Oliver lay on his back with an arm around Benjamin, who was snug up against him. He’d just gotten home from a trip out west, where he’d found an apartment for them to share at the end of May when they moved. His boyfriend was pressing him for details, but not about their new place or future neighborhood or the flight home.
”Did he make you stand in the corner?”
“No, he did not. Why are you so curious about what Danny did to me, huh? You lookin’ for a demonstration?” Oliver ran the hand behind Ben through his boyfriend’s hair affectionately, making sure he knew there was no heat behind the threat. In truth he felt like Ben deserved whatever answers he wanted; Oliver had upset him and he had every right to be upset. If what he wanted was details, Oliver would do his best.
”Did he use the hairbrush?”
”Yes, you little miscreant. I’m sure you knew he would.”
”I didn’t!” Ben said, a little indignantly. “I didn’t know for sure you were gonna be in trouble.” He turned on the bed, sitting up a little and looking down at Oliver as he asked, “Does it still hurt?” His face was filled with such sweet earnest worry that Oliver couldn’t help but to lean up and kiss him quickly.
He winced dramatically with the movement, then winked as his head hit the pillow again. “Yes, it does. But not much. Only when I sit down too hard.”
Ben searched Oliver’s face a moment more before laying down again, his head on Ollie’s chest. “Well. You did deserve it.”
”Yes,” said Oliver, giving Ben a squeeze. “I guess I did.”
They lay silently for a few minutes before Ben said, “Did you cry?”
Oliver flushed a little, but he answered truthfully, “Yeah, I did.”
He felt Ben give a little shudder beside him as he said “He always makes me cry if he thinks what I did was dangerous, or if he thinks I’m screwing up my life somehow.”
”What’d you do?” Oliver asked, sensing something in Ben’s tone and suddenly curious himself. In seconds he could feel the heat from Ben’s face through the thin fabric of his shirt, but he didn’t speak until Oliver nudged him.
”It’s so embarrassing though!” Ben whined into Oliver’s chest, but his boyfriend just chuckled.
“It’s all embarrassing, sweet boy. I’m beginning to think that’s half the point.” He kissed the top of Ben’s head.
”There wasn’t just one time,” Ben mumbled, but Oliver would have guessed that.
“But there’s one time you’re thinking of?”
~ ~ ~
Ben heard a noise downstairs and paused the video game he was playing to lean over and look out of his bedroom window. FUCK.
Why? Why was Danny’s car in the driveway? He was in school three hours away and there was literally no reason for him to be here and this was not good this was so not good this was–
“Benjamin! Get down here.”
Ben scrambled up from his spot on the floor, looking around his room for no particular reason, panicked. He was supposed to be in school right now, but with their parents in Switzerland or Kenya or wherever they were this week, he wasn’t even pretending to be sick. Not that he needed much of an excuse when they were home; the smallest hint of a cough and his mother would cup his face and kiss his forehead and tell him to stay home and rest. But today he just wasn’t in school. And maybe he had skipped yesterday. And the day before.
Danny’s voice traveled up the stairs again, “Benjamin Ryan! Now!”
Ben took a deep breath and exited his room. The stairs ended by the kitchen, where Danny was standing with his arms crossed, leaning back against the breakfast table. “Why? Why are you not in school?” he said as soon as Ben’s foot touched the bottom step.
Ben sat on the landing, crossing his own arms and looking away. “Hello to you, too. I don’t feel good.”
Dan let the silence grow so thick that eventually Ben couldn’t help but look over at his older brother. The muscles of Danny’s clenched jaw were twitching, and Ben was afraid his head might actually explode. That would be hard to explain to their parents.
~ ~ ~
“Wait so when was this?” Oliver asked.
“Senior year. Not too long before graduation because it was Danny’s spring break. Ours was two weeks earlier.”
“He was in grad school already?”
“Yeah, Mr. Over-achiever finished undergrad a year early and went straight back to school.”
“Got it got it. So then what happened?”
~ ~ ~
“I am not Mom. Or Dad. Try again,” Danny finally ground out.
“Well they don’t care so why do you care?” Ben pouted. It was the wrong thing to say. He barely had time to eek out a “Wait I didn’t mean it!” before Danny was hauling him up with one strong hand on the younger boy’s bicep and swatting his backside with the other. Dan didn’t dignify the comment with a verbal response, but Ben got the message loud and clear. He was cognizant of his yelps echoing up the stairwell as the spanking went on and on. With a final almighty whack, he was deposited back on the steps. He immediately shifted left and right, sliding his hands under his stinging backside and grateful he was still in the sweatpants he’d worn to bed.
Danny squatted in front of him, not looking the least bit mollified. “Don’t try that again, Ben. I mean it.”
Ben nodded silently; he’d regretted it the moment the words had left his mouth, and not just because of the immediate repercussions. Despite the occasional teenage resentment, Ben knew exactly why Danny cared, and how much. They’d had their share of heart-to-hearts over the years. Their parents loved them, but they both traveled for work and just as often for pleasure. When they were home, both were so conflict avoidant that Ben never faced any consequences for whatever had happened in their absence.
Ben wasn’t mature enough yet to wonder at what it must have cost his brother to step into his role as a third parent so early, but he was old enough to be grateful. Usually.
Dan stalked back to the kitchen table, resuming his earlier stance and gazing at his little brother with stern, forbidding eyes. Ben leaned his head against the wall and sulked. He didn’t care in this moment what motivated his brother. He just knew that his week of staying home playing video games and staying up late was over.
“Do you know how many days you’ve missed this year?” Danny finally asked.
“I dunno… like eight?”
Dan glared at him. “Try twenty.”
~ ~ ~
“Twenty?! How did you get away with twenty absences? We could only have three unexcused ones before they sent someone to your house!”
Ben had the grace to blush as he traced the pattern on Oliver’s t-shirt with his finger. “Well most of them were excused because my mom would get a doctor’s note. Plus I went to private school so it’s a little easier to get away with things there. But it also makes it a little easier to bend other rules. Danny was getting cc’d on all the communications to my parents. That’s how he knew I’d been out of school three days in a row.”
Oliver shook his head. “I would have murdered my sisters if they’d had twenty absences. Were you ever even sick?”
“Maybe once or twice, but not really. It was actually a pretty sweet deal.”
Oliver rolled his eyes, though Ben wasn’t able to see it. “Okay, high school me would have been jealous. But high school me also didn’t have a Danny.”
“High school you was lucky.”
~ ~ ~
“Stand up. Put your nose in the corner,” Danny said abruptly. He pointed to the landing corner, before the stairs turned sharply right. Ben stared at him, dumbfounded. “What?!” he said finally, then immediately stood and scrambled backward as Danny started to walk toward him. His brother stopped at the bottom of the three steps leading up to the landing. Ben was plastered to the wall, eyeing the upper floor shrewdly as he said “I’m not a little kid! You can’t put me in time-out!”
~ ~ ~
“You yelled that at me last week,” Oliver said, laughing. Ben jerked his head up off of his boyfriend’s torso and glared down at him.
“I did not!”
Oliver merely raised his eyebrows in response.
“Are you finished interrupting?” Ben huffed.
“I am, I am, please continue,” Ollie placated him, rubbing his back as he settled back down. It wasn’t worth pressing at the moment.
~ ~ ~
It hadn’t been the most obedient five minutes Ben had ever spent in a corner, but it was the first time. He’d stomped and fidgeted and banged his head lightly against the wall. He’d let out a long dramatic sigh.
He’d let out several long dramatic sighs.
When Danny did call him, it was from the living room. Ben trudged in, hands in his pockets, trying to portray a nonchalance he didn’t quite feel. His brother sat in one of the two floral-patterned fauteuil chairs, and gestured for Ben to sit in the other. Ben did, slouching in response to Danny’s straight backed posture across from him.
Danny didn’t look much less annoyed than he had earlier. Ben didn’t care. He knew what was about to happen, knew it was inevitable, and now just wanted Danny to know how little he cared.
”Sit up,” Dan said immediately, and perhaps predictably (though Ben would have vehemently denied that he was purposefully antagonizing the older boy). Ben rolled his eyes, but complied. Dan continued to speak. “I’m not going to waste much time talking about why you should be in school right now. We’ve been over it. And over it.”
Ben rolled his eyes, pointing them skyward and ignoring his heating face as he forced himself to say “Just get it over with.”
”Look at me, please,” Danny replied. With an exaggerated turn of his head, Ben looked back. Danny was reaching for a box that lay on the small round table between the two angled chairs. He opened it as he spoke, extracting a solid oval hairbrush with a dark finish. “I got this on the drive here, at an antique store off the highway.”
He didn’t explain it further. He didn’t need to. Ben’s chest was tight and he couldn’t take his eyes off the wooden hairbrush. Danny had threatened, on more than one occasion, to buy a one. Ben never thought it would actually happen.
”I’m finished explaining to you why it is so important for you to do your best. For you to behave yourself. For you to continue to do well in school. You’re going to have to grow up a little and figure that out on your own. And I’m confident you will.
“Today I’m going to give you one very good reason for you to do all of the above.”
”You can’t… you can’t hit me with that,” Ben said. He had intended to sound surly, but he came nowhere close.
”I can, and will, be spanking you with this hairbrush, Benjamin. Today, and any day you miss school until graduation. If I have to drive three hours to do it, I’ll drive three hours to do it. If I have to miss class to take care of you, that’s a second spanking before school the next morning.”
Ben tore his gaze away from the brush and gaped at his brother, not wanting to believe him but knowing he meant every word. The fire in his eyes had been replaced with grim determination. Ben watched him scoot toward the edge of his chair, a small step in the direction of doom for Ben’s bottom. “Time to ‘get it over with,’ as you requested.”
Ben leaned down, elbows on his knees and face in his hands. He rubbed his eyes, a useless attempt to wake up from this nightmare. And to stall for time. What were his options? He could run, but Danny was faster. He could fight, but Danny was stronger. He could argue, but Danny was grabbing his arm and pulling him over and—
And then it was happening, he was horizontal over Danny’s lap and his pants were pulled down to his knees, with nothing left to do but accept the inevitable, though Ben’s interpretation of “accept” left lots of wiggle room. Ben groaned and then Danny’s hand landed, and then it didn’t stop landing for a very long time.
Ben refused to make any more noise at first, but as the heat in his backside began to build, he found himself banging the floor in frustration. Danny didn’t notice or didn’t care. His hand never slowed. “This isn’t fair! I don’t deserve this!” he yelled out, and Danny did seem to notice that because he paused to yank Ben’s boxers down to join his sweatpants. “Ahh!” Ben called out as the pain increased. “Just stop!”
Danny said above him, with all the patience of Ghandi, “I have only one point to make today, Benjamin. But I don’t think you’re ready to listen yet.” Oliver felt the strength of the swats increase and he yelled out again, then flung his hand back in a vain attempt at stopping the spanking, even momentarily. Danny trapped it with ease, not being inexperienced with this move, and continued with yet another round of searing swats.
“I’m ready to listen! Danny! I’m ready to listen!” Ben finally broke, but nothing changed. He tried again a minute later, as his legs scissored wildly, “I’ll go to school! I won’t miss any more days! Even if I’m sick!” but there was still no pause in the steady onslaught. Every inch of his butt hurt, not to mention the tops of his thighs. He never thought he’d miss the lecture part, but at least it generally made Danny slow down. “I won’t ever be late again! I’ll show up early! Danny I swear just stoooooopp!” he whined desperately.
This seemed to have the opposite effect from what Ben wanted, though, as Danny began concentrating all of his very powerful efforts on the undercurve of Ben’s backside and the tops of his thighs. Ben screeched and flailed, and finally did get another pause, but only to hear Danny’s voice, deadly quiet, advising him to be careful with his kicking feet.
”How? I can’t help it!” Ben said. Danny shifted Ben’s body forward, across one knee, and threw his leg across Ben’s.
“I think this is going to be necessary anyway today, so we might as well start now,” he proclaimed as he started in again on Ben’s hot and swollen backside. The swats were no harder but now the skin and muscles of Ben’s backside were pulled tight and the impact seemed to quadruple.
Ben was starting to feel a lot of regret about a lot of things; there was no room in his mind to worry about his impending date with the hairbrush. He didn’t even remember to be mad at his brother, he was so desperate to be out of this situation.
Eventually the swats did slow and then stop, and Danny released Ben’s hand so his own would be free to rub the boy’s back. Ben’s eyes were full of unshed tears as he soaked up the comfort he was given. “I’m sorry” he choked out, his attitude completely gone as he lay there, his rear end throbbing and sore.
Danny continued to rub his back as he said, “I know you are, kid. You always are in this position, and I think you genuinely mean it at the time. And then you forget.” Ben felt Dan reach over to the table, and then felt the smooth finish of the new hairbrush glide across the taught skin of his backside. He started struggling immediately, but Danny grasped his wrist again and easily kept him in place as he continued, “I’m going to give you something you better not forget. You might forget all the reasons, but you better remember what this feels like, because it will happen again when and if it needs to.”
”I won’t forget! Please Danny, I won’t, I get it, I’m sorry,” he babbled, tears finally dropping on the hardwood floor in anticipation of the hairbrush landing. But it didn’t stop it from coming. Danny brought the hairbrush down firmly on Ben’s backside, first the left cheek and then the right, slower than before but hard, until Ben’s bottom had been thoroughly punished with the implement. And then he brought it down six more times, three to each sitspot, each swat deliberate and forceful.
Ben was a mess when it finally ended and he was pulled up to sit in Danny’s lap, where he clung to his brother, crying and apologizing and assuring him that he would never need to use the hairbrush again.
~ ~ ~
”This hairbrush?” Oliver asked, idly reaching over to the nightstand where they kept the antique.
”That hairbrush,” Ben said disdainfully, looking up to see it in his boyfriend’s hand.
”Never again, huh?” Oliver asked teasingly as he returned it to its spot.
”Well I hadn’t really figured out how terrible and mean Danny is. And don’t even get me started on you! I hadn’t met you yet.”
Oliver rolled over, quickly placing himself on top of Ben, his knees on either side of his boyfriend’s waist. “And what is so wrong with me, little boy?”
Ben grinned up mischievously. “I said don’t get me started! You are the most—“ but he didn’t get to finish his sentence because Oliver cut him off with a kiss.
”Sorry,” he said when their lips parted, his hands now planted along side Ben’s face, supporting his torso. “I thought you might be about to say something you’d regret.” Ben giggled, then Oliver asked, “Did you miss any more days?”
”No! Would you have missed any more days?!”
Oliver looked up and tick-tocked his head in an exaggerated show of contemplation, thinking about the last three days and the replacement hairbrush Danny had found. “No, I don’t think I would have.”