We (or rather, Quint) turned down Ike and Zeggy’s invitation to dinner after the rally, and got home at about seven-thirty. Almost as soon as I took my shoes off, Quint said, “I want to discuss that incident.”
‘Discuss.’ Yeah, right.
“’You keep using that word. I do not think it means what you think it means’,” I said acerbically, watching him hang up his coat.
“I mean ‘discuss’, Inigo. After that, we’ll see where we stand.”
I was willing to bet I would be standing for the rest of the night, at least. He put a hand on my lower back and lightly guided me over to the couch.
“Now,” he said, once we’d both sat down, me a bit farther away from him than I usually do, “why, after I said there was no need to engage with that group, did you go over to talk to them the moment I left to get coffee?”
“It wasn’t the moment you left. I waited a few minutes, but they were chanting, and it was distracting me. I couldn’t concentrate on the speeches,” I explained, in a tone that suggested this was very obviously a stupid question. Which it was.
Quint frowned slightly. “And what were you planning to do once you got over there?”
Hit them over their heads with their fucking signs?
“I wanted to tell them to leave. I mean, they already got a victory; they can’t even let us rally in peace? They shouldn’t have been allowed to come in the first place,” I said bitterly.
He raised his eyebrows at me. “We’re not talking about whether they should have been there or not. We’re talking about why you went against what I said.”
“But whether they should have been there is relevant!” I protested. “I had every right to tell them to leave. They were being assholes.”
“No,” he said, shaking his head, “you had no right to even speak to them. If anyone was going to ask them to leave, it would be the rally organizers or the police, if need be.”
“I have a constitutional right to freedom of speech! Or didn’t they cover the First Amendment at your fancy prep school?” Honestly, with all his education you’d think he’d know some of these things.
“Theodore, curb the attitude,” he said, very sternly. He paused a moment to look at me, and when I didn’t respond, continued. “I’m very aware of your constitutional rights. I’m also aware, as are you, that when we entered into this kind of relationship, we both willingly and knowingly agreed that I got the final say over some of your rights.”
“So even if one of them was shouting something like… oh, I don’t know, ‘burn in hell’? I’m not allowed to say anything to defend myself.”
Okay, so the guy hadn’t exactly said it that way. He had said, “The Bible states that those who choose a life of sin will suffer in the pit of hell.”
And he only shouted it because Quint had already come to get me and was pulling me unwillingly away. But when I heard that, I’d spun back around and snapped, “It’s your hell, asshole. You can go burn it in, and take your friends with you.”
Before he could form a response, Quint grabbed my arm again, his grip more firm, and said “Alright, that’s enough,” in a tone that meant his patience was wearing thin. He hustled me towards where Zeggy, Ike, and the kids were standing. As we walked, he said in an undertone, “We’ll discuss that when we get home – and if you get within thirty feet of them again, we’ll be leaving immediately, understood?”
I’d growled, “Yes”, and he’d stopped and turned to look at me, an eyebrow slowly rising. After a moment, I’d added a begrudging, “Sir.”
I didn’t get a chance to get even that close to them, because for the rest of the rally Quint was right beside me, often with his arm around my shoulders or my waist. He’s not usually given to do that in public, so I know it was less about affection and more about keeping me away from the anti-gay-rights people. Because heaven forbid I should come into contact with a fundamentalist.
Okay, yes, I do know why he was being that way. As you might be aware, I have a history of losing my temper with homophobes, and it’s gotten me into serious trouble a few times before – the infamous night when I ran away to Zeggy’s after starting a fight with a group of them, for instance. But I still felt I had a right to express my outrage that they would even show up, to their faces.
Quint wasn’t buying my self-defense plea, though. He shook his head and said, “You weren’t defending yourself, you were lowering yourself to his level-”
“You know there’s a lot of people that think that sentiment’s bullshit?” I interrupted sourly.
“Well, I’m not one of them, and I’m the only person whose sentiment you need to worry about. More importantly, I told you not to engage with them.”
I knew what he would say, but I felt I had to point it out anyway. “That isn’t fair.”
Sure enough, he simply gave me a look of mild amusement and asked, “You were told it would be fair?”
“It’s still not,” I insisted.
He gestured towards the corner. “Do you need some time to think about why whether it’s fair or not isn’t relevant?”
“No,” I answered resentfully. “I know that lecture by heart, thanks. ‘The only thing that’s relevant is what I told you, and the fact that I expect to be obeyed.’”
“Exactly,” he said. “But you still haven’t quite got that impression of me down.”
“Guess I’ll just have to practice more.”
“Mmm,” he said. Which is the noise he makes to mean, ‘snark is heard, but not acknowledged’. Then he said, “I think, given your past history with this, it warrants more than a hand-spanking.”
My mouth dropped open in indignation. “You’re going to use the paddle?!” I loathe the paddle – or, as I like to call it, That Damn Thing.
He hesitated, and for just a moment I thought he might reconsider. Then he said, “Not for the whole thing, but yes. Go and get it, please.”
“No arguments, Theodore.”
So I didn’t argue. I just sat there with my arms crossed and glared at him. He looked back unmoved, and after a couple of seconds, very calmly said, “One.”
My stomach tightened unpleasantly, but I gritted my teeth and didn’t budge.
My muscles moved involuntarily, I swear. I found myself standing in front of the desk without quite knowing how I got there. Quint’s made it to ‘three’ several times before, and it never seems worth whatever point I thought I was making afterward – a fact my body appeared to remember better than my stubborn brain did.
Of course, the involuntary muscle movement stopped right when it would have been most useful: to make me open the drawer and pull out That Damn Thing. I’d more than once thought of getting rid of it. No doubt Quint would be suspicious if it mysteriously vanished, but I wonder what he’d think if it had an accident. Like, say, spontaneous combustion. Maybe if I just showed him a few well-documented cases of similar phenomenon happening before…
“Young man, if I have to get it myself, I will be using it for the whole spanking.”
I huffed, yanked the drawer open, and pulled the deceptively innocent-looking piece of wood out. It’s actually pretty small in diameter, but nearly a half-inch thick. The website we ordered it from described it as a ‘hairbrush paddle’, designed to mimic the backside of an old-fashioned wooden hairbrush. Which makes me feel very sympathetic for all the generations of kids that were traditionally spanked with one of those things.
I brought it back over to him as slowly as I dared, which unfortunately still got me standing to the right of his knees sooner than I would have liked. He took it from my hand and tucked it between the cushion and the back of the couch, where it would be easily accessible when he needed it.
I didn’t wait for him to unfasten my jeans, though. I still felt resentful about the whole thing, and angrily did it on my own, shoving them down with my boxers and starting to throw myself over his lap at almost the same time. Quint caught me across the shoulders and laid me down much more gently. Then he pulled the back of my t-shirt out of the way, shifted me closer to his torso, rested one hand on my back and the other on my butt, and asked, “Why am I spanking you, Theodore?”
“If you can’t remember, maybe you should let me up and go get tested for early-onset Alzheim- Ow!”
Well, if you were me wouldn’t you be concerned for his health? He is quite a bit older than me, you know.
“You can either stop the lip now, or after I’ve washed your mouth out. Your choice.” He didn’t sound even remotely annoyed. Does he have any idea how irritating that is?
“Because I told a homophobic asshole to go to hell,” I said, through clenched teeth.
“And?” he asked. After a few seconds, when I didn’t answer, he swatted me again.
I muffled another yelp and said, “I disobeyed you.”
I exhaled through my nose and snapped, “And I need to control my temper around people like that!”
“If I can’t convince you to do that through reason, then you’ll do it because you know what will happen if you don’t. We can revisit this issue as many times as necessary, Theodore.”
Just this once would be nice, thanks.
That appeared to be the end of the lecture. He got down to business with what felt like great resolve. For my part, I was struggling a bit more than usual, as I always do on the rare occasions when I’m in this position and still angry. Quint usually sends me to the corner to calm down first. He’s told me that when he doesn’t, it’s usually because he thinks it would take too long, and it’ll be more effective and less stressful to both of us to just start and ‘snap me out of it’, as it were. While I agree with the reasoning, I’m still going to try to twist around more when I’m that ticked off.
After a particularly low swat, I stuck my hand behind me and said (well, demanded, actually), “Stop!”
“We’re not even close to being finished, young man,” he informed me, easily pinning my hand out of the way with his fingers interlocked with mine.
I grunted and squirmed through another dozen or so swats, but I was determined not to cry. Then he shifted me closer to his torso again, tightened his grip on my hand marginally, and cracked down the paddle.
“OW! Quint, please!”
Have I mentioned how I abhor That Damn Thing with a passion? Despite my best efforts I felt my eyes tearing up, and soon I was crying into the crook of my elbow.
“Quint, really, I’m sorry,” I managed between sobs and trying to catch my breath. “It won’t happen again.”
I meant it, too, and not simply because my butt was on fire. For me, at least, a spanking is very clarifying. It strips off all the bullshit I tell myself and cling stubbornly to, and makes me face what my better self has been saying all along: that Quint is right, and I really do want to stop the behaviors we’re working on together. And I understand, too, that it is supposed to be both of us together, and it’s not fair to make him do all the work and drag me along behind him, resisting all the way.
I went limp as he delivered another ten or so swats, ending with two to my upper thighs. Then he began rubbing my back, murmuring words of comfort I couldn’t make out over the sound of my own crying. Once I’d calmed down a bit, I pushed myself up onto my knees and leaned unsteadily against his shoulder.
He kissed my temple and said, “Okay, angel, it’s alright. We’re done.”
Even through my tears, I snorted. “Easy for you to say. You’re not the one that’s not going to be able to sit down for dinner.”
“If it makes you think twice before doing something like that again, it’s worth it.”
I sighed. “I’m sorry.”
“You’re forgiven.” He pulled me into a hug. “I love you.”
“Love you, too,” I said into his neck.
After awhile, he had to get up and make dinner. I changed into pajama pants and helped him, staying close by his side. We ate standing at the kitchen peninsula, and Quint brought up the subject of the commitment ceremony again.
“I was thinking it might be nice to have it on New Year’s Eve. Of course, that doesn’t give us much time to plan.”
“New Year’s Eve would be perfect!” I agreed. It is, after all, already our anniversary. “Do we really need to plan a lot? I mean, we already agreed to keep it small and simple, and Zeggy and Ike said we could have it at their place.”
He frowned. “Do they have plans for that night already?”
“I’m not sure, but I can call tomorrow and ask. Then we can get the guest list – it’ll probably come out to about fifteen people? – and start looking for caterers.”
“There’s another problem. All the good caterers are probably already booked.”
“Hmm.” I thought for a moment, then said, “What if we just got Chinese takeout for everyone?”
“You want to recreate that night entirely?” he asked, smiling.
I grinned back. “Well, not every detail. I think perhaps my mom would object if I jumped you after dinner.”
“Probably,” he laughed. “We’ll have to save that until we get home.”
I nodded and took a sip of milk, then said, “I want to write a song, too.” Of course, I’d already written several songs inspired by him and our relationship, but I thought this occasion deserved something new.
“Do I get to hear it beforehand?” he asked.
“Nope. You’ll just have to wait and be surprised.”
“As long as it doesn’t have any lines about me liking it on top,” he said quirking an eyebrow, and I snorted and said, “Promise.”