Tuesday, May 27, 2014

Seventy-three



There’s no conceivable way I’ll be hungry in an hour. In fact, surveying the wreckage—discarded chopsticks, white cardboard cartons trailing semi-crusty noodles over the side, paper fortunes sitting among cookie crumbs and plastic wrappers—I can’t imagine ever being hungry again. 

“May I clear this mess away, Master?”

“That would be most appreciated, Dane.”

He gives me a sly grin and somehow turns cleanup into a dance routine. My stomach rolls as he finishes up, and it’s not just from the food. Truth is, I’ve been putting this conversation off as long as I could, using the excuses of playtime, shower, and eating to delay the inevitable. It has to happen soon, and I’m certainly not going to initiate such a sensitive topic in the back seat of a hired ride. Besides, Dane will need time to digest before his performance tonight.

I intercept him before he sits down again, taking his hand and drawing him in for a kiss.

“Mmm, Kung Pao Master,” he says, making me chuckle.

“You do like it spicy, don’t you, Dane?”

“You know I do.”

Fuck. I think my least favorite thing to do in the whole world is spoil Dane’s happy mood, and this is bound to do it. Sometimes, it sucks to be me.

My face must tell the whole story, because Dane takes one look, and his smile fades away. “Master, have I done something wrong? Too cheeky?”

“God no, Dane. You’re perfect.” I hate that he jumped to that. We need to fix that—but that’s a long-term issue. Now is now.

“What is it?” he pleads.

I give his hand a squeeze. “C’mon, let’s go sit down in my den.”

He’s jittery. I’m jittery. Fucking fuck face Wayne strikes again. And this is exactly why we need to perform the exorcism.

Except for the fact that we’re both fully clothed, collapsing onto the sectional feels very much the same as it did last time we were here. Now, that didn’t end so badly, I attempt to cheer myself.

Dane sits cross-legged on the cushion next to me, hands folded in his lap, fully alert, and anything but relaxed.

“Dane, I want to remind you that I care about you deeply.”

“That’s an ominous beginning.” He hides his response well, but the white-knuckled hand-clenching does not escape my notice.

“I’m sorry. It wasn’t meant to be. This is going to be a difficult conversation. I was trying to frame it for you.”

Confusion crosses his face. He lets out a pained, “Master . . .” before pausing, shaking his head, and coming out with, “Three, two, one, zero. Please.”

I nod, acknowledging his request. “It’s about Wayne.”

The color drains from Dane’s face. “Oh god! Has he hurt someone else?”

“Whoa, whoa, hang on. That’s not . . .”

But Wayne has hurt other people, and I’m not going to whitewash it.

I place my hand on his knee and squeeze him through his jeans. “Let’s take this one step at a time, okay?”

“I’m trying, Master.”

“I know. I’m sorry to put you through this, Dane. More than anything, I want to see you whole and safe. You’ve made a huge amount of progress since we started on this odyssey together. You’re expressing your needs and enjoying sex and smiling all the damn time now!”

He sees my grin, but he can’t quite return it.

“I love everything you’re doing, whether you’re chained to my cross or showing off at the Y; yeah, you were too showing off!” I add before he has a chance to object. “You’re moving in the right direction on so many fronts, and I don’t want to rush you.”

I pause for a breath and gather my courage.

“Here’s the thing, Dane. There’s this brick wall standing in the way of a full recovery, and I want to remove the obstacle for you—or to be more accurate, I want to help you remove the obstacle yourself.”

“Wayne.”

I nod. “And as I said, I wouldn’t rush you, but—”

“He’s hurting other people.”

“Yes, he is.”

Dane’s head droops forward in defeat. I cover his joined hands with mine. “We’ve got an eye on him now.”

“We?”

“Yes. I’ve got people on the inside, Dane.”

And now comes the impossible part for me. Waiting for the words to sink in, keeping my damn mouth shut while he runs the data through his brain and his heart. He looks up, finally, with more questions than answers in his pained eyes.

“I’m feeling overwhelmed here. What am I supposed to do?”

“Dane, this problem is bigger than you, and I’m not going to let you be alone in this.”

“Have you and your ‘people’ done something already?” he asks with a tinge of horror in his voice.

“No, Dane, absolutely not. Look, I’ll be real honest here. My main reason for wanting to speak with Eleazar was to ask his advice on this. I was worried about putting you in the same room with your abuser, but at the same time, I think you’re not going to get unstuck until that happens. I wanted to make sure Eleazar agreed.”

“And did he?”

“He didn’t give me any guarantees, but Eleazar has faith in our bond. He acknowledged how far you’ve come and seems to feel you’re strong enough to handle it now—when approached in the right way.”

The light bulb goes on. “You have a plan.”

“Of course, I do.”

I smile. He smiles. 

The boy who so recently could barely say the fucker’s name is now sitting here with me entertaining the idea of revenge. His strength propels me forward.

“But let me be clear, Dane. I made the mistake once, and I won’t do it again. From this point on, if you agree to go forward with this, you are going to be in on everything. Nothing happens behind your back or without your consent. And that means if you’d rather we take care of the rat bastard and leave you out of it, we will do it that way.”

He’s thinking again. I’m getting used to the tightness in my chest. I wonder if it will ever not feel this way when Dane doubts me.

When he speaks again, his voice is soft and unsure. “What if I decide I want to leave it alone? Would you do that?”

“Yes.”

“Just like that?”

“Of course, Dane. I want to put this abusive bastard out of commission, but you come first. End of story.” Of course, wheels have been set in motion, and I doubt I could stop Aro from taking care of the situation.

Dane launches forward and springs into my lap, wraps his arms around my back, and burrows in against my chest. My hand is in his hair before I draw my next breath. Our hearts beat against each other while he considers his decision. The waiting isn’t quite so painful with Dane snuggled against my body.

My ears strain for the slightest indication of his verdict, but all I hear is a soft purr. Fuck it, the world can wait. This is what matters, right here in my arms. I drop a kiss on the top of Dane’s head and soak him into my bones.

“I’m ready for this.”

I slip my hand under Dane’s chin, tipping his face up so I can see and hear him clearly. “Dane?”

“I want to help you take him down.”

There’s not a trace of anxiety in his eyes; in fact, I’ve never seen the man look so determined. He doesn’t flinch as my thumb brushes back and forth along his cheek bone.

“I promise you, Dane, I will do everything in my power to keep you safe.”

“I know. I trust you.”

“I trust us.

His smile knocks my thumb off track. “We do make quite the team, don’t we?”

“Unstoppable.”

Just like the kiss I lean in to give him . . . and give him . . . and give him. I can tell the exact moment the thought occurs to him, because his kiss is different, preoccupied, and I pull away.

“What is it?”

He grimaces. “Sorry, I didn’t mean to—”

“None of that,” I tell him, gripping his chin as he tries to lower it in shame. “What’s on your mind, Dane?”

“I can’t stop thinking about the other people he’s hurt. What if they don’t have someone like you to help them through?” He chuffs, blushing a bit. “Let’s face it; there is no one else like you.”

I don’t have the luxury of basking in his compliment right now, but I’m guessing the glow will stay with me for a long time. “We’ve got our feelers out in the community now, and Eleazar has seen a few of the others, so at least they’ve gone for help.”

“A few?” Poor boy looks ragged with the news. “All since he booted me? No, probably not,” he adds miserably, the depth of the bastard’s betrayal still boring fresh holes into Dane’s soul. “I could never have been enough for him. I see that now.”

The vise tightens around my heart. All the arguments that flood my brain get stuck in one huge lump in my throat, and I find myself choking out the only word that makes any sense to me: “Dane.”

His eyes shine with the beginning of tears, and I can feel the answering sting in my own. “I know what you’re going to say, Master.”

Humbled to my core, I lower my head until our foreheads meet. “Good. Now, let me know when you start to believe it.”

Dane’s upper lip gets tugged inside, and there’s a hot splash of tears on my cheek. I wrap him in my arms, finding his nape with my fingers. My words scrape along the surface of my throat until they find their way out. “Remember that first time you reached for my hand?”

He sniffles. “Of course.”

I have no idea where I was going with that. It’s just that the memory popped into my head so vividly, I had to share it.

My burning desire to bring Dane into the light, his first step in the direction of his own joy. My offer, his acceptance.

The way his hand felt in mine—so tentative and unsure of himself, yet so very desperate to believe in me. Even then, I recognized Dane’s need for redemption, yet I didn’t have a clue about my own. There are no boundaries dividing us, no arrows pointing in only one direction, and no big “D” and little “s.” There is only this unbroken link, a circle of infinite points of connection and need.

I suppose this is where I’ve been heading all along, and it feels so damn good to finally get there.

“I love you, Dane.”

Through my own bleary, watery eyes, I recognize it instantly. Not a casual, reflexive “I love you, too,” but something that holds far more meaning—a revelation from deep within those dark caramel candy eyes. Dane’s been waiting two long days for me to understand his “I love you” for all that it was. I’ve finally caught up.

“I believe you,” he answers. There’s a tick, a breathless, heart-stopping beat while Dane waits for me to really hear what he said.

Does he believe I love him? Absolutely, all the way, yes. But there’s more to it, and this time I’m way ahead of the two-day pace. He believes me. All that I’ve said before and all I no longer need to say. He believes it all.

I don’t know which of us starts grinning first, but pretty soon, we’re a matched pair of outlandish smiles and snotty tears.

Fucking ridiculous is what it is, two men who like things rough, reduced to sniffling saps by the mere tip of Cupid’s arrow.

I trace the trail of his tears with soft kisses until they bring me to his mouth. Dane’s lips yield to my gentle invitation. We have hours yet before we have to leave for the city, and I would happily spend them all right here, doing exactly this.

Tears dried, lips chapped, hair mussed, and hearts filled, we wake almost an hour later still wrapped in each other’s arms. I love you, Dane. He must be able to read my thoughts. I’m not even trying to disguise them.

Dane rolls onto his back, lifting our joined hands, a big smile on his face. “I think you put a sleeping spell on me. I never nap.”

“I blame the couch.”

“Hmm, or it might be the small continent we consumed.” He’s fiddling with our intertwined fingers, still happy but turning serious.

Where, oh where have you gone, Dane?

“So, this plan you and your ‘people’ have . . . May I hear it?”


Looks like we're gonna have ourselves a Wayne-y roast! Bahahahaha!

26 comments:

  1. *wipes tears* seriously I cried reading this chapter. Tough as it was, I loved their talk. They are so open and honest with one another down to everything - but I think it took this situation to make Dane realize it. Nobody went behind his back. Nobody tried to get him to do anything he wouldn't agree to doing. Instead he and Marcus are a united front, supported by not only one another but by Aro, Eleazar and the community. Though he was hurt by the fact that Wayne did this to others, and interpreted that to mean that somehow it was a reflection on him, Marcus reminded him of how much he is more than enough. It's Waynehole with the problem, not him or the other subs he's abused. Isn't it awful that abusers can make their victims feel the abuse is deserved and/or always their fault? As hard as their conversation was to read, I loved how Dane took it all in, and came out at the end wanting to know the plan. And Marcus' 'I love you' meant so much in this situation. Great chapter x

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    1. Thank you so much for relaying your emotional response to this chapter. I love that you pointed out that Dane's true belief in himself comes right here, in this difficult moment, when he sees that Marcus trusts Dane to handle the tough stuff, treats him like a man by bringing the problem to him, and lets him see that he will never again be alone. I agree, too, about Marcus's ILY this time. The first one....wasn't this.

      Thank you so much, Lisa.
      xo

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  2. I'm not crying. I'm sobbing. Dane and Marcus' happiness ... I can 'feel' it and I can bask in it now. Like the old sappy kitten that I am, I won't comment on the kinky but rather on the feelings swirling around these recent chapters. And I am giddily, childishly happy for the both of them. BOH, through and through you love the love.
    "I love you Dane. [...] Fucking ridiculous is what it is, two men who like things rough, reduced to sniffling saps by the mere tip of Cupid’s arrow."
    No. It's not ridiculous. It's the final acceptance of a true love, no matter the gender, no matter the way they like it, rough or not - "Thank the lord of domination, I get my balls back!" -? Purrfect! LOL
    Eleazar's words, Dane's pole dance *I cld almost see it!*, Dane declaring his love for him? Highlights!
    And Dane ready to help them bringing W down? The icing of the cake!
    Thank you MoW. Thank you.

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    1. I love the love! You found me out, Muse! MWAH!
      What a beautiful review. Thank you so much for all the love on this one, Muse!
      xxx

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  3. There is something about the way you write these two holding hands. It is so intimate and connected. There is almost a tug and a release about the re-connecting. Dane will have not just Marcus, but the community and support behind him as wayne gets his. I can't imagine how powerful that will be for him.

    I'm looking so forward to the plan.

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    1. Awww, sweet!
      I LOVE holding hands (and kissing) and find them both just so sweet, especially in contrast to all the kink going on here.
      I'm happy you pointed out what the support of the community will mean for Dane. I would imagine being under Wayne's influence and then being shunned by this "man" who was his whole world was a highly isolating experience, especially since Wayne cut him off from his family and everyone who might have offered him support. What Marcus is offering here has to mean the world for Dane.

      Thank you so much.
      xx

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  4. This just keeps getting better. I cannot wait to see Dane finally free of the dark cloud that follows him. Wayne-y roast indeed!

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    1. You just made me picture that dark cloud in "Peanuts"- probably the way Dane felt/feels at times about Wayne. Thank you for your sweet review, Tiffany!
      xx

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  5. *sniff sniff* I enjoyed this soo much, Born. The hard conversations have to happen sometime and this one wasn't too bad I don't think. There is a firm bond of trust and respect between these two men, and that can never hurt!

    I love the way Marcus assured Dane that "[he] come[s] first" and I think Dane loved it too, judging by the way he launched himself into Marcus's lap!

    Marcus's "I love you" was just beautiful! Just one more thing between them stripped away. "There are no boundaries dividing us, no arrows pointing in only one direction, and no big “D” and little “s.” There is only this unbroken link, a circle of infinite points of connection and need." *SWOON*

    I just had a thought, if Dane is going to be at the club to participate in taking Wayne down, will he decide he wants to be more a part of the 'community"? I would think it would only be beneficial for Dane to see all the people who want to help take Wayne down, but would he be interested in talking to other subs for advice, commiserating, etc? or even another Dom (like how Bella talks to Marcus), or does he not need that in his life?? I am curious to find out!

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    1. Those are fantastic questions, Digi! You have me a bit curious now, too!
      xoxo

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  6. I must admit I'm as keen on hearing the entire plan as Dane!

    So I've just caught up, our weekend was a wee bit crazy, and this chapter, well it got to me. I love love love all the smexy, steamy, sweet times and normally I would review them all but after this one all I can think about is what happened in THIS chapter. Their connection, trust, apprehension to hurt the other. I realize Dane doesn't really do the "talking" in any of the chapters but you can feel the feelings through what Marcus says and does most times. Marcus' approach to this convo was so well done. As with so many difficult things you just have to rip it open and let it pour. EVERY TIME he gives Dane the time to process I get goosebumps. So few people listen anymore, myself included. I think I'll strive to be more like my favorite Dom in that.

    Beautiful chapter, B.

    Favorite line... Fucking ridiculous is what it is, two men who like things rough, reduced to sniffling saps by the mere tip of Cupid’s arrow. ...'Bout sums it up, though I wouldn't call them ridiculous. I'd call them wonderful. <3

    xoxo
    V

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    1. What an amazingly sweet comment, that you would seek to become more like Marcus in that characteristic. Honestly, Dane taught him that patience. Marcus seems to be a chameleon, always able to adjust himself to suit the specific needs of the submissive he is mastering. In this case, what Dane often needs, is patience and understanding- probably not Marcus's very first instinct, but one he has learned over the time they've spent together. Part of his remastering. ;)

      You know I've written many a story from both POV's, but I really like this staying inside Marcus's head, only knowing what he can interpret through Dane's words and actions. That's how we all have to operate in the world and how we have to adapt to others around us, especially the ones we love. <3

      Thank you so much for your beautiful review.
      xx

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  7. Whew, I've been worried about this chapter, I wondered if Dane may not want anything done about Wayne and if he would be angry and upset that Marcus had made some investigations but oh what a relief and then once the relief past I could just enjoy the love between these men.

    They truly are a couple now, ready to face tough times together and Marcus' I Love You, three simple words said so much and Dane now believes, believes that he is good enough, believes that he is not responsible for the abuse he suffered and knows that nothing he did or didn't do could have altered the outcome with Wayne.

    Poor Dane went through the mill in this one but came out stronger and now wants the details, good for him, his Master will always put him first.

    Thank you Born, this chapter was so emotional. I felt it all with them and had tears in my eyes too.

    Jarvis
    xx

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    1. You do worry a lot, huh? MWAH!
      Love your observation about them being a true couple now. I'll never forget one of the earliest definitions my now-hubby gave me about being a couple- the good times are twice as good and the bad times are half as bad. I'm sure Dane believes everything with a man like Marcus in his corner!
      xo

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  8. I love your hilarious, offhand, comment in the A/N about having a "Wayne-y" roast. Just perfect silliness to counterpoint the lovely, real, sappyness that was this wonderful chapter. Oh my how our boys, your boys, have come so far in this story! I'm a sappy mess myself this morning for various reasons so this chapter just shot right to my heart and joined in with all the rest of what's going on in there. How in tune with each other are they now. One soul vibrating on parallel wavelengths. Dane's strength and Marcus' heart just do me in. I can't say more as it begins to come out almost pathetic. To say I love this story pales in comparison with the feelings it evokes in me, really. Did you see The Normal Heart?? I've been an emotional wreck since seeing it. I'm glad your boys live in a time far from that one where their beauty can be appreciated.....

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    1. Awww, Judy. I wish I could come wherever you are and give you a big ol' hug!
      You are such a sappy wreck, a girl after my own heart.
      Thanks for all the beautiful feelings.
      xx

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  9. oh Born could this hard nosed, take no prisoners, I AM THE MAN, dominating Dominate be any more of a sweetie pie. I don't think so lol. I know Dane is doing this wayney roast for himself, but i wonder if he realizes how much this is going to do for Marcus too. To give the man the satisfaction of protecting his boy, and others in the community. Too realize the wall is gone and they can move forward with their wild and wonderful lives. They are such a beautiful couple, and I cannot wait for the world to see them and smile.
    I know many of your reviewers leave favorite lines and I have one today that really speaks to me. I soak him into my bones. Wow, that speaks of the power of touch and healing doesn't it?
    Good stuff m'dear, loved it. xoxo

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    1. Thank you for all of that, Vicki.
      I do think on some level, Dane understands what this step will mean for their relationship. Especially after Marcus explained to Dane how Eleazar thought it would help Dane fully heal. Healing...so sweet.
      xo

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  10. Yes! Yes! Yes! Yes! Yesssss! Hell to the YESSSSS, Dane!
    The way Marcus thought about when and how he needed to talk to Dane about the BASTARD, was perfect and and beyond caring.
    I loooove that Marcus put his boy before everything else, including the fact that if Dane didn't want him to carry in with the plan he wouldn't.
    Dane jumping in Marcus' lap! Goooodness my heart jumped a beat!
    The connection they have is just beautiful.
    ❤️❤️❤️❤️
    Now, about this plan.......
    Xoxo

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    1. ❤️❤️❤️❤️
      I stole your heart(s)!
      xo

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  11. Two things I really love in this chapter... First, Dane felling strong enough to want to confront his abuser. He certainly has come a long way, and it is great to see him draw strength not only for his bond with Marcus but from within himself. I also notice that his immediate concern is toward others that might have been hurt by Wayne and that he tells Marcus he fears they might not have someone on their corner, which speaks of the fact he knows he is no longer on his own and doesn't have to feel that way anymore. He is so sweet in how j¡he regards Marcus as unique, and indeed he is to him and for him. Second, how the "I love you" has acquired a new meaning. I often find that love changes and grows with time, so sometimes those three words can mean different things and convey other emotions. They are so affectionate with each other and Dane has become very tactile in expressing his emotions. I could picture him waking up from his nap like a feisty little kitten ready to face the world.
    I'm going to keep this one short because I'm very tired this week, I certainly discovered that turning 42 is not the same as turning 22, my body is trying to catch up.
    As always thank you for sharing your writing and for taking the time to answer to all the reviews.

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    1. I love everything you said about how the characters are developing. I agree with you about Dane's tactile quality- though I'd never thought of it exactly that way before, so thank you. Yes, he knows how fortunate he is to have Marcus, and I'm sure Eleazar reinforced that with him when he saw him. He must have been so thrilled with Dane's progress! The ILY's really needed to be revisited. Marcus missed it the first time. It wasn't really fair of Dane to say it after he'd dazzled him, so we can't blame the big guy! But yes, now he/they know for sure. We'll have to see where that goes...

      Feel good. Rest up.
      xo

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  12. Dane believes Marcus. Really believes him. It's one thing to tell someone you love them - and even when they say it back - it's cloud 9. But when it TRULY sinks in that that love you so fiercely and totally. The whole world just clicks into place.

    I can't thank you enough for writing this story and sharing these two amazing men with the world! <3

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    1. Ahhh....well said. :)
      Thank you for your lovely words, my friend.
      xx

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  13. Fuck it... I'm crying! These two continuously blow my mind. My worries about how Dane would handle this, you shut them down to a pulp. Not saying it will be 100% easy for him but he demonstrated that trust so purposefully and heartfelt. And I think when Dane asked if he wanted them to leave it alone if he would drop it, his response to that was mainly the driving force. I love that he let Dane know that he comes first in all of this. That it's not just a Master's vendetta. His boys safety is at the very forefront. Has been and remains that way. Its important that Dane not only knows that but understands it. Marcus is such a caring Master but more than that, he simply possesses a good soul. And I truly believe that there are no lengths that he wouldn't go to make sure that his boy is protected and safe. As well as reach out for the other guys Wayne has hurt too.

    Everytime these two say ILY is just the icing on the cake. And what makes them special is that they can tell each other without words too. Sometimes just a look or a tear in Dane's eyes. Just a kiss or when Marc drops his forehead to Dane's. A touch, a caress or maybe even just the way that they hold each other in the highest regard. Its not just in what they say but all that they do. It shines through. And the moment when Dane declared that he 'believed' Marcus. I lost it. Marcus' interpretation of that was golden. Ugh I just love these two. They have something so raw and beautiful and intense. And when you look back at the shaky foundation they built the relationship they have today on, its a treasure indeed. They've come such a long way. And they've worked hard to get where they are. Both of them. So freaking proud!

    Eeek... okay so Dane is okay with the plan to take Waynehole down. Let's see what he thinks of the plan in itself.

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    1. :) You hit that nail right on its head again, Packy. It's all about BOTH of them believing they are worthy of that love the other is sending out. Sigh... :)
      xoxo

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