Encounters on the Way: Nights of Insult

 

            "Ah, Takamatsu-kun."

            Luzar's voice called him from the other side of the corridor. He slipped out of the stream of bodies and made it to the wall where his mentor was standing.

            "Sir." He bowed hastily, flattening himself as much as possible to avoid the crowded human traffic hurrying along the main corridor of Headquarters.

            "Did you get a chance to check those cultures this morning?"

            "Yes sir. I have the new measurements here."

            "Read them off to me. I won't be able to get back to the lab until tonight, if then."

            He pulled the pages from the file. "Sample 1a, increase of 4.2, 1b, 3.7, 1c-" He checked, his eyes going wildly to Luzar's, as he felt his belt being unfastened under the lab coat. "Sir-"

            "Continue, Takamatsu-kun." Luzar's hands had undone the button and were pulling down the zipper.

            "Sir- someone will see-" His gaze swivelled around desperately.

            "I said, go on, Takamatsu." The blue eyes glinted. He bent obediently to the figures, heat rising in his face.

            "1c, 3.9, 1d- unh-" Luzar had hold of him and was- "Sir-"

            "This is mine now, Takamatsu-kun. I can do this whenever and wherever I feel like it." He was standing very close. The wool of his trousers grazed the head of Takamatsu's organ, completing the work his hands had begun. "Isn't that right?" He gave him a complicit smile, intimate and not quite kind.

            People were still hurrying past, heedless of the two of them huddled together off to the side. This must look perfectly ordinary, an impromptu conference between the Commander's brother and his assistant. He could feel an answering smile beginning on his own face, and he pressed closer to his sensei.

            "1d, 4.1... 1e, 3.8." It was hard to concentrate on the figures, with that hand rolling him against Luzar's hard thigh under the fine woven wool. His eyes wanted to go back to those beloved blue-grey ones. He flipped the page.

            "Sample set 2, 2a- increase- uh -of- 2.2; 2b- 3.1; 2- c-" Luzar's other hand slipped into his fly and cupped his balls. "2c- 2c- increase- oh, sir--"

            It was too much. He reached over to kiss--

            A light tap on his shoulder. "Wake up, Takamatsu-kun."

            He jerked upright, flushing, closing his legs automatically.

            "Sorry, sir. I was just thinking." Don't ask me what about, please-

            "Can I see that report?"

            "Oh, yes, sir. Sorry. Here it is." Luzar took the clipboard.

            "Good. Now show me your bottom."

            "Sir??!!" He was hallucinating. Luzar hadn't said that-- I've got to stop these fantasies--

            A pat on his behind. "Stand up." He did so, slow with shock. "Undo your pants- that's right- and your shorts-- no, no, don't be shy- we're alone here-" He put the clipboard down and pulled Takamatsu's shorts out of his frantic grip. "Now turn around and bend over." Takamatsu could only shake his head; his voice had deserted him. "Takamatsu, you're going to get me annoyed. I said, turn around-" Luzar's hands turned him, gently but irresistibly- "and bend over"- the hands pushed him over the lab stool. "Hold on to the lower bar- it'll steady you"- nothing could steady him, he was dizzy and nearly fainting as Luzar's hands kneaded the flesh of his buttocks. "You've a very nice bum, I can't think why you don't want people to see it-" there was a hint of a laugh in the voice- "and besides, I'm your professor, rogering your backside is practically one of my duties."

            "What?!!" but it was too late, the thick tip of Luzar's tool was already attempting to effect an entry- "Relax, boy- tight is nice but this is like trying to bugger a wall"- a hand began palming him in front, and in the moment of surprise his anus released and Luzar pushed in, Takamatsu's scraped nerves screaming at the violation. His mouth opened like a howling wolf's and his eyes started from his head as that solid width packed his rectum. "Ah, good, nice and narrow and hot. Let's just stay like this awhile." He saw Luzar's hand pick up the clipboard again, while his mind clanged this is terrible, terrible, terrible...

            "Takamatsu, would you care to explain this?"

            The usually mild voice contained a note which brought him to his feet at once, his hard-on vanishing like dew in the sun. He looked down at the samples on sensei's desk.

            "The concentration was to have been 6 to 1. These samples all show 3 to 1. The whole set is ruined."

            "I'm sorry, sir." Oh god, not again. The whole set-

            "Sorry?" said Luzar quizzically. "I should think you might be. This is the third time this month you've ruined a project through carelessness. What's the matter with you these days?"

            "I'm sorry, sir," he said again, wretchedly. But how could he explain- If Luzar-sama didn't already know what he was doing to him--              

            "Takamatsu, I can't put up with this kind of behaviour in my assistant. It's too costly, if nothing else. I'm going to have to take serious measures." Oh god, he wouldn't send me away, would he?-- Luzar stood up. "Lower your trousers."

            "What?" He looked at Luzar, appalled.

            "You heard me." The flat eyes looked back at him, waiting. A hole opened up in his stomach, and his hands went unthinkingly to his belt.

            "Sir, please," he whispered desperately, as his stiff fingers fumbled at the buckle. "Not here."

            "Where else?" Luzar opened a drawer and took out a long ruler of thick plastic. Oh no, his soul wailed, as Luzar came round to his side of the desk. He was holding on to his pants, hidden under the long lab coat. The others couldn't see- yet-

            Luzar pushed him violently forward and he sprawled across the desk, losing hold of his trousers. The belt clanked loudly on the floor. The others must have heard, they'd be looking-oh god, as Luzar flipped up the skirts of his lab coat--oh no, as he pulled down his shorts. Frozen in horror, he barely heard the whistle of the descending ruler until it landed on his bare backside with the full force of Luzar's arm behind it. Shocked nerves tingled to his finger ends and he reared upright, yelping. Luzar's hand pushed him back down and held him there, planted unmovably in the middle of his back, while the ruler came down again and again in a series of juicy CRACKS. His hands jumped at each fiery stroke and his bent legs danced in agony and his burning face ran with sweat and tears and his cock ached to- ached to-

            OHHhhh, and it was over. He caught his ejaculate in the wad of tissues he had ready, groaning as his body achieved release. Oh. Oh. Oooh... Good. The thudding in his heart began to subside. Good. Guess I can get up now-- face the day... A little shaky, he got to his feet and stumbled to the shower.

            Exhibitionism, huh? he thought, as the hot water pounded around him. The specialty of the week. Better than last week's, anyway. He caught a whiff of that powerful exciting fantasy, the bound body and the- and killed it at once. It had brought him off in seconds, every time, and made him sick with himself for the rest of the day. I must have caught the kink bug from Servis, he thought sourly, I knew he'd give me something someday. But he knew it wasn't Servis' fault- just, the frustration...

            Servis... maybe I should give him a call, as he towelled his hair dry and got into his suit. It was a pain, not having his own phone. The lobby... Knotting his tie reminded him: he dropped yesterday's purchase into his briefcase before leaving. In case he's free tonight.

 

            "Tonight?" He'd caught Servis at home. The low voice held a note of hesitation. "Just a visit, or something more?"

            "Whichever you like."

            "Which would you like?"

            He swallowed. "Something more."

            "OK." He could sense the smile at the other end. Time was, the fact that he'd asked would have been enough to make Servis refuse. Time was, he wouldn't have wanted to ask. Times change. Thank god he and Servis seemed to have reached some kind of understanding, finally. At least one part of his life was under control.

            "OK," Servis said again. "But I'll come to your place. What time?"

            "My place?"

            "Why not?"

            "Well-" He couldn't think of any reason not. Just, it felt strange.

            "OK. Eight o'clock?"

            "Fine. See you."

            "Wait- uh, I'll have to improvise, you know."

            "I take care of props, remember?"

            "OK." He relaxed. Good; there was that to look forward to, at least.

           

            Servis hung up the hallway phone and went back to the dining room.

            "Who was that, at this hour?" Magic asked.

            "Takamatsu." He went back to eating his bacon and eggs.

            Magic looked up from his paper. "What did he want?"

            "We were going to do something together tonight, but he cancelled. That's twice now," he added without expression.

            "Well, maybe a good thing. You've been seeing a bit too much of him lately."

            Servis went on eating.

            "I've nothing against Takamatsu personally, I just don't think you should get too close to him. No offence, Luzar. But you've got other friends . . . "

            "I had other friends," Servis said precisely. "They all died a year ago."

            Magic had gone a little red. "I hadn't forgotten," he said. "There's a memorial ceremony for them next week."

            "I know." Servis buttered another slice of toast, carefully, as he did most things now, compensating for his lack of depth perception.

            "It's time you started making new friends. Why don't you get to know some of Harlem's-"

            "No thank you," and "Forget it," the twins said simultaneously, not bothering to look at each other.

            "Why not, for god's sake?"

            "They're thugs," and "He's a faggot," in unison.

            "Harlem," Magic said in automatic rebuke. "Your language."

            Luzar pushed his chair back. "I have to be going. If you want a ride," to Servis, "you have five minutes."

            "Mm." Servis finished the last of his toast and swallowed the last of his coffee. "Good-bye, nii-san," he said, giving Magic a quick kiss on the cheek as he headed out.

            "Faggot," Harlem muttered to his back, and "Ow!" as Magic clipped his ear in annoyance.

            "Servis loves his brother- unlike you."

            "Servis loves his brother and anything else with a cock."

            Magic smiled unpleasantly. "Anything? Does that include you?"

            "Not lately," Harlem said brazenly. "What about you? He doesn't care much for blonds anymore, so I guess not, right?"

            "Harlem--" Magic's smile was growing wider and wider. "One of these days you'll go too far. That day is today. Back down."

            Harlem smiled in return and leaned forward. "Kiss my ass, nil-san. Or would you rather I kissed yours?"

 

            There was sudden blue light and a shattering of glass from the dining room. Luzar's mouth tightened briefly and Servis, meeting him at the front door, shrugged imperceptibly. They left in silence and headed towards Luzar's BMW.

            "I'm going to Takamatsu's place tonight," Servis said without preamble once the car had started.

            "I see. Probably a good idea, keeping him out of Magic's way from now on. Thank you," he added.

            "You don't have to worry about Takamatsu, you know. He's very good at taking care of himself."

            "I know. I've seen the evidence. That's not what I'm worried about."

            "What, then?"

            "What he'll be thinking while he's doing it. "

            "Like what?"

            "Like 'Ganma- feh.'"

            "He probably thinks that anyway."

            "You don't like him much, do you?"

            "I didn't say that." A pause. "Well, no, not really. He's improved, this last year, if that makes any difference."

            "He's probably just happier now."

            "Thanks to you." A twinge of jealousy.

            "Indirectly. I've given him a chance to do what he's good at- and believe me, Servis, he's very very good at it. Too good to let-" he checked and clearly rephrased- "Magic screw him over. I don't want him leaving just because our family makes him sick."

            "He won't. I've known him longer than you have. He'll stay as long as there's something in it for him."

            "I don't want him staying just out of opportunism. His work will suffer. It would be criminal to stop him from being the very best he can be."

            "This is Takamatsu we're talking about?"

            "Don't be such a snot. Yes, it is. If you like, I'm talking about Takamatsu the scientist and you're talking about Takamatsu the man- what you know of him."

            "I think I know more than you."

            "I think what you know is influenced by what you want to know. If he's useful to you, why bother about his feelings?"

            A small silence. "He told you."

            "In general outline. In case. You put him in a lot of danger, Servis. I don't think you realized."

            "He could have said no."

            "He was worried that you'd get hurt."

            "His problem."

            "You didn't, of course, keep reminding him of the possibility?" Servis' face was stiff and expressionless. "He's still young, Servis. He hasn't been through what you have. And he cares about you."  Somehow he had to be made to understand. He forced himself to say it. "I really don't want him hurt. It would kill me to lose him."

            Servis looked down at his clenched fists, anger rolling his stomach.

            "What are you saying? Servis, you bad boy, you've been bullying poor Takamatsu? Well, I'm sorry. I'll apologize to him tonight. Poor poor Takamatsu--" His voice cracked in rage and tears and he turned violently away, one hand on the door handle.

            Luzar swerved quickly to the side and stopped the car. He grabbed his brother with both hands and pulled him away from the door, pinning him with an arm across his chest. For several seconds there was a motionless struggle as Servis fought to get free; then suddenly he gave up and collapsed against Luzar's side. He drew several deep gulping breaths, swallowing tears.

            "I'm sorry," he said after a moment. "I don't know what gets into me."

            "My fault. I shouldn't have interfered in your affairs."

            Servis half laughed. "Stop apologizing all the time. You're so nice to me and I'm such a shit. And you're nice to Takamatsu, and whatever you say, he's a shit too. You really don't have to worry about him. I bet he could eat Magic for lunch."

            "Fancy yourself, don't you?" Luzar said after a moment.

            "I- what do you mean?"

            "Magic can't touch Takamatsu but you can make him jump through hoops. Logical conclusion: you have it all over Magic. I'm impressed."

            He thought about that for a moment. "With Takamatsu, maybe I do." But he'd thought that about Jan. "No, ok, maybe you're right. I'll do my best to keep him out of the lion's den."

            "Thank you." There was a touch of bleakness in Luzar's voice.

            "Nii-san." He turned to look directly into Luzar's face. "It'll be alright. Really."

            "Yes, I know." Luzar smiled at him, once more his calm cheerful self. Only, Servis realized suddenly, he wasn't. He just didn't want his younger brother worrying about him.

            "I'm not a child," he said, in loving exasperation. He put an arm around Luzar's neck and kissed him full on the mouth. "Thank you for the ride. See you." He slid out of the car, waved his hand and was gone.

            Luzar blinked, then let out the clutch. Poor Servis- maybe. Poor Takamatsu, definitely.

 

            Takamatsu unlocked the laboratory, turned on lights, and attended to various details of housekeeping, all automatically. He was listening for Luzar's step and trying not to. But there it was, unmistakable, and his heart bounded.

            "Good morning, Takamatsu-kun."

            "Good morning, sir." He had Luzar's lab coat ready and helped him into it, then hung his jacket up in the closet. As his professor unpacked his briefcase, Takamatsu brought him a cup of tea from the pot he had ready in the scullery. He'd always enjoyed performing the little personal services that went with being Luzar's junior assistant, but now they had taken on an extra meaning. They were the one taste of sugar in an existence daily becoming more bitter than sweet.

            "Before the others come, let's have a look at those seedlings. If there's any appreciable change...--

            "Yes sir."

            Luzar measured, Takamatsu wrote. The others came in and were sent to their various tasks.

            "Ah, look at this, Takamatsu." The hand brought a seedling up for him to inspect, but he was looking at the wrist, wanting to put his lips there.

            "Definite signs of germination, sir."

            "We seem to be on the right track here. Try upping the nutrient ratio in sets one and two. What's the ratio now?"

            "6 to 1 in all of them."

            "Make it 4 to 1 in one, and 3 to 1 in two. Keep three as a control."

            "Yes sir." Look at me, please, just once. Luzar turned round, his face set in its usual pleasant half smile. The grey-blue eyes with their beautiful fringe of browny-gold lashes met his and moved on.

            "See to it now. I need to have a word with Ng and Lee. And afterwards you can set up for that photosynthesis reading we talked about yesterday."

            "Yes sir." Grab him as he goes past, kiss him-- he moved out of Luzar's way, eyes downcast. What if he did screw up the proportions? Luzar would be-- momentarily annoyed. Would tell him to restart the sample and be more careful in future. No, he didn't really want that dark figure from his nightly fantasies. He liked Luzar-sama exactly the way he was, thank you, but he did want him to-- He wanted Luzar to- He wanted Luzar. It had been three weeks now--

            Stop thinking about it. Concentrate on what you're doing. Hell, I could do this with my eyes shut. Eyes shut. Eyes- shut... I've never used a blindfold- would he go for it? He hates gags... The bed or the chair? Those slats on the headboard- I've never been able to spreadeagle him before, either....

            His hands continued to drop solution into each of the seedling baskets, while his mind gratefully turned to the intellectual problem of how he was going to torture Servis tonight.

 

            "What did you bring me?"

            Servis opened his backpack. "Some old, some new." He pulled out several lengths of clothesline, a thick leather belt, a candle, matches, a dog collar with studs and a package of shoe laces.

            "That should be enough to be going on with," Takamatsu remarked. "Want a beer?"

            "Thanks." Servis began to undress.

            "Slower," Takamatsu said as he poured the beer.

            Servis cocked an eyebrow at him.

            "Give me a show. Can you do it?" He smiled at him, holding up the beer glass.

            "Do I get my drink first?"

            "Yes, but put your hands behind you. You can only use your mouth."

            Servis stood, hands obediently behind him, sipping at the glass which Takamatsu purposely held low so that he had to bend his neck. With his long fine hair falling across his face, he looked innocent and vulnerable and not much more than fourteen. A small fire kindled between Takamatsu's legs. Just at that moment Servis glanced up from under his eyelashes, his expression very much a man's: but with his hands still clasped, his head still bowed. The effect on Takamatsu was extraordinary: his hand jerked so that the beer slopped across Servis' face. Servis tossed his head back in his characteristic gesture, smiling derisively. Takamatsu took the glass away, irked.

            "Don't annoy the man in charge, Servis." He drank the rest of the beer, recovering. "So let's see if you can get your clothes off without looking like a carny stripper. Come on- I'm dying to see you look 'sexy' and 'provocative'."

            He lounged in the desk chair, a hand under his chin, wearing the smile that had gotten him into trouble more than once with his high school teachers. Servis eyed him consideringly, then smiled back, a warm, innocent smile like a friendly little boy.

            "Not bad, not bad," Takamatsu said appreciatively. "That one always works very well." Hopefully his jeans would hide just how well.

            Gaze lowered, Servis finished undoing the buttons of his shirt, took it off and folded it carefully, a good child going to bed. He sat down cross-legged and undid his shoes, pulling them off and lining them up by the wall, then took off his socks and tucked them neatly into their respective shoe. He did everything seriously, with the absolute concentration of a six year old. It ought to have been ridiculous- no one else could have brought it off-- but somewhere inside him, Takamatsu thought unexpectedly, Servis still was a child. An odd sensation cramped his breathing. Servis stood up, gave Takamatsu a shy awkward glance as if he'd never done this before, and began unfastening his belt.

            "Shit!" Takamatsu swore, and grabbed for the tissues. He'd never been so glad of a nosebleed in his life. Stop, he told himself fiercely, stop, stop, stop. He's not an innocent little kid, you know he's not-- but in his head there still glowed the vision of a young boy, open and warm and trusting, still untouched by any of the things that had hurt and warped his friend. And I'll never get to know him, he thought in desolation.

            Servis was watching him. "First blood to you," Takamatsu said, waving the tissues. That made him laugh, that low little chuckle of his. "Better let me get your pants off. God knows what would happen if I let you do it."

            Servis decided this would be a good time to start fighting, and the next few moments became more rough and tumble. Takamatsu got him down and stripped, and slapped his ass a bit to teach him manners, then bound his arms behind his back with the belt. The dog collar went in the appropriate place, and a length of clothesline between it and the belt ensured that Servis' arms remained bent at the slightly uncomfortable angle Takamatsu had placed them in. Two more lengths secured the collar to the frame of the headboard, restricting the movement of Servis' neck and shoulders. It really was better using his room, Takamatsu concluded; the standard issue army bed had legs that allowed him to lash Servis' ankles outspread and motionless.

            "I have a present for you, by the way," he told him as he finished testing the bonds.

            "Something in a hypodermic, I bet."

            Forget it, Servis; I'm not taking the hint. "Hell, no. Much more domestic. To go with the clothesline-- clothespins."

            He looked mildly interested. "What can you do with those?"

            He found out. Takamatsu fixed them into the reddened skin of his ass and thighs, then down the back of each leg above the knee, and on the soft flesh of the underarm. Servis' face was awash with tears by the time he was finished.

            "Shall I stop?"

      Servis shook his head.

            "OK, next step." He was a bit leery about this part, but it was a tradeoff. I do what he likes, he does what I like.

            He lit the candle and began to drop wax on the head of each pin where it bit into the flesh. Servis' arms jerked back, pulling the collar tight against his throat so that he choked. Takamatsu quickly pushed his arms up, loosening the tension, and Servis' head dropped back down.

            "Want a pillow?"

            "Unh." It was definitely assent. Takamatsu lifted his head and positioned it under his neck and lower face, making sure his nose was free but that he had something to bite on if he needed it. Then he went back to the clothespins, concentrating on the ones on the legs. Servis writhed, twisting against the ropes, giving Takamatsu an enticing view of his ass and balls. It made him eager to get through this and move on to the next stage. He finished dripping the wax and blew out the candle.

            "OK, that's finished. Now comes the hard part. I hope you can take this, Servis, cause there's no way out of it. They're on, and they've got to come off. You want a moment to get ready?"

            "Yes." It was a whisper.

            "OK, anytime. You tell me when." He reached underneath and palmed the head of Servis' half erect cock. He'd probably lose even that when he began again; there's only so much stimulation one's nerves can take. But Servis was growing hard in his grasp. With the forefinger of the other hand he stroked the line of skin in back of the testicles, judging from Servis' sudden gasp when he'd found the right spot. He played with it awhile, making sure that he was nicely turned on. Pain threshold up--

            "Now," said Servis suddenly.

            He plucked the clothespins off, as quickly as possible, little flash points of pain all up the legs and along the arms. Servis sucked air, tears pouring down his face.

            "Hurts?"

            "Yes, dammit."

            "Well, it's over." He unbuckled his arms, massaging the shoulders a little. "Ready to quit?"

            "No."

            "Not the best way to put it. OK. You can have cream on those burns or you can have alcohol. Which?"

            A pause. "Alcohol."

            "'Please."'

            "I don't beg, Takamatsu."

            "OK," he said genially, and went off to the bathroom to get a facecloth and a washbowl of hot water. Servis grunted as it hit his abused flesh, but said nothing as Takamatsu sponged the length of his body, getting rid of the dried wax and bringing up the red marks into high relief. He wrung out the washcloth and began on the mound of the buttocks and the brown aureole between them.

            "You've got a nice asshole, Servis," he said appreciatively. "It's a pity you can't see it yourself. It's a pity you can't fuck it yourself." He picked up the bottle of rubbing alcohol and sloshed a goodly amount into the narrow cleft, making Servis jump. "Oh yes, just look how it puckers. You don't know what you're missing. It's a shame, you know, to keep something this pretty hidden away all day. A real waste of your assets." He poured alcohol on his hands and laid them on Servis' cheeks, kneading them a little. "Lie still. We should have your butt declared a living national treasure and put you on display a couple of times a week. Tuesday and Thursday, 2 to 5. You're free, aren't you? A hands-on exhibit, of course. Will you stop wiggling? Don't tell me you don't like having your ass squeezed. You better, cause they'll be lining up to do it. And more. What shall we make it, Servis- all come, all served?" His hands moved down the curve to the tops of the thighs, fingers digging into the firm flesh. Servis was grinding his hips into the mattress. "You could handle three hours of cock up your ass easy, no problem, right? Plus assorted fingers and fists"- he knuckled Servis' asshole, by way of demonstration- "not to mention the guys who want to do this"- He leaned down and licked the inside curve of his ass, the alcohol burning his tongue, moving around the crimpled edge of the asshole while Servis cried aloud and bucked his hips. "Dammit, I said lie still." He smacked his backside, then again. "You know, your ass goes the most interesting colour when I hit it-- something between magenta and day-glo red." He hit him again, watching the blood come up in the fair skin. "I wonder where this is on the colour spectrum. We should spank you in the lab sometime to get a precise measurement."

            "Takamatsu."

            "What?"

            "Make me say I'm sorry."

            "OK." He took a mental breath, to cope with the new challenge. Gotta remember he likes this, try to make it good for him-- while another part of his mind wondered grumpily why Servis couldn't have been into something fun, like deep kissing. Well, could be worse: if it was rubber, we'd be doing this in wetsuits...

            "Right." He pulled himself back to the business at hand. "You've been a bad boy. I'd forgotten. Are you sorry for what you did?"

            "No."

            "You will be when I've finished with you. Your ass will glow in the dark." He reached for the belt on the floor, doubled it, and hit him a dozen times. "You sorry now?"

            "No."

            "It'll only get worse, Servis. You don't get out of here without a full apology. Start." He stood up and brought the belt down with the full weight of his arm behind it. "'I'm sorry, Takamatsu. I shouldn't have done that. Please forgive me.'" Strokes punctuated each sentence.

            Servis said, through sobs, "Fuck you." His hand had disappeared beneath him.

            "What the hell are you doing?" He grabbed the arm and pulled it out. "Shit. You little pervert. I take my eye off you for a second and the next thing I know you're diddling yourself." He took the line that was still attached to the collar and bound Servis' arms again across his back. "Better. Makes your ass arch. OK, listen, Servis. I don't take crap like this from dirty little boys like you. This is your last chance. Apologize, or I'll paddle your ass so hard it'll blister. I'm waiting."

            "So wait, shithead."

            "Right." He went and got the ruler from his desk. A vague sense of danger hovered in the back of his mind. Don't cross over- don't make it real... He tried to shake it off. It's different, it's me and Servis, he wants me to--

            "You want this, Servis? Or are you going to apologize?" He put the ruler against his reddened buttocks. "'I'm sorry, Takamatsu.' Say it."

            "Go shove your head up your asshole, you piddling dogfucker."

            "Right. If that's the way you want it, that's the way you get it." It felt like he was moving into a dark tide, dangerous, exhilarating. He raised his arm and brought it down as hard as he could. "You little cockteaser, you shit-faced ass wiggler, here's what you get..." He hit him again and again. "Fuck me over, will you, fuck my mind over, you're going to be really sorry, I'm really- going- to give it- to you-" He was riding the crest of a great black wave, demonic energy rushing up from his groin and running down the length of his arm-- You're out of control, Takamatsu, a cold voice said in his mind. He stopped. Servis' head was arched rigidly, his mouth open in a silent scream. Oh Jesus Servis, I'm sorry- He caught the bucking body, realized suddenly that this was- some of it- orgasm, and waited until the spasm subsided.

            "I'm sorry," he said, wretchedly.

            "I'm sorry," Servis repeated.

            "I shouldn't have done that." He put his forehead down on Servis' back.

            "I shouldn't have done that."

            "Forgive me."

            "Forgive me."

            The edge of the ruler had drawn blood. I'd better get some cream on that. Takamatsu, you're a shit. No wonder Luzar-- He untied Servis' arms and the ropes that held the collar, then undid the stiff buckle and got that off as well.

            "Turn off the light," Servis said unexpectedly.

            "I should-"

            "Turn it off." He did. "And come over here." Servis inched painfully over towards the wall and he lay down beside him, looking up at the ceiling. The silence went on for a long time.

            "Where are you now, Servis?" he asked of the darkness. It was lonely, lying like this, with only his miserable thoughts for company.

            Servis' arm came across his chest, and a little warmth came with it.

            "He used to use a strap on us, when we were young. I always cried and begged him to stop. Every time, I promised myself this time I wouldn't, but I always did." He paused. "Harlem never did. He fought and punched and cursed, and so he got hit twice as hard as me. I used to think he was protecting me." He paused again. "Sometimes he'd barely be conscious when Magic had finished with him, and Magic would turn to me and say, 'Why can't you be a man like your brother?' He always liked Harlem best." He sounded like he was talking about the pyramids. "Your father hit you much?"

            "Unh-unh. My nurse used a slipper when I was very small, but Papa only did it once."

            "Why?"

            "I was being stupid with my chemistry set, not following the book. There was an explosion, and the table caught fire. He was going to take the set away from me, but I got him to make it a caning instead."

            "Did it hurt?"

            "Like hell. One of the major miscalculations of my life. I should just have waited till he stopped being angry and asked for it back then." Belatedly he realized what he was saying. "And don't ask me to do it to you, because the answer is no." He sat up. "I should get something on those cuts before they infect."

            "Don't turn on the light. I like it like this."

            "Picky, picky." He located the candle and the matches in the dark. Well, enough light, perhaps. He washed the cuts as gently as he could, and applied ointment to the weals and the twenty-odd little red spots.

            "I lost control back there," he said, contritely.

            "I know. It was really impressive. And I didn't have to do anything to make you do it."

            "It's nothing to laugh about. Look, Servis, maybe this is too dangerous to go on with..."

            "But you've only just gotten good at it."

            "That does it. We stop now."

            "What are you afraid of?'

            "I'm afraid I might really hurt you, for god's sake. What else?"

            "Not that you'll be found out?"

            "No. If you want to know, I've already told your brother."

            "I know. He told me."

            "Well, good. At least we all know where we are now."

            "Tell the truth for once, Takamatsu. What's going on between you two?"

            "Nothing," he said. "Absolutely fucking nothing," and he put his head in his hands.

            Servis sat up, grunting a little with the pain, and began untying the cord around his ankles. "Have you said anything to him?"

            "We talked- oh, three weeks ago, now. He knows how I feel. He said- he said I'd have to give him time. And I have. But he's- he's backing off, he's so formal, it's driving me crazy.  Sometimes I think-" He bit off the sentence: saying it might make it true.

            "He's too good for you."

            "I know," he said wretchedly.

            Servis looked at him. Takamatsu's black eyes shone suspiciously in the candlelight. Tell him. or not? Well, he could be generous.

            "He cares about you, if that's what you're wondering."

            "Then what's he waiting for?" A tear ran down his cheek.

            "Magic," Servis said, as if it were self-evident.

            Takamatsu went very still and very quiet.

            "I see." After a moment he said, "It's late. You'd better be going. I'll call you a taxi."

            "No, I'll stay here to-night."

            "I haven't invited you," he pointed out.

            "If I waited for an invitation, I'd spend every night at home. Which I have, so far. This is my first night out. Come and have a shower with me."

            He hesitated visibly. "No. This is my room. You're going home."

            "No. You'll lie awake all night thinking about Luzar. This is my evening. He has the other six nights and all the days. You can afford to give me the next ten hours."

            "You don't understand-"

            "You have to look after your patient, Doctor. I feel all hot. Maybe I'm starting a fever. You'd better take my temperature." His thigh pressed Takamatsu's crotch. "Orally or rectally, I don't care which." His hands were undoing buttons, and Takamatsu's cock was complaining about being neglected all evening .

            "Oh Christ, Servis-" but Servis was kissing him, and even as he protested the warm tongue slipped into his mouth: and after that, of course, there was absolutely no point in protesting any more.