I walked into the house and the first thing I saw was Aaden, walking by rather quickly and holding a hand to his mouth. "Shh..." he said quietly. "I just put Elizabeth to bed."
"Didn't you put her in the center nursery?" I whispered.
"Yeah, but something's wrong with the privacy fields; they're making an annoying hum. Dave ran diags and he says it'll be a few hours until the hardware he needs is ready. So," he shrugged, "We'll live without being able to make much noise until then."
He turned and walked into the kitchen, nearly swatting me with his tail. That surprised me, since he's always very careful about his tail. I eased down onto the sofa and let out a sigh.
"Can I get you something?" Aaden asked.
"Yeah, an --" Something about him stopped me. He was walking about the house naked, but that's the way he usually walks around. He knows I adore the way he looks. "What is that?"
"What?" he asked.
"Come here." He stepped out behind the kitchen counter and wandered over to stand in front or me. "Kneel," I said casually.
"Kneel," I repeated myself, just a little louder, with a slight curl of the lip. Much to my amusement, he obeyed.
"What is that?" I asked, pointing to his right arm.
"It's your armband. I thought you might like it... this way."
"It's very attractive," I admitted. "But you're wearing part of my leathers without permission, and I don't like that. Do you understand what I'm saying?"
"Yes," he said.
"Yes, Milord." I remembered the first and last time he had said that to me; it had been over a year ago, before the kids were born. I had been expecting a 'Sir' at the time. But I liked that term. "Milord." It had a very pleasant feel to it.
"Better," I said. I leaned closer to him and said, "But if you're going to wear it, you've got to wear it properly." I reached down and pulled on the strap gently, pulling it loose from around his arm. I took extra care to make sure his fur didn't get caught as I did so. Then I reached around his neck and inserted the strap through the buckle, locking it down on the first hole. He was completely still through the entire procedure. "Better," I said again, leaning back against the couch. "Rub my feet."
"Aaden, this is the second time you've made me repeat myself. Rub my feet."
"Yes, milord," he said quietly, unlacing my boots and starting to ease them off. His paws stroked my feet carefully, but I noted that he needed practice.
"You know, lad," I said. "Don't stop," I ordered him when he looked up. "You know, you need a good teacher on that."
"I am sorry, milord."
"Did I ask you to speak, either?" I shook my head and "Tsk'd" quietly. "I can understand Borodir not having you learn massage, sugarfur, since he was always 'The top never needs' type. But I thought you knew when silence was required of you." There was no answer, but I could feel the shame coming off of him. I smiled.
"Easy," I said quietly. "Use the entire palm around the edges. Yes, better." I smiled as I spent the next half hour teaching Aaden how to massage feet better. He was getting it, slowly. I was especially pleased at his complete servility. "Stop," I said.
He leaned back away from me, and I stood up. He followed me with his eyes as I dropped into the bedroom and returned with my hiking staff. Wood, round, well-smoothed with no sharp angles. Completely functional. And like a cane (which I did not have at the moment) also quite silent. "You remember this?" I asked.
"Yes Milord," he said quietly, his eyes wet and slightly frightened.
"Do you want to be forgiven for your mistakes?"
The frightened look intensified, but there was no mistaking the smile trembling on the edge of his muzzle. "Yes Milord."
I placed my hand on the back of his neck and slowly pushed his head down onto the couch. He complied without complaint. "Keep your tail out my way," I ordered. He reached back and held his tail. "Good lad." I reached over to the other end of the couch and put a throw pillow by his head. "If you must scream, scream into this; wouldn't want to wake the baby."
I leaned over him quietly and whispered into his ear. "Are you ready for this?"
"I've waited for you to do this for years," he replied.
"Good," I smiled, standing back up. I held the staff at about it's midpoint and brought the flat side down onto the couch, gently. He jumped, just a little. Again, on the couch, harder. And harder. I felt as if I had a measure of my weapon.
I slowly trailed the wooden tip of the staff along his ass. I pulled the staff back, and brought it down with just a little strength. Again, and again. Not increasing my force at all.
I reached down and gently stroked his buttocks. He wasn't at all warm; then again, with his luxurious fur it's difficult to tell. I straightened up and began again. One, two... twelve. Stronger, this time. He began flinching. I leaned over and said, "How are you doing?"
"Fine," he whispered.
I brought the staff down again, and again. He was moaning; every strike elicited a scream. I could see him trying to keep his body loose, relaxed. "Don't fight it," I said as the staff came down yet again.
The staff fell a dozen more times. I was up to sixty. I leaned over his form, pressing my body to his chest. "Okay?"
"Not... not sure."
"Want to stop?" I asked.
"NO!" he said in a breathless roar. "More, please Milord?" he asked.
I smiled, and brought the staff down another dozen strokes. There was no pause, and I delivered another dozen. He was screaming into the pillow with every stroke, and sometimes between strokes. I stopped again and leaned over. "More?" I asked.
"I..." He breathed heavily. "Ken..." A pause; his eyes were shut tight. "I don't think..."
I dropped to my knees and hugged him close, from the side. "You did good," I said. "Thank you." I dropped the staff; it made a loud clunk as it fell to the ground.
"I'm sorry," he said, burying his face into my shoulder and crying. I cradled his head in my hands and waited it out. He sobbed heavily for a few minutes and then he repeated "I'm sorry."
"I... Ken... I wanted to go further... I used to be able to go further. Borodir would do much worse to me, all the time. I don't know why..."
"Was it me?"
"No!" he whispered. "No, I don't think I could have gone as far as I did if it hadn't been you."
"I don't know."
"It's just been a long time, lover. It's okay. I've never taken a cane to a mel before, so I didn't know how to read you very well."
"You were wonderful," he said. "Trust me; you're better than some people who've been doing that for decades."
"Still feel..." There was a sound coming from through the door. Crying. I looked into his eyes and said "Elizabeth."
He nodded, then broke out laughing. I leaned over and kissed his nose, laughing along. "You woke the baby."
"I woke the baby?" he objected.
"You were the one doing the screaming."
"Into the pillow! And you were the one doing all the thwacking."
I picked up the staff, aimed for the couch and brought it down as hard as I could. "It's not that loud. C'mon. I'll get her, you get the milk."
"She probably needs a hiaper," he said.
"Probably," I replied, getting up off my knees and stretching my back. I walked quickly into the center unit of the house and descended into the nursery. No, she wasn't soiled, just hungry. "Daddy's here," I said, smiling quietly as I picked her up. I returned to the upper level, cradling her in my arms, her tail descending below. Aaden smiled as he brought over the bottle and slid it into her mouth. She sucked down on it hard. "She's hungry," I said.
"Very," he observed.
"Stripes of her father." It was becoming an old joke, but he smiled anyway. "How are you doing?"
"Fine," he said, kissing my cheek. "I won't be able to sit down for a while."
"Nonsense," I said.
He kissed me again, this time on the forehead, and said, "Wait until next time."
"Next time?" I asked.
"I get to turn the tables."
"In your dreams, lover."
"Maybe so," he said. "Maybe so." Elizabeth just yawned.