Note: This focuses far more on Platt and BDSM-type relationships than on Seb and Zain. The title is from “Under Pressure” by Queen and David Bowie.
With the start of a new semester came new classes, and I was happy to find out that Platt and I had been scheduled to the same PE section. The kid actually smiled when he saw me in the locker room, too.
“Hey,” I said, taking the locker next to him. “How was your leave?” I had texted him a few times over the break, saying merry Christmas and happy new year, and he returned the well-wishes, but he hadn’t initiated any contact.
“It was alright,” he said. “How was yours?”
“Wonderful! Seb and I didn’t go to Hawaii like we’d planned; we stayed with some friends of ours, which actually turned out better, I think.”
“That’s good.” He pulled a set of PT gear out of his gym bag and walked off toward one of the bathroom stalls, saying, “I’ve gotta change,” over his shoulder.
I blinked as I watched him go into it. Did he always undress in there? I knew he was modest, but that was just asking to get teased by the other plebes. A few of them had noticed already and were exchanging looks.
Banging my locker shut, I started singing Zip-a-Dee-Doo-Dah. Loudly. That got everyone’s attention until Platt came out, fully dressed again in sweatpants, a ringer t-shirt, and a frown for me. I smiled innocently at him and kept whistling until we went out to meet our instructor.
She told us to warm up with a quick lap around the Yard. We set off in a clump, but the group quickly stretched out as our natural paces divided us. I matched mine to Platt’s. I wanted to keep an eye on him and make sure my distraction had worked to head off any ribbing.
He shot me another frown as we became a group of two, with a good buffer in front and behind us. “I know you’re faster than this.”
“Must be out of shape from the holidays,” I said.
From his expression, he didn’t believe that for a second. It wasn’t until we were rounding Alumni Hall that he spoke again, though. “Hang on, I need to re-lace my shoe.”
I followed him to a nearby monument — a globe with the most famous lyrics of our alma mater carved around the base — and we sat on one of the benches facing it and the footbridge across Dorsey Creek. He leaned forward to untie his sneaker. As he did, the hem of his t-shirt rode up, and the exposed strip of skin caught my eye. It was absolutely covered in small bruises and welts.
I had to curl my hand in a fist to keep from tugging the cloth out of the way and seeing how far they spread across his back. “What happened?”
He glanced over, startled at my tone, and then saw where I was looking. Quickly sitting up, he yanked his shirt over the marks. “Nothing. It’s nothing.”
Déja vu, I thought, remembering the last time he had unexplained injuries. Belcher had interrupted us and prevented me from getting the truth out of him then. That made me all the more determined to find out what was going on now.
“Your uncle?” I asked, softly.
“Platt, you can tell me the truth.”
“I am,” he insisted. “My uncle basically ignored me the whole time I was home.” Gazing out towards the water, he sighed a little. “I think he’s scared, knowing I could break his arm. I was hoping he’d respect me more, but not like that. He’s the only person who knew my dad that I might be able to talk to about him.”
I leaned forward and studied his face. There was no sign he was lying. “You can’t talk to your mom?”
He shook his head. “She only mentions Dad when she’s drunk, and it isn’t… coherent. Plus, she claims she’s been sober since August. Not that I believe her. She’s good at hiding it for short periods.”
“I really wanna give you a hug,” I said. “Is that okay?”
He looked around first — checking for other mids nearby, I think — and then, hesitantly, nodded. I wrapped my arms around him gently, in case there were bruises higher up. When I let go, his cheekbones were pink.
“It’s not a big deal,” he said. “I’m used to it.”
That just made me want to pull him into another embrace, because no one should have to be used to that, but I said, “Now, about your back?”
He flushed more and looked down at his feet. “I told you, it’s nothing.”
I snorted. “Kid, if you were mine…”
“If I were your what?” he asked, frowning.
I didn’t answer for a moment. I’d been thinking if he were my Brat, I’d give into the itch in my palm, but he’d just be more confused by that, and probably freak out if I explained. Finally, I said, “If you’re my friend, you’ll try to trust me and tell me what’s going on with you.”
He seemed to weigh my words for a few moments, and then whispered, “…It was consensual.”
I tried to keep the surprise from showing. Well, that was something, at least, though it didn’t quiet all my worries. “Who did it?” I asked.
A group from the PE class was approaching us. Platt saw them the same time I did, and bent over his shoe again. Once they passed, he stood. “We need to keep going.”
“Uh, you didn’t answer my question?”
“It’s not important,” he told me, flatly. “I’m not going to see them again.”
“That’s good,” I said, “because they’ve got really lousy aim. Those bruises are over your kidneys. Look, you don’t have to tell me who it was, but will you please go see a doctor?”
“I already did,” he said. “I’m fine.”
I breathed out a sigh of relief. “Good.” Then, in my best Genie voice, I added, “‘I’m getting kinda fond of you, kid. Not that I want to pick out curtains or anything.’” From his snort, he got the reference.
Our duvet from Hawaii was a nice change from the grey knitted one I was used to seeing behind Seb when he was at Quint and Theo’s. The print of huge paint strokes and maps reminded me, and I’m sure, him, of our home on the islands. I grinned. “Hey, habibi. Looks like you’re making progress on the move.”
He shifted and glanced over his shoulder. “Yeah, we brought the last of the boxes here today. I haven’t unpacked anything else yet, but Quint insisted on switching the bedcovers.”
“Insisted?” I asked. “Implying he faced opposition?”
Ducking his head, Seb muttered, “He said he’s going to email you.”
In other words, ‘I don’t want to talk about it.’ I tilted my head a little as I considered whether to let that go for now. If it were truly urgent, the other Top wouldn’t wait to email; he’d’ve called me earlier or been sitting next to Seb. They must’ve worked things out to some degree, and I could revisit it later if needed. Besides, I had almost no time to fill Seb in on our little Platypus.
“Alright, brat,” I said. “I’ll try to be patient. Now, guess who has gym class with me?”
“Who?” he asked, not without some relief at my change of subject.
I told him, and what had happened, and then asked, “Did he mention wanting to play with anyone to you? And before you say, I know your emails are private, but you didn’t see those marks, babe.”
He was already shaking his head. “No, and if he had, I would’ve found a way to let you know. I don’t think he’s ready for that.”
“Neither am I,” I said. “I felt kinda shocked he was even able to communicate to someone else that he’s into it.”
“Maybe he did it to himself?” Seb suggested. “Like the rope?”
“Nah, he would’ve told me, I think. He said he wouldn’t be seeing ‘them’ again, and he didn’t want me pressing on ‘their’ identity.”
Frowning, he asked, “‘They,’ like, more than one?”
“Or he didn’t want to reveal the gender,” I said, wryly. “I have a sneaking suspicion it was, horror of horrors, male.”
Seb bit his lip. “Do you want me to email him about it? I could do it so he wouldn’t know you told me, probably.”
With a snort, I said, “He’s a smart cookie. He’d see right through that. Just try to convince him to come to me if he does mention something?”
“I will,” he said, and then JJ came in, making me realize the clock showed study period had started already.
“Gotta go, habibi. Love you.”
“Je t’aime,” he replied.
I blew a kiss at the screen, and he was rolling his eyes as he hung up.
Behind me, JJ said, “You two are so sweet, you give me a stomach-ache.”
“That’s all the candy you pig out on,” I said, reaching for my books to begin my homework. His retort was cut off by a knock at the door. Since he was in the middle of undressing, I got up to answer it.
Platt stood in the hallway. “Um,” he said. “I have a question on my calc assignment. Can you come take a look?”
His gaze was all over the place, and I have a very good read on when someone’s repressing their fidgets, thanks to Seb, but I smiled easily. “Yeah, sure.”
The halls of Bancroft were relatively empty at this time of day. I followed him through them towards his and Nak’s room, wondering what this was about. When he missed a turn and continued on into an even more deserted section of the building, I wasn’t too surprised. Still, he kept going.
“You do know if we’re caught here we’ll be fried?” I asked. It was out-of-bounds for a plebe during study period.
He stopped, faced me without meeting my eyes, and swallowed. “What I said about… having seen a doctor already? I was lying. Do you really think it’s that serious?”
I stared at him in disbelief. “Do I think kidney damage is serious? Yeah, it tends to be.”
“I looked up the symptoms,” he said, crossing his arms over his chest. “I haven’t had any of them, so–”
That got his attention. The step away from me held a touch more fear than I wanted, though. With an effort, I turned my command voice down to a low simmer.
“Kid, there’s no way to be sure you don’t have microscopic traces of blood in your urine. You need to see a doctor. This can be life-threatening.”
He gulped a second time. “I’ll go to the clinic tomorrow morning, then.”
“No, we’re calling the Duty Health Care Provider. Right now.” I started back the way we came, since I’d left my phone in my room. A moment later, I heard him scurry after me.
We met Cameron near the company wardroom. She came up from behind as I led Platt around a corner, so she saw him first. “You ought to be studying,” she said, decidedly too gentle to be anything like a command voice. “Do you need help with–? Mohyeldin!”
I couldn’t help feeling some amusement, watching her pull on the air of authority expected from her position. “Good evening, ma’am.”
Frowning between the younger plebe and I, she asked, “Why are you both out here at this time? Is something wrong?”
“Yes, ma’am. Platt needs medical attention right away.”
Her face tightened at my stark pronouncement. “What happened?” she demanded, sweeping her gaze over him from head to toe.
He glared at me. “It can wait until Sick Call tomorrow, ma’am.”
“Answer the question, Midshipman Platt,” she said.
I’d bet anything he wanted to squirm, with that raised eyebrow aimed right at him, but he impressed me by standing up straighter as he began, “Ma’am, I…”
We waited in silence for just long enough that I started considering how much I might damage our friendship by telling her myself. Then he went on in a rush, “I experienced an accidental blunt force trauma injury to my lower back during leave, and Mohyeldin is concerned about my kidneys.”
Cameron’s lips parted a fraction of an inch. She glanced at me as though to confirm his words.
“He’s pretty bruised up, ma’am,” I said, in a low tone. “It should be checked out as soon as possible.”
At that, all traces of uncertainty left her expression. “Come with me.”
Platt and I obeyed, walking just a step behind her as she pulled her phone from her pocket and called the after-hours clinic line. Her explanation to whoever answered was succinct, followed by a lot of “affirmative”s, and then, “I’m bringing him to the Mid Store parking lot now.”
We’d just reached the exterior door that led there when she hung up. I went through second, and held it open for Platt, who shot me a sulky look as he passed. Too bad, kid, I thought. It was for your own good.
Cameron turned to him outside on the asphalt. “They’re going to take you to the hospital for a CT scan.”
“Understood, ma’am,” he said, with no less petulance towards her.
Narrowing her eyes, she ordered, “Platt, fall in,” and he made snapping to attention look grudging, somehow. She studied him a moment. “Parade rest.”
He took up the new position with perfect form: heels twelve inches apart, left hand clasping the right behind his back just below the belt, with fingers extended and joined, palms to the rear, and his eyes straight ahead.
“So you haven’t forgotten everything we’ve taught you,” she said, the faintest hint of humor lacing her voice. “Excellent. Now, you have permission to speak. Tell me how this accident happened.”
I watched the blush spread over his pale skin as he opened and shut his mouth a few times. Finally, he managed to say, “Just messing around, ma’am.”
“Ma’am, may I talk with you privately?” I asked, taking pity on him. I saw his gaze flick sideways to me as she nodded and walked a few yards off, but he didn’t protest. Once Cameron and I were out of earshot, I said, “It was the sort of accident that’s consensual. Though not safe or sane.”
She took the hint immediately. “What? Who did it?”
“He won’t tell me,” I said. “I thought I’d have another run at him tomorrow, but it’s more important to get him checked out, ma’am.”
Sighing, she looked over at the kid. “Yeah, it is. And there’s the van. Alright, I’m going with him to the hospital. I’ll text you updates. Give me your number.”
I programmed it into her phone when she handed it over, and then gave it back, saying, “Thank you, ma’am.”
Of course, I would’ve rather gone along with them, but as far as the Academy was concerned, there was no reason to justify it, so I had to stand idly by as they got into the vehicle and left.
Quint’s email was waiting when I returned to my room. It provided a distraction for the time it took to read, laugh, and write my reply, but then I had nothing to do but worry about Platt while I tried to finish my homework. I kept glancing at my phone, which continued to display Cameron’s first and only text: We’re in the waiting room.
Eventually, I decided a quick walk to the head might pull my thoughts together. It didn’t. On the way back, though, Myrick met me in the passageway and spoke through clenched teeth. “Mohyeldin, how did this happen?”
He didn’t need to elaborate. I’d figured Cameron would’ve told him, and it looked like he was taking the waiting worse than I was. The anger flashing in his gaze made me answer somewhat cautiously, with one of the five traditional responses for plebes. “I’ll find out, sir.”
“Find out and report back,” he snapped, which was the typical retort, yet I blinked in surprise. Myrick usually didn’t give orders he knew wouldn’t be followed. Then he took a careful breath and relaxed his jaw on the exhale. “Nix the last part. But find out, and keep it from happening again.”
“Aye, sir,” I said. “I intend to do that.”
“Good. Cameron and I…” Looking into the distance over my shoulder, he shook his head and lowered his voice. “She shouldn’t even have gone tonight. It could raise questions.”
With a frown, I said, “As his company commander, surely it’s within her scope–”
“She’s under increased scrutiny,” he interrupted. “Certain affinities haven’t gone unnoticed. We’re both counting on you to keep a close eye on… the situation. Until we can.”
Huh, he seemed to know I was aware of their feelings. I couldn’t remember ever hinting about that to either of them, but then, Myrick did always see more than he let on.
“I understand, sir.” Likely deeper than he realized. Maintaining a professional distance from Platt had to be harder for them than my separation from Seb. At least I could be affectionate in front of others without worry. They hadn’t even had a chance to grow their relationship yet.
Myrick nodded once and strode off, leaving me to return to my room, where JJ glanced up from his textbook as I came in. “Your phone just dinged.”
“Thanks,” I said, grabbing it off my desk and sitting down.
The new message read, They’re taking him for the CT scan now.
Okay, I typed back. Do you know how long it’ll be, ma’am?
She responded, 30 minutes for the test, don’t know how long until results are available. They’re rushing them.
Thank you, ma’am, I wrote, and then got back to my homework. I’d be no use to any of them if my grades started dropping.
Other than letting me know the test was done, she didn’t text again until well after taps, when I’d dozed off. I fished blindly for the buzzing phone in the cubby above my rack before opening my eyes to read the screen.
All normal. We’re on our way back to the Yard.
Sending a smiley face emoji to your company commander probably pushed the bounds of appropriateness. I restrained myself to, I’m glad, ma’am, and then added, I’ll talk to him about what happened tomorrow.
Then I put the phone away and started to plan my strategy for that conversation. I knew exactly how much trust she and Myrick were showing by asking me to keep Platt safe. He had a say in it, too, though. Without his cooperation, there wasn’t much I could do.
The first problem was finding the time. Other than PE, I hadn’t seen him in any of my classes. I thought I caught a glimpse of his platinum blond head in Michelson Hall as I came out of my chem lab the next morning, but he was gone before I could get his attention, and it wasn’t the kind of conversation to have in a crowded hallway, in any case.
My only shot of meeting him in private rested on the assumption that he’d also have a free period on opposite days from our shared PE section. I went to his room then.
It took him awhile to answer the door. I’d almost given up when he cracked it open an inch and peered through at me.
“Hey,” I said. “Can I come in?”
He sighed and stepped back to let me pass. Nak wasn’t there. Putting together Platt’s slightly-rumpled uniform with the creases marring the smooth surface of the blanket on his rack, I figured he’d been taking advantage of the solitude for an unauthorized nap. I didn’t mention it as I walked over to sit on the windowsill, though. The kid had been up late; he deserved some shut-eye. And there was no sense making him defensive.
Nope, he managed to be prickly all on his own. Shutting the door, he turned to me with his arms crossed. “If you’re here to lecture me, Cameron already took care of it on the way back from the hospital last night.”
“Oh, excellent,” I said, grinning. “That saves me some time. What’d she say?”
He shrugged one shoulder. “Just a lot of stuff about how, as a midshipman, it’s my duty to ensure my physical safety as much as possible, and I should’ve gone to a doctor earlier.”
“Nothing about how you got injured?”
“No,” he said. “She didn’t question how it happened again, and I didn’t tell her.” Suddenly, he looked suspicious. “You didn’t tell her, did you?”
“Uh, how could I when I don’t exactly know myself?” I asked.
Platt’s gaze dropped a moment, and then he walked over to his desk and sat sideways, facing me. “It doesn’t even matter. Like I said, I’m not repeating the experience.”
“Actually, what you said was you weren’t going to see the other person anymore,” I said, “which I am all for, but you want to give up the whole thing?” That concerned me. It pointed to a deeper trauma than misplaced bruises.
He shifted in the chair, rubbed one hand over his knee, and swallowed. The lion drawing Seb had given him was in a sheet protector carefully pinned to his bulletin board. Looking at it, he said, “I expected something… different.”
“Okay,” I said, with a nod. “Why don’t you tell me what happened, and then maybe we can figure out how to get what you expected?”
A blush crept up his neck as he glanced sideways at me. I did my best to look completely open and nonjudgmental. This was the moment of truth. Trust me, kid. Please.
He inhaled, held it a moment, and then said, “I was sick of being at home, and I needed someplace to go that wasn’t Uncle Hal’s or– or my old church. So I was on Craigslist looking for local events, and then I, um, went to this other section and saw an ad for–”
Breaking off, he pressed down on his knee again. It was jiggling with nerves.
“It’s alright,” I said. “Take your time.” I could see where this was going, but I didn’t want to rush him there.
He whispered the next part. I had to lean forward to hear him. “The subject line was ‘sadist seeking masochist’. I didn’t realize until I clicked on it that it was a… guy. It said no sexual contact, though, so. I answered, and he said he could pick me up.”
“Wait.” I held up a hand. “Pick you up? From where?”
“The end of the road I live on,” he said. When I stared at him in horror, he added, “I didn’t give him an exact address!”
“Okay, okay,” I said, not wanting him to shut down. “Then?”
“I walked out to meet him at the time he said, and the car pulled up a few minutes later. He didn’t look like a psycho, so I got in–”
My eyes closed.
“What?” Platt demanded.
Opening them again, I said, “No, keep going. Please.”
He frowned for a few seconds before saying, “I got in, and he started to drive back to his place. On the way, he asked what I was… into, and I said I wasn’t sure because I was new to it, and he said he’d just surprise me, then.
“He had a small barn behind his house. We went in there, and he told me to take my shirt off, hug one of the support beams, and keep still. So I did. And then he started to use different things on me.”
“Things like what?” I asked.
Platt shook his head. “I didn’t see them all. The one that he used lower down, though, it had a bunch of leather cords attached to a handle, with a wooden bead on the end of each cord. I know because it surprised me that it hit in more than one spot, and I looked back to see what it was. But he told me to face forward again.
“After that one, he used a couple more things, and then he stopped all of a sudden and told me to put my shirt on and go wait in his car. I did. He came out a few minutes after and drove me back. That was it.”
Jesus. Where the hell should I start? I echoed his earlier movement, rubbing my palm over my thigh, though in my case it was because I had such an urge to give him a serious spanking, it surprised me.
The longer I sat in silence, the more petulant he looked.
“Well, are you going to say something?”
“This guy,” I said, carefully level, “did he give you his name?”
“No. I didn’t give him mine, either, we just exchanged descriptions.”
That was a real pity. I would’ve loved to get in contact with him. To Platt, I went on, “Did he ask if there was anything he shouldn’t do? Did you establish limits, or even a safeword? Did he break skin anywhere? Do you know if the implements were cleaned properly? Did he make the slightest attempt at aftercare?”
Once I got on a roll, it was hard to stop. The kid was shaking his head in response to my interrogation, almost continuously. The only one I felt happy about was that he didn’t have broken skin, though it was on his back, so would he really know? I sighed, exasperated, and added one final question: “Did you tell anyone where you would be, and how long to expect you to be gone, so they could check in that you were okay?”
“Who the fuck would I have told?” he asked, his face screwing up in anger. “My mother?”
“Me! Or Seb, for that matter.”
Chin jutting out, he said, “I don’t need your protection. I can handle myself, remember?”
“I know you can,” I said, gentler. “Part of that is not taking stupid risks. You had no idea who this guy was, and you had never met him before. You shouldn’t have even gotten in the car.”
“He wasn’t mean or creepy,” Platt insisted, and I went from wanting to swat him to wanting to hug him. In what world was that lack of caring not equivalent to meanness?
“Stop calling me that!”
My jaw hung open. Shit. “I’m sorry, I won’t anymore if it bothers you. Platt–”
“No.” He got up, stalked to the door, and opened it. “Get out. I don’t need your help.”
I knew him too well to think arguing right now would do any good. As I passed him, I said, “I’m still here if you want to talk, okay?”
Ignoring my words, he shut the door and left me in the passageway.
Well. I couldn’t’ve fucked that up any worse if I tried.
After a dejected half-hour spent on homework, I reported for chow calls and evening meal formation. Platt was there as well, of course, but his squad formed up and ate far from mine, giving me no chance to talk to him again. Anyway, I had to figure out what to say first.
I could see exactly where I started to go wrong, in hindsight. My fear over what could’ve happened made me want to seriously impress on him how dangerous the situation he described was. That, combined with feeling like my hands were tied because I couldn’t give into my Top instincts, led to the barrage of questions, which must’ve come across as an attack. I should have controlled myself better. Lesson learned. Now, how to fix it.
I chewed on the problem along with my dinner, and was mulling over a few possible solutions as I sat down to Skype. With JJ out, I planned to explain what had happened and ask Seb’s opinion on which tactic to use. My boy would have interesting insights, no doubt.
The first thing I saw on my computer, though, was an email from him with the subject line Don’t call me, read this. Frowning, I opened it.
Platt gave me permission to forward these to you. Hopefully they’ll help.
What followed was a chain of emails between them, starting very shortly after my disastrous attempt at conversation. Seb had written the first one.
How are you? How was your break? Thank you for the card you sent with Zain. It’s lovely.
Fuck off. Whatever Mohyeldin told you to say, don’t bother.
What? Zain didn’t tell me to say anything. He doesn’t even know I’m writing to you. What happened?
The next one was written by Seb, too, and timestamped ten minutes later. I smiled with pride. It would’ve taken a lot for him to keep reaching out and risking a confrontation.
Please let me know what’s wrong? Is it that Zain told me about your back? I’m sorry, if it is. He only did because he was worried. Anyway you’re alright, aren’t you? He said you went to the hospital and everything was good. I’m glad.
And if it’s not that, what is it? Maybe I can help fix it.
Help fix it? Yeah, that’s what he said. ‘Tell me what happened, we can figure out how to get what you wanted’. But then I told him about meeting someone on Craigslist and letting them do that to me, and he thinks I’m just a stupid, weak kid. I’m not interested in help from either of you. I can figure out what I want alone.
Okay, I still don’t know exactly what happened, but I can promise you Zain would never think you’re weak or stupid. Please, please don’t mistake his protectiveness for that. I have a lot of experience in this area, so trust me. It’s got nothing to do with him thinking you’re lesser or thinking he’s stronger. It’s selflessness and loyalty. When he cares about someone, he’ll step between them and anything harmful without even considering it. And if you’re the one putting yourself in danger, he’ll do whatever it takes to pull you back. It doesn’t matter how strong you are, that’s just what he does.
Look, you’re military, too, so you should be able to understand this even better than me. It’s almost the same thing, I think. You pledge to defend the country and the Constitution, but you don’t see them as weak, do you?
There was another gap, seven minutes this time. I imagined Platt reading the explanation and maybe, hopefully, starting to come around. His next email, though, was the shortest of all.
Then why does he keep calling me ‘kid’?
It’s just a nickname, like ‘platypus’. He’s got all sorts of them for me, including ‘my boy’. It’s not meant to be demeaning in any way. But if it bugs you, tell him, and he’ll stop.
I did, and he said he would, but now I don’t know if I want him to. You don’t mind when he calls you ‘boy’?
Not ‘boy’, ‘my boy’. Being reminded I’m his makes me feel safe and cared for and… to be honest, more submissive. I’m not saying I never felt conflicted about it, though. Like I mentioned, I have experience with mistaking his protectiveness for something else. Sometimes it’s still really hard for me not to look for reflections of my fears about myself.
One lesson I’m working on is this: If you want a hug, you have to at least be willing to stand there and accept it, and it’s ten times better when you let yourself return it.
I know that sounds cheesy. Sorry.
It doesn’t sound cheesy.
I wouldn’t even know how to ask for one, though. Or know if he’d want to, after I kicked him out.
Zain doesn’t care if you’re irritable with him. He’s like a self-generating ball of sunshine. As for asking… I have trouble with that, too. Sometimes it helps to do it indirectly, like in writing?
What if I sent him this thread of emails to read? It’s just an idea. I won’t if you don’t want me to, promise. Or I could let him know for you?
The last one had been sent right before chow calls, yet I didn’t think its length had anything to do with Platt being rushed.
You can send them to him.
I hit reply at the top of the chain and wrote back to Seb.
Babe, you are brilliant. I’m so, so proud of you. Gotta go hug a Platypus, but I’ll text you later.
No time like the present. I hoped Platt didn’t mind getting a bear-hug in front of Nak, if he was around. Getting up, I opened the door, and then almost ran right into the kid. He took a step back in surprise, with one fist still raised like he’d been about to knock.
“Hey!” I said, grinning. “Come in!”
Sidling through, he tucked his hands into his pockets, ducked his head, and looked up at me through silvery eyelashes. “I wanted to apologize for how I behaved earlier. I know you were right. What I did, I’m so stupid–”
“You made a few bad judgement calls,” I interrupted before he could get too far. “That doesn’t mean you’re stupid.”
“Still,” he said, “I should’ve listened to you, and I’m sorry.”
“You’re forgiven, forget about it, can I hug you now?”
He blinked at me — or probably more at the way I was bouncing on my toes — and went pink as he nodded. That was all I needed. Throwing my arms around him, I squeezed as tight as I dared, lifting his heels off the deck an inch. His frame stiffened like a board, of course, but I’d been expecting that. It didn’t matter. Just his agreeing to the contact showed he still trusted me.
Gently, I set him down again and rocked back and forth a couple of times before loosening my hold so I was resting my forearms on his shoulders and standing several inches away.
“Then you read the emails, I guess,” he said, looking at his feet.
I laughed. “Yeah and I’m really glad you and Seb are becoming friends. He can offer you a perspective I can’t. Plus, explaining things to you is good for him, too.”
“You’re… not worried I’m going to be horrible to him?”
Where did that come from? …Oh, right.
“No, you already gave me your word you wouldn’t, remember?” I said, taking one hand off his shoulder to give him the Scout Sign, like he’d done before I let him talk to Seb on the phone way back at the end of Plebe Summer.
That day seemed so long ago, now. I remembered going to find him in the head after the call, at Myrick’s direction, and telling him I could wait until he was ready to discuss what being submissive meant and how to play safely. We’d finally reached that point, I thought.
With my palm between his shoulderblades, I guided him over to sit on the edge of my desk, and then I straddled the back of JJ’s chair, so I was facing him. “Okay,” I said, “can we have a do-over on that conversation, and you maybe find a way to forgive me for going all gung-ho Toppy on you?”
He frowned. “Toppy?”
“Uh, like… dominant. Kinda.” Close enough.
“Oh,” he said. “Yeah, I forgive you. What else do you want to know, though?”
“Only the most important thing, which you never told me,” I said. “How did it make you feel?”
It was as if the question didn’t compute. His expression wasn’t even bafflement, it just went blank.
I narrowed my eyes a little as I prompted, “You know, like, scared, horny, blissed out?”
“I don’t know,” he said, shrugging. “It hurt.”
I could imagine, having seen the injuries. Hearing him say it made more worry flare up, though. “Did you want him to stop?”
Another shrug, and the blankness still. “I didn’t really care if he stopped or kept going.”
“Was it like, you just wanted to please him and do whatever he wanted?” I asked.
He shook his head.
“Okay, let’s go at this from another angle,” I said. “What do you think about while you jerk off?”
“Whi– I– what?!”
Yay, an emotion! And no more creepy poker face, either. I’d managed to shake him out of what I suspected was the start of disassociation, and probably exactly how he’d reacted in the barn.
Smiling, I said, “Sorry, but if we’re going to figure this out, I need a starting point. You don’t have to act out your fantasies or anything, just a general idea. Is it receiving pain, giving up control, serving someone?”
“Um.” He bit his lip and flushed harder.
“All of the above?” I suggested, which got a tiny nod. “Okay.” I thought a moment, tapping my fingers on the chair’s backrest. He’d definitely found the pain and the loss of control in his first scene. Maybe not the right kind of pain? And something else was missing. “The other person or people you think about, do you know them?”
The old, familiar Platt scowl started to creep in over the blush. “What does that mean?”
Quickly, I backpedaled. “Not, like, in real life, but in the fantasy. Do you imagine it’s a stranger, or no?”
“…No. I think it’s someone familiar.”
“Someone you can trust and feel connected to,” I said, not really needing him to confirm it, though he did nod again. Leaning against JJ’s desk behind me, I raised an eyebrow. “That’s why the Craigslist dude, in addition to being a truly awful dominant, never could’ve given you what you wanted. You need the relationship first.”
He slumped and crossed his arms over his chest. “If that’s true, I might as well give up now.”
“Why?” I asked, tilting my head. “You don’t think you’d ever be in a relationship?”
With a snort, he said, “Who would want me?”
I had to bite my tongue to keep from saying, ‘Cameron and Myrick, that’s who.’ Instead, I went with, “Lots of people, and just so you know, putting yourself down is a great way to make me go gung-ho Toppy again.”
“Sorry.” He shifted a little and looked down. “It isn’t only that. I’m… not good at trusting people.”
This time, I bit the inside of my cheek, but the laughter escaped anyway. “Nooooo! Really? Who would’ve guessed!”
Head jerking up, he glared. For about half a second, and then he was snickering too.
I calmed myself enough to beam at him and say, “Platypus, you’ve proven that you can trust people. It’s slow-going, but that’s a good thing, I think. Anyone who wants to be with you will have to win you over first, which is a great litmus test to see if they’re worthy.”
“Yeah, I guess,” he said, sobering. “But I didn’t even consider telling you about meeting that guy beforehand so you could check on me, like you said I should’ve. I was only thinking about… what Seb described when he gave me the lion, how he feels strong, conquering his fears, and… the– the connection I could sense between you two. I think that’s, um, what I wanted.”
Oh, kid. “Seb and I are really, really, incredibly lucky,” I said. “Not only that we found each other, but that we did it when we were so young. I’m not saying that couldn’t happen for you, but you can’t expect it from a random hook-up. Even we had to work at it and learn a lot to get to where we are now, okay?”
“As for not telling me or him, it’s understandable. You aren’t used to having someone you could trust with that kind of information, or the whole idea of a safety call. I’m going to send you websites to read on that sort of thing and some other stuff, and then you can report to me for our own little come-around session, and I’ll see how much you’ve learned. Sound good?”
The exhale seemed to start at the top of his head and move through his entire body as he said, “Okay.” His shoulders relaxed, the last of his blush faded, and his eyes were a calmer blue. It was like he’d just been waiting to be led in the right direction.
I smiled. At this point, I didn’t much care if he wound up with Cameron and Myrick or someone else, so long as they were good to him. Whoever it was, they’d be blessed. He was going to make a gorgeous submissive.