Adam struggled to lift one eyelid enough to try and determine what time it was. A noise had woken him, but he just knew it was too early to get up. Winning the battle with sleep, he opened one eye and looked at the clock: 5:15. Way too early for him to get up, but Adam knew that Austin had been up for a while. Nine years of getting up and moving before the sun rose had conditioned his Austin. And it'd take more than the couple of weeks that Austin had been out of the army to get him to sleep in. Adam didn't have that conditioning and rolled over to go back to sleep.
Just as he started to doze off, another noise echoed down the hall and into the bedroom. Sighing heavily, Adam waited.
There it was, another noise. It seemed Austin was ready to start the day. They were having a barbecue, the first since Austin had been discharged. All their family knew that Austin was starting a new life as a civilian, but not all of their friends. A barbecue seemed like a good way to let everyone know and to enjoy the late summer Sunday.
Stumbling out of bed, Adam went in the bathroom and completed his morning routines. Then still bleary eyed, went in search of the elixir of life: coffee. Fumbling in the cabinet, then finding a mug and pouring himself a cup, Adam flopped down on a kitchen chair. After a couple sips, he thought his voice might work.
"Good morning." Gravelly but not to bad for this ungodly hour, Adam thought.
Austin looked over his shoulder and sent a small smile in Adam's direction, then turned back to the sink.
That smile felt distant to Adam, sending a little warning signal up his spine. Setting his coffee on the table, Adam stood up, stretched, and walked up behind Austin. He wrapped his arms around Austin. Laying his chin on Austin's shoulder, he asked, "What are you doing?"
"Peeling potatoes. They need to cook before I can make the potato salad. And then I need to make sure the salad is chilled. No one likes hot potato salad."
It was said politely, but there was something about it that turned up that warning signal. Something, but Adam couldn't quite put his finger on what it was.
"It'll get done. No one's coming until this afternoon," Adam said, walking back to his coffee. After a quick look at the clock on the stove, he continued, "I think it'll all get done in almost 10 hours. I expect the first to arrive will be your mom about 3."
"I know, but by the time I get the potato salad done, mix up the pasta salad, start the grill, I'll need to get Joey..." Austin's voice drifted off, thinking of all that needed to be done.
The warning siren was running full blast now in Adam's head. "WE," he said sharply.
"Hmm, what? Oh, yeah, we," Austin agreed absently.
Adam remembered a long ago time when Austin had told him that he wanted discipline and that was why he had joined the army. That discipline helped him to focus. And he wanted that in his personal life too. Adam had felt terrified. He didn't want the responsibility of another person. He already had his brother, Joey, to take care of, let alone himself. He was only 23 years old when Austin had asked that of him. But through trial and error, they'd forged a relationship that worked best for them. Adam had also discovered that incorporating discipline into their life came pretty naturally to him. Adam didn't have to act all that differently than he normally would. Well, except for the 'spanking an adult' thing. But they'd worked that out. They'd figured out how to have discipline in their lives even though Austin was away more often than not.
Now, though, their life was changing, their relationship was changing. Austin was home full time and he didn't have the structure and routine that he had in the army. Adam had a sudden revelation. He needed to help Austin find that structure. Not do it for him, but help him find that security in a world without the army and its regulations. And right now, Austin was spinning. Quietly, but spinning all the same. Adam knew how to stop Austin before it got out of control. But this was outside of what they'd done in the past.
Taking a deep breath, Adam said softly, "Austin. Stop."
Adam knew his voice carried a strength, because Austin turned and looked at him. Sheepishly. Oh, he knew he was spinning, but Adam knew Austin couldn't stop himself. With more confidence, Adam continued, "Come here. We need to have a talk."
Adam pulled out a chair for Austin and after Austin sat down, Adam sat next to him. "You're letting this barbecue become something bigger than it is. And I think it's going to control you all day."
"It's important! We're the hosts and we're telling everyone that I'm home for good! People are going to ask questions…"
Adam grabbed Austin's hand, interrupting him. "Stop. You need to relax and just enjoy the day."
Austin looked at him with a bit of desperation. "I can't!"
"I've an idea," Adam said hesitantly, then stopped. He needed to show that he thought this was the right thing to do. If he showed any indecision, Austin would pick up on it. And he wanted Austin settled. Giving himself an internal shake, Adam continued with more assurance in his voice, "You've not done anything wrong. I want you to understand that. But, I think you need a spanking to help calm you down."
"What? A spanking?"
"Yes, a spanking." Adam suddenly had a thought. "You've heard of 'preemptive strikes', right?"
"Yes," Austin said warily.
You can take the man out of the army, but not the army out of the man, Adam thought. He knew that Austin understood the terminology he'd just used, but he decided they both needed it spelled out.
"Tell me what a preemptive strike is," Adam encouraged.
Austin shot him a strange look, but explained, "A preemptive strike is when you launch a surprise attack to prevent the enemy from attacking first."
"The enemy in this war is stress and stress's way of attacking is to get you to wall yourself off from the people who love you." Adam explained how he saw this working, "I want to prevent that, and I think a spanking will keep those walls down. So....surprise!"
Adam watched as Austin processed what he'd said. He could see the wheels turning in Austin's head. He knew Austin understood and accepted when he gave a crooked smile and said, "You know I never have liked surprises. Even as a kid, I wanted to know what was going on, when, and why."
"Well, I think we've covered the what and why," Adam said. Then he took Austin's hand and with a small tug to indicate he wanted Austin to stand up, he continued, "And the when is now."
Adam pushed his own chair out as he gently pulled Austin toward him until Austin was standing right in front. He unbuttoned and then unzipped his jeans. Once Austin's pants were undone, Adam pulled him to his left side and lowered his jeans.
"Well, how accommodating you are, going commando," Adam laughed, hoping to put Austin at ease. "Isn't that the Rangers' motto? Always prepared?"
His gamble paid off when Austin huffed a laugh. "No, it's 'Of their own accord'; but I guess that applies to us too."
"I guess it does," Adam agreed and helped Austin over his lap. His poor boy moved awkwardly until he lay stiffly over Adam's lap. Austin's legs were straight and taut out to the left; his arms to the right, stiff and supporting his weight. This wasn't going to be a brisk, quick, spanking, Adam thought. Austin needed to let go.
Adam cupped his hand slightly and brought it down. The slap made a loud noise in their kitchen, but he had tempered his strength. Noisy, stinging, not truly hurtful, but it was enough to let Austin know this WAS happening. He couldn't hide behind any walls or stresses. Adam continued with the noisy, stinging slaps until Austin's body relaxed fractionally. Austin's legs were slightly bent at the knees, his arms were no longer rigid and his head hung down.
Now was the time to put a bit more fire on the pale pink cheeks. Adam flattened his hand and brought it down with a bit more force. He wanted the feeling of warmth to last on Austin's ass. Remind him that he was in the here and now, and that Adam was with him always.
Austin's cheeks clenched and released with each of the harder swats. Adam continued to bring his hand down. No words were spoken, but Austin's breath was coming out in gasps and a few grunts. Adam decided the spanking could start to conclude when his own hand moved from stinging to burning. Cupping his hand again, he brought back the noisy, less painful slaps.
Adam slowed the spanks and finally let his hand stop falling. Instead, he started stroking his boy's red ass. He stroked and soothed, until finally he said, "This is going to be a good day; a fun day. They're family and friends, no reason to get upset. Nothing has to be perfect."
He helped Austin back to his feet and pulled up his pants. Letting Austin zip and button gave him the chance to pull himself together. Spankings worked for both of them, but Adam knew that often Austin felt as awkward right after a spanking as he did right before one.
Finally, Austin met his eyes. "Yeah, it's gonna be good. Could you make the pasta salad, while I finish up the potato salad?"
Standing up and pushing his chair back to the table, Adam said, "Yeah, I can do that."
The men worked quietly side by side, each making their own dish, the atmosphere an easy one. Adam knew that the preemptive strike had worked. He wondered aloud, "You think a preemptive strike would work to get you to sleep in?"
Austin laughed out loud, turned and gave him a quick kiss. "I never could sleep late, I was always an early riser."
"Well, I'm just going to have to find out exactly what maneuver will keep you in bed," Adam said with an exaggerated leer. He reached out with every intention of showing Austin just what maneuver he'd use, when the phone rang.
"Hello," Austin said into the phone, his eyes twinkling with knowing mischief at Adam. "Hi mom. No, I told you, Adam and I were taking care of the food. You can bring wine if you feel you have to contribute."
Adam finished up his salad, and started to wash the few dishes they'd dirtied that morning. Austin sounded calm, happy, and relaxed. He'd call his early morning mission a success.