Pairing: Chase/Jason, William/Reed
Series: Navigating the World and Relationships
The noise of the crowded restaurant reverberated in Chase's head; the clatter of dishes, the din of voices, the Christmas music playing too loud, all making Chase's head ache. As his headache grew, so did his anger listening to William.
William had been bemoaning the fact that his parents, his mother in particular, wanted William and Reed to spend the Christmas holidays with them.
"I hate the way she refers to Reed as `my friend'", William said, emphasizing my friend in a falsetto voice.
"William, she's trying. Trying to accept that you've grown up and no longer need her," Reed explained.
Chase tried to tune them out by taking a drink of his soda, but William continuing to complain that having parents, loving, caring parents, was pushing him to the breaking point. That breaking point came when William made a sarcastic remark about his mother still placing a gift from Santa Claus under the tree for him.
Slamming his cup down, Chase jumped up yelling, "You're an asshole! "
The hush that came over the restaurant was as loud as the noise had been.
"Chase." Chase danced out of the way of Jason's hand. Chase had never used Jason's blindness to his advantage; however, he made sure to keep just out of reaching distance.
"You are so fucking spoiled! Your parents spoiled you, Reed spoils you, and all you can do is bitch! I'm sick and tired of it. I'm outta here." Chase heard Jason call his name as he skirted tables and customers, heading to the door.
Once outside, Chase continued his fast pace down the sidewalk, not noticing the cold or that he'd left his coat hanging on the back of the chair. Imagine, complaining about a gift, Chase thought, thinking of all the Christmases without a gift from that mythical man in a red suit and of all the Christmases that saw him opening packages of underwear and socks. I bet William never opened a present only to get the wrong size underwear, he thought. Remembering the Christmases as a foster child, his pace slowed down.
Shivering in his remembrances and now noticing the cold, Chase stopped. Taking in his surroundings, Chase noticed the lack of holiday lights and decorations. He had walked away from the business district and into a neighborhood that reminded him of government housing. He had no idea how he'd gotten so far from the restaurant. Stuffing his hands in his pockets, Chase turned around. His cell phone was in his coat pocket, still at the restaurant. Jason always made him keep it away from the table.
By the time Chase got back, he was shivering and his teeth were chattering from the cold. Embarrassed at the tears that had dried on his face, and not wanting to face all the people in the restaurant, Chase peered in the front window. He saw that the table they had been sitting at was empty.
They had ridden downtown with Reed and William, but it wasn't too late and the busses would still be running. Chase walked to the bus stop, hoping he had enough money for the ride home. Pulling out a fistful of change, he was glad to see a bunch of quarters.
Once on the bus, heading home, Chase started thinking about what he'd done. He had just screamed profanities at William and left Jason sitting there reaching for him. The tears that had subsided started again. Chase felt small and petty, that he'd blown up over a Santa gift. He hated it when he acted so childishly.
Jason had talked to him about it many times. Chase had wanted to grow up and get out of the foster care system, but he had been unprepared for the burdens of adulthood. Jason had promised Chase that he understood, and willingly accepted that side of him. Never having a stable home and hearing promises that were eventually broken, Chase wondered if this was the time that Jason wouldn't understand, wouldn't accept how childish he could be. Making such a fuss over a Santa gift! How ridiculous.
Feeling the weight of the world on his shoulders, Chase got off the bus at his stop, and walked the few blocks through the residential area to their home. He wondered what he would find when he got there. He figured a bar of soap waiting to clean out his mouth, but he wondered if he would find that wretched paddle in Jason's hand.
Chase looked at their bare porch; they hadn't put any holiday decorations out. As he put his key in the door, he could hear Jason's muffled voice inside. Taking a deep breath, Chase pushed the door open, bracing for Jason's wrath.
"Chase?" Jason asked walking swiftly toward the door.
"Yeah, it's me."
"He's here. He came home. Reed, thank you so much for going to look for him. Yes, yes. OK, I'll talk to you later," Jason said into the phone, then flipped it shut.
Chase soon found himself wrapped in Jason's arms.
"God, Chase. I've never felt so helpless. I couldn't go look for you. Reed's
been driving the streets, but all I could do is wait, and hope you would come home."
Chase felt the vibration as well has heard Jason's voice as he was held tightly against him. Then he was thrust as arm's length as Jason said angrily, "Don't you ever do that again! I was so worried."
Pulled close again and wrapped in his arms, Chase started to shiver again, the warmth of Jason in stark contrast to Chase's cold body.
"You're freezing. Let's get you into a hot shower."
Chase had no choice but to follow as Jason grabbed his wrist and pulled him into the bathroom. Standing still, he let Jason strip him of his clothes, then moving when he led him to the shower. Chase stood to let the hot spray of the shower bring warmth back into his body. He turned when he felt hands rubbing his shoulders. Jason had gotten in the shower with him and was washing him.
When Jason finished washing him, Chase felt his wrist taken again, and pulled out of the shower. Jason briskly dried him with a towel and then towed him into their bedroom.
As Jason started to dress him, Chase broke his silence, "I can do it."
He felt his hands slapped away when he tried to take boxers from Jason's hand.
"I'm not letting you out of reach. Here, step in."
At that Chase's tears started again. "I'm sorry. So sorry. I'm sorry."
"You're alright. Come on, Chase. Let's get you dressed and into bed."
Once the boxers and t-shirt were on Chase was bundled into bed and held tight by Jason.
"Go to sleep. You're exhausted. We'll talk in the morning. I've got you. It's alright. Everything will be alright." Chase drifted off to sleep, listening to Jason's words of comfort.
"Chase, wake up. Come on, get up, and get dressed. Icon needs to go out."
"Go, take him." Chase mumbled, pulling the blankets closer around his neck. "Hey!" He shouted as the covers were pulled off.
"Up. You're going with me. I told you last night, I'm not letting you out of my reach. Now, get up and get dressed. Icon needs to go."
At the reminder of last night's fiasco, Chase started to apologize, "I'm sorry, Jason. I don't know what I was thinking."
When Jason used that tone, in that low volume, Chase listened.
"We'll talk about it soon enough. We'll take it one step at a time. Get dressed."
The sun was bright but the air was cold as they walked down the sidewalk, Jason holding the lead to Icon in one hand and holding Chase's hand in the other.
Chase tried once to pull his hand out of Jason's warm grasp. He didn't force the issue when Jason's hand gripped tightly not letting go. As they walked down the street, Chase took in the holiday decorations that neighbors had put up in their yards. At night, they looked so pretty, but in the stark sunlight, they looked tired and worn.
"Let's go down to the bakery, get a couple of donuts and head back home," Jason said once Icon had done his morning business.
The walk to the bakery was long, giving Icon his exercise. Chase figured the rest of the morning and afternoon would be spent talking. And maybe crying, if Jason brought out that wretched paddle. He let out a long sigh.
"It's going to be ok, Chase. Let's enjoy the morning."
The walk to the bakery and back to the apartment soothed Chase. Jason holding his hand, giving comfort and reassurance, allowed Chase to relax. Once back in their own house, in their homey kitchen, they moved in harmony perking coffee, putting out napkins, and getting out grapes, their nod to nutrition.
Once their light breakfast was consumed, Jason took Chase's hand and led him to the couch. Chase watched as Icon followed. Then the dog lay down, resting his head on Chase's feet. With Jason's hold on his hand and Icon's head on his feet, Chase thought he just might be able to get through the conversation.
"Alright, talk to me. What happened last night?" Jason asked quietly.
"I'm sorry. I was an idiot."
"No. Chase, I don't want to hear that. I want to know what happened. The whole time you were gone, I kept racking my mind, trying to figure out what had upset you so. Tell me. I can't help if you don't tell me."
"Please, it was stupid. I was just being stupid. I've said I'm sorry. I'll apologize to Reed and William. I won't do it again. Can we just please forget about it?" Chase hoped desperately that Jason this once, just this once wouldn't make him talk. He was embarrassed that he had acted so childishly, so selfishly.
"Stop. You are not stupid. I don't want to hear that again. We were eating pizza, talking. Was something said?"
"Jason, it's really stupid. I acted like a kid, I was jealous." Chase bit his lip at the last part. He could see the understanding dawn on Jason's face.
"When William was talking about Christmas," Jason stated. "Listening to him talk about his parents and how they celebrate the holidays, drove home that you never had that. That made you angry."
Chase loved that Jason knew him so well, knew when to push him to talk, and knew when to put the words in his mouth. Chase was never good with talking things out; he was a man of action, not words.
"He was complaining about having a mom who cared, getting gifts from Santa. Who does that?" Chase still couldn't understand.
"William has been sheltered all his life; his parents were very protective of him. He's fighting to break free from them. You both are brats, but you have very different needs," Jason explained. "You want and craved the protection. William needs Reed to help him learn the difference between being independent yet still have someone care for him."
"Yeah, I guess."
"William was really worried last night. He didn't understand what had happened. You just jumped up and yelled profanities. He didn't know what he'd said to make you so upset. You need to talk to him and explain."
"Today?" The thought of leaving Jason today was frightening. Chase had been feeling off balance for a number of days. The coming holidays, never great to begin with, were especially depressing now that both of Jason's parents had passed away.
"No, not today. Today you aren't getting out of my reach. Chase, I've rarely felt so helpless. I couldn't go look for you. Thank God Reed offered. He was driving around the streets while William was on the phone with me. Don't ever do that again."
Chase held tightly to Jason when Jason pulled him into a fierce hug. This was the part he was most ashamed of.
"I'm sorry. I used the fact you couldn't see me to run. I'm sorry. I'm awful." Chase continued to apologize and voice self recriminations. Apparently Jason had heard enough as Chase felt himself pushed away.
"You've never done that before. Last night I was desperate to find you, I didn't even think of how you used my blindness against me. I just wanted to find you, make sure you were alright. Chase, trust is a two-way street. I have to trust that you won't use my lack of sight against me."
"I know, I know. I'm sorry." Chase felt so ashamed. "Paddle me. I deserve it."
"Chase, paddling you doesn't bring back the trust that was lost last night. It doesn't make me feel better, and I don't think it will make you feel better. Will it?" Jason asked.
"Yes! No. I don't know. I feel so bad. I am sorry. What can I do? What will make it better?"
"Time, Chase. It will take time. We need to reconnect. We are going to spend a lot of time together. You will stay within reaching distance at all times."
The rest of the day was spent together, talking about Chase's past, his life as a foster child. They took Icon out for more exercise. After the afternoon walk, Jason made slow, leisurely love to Chase. By the day's end, Chase was feeling more settled, yet felt that there was unfinished business left between them.
"I almost wished you would've paddled me. I still feel so bad," Chase admitted when they were in bed.
"You still would've felt bad, just with a sore butt," Jason told him. "It'll get better. We just need to trust each other again, and that's going to take some time."
The thought of Jason not trusting him, had Chase crying again. Chase buried himself in Jason's arms and fell asleep for the second time in as many days listening to Jason's assurances.
The mornings became a new routine as Jason woke Chase to walk with him and Icon.
They talked as they walked, reconnecting, nurturing the trust that had been damaged. By Wednesday, Chase felt strong enough to call William and set up a lunch so that he could explain and apologize.
Sitting in the restaurant, Chase thought he should have chosen a different place. He felt too much that he was returning to the scene of the crime. He stood up and called to William when he saw him come in.
"I went ahead and ordered. I know you don't have much time for lunch," Chase told him.
"Thanks. Are you ok? I'm sorry; I didn't realize how I must have sounded to you."
Chase stared at William, not understanding why he was apologizing. He was the one who acted like an idiot, not William.
"What do you mean, you're sorry? I'm sorry. You didn't do anything wrong."
"Reed told me about how you were brought up. I must sound like a spoiled child to you," William explained. "I didn't mean to hurt you."
Chase felt a bit awkward knowing that Reed and William had been talking about him, that he never had a permanent family. He tried to remind himself that was in the past. He had Jason now and he had friends, they were his family now.
"Let's forget about it. I'm sorry, you're sorry. We can tell the big guys that we've apologized and life is good."
"Is it good?" William asked. Chase could see the concern on William's face.
"Yeah, William, it's good. I mean I'm not thrilled that you and Reed were talking about me, but I guess you needed to know."
"I meant, um, did Jason…?" William stuttered.
It finally dawned on Chase what he was asking.
"I forget how new you are to all this. Yes, it's good. Jason is keeping close tabs on me, where I'm at, but it's good. He didn't spank me; although, he probably should have. I was a real jerk to you and to him."
"I was worried. You've told me that Jason paddles you sometimes, and Reed told me to wait until you called me. I was imagining all sorts of things."
"Well, it wasn't pretty, but Jason didn't spank me. We are spending a lot of time together but that's good." Chase didn't want to tell William that he'd lost his lover's trust.
"Since Reed wouldn't let me call you, I did call my mom. I told her all about you, and she said to bring you along for Christmas. I told her that we had friends who were spending Christmas alone. She wants you to come home with us."
"What do you mean you told her all about me?" Chase felt a sinking sensation in his gut.
"I told her you never had parents, and that Christmas and the holidays were kind of rough on you."
"Why would you tell her that? You think I need your pity? I don't need your fucking pity! I won't go to another Christmas where I'm just the poor kid with no family. Fuck you, you are an asshole!"
Chase felt a sense of déjà vu as he stormed out of the restaurant again. At least this time, he wasn't leaving his partner behind and instead of wandering the streets, Chase went home.
"Chase?" Jason called out loudly as he came in the door.
"What? What's wrong?"
"Thank God. William called me and told me that you had gotten upset and left the restaurant again. I was worried."
Chase hung his head, but walked over to Jason. Wrapping his arms around him, Chase promised, "I won't run away, again. I promise."
"Let me put my stuff away, and then you can tell me what happened."
When they were settled on the couch, Chase told Jason about William's invitation and of his own reaction. "I just feel so out of sorts. Like I don't have any control over what I'm saying. I say such horrible things, and then feel so bad afterward."
"I know it's hard this time of year, with all the talk of family and being home for Christmas. Since I lost both of my parents it's hard on both of us. I know you miss them as much as I do. But you do have control. You just choose not to use it. I also think you need to feel some closure from last weekend. I've failed you in that. I won't make the same mistake. Let's adjourn to the spare room."
Once in the bedroom, Chase went straight to the bedside table that held the paddle. Taking it out he walked quickly to where Jason sat on the bed. He felt Jason's hand slide down his arm and take the paddle out of his hand.
"Take your pants off."
Chase swallowed hard but complied. As much as he hated to be paddled, he knew he deserved this. He felt Jason's warm hand on his arm, as Jason pulled him forward and guided him over his lap. Chase felt both of Jason's hands on him, one rubbing his back and the other rubbing his bottom. His bottom felt the cool air as Jason's hand left it to pick up the paddle he'd set beside him.
All thoughts left his brain at the first swipe of the paddle. All he could do was feel the sting of that piece of wood as it set his ass on fire. The paddle continued its ruthless destruction of his butt. Before long, Chase started to jump and twist as the paddle moved to his upper thighs. Jason always ended with swats to that sensitive area, leaving a reminder that he would feel well into the next day.
Chase lay sobbing over Jason's lap. He didn't want to move; the burn in his backside consuming him. As the pain started to subside, Chase struggled to his feet. "I'm sorry."
"I know. It's done, you've paid the price. Come let me hold you."
Chase snuggled onto Jason's lap. He leaned onto his hip to take the weight of his body off his throbbing bottom. The sound of Jason's heartbeat comforted him as he laid his cheek on Jason's chest.
"I think it's the restaurant," Chase hiccupped. "We need to find a new place to eat."
He felt Jason's lips press on his head and his smile as he said, "No, I don't think we need to find a new place. I think you need to keep your temper in check. But I think I made that point clear, hmmm?"
"Yes, it's clear. I hate that wretched paddle."
"I know, and that's why it works. When you're ready, I think you should call William and apologize. It's up to you if you want to go to his parents' house. But he didn't invite you out of pity. I think he invited you because he cares about you."
"Can we just sit here awhile longer?" Chase asked, relishing the feel of Jason's arms around him.
"We have all the time in the world," Jason promised him.
Chase was wide eyed as Reed drove through the affluent neighborhood. These types of home he'd only seen on T.V. The large lawns decorated in expensive Nativity scenes were nothing like the cheap, old decorations of the homes he'd grown up in. Chase would bet his last dollar that none of these homes had a clothes line in the backyard. He wondered what possessed him to accept the invitation to spend Christmas with them.
Chase remembered back to the first phone conversation he had with Amanda, William's mother. "Well, of course you'll come here for Christmas. William has told me so much about you that I feel as though I already know you."
Amanda had started calling Chase every Sunday to make sure he was still coming for Christmas, saying at one point that Santa had already told her that he was bringing his present to her house. The conversations over the following weeks had covered many things: Chase's growing up years in foster care, his indecision over what to do with his life, his relationship with Jason. Of course, the whole of the relationship hadn't been discussed but Chase had found himself telling Amanda how he'd met Jason and how Jason and he had been making a home for themselves. Hearing Reed's deep voice shook Chase out of his musings.
"Remember, she loves you, William. That's why she acts the way she does. If it gets to be too much, say you need to get some fresh air or something. Don't snap and snarl at your mother, especially over the holidays."
As they pulled onto the driveway Chase felt Jason squeeze his hand. He turned to him. "It's OK. I'm good."
When they get out of the car, Chase saw a woman step out to the porch. She must have been watching and waiting for us, he thought. The only word to describe her was polished; her hair nicely done, dressed in expensive looking clothes, but the smile on her face was warm and welcoming.
As they walked up the steps into the house, she looked straight into Chase's
eyes and with a smile said, "I'm so glad you came home for Christmas."