Niall was sleeping. Sleep was everything. Sleep was bliss. He didn’t feel the hard ground beneath him.  He didn’t feel the cool September chill in the air. He was lost in the sweet oblivion of sleep; a place where he didn’t have to think, didn’t have to fight.


Packed tightly in Dyllan’s Toyota pickup, Dyllan, Lacey and Kai rode through Druid Hill Park slowly. Lacey looked at Dyllan’s worried face and said softly, “We’ll find him.”


Dyllan glanced at her quickly, gained comfort from the love and warmth in her sweet brown eyes, then returned his eyes to the road. “I know. I’m ok.”


“There’s one place left that we haven’t tried,” Kai said. “I know it’s not his usual spot, but there’s a first time for everything. Go all the way to the end of the road to your left. There’s nothing over there so it’s a good place to crash.”


Niall was dreaming about Shannon again. Shannon was one of the few people in the world he trusted. Shannon had one of the sweetest spirits he had ever known.


Shannon was the first person he had asked to tie him up. Shannon didn’t get it, but that hadn’t stopped him. He had done what Niall asked without any questions and most importantly, without acting like Niall was disgusting or some kind of freak.


They had started playing around when they were kids. It had started innocently enough. Niall, his older brother Quinn, and Niall’s best friend, Shannon, had been playing, “you show me yours, I’ll show you mine.” From there, they had progressed to watching each other jerk off and then to helping each other out from time to time.


When Quinn had discovered girls, Niall and Shannon had continued playing with each other. At some point, they had both concluded that they were gay. In Niall’s house it wasn’t an issue. His mother Peggy made it quite clear to all of her kids, that in their home, shit like that wasn’t important.


Once they started sucking each other off, Niall had finally worked up enough courage to ask Shannon to tie him up, and then suck him off. Sometimes, he would ask Shannon to blindfold him and then Niall would get Shannon to fuck his face.


It hadn’t been enough, but it had been better doing it with Shannon, someone he knew and trusted, than some of the strangers he ran into, once he and Shannon had stopped playing around. Then again, he liked doing it with strangers. Some weird part of him liked the excitement of doing it with someone he didn’t know, liked the edge of fear that accompanied doing it with a stranger.


When Shannon had fallen in love with Niall’s big brother Cullen everything changed. Shannon had always had a crush on Cullen. When Cullen took both of them out for their sixteenth birthday, snuck them into a club and gotten them a little tipsy, he had stolen a kiss from Shannon. After that, Shannon wouldn’t play with Niall. He said he couldn’t. He didn’t want anyone else but Cullen.


Niall had felt even more isolated and alone. Once he and Shannon stopped playing, nothing was the same. He was restless. He didn’t know what he wanted. If he had, he would have gone out looking for it. He only knew something was missing but not in his dreams.


In his dreams, he was tied up to a chair, in the middle of his bedroom. Shannon was fucking his face frantically, viciously and he was about to cum from being taken like that, used like that. Dyllan knelt next to his brother and shook him gently, “Niall, Niall, wake up, man. Wake up.”


Niall groaned and reluctantly opened his eyes. He saw Dyllan and said, “Go way.”


“Nope,” Dyllan said stubbornly. “I’m taking you home with me tonight. C’mon.”


Niall’s eyes remained closed. “What do I have to do to make you go away?”


Dyllan ignored the question. He dug into the backpack he had brought with him. “I got something you like. Couple of sandwiches, some candy bars and…”


Niall slid from underneath of the park bench he had been using for shelter as he slept. “Food? Why didn’t you say so?”


Dyllan sighed noisily. “Is that all I had to do? You coming home with me now?”


When Niall shook his head no, Dyllan left it alone. He watched Niall eat ravenously. His appetite belied his lean, wiry frame. Dyllan looked him over with concern.


Niall’s honey blond curls were matted all over his head. His dark blue eyes were glazed and weary. The expression in them was in stark contrast to his youthful features. Though he was older and with his boyish features, appeared younger than Dyllan, he had the eyes of an old man.


“I put some warm clothes in the bag for you,” Dyllan said. “There’s one of those lightweight blankets in there too. And more food.” He leaned over, palmed the sides of his brother’s face, and kissed him on the mouth. “I love you. We love you. We want you to come home.”


Niall lowered his head and pretended to be engrossed in his sandwich. He acted as though he hadn’t heard what Dyllan said. Dyllan sighed again, quietly this time, and walked away. “I love you too,” Niall whispered. “And I can’t come home. Not yet.”


Dyllan walked back to the pickup where Lacey and Kai waited patiently for his return. He sat in silence for a moment. “Want me to drive, baby?” Lacey asked.


“Nah, I’m alright,” he said huskily. “Just hate seeing him like this. Baby girl, I am really, really glad that you stopped me from slingin when you did. If I hadn’t, I wouldn’t be able to live with myself. Especially seeing Niall like this.”


“I know. I understand.” Lacey’s mother had been a junkie for as long as she could remember. Somehow, she thought that for Dyllan, seeing Niall like this was even worse.


Niall hadn’t always been this way. Niall was a clown. Always had a sarcastic comment ready. Always made them laugh. When they were growing up, Niall had been so much fun. They loved being around him. Dyllan started the truck and they drove home.


Niall devoured the food in the backpack. His brother Cullen had dropped off some clean clothes and food for him yesterday. He didn’t know how they did it, but somehow one or the other of his brothers and sisters found him every day, and brought him food and anything else they thought he might need.


Food seemed to help. Being out in the open seemed to help. Being at home, around the same places, same people, and doing the same things seemed to keep him trapped in what he thought of as The Big Lies. The Big Lies, were all of the reasons he gave himself to continue what he was doing.


It really wasn’t a problem if he just did it on the weekends. It really wasn’t a problem if he just did it when he went out and didn’t do it at home. It really wasn’t a problem if he didn’t do it when he was working.


One day he had looked up and found that he had lost his apartment, lost his job, and the people that he was hanging around with were people he knew, but not people he could ever call friends. From moment to moment, his entire existence was all about getting high: how to get the money, where to get what he needed, and how to get there, because he no longer had a car.


His mother hadn’t said anything to him when he had moved back home. His brother Cullen had offered him a job working with him. His family had viewed him with concern but offered nothing but love and support.


He didn’t deserve it. He knew that if they ever found out what he was doing or some of the things he had done, that they would hate him. He was ashamed. He tried to stop. He couldn’t even remember how it had started.


When he looked back, it seemed like there was no clear beginning. As a teenager, he had never experimented with drugs or alcohol. His father was an alcoholic and his mother had warned them, over and over that alcoholism and drug addiction ran in their family and that for his brothers and sisters and him to experiment like everyone else would be like playing Russian roulette.


When he was older, he thought that it was no big deal. When one of his lovers had offered him some weed, he had tried it and liked it. It had made things…different…more…he had never been able to define it…but he liked the feeling. He had liked floating away on a cloud of sensation.


Then he started doing coke. Damn, that rush. It was just like the feeling he had when he went off with someone he didn’t know, the fear, the anticipation, the rush. And then…the crack. He couldn’t remember who he had been with, how it had come to be that he had that little pipe held to his lips. Did he know what it was? What he was doing? What that little piece of rock would come to mean to him?


The events were all blurry. What he could remember was taking a deep breath and then the sudden explosion inside of his head. Like someone had cracked open his skull and poured liquid pleasure directly onto his brain. It was quick. It was powerful. And he wanted more. Now.


It was amazing how he went from zero to sixty. In a matter of months his life turned to shit. Maybe it was the other way around. He went from sixty to zero.


He had vowed to straighten up and fly right after he had gone with some guy who kept him handcuffed to a radiator for three days. He had agreed to it. For the money. So he could get high.


He had vowed to straighten up and fly right after some guy had pounded his ass until he was raw and bloody. He had agreed to it. For the money. So he could get high.


He had been able to keep it together for a while. In spite of how close his family was, he had been able to hide it from them. He had been able to keep laughing, keep up the jokes and keep them from seeing how fucked up he really was. How fucked up he had always been.


Now that he was awake, he was thankful they hadn’t found him until it was close to nighttime. He had slept the day away. If he could make it until evening, he could usually control it. He had figured out, that time he had been cuffed to the radiator, that if his kink was being satisfied, the craving for the high was being met in another way.


He had learned a hell of a lot about his body over the past several months. How much punishment it could take. How much the need in his body could fuel The Big Lies.


It seemed to start in his knees. His knees would start shaking. He tried holding them. Lying down. Ignoring it. Nothing stopped the shaking. It spread from his knees outward.


Then the Big Lies would start. If he got high, just this one time, the shaking would stop and then he could get himself together and go get some help. He was on his way to get help, from somebody, somewhere, but he needed to get high first. He couldn’t let anyone see him like this could he?


Then the pain. His entire body from the top of his head to the tip of his toes. He knew pain. He liked pain. Only, this pain was different. It started out as an insidious, nagging ache. Didn’t really hurt. It was just there. Reminding him. Constantly grinding away at him. Then it got bigger. Calling to him. Taunting him. It wasn’t going anywhere until he fed it. It was a big, ugly, ravenous monster.


Sometimes, he could trick it. If he could sleep. Eat like a fucking horse. Get some guy to beat him unconscious or fuck him ‘til he broke. Living in the park, away from everything and everyone.


He got up. He knew it was just a matter of time. He had been playing this game with himself and the Big Lie for a couple of months now. He didn’t know if he was gonna win. Right now, what he knew was that there was a very small window between the time he stuffed his face and the time his body started realizing it was awake and there was something it wanted REALLY BAD.


He walked downtown, thinking about which bar he was gonna hit tonight. Tonight, he was gonna be somebody’s really good boy. The sky was the limit.


He stood outside the bar casually, deciding not to go in. At first, he thought drinking helped, only to realize that it made it worse. Not only that, drinking made it harder to find someone who would play with him. The experienced Tops wouldn’t touch him when he was drunk. And just like everything else in his life, when it came to drinking, it was all or nothing. He couldn’t stop at just one.


Tonight, he felt that he could hold the monster at bay long enough to be selective. He surveyed the guys leaving the bar carefully. He still had bruises on his back from last night.


The group exiting now caught his eyes. When Niall caught sight of HIM, the others disappeared. Niall’s heart stopped in his chest. He could feel it come to a halt between one breath and the next.


This man was…beautiful. He had never seen a man this beautiful before. His skin was a smooth, creamy caramel. His hair was pulled away from his face and cascaded down his back. Long, dark brown dreads, hanging to his waist. His face was regal.  There was a small silver hoop glinting from his left eyebrow and a diamond in his left nostril. Tiny silver studs lined both earlobes.


Wide eyes of a color he couldn’t determine. He peered closer. They appeared gray in the light and stood out in his face. Niall stared into them, enthralled. He had never seen eyes that color before, a cool, clear, dark gray. High cheekbones. Full lips and a dimpled chin. 


Derek saw a young guy with a cocky smirk on his face. It made him want to smile because it was so cute. Dark blue eyes, the color of the Chesapeake on a warm summer day. Dark, honey blond hair. Curly and soft looking. He saw past the arrogant smile to the pain and fear beneath and felt a sense of recognition.


Seconds took hours to pass. Niall could not look away. He tried, embarrassed to be so…obvious. Those eyes settled on his and focused on him like lasers, looking into him. Niall felt like he had been turned inside out.


He was ashamed of the way he looked. He hadn’t showered for days. Hadn’t even cared enough to run a brush through his hair. It usually didn’t matter. It didn’t matter now either, he told himself. It wasn’t like this man was going to take him home. The man had turned away, attention caught by something one of the guys who was with him had said. 


Niall didn’t notice the guys who came out of the door after this one, even though they were noticing him. He stared after HIM, watching his back with longing as he walked down the street. He had a slow, smooth graceful walk that seemed like he was moving in tune to music only he could hear.


After saying his goodbyes, Derek walked down the street, talking to himself as he went. Keep going, yes, that’s good, keep going. You’re doing good. Don’t turn around. Keep going.


THE FIXIT SHOP IS CLOSED. Shut down for good. Don’t do it man. Don’t do…. Those indigo eyes, vulnerable and sweet, materialized before his mind’s eye. He stopped walking and stood still for a minute, continuing the argument with himself.


He turned around. Niall was still staring after him. Their eyes met over the distance. Derek spread his hands. Well? Niall looked at him, disbelieving. Galvanized into action when Derek didn’t move, obviously waiting for him, Niall ran towards him. He stopped in front of him and said breathlessly, “Hi.” Oh that was brilliant Niall, he said to himself.


Derek smiled at him and said, “Hey, I’m Derek. What are you up to tonight?”


Niall looked at him silently. Damn, his voice was as compelling as the rest of him. Hi, my name is Niall and I will follow you anywhere you want me to go. “Um…my name is Niall,” he stuttered, his usual composure failing him.


“I’m just about to go home. It’s a couple of blocks away. You up to the walk or do you wanna get a cab?” Derek asked.


“Walking is good,” Niall replied.


They walked quietly. Derek’s inner dialogue continued. Okay man, what the fuck do you think you’re doing? I thought you learned your lesson the last time. Lonely, lost little puppies end up making you miserable. He sighed, shaking his head over his own stupidity. At least I won’t tell myself it will be different this time.


“How much?” he asked abruptly.


“Wh..What?” Niall said, stalling for time.




Embarrassed and flustered, Niall was stunned to feel himself blushing fiercely. “Nothing,” he mumbled.


Derek looked at him quizzically. “Nothing?”


“Not for you,” Niall said, hoping that Derek would leave it at that and not question him.


“You do know you were outside of a leather bar, right?” Derek asked.


Blushing again, Niall said quietly, “Oh yeah, I know where I was.” He struggled to regain his usual sangfroid, unsure of why this man had the ability to discomfit him so easily.


They stopped in front of a building with a doorman who rushed to open the door. “Thanks, Stan,” Derek said.


“You’re very welcome, Dr. Saunders.”


As they entered the elevator, Niall said in a small voice, “Doctor?”


“Yeah,” Derek said in a manner that did not invite questions.


When they entered the condo, Niall looked around in wonder. The foyer contained an oblong marbled table that even he knew was an expensive antique. There was a huge, big screen television in the living room and a large painting that depicted two nude men together; one was kneeling before the other.


A huge black leather sofa was in the center of the room and there was another round, marbled antique table in front of it. The table was covered with several big, green leafy plants. A comfortable easy chair was in the corner of the room.


“Have a seat,” Derek said gesturing towards the couch. Niall sat down on the edge of the sofa gingerly, obviously ill at ease. “Get comfortable,” Derek said impatiently. “I’m not gonna bite you.” He thought about what he had just said. “Well, I might bite you. But make yourself at home anyway.”


Niall sat back and looked at Derek with wide eyes.


“One thing,” Derek said. “No drugs. I want you to take your clothes off. And I want to you to empty that backpack.”


Niall flushed with shame. He knew. He knew everything. Knew that he was just some two-bit hustler. A whore, a slut. Worthless. Knew he was a junkie.


Derek walked over to him quickly and squatted in front of him. Niall was startled into looking at him. “Hey,” Derek said gently. “If I didn’t want you here, you wouldn’t be here, right?”


Suffused with relief, shame evaporating, Niall nodded his head and started to remove his clothing under Derek’s watchful eyes. They emptied the backpack together.


“Somebody loves you a lot,” Derek said with a smile as a note in Peggy’ s large handwriting slid out of the pack. “Niall, we love you. Can’t wait until you come home. Mom.”


Niall tightened his lips and didn’t reply. “Damn, do you actually eat all of this food?” Derek asked incredulously.


Niall smirked, “Yeah, I do.”


Derek ran a hand up and down Niall’s arm and across his chest. “I never would have guessed.”


Niall’s head fell back and chills ran up and down his body. His eyes drifted shut. Embarrassed by his strong response to Derek’s touch, when he was able to regain control, he averted his eyes and looked around the room desperately, trying to avoid looking at Derek.


“C’mon,” Derek said. “Let’s go take a shower.”


Niall followed him, stomach tight with fear and anticipation. He had a chance to get a quick glimpse of Derek’s bedroom and then they were in the bathroom. He was as impressed with the bathroom as he had been with the living room.


There was a large whirlpool bath in the corner. The shower was huge. There were seats carved into the corners and a couple of showerheads. Derek quickly removed his clothing and threw them into the hamper that was hidden in a corner behind the door.


Derek’s movements were brisk and efficient, nothing seductive at all, but Niall found himself hard and aching at the sight of his tall, muscular, golden brown form. Derek’s nipples were pierced. Niall’s mouth started to water. Unusually shy, he placed his hands in front of his engorged penis.


“Like what you see?” Derek teased. Niall blushed and nodded his head. For once, he was at a loss for words. No clever, sarcastic rejoinders came to mind.


“Come on in,” Derek invited with a sexy half smile. Heart fluttering, Niall joined him. He eyed him from the back as Derek turned the water on and adjusted the temperature. Impossible as it seemed, Derek looked just as good from the back as he did from the front.


His back was hard and full of muscular ripples, tapering down to a slender waist and a high, firm, rounded ass. His legs were long and endless. Even his feet were beautiful, long and slender. Niall had a thing about feet too. He was a classic freak, he thought.


Derek lathered his hands and motioned Niall towards him. He put soapy hands on Niall’s head and started washing his hair. Niall’s knees buckled. He moaned and put a hand out to catch himself. He loved having his hair caressed and it had been so long since anyone had touched him so gently.


Derek put his hands beneath Niall’s armpits, supporting him. “C’mon, you need to sit down.” Derek turned him around, about to lead him towards the corner of the shower so he could sit. Niall heard a gasp and his stomach sank.


“Who did this to you?” Derek asked in low, furious tones.


“Some guy,” Niall replied softly.


Breathing deeply, struggling for control, Derek asked, “What did he use on you?”


“A flogger…and his fists,” Niall replied, ashamed again.


Derek probed gently, wincing in sympathy when Niall flinched. “Don’t EVER let anyone flog you, hit you, or use force here and here,” Derek said. He drew lines on Niall’s body with one finger. “These are danger zones. Strikes to these areas can cause permanent damage.”


“I let him do it. I needed it,” Niall confessed in miserable tones.


“How long have you been straight?” Derek asked.


“A couple of months.”


“You’re doing it yourself and the pain distracts you,” Derek said, waiting for confirmation. Niall nodded his head.


Derek sighed. He sat Niall down on the shower bench and bathed him carefully. Niall closed his eyes, sure this was as close to heaven as he was ever going to get.


Derek pondered what Niall had told him as he ran his hands over Niall’s wiry form tenderly. He tried to ignore the way Niall’s smooth skin felt under his fingertips. Against his will, his cock lengthened.


There was no way he could play with this boy. No fucking way. Niall was so wounded, no matter how his cock tried to convince him differently, Derek couldn’t get around the fact that he would be lower than low if he did anything to him.


He rinsed Niall off and then bathed himself rapidly under Niall’s rapt gaze. He begged his body not to respond without success. That hot, dark blue stare was irresistible.


Niall was motionless and silent as Derek dried him off. He had a quality, a stillness about him that drew Derek. It was as if he were waiting…waiting for orders. Orders that would be followed, to the letter, quickly and obediently. Derek wanted to grab him by the hair and push him to his knees in front of him.


Instead, he dried him off cautiously, unwilling to hurt him more than he had been hurt already. He wrapped him in soft, fluffy towels protectively, not wanting him to feel the draft as they left the bathroom.

He dried himself quickly and wrapped a towel around his waist.


He picked Niall up and carried him into his bedroom. He sat them down on a small sofa in the corner of the large room. Niall’s eyes were closed. He was breathing so deeply that for a moment, Derek thought he was asleep.


Niall lay in Derek’s arms like a child. A slow trail of burning tears fell from beneath his closed eyelids. Derek tightened his arms around him until Niall felt as though he could barely breathe. He didn’t care. If he could have spoken, he would have asked Derek to hold him even tighter.


Derek leaned over and kissed his forehead delicately. Niall released a soft, strangled sound. He clenched his jaw tightly, attempting to hold all of the turbulent emotions within.


Derek brushed a thumb across each cheek, wiping the tears away, and Niall screamed. A hoarse cry of pain and indescribable agony. His body convulsed with his fierce effort to restrain his tears.


The pain opened wide and engulfed him, larger than he, too big to fight and defeat. He cried on Derek’s chest. Noisy, wracking, violent sobs.


Derek held him, tears coming to his eyes, feeling the heavy weight of the pain Niall was carrying. He rocked him, holding him in strong, protective arms, aware that he would kill anyone who hurt Niall. He kissed Niall on the forehead again.


Niall cried for long moments, forever, it seemed to both of them. The emotional storm subsided gradually. Exhausted, Niall fell asleep. Derek, lured into sleep by Niall’s warm body in his arms, awakened about an hour later.


He carried Niall to his bed, and then went into the kitchen. He knew that Niall would be ravenous when he awakened. He prepared an old fashioned southern meal for the two of them; he loved to cook, especially for his friends.


He cooked enough for a football team; crisp, flavorful, fried chicken, left over collard greens, that had been simmered with smoked turkey wings for hours, potato salad, creamy with eggs, mayo and a couple of other secret ingredients his grandmother had shared with him, and fluffy powdered biscuits made from scratch. For dessert, he whipped up two batches of chocolate chip cookies that were coming out of the oven just as Niall walked into the room.


“God, it smells so good in here, I had to wake up.”


“Glad you’re up. Thought you might be hungry. You can set the table for us,” Derek said as he put the fried chicken in a bowl and set it on the center of the kitchen table. He moved around the kitchen efficiently and pointed out the things Niall would need to set the table.


“You sure you’re a doctor and not a chef?” Niall asked.


“Yup, just love to cook.”


Derek loaded the table up with food and stopped what he was doing to scrutinize Niall carefully. His eyes were red and swollen and he was moving around gingerly. The expression in his eyes reassured Derek. They held peace. A temporary thing, Derek knew from experience. Still, he was glad to see it.


He ate hungrily and Derek asked, “You sure you’re a man and not a horse?”


Niall looked at him and laughed. “Hey, its here. Gotta eat it right? It’s the polite thing to do. And my mama raised me to be polite.”


When they finished eating, Niall adamantly refused to allow Derek to help with the cleanup. “You tell me where everything goes. I’ll do the rest. Seriously, Derek.”


Derek acquiesced reluctantly, not accustomed to allowing anyone to move around in his kitchen. “I want to talk when you’re done.”


Niall nodded. He had known this was coming. Derek watched him intently as he worked. Niall was a very pretty boy. And Derek really, really liked tall, lean, pretty boys.


He wasn’t skinny either. He had clearly defined muscles. His stomach was a rippled, taut grid. His skin was a creamy peach color all over. Derek bet that he got really dark when he tanned. There wasn’t an ounce of fat on him. His cock was long and lean too. Derek hadn’t missed that.


After he loaded the last dish into the dishwasher, locked it and turned it on, Niall took a deep breath and turned around. “I’m ready,” he said.


Derek looked at him, gray eyes serious and direct. “Do you trust me?”


Niall searched his eyes, almost drowning in the dark gray before he was able to answer. “Yes,” he said, not having to think about it.


“Take your clothes off,” Derek said.


Niall obeyed rapidly. He was excited, not sure what to expect, and turned on. He was hard again before he could get his pants down his hips. He seemed to stay hard around Derek.


“Come with me.” Derek walked towards the back of the condo, not looking behind him to see if Niall was following. He unlocked the door and entered a room.


Niall felt like Alice in Wonderland… what was that thing she said? ‘I’m not myself, you see…’


The walls of the room were painted lilac. One entire wall was mirrored. There was a painting of two men covering the opposite wall that appeared to have been created by the same artist as the picture in the living room.


Two men together, one on all fours, shackles on his ankles and wrists, with a collar and leash that was being held by the other man, who was standing. The picture was in black and white. Sparse, bold lines conveyed the dynamic bond between the two men: Master and slave.


Niall gasped and his heart rate accelerated until he felt as though he would pass out. His cock hardened even further. He gripped his hands tightly together and looked at Derek, awaiting direction.


“Sit in the chair,” Derek said curtly, motioning towards a large, black, wooden chair in the center of the room.


Niall obeyed, trembling with fear, anticipation and excitement. He stared, mesmerized, as Derek, slowly and painstakingly tied him to the chair. First, Derek restrained his wrists and then his ankles. There was an enchanted, hushed silence in the room as if something sacred was occurring.


Niall was gasping, unable to control his breathing. Derek looked at him. “Niall, take a slow, deep breath, in and out,” he said sternly.


Niall complied and was able to regain his composure. His eyes closed involuntarily. He was alternately hot and cold. His breathing quickened once again.


“Niall,” Derek said sternly. “Chill.”


Niall looked at him crazily. How can I remain calm when you use that voice, that voice that makes me want to do ANYTHING you ask me to, no matter what? How can I remain calm when…I want to be on my knees in front of you…serving you…in any and every way you desire?

He bit his lip in an attempt to remain silent.


Derek surveyed him from head to toe. He checked the bindings to ensure that they wouldn’t cut off Niall’s circulation. He wanted to talk to Niall, wanted to help him. He had thought that being restrained would help Niall to feel safe. Instead, Niall seemed to be going into sensory overload. He tried to talk him down a little.


“I just want to talk to you, Niall,” he said quietly. He stroked the side of Niall’s face. Niall turned his face into Derek’s palm frantically, not wanting to lose contact with him. “I’m not going to talk to you unless you calm down. Take another deep breath.”


Willing to do anything to please Derek, Niall took another deep breath and willed himself to calm down. Unable to resist, he tested his bonds. When he realized that he would not be able to get out until Derek released him, he emitted a low, excited groan. He took another deep breath and opened his eyes.


Derek’s gray eyes were patient, clear and impenetrable. It was impossible to tell what he was thinking. The only thing he could do was follow directions and wait to see where Derek was headed.


When Derek saw that Niall had calmed, he pulled up a smaller chair and sat in front of him. The room was dimly lit with the glow from a small lamp in the corner of the room. It was quiet and intimate.


“How long have you been involved in the lifestyle?” Derek asked


“I haven’t been involved in the lifestyle, not like you mean,” Niall said hesitantly. “I’ve always wanted to be tied up.”


“What were your first experiences?”


“I used to tie myself up and I used to get my brother’s boyfriend Shannon to tie me up.”


“You’re brother’s boyfriend?” Derek struggled to keep his tone even.


“He wasn’t his boyfriend at the time. He was my best friend. We were just kids. We stopped when we turned sixteen. He wasn’t into it anyway. Just did it cuz I asked him to.”


Niall was starting to lose it again. Derek’s stare was so commanding, so intense, searing through him, that he felt as though he was going to melt into the chair. The feelings of being unable to move, helpless and under this man’s control, threatened to overpower him. Every one of his senses was awake, alive and under the power of this man.


He struggled against the bonds. His cock twitched. He felt moisture running down his thigh. God, he was leaking. God he was so hard. His breathing quickened. He was melting. He was burning. He felt a wave of chills, starting at his feet and working their way up his body in an infinitesimal, undulating ripple. God, God, God. He clenched his jaw.


“Focus, Niall,” Derek said harshly. “I’m talking to you.”


“I’m listening,” Niall protested quickly, and then bit his lip. The expression in Derek’s eyes…uh, oh.


“Under different circumstances, you would pay for that remark. And pay dearly,” Derek said curtly. Derek walked over to him. Niall eyed him apprehensively. Derek slid his fingers into Niall’s silky, feather light hair, grabbed a handful and tugged hard. He leaned over and whispered into Niall’s ear, “Focus, boy.”


Niall’s head fell back and his eyes closed. He bit his lip harder, fighting for control. “Derek, please,” he whispered, not sure what he was begging for.


“Look at me, Niall.”


Niall obeyed instantly.


“If you don’t regain control immediately, I am going to release you, and this will be over.”


“Yes, sir,” Niall said in a low voice.


Derek’s penis lurched beneath the sweat pants. He felt as though he were barely in control of this scene. Clearly, his original intent to make Niall feel safe had been lost.


Though perhaps not entirely, obviously Niall felt safe or he would not be so far gone. He just meant to create a setting where Niall would feel comfortable answering personal questions.


Most of the submissives he had played with, without fail, had told him that they felt safest when restrained. Also, he loved interrogation scenes. His strong response to Niall kept catching him off guard. He had not expected to feel so attuned to him.


He had not started this out as a scene or role-play or whatever. Somehow, this horse was running away with him and he was gonna have to rein it in…rein himself in. He realized that he was the one out of control. No matter how difficult it might be, what he planned on doing and what he wanted to do, were going to have to remain separate for now.


“What about the pain?” he asked, deliberately keeping the question open to interpretation, in order to elicit as honest an answer as Niall was able to give.


“I’m a masochist,” Niall said simply. “I’ve hurt myself for as long as I can remember. When I was a little boy, I would feel things so much that I would grind my teeth to keep myself under control.


I don’t know how, but I discovered that I could use pain, to control myself, or to make it more intense. I didn’t find out about getting someone else to hurt me ‘til later.” He shivered. He was bleeding. Soul leaking out.


They stared at each other, locked in the moment. Derek was stunned and humbled by Niall’s willingness and trust. He wasn’t sure if he should continue. Niall made the decision for him and picked up where he left off.


“When I lost my job and needed money to get high, I started hustling. I learned the hard way. How to look at someone who looked normal and figure out whether or not they were crazy.” He laughed bitterly. “I REALLY learned that one the hard way.


I started going to the leather bars. It just happened that way. Wasn’t anything I did on purpose.”


“Synchronicity,” Derek said. “The universe responding to the energy you were putting out,” he continued at Niall’s questioning look.


“After I got beat up a couple of times, and talked to a couple of guys in the bar, I started to understand that a real Top, one who knows what he’s doing, won’t even go near someone who is drunk or high. After a couple more beatings, good and bad, I figured out that the pain helped me to stop getting high.


I mean, it didn’t stop me from getting high. It helped that craving. You know what, I don’t know what I mean.” He was cold. Ice cold. He shivered again and found that he couldn’t stop. He blanked out.


Derek cut the ropes from Niall’s wrists and ankles and then picked him up, carried him to his bedroom and laid him on his bed. Derek removed his clothing and got into the bed with Niall. He cuddled him into his arms, stroking his hair and talking to him softly. “Come back to me, Niall. Come back to me.”


Niall stirred slowly in Derek’s embrace. He didn’t want to surface. He felt so…warm. Being in Derek’s arms was like being surrounded by a ring of fire. He purred. Derek looked down at the boy in his arms and smiled to himself. He was purring so loud that the bed was vibrating. “You’re back,” he said.


Niall turned around and faced him, “Yeah.”




“Always,” Niall said with a smile.


While they were in the kitchen, Niall told Derek about his family. He had four brothers, Cullen, Quinn, Dyllan and Brodie and two sisters, Mary Katherine and Niamh. Niall was in the middle. “Explains a lot right?”


Derek laughed with him. As his laughter faded away, he looked at Niall and asked, “Still trust me?”


“Always,” Niall replied softly, aware of what his answer revealed.


“I want to take you someplace tomorrow. Someplace that I think will help you. I don’t want to tell you about it now, I would rather you see for yourself.”




Niall insisted upon cleaning the kitchen again. Derek watched him putter around, surprised at how at home he was in the kitchen. When he commented on it, Niall said, “My mom wanted us to be as independent as possible.


She said that when we left her, she wanted us prepared to live on our own because she didn’t want us to come back.” He laughed bitterly. “The rest of us did fine. I was the only one to end up going back. Brodie is still with her, for now. He’s finishing college.”


They watched television for a while. Derek held Niall in his arms and covered him with a comforter. “Derek, why are you doing this for me?”


“Someone did it for me once,” Derek said curtly, in a voice that did not invite further inquiry.


Niall winced, stung by Derek’s continued reluctance to talk about himself, despite how open Niall had been with him. A little while later, Niall asked in a subdued voice, “Derek, don’t you want me?” He held his breath while he waited for Derek’s answer.


Derek remained quiet for a few moments. How could he answer that? “It’s a lot more complicated than that Niall. The simple answer is yes, I want you. I’m not going to act upon that desire.”


“I want you, Derek,” Niall said quietly, turning in Derek’s arms so that he could look him in the eye.


Derek ran a hand down his face. His cock was burning. It was harder than it had ever been and he knew that Niall could feel it. “I play hard, Niall. In more ways than one. And I don’t think you can handle that right now.”


“I can, Derek.”


“No, you can’t. You’re going to have to trust me on this too. We don’t know each other, but I feel like we could be friends. And I don’t do anything that would hurt my friends. Let me rephrase that,” he said with a faint smile. “Right now, it wouldn’t be fair for me to play with you. We wouldn’t be starting out on equal ground. If and when we play together, I want you with me all the way.”


Niall lay back in Derek’s arms, mind working furiously. He understood what Derek was saying; that didn’t mean that he liked it, or accepted it. There was a tiny part of him that was relieved; he knew that his trust in Derek was justified. He wanted that hard cock in his mouth though. He could feel the thick, solid length of flesh boring a hole in his back as he lay against Derek.


He couldn’t control himself. He rubbed his ass against Derek’s rigid penis and reached down to stroke his own cock. He inhaled sharply as Derek grabbed a handful of hair and yanked his head back. “Do I need to tie you up to make you behave?” Derek twisted Niall’s head around so that he could look into his eyes.


“I think I do.” He stood up, his hard cock visibly straining the confines of his pants. There was a moist spot on the center.


Dragging Niall along with him by the hair, he pulled one of the kitchen chairs into the living room and sat him down in it, the look in his eyes daring Niall to move. He reached under one of the sofa cushions and grabbed several lengths of rope. He tied Niall’s arms behind him and tied his ankles to the chair legs.


“I can tell this is the only way I’m gonna get peace around here,” Derek said firmly. He turned the chair around so Niall could see the television. He sat in the easy chair across from where Niall was; he knew that if he wasn’t touching Niall, that Niall would need to see him.


Niall tested his bonds even though he didn’t really want to get away. His eyes were half closed and glazed. Derek ignored his restless movements, keeping his eyes on the television. Need curled low in his stomach.


He turned to look at Niall and found Niall staring at him. Blue eyes met silver and they exchanged a long, heated glance. Derek’s nostrils flared and he clenched his jaw. God. This was fucking torture.


He turned back to the television. Against his will, his eyes drifted back towards Niall. Niall was staring at his cock. Niall’s co-conspirator twitched in his pants. He knew Niall could see his cock throbbing with desire.


“Derek,” Niall said in an aching whisper.


Derek refused to answer.


“Derek, please.”


Derek gripped the arms of the chair so tightly he left marks in the fabric. He kept his eyes on the television. He struggled to keep his breathing quiet and even.


“Derek, please, just let me suck your cock. Just let me taste you.”


Derek groaned.


“Please, just one taste, Derek, I promise, if you just let me… Just the head…” Niall’s voice trailed off as Derek’s eyes met his again. The heat took his breath away. “Derek, I will do anything, I swear to God, I will do ANYTHING you want me to do.” His cock was so hard he could cut ice with it. And it hurt.


Derek walked over to him and pinched one of his nipples, gently at first, then increased the pressure in subtle increments that had Niall screaming with pain. Niall’s cock was jerking up and down he was so hard. “Be a good boy, Niall. Didn’t I tell you that you aren’t up to playing with me, slut boy?” Derek snarled, heart racing.


Crazed and breathless with excitement, Niall licked his lips and begged, “Just let me suck your cock. Fuck my face. I’ll be your boy, your bitch. I’ll be whatever you want me to be. Do whatever you want me to do,” he finished frantically.


“Niall, if you say another word, I’m gonna gag you.” Derek ran a hand over his face. He could tell that Niall’s excitement ratcheted up even higher with those words. “It would please me if you would sit here quietly, Niall,” Derek said, voice quiet and sincere. He was stunned at the effect his words had on Niall.


Niall sat up even straighter. He swallowed audibly and closed his eyes, clearly fighting for control. He breathed deeply and rapidly. He was sweating. But he was quiet.


Shit. If he had known it was gonna be that easy, he would have tried that earlier. He didn’t realize how much Niall had meant it when he said he would do ANYTHING. This was more complicated than he had ever imagined when he decided to take a blue-eyed pretty boy home with him.


This was getting scary. Shit. Any Top who thought he was in charge of anything, was dead wrong. As one sub had said to him once, “Subs rule, we only let the Tops THINK they’re in charge.” Derek smiled to himself wryly. Truer words were never spoken.


Right now, truth be told, he wanted to grab Niall by the hair and fuck his face. His number one priority, as always, was safety. And he knew that there was no way that Niall could play with him the way he wanted to play.


With the emotional pain Niall was in right now, he would come unglued. He was wounded enough. Derek was not going to make it worse. His cock was not going for that argument though. Especially not with Niall begging to have it in his mouth.


He sat back down in the chair with a quiet, frustrated sigh. Determinedly, he turned towards the television once again. His balls were aching. His cock would not go down.


He looked at Niall again. His cock’s new best friend. They were conspiring behind his back. Obviously they had some kind of hidden communication thing going. Niall was staring at it like it was a piece of apple pie on a plate. Or like it was some expensive delicacy he had paid dearly for and was now finally gonna get a taste of.


Niall smirked at him as if he knew of the continuous battle Derek was having with his disobedient penis. His indigo eyes had a cute, devilish expression in them that made Derek wish that he had known him as a little kid. He was adorable.  Niall didn’t have to say a word; his eyes said it all.


Derek went over to him and untied his arms.  He massaged Niall’s aching shoulders for a minute and Niall arched into his touch, purring again. Derek tied his arms in front of him. He released his ankles from the chair, tied them together and then carried Niall to the couch with him. He held Niall in his arms again, enjoying the silk of Niall’s skin against him.


Niall snuggled into him, eventually lulled into sleep by the sound of Derek’s heartbeat against his ear. Derek carried him to bed and untied his ankles and wrists. He fell asleep lying on his back, with Niall curled around him.


He awakened abruptly, on the verge of cumming. His cock was encased in the warm velvet of Niall’s mouth and Niall was doing something with his tongue that left Derek paralyzed with pleasure. He could not move, could not think. He arched his back and cried out wordlessly.


He thrust his fingers into Niall’s hair and moved his mouth violently up and down on his cock. At his moment, he didn’t care if he hurt him, he couldn’t stop, couldn’t get enough of what that sweet, luscious mouth was doing to him. Their eyes met and Niall looked at him with a combination of guilt, shame and lust.


Niall’s eyes closed and he groaned, long and loud; Derek could feel the vibrations around his penis. Derek flashed on the sight of Niall’s hand moving roughly on his own cock, jerking himself off, pulling and tugging urgently. When he saw the first spurts erupting from Niall’s cock, in jets of viscous, white cream, he forced Niall’s mouth all the way down to his groin and held it there ruthlessly, cumming forcefully and releasing torrents of thick, white fluid. 


Niall looked at him, shame faced and trying to catch his breath. He had a smear of cum on the side of his face, his hair was hanging in his eyes, and he looked like a kid who was awaiting punishment. Derek stared back, face impassive.


Derek was a mass of conflicting emotions. As usual, when he had impulsively invited Niall into his home, he had been reacting emotionally instead of really thinking about what the fuck he was doing. Had he really thought that he could just take some cute, obviously troubled guy home, fuck him, fix him and send him on his way?


He berated himself viciously; that was the trouble, had always been the trouble, he didn’t fucking think. If he really wanted to help Niall, he should have kept his hands off of him…no matter how good his intentions were. As his father liked to say, ‘No good deed goes unpunished.’ He couldn’t find it in himself to be so cynical but damn, sometimes he had to wonder.


The cold look in Derek’s eye was beginning to frighten Niall. Obviously, he had gone too far. He had just wanted to pay Derek back for everything he had done for him. The way he had been treating him. Niall hadn’t been treated like he was human for a very long time.


He tossed his head to get his hair out of his face. “Look, Derek, I’m sorry.” His eyes were sad and fearful.


Derek continued to stare at him, angry with Niall, furious with himself. He wasn’t so angry that he didn’t realize that he was being unfair. He hadn’t given Niall any rules. How was Niall to know whether or not he was breaking them?


Shit, he hated newbies. Shit, sometimes he hated himself more. He was such a fucking control freak. He was probably the only man in the universe who would get mad because someone decided to give him a blow job.


The ice in his silver eyes dissipated. “It’s cool. Let’s get showered and dressed and I’ll take you to The Space. You go first. I’ll get your clothes out of the dryer.”


Niall was disappointed that Derek wouldn’t be showering with him but knew better than to protest. They dressed, ate a quick breakfast and then were on their way. Niall sat in Derek’s car in an apprehensive silence. “Any questions?” Derek asked.


“I’ll wait ‘til I can see for myself,” Niall said.


Derek nodded and they completed the journey in silence. When they arrived at what appeared to be an old farmhouse, Niall looked around in disappointment. A name like “The Space,” had conjured up innumerable images of the exotic for Niall’s vivid imagination.


Derek spoke into the intercom at the gate and drove through when the gates opened with a noisy whine. Niall glanced around curiously as they drove up the long driveway. It was beautiful, the lawn dark green and impeccably kept. There were wildflowers everywhere. He could make out an enormous lake in the distance.


When they entered the house, a large, bald, shirtless black man with a dog collar around his neck, answered the door. He had tattoos all over his arms and on his back too, Niall observed when he turned around silently to lead them to a room to the right.  “Thank you, Ezekiel,” Derek said. Zeke nodded.


Short moments later, a tall man with long, white hair and piercing black eyes entered the room. Derek and he embraced warmly. The closeness between the two men was obvious. Niall was filled with a sudden, virulent hatred. When Simon turned to him and saw the expression in Niall’s eyes, he wheeled around to see who behind him could have elicited such violent emotion.


He realized with astonishment that all of that dislike was directed at him. Derek introduced them, “Niall, this is Somebody, only his name is Simon.” When Derek finished the introductions, he asked Niall to wait for them to return. After he closed the door behind them, Simon said, “Phew, you have your hands full with that one.”


“Niall?” Derek asked incredulously. “He’s adorable. Anyway, it’s not like that. Not like that at all.”


“That’s what you think, my friend,” Simon said, eyes glinting with amusement. “But ok, tell me what it IS like then.”


Derek briefly explained that he had just met Niall and that he thought that Simon’s program would help him.


“Wait a minute,” Simon said skeptically. “You just met this boy. You bring him here. He comes with you, not knowing anything about where you are taking him, what it’s all about and you tell me that ‘it’s not like that.’


Derek glared at him, silver eyes narrowed with irritation as Simon laughed so hard he was doubled over. “Alright, man. Whatever you say,” Simon said when he was able to catch his breath.


“Don’t I wish.” Derek smiled reluctantly as Simon continued to laugh his ass off. “I want a few minutes with Niall and then I’ll be out. He wants me to go see his mother.”


Simon looked at Derek with concern. “Are you sure you know what you’re getting yourself into?”


“Did you?” Derek responded.


“Point taken,” Simon said with a rueful smile, still able to see traces of the angry fifteen-year-old boy that remained in the man standing before him now. They had met in a leather bar in downtown Baltimore that was closed now.


When Simon had met Derek, he was a fifteen year old who thought he knew it all. Derek was in the bar, with a fake ID, and a nasty attitude. Simon saw the boy, drunk and belligerent, about to go home with two guys that had a reputation for causing serious harm to some of their playmates.


Simon had dared him to stay and play with him. He jiggled the handcuffs at his waist. “Scared?” he taunted. Derek had laughed in his face and ended up going home with him, just to prove that he could take whatever punishment Simon could dish out.


After they had gotten together a few times, Derek had looked at Simon and asked, “When do I get to do this to you?”


Simon had looked at him with a half smile and said, “Houston, we have a problem.” Despite the ten year difference in their ages, Derek had caught the reference and smiled in return.


“Are you serious about this, or is this just a game?”


Sensing that his response was of extreme importance, Derek answered sincerely, “I am very serious. Very ignorant, but serious.”


Simon had looked at him with surprise, “Now you’ve got my attention. That’s the first real thing you have ever said to me. Welcome to my world.”


As Derek brushed past him, walking towards the room where Niall waited, Simon grasped his arm. “Wait.”


Derek paused and turned around. Simon said seriously, “Don’t forget. I’m on your side.”


Derek looked at him and said, “I know. I’ve always known that. And you know me better than I give you credit for. So, the answer to your question is, no, I don’t know what I’m getting into. I’ve never felt like this before.”


“I thought…”


Derek interrupted him, “Yeah, I thought the Fixit Shop was closed too. Apparently, its still open for business.”


Simon chuckled and this time when Derek went towards the room, didn’t try to stop him.


Niall stood in the center of the room. Waiting. He turned around quickly when Derek entered the room. His face lightened with relief when he saw that it was Derek.


“Derek, you’ll be back, right?”


“Yes, remember I told you that the first month they don’t allow visitors, though.”


“I remember,” Niall replied. “You won’t forget about me, will you?”


Derek walked over to him and hugged him. Niall sank into the arms that held him so protectively. “No, I won’t forget you.” He put both hands on the sides of Niall’s face. They were almost the same height. For some reason, he always saw Niall as a lot shorter. They were eye to eye and he said, “I—will—not---forget---you.”


Derek stood outside of Niall’s mother’s house nervously. There were a lot of things that he had forgotten to ask Niall. Did his mother know he was gay? Did she know about his drug problem? Did she…Derek stopped his mental chatter and rang the doorbell.


The woman who answered the door must be one of Niall’s sisters, Mary Katherine or Niamh. Damn, she was pretty and she was almost as tall as he was. Those eyes, was that color real? Purple blue, must be contacts. “Hi, my name is Derek, and um…Niall sent me. Is his mom here?”


Peggy’s first thoughts when she answered the door were, damn he’s beautiful, and please God, can I have one of these? When she heard Niall’s name she gasped, “Oh my God, we’ve been looking for him. We couldn’t find him yesterday. We’ve been scared to death. Please come in. I’m his mother,” she added breathlessly.


She grabbed Derek’s hand. “Thank you so much for coming.” To his great embarrassment, Peggy opened her arms and pulled him into a warm, affectionate embrace and kissed his cheek. “Sit down, I’ll go get you a soda.” She ignored his protests and after a few minutes entered the room with a plateful of cookies and carrying a couple of cans of soda.


“I wasn’t sure what kind of soda you wanted.” She pulled a cell phone out of the pocket of her jeans. “Can you stay for a bit while I get everyone together? That way, you’ll only have to tell your story once.”


She got on the phone like a general rallying her troops. When she had completed the last phone call, she said delicately, “Are you and Niall…together?”


Derek blushed so fiercely that it was evident even with his dark coloring. Peggy smiled with amusement, dimples flashing in delight. She was unable to hold back a quiet laugh.


“Um, we’re friends,” Derek replied.


“Good, have some cookies.”


Moments later it seemed, Derek was surrounded by O’Brien’s. He was able to put names with faces because of Niall’s vivid descriptions of the family he loved so dearly. What Niall hadn’t mentioned was the rainbow coloring of this beautiful family of his. They were all various shades, ranging from Cullen’s fair skin to Mary Katherine’s creamy vanilla caramel complexion.


Dyllan, Lacey and Kai sat together on the loveseat in the corner. Lacey and Kai sat on either side of Dyllan supportively, holding his hands tightly. His blue gray eyes settled on Derek attentively, obviously concerned about what was going on with his older brother.


Cullen sat at the head of the table, with his partner Shannon seated comfortably on his lap. Derek saw immediately why Niall cared so much for Shannon. He was special. He had a sweetness of spirit that radiated from him.


Quinn sat in the easy chair next to the fireplace. Niall’s two sisters Niamh and Mary Katherine sat at the table next to each other. He looked at Niamh curiously. Niall had said that of his two sisters, he was closest to Niamh and Quinn was close to Mary Katherine.


Niamh was a chef. Her blond hair was short and spiky and her eyes were dark blue like Niall’s. Her skin was a dark creamy peach. She had been wearing a Baltimore Orioles cap on backwards when she came into the house and was dressed in a navy blue sweatshirt and a pair of faded jeans. Niall called her a ‘Wild Child.’


On the other side of the table, the youngest, Brodie, the only one who was not blond haired and blue eyed, sat next to his mother, holding her hand lovingly. Niall said Brodie was the ‘smart one’ and the favorite. ‘Brodie is the baby, and we all love him the best.’


Peggy took a deep breath, “Ok guys, Niall sent Derek here. I don’t know any more than y’all do. I thought it would be easier if Derek only had to tell his story once.”


“Hey everybody. First thing I want to tell you is that Niall is fine.” Derek paused. The relief in the room was palpable. “I took him to a rehab facility that is run by a friend of mine. He wanted me to let you all know that he is safe.”


“Thanks for coming, Derek,” Cullen said, clearly the family spokesman and the one they all deferred to. Niall had said that Cullen was more of a father than a big brother. Niall idolized Cullen and had told Derek that Cullen had just been a kid himself when he had taken the responsibility for helping his mother raise and support his brothers and sisters.


Cullen continued, “We’ve all been crazy worrying about Niall. Can you tell us more about the rehab? Where is it? When can we see him?”


“The rehab is in Westminster. Usually they can start having visitors after the first month, but the counselors make the final decision on that on an individual basis. The facility is for people who…” he stopped nervously, unsure of how much to divulge.


“People who?” Cullen echoed.


There was a tense silence in the room.


“People who are involved in the BDSM lifestyle,” Derek finished, preparing to elaborate when Peggy interrupted him.


“Shit, is that all?” she asked in irritable tones. “I thought you were gonna say something terrible. Look, Derek, in our family…”


“We don’t care about shit like that,” all of the kids said in unison, having heard that statement at least a hundred times over the years.


Peggy blushed as they all laughed at her. “Hey, life is too short to worry about shit like that. Know what I mean?”


Derek looked at this warm, loving woman with wonder. Too bad she couldn’t be cloned. He answered their questions as best as he could, trying to allay their concerns and fears for Niall.


“Are you and Niall together?” Damn…that question again. He looked at Niall’s sister Niamh and replied, “We’re friends.”


“Just friends? Too bad,” Niamh said. “We like you.”


Derek smiled and said, “I like you too.”


When he left a little while later, Peggy informed him that he had an open invitation to visit whenever he wanted. He left, hoping that Niall realized how much he was loved. Being with the O’Brien’s made him want to spend some time with his own family.


He called his Mom and told her he was on his way. Derek had grown up the youngest of three, in an upper middle class family. His parents sent him to private school. He had the best of everything.


Unlike his older brother and sister, he could not fit in. If there was a rule to be broken, Derek had to put it to the test. He could never figure out why. Even now, he had to continually remind himself that he was not a rebel with a cause. Even now, he could barely conform. He could follow the rules well enough to get by, and that was about it.


He had left home when he was around 14, after an argument with his father. His father had said, ‘If you don’t like my rules then leave.’ His father didn’t mean it. He knew his father didn’t mean it. He left anyway, in a move that he always thought of as one of the dumbest mistakes of his life.


He had started living on the street. Always looking for trouble and finding it. Looking for his next adventure. He thrived on excitement and challenge. When he met Simon, he had been living on the edge. He had just started getting high. He was addicted, not just to the drugs, but to the street life too.


Simon had introduced him to a different world. A world where he felt comfortable and where he belonged. He owed Simon a lot. Simon had mentored him and stopped him from tumbling into a downward spiral that Derek had seen too many others that had been on the street with him fall into.


He had got into BDSM for the rush. How much punishment could he take? He felt like he was fighting against the Top and winning when he succeeded in not giving in. It took him awhile to understand that it was not about that at all.




Against his will, Niall listened to Simon as he spoke to him and nine others about “The Space.”


“I know most of you know very little or nothing at all about us. It may seem strange, but participation in our program is by invitation only. We ask that when someone decides to make a referral that they don’t try to explain the program; we would rather do that here. I want to thank you for stepping out on faith and coming here. Or maybe, as they say, you’re just ‘sick and tired of being sick and tired.’


Simon stood up and started pacing slowly as he resumed speaking. “If you don’t like what you hear, when I am done, you are free to leave. You have been invited here because you have a substance abuse problem. You have also been invited here because you have some sort of involvement or interest in the BDSM lifestyle.”


Simon paused and looked around the room. His black, fiery eyes appraised each of the ten other people in the room intensely. “I am a neurologist and a student of the brain. I have been unable to back up some of my theories with clinical studies because of lack of funding and skepticism in the medical community.


So, I will tell you what my opinions are based upon my practices and my own experiences in the BDSM lifestyle. I don’t mean to bore you with a lot of scientific discussion. Just bear with me for a minute, ok?”


He stopped speaking and started again when they all nodded. “I think that those of us who are attracted to this lifestyle are wired differently. Over the years, I began to notice that many of us…many, not all, were in recovery. I started to wonder if we were in recovery because we had found another high through BDSM, or if we were searching for the high that BDSM gives and that’s what led to the drug and alcohol abuse.”


He gave them all a searching glance to determine if they were still with him. This was a mixed group, different nationalities, male, female, gay, lesbian and heterosexual. He was looking forward to working with all of them. The energy in the room felt good.


Simon laughed, “Before you ask, no, I don’t have an answer to that question. But what that question led to was, what if a program was developed specifically for those of us in the lifestyle? I mean, when you are in rehab, if you have to hide an essential part of yourself because you are afraid that you will be thought of as sick or crazy, it is going to have a negative impact upon your recovery. The rehab process has to involve being in a safe place where you can be open, honest and able to focus on your recovery.


So, having said all this, let me make it clear that while we will be incorporating elements of the lifestyle within your treatment, it will be in a therapeutic way and as always, the number one priority is to support you in your efforts to become sober. I have several brochures here that I want you to read and also I have a handbook for you. Questions?”


A petite, black woman with short dreads all over her head and wide brown eyes asked, “How are we supposed to pay for this?” There was a murmur in the room that indicated that she was not the only one concerned about the financial aspects of being at The Space.


“We are privately funded by affluent members in the BDSM community who believe in what we are doing. All we ask is that when you complete the program, and the opportunity presents itself, that you help someone else. And believe me, the opportunity will present itself.


Before I forget to mention it, there are several other services we provide on the grounds. We also hold various workshops dealing with topics related to the lifestyle. If you are interested in participating, let your counselors know.”


As Simon continued to answer questions, Niall stared at him, wondering what his relationship was with Derek. According to what Derek had said earlier, Simon was the one who had helped him. He couldn’t tell how old Simon was. Despite his white hair, he had a face that could have been anywhere from thirty to sixty.


Niall had never been good at determining someone else’s age. Simon was tall and thick. Not fat though. Even through his loose, baggy clothing, his physical fitness was evident. He was a very attractive man and Niall was jealous. Derek was his. Yeah right, Niall he said to himself. As if…


Simon interrupted Niall’s wandering thoughts. “So,” he asked briskly, “who wants to leave?”


They all stayed seated. Simon smiled broadly, white teeth gleaming in his dark, olive complexioned face. “Good, welcome to my world. Now it begins. I will get up on my little soapbox for a moment and start by saying that you aren’t crazy and nothing is wrong with you. People like us are different.


Not better, not worse, just different. No one seems to know or understand why. Some of us, not all, have some type of abuse in our backgrounds. Balance and moderation seem to elude us. We tend to go to the extreme. When you leave here, you will leave with tools that will assist you in maintaining your sobriety and find ways of excitement and adventuring that will not be toxic to your minds, bodies and spirits.”


Over the next few weeks, Niall struggled with himself in his fight for sobriety. The group sessions were scary for him and intense. When he would make sarcastic comments or start joking, they would call him on it. Say he was hiding behind a mask.


His counselor felt that a visit from all of his family would be too overwhelming and asked him to select one family member to come see him. Shari, the counselor, questioned his selection of Shannon. “He’s my brother-in-law, we grew up together and I need to see him.”


When Shannon arrived, Niall looked at him apprehensively. “Is Cullen mad because I picked you?”


“Nah man, he said he expected it. It’s cool baby.” Shannon looked Niall over and embraced him fiercely. “You look good and I’m so glad to see you.”


Niall’s eyes filled with tears. “I’m glad to see you too.” They sat together on the sofa in the visitor’s room. They spent the hour mostly in silence. That is what Niall needed. Shannon’s quiet, non-judgmental presence. Acceptance. He had never made Niall feel like a freak.


Shannon had always seen the person behind the clown and loved him anyway. Niall had been the one to see a lonely Shannon sitting on his front porch when they were little kids, shortly after Shannon had moved in. Niall had taken Shannon home with him and Shannon had been absorbed in the O’Brien family immediately.


Shannon updated Niall on all the family goings on. He looked at Niall and asked, “Who’s this Derek?”


He smiled when Niall flushed. “He’s a friend.”


“Yeah, that’s what he said,” said Shannon. “We liked him.”


“I was scared the O’Briens were gonna chew him up and spit him out. I thought he could handle it though,” said Niall.


“He’s a brave man, taking YOU on,” Shannon teased.


“I know,” Niall said miserably. “The thing is, I don’t think he is…taking me on, I mean.”


Shannon looked at Niall in surprise. This was a change, no jokes, and no sarcastic remark. Just a simple admission. “You know what, man? I really believe that you are going to be alright. Stop worrying, everything else will work out too.”


There was a knock on the door and Shannon stood up as Shari entered. He hugged Niall tightly again. “I love you.”


“I love you too. You know you’re my favorite brother.” Niall said. Shannon smiled at him sweetly.


“Now that is one beautiful man,” Shari said as she and Niall walked towards the dining area. “He’s mighty tempting. He’s one of those men that makes an old dyke stand up and take notice.”


Niall laughed with her and said, “If you knew my brother Cullen, you’d know that Shannon ain’t going nowhere. They’ve got something so solid, that you can’t even be jealous of it. You just look at them and hope you’ll find something like that too, one day.”


“Lucky,” said Shari. “That’s awful hard to find.”


“Not impossible, though.” At least I hope not, he muttered under his breath, thinking of Derek.


Several weeks later, Simon called Derek and asked him to drop by. “No, you don’t have to come now,” he protested. “Ok.”


“What did you do, fly?” Simon asked as Zeke showed Derek into his office.


“What’s wrong with Niall?” Derek asked abruptly.


“Whoa…I did NOT say anything was wrong with Niall,” Simon said.


Derek was unable to conceal his relief. “Well, then, what’s wrong?”


“I just want to know what happened between the two of you. I wouldn’t ask if I didn’t think it was important.” Simon listened intently as Derek told him of everything that had transpired between Niall and him.


“That’s it?” Simon asked skeptically when Derek finished.


“Yeah,” Derek said. “He scared me, to be honest with you. I wasn’t expecting him to fade out like that. It was very intense. I was afraid that if I really played with him, he’d come totally unglued.”


“Well,” Simon said, and then paused, trying to piece together what he wanted to say, “Niall behaves as though he is collared to you. He has very strong feelings for you, which is why I haven’t wanted you to visit him. He has got to be focused on recovery, not you.” He looked at the expression on Derek’s face. “It looks like you feel the bond too.”


Derek ignored Simon’s last statement. “Is it harming him?”


“No, its not harming him, it is getting in the way though. I’m thinking that I made a mistake in not allowing him to see you. He’s very distracted. And he hates me. I think he believes that we’re lovers. I’ve got Shari working with him so that his feelings for me won’t get in the way.”


“What made you decide to call me?” Derek asked.


“Niall,” Simon said with a rueful smile.  He actually came to my office and asked me if you were ok. Said he understood why you couldn’t come see him, but he just needed to know you were ok.”


Simon’s extensive knowledge of Derek was no help in interpreting his expression just then. In a habitual gesture, Derek ran a hand over his face. “I don’t know what it is. I tried to be very careful with him. The whole thing got away from me to be honest with you. I just wanted a little boy toy for the evening…and instead…I got Niall.”


“He’s very…contained.” Simon said. “Very difficult to reach. He covers up pretty good. I’ve talked to Shari. And…” He hesitated, unsure of how Derek would respond to what he planned to say next. “I want you to break him.”


Derek’s expression was stunned.


“I mean…”


“I know what you mean,” Derek said impatiently. “I know you don’t want me to destroy the boy. Why can’t you get one of the others to do it?”


“Because in my judgment,” Simon said briskly, “you are the only one who can do what is needed. And, I think you know that, Derek.”


Derek sat in the chair, pondering Simon’s words and trying to ignore the effect they had upon him. There was a beast inside that was trying to escape its chains. Derek heard them rattling. Every now in then, Simon called upon the instructors who led some of the workshops he held at the space to assist with the rehab program.


Each program participant had an individualized plan of treatment, devised by a team of health care professionals who worked at the center. If Simon was asking him to do this, Derek knew that it was not a decision that had been made without a lot of thought.


“How is it going to be therapeutic when Niall and I are so…not closely involved…I guess connected is the best way to put it?”


“I think that’s exactly why it WILL work,” Simon said.


Derek looked at him skeptically. “I know this is your area of expertise, but that boy has been seriously hurt. Mostly by wannabees, and I don’t want to add to that. Plus, Simon…” Derek paused, unwilling to reveal what he was really feeling. “Simon, Niall, is one of the most sensitive men I have ever met. He is in so much pain…I just can’t go there.”


“Not even if ultimately it would help him?” Simon asked gently.


“I don’t want him to hate me,” Derek said softly. “You know how out of control emotions can get when you break someone like that.”


“Why are you even considering that as a possible outcome?” Simon asked. “Don’t make assumptions about what could happen. I don’t want to force you or guilt you into doing it. I’m just gonna put this out there. I think…the entire team working with Niall feels that this will be beneficial. And that it is important for you to be the one. Frankly, I don’t think he will respond to anyone but you.”


Derek sighed wearily. “Let me think about it. I’ll call you.”


Simon nodded. “I’ll wait until I hear from you before we decide upon a course of action.”


Damn, Derek had placed his feelings for Niall in indefinite limbo. He knew that there was no sense in even considering having a relationship with someone who was newly in recovery. He knew how much effort and energy it took to remain sober. He stopped himself, relationship? Where had that come from?


He had just gotten to the point where he could think rationally about Niall. The brief time Niall and he had spent together had been like a small earthquake at the epicenter of his life. The way Niall looked at him, the way he responded to his touch, that stillness he had. He had been craving him ever since.


The things they could do, the places he could take him. The thought of having that adorable boy with the cocky smile under his control…damn…those chains were rattling again. Sometimes, he scared himself. When he thought about it, really thought about being with Niall, the exhilaration and excitement he felt was off the chart.


As the gates of The Space whined open, he reached into his jacket pocket for his cell phone. “Simon, I’m in. Let me know when.” He ended the call and then looked at his eyes in the rearview mirror. “You is truly crazy, man,” he said wryly to his reflection.


When Niall was let into the dungeon, he wasn’t sure what to expect. During the weekly meeting with the team that was working with him, they had picked, probed and analyzed until he felt as though he were on a slide under a microscope. Surprisingly, the feeling didn’t anger him. He usually hated for someone to try to figure him out. Trying to get in his head. Fuck that.


Instead, now, what he felt was…hope. They never left him out of the process. They pulled him in, engaged him. He had been doing the work they said. They applauded his efforts. However…damn…just another word for BUT…it’s not enough. They had determined that a therapeutic session would possibly help him to open up…get to the roots of some of the issues that were hindering him.


Simon had been the one who approached him. “I know that you don’t like me, Niall. After your time here at The Space, I am hoping that even if you don’t trust me as an individual, that you trust in the systems that we have in place, and what we have been doing as far as your rehab is concerned.”


Fuck no, had been Niall’s initial response. He had held his tongue and said grudgingly, “I don’t trust easily, but I trust that I can trust you, if you know what I mean.”


Simon had smiled broadly. Damn, it was hard to hate him. “Yes, I do know what you mean.” He had briefly explained what the plan was and how the team had reached their decision.


As he sat there, blindfolded and handcuffed, Niall realized that there were some things that the team had neglected to tell him. He felt helpless. And it was making him angry. He felt betrayed and that was REALLY making him angry.


He was so angry that he was shaking. How dare they! How dare they truss him up, blind him and deliver him like he was fucking nothing. He realized that he was breathing fast and that his heart was racing. A part of him was observing the action. Why are you so angry?


He stood up and attempted to kick the chair. He missed it and ended up sprawled on the floor. He jumped up, looking around wildly. He tried to remove the blindfold but it was impossible. He reached out with both hands until he found the chair. He threw it as far and as hard as he could and felt a sense of satisfaction at the loud clatter it made when it landed. He walked towards the sound and when he located the chair, he threw it again.


He felt a shift in the air around him. Had the door opened and closed? “Who’s there?” he asked hoarsely, voice dry and harsh as if he hadn’t used it for months.  The silence was heavy and thick. He knew he wasn’t alone. “I know someone is here.”


His skin prickled. His senses were alive and searching and he was too angry to be scared. Then…he smelled him. Derek. His soul paused. That very light scent of the oil Derek used to perfume his body. Patchouli. Niall had never paid attention to colognes or scents before but something about the way that oil smelled when it touched Derek’s skin was addictive. He could not get enough of Derek’s scent and like an animal, he knew he would recognize it anywhere.


“Derek,” he whispered. The loss of sight had made his other senses acutely sensitive and Niall was aware that the presence in the room had stilled. There was a slight stir and then two fingers were placed gently upon his lips. All of the rage left him in a rush that left him weak.


The handcuffs were removed from his wrists and he was slowly disrobed. He stood meekly under the ministrations of The Presence. It was Derek. It had to be.


He was led over to a wall. His arms were spread and his hands placed above his head and touching the wall. His legs were spread also. His shoulders were gripped in a firm grasp that he knew meant, “stay here.” There was a delicate, gossamer caress down the side of his face, so faint, that it could have been his imagination.


There was a whooshing sound in the air and his entire body came to attention. He was at the mercy of his senses. His brain felt like mush, his thoughts sluggish and incoherent.


His body knew what that sound meant. It was conflicted though. Sometimes that sound meant very good and other times…it meant…very, very bad. He heard the whoosh again and tensed.


Then he felt it, so light that it took a moment to register. The strands of the flogger stroked his back. The multi-stranded instrument felt like a thousand fingers stroking him all at once. Back and forth, up and down. The rhythm was hypnotic.


He could smell the leather and feel the cool leather strands moving over him slowly, rhythmically. He heard the swishing noise the strands made as they moved against each other. The strands moved over his entire body like caressing hands, over his back, thighs and buttocks, his chest and thighs.


He knew better than to speak. Knew better than to do what his body was demanding that he do: lean back into Derek, turn around and kneel at his feet. Beg to be his. He bowed his head and tears sprang to his eyes. He was never going to…


He jerked in surprise as he felt a solid thump across his back. It didn’t hurt, just felt like a heavy-handed pat on the back. The kind a friend would give you. The thumps were quick, painless, and consistent. Same rhythm, same degree of pressure each time.


He settled into it and rocked with it, allowing his body to move with each stroke. He couldn’t tell how long it lasted. He was lulled into a sense of security. He felt safe.


Derek stood behind Niall, observing the play of his muscles under his skin as his body took each heavy stroke of the flogger. He used this one for warm up. Niall’s taut, long back tensed and released. Derek admired the view of his tight buttocks. He loved leggy and lean. Niall was strong, wiry and without an ounce of fat.


Niall’s quiescence when he sensed Derek’s presence in the room had been intoxicating. He had been watching Niall closely and viewed his rising anger with a combination of concern and exhilaration. He was gonna take that…and twist it.


Derek paused, put the thumper down and pulled his favorite flogger from his waist. It had been custom made for him and fit his left hand perfectly. He ran the strands through his fingers, closed his eyes and inhaled the sweet leather smell. He smiled to himself wickedly. Oh…yeah. Now.


The strands crashed onto Niall’s back with a crisp, loud crack. The sound echoed in the room. All of the senses that had been lulled into somnolence awakened with a vibrant rush. Five quick, even strokes across his back, then reverse, then again.


Niall’s rage reawakened and rushed into him…a potent, live force. Every part of him was filled with rage. He was so angry that he saw a red haze behind the blindfold. Everything was red. He heard loud, hoarse, furious grunts and realized with distant surprise that those noises were coming from his mouth.


As quickly as it had arisen, the rage disappeared and the thought raced through his mind over and over…they hurt me…they hurt me…they hurt me. Scenes flashed through his mind’s eye, the small, scrawny boy he had been, always being picked on, the way he moved, the way he talked, the way he looked, he couldn’t do anything right.


His big brothers Cullen and Quinn getting into fights at school trying to protect him. Cullen teaching him how to fight so that he could defend himself. Learning to laugh at himself and make jokes to keep them from fighting him, hurting him.


Losing his only real friend to his brother. The only person he had found who really cared about him. Being in the middle of his family and feeling isolated and alone. Not able to talk about what he was feeling for fear they would think he was crazy.


Feeling dirty. Feeling like a freak. Hearing over and over, ‘you’re so funny’, ‘you crack me up.’ Feeling like if he showed what he was really feeling no-one would want to know. No-one would care. He was the “funny” one.


Derek was struggling not to be drawn into the waves of pain he felt emanating from Niall. He wanted to stop. He knew he couldn’t. He knew it was part of the process. With the others, he had never felt like his heart was being ripped out. Sweat was pouring from his face.


Niall was in a dark, green, verdant forest. It was his…his place. He could smell the deep earth smells. The smell of life. He was running, running, running, running.


He felt the warm, moist grass under his feet. The light breeze in the air moving across his skin. He was wild and free. He heard a rustle and stopped. He lifted a paw…a paw?


He stepped away and had a sensation of hovering above…he looked down and saw…himself…a beautiful red fox…he slammed back into the animal body and continued the run…so fast it felt like he was flying…he was free…..


Gasping sobs tore out of his mouth. He was crying and shaking and then Derek was holding him. They were sitting on the floor of the dungeon and he was naked in Derek’s arms.


Derek removed the blindfold with trembling hands. Niall looked at him blindly for a moment, unable to see. His vision returned gradually and he smiled weakly in relief when he saw Derek’s face. “I knew it was you,” he said.


The scene did prove to be therapeutic and helped Niall bring several painful memories to the surface so that he could confront them and deal with them.


Derek was restless. Derek was going crazy. He had known this would happen. Just didn’t know it would be this bad. Usually after he participated in a therapeutic flogging, he would go out and find a little toy boy and fuck the shit out of him.


He wasn’t able to do that after the session with Niall. It would have been like eating chocolate cake when you really wanted apple pie. Now, several weeks later, he craved Niall with a vicious need that terrified him and pissed him off at the same time.


His cock had been hard with the first swing of the thumper. Shit, if he really thought about it, his cock had been hard from the first minute he saw Niall sitting in that chair, blindfolded and restrained. His cock ached. His balls ached. His stomach burned with desire. It felt like his cock had been hard for the past month.


When he arrived at the gym, Bobby, the owner, was sitting at the desk. He pushed his glasses back up on his nose, looked at Derek’s face and said, “Ah shit, you havin one of those nights again? Exactly how long do you think you can keep this up? I’m surprised you’re still standing.”


Derek nodded and had to grin at the look of dismay on Bobby’s face. “I’ll keep it up as long as I have to,” he said with grim determination.


“Guess I’m not closing early tonight,” Bobby said ruefully. “Is Simon coming too?”


Derek nodded again and said, “Yup. Be afraid, be very afraid. We gonna be here all night.”


By the time Simon arrived, Derek’s gray t-shirt was almost black with sweat. He looked at Derek and shook his head.


“C’mon over here,” Derek called. “I see you.”


Simon started warming up on the treadmill next to the stair stepper Derek was using. “Step on it, man. You gotta catch up with me,” Derek said sternly.


Simon gave him a quick glance. “I’ve never seen you…quite like this before,” he said, black eyes glittering with amusement.


“What? Motivated?” Derek asked.


“No,” Simon said. “Motivated is not the word I would use. Let’s see…,” he closed his eyes and put his fingertips to both sides of his forehead. “I think…crazed is more like it.”


“Fuck you,” Derek said with a panting laugh.


“I don’t think I’m the one you want to be fucking.”


Derek continued his workout in silence.


Simon chuckled. Derek gave him an inquiring look and said, “I’m almost afraid to ask what you’re laughing about.”


“Oh nothing,” Simon said. “Just thinking, ‘oh how the mighty have fallen. Or…even better, ‘the bigger they are, the harder they fall.’


“Ha, fuckin, ha.”


“Dr. Sanders, how eloquent you are this evening,” Simon said, unable to restrain a loud shout of laughter. “Derek, Derek, surely you can see the humor.”


“I’m looking real hard. But no, I can’t.”


“Seriously, Derek. You can see him now. Why don’t you stop by?”


They both knew who Simon was referring to, without mentioning him by name.


“I don’t think I should,” Derek said. “I don’t think I can.”


“He’s stronger than you think he is. I think the two of you would be good for each other.”


Derek looked at Simon in surprise. He wiped his face with the bottom of his shirt and said slowly, “You’ve never said anything like that before about anyone else I’ve been with.”


“You know I don’t like to offer advice unless I’m asked for it. I made an exception in this case because I think it’s very true.”


Derek continued his workout, heart feeling lighter in his chest than it had felt in a long time. Over the next few weeks, he continued to avoid going to see Niall, despite Simon’s words. When he wasn’t working, he was at the gym. He worked out to the point of exhaustion. It was the only way he could sleep. Bobby teased that he was going to start charging him rent.


Niall felt abandoned. Derek had promised…well, he hadn’t promised, but he had said he would not forget him. He hadn’t tried to contact Niall since the flogging scene.


Niall wanted Derek with a yearning that was indescribable. This unrelenting need for Derek…HURT. How could Derek be so unaffected by all that had happened between them since their first meeting? How could he so easily disregard the powerful feelings that had flowed between them? Niall knew that it hadn’t been one sided.


He desperately wanted to experience that connection, that bond, that sense of silent communication that he felt whenever he was around Derek. When he was with Derek, he felt special, because that was how Derek treated him, as though he were valuable, a treasure.


He missed the way Derek would look at him, very serious and commanding on one hand, playful and teasing on the other, like they had a secret that only the two of them were in on. It wasn’t a game they played on each other…it was a game the two of them played…together. Overriding everything else was an overwhelming need to please Derek.


He tried to make his recovery the focus. Thoughts of Derek interfered. He knew that he couldn’t allow that to happen. For his recovery to be real, he had to do it for himself, not for Derek, not for his family. It had to be all about him keeping it real and not hiding behind the jokes and the clown face.


He laughed to himself. His brothers and sisters had been stunned the first time they came to see him. They were accustomed to him cracking jokes and being sarcastic.


Witnessing their shock when he answered their questions seriously, without his usual attempts to find a way to make them a target of his sometimes idiotic sense of humor, had been a constant source of amusement to him. They knew him well enough to know that he was laughing at them and why, but none of them called him on it. He sobered suddenly. He also knew them well enough to understand that they could see how fragile he was. For the first time in his life, he wasn’t concealing it.


Leslie, one of the women in his group, calling out to him, drew him out of his thoughts. “You gonna be late, man, if you don’t get up off your butt now.” Her voice was deep and husky from years of whisky and cigarettes.


Leslie was in a relationship with a woman who owned the club where she was a bartender. They had known each other for years. Leslie still wasn’t sure how the relationship had started, she told Niall. One night, when they were closing down the club together, she had made a smart- ass comment and Carol had said, “I should spank you for that.”


Something had made Leslie say, “I wish you would.” She later found out that Carol had been involved in the lifestyle for many years. As they grew closer, Carol had told Leslie that if they were going to pursue a relationship, she would have to get her drinking under control.


“And that’s how I ended up here,” she had mentioned to Niall on one of his restless nights, when he had gone to the lake to take a walk and found Carol there with the same intention. They had become good friends.


“You still got that man of yours on your mind, I can tell,” Leslie said. “I know its rough, but when you get out of here, it’ll work out.”


Niall smiled at her sadly and said, “Leslie, I can’t lie to myself. I thought that maybe he was feeling like I was. I can see I thought wrong.”


“I think you need to chill,” Leslie said as she impatiently shook her long dreads away from her ebony face. “Maybe, he just wants to give you some space. Don’t start assuming you can read his mind one way or the other.”


“You’re right,” Niall agreed, putting his arm across her shoulder. “Let’s go, or we’re gonna be late.”


Leslie rolled her dark brown eyes at him. “Isn’t that what I just said? Damn, I love being right all of the time,” she teased.


The months flew by. Derek put in occasional, brief appearances, “just to check on you,” he told Niall. The visits were disappointing and too short. Derek was distant and impersonal. There was no sign that he felt any type of connection with Niall.


Simon observed their interactions with concern. He knew that Derek did not want do anything to interfere with Niall’s recovery. He saw that Derek was bending over backwards to keep things cool.


Derek didn’t seem to be aware that Niall’s heart was slowly breaking. His eyes would track every move Derek made, from the minute he arrived until he left. Everyone else could see how he felt, except Derek.


Or so it seemed. Derek knew that Niall was infatuated with him. He would never take advantage of that. Niall was so sweet. Derek knew that he was probably the only one who saw the sweet little boy behind the arrogant smile. The only one who could see what a gentle spirit lurked behind the bad boy.


There was no way that he was going to be the one who destroyed Niall. So he kept up the charade, kept the conversations between them light and easy. Impersonal. No need to…he stopped himself. He was lying to himself. Keeping things cool was as much for his benefit as for Niall’s.


He was the one who would be destroyed if he went as deep as he thought he could with Niall. He was the one who was tired of thinking he had found something special and magical only to find it disintegrating in his hands. He was tired of fixing someone only to look around and find them gone.


It was better for both of them if they just remained friends. He had done what he said. He had told Niall that he wouldn’t forget him and he hadn’t. Niall was just fine without him. When Niall left The Space, maybe they could get together every now and then, go to a movie or something. Whatever.


When Niall left the space, nothing was like Derek and he had thought it would be. Derek had assumed that once Niall was out of The Space, his infatuation with Derek would die a natural death. Niall had figured that once he was out of The Space, he was going to have to fight Derek for a place in his life.


Everywhere Derek looked, there was Niall. He swore that Niall knew his work schedule better than he did. Eventually, he had to give Niall a key to his apartment. He didn’t know why he had to, he just did. He would come home from work, and Niall would be there, watching television, dinner warm in the oven, or sometimes breakfast, depending upon what shift Derek was working at the hospital.


Niall was living with his mother and working with his brother Cullen again. Cullen had his own business doing remodeling, handyman, and subcontracting with builders. Niall was an electrician. He was saving up so that he could rebuild his life.


They spent hours laughing and talking. Derek enjoyed Niall’s subtle, self-deprecating humor. He got some of Niall’s more obscure references and Niall loved it. Finally, someone else got it.


For the first time ever, Derek allowed someone to get truly close. He included Niall in all aspects of his life. Niall made it easy. His constant presence was eerily comforting.


Derek also introduced Niall to his physically intense way of life. “All or nothing, man. You gotta go for the gusto.” Derek did everything full force. He roller bladed, skied, hiked and dragged Niall along with him.


Once they had run up and down a mountainside, nonstop. The entire time, Niall castigated himself, wondering if he had totally lost his mind. He couldn’t seem to say no when Derek came up with an idea for yet another adventure.


He always said yes, because he didn’t want to be left out. He knew that Derek rarely let anyone else in. Over the past few months he had met many of Derek’s friends and acquaintances. Slowly, he was putting together the pieces of the complex puzzle that was Derek.


Once, when he was in Derek’s bedroom, waiting for Derek to finish changing for dinner, he had finally gathered enough courage to ask Derek what a wooden carving with elaborately designed letters TCCBS meant. Derek had looked at him and said somberly, “It’s a reminder, ‘this craving cannot be satisfied.’ I put it there so that I will remember that when that it starts, I have to rock with it, it ain’t going nowhere, and NOTHING will satisfy it, no matter what lies I tell myself or what games I play with myself.”


Niall had looked at him wonderingly. Derek liked to downplay his success and wouldn’t take any credit for going from being a runaway living on the street to becoming a doctor. ‘I am not different, or better or worse than anyone else,’ he kept telling Niall. “I made a stupid choice because I was pissed off. There are hundreds of kids out there with REAL horror stories.”


Despite Derek’s words, Niall thought that Derek was magnificent. Besides working full-time on the Trauma Unit, he also volunteered at a clinic that treated homeless people. His greatest heartbreak was the large number of young black men he worked with who were HIV+. He pulled Niall into working at a couple of health fairs at local, inner city high schools. ‘We have to get to them BEFORE, not after.’


Today, it was hot and humid and they were on a hike from hell. At least it seemed that way to Niall. Derek forged ahead, intent on reaching their destination. Niall found himself enthralled by Derek’s long, graceful, confident strides.


Derek was not the kind of man who played macho. His power emanated from him easily and naturally; he wore it gracefully. He was the kind of person that people gravitated towards. He was always willing to help, always willing to do something extra to make things easier for someone.


Niall worshipped him. The only person that he came close to feeling like this about was his older brother Cullen. That was different. Cullen had been like a father to him all of his life.


He had never felt like this about another man before. He admired Derek because he was so many things: intelligent, loving, caring. He refused to listen to that voice of doubt that asked what did he have to offer someone like Derek. A love that was ageless, timeless and never ending had to count for something. He knew that no one ever had and never would love Derek like he could.


 Lost in thought, following in Derek’s wake, his musings led to places he had avoided going for almost a year. Well, almost avoided going to; he never thought about Derek’s hands on his body or how Derek tasted, until those quiet, secret moments, alone at home, in the dark.


The memories overtook him involuntarily. The mental guard fell for one brief moment. A wave of feeling passed over and through him with a mighty rush that left him physically weak. He tripped over his own feet and stumbled to his knees.


Not now, not here, he ordered himself. At night sometimes, raging with hunger for the touch, the feel, the smell of Derek, he would masturbate for hours. He would cum and it would offer temporary relief but was not satiating because nothing could satisfy this hunger but Derek himself.


Derek turned around when he heard Niall fall. “You alright, man?” he asked, voice tense with concern.


“I’m ok, just let me get myself together for a sec, ok? I’ll catch up with you.”


“Niall,” Derek said, exasperated, “I’m not gonna leave you, let me help you up.”


“No! Don’t touch me. I’m ok. I’m getting up.”


Derek ignored Niall’s words and reached under his arms and lifted him to his feet. Niall’s body slid against his and Derek felt a prickling of awareness that felt like tendrils of electricity passing through him from the tips of his toes to the top of his head. “Damn, did you feel that?”


Speechless, Niall nodded his head. They were eye to eye. Blue eyes met gray for an instant that stretched into infinity. Niall closed his eyes slowly, unable to bear the intensity of the emotions evoked by Derek’s piercing gaze. He felt suffocated with longing. He couldn’t think, couldn’t breathe.


Derek could not resist Niall’s soft parted lips, slightly open and panting for breath. He couldn’t understand why he seemed to have no self-control when it came to Niall. He lowered his head, rested his lips upon Niall’s curved mouth and kissed him so tenderly that tears sprang to Niall’s eyes. Only Derek touched him this gently, as if he were something valued and precious.


Derek closed his eyes and rubbed his face against Niall’s over and over, entranced by the feel of Niall’s smooth, hairless face against his. He nuzzled into Niall’s neck, smelling him, breathing him in. He delicately planted soft, butterfly kisses all over Niall’s face, inch by inch.


He returned to Niall’s lips, slanted his head, opened Niall’s mouth with his and inserted his tongue in Niall’s mouth. Niall’s hands clutched his shoulders. Derek slanted his head again, trying to get deeper, sucking at Niall’s tongue. He slid his hands along Niall’s arms and palmed the sides of his face.


He turned Niall’s head so that he could burrow his tongue into Niall’s honey sweet mouth even further. He kissed him deeper and deeper and deeper until they both were breathing hard and moaning into the kiss. And still, he wouldn’t stop. He couldn’t.


Derek removed Niall’s hands from his shoulders and clasped both of his wrists in one large hand. He slid the other hand into Niall’s hair, gathered a handful and held Niall’s head in place. He tugged at Niall’s hair and Niall made a long, hoarse, tortured sound.


Niall was lost now. Derek could have staked him out on the grass, poured honey on him and let ants loose on him and he would have agreed to it. In that moment, Derek could have done anything to him.


Derek felt the instant of surrender and tightened his grip on Niall’s hair. Niall grunted with pain and excitement. Breathing rapidly and trembling with the effort it took to restrain himself from pushing Niall onto the ground and fucking him like a rabid animal, Derek tore his mouth away from Niall’s and buried his face in Niall’s neck.


He bit down, hard. Niall screamed. The pain and pleasure intertwined in a sensation that had his senses crying out for mercy. His aching cock burned and twisted and he ejaculated with a sudden torrent of agonizing pleasure.


He convulsed against Derek violently. Derek held him in his arms as he came. The heat and passion radiating from Niall threatened his fragile self-control. He wanted him, had to have him now, had to fuck him, had to take him make him his, mark him brand him, show him who he belonged to. 


Niall slid to his knees with a moan. He fought to drag the zipper of Derek’s pants down with fingers that wouldn’t work properly. Before he had Derek’s pants open properly, he had already pressed his face against Derek’s throbbing cock, gasping with relief. God, he had dreamt about this moment for so long. He attacked Derek’s cock with his mouth, sucking fast and hard, unable to get enough. He clutched at Derek’s ass, holding him in place so that he could bury his cock down his throat.


The taste of Derek was so good, so sweet, he couldn’t find words to describe what finally having this cock in his mouth after months of hungering for it felt like. He couldn’t savor the taste; he slobbered over Derek’s cock gluttonously like a pig at a trough. No finesse, no technique, just an avid, endless hunger that might possibly be assuaged in a million years.


The noisy sucking sounds echoed in the early morning silence. They might have been the only two people on earth. Nothing and no one mattered but this. Niall treasured the sounds of Derek’s harsh, gasping breaths. His cock began to fill again when he felt Derek’s hands on the back of his head.


He just about lost it when Derek started to fuck his face in a frenzy of lust and desire. “Uuuungh, uuuungh.” Derek’s gritty cries incited him to madness and he jammed his mouth up and down on Derek’s rod in a frenzy. Knowing that he was giving Derek pleasure stirred Niall’s cock to rock hardness once again. Derek held Niall’s head so that just his glans was enclosed in Niall’s mouth.


He didn’t ever want this to end. Niall’s hot, wet mouth on his cock was…Oh God…Niall. He looked down and saw Niall’s eyes looking at him worshipfully. He had the strangest feeling of déjà vu, even though he knew they had never done this before. It felt like they would always be doing this, always be together, time after time.


In that instant, the deep, hot, dark, raging  sensation of his penis encased in Niall’s mouth, reached flash point and he started to cum. His penis pulsed heavily, his muscles seized and he froze as his entire body was suffused with pleasure. Niall seemed to know what was needed. He sank his mouth slowly down and rapidly upwards, over and over, swallowing Derek’s thick, sweet cream with swift, loud, hungry gulps, until there was no more.


Unable to hold himself upright any longer, Derek collapsed to the ground. Niall snuggled in next to him. Reluctantly, Derek gradually returned to himself. He lay flat on his back, an arm across his face. It took him awhile to breathe normally.


“Derek, please, don’t do that.”




“Don’t disappear like that. Don’t be like you were all of those times you came to see me when I was in The Space.”


What could he say to that? “Niall…” Derek stopped then started again. Before he could continue, Niall interrupted him.


“Derek, I don’t need you to fix me. I don’t need you to protect me.”


Derek looked over at him, feeling a sense of injury and betrayal. Who had been talking to Niall about him?


Niall correctly interpreted his expression. “Derek, I’m not stupid. I’ve met ‘the boys.’


“The boys?” Derek queried.


“Yeah, the boys. All those guys you’ve picked up, dusted off and sent on their merry way over the past couple of years. The guys that are still waiting for a second chance with you. Why do you think you run into them all of the time? Not coincidence, my friend,” Niall said wryly.


“It’s not what you think, Niall,” Derek said. “They are really just friends. Most of them were just fuckbuddies or toy boys anyway; I never had anything serious with any of them. And if I run into somebody who needs a little help along the way, if I can, I’m gonna help.”


“I think that your view of things and their view of things is a little different, but that doesn’t matter anyway. Why won’t you play with me?” Niall asked boldly, heart pounding furiously in his chest.


“There are a lot of things you don’t know about me,” Derek said.


“Try me, tell me then,” Niall said.


“You’re my friend, my closest friend now. I want to keep it that way.”


Niall looked at Derek seriously. “If I’m really your friend, don’t shut me out. When we met I was trying to fix myself. Granted, maybe I wasn’t doing a good job; maybe I would’ve fallen off again, I don’t know. I do know that I am NOT looking for you or anyone else to do what I need to do for myself. Stop trying to protect me, Derek.”


Derek rubbed his hands over his face. Despite the serious mood, Niall smiled at the habitual gesture. He took a deep breath and told himself to chill. He couldn’t screw this up. This might be his only chance to get through to Derek.


“Derek, don’t shut me out. Don’t. It hurts,” he said hoarsely. “Especially when I know you want it as bad as I do,” he added in a low whisper.


“Niall, you really aren’t ready to know what you want, this is just…an infatuation or something,” Derek said with so much patience and understanding in his voice that Niall’s hair stood on end.


“You don’t know what I’m ready for,” Niall said, voice tense with fury. “You haven’t bothered to ask. You keep telling me what I want, what I need.” Heart pounding with anger and fear, he forced himself to slow down. “Listen, to me. Listen to me, Derek. I need you. I need to be with you in whatever way you want me to be.”


“I don’t want to talk here,” Derek said. “Let’s go to my apartment and we can talk there.”


When they arrived at the apartment, Simon was there. He was waiting in the lounge area reserved for guests. When he saw Simon, all of Niall’s fears rose and roiled within him, personified in the form of Simon. Derek was his, not Simon’s and he was not letting go. He was filled with a rage that he was barely able to control. Eyes midnight dark with emotion blazed at Simon with an unmistakable message: back the fuck off.


Simon kept his face impassive. He hoped Derek would see and understand what he was dealing with. Derek walked towards Simon. When he realized that Niall wasn’t following him, he turned around to see Niall bristling angrily. Damn. He looked back at Simon and they shared a quick glance. This might be funny in another ten years or so but it sure as hell wasn’t funny now.


Simon said, “I can see this is a bad time. I was on my way to the harbor and stopped to see if you might want to join me.”


“Yeah, things are a little busy right now. I’ll give you a call later in the week,” Derek replied.


They took the elevator to Derek’s apartment in silence. Niall kept sneaking peeks at Derek to see if Derek was angry with him. He couldn’t tell from the impassive look on Derek’s face.


Derek gestured towards the sofa in the living room. He followed Niall into the room. He collapsed onto the sofa and buried his head in his hands. “Niall, this is a really bad idea.”


“I don’t think so,” Niall said firmly. “Let’s at least talk about it Derek.”


“Cards on the table,” Derek said brusquely. “What do you even know about the lifestyle, aside from the fact that you are a masochist?"


“Well,” Niall said with a smirk, “I did attend a workshop, called 101 Ways to Please Your Top and Keep Him or Her Begging for More.”


Diverted, Derek said, “What?”


“I kid you not. Plus, I had to attend. I knew the instructor.”


“Who was it?” Derek asked.


“My brother Cullen’s friend, Selena,” Niall responded.


“Damn, how did that go?”


“It was cool, she nodded at me, I nodded at her and that was it. Tell you the truth, I’m surprised that I didn’t see more people I knew. Baltimore AIN’T that big, know what I mean?”


Derek nodded in agreement and asked, “Did she know that you were in the life?”


“No, and I didn’t know about her either. I should have though, cuz if there was ever a woman who could make my dick get hard, she would be it. She is evil man, and I mean that in a good way.”


Derek laughed at him and tugged his hair. Niall looked at Derek and said, “So, that’s what I know. I have also done some reading. But, I remember you telling me one time that you like to do things differently. I figured that I could learn what I need to know from you.”


Derek studied Niall appraisingly. “You’re really serious about this.”


Niall looked at him. Duh!!!! What do you think I’ve been telling you? He opened his mouth to speak, thought better of it and closed his mouth again.


“You are a very smart man, mi amigo,” Derek said with a sardonic grin.


Niall looked at the floor; if he looked at Derek he knew he would crack up. Derek looked at him with a soft, amused smile on his face. Sometimes he took things way too seriously. Niall always had a way of lightening him up.


Staring at the floor, as if there were something of interest there, Derek said in a slow, halting voice, “I got into the life for the rush of it. I didn’t know jack shit. It was like a contest. A way to prove I was the ruffest, tuffest. The first time I played, some guy took me home and flogged me. I don’t even remember talking about it. I saw his toys hanging on the wall and asked him about them. He said, ‘wanna try?”


He paused and finally looked at Niall, wanting to see how he was reacting to what Derek was telling him. Niall was listening with avid interest. Obviously uncomfortable with talking about himself, Derek continued.


“I was young, dumb, full of cum and I said yeah. The turn on for me was accepting the challenge and beating the Top. I kept looking for someone who was stronger than me. For me, it wasn’t about what was happening physically. It was about winning the battle, not allowing anyone to break me. What was happening to my body was just part of it.


When I met Simon, finally I met someone who I could ask questions about the life. Fuck, now that was an eye opener. After a while, hanging around with Simon, I realized that what I thought was happening was totally different from what the real deal was. Of course, at 15, I didn’t realize all of this intellectually. At first, I was just caught up. In the street life. BDSM was just part of the adventure.”


He stopped speaking for a moment to collect his thoughts. It was surprising to him how easy Niall was to talk to. Although time had sanitized many of his memories, he hated re-living them. He glanced at Niall and saw that he was patiently waiting for Derek to pick up where he left off.


Niall listened to him eagerly. He was filled with a mixture of gratitude and relief at the way Derek was sharing parts of his past. Niall realized that Derek was an immensely private person and he knew that he had not made the decision to discuss his history with Niall lightly.


“Simon got me to start thinking. For one, without preaching, he made me recognize how crazy I was to be going home with some strange guy and letting them top me. I would let them do whatever they wanted to me. It was part of the contest, the challenge.


It was funny, they were all older than me, but ended up wanting me to do them. I kept waiting to find someone whose will was stronger than mine. I was lucky, so lucky, man, that some psycho didn’t find me. I KNOW I have a guardian angel.” He laughed wryly.


“Simon gave me a bunch of books to read. Told me to think for myself. At first, I didn’t get it. I didn’t see how the lifestyle was for me. I HATE rules. Plus, I don’t like doormats. I didn’t want to enslave someone.


I read a couple of books that I could tune into, The Sacred Prostitute and The Loving Dominant. I started getting excited. Because it hit me that being in the life didn’t mean that I had to do all of the protocol stuff. It meant that the things I liked about the life, the passion the intensity, could be used like building blocks.


Then I started thinking about how, I could build something with someone. Someone who was different. Like me. Only someone who wanted to be controlled…just like I wanted to control. It could be something different, something special. Something that the two of us created together.


Took me a while to reach that point. In the meantime, I was reading, learning, meeting people. I joined B’More Careful. As far as I know, it was the first BDSM organization in Baltimore. When I first joined, it was small. Simon was a founding member.


Zeke was also a founding member. I learned a lot from him too.” Niall looked at Derek, wide-eyed. “Yeah, Zeke. Submissive doesn’t mean stupid, you know. That was the thing I had to get over. I am a control freak, I admit it. Enslaving someone fucked with me though, for obvious reasons.


Then I met several self-proclaimed slaves who taught me to rethink that. I mean, they were all very powerful in their own right, both in and outside of their relationships. When I look at Simon and Zeke, damn, I want what they have so bad I can taste it.”


Simon? And Zeke? Shit, Niall thought. He then recalled a few things that made more sense now that he knew Simon and Zeke were together. He flushed with embarrassment at the way he had behaved towards Simon. Especially since Simon had never responded to or returned his animosity.


“I’m telling you all of this because you need to know where I’m coming from. If you need to be humiliated and treated like shit, I’m not your man. If you need a lot of rules, I’m not your man. I don’t want to force you. I am NOT going to persuade or coerce you.


If you want to play with me, be with me, then it is always by a conscious choice you are making every step of the way. If you want to play with me, then you need to know…its all or nothing baby, no half stepping. Sometimes I may ask if you’re ok…sometimes I won’t. Friend, lover, slave. Sometimes all three, sometimes one or the other. Can you handle that?


Niall swallowed. Hell yeah. “Yes,” he said quietly. The pulse in his throat fluttered visibly.


“Not so fast, boy,” Derek said grimly. You go home and think about everything I’ve said. And then we’ll talk some more. Remember, all or nothing. Think and then make me a list of exactly what you want, what you want to explore.”


Niall drove home with his heart in his throat. All…or nothing…that really frightened him. Out of everything that Derek had said to him, those words echoed in his head.


He knew Derek. If Derek expected all or nothing, that meant that’s what he was prepared to give in return. His heart ached for Derek. Always giving and not getting anything back. No wonder he was so reluctant to open that door again. He changed his route and headed towards the bookstore.


Out of all the books that Derek had mentioned, The Slut Chronicles resonated for him the most. It was written by a female submissive who viewed her service as a gift.  She saw the slave’s role as a complement to the Top, not as inferior.


She considered herself a slave, not a bottom or a submissive. Niall wasn’t sure where he stood. All he knew at this point was that he belonged to Derek. He was just waiting for Derek to realize it.


When Derek arrived home, Niall was already there. He had dinner ready for him. He greeted Derek at that door with a sweet smile as usual. Today, he ventured a kiss and Derek smiled wearily in response. Even though Niall was naturally inclined to be physically affectionate, Derek seemed to have an invisible ‘do not touch’ barrier around him that was very intimidating. Niall rarely initiated physical contact with him; he always waited for Derek make the first move.


“Hot soak?” Niall enquired. Derek nodded. Even after all of this time, Niall’s knowledge and awareness of him still had the ability to catch him unawares.  Tonight, Niall, feeling emboldened by Derek’s openness with him last night, took Derek by the hand and led him to the bathroom where he had already run a tub full of fragrant, steamy, scalding hot water, just the way Derek liked it.


He helped Derek undress and then left him alone in the room. He knew that Derek needed down time alone to chill and recharge after working a busy shift on the Trauma Unit. After about an hour, Niall walked into the bathroom with a tray full of food. He fed Derek from his own hand, one bite at a time. “You must have read my mind. I was sitting here starving but it feels so good in here that I can’t move.”


Niall smiled at him. Derek looked at him gravely and said, “You are so good to me. No-one has ever taken care of me the way you do.”


Niall flushed with pleasure. “All I want to do is please you,” he said. “I don’t know if I’m a slave, a bottom, a whatever. I just want to be with you and I want to make you happy. I’ve thought about what we talked about last night and I want to continue.”


“You need to know something about me,” Derek said. He lifted Niall’s chin so that they were eye to eye. “I am NOT a reasonable man. I don’t give a fuck about protocol. I could give a rat’s ass about how many paces you walk behind me. Give me what I want, when I want it and how I want it. Where’s your list of wants and needs I asked you to write?”


Niall handed the list over silently. The paper was folded in two and his stomach fluttered nervously as he heard the rustle of the paper when Derek opened it.  Derek stared down at the paper, reading the one word over and over: ‘YOU,’ in big, black letters across the page. Although Derek didn’t feel the earthquake like tremor when one of the walls surrounding his heart cracked and tumbled down as he read what Niall had written, he was conscious of a tightening in his chest and a feeling of warmth permeating his entire being. He raised his eyes and found Niall studying him, midnight dark eyes earnest and thoughtful.


Derek said, “I want us to build something. Something we create together. Not the way it should be, not the way others say its supposed to be, or the way its been done before. Our way. Are you ready for that?” Derek’s eyes held Niall’s, mesmerizing in their intensity.


“Yes,” Niall said huskily. His heart was pounding so fiercely that he thought it would burst from his chest.


“I want to beat you tonight,” Derek said softly. “Do you know what a safe word is?


Niall nodded.


“What’s yours?”




“Dragonheart…” Derek repeated slowly, “I like it. Don’t use it unless you want to piss me off. Just take what I give you.” He leaned back in the tub and closed his eyes.


Niall knelt at his side. The cold, hard tiles of the bathroom floor were grinding into his knees but he hardly noticed. He looked at Derek like he had never seen him before. Then he realized that he hadn’t. Derek’s face looked harder. When Derek reopened his eyes, they were so dark, they looked almost black.


“Take your clothes off,” he ordered brusquely.


Niall stood up and began to remove his clothing. His cock had hardened so rapidly that he felt dizzy. Derek surveyed him from head to toe while he disrobed, admiring the long lines of his wiry body.


When Niall finished removing his clothing, he peeked at Derek, beneath eyelids that were suddenly heavy. His facial muscles quivered with emotion. His entire body trembled nervously; he felt clumsy and awkward as he waited for further instructions. 


Derek simply looked at him. The air in the room was weighted with tense anticipation. Niall’s cock felt as though all of the blood in his body was concentrated in those seven inches, it was so heavy and so hard. It throbbed with each beat of his heart.


His chest was tight with…he couldn’t say what. He had never felt like this before. Naked. Truly naked. As if Derek’s eyes were not just seeing his physical being but what lay beneath as well.


He was so wired that he almost felt sick. He had waited for so long, yearned for Derek for so long, that the myriad of feelings he was experiencing threatened to send him into emotional and physical overload. The look in Derek’s eyes settled him and heightened his feelings at the same time. He could drown in that fierce, hot stare.


There it was again, that stillness. The waiting. As if he would wait forever if Derek so desired. Derek’s penis was granite hard. He didn’t want to scare Niall. He wanted to scare Niall. And he wanted to hurt him.


It was unnerving to have someone study him like that.  Niall felt as thought he had no secrets. Before Niall could panic, Derek got out of the tub. He stood in front of Niall, naked and wet. “Dry me off,” he commanded softly.


Niall obeyed with alacrity. He dried Derek off slowly but efficiently, enjoying ministering to him. When he finished, he stood again, waiting.


“Come with me.”


They entered the third bedroom. Niall hadn’t been in there since his first night with Derek.


“Go stand up against the wall.”


Niall obeyed, walking on shaking legs. Derek moved behind him, grabbed Niall’s wrists and placed his hands face down against the wall. He pushed a knee in between Niall’s legs and spread them.


Derek removed his favorite flogger from the wall. The handle was a woven pattern of royal blue and black leather. He held the flogger to his nose and inhaled.


He walked over to Niall and lightly stroked Niall’s back with the tips of his fingertips. Niall shuddered. Derek continued to brush his fingertips over Niall’s back until Niall was arching into his touch and gasping with arousal.


Derek backed off and raised the flogger. He caressed Niall’s back delicately with the leather strands of the flogger. Niall’s shoulders lifted and he hunched his back involuntarily, unable to control his response.


“Don’t move,” Derek said harshly.


Niall stiffened and nodded his head.


Derek raised the flogger once more and struck. The lash was startling but didn’t hurt. Derek struck again, and then paused, assessing Niall’s response. He resumed stroking, building intensity rapidly. He laid six strokes across Niall’s back and then reversed.


Totally focused upon Niall, moving with skillful grace, he paced around him, rotating his strokes all over Niall’s buttocks and back. Niall felt the focus as a warm blast of energy radiating towards him in pulsating waves. He could smell Derek.


He didn’t identify each lash as they occurred because he didn’t feel them as individual strokes. He felt sensation only, and he wanted more. It wasn’t pain, not yet pleasure. His toes curled and he bit his lip to keep from begging for more. It was delicious.


Derek worked Niall over with practiced dexterity. Each rhythmic swing of the flogger inflamed him. The heady rush of power and heat swept through him like a storm, increasing in pitch and ferocity until he was grunting with the exertion of each forceful stroke. Derek’s chest heaved and sweat poured from him. It had been a long time. He could not recall it ever being like this. His cock was engorged with bloodlust and dripping copiously.


Time condensed, slowed and finally stopped. Niall felt each individual lash of the flogger as it lay across his back. A hundred sudden, sharp, thundering strokes striking against him continuously, with a measured cadence that seemed as though it would never end. It hurt, it hurt, God it hurt.


The pain stretched, thinned, and underwent an inexplicable metamorphosis that transformed it into the most exquisite sensation he had ever experienced in his life. He felt Derek, he felt Derek in him and all around him to a degree that was unbearable. He felt invaded and full and he wanted it never to end. His fingers clawed the walls ceaselessly. He threw his head back and howled.


Derek threw the flogger down and moved over to Niall.  He pressed him into the wall with his body and pinned Niall’s wrists over his head. He buried his mouth against Niall’s neck licking, biting and sucking.


Forcefully, he spun Niall around, hungrily seeking his mouth. He kissed him voraciously. They were both uttering incoherent, insensible phrases, their own language that required no translation.


Derek pushed Niall to his knees. Niall moaned hungrily, mouth open and searching even before he reached his knees. He engulfed Derek’s cock with an eager swallow. He nursed ravenously, avidly. Derek grunted and his head fell back.


He couldn’t formulate the words to tell Niall to slow down. Niall was doing that thing with his tongue. He didn’t know what it was but oh damn, oh damn, it felt so fucking good.


Niall wrapped his arms around Derek’s hips. He sucked on Derek’s cock fiercely. He couldn’t slow himself down. Couldn’t make it last for him or for Derek; he wanted it too bad. He had dreamt about the sticky sweet taste of Derek’s cum for months. The small amounts of precum on the head made him groan with desire for more.


He backed off and focused on the head, delving his tongue into the slit searching for more juice. He swallowed Derek’s cock again, allowing the head to rub against the back of his throat. He buried his nose in Derek’s curly black bush, then reached down and cupped Derek’s balls, holding the fragile globes tenderly.


Derek’s cock jerked in his mouth. Niall felt the first jets of cum sliding greasily down his throat and then he backed off so that he could catch the remaining expulsions on his tongue. Derek cried out with each release of ejaculate. His hands tightened convulsively in Niall’s hair.


Derek pulled Niall up against him and ruthlessly invaded his mouth with his tongue. He reached down and tugged Niall’s balls up and to the side. Niall shuddered with an agony that receded rapidly when Derek roughly fisted his burning penis. The line between pleasure and pain disappeared abruptly. Niall’s screams echoed around the room as he orgasmed with a violence that left him drained and weak.


Over the next couple of months, things remained the same. Derek would flog him. He would let Niall suck his cock. He always made sure Niall came too. But he wouldn’t fuck Niall. Niall could tell he was holding back. It was like he would go so far and no further.


Niall went to see Simon. He didn’t call him to let him know he was coming. He sat in Simon’s office, staring at him, trying to come up with a way to say what he needed to say. Intensely private, Derek would hate the fact that Niall had gone to see one of his closest friends behind his back.


Simon peered at Niall in a contemplative silence. Finally he said cryptically, “I knew I was right about you.”


Niall looked at him, trying to figure out what he meant.


Simon returned the look, eyes solemn with concern. “You’re going to have to push.”


Niall sat there, taking the words in. He knew better than to ask any questions. He nodded his head and stood up. “Thanks.”


Later that night, after Derek flogged him, instead of sinking to his knees in anticipation of Derek’s wishes like he usually did, Niall kissed him. When Derek felt the light caress of Niall’s lips against his, he stiffened in alarm. The last time he had kissed Niall, he hadn’t wanted to stop.  Maintaining control around Niall was difficult for him.


He raised his hands to Niall’s shoulders and started to push him away. Then he stopped. One kiss wouldn’t hurt anything. Just one time to savor the feel of Niall’s long, smooth body against his. His cock was hard and throbbing, trained to expect the hot, wet insides of Niall’s mouth after a flogging. The flogging was like foreplay for him.


He was able to keep things easy and cool. Flog Niall a couple times a week. Let him suck his cock, make him cum and they were both satisfied. Let the sleeping dragon rest.


Even though, every time he opened that door, it became more and more difficult to close it again. He knew and understood that some of the very things that attracted him to the lifestyle, the qualities inside of him that made him a desirable Top to many of the bottoms he met, were some of the things he liked about himself the least.


The crazy need to control every fucking thing, the possessiveness, the capacity for violence, the need to explore the darkness within, the need for that adrenaline rush, the high. He worked on those things every fucking day of his life. Self-awareness, self-exploration on a daily basis to maintain his sobriety, to ensure that he was making his life what he wanted and needed it to be.


Niall threatened his balance. He felt off kilter with Niall. His emotions were so close to the surface when he was with him. He wanted to take Niall. He wanted to get crazy with him. Go someplace neither had been before. Niall made his soul sing. That’s why he could never…Oh God. Niall’s mouth against his was killing him.


Niall was finding it difficult to think. He had fought against getting caught up when Derek was flogging him. That’s how Derek got him every time. If he didn’t know better, if he didn’t think that there could be more, he would be satisfied with what they had already. He knew there was more; he knew that Derek wasn’t all there.


When Derek had stopped flogging him, he had caught himself just as he was about to drop to his knees and put Derek’s cock in his mouth.  Instead, he had quickly pulled Derek’s head down for a kiss. He could tell that Derek was totally off guard and taken by surprise by the way he stiffened. Simon had said push and that’s what he was gonna do.


He couldn’t bear to engage Derek in a verbal confrontation. He knew that words were like knives and would never deliberately use that against him. Whenever his big mouth got him in trouble, it was never deliberate. He knew that Derek would never hurt him physically either. At least, not a bad hurt. Derek had a ruthless control over himself.


The only way he could think of to push was through touch. He knew that Derek was most vulnerable after he flogged him. He could feel the energy and restlessness that emanated from him. It only eased after he had cum. He could feel it now, raging against him.


He trailed his hands down Derek’s hairless chest until he reached his nipples. He tugged very gently on Derek’s nipple rings. Derek groaned, it was a deep, dark sound that made the hairs on the back of Niall’s neck stand on end.


He tugged on the nipple rings again. Derek shuddered violently. Encouraged, Niall continued kissing Derek, deepening the kiss. He slid one hand across Derek’s stomach and down to his cock. His squeezed Derek’s penis gently. Derek growled.


Derek was raging a fierce battle with himself. If he didn’t stop this soon, he was going to throw Niall down on the floor and fuck him. He was losing control. He pushed his body against Niall’s and backed him up against the wall.


Niall’s skin was like satin. Smooth, soft, and warm.  Niall melted into him. His chest rose and fell rapidly against Derek. Derek could feel sticky moisture in between their bodies where Niall was leaking precum against him.


Niall slowly removed his lips from Derek’s. As Derek’s mouth followed his, he quickly whispered, “Fuck me, please, Derek.”


Derek was so aroused his eyes were glazed and almost translucent in his dark face. Niall rubbed against him. “Fuck me.”


He looked at Derek, and said again, deliberately, “I—am—begging. Fuck me.”


Derek’s chest rose and fell rapidly. “Haven’t I given you what you wanted, haven’t I given you what you asked for? ” He was angry. He felt helpless, out of control and he didn’t like it. He wanted to say no and walk away, but if he did, he’d look like a fucking asshole, because he couldn’t stop now. He wanted Niall to stop him, wanted Niall to say no.


Niall looked at him and allowed a smirk to appear across his face. “I want more. Scared? Can’t give it to me? What happened to all or nothing?”


The look in Derek’s eyes made Niall realize that his plan had backfired. This, Derek could handle. Niall could feel him icing up and backing away. He reached up and pulled Derek’s head back down to his. This was real. This is what scared Derek. Push.


Derek was not able to back away once Niall was kissing him again. His resistance deteriorated. He bargained with himself. He could fuck Niall and not let things get out of control now. Those brief moments had brought him back to himself. He was back.


He pinned Niall against the wall. He told Niall to wrap his arms around his neck. He lifted Niall’s hips and slowly impaled his ass onto his cock. Niall grimaced with discomfort as Derek ground his cock into him. “Want me to stop?” Derek asked with a mocking grin.




Derek paused to allow Niall a chance to become used to him. He slowly moved in and out. Niall was slowly losing it. Derek. Oh God. Fucking him. Oh God. Derek held his weight effortlessly, like he was feather light. It felt. So good. Niall moaned helplessly with each stroke of Derek’s cock.


Derek’s eyes opened slowly. He looked down at Niall, cool and fully in control. He had a half smile on his face. “Scared?” he asked Niall mockingly.


Niall had learned. He refused to hide. He looked into Derek’s eyes and allowed Derek to see everything. “Yes,” he said in a shaky voice. He let Derek see just what having him inside of him meant to him. Let him see what it was doing to him.


“Ah God, Niall, don’t do this, don’t do this to me,” Derek moaned. His eyes closed and his head fell back. He slowly, achingly moved his cock in and out of Niall. His legs were shaking with need.


Tightening his grip on Niall’s buttocks, he held Niall to him and ground their pubes together, forcing himself even deeper. Niall cried out suddenly. “Derek, I need you so much. I love you so much. I need you inside me fucking me like this. Don’t stop, don’t stop, don’t ever stop. “


Derek lifted Niall almost totally off of his cock and slammed him down again, over and over, forcefully, rhythmically. He grunted each time he felt Niall’s hot, slick flesh enveloping his aching penis.  The added sensation of Niall’s lips moving delicately across his neck was driving him insane.


He could lose himself like this, he thought dimly. He could lose himself in Niall. It felt so good, so right. Niall shuddered and tightened his grip around Derek’s neck. He whimpered in Derek’s ear, “I’m going to cum, Derek, I can’t stop it, I can’t help it, I’m gonna cum.” His ass contracted and released repeatedly as his cock lurched and jumped between their bodies. His thick, creamy cum erupted against Derek’s stomach in copious amounts.


Derek’s neck arched back.  The muscles in his arms bulged from the strain of holding Niall upright in his arms. His face tightened into a grimace and he strained to keep from cumming. It felt so good he didn’t want to stop. Not now.  Niall’s ass continued to tighten and release upon his penis in tiny aftershocks. Niall slumped against him and begged hoarsely, “Please cum inside of me Derek.”


Derek was unable to resist. With a frightening surge of lust and energy he pushed in and out of Niall almost maniacally. In and out over and over until he was dripping rivers of sweat on both of them, the sound of Niall’s sweet entreaties reverberating inside of his head. He fired into him violently, grunting and groaning through gritted teeth.


Reluctantly, Derek disentangled himself from Niall’s embrace. He scooped Niall into his arms and took him into his bedroom. He pulled the comforter off of the bed and wrapped it around Niall. They sat on the bed, Niall enfolded in Derek’s arms and being rocked gently.


Niall was lulled into sleep by Derek’s gentle hold, his comforting presence, and his smell. He felt safe and secure. Derek tucked Niall into bed and walked into his bathroom.


The bathroom had always been his sanctuary. There was something about a hot soak that soothed and refreshed him. He sat on the edge of the bathtub and buried his face in his hands.


He couldn’t do this, couldn’t go through this again. Believing in someone, allowing his emotions and that fucked up hopeless romanticism of his to color everything and thinking that somehow things would be different, “this time.” What was that saying? ‘Hope springs eternal.’ Hope be damned. Better not to hope. Better to be realistic.


There was this tiny part of him that still believed that there was something special about the lifestyle. Something passionate and intense and magical. Someone saying, “I want to serve, YOU.” Not some wannabee who wants to get his kink on.


Someone who knows who they are, what they want. Someone who wants to surrender, just to give it up. That was a turn on and when it was good, it was very good. And when it was bad, it was very bad. Why was he hiding from what he really meant? Not “someone,” he was talking about Niall.


There was a soft knock on the door. “Come on in,” Derek said. Niall looked at him in silence, noting the strained expression on his face. His heart sank. He had awakened suddenly with an inexplicable feeling that Derek needed him. “What’s wrong, Derek?”


“Nothing is wrong. I’m just thinking,” Derek replied.


“Would you, I mean, do you want to share what you’re thinking with me?” Niall stuttered.


“No,” Derek replied succinctly.


Niall flinched. Push, he reminded himself. “Share anyway,” he said boldly. “Maybe I can help.”


“I don’t need your help,” Derek said brusquely. “Stop pushing me, Niall,” he added through clenched teeth.


“No,” Niall said losing some of his bravado as his eyes met Derek’s.


Derek stood up and brushed past him. Niall followed him.


Derek turned around, “What now?”


“You said, that the lifestyle was something special. That you could build something with someone. Something different from preconceived notions, something that two people could create together.”


He looked at Derek, his indigo eyes almost black with pain. “Isn’t that what you said, Derek?” he asked hoarsely.


“Yes,” Derek said quietly.


“Derek,” Niall continued brokenly, “If not for you, I wouldn’t have known better, wouldn’t have known any differently or that there was something missing.


I know you didn’t promise, he said, voice thick with unshed tears, “but you made me believe,” he faltered and then finished, “you made me believe that it would be possible, and that you were talking about us.”


Niall watched as Derek did his disappearing act. It was like looking at a stranger, only worse. They stared at each other in tense silence. He looked at Derek and one by one all of the pieces fell into place with a resounding click. He narrowed his eyes and said in a low voice, “You don’t trust me. That’s what this is really all about. After everything that’s happened between us. What it comes down to is, you don’t fucking trust me.”


Derek looked at him. Feeling backed into a corner, he struck out. “I don’t trust anyone but myself.”


Stung, Niall back away from him and turned around. His mind raced feverishly. He had never been in a relationship of any kind before. All of his adult life, he had been involved in encounters, mostly revolving around his drug use. He wasn’t sure what to do.


If this had been Cullen, they would have had a loud, raging argument, said a bunch of unforgivable things to each other, hated each other for about an hour and that would’ve been the end of it. If this had been Shannon, it would have never happened. He and Shannon had always had an instinctive understanding of one another. He had no frame of reference in this situation to guide him.


He turned around again, and faced Derek. “Derek, do you want me to leave?” Niall asked quietly.


Derek fought himself, the struggle evident on his face and in the tense lines of his body. Was he really going to just let Niall go like this?


“No, I want you to stay.” He closed his eyes. Those simple words were the most difficult words he had ever said in his life.


Niall nodded. “I’m going to go fix us something to eat.”


Derek stood in the center of his bedroom feeling as though he might shatter. He had everything he had ever thought he wanted and he kept trying to throw it away, over and over again. With a sense of self-disgust he realized that this whole thing had never really been about whether or not Niall could handle it.


It had always been about him, being afraid to let go and trust again. Niall had been right. Niall knew him better than he had ever imagined. Niall offered him love and friendship. It was so much easier for him to give than to accept nurturing and caring. All Niall wanted to do was love him and here he was kicking and screaming all of the way. He had never even told Niall he loved him.


Niall stood in front of the refrigerator, staring mindlessly at the contents, unable to remember what he was looking for. He could not remember any moment in his life where he had been as scared as he was when he had asked Derek if he wanted him to leave. If Derek had said yes, he would have died inside.


He felt so…hurt that Derek did not trust him. He had trusted Derek with an immediacy that was foreign to him; it had felt so right that he had not questioned it and he had thought that Derek felt the same way.


The kitchen light turned on. The look of relief on Derek’s face was unmistakable. “I thought you were gone,” he said quietly.


“Naked?” Niall asked. “Good thing you’re not getting paid to think.” The look of shock on Derek’s face almost made it worth it.


“Oh, really?” he asked in a cool voice that made Niall’s heart start beating faster.


He walked over to Niall slowly. Niall backed up with each step Derek took forward until the wall behind him prevented him from going any further. Derek pressed his body against Niall and looked down at him. “You were saying?” he asked softly.


Niall looked up at him, eyes sparkling mischievously. “Um…I said it was a good thing you weren’t getting paid to think.”


Niall looked so cute that Derek couldn’t prevent a smile. “I need to tell you something.”


“What?” Niall asked apprehensively.


“I never forget anything you say to me. I have an excellent memory. From time to time, I’ll remind you of comments like the one you just made. Whenever I feel it’s appropriate of course.”


“Yes, sir,” Niall said in a small voice.


“I have the feeling that your mouth may get you in lots of trouble,” Derek said. “But don’t worry, I can help you with that.”


Niall’s eyes widened, but he prudently decided not to say anything else. Derek smiled at him. “I’m hungry, where’s the food?”


In the middle of eating, Niall suddenly stopped and put his knife and fork down. Derek looked at him in inquiry. After all this time, he knew whatever it was had to be pretty damn important for Niall to stop eating.


“Derek,”Niall said and paused. Derek gave him an encouraging nod. Niall’s mouth opened and nothing came out. He closed his mouth and thought for a few seconds, unsure of how to say what was on his mind, but knowing it needed to be said.


“I just want you to know, I’m not going anywhere. If we have an argument or whatever, when its over its over. No matter what happens between us, there is nothing that could happen that could take me out of your life.”


Derek felt an easing in his heart. Somehow, Niall had seen through to his deepest, most unacknowledged fear. His words were a soothing, healing balm upon ancient wounds. He was not capable of a verbal response; he reached over and grabbed Niall’s hand.  Niall placed a tender kiss in the center of Derek’s palm. “I am yours, Derek,” he said gravely.


Over the next several months, Niall treated Derek like an animal trainer treated a wild animal when trying to gain its trust. Because to him, gaining Derek’s trust was the second greatest prize of all, the first was his heart. He was determined to have both.


“I’ve been thinking,” Derek said suddenly, sprawled out on the couch his feet resting comfortably on Niall’s lap. His voice was cool and smooth. The hairs on the back of Niall’s neck stood straight up. Derek continued in the same cool tone, “and no, I’m not getting paid to think.”


Niall sat up straight. He looked at Derek. It was like looking through a kaleidoscope, same colors, same material, twist it a little and you end up with something completely different from what you started with. This Derek sitting in front of him was a completely different one from the man who had sat down next to him a few moments ago.


He stared at him, sifting through the different layers, like a miner panning for gold. He had learned Derek, studied him like he was a scientist in a lab because Derek was that important to him. So today, he knew that he had never been allowed to see this side of Derek before. And he knew what it meant that Derek was allowing him to see it now. 


“Oh, wait,” Derek said, interrupting his thoughts, “What was that you said to me a couple of weeks ago?” he asked. He continued in a falsetto, “Lefty loosey, rightey tightey, EVERYBODY knows that.”


Niall cringed, damn was it HIS fault that Dr. Derek wasn’t mechanically inclined?


“Oh, no, it gets even better,” Derek said quietly. “If I remember correctly, yesterday, you said, ‘Derek, don’t touch anything, from now on, just let me fix it,’ that is what you said, right, Niall?”


Niall nodded his head and listened with horror as Derek recited every smart- ass comment he had made over the past several months verbatim. What was it that cartoon character said, Rut Roh? Niall cursed his crazy sense of humor that surfaced at the most absurd times, because if he wasn’t mistaken, he was in BIG trouble.


“Am I amusing you?” Derek asked quietly.


Niall’s eyes widened and the half smile on his face disappeared. “No, uh uh, no,” he said emphatically. “I’m just listening to you.”


“I think that you could hear me better in the other room.”


Niall’s heart was beating so fast he could hear it.


“Take your clothes off and you better get in there before I do,” Derek said grimly and left the room.


When Derek entered the room, Niall was standing quietly in the center, with his head bowed. He peered at Derek beneath his lashes. Derek instructed him to lie down on the rack. Derek tied him painstakingly to the wooden rack, taking his time, ensuring that the knots would hold.


Once Derek had Niall restrained to the rack he looked at him and asked, “What is your safe word?”


“Dragonheart,” Niall replied.


“Don’t use it unless you want to piss me off,” Derek said.


He looked at Niall, lying there helplessly, totally unable to move and his cock, already hard as steel, lengthened even more. For a moment, he was unable to move, hit by a wave of lust and hunger so strong that he was immobilized by it.


Niall licked his lips and pulled against the bonds restraining him surreptitiously, not willing to test Derek’s good will. He wanted out, he needed out. He wanted to crawl over to Derek and lick his way up and down his body, take his cock into his mouth and…


Derek walked over to him with a paper bag in his hand. Niall was unable to see what was in the bag. He set the bag next to Niall’s head and leaned over and kissed him gently on the lips. Niall tried to follow Derek’s lips with his when Derek moved away.


Derek gently caressed Niall, trailing both hands across Niall’s naked body. Niall arched into Derek’s touch. Derek spent an eternity caressing Niall’s entire body. He savored the silken texture of Niall’s skin under his fingertips. Niall, helpless, under his control and at his mercy. Niall’s quiet acquiescence under his touch intoxicated him.


Derek’s breathing was rapid and out of control. His fingers trembled with the adrenaline crashing through his body. He reached into the bag and took out a clothespin.


Deliberately and with great care, he lined the undersides of Niall’s arms with clothespins. When he reached the sensitive skin beneath Niall’s arms, Niall writhed involuntarily then stilled. Derek stopped and looked into Niall’s eyes, almost drowning in the inky depths.


He stroked his hands down Niall’s body.  When he reached Niall’s inner thighs, he traced tantalizing circles across the skin there. Patiently and meticulously, Derek lined every visible surface of Niall’s inner thighs with clothespins.


He moved back to Niall’s upper body and placed a clothespin on each nipple and then applied a circle of clothespins around each nipple. He moved down to Niall’s testicles and squeezed. Niall gasped and his cock twitched. Derek applied a layer of clothespins to Niall’s balls.


When Derek first started, Niall had almost smiled with relief when he saw the clothespins. He had thought Derek had something really scary in the bag. The first dull pinches of the clothespins on the side of his left hand hadn’t bothered him at all.  The skin on his inner arm was more sensitive but the first dull pinch there hadn’t fazed him either. As Derek slowly applied more and more clothespins, it started to HURT. It wasn’t a sharp pain; it was a dull ache that grew in intensity.


By the time Derek had lined his first arm completely with the clothespins, the pain had turned, shifted and morphed into something else. As Derek started on his right arm, Niall became suddenly conscious of where he was and what he was doing.


He was on his back lying naked, spread-eagled and tied to a wooden rack in Derek’s playroom. His senses came alive with a clarity that was both startling and frightening. He felt the hard, rough surface beneath him. The gristle of the ropes around his ankles and wrists became unbearably real. He couldn’t move, couldn’t get up, and couldn’t walk away. He was helpless. His heart was pounding so hard and so fast that he could hear it resounding in his ears.


He was crazy, what the fuck was he doing? He wanted this. He wanted this. Don’t stop. Please, don’t stop. Derek looked down at him and their eyes locked. He felt everything in him fighting to give, to surrender to Derek. Anything. Anything he wanted, anything he desired. The blood in his veins turned to honey, sweet and sticky, permeating his body with golden, delicious sensation.


As Derek continued applying the clothespins, he held Niall’s eyes with his. The total surrender he saw inflamed him. He grabbed Niall’s testicles and squeezed. Niall gasped and writhed. Oh God. His cock was so hard it felt like it was gonna break.


When Derek was finished, he surveyed Niall with greedy lust, like a miser viewing his riches. The combination of exhilaration, desire and hunger he was feeling threatened to overwhelm him. He wanted to rip the clothespins off, cut the ropes and drive Niall’s ass onto his cock NOW.


He reached down and stroked his cock. Niall groaned but didn’t speak. He seemed to know that Derek wanted him to be quiet without Derek ordering him not to speak. Niall bit down on the inside of his cheek. He was melting at Derek’s feet. If he could just have Derek’s cock. He stopped the thought. If Derek wanted him to have his cock, he would give it to him. He couldn’t prevent a soft moan of desire from escaping.


Derek stood there, just watching him for long moments. He said, “I’m going to give you time to think about that unruly tongue of yours and how it could be put to better use,” and then he walked out of the room. Niall stared after him in disbelief. He struggled against the bonds for a moment. He wanted him, needed him.


He had flashes of Derek fucking him, Derek’s cock in his mouth, Derek smiling at him, Derek taunting him, Derek holding him. All of the different layers.  ‘Friend, lover, slave’, he had said that one time. That’s what had kept Niall holding on for so long, helped him to maintain when Derek would back off.


Derek had said that submission was a gift. Niall was beginning to realize that dominance was a gift as well. Derek had to trust him and give it up to him, just as much as he had to give in return. He stopped fighting and waited for Derek to come to him.  If he had to, he would wait always.


Derek sat on the edge of the tub, his face in his hands, hard, engorged cock towering between his legs. This meant too much. Nothing had ever meant this much. He could not ignore it any longer; he had to acknowledge it.


The view of Niall’s long, lean body captivated him and he stood in the doorway watching him for a while. He could never get tired of looking at him. Niall lay there unselfconsciously, unaware of how beautiful he appeared. His cock was hard and throbbing, bobbing rhythmically up and down. The pink head was glistening with precum.


Unable to withstand his craving for Niall, Derek swiftly walked over to him and took the head of his penis into his mouth, lapping and sucking hungrily. Niall’s hips arched violently, involuntarily slamming his cock into Derek’s mouth.


Derek stood up and looked down at him. “Ah, Ah, Ah, boy,” he chided. “When do you get to cum?”


“When you say,” Niall said breathlessly.


“Good answer, boy,” Derek said. He knelt down beside Niall and grabbed his penis roughly. Niall tensed and held himself still. Derek lightly and delicately licked up and down the length of Niall’s hard cock. He had been erect for so long that his cock was almost purple.


Niall bit his lower lip to keep from screaming as Derek started to concentrate his attention on the sensitive tip of his penis. He tried but he couldn’t seem to keep from moaning and groaning.


“You’re a noisy boy, aren’t you?” Derek whispered.


Niall nodded his head, unable to speak because Derek had just started a rapid sucking motion up and down, up and down on his cock. He gritted his teeth, trying to keep from cumming. Derek stopped.


Niall laid there, chest rising and falling rapidly as he struggled to catch his breath. He couldn’t take this.


Derek played with him. Taking him to the brink over and over. He was crazed. He was weak and boneless with need. He tried not to but was unable to keep from begging Derek to please let him cum.


Derek took him into his mouth again. He swallowed Niall’s cock and as he was swallowing, he reached up and grabbed a handful of clothespins from Niall’s forearm. He slowly lifted his mouth, wrapped his tongue around the glans of Niall’s penis and grabbed a handful of clothespins roughly away from Niall’s testicles. He lowered his mouth again and one at a time quickly grabbed the clothespins from Niall’s nipples.


Niall’s body convulsed with the effort not to cum. He was inundated by sensation, not just in his cock; his entire body was infused with agonizing pleasure. Derek leaned up, put his lips to Niall’s ear and whispered silkily, “You can cum now, Niall. If you want to.”


He sucked Niall’s cock while simultaneously removing the remaining clothespins. Niall’s penis exploded in his mouth, throbbing and jerking violently. Jets of cum tore out of the end of Niall’s tortured penis, into Derek’s mouth and down his throat. He swallowed eagerly, savoring the taste.


Derek hastily cut the ropes from Niall’s ankles and wrists. They both desperately wanted the same thing. Niall frantically buried his face into Derek’s crotch as Derek roughly guided his head there. He rubbed his face back and forth across Derek’s pubes, losing himself in the scent. He worshipped Derek’s cock and balls and ass with his tongue. Licking and lapping hungrily, like a starved dog.


Derek rolled Niall onto his back, lay on top of him and thrust his cock inside of him in one smooth, graceful motion. God. It had been so long. He had wanted this for so long. It felt so good. So smooth, so tight, so hot. Niall’s legs were wrapped around Derek’s ass and he was clutching at his shoulders. His head was thrown back and his eyes closed.


“Derek,” he moaned. Derek lowered his mouth to Niall’s and they both gasped at the sensation. Derek devoured Niall’s mouth in a moist, hot, voracious, endless kiss. He thrust in and out of him, slowly at first and then increased the force and power of his strokes so that he was fucking Niall furiously.  Niall was mindless, lost in sensation. Finally, Derek was inside of him.


Derek wrapped his arms around Niall to protect his skin from the friction of the carpet beneath him. He was fucking him so hard and so fast that they had moved halfway across the room. Derek rolled onto his back so that Niall was sitting on top of him. He grabbed Niall’s hips and moved him up and down on his cock.


Niall head sank backwards and his eyes disappeared into the back of his head as he allowed Derek to control his movements. Derek rolled them back over again and pinned Niall’s wrists to the floor. He pushed in and out of Niall’s tight ass in an excruciatingly slow rhythm. “Look at me,” he commanded.


Niall’s eyelids fluttered open. His eyes were hazy and dreamy. “I love you,” Derek said. “I treasure you,” he said hoarsely. “I love you, I love you, I love you,” he punctuated each avowal of love with a slow thrust into Niall’s depths.


The dreamy expression on Niall’s face was replaced by a look of fierce joy. This time, Derek could feel the remaining wall around his heart crumble and topple over, unable to withstand the strength and force of the love he and Niall shared. Niall wrapped his hands in Derek’s hair, pulling the long, coarse strands down around them. He gently guided Derek’s lips toward his own and whispered, “I love you too. So much.”


Derek rolled onto his back and lifted Niall up until just the tip of his cock rested against Niall’s opening. He let go and Niall dropped rapidly, with a rough, heavy movement that created an unbearably pleasurable friction. He repeated the motion several times until they were both insane.


Derek turned them over again, lifted Niall’s legs over his shoulders and plunged into him. He ground his cock into Niall’s molten tunnel, struggling to get even deeper. He couldn’t get enough.


They both cried out when he lowered Niall’s legs and rubbed his chest against Niall’s, sliding against his hot, sweaty flesh. He wrapped his arms around Niall once again and fucked into him endlessly, relentlessly, repeatedly, until they were both drenched with perspiration and gasping with exertion. And still he continued to fuck Niall possessively, branding him as his.


He rolled them over and over and they fucked from one corner of the room to the next.  They were out of control, lost in a world of their own creation where only the two of them existed. Two bodies, two souls merged into one entity.


Derek turned Niall over again, spreading his legs wide and holding his ankles in an iron grip. “Niall, I’m gonna cum,” he said gutturally. “When I feel you like this…” he groaned heatedly and closed his eyes. A wave of fierce pleasure engulfed him. “God, your ass is so tight, so sweet, so hot.”


He looked down at Niall, his face dripping with sweat, chest heaving, continuing to stroke in and out with smooth, graceful movements that had Niall grinding his hips back and forth lasciviously. “When do you get to cum? ” he asked.


Niall looked up at him and swallowed dryly, out of breath and senseless with Derek’s ruthless possession of his body. He struggled to reply, “When you say.”


 Aroused even more by Niall’s words and his unconditional surrender, Derek dropped onto Niall heavily, his cock twitching and pulsing in Niall’s ass. “Cum with me now,” he ordered in a gritty voice.


He fucked into Niall like a pile driver. He hips were moving so rapidly it was hard to tell when one stroke ended and another began. They jerked and shuddered in unison, cumming frantically.


Jaw clenched tightly, Derek growled harshly against Niall’s ear, holding Niall’s hips steady in a bruising, ruthless grip while he emptied his balls into Niall’s luscious, hot, moist asshole. Niall’s penis erupted between them, cumming with long, forceful pulses. They collapsed in a sweaty heap on the floor.


They lay there for a while, struggling to recover. Derek withdrew from Niall and pulled him up. Niall rose wearily, every bone aching. Derek picked him up and carried him into the bathroom. He held Niall in his arms while waiting for water to fill the tub.


He slid eagerly into the hot water and dragged Niall in with him.  They lay back, Niall enfolded in Derek’s arms. “You told me you love me,” Niall said softly. “Did you mean it?”


“Have you ever known me to say anything I didn’t mean?”


Niall didn’t even have to think about it. “No,” he replied.


Derek shifted so that he and Niall were facing one another. “I love you,” he said, “and I can’t imagine my life without you in it. You’re mine, don’t you know that?”


“Um, yeah, I’ve ALWAYS known, I’ve been waiting for you to figure it out.” He watched as the expression on Derek's face changed. Uh oh. Dammit. His mouth always… “What I mean is…”he began.


“Oh, don’t worry,” Derek said softly. “I know exactly what you mean. Did I ever tell you that I have an excellent memory?” he asked with a wide smile.


Niall smiled back ruefully, then turned around and lay back in Derek’s arms. He felt safe, loved and cherished. He couldn’t regret anything that had led him down this rough, thorny road, now that he knew that Derek was at the end of it. No way to tell where it would lead, he just knew that they would travel it together.






*The title to this story comes from a song by Sarah McLachlan.