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Jesse was up in a flash. “WHAT?”
Shalimar rolled her eyes, as if expecting this very reaction. But she continued.
“The number we’ve agreed on is sixty. Thirty each between Brennan and me. Emma wont be part of it.”
“No paddles Jesse, we’ll only use hands.”
//And that’s supposed to make this okay?? What the hell is wrong with you Brennan? And what the hell is wrong with me?? Why cant I get a word out of my mouth?!?!//
“No! No! No! No!”
Brennan stood up. “This is the only way Jesse. We’ve thought this through. And you said you would cooperate.”
“No! No! No!” Jesse was retreating steadily.
“No Shalimar please… no please no! No!”
“Okay this is how it works Jesse, the more you resist, the higher the number goes. And its seventy now.”
“FUCK YOU! I’m not doing this!” He turned around to leave.
“Stop Jesse or…”
“Or what? You wanna tie me down and whip my ass? What is this some sick perversion of yours? I’m not doing this!!”
“I HATE YOU! I HATE YOU!”
“Fine Jesse. Go ahead and leave. We wont stop you. We wont force you. Just remember…”
Jesse didn’t let Brennan complete again. “You’ll tell Adam! That’s what you’ll do isn’t it? Be my guest, I’ll take my chances with him!”
“We’re not telling Adam.”
Jesse didn’t understand. He looked at Brennan with an accusatory glance reserved only for true loves. He got one in return, but this one wasn’t filled with contempt or rage the way he felt his own must be. He waited for his boyfriend to say something, to take it back, to make it all okay.
“I wont give you up Jess.”
“And I know I Will soon forgive you for betraying my trust, Our trust, for endangering Emma, and disrespecting our very order by gambling with your ring. I’m just sorry to know that you’ve taken advantage of my blind faith in you, my love for you. And you intend to continue doing so. Frankly, I don’t know if I can ever trust you again.”
Jesse was stunned. He had feared it would eventually come to this, but had manically been pushing away the disturbing thought. He loved Brennan. Surely he wouldn’t do this to him? His eyes burned with unshed tears.
“Don’t say that Brennan please…”
“You wanna know what Adam said to me that night after you slammed your door on us?”
Jesse couldn’t find the words.
“He said - be careful Brennan, you’ve taken a young lover. And that’s a huge responsibility. I’m responsible for you Jess. Its not a nice feeling to know I did such a lousy job. You made a mistake, that’s fine. To err is human.”
Brennan was close to eruption now. “But you made the same mistake twice. I wasn’t able to stop you, and you ended up throwing everything away. Everything that’s important to me and I thought was important to you too.”
“No Bren I…”
“And it obviously doesn’t matter to you where we go from here. Because you’ve made no efforts to regain our trust, except for making promises that you’ve already amply demonstrated you cant keep. This gambling of yours has driven you away from us Jesse. You think we could just sit and watch you destroy yourself?”
Jesse was hyperventilating.
Shalimar took up the baton. “Jesse we’re doing this so you can remember. The most important lessons in life are always learnt the hard way. And you’ve seen how bad it can get. But its not yet made the impact it should have on you. Jesse, I can see it in your eyes you’re just dying to get your hands on a deck of cards.”
Okay that hit home. Even when in his room a while ago, Jesse had had a hard time resisting the online poker game.
“Would you want something else to happen to you or us… your family before you quit gambling?”
Jesse bit his lip miserably. “No.”
There was silence for a few seconds as everyone waited for Jesse to say more. He broke, broke into a run and didn’t stop until he’d reached the top of the simulation training arena. He stood at the top most stair, with his back to the rest of Mutant X. Fists clutched tightly on his sides, his shoulders heaved with heavy gasps as he blinked back tears. He felt trapped and helpless, and without a choice. Finally, he conceded this was truly his own fault. This was all his fault.
//And I ought to pay for it.//
Shalimar noticed the hunching shoulders and climbed up the stairs to reach Jesse. Brennan soon followed.
She placed a loving hand at his shoulder and turned him around. He squeezed his eyes shut and tried not to tremble so much. Shalimar drew him into a gentle embrace and he melted into her.
“My brave little boy…”
She sank to the stair with him and rocked him as he shook himself apart. Jesse hoped if he never let go of Shalimar, they might change their minds and cut him loose. But that was not to be. It was Brennan who pried him away from Shalimar and started chanting his no’s again.
“Brennan come on, please…”
Emma stayed below, not really comfortable with the new developments. Jesse noticed and gazed at her longingly, as if her intervention could put a stop to this right here.
//I'm so sorry Em...//
She read him loud and clear, but she couldn’t help him. It was not in her hands anymore. Brennan took hold of his shoulders and turned Jesse to himself.
“Jesse. Do this. For me. For us.”
Jesse exhaled and Brennan didn’t wait. Shalimar and Brennan slid to the second stair from the top and propped up their knees together, Brennan on the left and Shalimar on the right. They drew a reluctant Jesse over their laps so his legs rested against the topmost stair, his butt on their laps and his upper torso suspended beneath. Jesse thought he would fall down the stairs if the hands holding him let go. And that seemed a much-preferred prospect right now. He was facing downwards and could see Emma looking up at him so sadly. He didn’t want to meet her gaze and closed his eyes, he was too ashamed by the whole ordeal.
He struggled only half-heartedly as it was now clear this was going to happen no matter what he said or did. His insides coiled up in knots when he found himself pressed in that vulnerable position over the legs of two people he loved and trusted the most in the world. He felt Shalimar’s hands rubbing his back. And then he felt Brennan’s hand slide beneath him to unzip his jeans. He jumped.
The rubbing became vigorous, as a hand pressed into the small of his back when he tried to get up.
“Shhh Jess, this isnt up to you.”
And before he knew it, his jeans and boxers had been pulled back to his thighs. He flushed furiously red with embarrassment. The blue tee was too short to afford him any modesty. He struggled in earnest but the hands restraining him were too strong.
“I’m here baby, I’m right here.”
And without any warning, the first swat landed on his left buttock.
It was harder than what he’d expected. But he stubbornly resolved not to scream or cry. He would see this through quietly.
“You're never gambling again Jess. You hear me?”
Another loud thwack. Jesse jerked with a stifled scream. God it hurt!
This was followed by four quick smacks, on each cheek alternately. Jesse couldn’t make out who was spanking him, Brennan or Shalimar. All he knew was the searing heat and pain across his ass, the brutal stabs of humiliation, and the shocking disbelief that this wasn’t happening. This wasn’t really happening!
With every hit, Jesse would bite back a scream and jump and his punishers had to hold him down. He was beginning to struggle like anything. The blows continued to rain and the pain got worse.
“Ahh it hurts! Shal come on!”
“Think about what could have happened. Think of how much *that* would have hurt kid.”
Jesse glanced at Emma again, who was sitting with her head lowered. He remembered how willingly she’d believed him in the morning. How vulnerable she’d looked knocked to the ground by the Steve guy and how scared she’d looked as agents advanced upon her. He closed his eyes in sheer disgust for himself, wishing he could erase the memory of those dreadful moments.
More hits in succession. And Jesse was struggling so much, they had to hold his wrists behind his back in a tight grip. His legs were flailing and he couldn’t get rid of the annoying feeling of being suspended in air. Brennan brought his long leg around his calves to hold him down more effectively.
Brennan whipped him with a strong hand, while he continued to writhe.
“I’m sorry! Please stop already.”
He squeezed his eyes shut as his rear continued to burn. Brennan was doing the current ten while Shalimar was holding him down. His face creased with lines of worry and regrets himself. So often he’d looked to Shalimar silently pleading with her to quit. But she had replied with an equally troubled, but determined look to see this through. They had to do this, for Jesse’s sake. They couldn’t let him get away this time, they’d done it way too often just because he was the youngest and everyone was way too lenient with him. Not this time.
Jesse groaned, “Never again, please!”
Brennan decided to keep talking, “Never what Jess?”
“I’ll never gamble again.”
Thwack! His behind was red hot now.
“And what Jesse?”
“…and I’ll never lie to you again. I promise… I’ll keep my promises always!”
Jesse resisted still. “And… and… I’ll never… oww!”
“Say it Jesse.”
They had switched and now Shalimar was doing the next ten. She made sure to evenly cover every inch of his exposed butt and not concentrate on one spot, which would really hurt a lot.
“Jesse you’ll never what?”
Every contact with his butt was torture.
“Yes baby… “
“Tell us Jess, what else did you do that was wrong?”
More blows rained. Amidst the loud smacks on his butt that seemed to reverberate throughout the Sanctuary, and his own conscience screaming at him inside his head, Jesse could barely hear what was being said.
“Jesse answer us!”
“I’ll never … I’ll never lose my ring again!”
Thwack! As if in reward for his correct answer.
“That’s good Jesse, and what else?”
“… ahh… I don’t know! I don’t know!”
Most of the spanks had fallen on the crests of his ass, but now they shifted to redden the lower curves.
“You will never take us for granted Jesse. You will never play us the way you did Brennan and Emma. You understand?”
Jesse panted and nodded, but managed to speak.
“I ow! thought… the I’ll never ugh lie thing covers it oww!”
Shalimar smiled, so did Brennan. If they’d worried earlier, they relaxed now. Jesse will be fine, just fine.
Just then, Jesse started to ghost. But it was totally unintentional. All Shalimar had to do was point it out in her usual quiet manner.
He stopped and came back to his normal self. Brennan gripped him tighter, although he knew he wouldn’t be able to stop Jesse if he completely ghosted.
“I-I’m sorry… couldn’t control it.”
They had to believe him, but a warning was issued nonetheless.
“That’s what this whole exercise is for Jess. You need to learn to control yourself. You can’t expect us to take care of you all your life!”
More hits followed to drive the point home as Jesse continued to squirm to get out of the firing range, but there was nowhere to go. His wrists hurt as Shalimar unknowingly dug her fingernails into him.
“Promise us you will learn to control yourself and not give in to temptation.”
“And specially not to get back at me or Adam. Don’t hurt yourself because you’re angry with me!”
The emotion in Brennan’s voice was what finally broke him down. He was already regretting the moment he’d walked out into the night to get another taste of his destructive addiction. He remembered how he’d given it up the first time with nothing but sheer determination. But how this time he’d given in so weakly and easily. He hated himself for having become the cause of so much pain and trouble not just for himself but also for Brennan, and Emma, and Shalimar. Tears ran down his face and he sobbed quietly.
He’d gotten so lost in his anguished thoughts, that he didn’t notice when the blows stopped and the hand that had earlier been rubbing his back lovingly returned. He felt the pressure of hands holding him down dissipate and instead the bodies flanking him drew closer as if to embrace him. He couldn’t believe it, he must surely be imagining it. Jesse went limp in their grasps. Suddenly his need for air seemed to have quintupled and his entire frame shook with the effort. The sobs gradually dissolved to guttural gasps as two hands worked to soothe him down.
Its over. Its over.
After a few minutes, he heard his loved one’s gentle voice.
“Its over Jess. You can get up.”
Slowly, Jesse moved to support his own bulk. He brought his hands in front of him to draw his boxers and jeans up. It stung to have the fabrics push over his sore bottom but he bit his lip and bore it. Brennan offered to help but stopped when he noticed him flinch away ever so slightly. Shalimar was still rubbing his back and now brought up her hand to wipe at his tear-stained face, very gently shushing him. He was still sniveling, not looking at either of them. When he tried to sit up, a cruel pain scorched his seat and that’s when he realized he wont be sitting comfortably for days. He yelped, failing to catch the sound in time, and stood up quickly. So did Brennan and Shalimar.
Brennan so wanted to pull him into his arms. Shalimar was dying to do the same thing. But they had still to wait and see what Jesse’s next reaction would be. Jesse continued to avert his eyes from them.
“May I … go to my room now… please?”
//No you may not!//
Shalimar started to stop him, hold him, rock him… but Brennan stopped her instead. Jesse needed some time to process this. He needed to think. And it was better that they let him do so before they started fussing over him again.
“Go ahead Jesse.”
Quickly doing up the catches of his jeans and grimacing at the effect, he started down the stairs. Emma still sat below, her face a mask of compassion and sympathy. She didn’t stop him and with heavy strides he disappeared into his room. Brennan’s heart went with him as he murmured to himself.
//Jess please don’t slam your door. Don’t slam your door.//
Jesse didn’t slam his door.