Austin sat on the couch listening to Adam talk on the phone. Apparently Joey wanted Adam to take him to the movies. They'd been lying together on the couch, Adam leaning against the arm of the couch with Austin leaning against him. He'd been resting with his back in the V of Adam's legs and Adam's arms wrapped securely around his chest. When Joey had called, they'd been reconnecting after the storm of emotions that had blown through earlier that day.
Austin had been home with little to do for a number of days. His army reserve unit had been sent overseas to help a struggling country after a catastrophic disaster. Austin hadn't been deployed with the rest of his platoon to the area that had been devastated by the earthquake. He had been working hard to become a medic in the unit, but he hadn't completed the course and this wasn't a training exercise. People were in serious need of help and Austin didn't have the skills yet to help them. Feeling useless, unmanned, he'd taken it out on anybody close enough. That "body" happened to be Adam.
Adam had put up with it for a while, trying to divert Austin. First with sex, which had taken Austin's mind off it for an hour or so. Then with yard work. Austin knew his temper tantrums and snark were really ways to push Adam into spanking him. And he succeeded. Earlier in the evening, Adam had taken him over his lap and spanked him. Austin had felt better. Until now.
Now, Austin felt a bit ashamed. No, ashamed wasn't right, he thought to himself. Embarrassed. Yeah, that was it. How can a grown man, an army soldier, feel better after a spanking? Just that morning, he'd been angry, hurt, and a right bastard to Adam. Now, they were sitting together, watching television, Adam on the phone to his brother, like a normal couple. Austin seemed even more aware of the heat in his ass as he sat there on the couch. He had to move. He jumped up but didn't know exactly what to do or where to go.
Standing up didn't make Austin any less aware of his ass. Nor did it lessen the embarrassment. Just a few hours ago, he'd been bare butt over Adam's lap. And right after the spanking, he'd felt good, felt calmer. But now he just felt agitated.
Austin picked up the television remote. Turning the sound down so Adam could hear Joey on the phone, Austin thought he'd really rather turn the sound up. The noise of the television might drown out the thoughts tumbling in his head. And besides, the sound of Adam talking to his brother, made Austin remember how Adam had talked to him as he gulped back tears during the spanking. Austin had been chagrined at the tears welling up in his eyes. Soldiers didn't cry. Even after a spanking. Or at least they shouldn't! They also shouldn't need a spanking. Then why did it make him feel better?
Austin just needed to get out of the room! His emotions were running riot. Coffee! He could get them another cup of coffee. But just as he reached for the cups sitting on the coffee table, Adam's voice startled him.
"Well, I've convinced Joey to wait until tomorrow to go to the movies."
"What?" Austin asked feeling disoriented. He hadn't realized that Adam was off the phone and now was standing next to him.
"Joey wanted us to drop everything and take him to the movies. Now." Adam chuckled a bit at his brother's impatience. "That new sci-fi movie is out. You know how he is about science fiction."
"Yeah," Austin said vaguely, fiddling nervously with the cups. They really should have a cup of coffee.
"Don't. Don't do that." Adam begged suddenly. The plea was in his eyes as well as in the tone of his voice.
"Don't what?" Austin asked. He stopped playing with the coffee cups and had straightened up, but kept his body angled away from Adam.
"Don't step back like that." The pleading tone had lessened. "We were fine, just sitting watching TV together."
Ducking his head, not able to meet Adam's eyes, Austin said, "I just thought I'd stretch my legs while you were on the phone. I've not stepped away from you."
"Bullshit!" Adam growled forcefully. "You did step back! Not just physically, but you've removed yourself! I can feel it, Austin. It's like that military maneuver. Reverse? Retrace?"
"Retreat," Austin mumbled. He knew he had. The voice in his head had screamed Retreat! Louder than any career sergeant. Austin's body may have only moved a few feet from the couch, but he knew he gave the illusion of not being present.
"Yeah, retreat. You don't have to move very far to retreat," Adam said. "You think I can't see it? Austin, I love you, I can feel you. Don't back away from me... from us. Talk to me. Yell at me. But don't back away."
God, he wanted to, but Austin didn't know what to say. How do you say to the person you loved that you wanted, needed, felt calmer after you'd been spanked. And that made him uncomfortable, not just physically, but mentally. He was embarrassed. Some because he was spanked, but mostly because of how it made him feel. How did he tell Adam that the spanking he’d asked for in the first place made him feel awkward?
"Damn it, Austin, you've retreated even more!" Adam growled. "It stops now."
The command in Adam's voice made Austin lift his head. Just in time for Adam to clasp his hands to Austin's head and to capture his lips in a fierce kiss. Adam's kiss was hard. And sweet. And masterful. And didn't leave room for Austin's retreat. That kiss brought Austin back to the present.
As soon as Austin started kissing him back, grinding his hips against Adam's, Adam pulled back, leaving his hands on either side of Austin's head, and demanded, "Now that you're back with me, tell me what's going through that head of yours."
Austin wanted to melt against Adam. This was why so many years ago he'd asked Adam to top him. Not sexually, but in life, with discipline. Adam didn't even realize the extent of his dominance, he did it so naturally, but Austin felt it deep inside himself. He couldn't refuse to answer.
"I feel better," Austin said.
Austin huffed out a laugh. Oh Adam may be a natural when it came to discipline, but he wasn't a mind reader.
"After a spanking, I feel better," he clarified.
That hadn't cleared the baffled look on Adam's face. "Um, ok. And why would that make you remove?"
Austin pushed forward and gave Adam a kiss. "Retreat. It's called retreat. Don't you think it's strange that a grown man would feel better after getting his ass beat?"
"First of all, I don't beat you!" Adam said. He finally moved his hands away from the sides of Austin's head, then grabbed his hand and firmly led him to the couch. When he sat, Austin had no choice but to sit down beside him.
"No, no! I didn't mean that you beat me!" Austin tried to assure Adam. "I meant that I feel so jittery, so out of control. But a spanking from you calms me."
"Yes," Adam drew the word out. "I thought that's why we did it."
"It is, but isn't that strange? Wrong?" Austin didn't know if he was telling Adam or asking him.
"When I was a kid, I didn't realize anything was wrong with Joey," Adam said, leaning back against the couch, pulling Austin with him until they were cuddled together. "He was just Joey. As I grew older, I heard people whispering about him. They'd whisper mean words, hateful words. Words that hurt me."
Austin could only imagine how much Adam had hurt. He could feel the pain as Adam talked to him.
"One day I asked my mom what was wrong with Joey. You know what she said?" Adam continued without waiting for Austin to answer. "She said, not a damn thing. He's just the way he's supposed to be. Then she told me that Joey's brain worked differently and that he had quirks. But that no two people thought the same way and everyone had quirks. Just Joey's was more obviously different."
Austin knew he needed to say something profound here. "Um, ok."
Adam leaned in and gave him a very tender kiss. "Spanking, discipline, is just one of your quirks. It's the way your mind works. It is what it is. Why be embarrassed about it? We don't shout about it from the rooftop, so no one but us knows. And it works for you. For us."
"Does it? Work for you, I mean." Austin asked. "I kind of forced you into it."
"You didn't force me into it. I just didn't know anything about it. I don't think it'd work for me if I was on the receiving end. My parents didn't believe in corporal punishment. But between you and me? Yeah, it works for me. I do enjoy the sensual spankings more than the other kind."
"Yeah," Austin agreed absently. He didn't retreat, but he did let his mind assimilate what Adam had said about Joey, his mom, and quirks. "You don't think spanking is a strange quirk to have?"
"Austin, Candice in my office has to realign all her pens and notepads every morning when she first arrives. She does the exact same thing before she leaves at night. No one touches her desk; the stuff is all exactly how she left it, but each morning she has to realign everything. Jim has to push the lock button on his key ring twice. We always know when he pulls up to the office because his car beeps with each push to the lock. Those little quirks assure us that everything is alright in our world. You get that assurance from a spanking every few months. It's not good. It's not bad. It's just who you are."
Adam's confidence and matter of fact common sense eased the worry from Austin's mind. Basically he was saying, Austin thought, was that his quirk, his need of discipline, was just who he was. Like Austin being right handed and Adam being left. Nothing right or wrong, just a part of who they were.
Adam relaxed further into Austin as contentment filled him body and soul. He could live with his quirks, as long as he had Adam there beside him. With that contentment came a sense of freedom. That freedom made him tease Adam.
"How do you know being on the receiving end wouldn't help you?" he asked not quite masking his amusement.
"I just know. Just like I know when it really is time to retreat," Adam said and then stood up. "Come on, its late and its been a full day. Let's retreat to bed."
"Retire to the bedroom, not retreat. How can you have lived with me all these years and still not know military jargon?" Austin asked as they walked to their bedroom.
"That's one of MY quirks."
Austin's heart felt full of Adam's love. Yes, they all had quirks. Joey had his, and Adam and Austin had theirs. None of them needed to retreat from their quirks, just learn to live with them.