Note: These are the emails Quint and Zain sent each other during And Love Dares You. They can be read on their own.
How is the return to your studies going? I confess, I’m not overly familiar with the way things work at a military academy. Do you have a major?
I’m afraid I’m writing to you with more purpose than to see how you’re settling back in at school. A dilemma arose today with Seb, and I need your opinion on it.
While I was at work, he and Theo went to the dorm to pack the remainder of his things and bring them here. It took them a few trips, but they had a hand truck we borrowed from the building to help with the larger boxes. Tomorrow, I’m working from home and could’ve assisted; however, I wanted it complete as soon as possible, before Calvin’s return — to spare Seb from seeing him again, and to avoid Theo confronting him.
Both of them reported that no other roommates were in the apartment while they were there. Seb also turned in his dorm key and signed the paperwork making his move-out official. So, that all went fine. Unpacking, on the other hand, seems to be a stumbling block.
I returned home and found Seb had put most of the boxes beneath his bed without even opening them. When I asked why he hadn’t made use of the bookshelf I cleared off for him yesterday, or transferred his clothes to the empty dresser, he said, “I guess I lost track of time drawing this afternoon.”
“Start on it now,” I told him. “I’ll come back to let you know when dinner is ready, and I’d like to see some progress.”
He nodded, and I left him to it while I began to cook. Theo went in a while later and offered to help, but shortly came back out, saying Seb was insisting on doing it himself. At this point, of course, I suspected the entire process had triggered a stress reaction, so I checked on him again.
From what I could tell, he hadn’t taken anything out of the boxes, though they were in the middle of the floor and open, and he was sitting cross-legged next to them. I stood in the doorway unnoticed for several seconds and watched him look from the books in the one nearest, to the bookshelf, and back, while biting his lip.
Finally, I came in, crouched in front of him, and asked, “How are you feeling, mon chaton?”
He said, “Fine,” in an absentminded manner. When I cleared my throat and caught his eye, he realized the mistake. This time I got a very eloquent “Um.”
I said, “If you aren’t able to tell me, then I believe you should leave it until I can assist you.”
Relief was evident in his expression as he got up and followed me out. I shut the door behind us firmly and also gave him a job to help prepare dinner, which seemed to take his mind off things.
After we ate, I brought him back into the room and asked, “Which would you like to start with, books or clothes?”
He — there is no other word for it — croaked out, “Clothes.”
As you can imagine, I was slightly alarmed that he seemed to be facing this task as if it were a firing squad. We knew the moving process could trip him up, yet I didn’t think it would be such a severe reaction. It made me wonder if there was something I’d been missing, so I asked, “Mon chaton, why is this so difficult for you?”
To which he replied, “Je ne sais pas,” and then stood there looking guilty as sin. You’re right. He is truly terrible at bald-faced fibbing.
I said, “You do know, Sébastien, and if you continue to lie to me, you may soon know what it’s like to have your mouth properly washed out, as well.”
(I hope you don’t mind my using the idea to encourage him to talk. I realize that even after the test run at the cabin, we never made a concrete agreement on mouthsoaping, and I would have made sure to receive explicit permission from both you and him before taking any action along those lines.)
Tears sprang into his eyes at my words. They didn’t spill onto his cheeks, but still, I felt more culpable than he’d looked seconds before. I stepped over the box between us and captured him in an embrace, which he tried to wiggle out of until I gave him a firm tap on the bottom. Once I felt him fully settle, I sat down on the bed and kept him in front of me, between my knees. I wanted the possibility of a spanking to be forefront in his mind.
“Now,” I said, “would you like to answer that again?”
He said, “It’s,” paused a moment, “They’re,” paused a second time, for longer, and then, “It’s too many things.”
“Are you feeling overwhelmed?” I asked, and he slowly nodded. Looking at the boxes, I decided it probably was too much for him to tackle all at once, especially on top of an already-stressful day. However, I did want to make him feel at home. Unpacking one large item, rather than many small ones, seemed to me like a reasonable compromise. So I said, “Alright. We’ll just put your duvet on the bed tonight and finish the rest tomorrow.”
He began to protest even before I moved him aside and stood to strip the mattress down. I heard him say, “Oh, that’s really not necessary. I can use yours. Mine’s too big for a twin bed, and it doesn’t go with any of your decor. I don’t want to be in the way.” (Emphasis mine.)
Turning to him, I said, “You are not in the way, mon chaton. Now, is your duvet in that bag there?”
Contrary to both of our words, he did physically get in the way then, stepping between me and the bag as he said, “Yes, but this is your office. Theo told me it’s the whole reason you switched apartments. I don’t want to change anything.”
“It was my office,” I told him, “and now it’s your bedroom. Hand me the bag, please.”
I was a bit surprised that he continued to argue rather than do as I’d asked, though I think that’s a good sign. There was no trace of The Good Boy Act as he said, “But you need a place to work!”
Still, I didn’t intend to debate it with him all night, so I simply replied, “Take any drawing or writing implements out of your pockets, please.”
He didn’t make the connection straight away. But after he had emptied his jeans and placed the pencils and pens in my hand, I said, “Thank you. I’d like you to stand facing that corner until the urge to argue with me has passed,” and he looked shocked.
He said, “Okay, I’m sorry, monsieur. You don’t need to send me to the corner. I won’t argue anymore, I swear.”
Now we come to the dilemma. You see, normally, if Theo had said something like that, I would accept his apology and move on. Perhaps with a verbal warning about next time, but that would be it. In Seb’s case, to do so struck me as a bad idea. However, I cannot articulate why, so I’m worried about it.
At the time, I followed my instinct and gently asked, “Then what are you doing now, young man?”
He blushed hard and went to the corner without further comment.
I should mention, the corner in question is the one next to the door, where I could keep a close watch on him as I retrieved the duvet and began remaking the bed. After what happened the last time, I did observe him for signs of going distant again, and it concerned me when I noticed he had his eyes closed. I asked if he was alright.
Blinking them open to look back at me, he said, “Sorry, I was meditating.”
Then we both heard Theo laughing from the hallway. I had to open the door and shoo him off.
When I turned back to Seb, he asked, “Is that… not okay? Zain has me do it sometimes, so I thought, um…”
I am not sure in what situations you ask him to meditate. Therefore, I truthfully couldn’t say if it was the best thing for him at that point. It was easy to see he was calmer, though, if a bit embarrassed still. I told him it was fine and gave him another hug.
As I let go, the sound I recognize as you calling on Skype began to play from his laptop. I considered requesting to stay so we could discuss this in person, but I wasn’t sure you would want to divulge some things in front of him, so I simply let Seb know I planned to send you this email, and then left.
Now, I have explained what happened with sufficient detail, I hope. My questions are threefold: Was I right to send him to the corner even after he said he would no longer argue? Should he have been meditating, or not? Finally, is there anything else that you might have done differently, or any advice you can give me?
Re: Moving Day and Some Questions About Seb
OMG, trust your instincts! You’re fine! He’s a Brat, you’re a Top, it’s good, just chillax.
Now that I’ve said that, I’ll admit I would’ve handled it a little bit differently. Okay, a lot. Like, when I saw him just looking at the boxes and the bookshelf? Yeah, he’d’ve been over my knee within about fifteen seconds. But that’s because I’m really impatient and I don’t see the point of messing around with corners and things when I have a no-fail solution.
I’m not saying you were wrong at all, though. You’re you, I’m me, and what works for me might not for you. Actually, you skipping right to the spanking would probably feel really severe to Seb, which wouldn’t help, so yeah. Don’t do that. You do you.
In the drill and ceremonies manual, there’s a checklist for unit commanders on how to prepare for an evolution, and the final one says in big, bold letters, “BE YOURSELF! Don’t try to imitate someone else.” That’s important because those under your command will sense if you’re insincere, and they’ll lose confidence in you. Applies to troops, applies to Brats.
For your other questions, yes, you definitely were right to send him to the corner anyway. He just didn’t want to and was trying to Good Boy his way out of it. And I liked how you said, “until the urge to argue has passed.” Passed, not been suppressed through force of will. There’s a difference. Seb knows it.
Meditation is great for him when he’s stressed and needs to calm down. Don’t confuse it with the disassociation trick, which is completely different — almost the opposite, in fact. Meditating helps him clear his head, not cloud it up more. The only precaution I’d take is if you’re going to have him do it, he should be sitting or standing, not lying down, or he might just fall asleep. He knows the best postures.
As far as I’m concerned, you can wash his mouth out for lying. I’d recommend asking him for his consent now, too, before you have to actually do it, or he’ll lose his nerve.
Oh, and yes, there are majors at USNA, but we don’t declare ours until the end of plebe year. I’m currently torn between math (am awesome at it) and political science (would be more applicable to my future career plans). Any advice?