The most wonderful Tarabeth has issued a challenge at The Tea Room. Ken and Jess wanted to be included.
Challenge Response: The Tea Room July 2017 Fishing Challenge
A loud belch interrupted the drone of the television. Not that either of the men were watching it. Jess had been staring off into space. And Ken had been engaging in his favorite pastime-studying Jess. Jess had been leaned back in his recliner but he was far from relaxed. He’d been sitting in the chair tense and frustrated. His shoulders were hunched up around his ears, his arms crossed tightly against his chest, and his eyes narrowed in thought.
Ken had noticed Jess’s clenched jaw when they had first sat down after dinner. The week had been hard. Jess’s father had Alzheimer's and was declining rapidly. Work had been crazy busy with delays due to the fires that plagued California. Jess’s mornings had been starting before the sun had risen and he’d returned exhausted long after the sun had set. Ken had done his best to keep his boy cared for by making dinner every night, keeping laundry caught up, and taking care of Tippy, the gray Yorkie that had been Jess’s father’s dog.
Anyone could see the anger in his boy. Everyone made sure to stay out of his firing range. His Jess had a tongue that could shred an unsuspecting victim. He snapped and snarled and gave no thought to the feelings of others. Not intentionally. Jess wasn’t a mean or vindictive man. But too often he was a man who was hurt. And hurting. One who lashed out like a wounded animal.
Ken saw what was deep inside the other man- hurt. And that’s what he saw now, walls of hurt that his sub had erected to ward off any intrusions. Jess had long ago allowed him to break through the barriers. Once Jess had given Ken an inch, Ken had shown no mercy. He had smashed through those walls. They used paddles and rough sex. Domination and submission. It was who they were. It worked for them. But sometimes Jess needed something different-even though he’d deny it to his death. Something that soothed the soul in a different way.
Reaching over to get the remote that was laying on the table between them, Ken turned the TV off. “We need to get to bed. Tomorrow’s going to be a long day.”
“What? It’s Saturday!” Jess grouched. His crossed arms tightened more and his hands clenched in fists. “And you stretched your dom muscles and told me to take the weekend off.”
Ken turned to give Jess a full look. He kept eye contact for a long uncomfortable moment. He lowered his eyebrows. He knew the look he was giving Jess. A look that left neither man in doubt of who was the dominant in the relationship.
That look of dominance had Jess shifting his gaze and uncrossing his arms. An unconscious show of submission.
“I like stretching those muscles,” Ken growled softly. “I might be stretching quite a bit this weekend.”
He watched some of the stress leave Jess’s body. Not all of it, just enough to lower his shoulders an inch. Ken knew that Jess could only truly relax when he allowed his submission to rule. And Ken planned to keep him in a constant state of submission all weekend long. His way. And with that thought, he decided to tell Jess just what the plan was for the next day.
“I thought we’d take the day and go fishing. I heard that fish bite early in the morning.” Ken kept his smile hidden when Jess’s jaw dropped open. Jess’s mouth hanging open and his eyebrows raised so high was comical sight.
“Fishing?” Jess asked in disbelief. “Fucking fishing?”
“Nope. Just regular fishing,” Ken replied casually.
“But. But.” Jess stuttered and then physically composed himself. “Do you even know how to fish?”
Ken liked what he saw. The tension that had been so evident in Jess earlier was all but gone. Instead, his body showed surprise. Ken’s goal was to see happiness radiating from his boy.
“Not really. I did talk to a few guys at the shop who like to fish,” Ken explained. “They even loaned me some poles and tackle. They showed me how to do some of the stuff. Didn’t seem to hard. But they said the best time to go fishing is early in the morning. So, we need to get to bed.”
At that command, Ken stood up. He walked the few feet to Jess’s recliner. Jess took his hand without resistance when Ken offered it. With a sturdy yank, Ken had Jess’s feet on the floor. Letting go of his hand, Ken swung his own hand out in a grand gesture for Jess to proceed him. When Jess started walking, Ken swung his hand giving the tight, jean-clad butt in front of him a sharp swat. Tomorrow they’d go fishing, and maybe when they got home, they’d engage in some of the games Jess liked to play, but for tonight, they’d get a good night’s sleep.
Jess didn’t notice the pale yellow of the sky as he stared out the window. His mind was still baffled at the idea of going fishing. If he didn’t know better, he’d think Ken had lost his mind. Neither one had ever been fishing. They’d both been born and raised in the city. But Ken assured him that the activity would be relaxing. Shit, Jess thought. What would be relaxing would be to get the latest project done. On time. And within budget. But he knew that wasn’t going to happen.
Looking sideways at his husband, Jess felt a jolt in his stomach. Ken had a smile on his face. The smile wasn’t just on his mouth either. It was all over his face. The little wrinkles that Ken usually had at the corner of his eyes were almost invisible. When Ken was angry or frustrated or feeling particularly dominant, his eyes squinted deepening those lines. But this morning, his face was relaxed.
The sight of Ken’s face had Jess quickly looking down at his hands. He knew that most often those lines around Ken’s eyes and mouth were caused by him. His own struggles. As he listened to Ken softly hum along with the radio, Jess silently vowed to himself, he’d do everything in his power to keep that relaxed look on Ken’s face.
“Hey!” Ken’s shout had Jess startlingly. “You are tensing up. What’s up?”
Jess swallowed hard. He’d never lied to Ken and he wasn’t going to start now. But re-directing was not lying. “Nothing up. Just noticing how happy you are looking today.”
“What’s not to be happy about? We’re going fishing!”
Jess laughed. Ken looked and sounded like a little boy. Neither of them had the perfect childhood. They didn't have family vacations or fishing trips. He vowed to make this a good day for Ken.
The ride took about an hour on the freeway. When they pulled off to a small highway, Ken turned into a McDonald’s. “Thought we’d take a whiz and get some breakfast. We can eat it on the way.”
After relieving their bladders and picking up a few breakfast biscuits, they were back on the road. Not too much further, Ken pulled downed a dirt road.
“One of the guys told me about this place. It’s public access but so far out, no one ever goes there.”
Jess nodded. He didn’t really care. His mind was on a certain project that had been delayed. He was trying to figure out the math with the overtime he was going to have to pay. The bouncing of the truck over the dirt tracks was an annoyance he was trying to ignore.
“Ahh. Look. This must be the spot!” Ken said as he stopped the truck.
Jess looked out and saw a small pebble beach that ran along side a creek. He looked doubtfully at Ken. “There’s fish in there? It looks kind of small.”
“Of course there is!” Ken said. “Come on. Let’s get our stuff.”
Jess threw open the door and walked around the back of the truck. Ken had been busy, he thought. There were fishing poles, old blankets, a cooler, and a tackle box in the bed of the truck.
“Get the blankets and cooler,” Ken instructed as he grabbed the poles and tackle box.
Jess got the rest of the stuff and followed Ken to the water’s edge. He set the cooler down and spread the blankets out.
“Which one do you want?” Ken asked as he held out the two poles.
Jess couldn’t care less, so he reached out and took one.
“Ok, so there’s some worms in the cooler. We just stab them on the hook and cast the line out. See you hold this button and when you throw out the line, you let go.”
Jess watched as Ken got out a small container of worms. The popping sound the worm made as Ken speared it was unexpected. Then he watched as Ken gave a flick of his wrist and the line went sailing into the water.
“See. Easy as pie!” Ken grinned.
Jess doubted making a pie was easy, but nodded his agreement. Reaching into the plastic bucket, he grabbed a worm and speared it with the hook. He flicked his wrist like Ken, and his own line went flying. Not hard at all.
The two men would cast their lines every few minutes and then reel it in. They decided to see who could cast it the furthest. Jess grinned when his went several feet further than Ken’s.
After awhile, Ken reeled in his line and said, “There’s some water in the cooler.”
Jess reeled in his own line and followed Ken to the blanket. Taking the bottle, he sat down and took a long drink. Sitting by the creek, the heat wasn’t as bad as was in the city. The heat had been some of the reason a few of his projects were behind schedule.
“We can fish sitting here,” Ken said as he cast his line out.
Nodding absently, Jess threw out his line. He was trying to decide which of his projects needed to be completed first. The one closest to the nursing home his father was in wasn’t a priority. But with his dad doing so bad, if he was working at that site, he could stop in and see the old man. Jess didn’t know why he felt so compelled to take care of him, the man hadn’t done shit for him growing up. But the frail old man didn't resemble the hard-ass man Jess had known as his father. His dad might’ve been a son of a bitch, and Jess himself might be a son of a bitch, but he couldn’t turn his back on the confused old man. Damn it, what was he doing out here when there were things that needed to be done!
“Ok, Jess, what’s going on?” Ken growled beside him.
“Nothing,” Jess snarled back. He saw Ken’s eye’s narrowed in concern. The small trio of wrinkles at the corners of his eyes were back. He saw the deep groves around the dominant’s mouth. The relaxed man of just moments before gone.
That’s all it took. His named snapped out from the man who loved him and Jess let his inner rage spill out. “It’s shit! It’s all shit! I’m shit! What the fuck am I doing out here fishing? I’ve work to be done! It’s not like I’ll catch anything!! I’m such a fucking disappointment! I fuc-.”
Ken set his fishing pole along a rock and stood up. “Stand up,” Ken ordered softly.
Jess stared at him baffled. As if mesmerized, he set his own pole down and stood. He watched in silence as Ken undid his belt and pull it through the belt loops.
“Drop your pants and bend over that tree over there,” Ken said softly and nodded his head to a fallen tree, the belt now doubled up in his hand.
“What?” Jess knew what Ken was saying, he was just in shock. They’d never engaged in exhibitionism before, never done anything in public. This isn’t exactly public, a little voice said inside Jess’s head. There was no one else near the small creek.
“You know the drill. You have the tee shirt,” Ken said. At Jess’s look of confusion, he continued, “You know-been there, done that, got the tee shirt? Well, we’ve done this before. It really shouldn’t be a shock. You put yourself down-I build you back up. The way that works for us.”
Jess groaned silently. Yes, he had this particular tee shirt. Hell, he had a whole dresser full of them. They’d started this routine a few years ago. An unconventional way to rid him of the negative thoughts of himself, but like Ken said, it worked for them.
Jess walked over to the fallen tree and undid his jeans. He could hear Ken walk up behind him. Quickly he pushed down his shorts and awkwardly laid over the tree.
“You are not shit,” Ken said and then brought his belt down on Jess’s butt.
Jess hissed at the sting.
“You are not a disappointment,” Ken stated firmly. Again he brought the belt across Jess’s ass.
Jess sucked in air and clenched his hands into fists. He’d not reach back!
“You are a hard worker. Maybe too hard of a worker.” Each sentence was punctuated with the sound of the leather belt on bare flesh.
The bark of the tree scratched Jess’s stomach as he twisted his body.
“You are a good man,” Ken said softly and brought the belt down one last time.
Jess caught his breath at the last statement. The belt hurt, but the words were the catalyst. Biting his lip to stop the tears, he felt Ken’s hand on his back.
“Enough?” He asked quietly.
Nodding, Jess said, “Yeah. Enough.”
Ken grabbed him by the upper arm and helped him stand.
“Sorry.” Jess felt he should apologize. He ducked his head as he pulled up his shorts and jeans in one tug.
Ken tilted his head and asked, “About what?”
Shrugging, he fastened his pants and said, “About all this. Ruining the day. Messing up. Again.”
“Really? You need to go back over?” Ken asked and nodded to the tree.
Jess quickly shook his head no. He really didn’t need to have that belt land again.
“Ok. Then hear me. You. Did. Not. Ruin. Anything.” Ken’s voice was clipped and stern but the love was unmistakable. “This is us. This is who we are. You didn't mess anything up. You get it?”
Jess stared into Ken’s face. He saw love. And power. And passion. And concern. And dominance. And them. Jess saw that this was them-who they were. He nodded.
“Good. Now let’s go back. I bet I have a fish,” Ken said.
Jess looked toward their poles. They both were lying there not moving. He doubted any fish had been caught.
“And you have a nap to take,” Ken said as they walked the few feet to where they'd been fishing.
“A nap?” Jess asked incredulously.
“Yeah. A nap. You are exhausted, Jess. Your body needs to rest,” Ken said. Then he grinned at Jess. “Unless you think you need some more time over that log?”
“I’m good. Thank you for asking,” Jess stated with as much dignity as he could muster.
After they sat back down on the blanket, Ken patted his lap. “Lay your head here.”
With his butt still stinging, Jess obeyed but countered, “You know, I’m not going to fall asleep.”
“Yeah, I know. Just close your eyes and rest. Listen to the sounds of nature.”
Jess turned onto his side and let his head rest on Ken’s lap. He felt ridiculous. He wasn’t a child to take a nap or lay on someone’s lap. His head jostled slightly as Ken cast his fishing line again. The whir of the reel vied with the slight rustle of the wind blowing the leaves. The sounds really were different than what they were used to. He could hear the creek. A squirrel was jumping from one tree to another. The cicadas were buzzing in rhythmic song.
“Jess. Jess. Come on. It’s going to be dark soon.”
Jess startled awake at the sound of Ken's voice. Sitting up, he looked around. The sun was setting. Where had the afternoon gone? He jumped to his feet and noticed that most of their stuff had been packed up.
“Shit,” He groaned. “I didn’t mean to fall asleep!”
Ken quirked an eyebrow at him. “Really? Because I did mean for you to sleep. You being the good sub, obviously obeyed me.”
Jess chuckled as he walked back to the truck. Getting in, he said, “Of course I obeyed you. It’s what sub’s do.”
“Good day, yeah?” Ken asked as he maneuvered the truck down the dirt road.
Jess turned to him in surprise. “We didn’t catch anything. And I, um, you had to…you know. So, it was kind of a bust.”
“You relaxed? Chilled out?”
Jess took stock of his body. He was relaxed. “Yeah. I am.”
“So, not a bust at all. And we can always run through MickeyD’s and get a fish sandwich,” Ken said. “That way we can say that we got fish and ate them.”
With the wind blowing in from the rolled down window, the sunset painting the sky vibrant colors, Jess laughed softly. A fish sandwich and a night in bed with his husband. Yeah, it was a good day.
If you'd like to read more about Ken and Jess you can here: Ken and Jess