand. At least, he nodded. "Ain't sure I want to move, though," he said. "That was -- I ain't never . . . "

Josiah could have said the same, had he thought it would do any good. Instead, he pulled Vin closer against him, lifting one hand to let it splay over Vin's chest. The shirt was damp from sweat and splattered with ejaculate, but he didn't care. Vin's heart beat strong under his hand. "You scared me," he said softly.

"I'm scaring myself a little, too, if that's any comfort," Vin whispered.

Josiah frowned at the side of his head. It wasn't. "I think you're wrong about your desire for pain. I think you want it, just -- in a different way."

Vin laughed. "Well, you guys are all pains in the ass, sometimes," he agreed, and Josiah laughed at the pun.

They sat for a while longer, until Josiah had to pull out or risk losing the condom. As Josiah helped Vin stand and get his balance, he winced at the red lines etched into Vin's ass, sharper in color and depth than the residual lines from his fingers.

"Gonna hurt," he said, lightly touching one of them. His fingertip came back smeared with a trickle of blood.

"Zipper?" Vin asked, trying to look over his shoulder.

"Yeah," Josiah answered, looking lower. No blood anywhere else, which was a relief. He glanced at his own lap, where he had his own set of matching stripes, not as red as Vin's, as there had been cloth between the zipper and his hips. But he'd have welts for a day or so.

Vin reached out a hand, helping him get his balance as he stood, also. "Thanks," Vin said, holding on to Josiah's hand. "I know you didn't want to."

Josiah caught Vin by the back of the neck and pulled him close, tilting his head up. "I did want to. I wanted to last night and I will want to again. I love having sex with you, Vin, and I might even love you." The words were out before he caught them, before he had time to think about the ramifications, but he hurried on. "I don't want you to be afraid of me, or of yourself when you're with me. If you decide you want more of what we did last night, we'll talk about it. But you will sleep with me afterwards. I want to be there when you wake up."

Vin's eyes were wide, surprised and happy, Josiah thought, and he looked like he wanted to say something. Josiah leaned down and kissed him, hard and demanding, pushing his tongue deep into Vin's mouth. Vin didn't fight him, or act anything other than happy to be doing this.

When they broke apart, Josiah ran a hand down Vin's back and over his ass. Vin tensed, but he didn't pull away.

"You want to come into the bedroom?" he asked. "Rest a while?"

Vin smiled at him. "You want -- " He stopped as Josiah arched an eyebrow. "Yeah," he said after a few seconds, "I do." He bent over, tugging weakly at his sweat pants to try and get them back up his legs.

Josiah watched, unable to look away from the marks on Vin's ass. He did like them. A lot. Had liked putting them there, a lot. He had liked everything about how responsive Vin was, the tension in the man as he tried with such diligence to give himself over to a new experience, the truly new one, of consent and pleasure, pain and discomfort...

Damn Buck and Chris.

"Chris couldn't sit down this morning," Vin said, grinning as he stood back up. "What do you think they got up to last night?"

Josiah shook his head. He was relatively sure he knew what they'd gotten up to, just from Buck's buoyancy and Chris's reservation and stiff-legged walking. But he wasn't positive, and he wasn't interested in speculating, not today. Later, he could see those two as useful tools for dropping hints or making suggestions for Vin to think on in a way that wouldn't make him feel threatened. He'd have to remind them not to actually tell Vin that they shared such speculation.... "Maybe one day, you'll find out," he said, catching Vin's wrist and leading him toward the bedroom door. "But curiosity killed the cat. And it ain't gonna do a lot for your innocence."

Vin laughed behind him. "That ain't something most folks would claim I have."

In some distant part of the house, Josiah thought he heard Buck laughing.

Downstairs, Buck had finished his short workout, finished harassing JD, and finished a short circuit through the building looking for company. The family room and kitchen had turned up empty, and the door to Josiah's place was closed. Ezra's, too. In desperation he trailed back downstairs and into the front offices, offering a cheerful good morning to Dorothy.

"Good morning to you, too," she said warmly, but she was clearly distracted with paperwork, so Buck let her get back to it and crept up to the office door.

He listened for a second before pushing it open. Chris looked--he looked damned attractive behind that big desk, leaning with his weight on his knuckles on either side of the schedule that was spread over the desk top, his shirtsleeves rolled up and a concentrated little frown furrowing between his eyebrows. Standing behind the desk. Buck was chuckling before he thought about it, which earned him a nice little glare.

"You got nothing better to do than distract me?" Chris grumbled at him.

Buck sauntered on over. "Nope. Nathan's off to school, JD's taking a shower, and Ezra's still asleep. Vin's apartment's empty and Josiah's door is closed. So I'm all yours, boss."

Chris's smirk faded as quick as it rose. "Think they're together?"

Buck caught on; he knew Chris had been a little worried about Vin this morning--hell, it was why Buck had tried to tease Vin out of his mood. "Looks like. Reckon Vin's already getting over his first-time jitters. If he had any."

Chris pursed his lips in a way that made Buck want to kiss them. "Oh, he had 'em." He shot Buck a little censuring look. "You didn't help any, either."

Buck shrugged. "Distracted him, anyway."

"The hell you did," Chris groused. He came out from behind his desk and leaned one hip carefully against its edge, and Buck just barely resisted a snicker. "Buck, not everybody's as easy-going as you are. You need to give Vin a little room to work this out for himself."

"Vin is a grown man who can take care of himself," Buck shot back. "He doesn't need you mothering him," he added for good measure. He wasn't jealous, exactly. He and Chris had worked that out months ago.

"I am not--" Chris stopped and huffed out a breath.

Before Chris could say anything dumb, Buck reached out and grabbed him by the waistband of his slacks, tugging him out and around. Settling his ass on the edge of the desk, he pulled Chris into the space between his legs and slipped his arms around the trim waist. "You were there. He loved it."

Surprisingly, the comment made Chris frown harder. "I think that's the problem."

Buck remembered saying the same thing to Chris last night, but he let it slide, for now. "I think you see problems where there aren't any," Buck groused, and squeezed Chris's sore ass cheek, grinning when Chris hissed and thrust his hips forward. "Vin's fine--he's upstairs with Josiah right now. Josiah's fine, he knows his trade better'n anybody. You're fine, I'm fine. Quit worrying about it."

Chris frowned at him again, but he kept his mouth shut, so Buck leaned forward and delivered a kiss, added a loud smacking sound at the end. "Now, how about you?"

"What about me?" Chris asked.

Buck squeezed more gently, with half an urge to tug Chris's pants down and check out his ass for himself. If he were lucky, he might still be able to see some fading handprints. "Are you going to be okay to work today?"

Chris nodded and looked over Buck's shoulder at the schedule spread out on his desk. "Women the next couple of days--lucky for you, or I'd tan your hide for you."

Buck grinned. "Can anyway, any time." It amused him as much as it made him melt a little, the way Chris's mouth dropped open, and his pupils dilated just at the offer. If Chris hadn't figured out he had carte blanche after all these years... "I mean it."

"I know you do," Chris said softly, then frowned and cleared his throat. "Why do you think it gets me going so damned fast?"

"I'm irresistible."

"You're certifiable," Chris smirked.

Buck ignored the insult. "I think Vin and Josiah have the right idea," he said, and nudged his groin forward an inch. "They're upstairs, door closed, probably in bed doing all sorts of fun stuff to each other...." He raised his eyebrows.

Chris frowned thoughtfully. "You really think they're together in there?"

Buck nodded. "Cars are still out back, all of Vin's running shoes are lined up nice and neat on his closet floor. So come on, let's take their lead again." He waggled his eyebrows. "It worked out great for us last time."

Chris looked over Buck's shoulder at the schedule, and Buck knew he'd won before Chris's eyes returned to his. "If you're expecting any more than a nap and a cuddle, I can tell you right now you're going to be disappointed."

Buck smacked him gently on the butt, just as sure that he wouldn't be--and that napping and cuddling would happen too. Eventually. "Let's go, then."

Easing the door shut behind his lover, Buck hung back just enough to watch Chris's stiffer than usual walk, and smiled. Chris never disappointed him. He actually hoped Chris would never come to accept the need he had to be dominated and fucked; the battle in him, the war between his need and his sense of self was a thing of beauty that no one and nothing else could match.

Chris stopped at the door and turned back, looking at him over one shoulder.

It wasn't the coy look that Vin used or the shy one JD had mastered. It was direct and commanding and as full of affection as Chris could ever show.

"You coming?" Chris asked, tilting his head a little to one side.

"Yeah," Buck said, pushing himself away from the desk. "I believe I am."

The End

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