Up a Creek with Men that Paddle

Up A Creek With Men That Paddle
Co-written by Mel, Teri, Tara, and Jodie
Characters: James and Quinn/Hugh, Patrick and Kyler
Implements: Hand and Paddle

Quinn had to stop into the mine’s office to turn in his latest doctor’s note which allowed him to return to full-time work. He was happy when he saw Kyler in the office talking to his uncle. This would be a good opportunity to invite Kyler and his partners to join him and James on their tubing expedition this weekend. “Hey, Kyler, how ya doing?” Quinn said to the young security guard.

“I’m fine, thanks. How’s the ankle?” Kyler inquired of the other man’s injury.

“It’s doing great,” Quinn said, standing on one foot and wiggling the healthy ankle around. “I just turned in my note that says I can go back to full duty. James and I are going tubing this weekend to celebrate, and we were wondering if you, Hugh, and Patrick wanted to come with us?”

Kyler’s eyes lit up at the prospect. He walked over to the bulletin board and checked the schedule posted there. “All right!” he exclaimed, turning back to Quinn with a wide grin. “I’m not working, so I’m willing to give it a go. I know Hugh will probably be free; just hope Patrick will be too. Are you going to ask them or did you want me to?”

“Can you? You have a little better access to them,” Quinn said with a smile. “Tell them to call James if they want the particulars. I’m sure he has a big plan with maps, timetables, supply lists and a menu. I’m in charge of the important things: tubes, beer, and asking you.”

Kyler blushed. Only his family and partners considered him ‘important’. He was a little surprised at Quinn approaching him with such an exciting invite. After all, the miner was closer to Hugh and Patrick’s ages. But Kyler wasn’t one for looking a gift-horse in the mouth. “Yeah, it wouldn’t be too much fun without the tubes and beer. Glad you got that covered.” He smirked when he heard his uncle’s grunt of scepticism. “I’ll let my guys know and one of them can get back to you or James, okay?”

“Excellent!” Quinn exclaimed. “It’ll be a blast. I’ll let James know to expect their call.”

“Thanks for thinking of us, Quinn. I’m gonna head home now to see what Hugh and Patrick make of it all.” Hurrying towards the door, Kyler called out over his shoulder, “See ya later, Uncle Kipper!”

~*~ ~*~ ~*~ ~*~ ~*~

Kyler was soon driving down the road, leaving a cloud of dust in his wake. Although he expected Hugh to be home, he wasn’t all too sure of Patrick’s whereabouts. Fifteen minutes later, he was crashing through the back door and hollering out his arrival. “Hugh, Patrick, I’m home! Have I got some exciting news for ya!”

Hugh was at the basement putting the week’s laundry into the washing machine when he heard the commotion. Raising his voice, he called up the stairs. “Kyler, is that you? Down here, honey.”

Kyler dashed down the stairs, almost falling in his haste, and breathlessly demanded, “Where’s Patrick? I’ve got something to tell both of you?”

Hugh reached out and snagged Kyler around the waist. “Slow down, sweetheart! Whoa! What’s got you so excited, hm?” Without waiting for an answer, Hugh leaned down and kissed Kyler firmly on the lips. He pressed firmly, parting Kyler’s mouth with his tongue. He felt Kyler melt against him and his body respond immediately to his caresses.

Kyler returned the kiss, welcoming Hugh’s tongue into his mouth. His knees weakened as he gave himself over to his lover. Wanting more…much more…he began fumbling with the older man’s clothing. Kyler gyrated his hips, grinding into Hugh’s hardening erection with his own.

Suddenly extremely horny, Hugh aided Kyler’s efforts by quickly shrugging his shirt off. He pulled back and began to peel the t-shirt off Kyler’s well-toned body and then went to unbuckle Kyler’s belt. Within seconds, they were both topless.

Hugh kissed Kyler again deeply, turned him around and yanked down his jeans. He cupped the tight buns in his hands, massaging them sensually and admiring the sight.

Kyler pressed back into the kneading hands. His body tensed as his passion grew and he wasn’t shy about making his desires known. “Come on, Hugh. Stop looking at the scenery. I want you inside me.” Reaching for the shelf behind the washing machine, Kyler located the lube and passed it to his lover.

Hugh accepted the lube with one hand, and with the other landed a smart smack on Kyler’s right butt cheek. “At my pace, darling!”

Hugh thought fleetingly back to the first night they had spent together, how nervous Kyler had been, how slowly he and Patrick had taken him, breaking him in. Kyler was a totally different lover by now and he had learnt a few tricks of his own. Tricks, which had made his Tops, raise their eyebrows.

Without wasting any more time, Hugh moved in and parted Kyler, then gently but smoothly entered him. He heard Kyler hiss and he slowed some, before picking up the pace again; quick, hard, and intense. Hugh came within minutes, then he reached down and held Kyler as he too ejaculated, into Hugh’s hand.

“Um, that was good, babe!” Hugh murmured, trailing kisses on Kyler’s damp back. “Now what was so urgent?”

Kyler collapsed on the washer, panting and dazed. He slowly came back to his senses while Hugh cleaned them up and rearranged their jeans. “Huh? Urgent?” He had to think for a few seconds. “Oh yeah, Quinn at the mine…tubing….”

As his mind focused, Kyler was better able to articulate. Turning around to face his partner, he explained, “I was visiting with Uncle Kipper and Quinn showed up. You know Quinn, right? He’s the youngest Sweeney. Anyway, he’s invited us to go tubing with him and James. Can we go?”

Hugh finished retrieving his shirt and adjusting his pants. When he was decent again, he resumed loading clothes into the washer. “Tubing?” he asked. “When are they planning to go? Sounds interesting, but we will have to wait to see what Patrick’s got on this weekend. He’s been working really long hours lately due to lack of staff. I don’t know if he can get time off.”

“Talking about me?” Patrick’s voice floated down; followed by him as he sauntered down the stairs. “Hey there, guys.” His eyes opened as he saw the lube and he looked more closely at Kyler’s flushed face. He grinned. “Well, well, you two have been busy I see.”

Kyler just smirked a response at Patrick and answered Hugh’s question. “This weekend is all I know. One of you has to call James to get all the nitty-gritty details.” He turned to Patrick, wrapped his arms around the man’s neck, and soundly kissed him. “Do you know if you’ll be able to make it, Patrick?”

“Now why would I want to go tubing with people I hardly ever go out with on my only weekend off in weeks, when I can relax at home with my two lovers and make up for lost time?” Patrick asked, kissing Kyler back. He looked at the lube and felt a surge in his pants.

Hugh came over and turned Patrick’s head so he could kiss him. “Because you have been working too hard and a bit of fresh air, exercise, and recreation is good for you. Besides, it’s fun. You and Quinn go back a while, don’t you?”

Patrick grunted and still keeping Kyler against him, began to slowly grind his pelvis into the younger man.

“Now, how about helping to get this fresh load folded and upstairs while I go start on dinner?” Hugh suggested.

Kyler chuckled, finding his Tops completely opposing views at the moment somewhat amusing. One wanted to get chores done and the other obviously had sex on his mind. Glancing back and forth between the two older men, he decided that waiting to see how this played out might prove entertaining. “You guys figure out what you want to do and let me know the outcome. I’m game for just about anything.”

Patrick glanced over at Hugh and said innocently, “You go ahead with dinner, darling. We’ll finish up here.” Then he turned back to Kyler and gave him a quick wink.

Hugh moved towards the stairs, eyeing his two partners still stuck together and he lifted a finger at them. “Don’t take too long. We still have the vacuuming to do. And Kyler you promised to clean out the fridge.”

“Go!’ Patrick ordered urgently, even as his hand began to cup one of Kyler’s buttocks. “Fix dinner…call James…vacuum…whatever ...”

They heard Hugh chuckling to himself as he disappeared up the stairs.

“You seem to be in a hurry, Patrick,” Kyler teased as he pulled down his lover’s zipper. “Let’s get this little soldier outta here and make it easier to play with.” Getting down on his knees and freeing Patrick’s hardening shaft, Kyler watched the changing expressions on the bigger man’s face as he slowly licked and nibbled the erection in his hand. “Hmmm, this shouldn’t take too long, my love,” he promised, seconds before taking it into his mouth.

True to his word, Kyler soon had Patrick howling out his release. “Good thing you guys taught me to do that so well, isn’t it?” Kyler stood and wrapped his arms around the spent man, supporting him until Patrick’s breathing returned to normal and he was able to stand unassisted.

“What say we do as Hugh suggested, huh?” Kyler reached for the laundry basket and grinned at the look of chagrin that passed over Patrick’s handsome features.

Patrick had really needed that. He was over-tired with several weeks worth of built-up stress, and that glorious climax had released all his tension. “Kyler, my love,” Patrick said in a slightly hoarse voice. “After that performance, you can ask me for anything!”

Kyler skipped towards the stairs. “Okay,” he merrily called back over his shoulder. “You can bring up the clean laundry and call James to let him know we’re going tubing with them.”

Grumbling good-naturedly, Patrick picked up the laundry basket and followed Kyler up the stairs. He dumped the basket down on the kitchen table and went to peer over Hugh’s shoulder.

“Feeling better?”" Hugh asked without turning around.

“Oh yeah!” Patrick responded with a crooked smile. “Hell yes!”

“And did you also promise the Brat you would go tubing this weekend?”

Patrick groaned. “Damn! I think I did!”

Hugh grinned. “Aha. I thought he would get you there.”

“Damn!” Patrick said again, then he turned back to face a smiling Kyler. “Okay, bring me the phone and the number, Ky. Let’s get this done.”

“The number is already keyed in, Patrick. You just have to answer whoever says ‘Hello’.” Kyler smirked and handed over the phone. He stood next to Patrick in order to hear the conversation and add to it in case his Top forgot to ask for any pertinent information.

Patrick held the phone in one hand while the other went round Kyler’s waist. He smacked Kyler on the butt lightly when the young man kept jiggling and bouncing around. “Ky, it’s ringing! Stop bouncing and settle down!”

Kyler tried to listen in on the conversation, but Patrick kept changing the phone to the other ear whenever Kyler’s head got too close. Possibly the fact that Kyler’s bouncing had him knocking against the phone a couple of times, had something to do with Patrick trying to keep it out of range.

“Kyler!” Hugh looked up from the stove and pointed at the kitchen table. “Let Patrick breathe! Go sit at the table and string the beans for me please. You can help with dinner and listen at the same time without getting in anyone’s way.”

“Well, what did he say?” Kyler demanded excitedly as soon as Patrick said goodbye. “We’re going right?”

Patrick moved towards the fridge and got out a bottle of water. He drank deeply before saying, “Okay, here’s the plan. We go to James and Quinn’s place on Saturday morning, then we all head out to the river together. They’ve got the food covered and the drinks as well, so we just need to take care of our own personal stuff. Quinn’s got the tubes too. Hugh, we will need your truck to carry all the stuff. My car’s not going to do it and neither is Kyler’s.”

“Sure,” Hugh agreed easily.

“Hey, Ky, we should make a list, eh? Just to be sure we don’t miss out on anything. James mentioned bathing suits, suntan lotion, um ... towels, hats... oh and sunglasses too; I guess if we don’t mind losing them. You should bring that hideous pair you’ve got, honey; then I can buy you a new pair when you lose the old ones!”

Hugh smiled as Kyler threw a bean at Patrick. He turned back to the stove and continued stirring. It was good to hear the excitement in Patrick’s voice.

Kyler quickly finished the beans and handed the pot to Hugh. Grabbing pencil and paper off the counter, he sat down and started listing the items as Patrick repeated them while looking over his shoulder.

“Got it! Now for the hard part; waiting for Saturday.” Kyler grinned up at his two partners as all three of them nodded their heads in agreement.

~*~ ~*~ ~*~ ~*~ ~*~

“James!” Quinn hollered as he kicked off his work boots and entered the cottage. “Where are you?”

James was just coming out of the bedroom when he heard his husband yelling for him. “I’m right here, sweetheart. It’s a small cottage, no need to shout.” He laughed, as took Quinn into his arms for a welcome home kiss. “How was your day?” he asked.

“Sorry, I was just so excited to see your hot body, I couldn’t contain myself. But I’ll make sure not to seem so excited about seeing you in the future,” Quinn said with sarcasm. He knew James had been teasing, but he hadn’t been that loud, and James could be overly toppy at times.

James frowned. He was not terribly fond of Quinn’s occasional sarcasm and felt this was uncalled for. He quickly turned his lover around and landed a sharp swat to the seat of his pants. “Watch the attitude, boy! Now, do you want to try that greeting again? I believe I asked you how your day was.”

“Ow,” Quinn said with a bit of a pout as he rubbed his butt. He kissed James and then gave him a look of apology. “My day was good. I saw Kyler and invited Hugh, Patrick and him to come tubing with us this weekend. He’s going to have Hugh or Patrick call you for the details.”

Seeing the change in attitude put the smile back on James’ face. “That’s great. I hope they can join us. I saw Patrick coming out of the clinic the other day, and he looked beat. I’m sure a day of tubing fun would be just what the doctor ordered.” He sat down and picked up his daily paper.

James put down the newspaper as he heard the phone ringing. “Hello?” He smiled towards Quinn when he heard Patrick’s voice on the other end. “Yes, Quinn told me he’d extended the invitation to Kyler and asked it be passed on to you and Hugh. We’re planning to head out on Saturday morning around ten, weather and river conditions permitting of course. Quinn has the tubes arranged, and I’m packing a cooler with a lunch of sandwich wraps, salads, fruit and some snack foods. We’ll have beer, pop, and bottled water for beverages.”

James listened as Patrick replied and asked questions. “We were going to take Quinn’s truck and park it at one end of the route, and I was going to ask if Hugh could bring his to leave at the other end. We need vehicles large enough to carry the tubes, our belongings, and all five of us. It’s about a three mile ride along the best part of the river for rafting purposes and usually takes about four to five hours to raft it, depending on the flow.”

He grinned at the anxious look on Quinn’s face as he listened to the doctor speaking. “No, really we’ve got the food covered. It’s a celebration of sorts for Quinn’s return to full mobility with the ankle. Only thing you’d need to bring is your bathing suits, towels, hats and a ton of sunscreen.” He paused to listen again. “That’s great; we’re looking forward to it. We’ll see you here Saturday morning. Bye.”

James looked at Quinn’s smiling face. “Okay, sweetheart, we’re a go for Saturday.”

“Excellent!” Quinn said, as he moved the newspaper out of the way and climbed into James’ lap. Once settled, Quinn got a more serious look on his face. “I need to talk to you about something,” he said, not meeting James’ eyes. “I got a safety warning at work today. I almost dropped a sledge hammer on my dad’s foot.” Quinn looked up into James’ face to see his reaction.

James did not look pleased.

Quinn gave a bit of a gulp before he continued. “I was breaking up the rock into smaller pieces, you know like I normally do, when my dad walked up behind me and said, ‘Mo Cheannsa Go Deo. How did you like your present, kiddo? James asked me to do the translation for him.’ I spun around and dropped the sledgehammer and it landed right next to my pop’s foot. I was so embarrassed; I must have been twenty different shades of pink.”

Quinn could feel James’ body shacking with laughter beneath him. “Stop laughing,” he said with a small pout. “James, if you’re going to ask a guy’s dad to translate the phrase you’re having engraved on a cock ring, you need to give the guy a little warning about it.”

James finally pulled himself together from his fit of laughter. “Oh babe, you didn’t actually discuss the gift, did you?”

When Quinn shook his head, still embarrassed by the whole thing, James went on to explain.

“I told your dad that I wanted to put that in a book I was giving you. Though I do not normally lie to your father, I would never embarrass you, myself, or your father for that matter, by saying what the real gift was.” He leaned in and gave Quinn a kiss. “So you can stop looking so embarrassed.”

Then James’ voice took on a more serious note. “However, I’m not thrilled to hear about you getting another safety warning. Shocked or not by what your father said, you know the proper way to handle tools on the job. I believe you went to work with a sore backside five times during our first year together for safety violations. Now given the fact that it’s been a long time since your last write up, I’m not going to spank you.”

James could see the look of relief on his husband’s face. “But you are going to go and get your copy of the safety manual and sit in the study reading it until ten o’clock this evening. If you finish the whole thing before then, you will start at the beginning and read it again. And if you get another warning this year, you’ll have an appointment with the paddle. Understood?”

“No, I don’t understand!” Quinn hollered as he pulled himself off of James’ lap. “This was so not my fault. You should have warned me. You can’t punish me for your mistake!”

Quinn folded his arms and waited for James to come to his senses.

James stood up and looked Quinn in the eye and spoke in a very slow, calm voice. “I would like you to seriously reconsider your stance, boy. Right now you’ve got some reading to do while sitting comfortably on a nice soft chair. However, one more word of defiance from you and you will be doing that same reading while sitting on a wooden chair with a very sore backside.”

When Quinn opened his mouth to speak, James could see no repentance in his lover’s face. He wanted to defuse the situation before it went too far so he jumped in before his husband could utter a sound. “Quinn, you have absolutely no reason to complain, the rule about safety violations on the job as been in place for four years. As I recall you suggested it. You said you needed help in that area before you ended up losing your job to carelessness. Now, I’m the first to say that you have done extremely well in maintaining a good record, which is why you are not being paddled over this. So I advise you to take a deep breath, turn yourself around and go into the study with a proper attitude.”

He pulled his stiff-backed husband into his arms. “I love you, baby, and I only want you safe.”

Quinn eventually relaxed into James’ embrace. “It’s been so long, I really didn’t think I’d be in trouble,” he said quietly while his head still rested on James’ shoulder.

Quinn gave a little sniffle. “I’m sorry," he said, looking into James’ eyes to ensure his sincerity. “Thank you for not paddling me. Will you come read the paper in the study, or can I bring the manual out here and sit with you?”

Quinn was contented when James joined him on the sofa in the study. He made sure to carefully read the manual even though he swore this was the eighty-fifth time he’d read it. He did have to admit he was happy he was not reading with a sore bottom, as it seemed he had most of the other times he’d read through the manual.

James alerted Quinn it was ten o’clock and time to start getting ready for bed just as Quinn was starting chapter three for the second time.

The men had a calm and quiet soak in the tub before they climbed into bed, and Quinn curled into James and fell asleep.

~*~ ~*~ ~*~ ~*~ ~*~

Saturday morning dawned bright and warm. The temperature promised to be in the low thirties by midday, perfect weather for tubing. James was in the kitchen preparing and packing the lunches while Quinn was out in the garage using the compressor to fill the large tubes they had rented for the occasion. They had a tube for each man, plus a double one with a bottom in it to hold the two coolers they were taking.

Quinn had loaded the cooler with the beverages and ice packs. James had put a stop to him when he began to load beer from a second two-four, insisting that they needed two drivers for the trucks leaving only three men able to drink, and that twenty-four beers was more than enough for three. So the cooler was topped off with pop and bottled water.

James looked up at the clock as he packed the last of the lunch. It was just before nine and they had most everything ready, now he just needed to get his husband to eat some breakfast. He pulled out the fresh scones Mrs. Chelsea had dropped off this morning and slathered them with raspberry preserves. Next, he cut up some of Quinn’s favourite Havarti cheese and put it on the plate with the scones and some seedless grapes. Finally, he poured steaming mugs of coffee. He carried this all outside to the terrace before he called across the hedge towards the garage.

“Quinn! Breakfast on the terrace; now, please!”

“Not hungry,” Quinn hollered. He had just finished loading another ten beers into the ice chest. It was going to be a hot day and there was nothing better on a hot day then ice cold beer. He’d been a scout; it was much better to be prepared and have a few extra then to run out.

He then loaded his super soaker water gun under the back seat of the Bronco and packed the pockets of his cargo swim shorts full of water bombs. He wasn’t sure if Kyler had high-powered water gun, but again it was important to be prepared. Lastly he packed the set of five blow-up pink flamingo floating coasters.

James sighed and he stood at the entrance to the garage and found Quinn with his head and upper body bent into the back of the Bronco. Not one to pass up an opportunity, James took advantage of what was being offered and planted a swat to the seat of Quinn’s cut-offs. He smiled when his husband yelped and jumped up indignantly.

“Breakfast is on the terrace now, Quinn. You are not going out for a day of fun in the sun and drinking beer without a decent breakfast in your stomach, so get a move on, Brat.” He put a teasing emphasis on the word ‘Brat’ and punctuated it with a quick kiss. “Mrs. Chelsea made scones and there is Havarti cheese,” he added as motivation.

“Do you have some type of alarm that goes off when my butt is in a vulnerable position?” Quinn asked while giving a rub to his butt. He was thankful that James was in a playful mood, because the swat had given him a scare that James had figured out what he was up to.

“You should have said it was Mrs. C’s scones and Havarti; I would have come running.” Quinn gave a wink and moved his butt out of the way of the coming swat. He then set off at a jog towards the terrace. “Catch me if you can, old man.”

“Old man!” James yelled out indignantly. “I’ll show you old.” He took off after his fleeing brat, capturing him just as they reached the terrace. He pulled Quinn in to hard kiss, breaking it only when he heard his husband’s stomach rumble. “Not hungry eh?” he laughed and patted the firm abs. “Eat up, my love; the guys will be here soon.”

They quickly finished their meal, had the dishes cleared and loaded into the dishwasher by nine fifty-five. James locked up the cottage while Quinn pulled the Bronco out of the garage. Now they only had to wait for their tubing companions to arrive for their day of fun to begin.

~*~ ~*~ ~*~ ~*~ ~*~

Kyler was anxious to get on the road. “Come on, you guys; I’m ready!” he informed his partners as he walked into the kitchen. He was wearing swimming trunks and t-shirt, but didn’t have shoes on. However, he did have a colourful towel thrown over one shoulder and the sunglasses Patrick had an aversion to, perched on top of the hat, that was turned slightly to one side of his head. Finishing off his ensemble was a large water gun under one arm and a beach ball under other.

“Don’t tell me you’re planning to have a second cup of coffee. There’s not enough time if we’re going to get to James and Quinn’s by ten o’clock. It’s already after nine.” He bounced impatiently and smirked at Hugh’s raised eyebrow.

Hugh pushed a chair out with his foot. “We will go when we have had our coffee. Settle.”

Patrick grinned at Kyler’s colourful ensemble. “Is that the Nemo towel? Good lord, couldn’t you find anything less - striking? Now sit down and finish your breakfast, Kyler. We still need to wash the dishes and clean up the kitchen.”

“And go find your shoes? You are not going barefoot!” Hugh looked at Kyler’s feet pointedly.

“Aw, come on, Hugh. We’re going to be spending a greater part of the day in water. I don’t really need shoes,” Kyler complained as he unthinkingly dropped his belongs onto the floor and unintentionally sent the ball bouncing across the table. “Oops, I’ll clean it up. It’s only a bit of spilled milk.” He grabbed up a dishtowel and raced around the table to catch the spreading liquid before it ended up on the floor.

In the end, Hugh personally went to get Kyler’s shoes while Patrick did all the washing up; leaving Kyler to re-pack his bag, change his towel, cram another packet of potato chips in, and then nag and complain about the time.

“Patience, young man!” Hugh ordered, swatting Kyler’s butt lightly. “Stop that at once or we will leave you behind.”

“Finally!” Kyler muttered as he climbed into the back seat of Hugh’s truck. It wasn’t long before he was scrambling out of it and joining his partners in greeting their hosts for the day.

“James!” Quinn hollered from the back of the Bronco where he had just stashed a package of Chips Ahoy. “They’re here! Shake a leg!"

“I’m right here. I was just locking the front door,” James said as he headed down the drive to greet their friends who had climbed out of their truck. “Gentlemen, great to see you! Are you already for a day of fun on the river?”

The three men returned the greeting and listened to a few additional plans for getting to their destination.

Quinn and Kyler quickly ushered their partners back into the trucks and the five men were finally on their way to the river.

They first dropped off Hugh’s truck at the end of the route, and then Hugh, Patrick and Kyler climbed into Quinn’s Bronco and everyone drove to the starting point.

Upon arrival, all the men piled out and began to unpack all of their belongings. Quinn was pleased to see that Kyler had brought his large water gun. The tubes were all removed from the top of the Bronco. Each man claimed one and then loaded the coolers and other supplies into the double tube.

Quinn frowned when James handed him the bottle of sunscreen. “James, I’m Black Irish...”

“You’re Black Irish, and you do not burn,” James teasingly interrupted and mocked his husband’s often repeated line about sunscreen use. “And I am telling you again that sunscreen is not just to prevent burns, it also protects the skin from the harmful UV-A and UV-B rays that can do unseen damage, lead to premature aging of the skin and such fun little numbers as melanoma. So, my beloved, you will wear the sunscreen and you will re-apply it regularly--unless of course you wish to have me bring Patrick into the discussion? I’m sure he can provide a lot more gory details than I can.” James poured a liberal amount of the lotion in to his hand then gave the bottle back to Quinn. “Turn and I’ll do your back.”

Quinn sighed and reluctantly turned to get his back covered with the gooey lotion while he began on the front. James lovingly applied the cream; even sliding Quinn’s bathing trunks down a couple of inches to ensure he was properly covered.

As he applied his own lotion, James looked over to their friends who were also applying sunscreen. He could hear whispered words from where they stood a few meters away and wondered if they were having a similar discussion.

~*~ ~*~ ~*~ ~*~ ~*~

“Ack, it’s cold, Patrick!” Kyler complained as lotion was spread over his back while he tried unsuccessfully to squirm out of the older man’s grip. “Besides, I’m gonna keep my t-shirt on so I don’t need that gunky stuff all over me.”

“Cut it out, Ky!” Patrick ordered. “Stand still; you are not getting out of this.” He landed a warning swat on his Brat’s rear-end and gazed calmly at Kyler’s horrified face as his eyes turned to Quinn and James. “Don’t worry, no one saw it. They are not paying attention to us. Now are you going to quit squirming, or do you need another swat?”

Kyler glanced over at the other couple and was relieved to see that Patrick had spoken the truth as James and Quinn seemed involved in an activity of their own involving sunscreen. Turning his baby blues back to his partner, he feigned a pout and rubbed at the sting the older man’s hand had left behind. “I’ll stay still, but only ‘cause I don’t want you to embarrass yourself,” he joked, then winked at Hugh and laughed at Patrick’s eye rolling.

Patrick made sure the lotion was smeared over all possible ‘danger zones’; he was enjoying working his fingers into his Brat’s firm flesh. He blew him a kiss as he knelt down and started on Kyler’s thighs.

Hugh bent to pick up a towel and conveniently swatted Patrick on the butt. “Stop that, or you are going to have another problem on your hands,” he warned with a meaningful look at their young partner now squirming for quite another reason.

Patrick laughed as he jumped up. “Problem? What problem? There, all done!” He leaned forward and kissed Kyler, letting his tongue touch the younger man’s lips tenderly. Apparently being out in the open fresh air after days of being cooped up at the hospital was having quite an effect on the doctor.

Hugh’s hand shot out and just about made it to grab Kyler’s trunks. “Oh no, come back here, imp. We will wait for James and Quinn. No going off by yourself, please, and no jumping queue.”

~*~ ~*~ ~*~ ~*~ ~*~

James’ thoughts were interrupted by the feel of Quinn’s hand sliding deep down the back of his trunks as he returned the favour and applied lotion to his Top’s back. James jumped upward as he felt a finger sliding down his crack. “Cut it out, boy, unless you want me to drag you off into the woods in front of everyone,” he growled.

Quinn pressed the finger just a little further and ran it back up James’ crack. He then quickly removed his hand from his husband’s swim trunks and took off at a run towards the inner tubes. Grabbing a tube, Quinn threw it in the water, jumped on top of it and began to paddle. “You’d have to catch me first, old man!” Quinn shouted back at his husband.

With a whoop of excitement, Kyler had slipped on his t-shirt and snatched up his water gun, and was chasing down Quinn. He looked back over his shoulder as he tossed a second tube into the water to see how close behind his partners or James were. “Come on, all you guys! The water’s grand!”

Kyler was soon neck and neck with Quinn. “You’re pretty energetic yourself, Quinn. I mean, considering you’re one of the old men.” Kyler laughed and splashed the other man.

“Oh, little boy, you are so going to regret that comment,” Quinn said as he leapt from his tube to Kyler’s, and flipped Kyler and his tube over with a loud splash and many giggles.

Kyler surfaced, sputtering and laughing. He tried to push Quinn under the water but the bigger man was too fast and got away. “I’ll get even when you least expect it, Quinn!” he lightheartedly threatened.

Quinn held his super-soaker across his chest in a pose reminiscent of Rambo. “I’m lookin’ forward to it, kid.” He then turned his attention to the three men still on the shore. Hugh, Patrick and James were pushing their tubes into the water. James had tied the tube with the cooler onto his inner tube. Quinn cocked his gun and proceeded to soak his husband.

James sputtered as he turned his back to the spray. “You’ll regret that!” he hollered while laughing. He reached into the waterproof towel bag they had put along side the coolers and pulled out a small pump-action water gun he’d secreted there. He knew Quinn well enough to expect this and had planned well ahead. Before leaving home he’d filled the gun’s reservoir with water and several drops of highly concentrated professional food dye in a brilliant shade of cobalt blue.

With his back to the spray, from his husband’s assault, he discretely pumped the gun up to full pressure. He glanced behind him, waiting for Quinn to become bolder and get within a few feet of his position. He knew the gun’s small tank would only give him a couple of hits and he was going to make them count.

Once Quinn was close enough, James spun himself around and fired the stream of coloured water over his husband’s torso and legs, ensuring it went no where near his face. “Die, blue boy!” he yelled. He knew he would carry to his grave the image of Quinn’s shocked face when he looked down at his bright blue-stained body. James wished he’d thought to pack the camera.

Kyler had climbed back on his inner tube and with his water gun filled, pumped and ready for action, he sat back to take in the action. He was shocked to see the blue liquid hit Quinn’s body, but it was the look on the man’s face that had Kyler doubling over with laughter. Trying to catch his breath, Kyler looked over to see what Hugh and Patrick were making of all these high jinks.

“James Simon Lefebvre!” Quinn hollered. “You kinky SOB! Just because I wouldn’t wear that Smurf Furry for you...you had to go and stain my skin blue!”

Quinn pulled a water bomb from his pocket, dunked it into the water and used his perfect baseball aim to nail his husband on the butt. He then jumped back in his inner tube and began paddling at a very quick pace.

James laughed along with the others at Quinn’s Smurf remark, but decided to get even for the water bombing. He retrieved the water bomb from where it floated, took aim and threw with all his strength in hopes of catching his fleeing partner. Much to his horror his throw did not hold the accuracy of his baseball playing husband, but took a spectacular curve and hit a rather surprised Patrick right on the nose.

“Oh geeze, Patrick, I’m so sorry,” James said as he watched the doctor wiping the water from his face.

Momentarily stunned, Patrick shook his head and wiped his face with the side of his arm. In the background, he heard Hugh’s guffaw and Kyler’s giggles and he narrowed his eyes at them. “Just you wait,” he threatened.

He turned back to James and winked, saying softly, “You help me get those two and I will help you get Quinn. Deal?”

James laughed. “You’ve got a deal. Too bad I’m outta that blue dyed water. Hugh would look very good in blue. But I do have a couple of small buckets in the bag; very good for dousing unsuspecting tubers.”

Kyler’s eyes widened when he realized his top was getting support to get even with him. ‘And just for laughing,’ he thought with a grin. He flipped face down on his tube and started kicking his legs to propel it through the water. In short order he had once again caught up to Quinn.

James looked around at the laughing men and called out, “Let’s get this show on the road, shall we? Last one to the reach the bend gets to deflate all the tubes at the end.” He began madly paddling with his hands to move his tube down the slow river.

“They’re after us, Quinn. Hope you got a plan for evading retaliation at their hands. You started picking on them first!” Kyler shouted over the noise of he and Quinn’s paddling. “I don’t know how long we can out-distance them.”

“Beer,” Quinn said. “I’ve been retaliated against, kid. I’m blue, so I’m having a beer. I suggest you do the same. There isn’t much you can do to stop the retaliation. So chill out, we’ve got much better fire power anyway.”

Quinn stood up in the river, which was only about three feet deep, and adjusted his shorts so they hung especially low on his hips. He then backtracked towards James. When he arrived at the tube carrying the supplies, he bent over and wiggled his butt at his husband while he extracted a beer from the cooler. “Anyone else?” he called out.

“No, thanks,” Kyler somewhat reluctantly turned down the offer, knowing his partners would in all likelihood frown upon him drinking before noon. Besides, he wanted to pace himself in case his Tops got it into their heads to put a limit on him. He noticed that the loves of his life also declined and he smiled to himself. ‘Always the example setters,’ he mused.

James watched Quinn's display of shorts adjustment and gave a growl at his husband when the younger man was reaching into the cooler. "Get those back up boy. What's under those shorts is mine to see, not fodder for public view." Though he said it with a teasing edge if he was honest with himself James would admit he truly didn't like others ogling what was his.

Looking at the bottle in Quinn's hand he remarked. "A bit early but I won't say no, after all it is your party." Then he added with a huge smile. "Molson Export? I thought your beer of the day would be Labatt's BLUE!"

Quinn stuck his tongue out at James in response to his distasteful humour. He opened his can of beer and took a long refreshing gulp.

Kyler was pleased with his choice when Hugh waded out to him with a smile of approval on his handsome face and tossed him a bottle of water. With the plan to get even seemingly put on hold for the time being, Patrick quickly joined them. He was dragging two tubes, his and Hugh’s, which he proceeded to attached to each side of Kyler’s with the aid of a couple of large bungee cords.

Once the two older men were comfortably situated, they manoeuvred their makeshift raft out further into the river to get caught up in its’ slow moving current, figuring James and Quinn would follow at their own pace.

The three tubes floated gently down the river, swaying slightly with the ripples and waves as the water took them downstream. It was very pleasant indeed. Patrick, finding a comfortable position on the tube, soon dozed off with his face turned to the weak sunlight filtering through the leaves overhead.

Hugh looked over at his sleeping partner and smiled. He was so glad Patrick was able to relax in the fresh air and sun after weeks of being cooped up indoors.

He gestured to Kyler. “Kyler, switch places with me, honey? Patrick is about to snore in a minute and the flies are out in force. We don’t want him to accidentally swallow one, do we?”

They made the switch amidst a lot of giggling from Kyler. Hugh sat as close to Patrick as possible and grabbing a small towel, lazily flicked at the flies from time to time. He listened with half an ear to Kyler as the young man chatted excitedly non-stop, but his own eye-lids began to grow heavy.

Kyler glared at Hugh when the older man grew quiet. Hugh had even stopped grunting now and again which up to a few seconds ago had been his main participation in the conversation. Kyler smiled at his sleeping Tops and turned to look over his shoulder to see if James and Quinn were closing the gap that had formed when Kyler and his partners took off ahead of them.

Quinn paddled his way over to James. Once there, he tied his tube to James’, and now that they were close enough to touch, he gently tapped James’ foot with his own. “Thank you for today,” he said. “It’s beautiful and really nice to have the others here.” He looked at their three friends. “They seem to be enjoying themselves as well. Sad though that we are going to have to wake them shortly; there are rapids just around the bend.”

James reached his hand out and gave Quinn’s a squeeze. He was pleased his husband was enjoying the day. It was just what they all needed--a stress free day of fun.

“You’re more than welcome, my love.” He glanced at the other men floating side by side on their tubes. “I guess we’ll have to let them know, but don’t go making a big deal out of it. After all they’re hardly dangerous rapids; you just need to be alert and enjoy the ride.”

Kyler saw their friends getting closer just as the make-shift raft he was on rounded the bend in the river. His eyes widened with gleeful anticipation when he saw the rapids up ahead. He really didn’t want to wake Patrick, knowing the man had put in a couple of long hard weeks and was badly in need of the extra sleep. However, he had no qualms about waking Hugh.

“Hugh, Hugh!” he called excitedly, shaking the older man’s shoulder. “You should see what’s coming up, man! This is gonna be so much fun!” Kyler tried to stand up and get a better view. It was quite a feat to balance on the slippery tubes that were beginning to pick up speed.

Hugh opened one sleepy eye and peered over at Kyler. “Huh? What ...?” he mumbled. Then as he turned his eyes forward, he sat up in a hurry. “Shit,” he muttered under his breath, all sleep gone. Not being familiar with the run of the river, he wasn’t sure how deep the rapids would be. “Patrick!” he called out.

James heard the sound of worry in his friend’s voice and called out to reassure him. “Hugh, it’s okay. The rapids here are quite mild really, the water isn’t very deep and or all that fast. Just keep towards the middle of the river and enjoy the ride.”

He then noticed Kyler attempting to get up on the side of his tube. “Kyler! Sit back in the tube before you fall!” Though the young man was not his partner, he felt responsible for the group as he knew the river and had been the one to invite them.

Hugh began to steer towards the middle of the river as advised by James. He looked up quickly when he heard the urgency in James’ voice and nodded at his young partner. “Sit down Kyler, do as James’ says. No acrobatics please! We don’t know the river like James does.”

He looked over at Patrick, who was still sleeping peacefully.

“Hey, James, do I need to wake Patrick up?” Hugh asked.

“Woo-hoo!” Quinn hollered as they neared the rapids. He released his tube from James’ and paddled towards the rapids. He continued to hoot and holler as he held on to the sides of his tube and rocked his body into the sway of the whitewater, which increased his speed and rotation through the turbulent water.

Kyler grudgingly slid down until he was sitting safely on the tube. With Patrick continuing to sleep and Hugh concentrating on what James was telling him, he cunningly released the bungee cords holding his tube to the others and was soon floating off after Quinn.

“Wait up, Quinn!” he hollered at the older man, twisting and turning through the water while quickly closing the gap between them.

“Well, Hugh,” James called out. “I don’t suppose you have to wake Patrick since he’s well-seated in the tube and yours is attached to his. However, I don’t think he’ll sleep through it and you’ve got about ten seconds left before you start to fly after that young partner of yours!”

It took a moment for Hugh to digest James’ words and before he could do anything, the tubes dipped. Hugh gave a whoop and clung to his tube, trying to reach for Patrick. He needn’t have worried; the water rushing over the sides jerked Patrick upright.

“Hold on Patrick! We’ve hit the rapids!” Hugh cried out, his eyes gleaming with enjoyment.

Patrick shook the water out of his face and groused. “You could have woken me up earlier, partner!”

James laughed as Hugh and Patrick’s tubes began to spin and roll across the rapids with water splashing over the sides. He followed them down only seconds later.

Then the joined tubes began to spin faster, the momentum making them go around in circles, swaying merrily and bumping them around. Patrick grabbed his tube to steady himself.

It hit both Hugh and Patrick at the same second. Their heads whipped around to where Kyler’s tube had been attached to theirs and they stared with sudden alarm at one another.


Kyler was having the time of his life bouncing along over the churning water. He hung on to the sides of his tube and let it go with the flow, unable to hear anyone over the sound of his own laughter. Following in Quinn’s wake, he quickly caught up to him and his tube bumped into the back of the one Quinn was in. Kyler wiped the water from his face and grinned unrepentantly at Quinn. His eyes sparkled and his expression was one of unadulterated joy.

When they reached the end of the rapids, Kyler turned to see their partners bearing down on them and gave the older men a cheeky wave.

“I sure hope there are more rapids ahead, Quinn,” he said breathlessly.

Quinn laughed. “Don't you worry, there is another great set before we stop for lunch and about three or four more before we finish.”

“And...I think there is just enough time for another beer before we hit the next set,” Quinn said. He paddled over to James, who was just exiting the rapids. When he arrived at James’ tube, he pulled it close and tied himself to James and the double tube carrying their food.

Quinn then carefully climbed off of his tube and straddled James on top of his tube. Once situated, he gave his partner a long hard kiss, which involved rubbing his hardening penis against his husband’s belly. “God, that was a great rush,” Quinn said as he reached over James to pull a beer out of the cooler.

James was momentarily breathless from the kiss and the sudden tightness in his trunks, but not so much that he wasn’t aware of his partner taking another beer out of the cooler. He snaked his hand over on top of Quinn’s and took the beer out of his lover’s hand, placing it back into the cooler.

“No more before lunch, brat; if you’re thirsty there is water or pop. And as for this," he slid his free hand down and grasped his husband’s erection and growled. “I’ll deal with it later. If you can’t keep it in place, I could provide some ice from the cooler to assist you.”

Quinn wiggled against James’ hand on his cock, hoping for some friction and movement. He released a loud yelp a moment later as James slipped a handful of ice down the front of his shorts. The cold ice caused even more wiggling and Quinn’s erection quickly faded. He reached his hand down his pants, removed the ice and tossed it into the river.

Quinn then settled back down onto James’ lap and rested his head on his partner’s chest. “That was mean,” Quinn pouted. “And what was the purpose of bringing beer if you won’t let me have any.”

“You needed cooling down,” James replied laughing. “However, as far as the beer goes, you’re welcome to some more after you’ve had lunch. You don’t need to be downing anymore until then.”

He paused to think. “Now, I say after the little rapids we go through up ahead, we stop at that same spot we had lunch last summer. You remember the place, don’t you? I believe I had my way with you in that sheltered spot behind the sumac." James grinned at Quinn’s reaction to that memory.

He teasingly pinched his husband’s butt. “Now get back in your tube before either of us ends up embarrassing ourselves. Oh and by the way, I saw the extra beer you packed, and we’ll talk about that at home.”

Quinn moved over towards his tube. James held onto his Brat to ensure he was well balanced through out the move. ‘Talk?’ Quinn thought. ‘That doesn’t sound very promising.’ He decided it might be a good idea to focus on James’ other comment. “Any chance we might break away for a private ‘walk’ through the sumac today?” Quinn asked.

James shook his head and laughed, his beautiful husband was incorrigible. “We have company, lover, and it would be pretty rude to simply disappear for a quickie. However, when I get you home I’m sure we can make up for it. For now, please behave yourself.”

Kyler did his best to stay in one place until his partners pulled up along side of him and he could grab onto their joined tubes. “Did you guys like the ride? Quinn says there’s more up ahead. Neat, huh?” he excitedly inquired, his blue eyes sparkling at the prospect.

Hugh and Patrick’s joined tubes bumped roughly into Kyler’s, making him lose his hold and jerk precariously. Both men were grinning broadly and it was obvious from their flushed faces and laughing eyes that they had enjoyed the ride tremendously.

“Careful Ky!” Patrick called out as Kyler almost toppled over into the water.

“I’m going to get a beer,” Kyler announced. “Want me to get each of you one?”

Hugh leaned over, easily grabbed Kyler’s tube and held it firmly. “No, thank you, and neither you’re not having one either. In fact, I don’t think anyone is drinking any more beer until at least after lunch.”

Kyler grumbled good-naturedly about being restricted but was ignored.

Patrick nodded his agreement and glanced over at James who was holding Quinn in front of him. “Hey guys, this is a great idea! I can’t remember having this much fun since ... gee, since I can’t remember when.”

James looked over to where the other three men were. “You all okay with stopping for lunch after the next set of rapids? There’s a nice spot along the bank there!”

“You bet!” Patrick replied at once. “I must have burned off tons of calories.”

Hugh grinned at Patrick and said, “Yeah, I saw how hard you worked just now, floating down the river on your tube fast asleep!” He then turned to their younger partner. “Kyler, do you want to fix your tube with ours again for the next set?”

“Don’t do it, Kyler!” Quinn shouted as he released his tube from James’. “The rapids are way more fun on your own. Besides you can have cuddle time at lunch.”

Quinn then turned his attention to Hugh and Patrick. “And as for sleeping beauty over there, I’m surprised he didn’t sleep through the rapids. In high school, he used to stay up studying all night, and then he would sleep through class the next day.” Quinn proceeded to throw a water bomb at Patrick. “I certainly hope he didn’t do that through medical school.” He laughed at his own joke and then took off paddling towards the next set of rapids.

If Kyler was torn between joining his tube to his partners’ and following Quinn, it didn’t show. “See you at the other end, Hugh!” he called over his shoulder as he hastily took off after Quinn. “See if you can sleep through the next ones, Patrick?” he teased.

“Thanks, Quinn.” Kyler beamed at the older man. “I’ll have to remember that the next time Patrick says anything about my study habits.” He deliberately said it loud enough for his partners to hear.

Patrick ducked neatly and pointed a finger at Quinn. “Sleeping Beauty?” Patrick scoffed. “Ha! I’ll show you! Best be alert, blue boy! Just you wait!” He shouted at Quinn’s back.

“And as for you,” Patrick turned to Kyler but the younger man was already paddling away.

Hugh splashed water over at Patrick and began to paddle. “Stop yelling Patrick and start paddling! Wait up James!”

After reaching the other side of the rapids, James quickly paddled to the shore by the planned picnic spot. He managed to avoid being deluged by the water fight going on between Quinn and Patrick. He was unsure as to whose side Kyler and Hugh were taking, but if the laughter and shouts were any indication, it was a free for all.

He dragged the cooler up onto shore and began to unpack the supplies. By the time he had the blanket spread and the food laid out, the water fight seemed to be slowing down. “Lunch is on for those interested!” he yelled.

Quinn trotted over to his husband. He stood behind James and wrapped his wet body around James’ now sun dried body and kissed him on the back of the neck. “It looks lovely. Your ability to entertain never ceases to amaze me.”

Quinn spun his body around so he was now pressed against James’ chest. He rested his head on his husband’s shoulder. “I’m sorry about packing the extra beer. I was just excited about the trip. Is it okay if I have one with lunch?”

James groaned as Quinn leaned against him and he whispered, “Damn boy, I should give you hell for getting me all cold and wet again, but you’re too damn sexy. Yes, you can have beer with lunch. I’ll even say you can have a couple. As far as the extra goes, we’ll discuss it later.” He pressed a hard kiss against his husband’s mouth. “Now let’s enjoy this meal.”

‘Whoa!” Kyler stared in wide-eyed awe at the feast James had laid out. “Man, you guys really outdid yourselves. How did you ever get that much into one cooler? It’s more like a banquet that a picnic. Hugh, Patrick, come see all this food!” He grinned up at James. Although, he didn’t know the older man very well, and was a little intimidated by him, Kyler figured anyone who could put together a spread like this must be a-okay.

After having pulled their tubes partially out of the water and securing them, Hugh and Patrick walked over to the picnic spread.

Hugh lowered himself to the ground, eyeing the spread appreciatively. “You are a marvel, James. Is that a beer? I’ll have one, thanks.”

Patrick was about to sit but suddenly turned and wrapped his arms around Kyler’s waist, bringing him down with him onto one corner of the blanket. The two men collapsed in a heap, laughing and wriggling. Patrick hugged Kyler’s wet and slippery body to him and kissed him noisily on the side of the neck. “Um, you taste good, babe. Sit here with me, Ky!”

Kyler quite happily snuggled against Patrick’s right side and wrapped his large towel around their shoulders. He looked expectantly at Hugh, hoping the man would pass them each a beer.

“Here you go, babe,” Hugh said as he tossed a can over to Kyler. “Cold, refreshing beer…ah!” Hugh threw his head back and gulped thirstily. “Want one, Patrick?”

Patrick shook his head and reached for the bottled water instead. “I’ll stick to this, thank you. Kyler, just this one will do, okay? That goes for you too, Hugh.”

Hugh winked at Kyler and raised an eyebrow at his long-time partner. “Yes, Doctor,” he replied with mock meekness.

James turned to the others who had gathered around the picnic, beaming at the praise they were bestowing upon the meal. “Thanks everyone, I hope you all enjoy it. I have to confess that Mrs. Chelsea did the baking; her tarts and chocolate squares are to die for. I hope you all enjoy the wraps and the salads. There is plenty of beer,” he gave Quinn a teasing look, “as well as pop and bottled water in the cooler, just help yourselves.”

Quinn sat on the blanket, leaning up against James. He had a beer in one hand and a grilled vegetable wrap in the other.

The five men were enjoying each other’s company; each telling embarrassing stories about their partners. “Patrick, have you ever told your partners about how you were nearly expelled for streaking through the hallways after you finished your finals at the end of your senior year?”

Patrick gave a shout of laughter and threw a crumb at Quinn. “You traitor! And yes, Hugh knows all about that exploit, and how you challenged me to it.”

Hugh swung an arm around a round-eyed Kyler and said, “Kyler my love, I’ll have you know our partner was not always this staid, old, respectable and boring doctor. He used to have a life, you know, and led a rather colourful existence and knew the wilder meanings of fun. Now, he totters home after dark and barely makes it up the stairs.”

“Ah...those were the days eh, Quinn?” Patrick’s mouth curled into a lop-sided smile as he suddenly thought back to those carefree years. “Whatever happened to them?” he asked whimsically.

Quinn laughed and gave his husband a mischievous look. “I never noticed they’d ended.”

James shook his head as he addressed the other men, giving them an exaggerated roll of the eyes. “You see Quinn here hasn’t realized that one is supposed to move beyond the ill-spent wild days of youth. He actually believes it is acceptable to be silly, irreverent, and full of life at thirty-five years of age.” He wrapped his arms tightly around his husband and kissed him full on the mouth. “And I for one am very glad of it,” he said when he came up for air.

“Ill-spent wild days of youth, huh? Wow...” Patrick said in a wondering voice. “How poetic and it exactly describes the Quinn I know from high school all right! Always up for the worst mischief. Eh Quinn, did you ever tell James that the very next night, you took my dare and did your own streak right up to the Principal’s house?”

All eyes turned to Quinn, expectantly.

Quinn had a pondering look. “Umm,” he glanced towards James. “Some of us have a long list of activities revolving around our silly, irreverent and full lives; many of which involved streaking,” Quinn laughed. “And I have a hard time remembering them all.” Turning towards James, he asked, “Have I ever told you about that one, Babe?”

Kyler had been quite happy sitting back and enjoying the camaraderie, not to mention the food. He didn’t know Quinn all that well, and hardly knew James at all, so he didn’t really participate in the conversation. He gazed at Patrick and tried to picture his partner running in a public place stark naked. ‘Yep,’ he thought with a grin. “I can see it. This day is sure turning into a real eye-opener.’ He turned his attention first to Hugh and then to James to see how they were taking all this.

James rolled his eyes again as he looked at Quinn. “No, you haven’t my love and I’m thinking you shouldn’t. It would be safer for both of us the less I know of those particular moments in your ‘wild’ youth.”

He reached forward for another wrap and noticed the quiet, smiling face of Kyler. He no longer found it surprising that Hugh and Patrick had claimed the beautiful young lad as their partner. Not that he could ever imagine having another lover besides Quinn, but he could see that Kyler made both of his friends very happy. He’d always recognized a fellow Top in Hugh and was certain that Patrick would be no one’s Brat, and though they’d never discussed it, he was very sure they’d found a balance in that area with the young man in question.

There was just something about Kyler that reminded James of a younger, less-worldly Quinn. Yep, this lad was a perfectly wonderful Brat.

Hugh had noticed James looking at Kyler with a thoughtful expression in his eyes. Being a threesome sometimes attracted a lot of speculation and gossip. Not everyone understood or approved of their relationship, but they had been prepared and had learnt to shrug off any unpleasantness. Generally though, the people in Jade Heights were decent enough and minded their own business.

He pulled Kyler close and gave him a quick kiss, then smiled at James. “That was a fabulous lunch and once again, we thank you. Let’s clear up, shall we? It looks like we cleaned up pretty good.”

“I could do with a nice little nap after that lunch,” Patrick commented, stretching his arms above his head. “Did you say there are more rapids coming up?”

Hugh stood and pulled Patrick to his feet. “Tie your tube again to mine then, Patrick. I’ll wake you if need be. Kyler, will you be with us or on your own?”

“Come on, Kyler, leave the boyfriends behind,” Quinn called out. “I’ll show you how to enjoy the river and maybe give you a little more gossip on the Doc.”

Quinn tied the extra tube carrying the remains of the food and drink to his. “James, I’m going to take the one with the cooler with me. It’ll give you a little more freedom on the second half of the run.”

“I’d rather not be tied to you guys, Hugh. One tube goes faster and bounces more on its’ own.” Kyler laughed as he ran down to the water’s edge, shoved his tube away from shore and hopped on.

James watched as Quinn and Kyler hit the water. Looking at the other two men, he said, “I’ve got to go visit the bushes. I’ll be right back. You can go ahead and I’ll catch up.”

He returned a moment later to find Hugh and Patrick waiting at the riverside for him. “Thanks, you guys didn’t have to wait.” He looked down the river towards the rapidly retreating forms of their partners. “We’d better get a move on before those guys vanish.”

Quinn made a face at Kyler as they heard their partners call to them to slow down. He then banged his head several times on his tube when James hollered for Quinn to reapply his sunscreen.

“I say we pick up the pace a little. What do you think?” Quinn asked Kyler.

James gave an exasperated shake of the head when he realized Quinn and Kyler were deliberately ignoring them and racing ahead. “Willful Brats,” he mumbled under his breath.

He noticed Hugh was looking at him with raised eyebrows. Had Hugh heard what James had muttered? Their eye contact spoke volumes and James was now positive they shared the same role in their relationships. Hugh was radiating ‘Top’ vibes that could almost be felt on the skin. James glanced to Patrick and though the man didn’t have quite the steely look his partner had; he could see they both worked together in caring for Kyler. ‘That young man has two very protective Tops.’ James thought wryly. ‘Almost as protective as I am of Quinn.’

Hugh bent to push their tubes into the water; then both he and Patrick jumped in as the tied rings rose with the swell of the river. Hugh looked over at James and waved a hand. “We better be after those two Brats. I don’t quite like the look they had on their faces.”

Patrick waited until they were out of James’ hearing range before demanding, “What the hell was that? Did you just announce to the world that Ky is a Brat? And you called Quinn a Brat as well? Are you nuts?”

Hugh laughed. “Well, they are!” he said matter-of-factly.

“How would you know they both are?”

“I just do. Besides, I heard James say it first. Relax!” Hugh laughed again and turned to look at James who was paddling hard after them. He coned his hands to his mouth and shouted at their friend. “Come on, James! They’re disappearing from sight!”

Kyler rode the next stretch of rapids in grand style, enjoying the fast pace as his tube twisted and turned in the rushing water. This was the best set so far. When he got to the end he turned to see if his partners were doing okay, only to discover they were no longer in sight.

Quinn had been having great fun with Kyler. They had splashed and talked about work at the mine, while taking advantage of having the coolers with them by each enjoying another beer.

When he and Kyler came to the fork in the river, Quinn couldn’t remember which way James had said to go, and Quinn was in no hurry for James to catch-up, as he knew his Top would have a few words to say about his paddling out of sight, not applying sunscreen, and drinking another beer. He was starting to fear that conversation would take place at home--primarily between his butt and James hand.

Quinn was pretty sure James had said they would go left. ‘Yes, it must have been left,’ he thought; he steered to the left fork.

“Maybe we should wait up for the others to catch us, Quinn,” Kyler suggested when they came to the fork and Quinn veered off. He tried to stay in one place rather than let the other man steer him in what might prove to be the wrong direction.

“We could wait for them,” Quinn said. “But I think we are having more fun without them. I can’t imagine your partners letting you go down that last set of rapids riding your tube the way you did. But, we can stop and wait if you like.” He slowed down his pace but didn’t stop, hoping that Kyler would follow him.

“Yeah, you may have a point there. It was fun.” Kyler grinned in remembrance of the thrill at trying to make his tube fight against the natural flow of the water causing it to almost overturn in the process. “If you’re sure that’s the direction they’ll take to catch up with us, I’m game for going ahead.” He sat back and let Quinn lead the way.

~*~ ~*~ ~*~ ~*~ ~*~

James quickly caught up to Hugh and Patrick. The three men rode down the next set of rapids without quite the enthusiasm they had felt for the first set. There was no sign of their errant partners, though the river had several bends the Brats could have been just ahead of them but out of visual range.

However, when they came to the point where the river split into two separate forks and there was still no sign of the younger men, James grew a bit concerned. He looked to his friends. “Quinn and I talked about the route this morning, and I did tell him we would go to the north, or right, as the left side has some very rocky fast moving rapids that are unsuitable to tubing. I’m sure he’d remember that.”

Hugh’s lips were pressed together and he had a definite frown on his face, while Patrick, wide awake and alert, had a slight pinch in between his eyes.

“Do you have any idea what levels those rapids on the left are? Ky’s not very experienced in this and he might be out of his depth if they’ve taken that route by mistake,” Patrick asked worriedly.

Hugh let out a small sigh and said resolutely, “Well, there is no way to know which way they went, so it’s no use fretting now. Let’s hope Quinn remembered the correct turn.”

“You’re right, Hugh.” Patrick turned to James. “And how experienced is Quinn in white water tubing, James? You guys do this much?”

James was feeling decidedly uncomfortable. Not only was he concerned about his own husband, but he felt responsible for Kyler being out with him.

“We’ve been tubing several times but this is only the second time we've taken this route and that was a couple of years ago. I really don’t know a lot of detail about the south side rapids except that we were warned it was rough and to use the north. Quinn is strong and athletic and an excellent swimmer; he’ll take care of Kyler, I can promise you that. Patrick, you’ve known him long enough to know he can be reckless with himself, but he takes his responsibility to others very seriously.”

At Patrick’s silent nod, he continued, “I propose that we head down the north side. We’re actually not too far from the end point and I’m hoping we’ll find them there.” He didn’t go on with what they would do if they didn’t find their partners. That unspoken worry hung there like an elephant in the room.

A short while later, three exhausted men climbed from the river at the end point where the truck was parked. They’d paddled as quickly as they could rather than enjoy the leisurely ride with the current. When they looked around and could see no sign of Quinn or Kyler, the tension rose. They called out their partners’ names but got no reply.

“Damn, there is no way they’ve been here. We’d have seen wet footprints and certainly they’d have left the tube with the coolers behind if they’d been here. I’m afraid we may have to make our way to the south side and see if they’re there.” James worry and ire were growing by the second.

~*~ ~*~ ~*~ ~*~ ~*~

Kyler and Quinn didn’t have as much fun going down the next set of rapids. These were much rougher. They required a lot of attention and skill to get through; attention and skill that was a little difficult with a beer buzz.

When the river calmed down a bit, Quinn turned to Kyler. “Umm, Kyler,” Quinn moaned. “I think we went the wrong way at the fork. The rapids shouldn’t have been that rough and although this side will eventually get us where we need to go, the rapids will get worse. I think we need to either walk back up the river to the fork and go down the correct side, or we need to cut through the woods to try and catch up to the guys. I’m really sorry.”

Kyler chewed worriedly at his lower lip. Any good feelings he’d had from the beer were now gone. The hazardous, fast-moving water they’d just maneuvered through had been more frightening than exhilarating and he didn’t think he wanted to attempt something even more severe.

“Maybe it would be best to walk,” he unenthusiastically concurred. “How far do you think it will be to the right section of the river where we can meet up with Hugh, Patrick and James?”

“Not long. We could probably do it in ten to fifteen minutes if we didn’t have the double raft with the supplies. It’s going to be a bitch to get through the brush with that thing.”

Quinn and Kyler got out of the river and worked on situating themselves, each with a water gun hung on their arm and a tube slung over one shoulder. They each took hold of one end of the double tube and worked to get a good balance on it with all the supplies inside. They were quiet except for the sound of crunching branches and wet sloshing shoes. Quinn made sure to take the lead, knowing that he would take the brunt of the scratches and gashes from the overgrown bushes.

It was hard going; the black flies and mosquitoes were not making the trek any more pleasant. It was thirty or forty minutes later, when Kyler conceded their timing may be slightly off.

“I hope we’re not lost, Quinn,” Kyler muttered minutes before they broke threw the underbrush to find the river right there in front of them.

Kyler dropped what he was carrying and stepped to the water’s edge. He stripped off his t-shirt, dunked it a time or two and washed his face, neck and chest before putting it back on. Next he looked at length in each direction. “I wonder if we are still in front of our partners, or did we somehow end up behind them. You know, the water looks almost as rough here as it did in the other fork,” he mused.

He stared at Quinn, troubled by a sudden thought. “Shit! You don’t think we’ve been trampling around in a circle, do you?”

“No,” Quinn said, while inside he was thinking, ‘Fuck, Fuck, Fuck.’ He reached into the ice chest, grabbed a couple of bottles of water and tossed a bottle to Kyler. “Drink that and while you’re at it, put on some more sunscreen and bug spray. I’m in enough trouble with James already. I don’t need your partners pissed at me for bringing you back all torn up.”

Quinn began to apply some sunscreen himself. He swore a bit under his breath as the lotion stung at the scratches now all over his body. He doubted the sunscreen would help much at this point as his supposedly dark Irish skin had already taken on a pink hue.

“Kyler, I’m sure this is right. We didn’t make any turns, just came straight across the brush. I think we should try and walk up the river a bit more. This bit of rapids does look a little rough, but hopefully then we can get back in the river and with a little quick paddling can catch up with James, Hugh, and Patrick.”

Kyler willingly complied with Quinn’s suggestions and found the cool, creamy lotion both soothing and refreshing on his overheated flesh. He waved away the cloud caused by the bug spray and finished off the water. His mind hadn’t stopped since one of Quinn’s statements had impacted it and given rise to some interesting questions.

“What do you mean by ‘you’ll be in trouble’?” Kyler studied the other man. ‘Nah,’ he thought, shaking his head at the idea. ‘These guys have probably never even heard of a DP. The heat must be getting to me.’

Quinn suspected Kyler knew exactly what he meant when he said he was in trouble with James, but was in no mood to play around and try to explain the power dynamics of his and James’ relationship, or to go into the fact that there were various forms of consequences for Quinn when he made poor choices. He knew the consequence of the many poor choices he had made today was going to be a bare-bottom spanking, and the chances were pretty high that the paddle would be involved. So Quinn just laid it all out on the line. “He’s going to paddle my ass.”

Kyler blinked at the bluntness of his companion’s reply. Was he surprised? Maybe to some extent, but he quickly realized he needn’t be. He smiled as a few actions he’d witness during the day, but ignored, came into focus.

“Ooookay, guess we have more in common than I had first thought. We’re both Brats,” Kyler announced, figuring he may as well be as upfront as Quinn was being, even though it wasn’t usually his nature to do so.

“But it was an honest mistake, a wrong turn is all. So maybe getting too far ahead of them might not have been the best move of the day, but we were just having some fun. And I really don’t think Hugh and Patrick are going to hold you responsible for what I do. After all, I’m not a kid you’ve been babysitting or something.” Kyler glared at the older man and all but dared him to refute the last comment.

“Sure kid, whatever,” Quinn sputtered. “I don’t imagine you’re in any trouble with your partners. I, on the other hand, packed extra beer, which I was told not to. Strike one. Disobeying a direct order, usually means time over the lap, unless there is a very good reason. There aren’t a lot of good reasons for packing extra beer. So I was in a bit of trouble before we even ventured into the great Canadian wild.”

"I then purposely ignored James when he told us to stop and wait for them. Ah, strike two. Thus guaranteeing a truly painful trip over my partner’s lap, which leads to strikes three through not sitting comfortably until next month--having another beer. James knows exactly how many beers were in the cooler, and he’ll know I had another and offered you one.”

"He’ll be just a tad peeved that I goaded you into continuing forward when I wasn’t sure we were going the correct way, thus endangering both you and me. That’s where the paddle comes in. I’m sure there are at least a handful of other rules broken that I can’t even think of now, but will when I’m laying across his lap with my bare ass turning beet red.” Quinn spurted to Kyler. “Oh, and while I’m not worried about your partners doing anything to me, James will be very unappreciative of my ruining the trip for our guests.”

Kyler listened in awe to all Quinn was saying. “You’ve obviously been living this lifestyle for a while. I’d never have come up with such a comprehensive list, although I bet Hugh would be able to. I’m kinda new to all this; so new in fact, that I’m not even sure if I’m in trouble now myself or not, although I can’t see my list of infractions being as long as yours.”

He began to gather up their belongings and pile them back into the largest tube. “It probably doesn’t offer you much comfort, Quinn, but you haven’t really done much to ruin the trip for me. I’ve had a blast, man. Honest!” Kyler smiled brightly. “We better get moving if we’re ever gonna catch up with our partners. I’m sure they’re wondering where we got to.”

Quinn and Kyler walked quietly to the end of the rapids and then set the three tubes back in the water. “Hook yourself to me, will ya?” Quinn asked. “I think we can both carry this stuff faster than just me.”

As the two men got back into the river and began to paddle forward, Quinn let out a sad laugh. “I’m sorry if I overwhelmed you, Kyler. I’m glad you’ve had a good time today. I have too; that’s part of the reason I’m in so much trouble. I don’t think you should be in any trouble, but just to be on the safe side, let me explain what happened. I think I can make sure that our Tops understand it was my fault.”

Once Kyler and Quinn were in the river, they took up a quick pace. “We’re definitely going the right way, Kyler,” Quinn announced. “In fact, we’re not very far from the end of the trip. It’s just around this bend. I hope our Tops haven’t called out a search party. I’ve been rescued by Mason Monroe before and he ranks right up there on the Top scale with Hugh and James. Not so much fun to spend an afternoon with him when he knows he’s caught a wayward Brat.”

The young men turned the bend and could see their partners near the trucks, looking ready to head back out onto the river. Quinn rose up on his inner tube to signal to James they were on their way.

Patrick caught sight of them first, and he laid a hand on Hugh’s arm. “Here they are,” he said, his voice sounding decidedly relieved as he half-walked, half-jogged over to the water’s edge, waving his arm back at the two Brats.

Hugh had swung around at Patrick’s words and shielded his eyes with a hand over them, squinting in the sun. He didn’t reply; he just walked calmly down to the river to wait.

Kyler was out of his raft as soon as he spotted Patrick. He waded through the water and all but leaped into his partner’s arms. Besides being wet and a little dirty, he was sunburned, bug-bitten and had several scratches on his arms and legs, as well as one on his left cheek. Yet his grin was a mile wide and his eyes were sparkling.

“How did you guys get in front of us?” he asked as he transferred his attention to Hugh, his young face the picture of innocence. “We didn’t see you pass us.”

“I don’t imagine you did,” Hugh replied sardonically as he enfolded his Brat in a tight hug.

James breathed a sigh of relief when he spotted Quinn and Kyler. He moved quickly into the water and pulled Quinn up from the tube before his husband had a chance to stand. He drew the love of his life into his arms and kissed him soundly before pushing back to take an arms-length look. Quinn was covered in scratches, insect bites and his so-called dark Irish skin was burnt, especially across his face. He glanced over at Kyler and he looked in very similar condition, with somewhat fewer scratches, to his own Brat. These two had not had a leisurely trip down river. He dragged Quinn to shore, holding him tightly almost in fear that he would vanish.

“We were worried sick about you two. Thank God you’re here, but where have you been to get in this condition?”

He was speaking to Quinn, but he was looking to Patrick for the doctor’s reaction to the physical condition of these two. Though he knew they would be okay, he still wanted to see what medical treatment would be needed.

Quinn watched as not only James’, but also Hugh and Patrick’s eyebrows rose at Kyler’s comment. Quinn let out a soft sigh and leaned into James, resting his head on James’ shoulder. He quietly spoke so only James could hear him. “We didn’t see you pass us, because we were on the other side of the fork. It was my fault, James. Kyler just followed me because I told him I knew where I was going, and now he’s trying to protect me from getting into trouble with you.”

James pulled back enough to see Quinn’s eyes. “Thank you for that, my love. We’ll discuss it all later. Right now I want to have your scratches and sunburn looked at.” But he could see the sadness in his husband’s eyes. “It’s going to be okay, sweetheart. I love you and we’ll be fine.” He gave Quinn a kiss that he hoped helped to reassure him. Though it only upset James when he felt the normally soft moist lips he loved to kiss were now chapped and dry from the sun.

Quinn nodded into James shoulder. The endorphins that had been carrying him to this point were gone and his tears dripped onto James shoulder. He was crashing from the overload of having endured a stressful afternoon and feeling guilty about endangering himself and Kyler. He was also starting to feel very crappy from the sunburn, bug bites, and multitude of scratches. He pulled away from James and made for the nearest bush, where he proceeded to lose his lunch.

James knelt beside his husband, gently rubbing his back as Quinn retched repeatedly. He looked over towards the other men. “Patrick!” he called. He wanted to have the doctor check Quinn over. Nothing upset James more than Quinn being ill.

Patrick had given both Brats a quick once-over when they arrived. They were both burnt all right but he didn’t think their scratches and bites all that critical. But then, working in a hospital and being used to seeing all kinds of much more serious injuries, he tended to treat such cases rather lightly.

Still, he had followed Quinn once he realized what he was about to do, and James’ shout for him was unnecessary. Patrick bent over Quinn, let him finish retching and then said soothingly, “Let me take a look at you, young man.”

He proceeded to give Quinn another check and clapped him on his back lightly before addressing himself to James. “You’ve got some lotion in your bag, I think. Just apply some on his burns now--that ought to ease his discomfort a bit. He’ll still peel, unfortunately. So will Kyler. It ought to be a lesson to the two of them to remember to use sunscreen next time?” Patrick raised his voice over the last bit, looking meaningfully over at Kyler and Hugh.

“I’ve got antibiotic cream in the truck, so you can use that for the scratches and bites,” Patrick continued, as he headed back to his partners. “And make sure he drinks lots of liquid. You too, Ky. Hugh, where’s the bottle of water?”

Hugh uncapped the bottle and put it into Kyler’s hand. “Try to drink it all, babe. Then I’ll put some of that antibiotic cream on you, okay?”

Kyler thirstily drank down the entire bottle of water and handed the empty back to Hugh. “I lost my bottle of sunscreen, Hugh, but Quinn let me use his, as well as his bug spray. I also lost my hat and one sneaker.” He removed the remaining sneaker to throw away later. “Plus, Patrick will be happy to learn, I lost my sunglasses.” He smirked at his other partner. “Sorry, Patrick, I know they were your favs.”

“Yeah, yeah, I’ll get you a replacement pair, honey,” Patrick replied, tongue-in-cheek as he cupped Kyler’s chin to turn his face and scrutinize it more closely. “You’re fine too, just need to keep an eye on these scratches to make sure they don’t become infected. Your doctor is going to order a lot of bed rest for the next twenty-four hours.”

Hugh nodded in agreement. “Wise decision, Doc; in fact, I think it would do Kyler good to take it easy for a couple of days. Once you start peeling, you’re going to be pretty uncomfortable, babe.”

“Bed rest? You’re kidding, right? Geesh, you better be kidding,” Kyler grumbled while Hugh slathered him with lotion. Then he reached out and dragged Patrick closer. “Is Quinn going to be okay, Patrick?” he whispered, glancing at the man in question and concerned about his being ill.

Patrick looked over at Quinn and raised his eyebrows. “Of course he is, honey. It’s just a case of bad sunburn, insect bites, and scratches.” He looked Kyler up and down. “Pretty much what you’ve got, Ky, only he seems to have suffered more scratches. I can’t imagine how you two managed to get all of these.” Patrick raised his eyebrows at his Brat.

Kyler relayed the tale of taking the wrong fork, and asked his partners to not be angry at Quinn.

Hugh grunted as he finished his ministrations and then he handed Kyler over to Patrick, who picked up the antibiotic cream.

“Try to be still, honey,” Patrick murmured soothingly as he dabbed at the cuts and scratches. “This might sting a bit. I know, I know, poor baby.”

Hugh began putting their stuff together. “Yes, definitely bed rest! Let’s get packed up and head on home, okay?”

James guided Quinn over to where he’d spread a large towel out. “Sit,” he commanded gently. He opened a water bottle and put it into his husband’s hand. “Small sips, okay? You don’t want it to come up again.”

He kept a close eye on Quinn as he put some aloe lotion over the burns and when Patrick was finished putting the antibiotic cream on Kyler’s scratches, he took the tube and applied it to Quinn. “Kyler isn’t the only one going to be on bed rest for the next twenty-four hours, boy.”

James didn’t add that Quinn would not be going to work come Monday either. He knew that would not go over well with his Brat, but he wanted his husband to be recovered not only from today’s experience, but also from the emotional and physical repercussions of the trouble he’d dug himself into.

“Okay, babe; I think we can get packed up now and head home if you’re feeling alright.”

Quinn scratched his calf, his shoulders and his nose. “Damn bug bites,” he murmured. He took a small sip of water and thought bed rest sounded good, but he wasn’t going to tell James that. His husband was a tad overprotective, and Quinn was concerned that if James got much more worried, he’d end up in the emergency room.

“I’m good,” Quinn said. He stood and was a little wobbly, but nevertheless headed towards the river to retrieve his tube and the coolers.

James grabbed Quinn by the biceps. “To the truck with you,” he ordered as he turned his husband around and gave him a pat on the butt. “I’ll get the tubes and things, you go sit.”

“James, I’m good--really,” Quinn said, scratching his elbow. “I can help load the truck.”

“What part of ‘get to the truck’ was unclear to you?” James asked. Losing his patience, he placed a firm swat on Quinn’s taut butt. “You do not want to add to your troubles, boy,” he warned.

Quinn turned and slowly walked to the truck.

Kyler noticed the scene between James and Quinn and quickly rushed to the river to help. “Here, James, let me help you,” Kyler offered, grabbing up the cooler and heading towards the truck. He was still bouncing with unspent energy but in all likelihood would crash once they were on the way home.

Between four of the men, they soon had everything stowed away in Hugh’s vehicle and were driving back to Quinn’s Bronco at the starting point.

After saying his goodbyes and issuing apologies to Kyler, Hugh, and Patrick, Quinn climbed into the passenger seat of his Bronco.

“If those bites get inflamed or infected, give me a call, and I’ll give him a shot,” Patrick told James.

Hugh held out a hand to James. “Thanks for the day. We had fun; though it’s unfortunate we ended up with these two casualties.” He grinned at James’ grimace. “Quinn did good. He took care of Kyler well; and we are grateful for that. Well, shan’t keep you, James. We’ll catch up another day.”

Hugh and Patrick then bundled Kyler into their own truck once they had everything transferred to Quinn’s Bronco. Hugh gave one final wave to Quinn and soon had he and his partners on the highway headed for home.

James ensured that Quinn was buckled in safely and feeling as comfortable as possible. He’d placed another water bottle in his husband’s hand with the instructions to keep drinking during the drive home.

Quinn was quiet while they drove and James knew he was stewing over the day. “Hey babe, it’s okay. Though you made some poor choices today, you also did what you needed to get yourself and Kyler back safely and that counts for a lot with me.” He reached across and gave Quinn’s neck a gentle squeeze. “When we get home, I want you to get straight to bed. I’ll bring you some dinner, and then I want you to have a sleep.”

James brought Quinn a meal of homemade potato-leek soup and crusty bread with butter. He cajoled his husband throughout until he’d finished the last of it. He could see Quinn was still stressing but was not going to give in and discuss the consequences of this afternoon’s troubles while Quinn was so tired and aching.

“Come here, sweetheart.” James lay down on the bed with his lover and drew him into his arms. Quinn was nude as was usual for him in bed; James rubbed his hand gently up and down his husband’s back and over the rounded lightly tanned butt. “No worrying, baby. You belong to me and we’re forever--that’s all that you need to remember.” He possessively kissed Quinn devouring his mouth.

James could feel Quinn harden against him but knew his Brat wasn’t up to very much activity. Still fully clothed himself, he slid down his husband’s body, slowly kissing every inch of skin he could until he reached the ridged cock. Quinn was moaning in pleasure as James took it deeply into his mouth, swirling his tongue around the head and into the slit. It took little time for Quinn to come explosively. James swallowed all of the cum before moving back up and kissing his husband again.

“Feeling better?” he asked with a smile.

“Yes,” Quinn said. “Thank you.”

James had done a good job distracting Quinn from wallowing in his guilt and apprehension over his impending punishment. He was so thankful for James, because just that little bit of exertion from his orgasm quickly calmed and soothed him to sleep.

Quinn’s sleep was restless. He woke several times from the intensity and pain of the bug bites and sunburn. Each time he woke, James would apply another round of aloe lotion, feed his miserable and uncomfortable Brat another dose of antihistamines, and then gently cuddle and coo him back to sleep.

When Sunday morning arrived, Quinn was anxious to get on with his punishment. He quietly slipped out of bed, wrapped himself in his robe and went to the kitchen to start the coffee. With the coffee started he sat on one of the kitchen barstools to wait for the warm delicious infusion of energy to finish brewing.

It was there that James found his husband softly snoring into his folded arms.

James sighed in exasperation at finding Quinn sleeping over the kitchen counter. He was well aware of the fact that his husband was working himself into a state over his impending punishment, but he wasn’t going to allow him to push things ahead of his own ability to cope. James had decided that Sunday was going to be a day of resting and recouping even if he had to tie Quinn to the bed.

He bent over the counter and placed a tender kiss on the sleeping man’s lips. “Come on, beautiful,” he whispered. “Back to bed with you.”

James could see the sleepy eyes pop open in surprise. Quinn’s face was still red from the burn and his eyes were puffy. “Quinn, I want you to go back to bed and get some more rest. I’ll bring you some breakfast shortly.”

“’kay,” Quinn said with a yawn. He slowly padded back to bed, crawled under the covers and was asleep before his head hit the pillow.

For the second time that morning Quinn was awoken by a sweet kiss from James. “Good morning," he said as James handed him a mug. He took a long drink and almost spit it across the room. He gave James a pout, “Herbal tea, that’s mean.”

James grinned at the sad pout on his husband’s face. “You need the hydration, not the caffeine, love. I ran a bath for you. I’m sure it will feel good to soak those bites and scratches. I’ll apply more antibiotic cream when you’re done. I’ve got breakfast ready for us to have on the terrace after that. I have to go to the inn for a couple of hours and you, my boy, are going to spend those hours resting. You are confined to the cottage or terrace but are not to set one foot beyond. You may read, watch TV, play on the computer, or nap; but nothing of any physical exertion. After yesterday, I want you to have a day of quiet. And I will accept no arguments!” He looked sternly at Quinn when he saw his partner open his mouth to protest.

“'Not arguing,”' Quinn said. “I just have a question. You didn’t say anything about when we would talk about yesterday.” Quinn fumbled with his wedding ring and lost eye contact with James. “Will you please take care of it before you go over to the Inn?”

James pulled Quinn into a hug. “There is no way, baby, that I’m going to ‘deal’ with the issues of yesterday when you’re not up to it. You were sick to your stomach; you’re sunburned and scratched up. I have never, nor will I ever, punish you when you’re unwell. Presuming you’ve recovered with your usual speed, we’ll deal with this tomorrow. I’ve already told your dad you won’t be going to work tomorrow. So let’s get you in the tub and I’ll wash your back for you.”

Quinn got out of bed and took hold of James’ hand as his partner lead him into the bathroom. He climbed into the bath and gave James a wanting look. “Will you come in with me, please?”

James climbed into the bath behind Quinn and pulled his husband close. Quinn leaned back into James’ strong and broad chest.

“I’m not unwell, James. I’m just tired. Please can we talk about and deal with yesterday. I’m up to it, honest. I’d feel a lot better if we could get it over with. And that way, I wouldn’t need to miss work tomorrow.”

James sighed. He was seldom undecided in matters that involved his role as Top. But he knew that Quinn would continue to let the pending punishment eat at him and that hardly allowed for a peaceful day. James was also aware that Quinn was not truly ill, just tired and a bit worse for wear from his adventure with Kyler. “Okay, here’s what we’re going to do. After our bath, we’ll have breakfast, and I’ll go and do my work at the Inn. You will stay here and do as you were told. When I return, if and only if, I feel you’re up to it, we’ll deal with the issues of yesterday. I am making no promises about working tomorrow, so don’t go counting on anything at this point.”

He could feel Quinn relax a bit against him. “Lean forward,” James instructed. He took the large sea sponge and poured a generous amount of body wash over it and began to gently wash his beloved’s back. “Does that feel nice, baby?”

“MMhmm,” Quinn sighed. “It’s very nice.” Quinn had calmed quite a bit about the impending discussion and allowed himself enjoy James’ care. After their bath, both men adjourned to the terrace and ate a light breakfast. Quinn listened as James discussed business at the Inn.

Before James left to work on the books for the Inn, he settled Quinn on the sofa with his laptop, a large glass of water, a plate of grapes and melon, the remote control, and a bottle of lotion.

Quinn e-mailed Kyler to see how he was doing, and then his brother to suggest that their future trip down the north fork of the river would need to be canceled. He was about to e-mail his father to say he would be at work on Monday, when he started to chill. Quinn went into the bedroom and put on a hooded sweatshirt and socks. He pulled the duvet off the bed, wrapped himself in it and padded back to the lounge to watch TV.

James was back at the cottage less than two hours after leaving. The sight of his husband on the sofa wrapped up like it was a winter’s day gave him the answer to whether or not they’d be dealing with a punishment today. Quinn was sleeping and though James preferred to let him sleep longer, he was also concerned his Brat might be running a fever.

He sat on the coffee table and gently laid his hand on Quinn’s face. The skin was radiating heat, but James wasn’t sure if it was from the sunburn or fever. He retrieved the thermometer from the medicine chest and shook it down. Then he gave Quinn a kiss to wake him. “Hey, babe,” he whispered. “You’re feeling pretty warm. I need to take your temp. Open for me please.”

Quinn awoke in a daze. He hadn’t intended to fall asleep and was a bit confused when he did wake. He wasn’t sure what time it was, what day it was, or why he was all bundled up on the couch, but what he did know was that he was freezing and felt like crap. He looked up at James and asked, “What?”

James repeated his request, and Quinn obediently opened his mouth. James placed the thermometer under Quinn’s tongue, and Quinn closed his mouth and waited for the thermometer to finish calculating his temperature.

James waited, and then pulled the thermometer out and gazed at the reading. He did not like what he saw. “Thirty-eight point four, you’re funning a fever, babe. Let me have a look at those scratches and bites, they may be the source.”

He pulled back the duvet and lifted Quinn’ shirt. Several of the bites looked inflamed. “Sit forward, honey, I want to see your back.”

Quinn moaned as James pulled away the blanket that had been keeping him warm. There were more red marks. Concerned, James pulled the shirt right off and carefully inspected each of his husband’s arms. He then tucked Quinn back into the blanket.

“Okay, baby, I’m going to give Patrick a call and see what he thinks of this. I’m not sure if you’re having a reaction to the bites, or even a bit of sunstroke, but I think we need to have you looked at by a professional. If Patrick isn’t available, I’ll take you to the clinic.”

Quinn could feel tears welling up in his eyes. He knew that James was right. He had felt horrible since he and Kyler had finished tubing. But between worrying that he would be in more trouble with James if he was sick, and wanting to believe that his misery was because he was nervous about being punished, he had neglected to notice or was unwilling to admit how sick he was feeling.

Quinn was not a fan of going to the doctor but he wanted to get better so he could deal with the repercussions of his behavior. He didn’t feel his world be right until he and James were settled. A tear dripped down Quinn’s cheek. “Okay,” he said with a nod.

“Hey, sweetheart, no need for tears. You’re going to be fine. I would just like Patrick to have a look and see what’s behind the fever.” James could see something in Quinn’s look that told him that there was more behind the tear than just not feeling well. He pulled his husband into a tight embrace, tucking the younger man’s head into the curve of his shoulder. “Quinn, my love, if you’re worrying about being in trouble from yesterday, I want you to put that right out of your mind. I love you and only want you to get well. Nothing is more important than that, okay?” He felt Quinn’s head nod against his neck. He laid Quinn back against the sofa and pulled the blanket up snuggly around him.

“I’ll be right back,” he promised and then went to the phone in the den and placed the call to Patrick. When the doctor got to the phone, James asked after Kyler and was assured the young man was doing fine. He then went on to described Quinn’s symptoms and asked if Patrick might come by and see his husband. James felt rather badly asking the doctor to come over on a Sunday afternoon, but Patrick was quick to say that it would be no trouble.

While they waited James had insisted that Quinn drink some weak tea and relax. A short while later they heard the front door bell ring.

Patrick smiled at James when he came to open the door. Brushing aside James’ apology, he followed him into the living room where Quinn was lying on the sofa.

“Hey there,” Patrick said brightly, slipping easily into his ‘doctor mode’. He sat down next to Quinn and checked his arms and legs. “I see your scratches are getting a little inflamed.” He put up a hand to feel Quinn’s forehead. “And you are a little hot too. Good thing James called me over.”

Seeing the troubled look in James’ eyes, he added quickly, “Nothing to worry about. It’s probably just a reaction to the bug bites and over exposure to the sun yesterday.”

He reached for his doctor’s bag as he turned back to Quinn. “I am going to give you a shot, okay? It will work much faster than the pills, and ease some of your discomfort. I’m also prescribing a couple of days’ rest; no sun or any strenuous activity please. I’ll also leave you a few doses of Benadryl; that will be all you need to get back to normal.”

Quinn didn’t hear much of anything after the word shot. He looked from Patrick, who was holding what seemed to be an excessively large hypodermic needle, to James, giving them both a sad and pathetic look with his big blue eyes.

Quinn gave a sigh. His shirt had already been removed for Patrick’s examination, so he stuck his shoulder and upper arm, and not much else, out from under the duvet.

Struggling to keep a straight face, Patrick said, “Quinn, I am afraid I need you to turn over. The shot goes in your hip, not your arm. This kind of dosage requires a much deeper injection.”

Patrick realized his mistake when he saw Quinn’s eyes grow wide, and quickly changed tactics. “The hip will hurt less, and there are no bites and scratches there. I don’t want to add any more itching to your arm. Now ready?”

Quinn took hold of his sweatshirt and pulled it on over his head. He gave a major pout, pulled the hood over his head, to hide himself, and turned over.

He felt the blanket lift off of his hip, and then Patrick’s hand lowering his sweatpants enough to bare his hip. The coolness of the alcohol wipe caused him to shiver, and he took a deep breath. He released the breath when Patrick jabbed the needle into his hip, and gritted his teeth as he felt the molten serum injected into his butt. Quinn quickly returned his sweats to their rightful place and curled back up into the blanket with a huff. “Dude, I thought we were friends!” he declared in slight outrage.

Patrick laughed and gave Quinn’s butt a little playful tap. “Didn’t even feel it, did you? Now quit complaining!”

He turned to James. “I think a couple hours sleep so the medication can take effect will be a good idea; and plenty of liquids for both of you. Stay out of the sun as much as possible. We’re keeping Kyler indoors as well; his sunburn is just as bad.”

Patrick packed up his bag and walked with James to the door.

James came back to the living room and helped Quinn up off the couch. He ushered his Brat to the bedroom and into bed.

Quinn climbed into bed and looked up at James with a terribly sad look. “Please come to bed with me?” he asked. James climbed into bed and pulled his husband to him. Quinn rested his head on James’ chest and began to lightly sob.

Rubbing Quinn’s back in gentle circles, James said, “Oh my love, everything’s going to be fine,” he soothed. “If the tears are because of being in trouble over yesterday, then you need to just let that go. We’ll deal with it when you’re better. It’s certainly not the worst trouble you’ve ever been in love, and it’s nothing for you to be this sad about. What you need to do now is follow Patrick’s orders and get some sleep. When you wake up, you’ll feel much better.”

“I hate being sick,” Quinn said through his tears. “And I hate that Patrick had to come over here on a Sunday. I hate that he gave me a shot in my ass. I hate that I disappointed you and ruined our day. I hate crying like a baby! And I really hate that you’re going to spank me.”

James continued to rub Quinn’s back as he spoke. “Let me first of all assure you that you did not ruin the day. We all had a wonderful time up until you and Kyler disappeared. I know that both Hugh and Patrick would both go on another tubing adventure with us. And sweetheart, being sick is just something we all have to deal with from time to time. Patrick was more than happy to come to the house and give you some care to make you more comfortable. Not only is it his job, but he is your friend; you’ve known him most of your life. So just put that out of your head.” He gave Quinn a gentle kiss.

“Now, as far as the shot goes, I don’t think that is worthy of discussion. It was what you needed and that is all there is to it. And baby, yes I am going to spank you, and yes I know that isn’t fun for either of us, but it is the way our relationship works and it has worked pretty well all these years, hasn't it? Would you really want to change that?”

Quinn gave a hitched breath and curled into James a little more. “Of course I don’t want to change anything,” he said with a soft sob. “One of the best parts of our relationship’s dynamics is that it helps me to not brood and not eat myself up with guilt.” Quinn yawned. “I know you won’t spank me when I’m not well, but it’s our communication before and after the spanking, the release of tension during the spanking, our reconnection and the discomfort in my butt later that do all of that. And today it’s my own my fault I’m sick and in trouble and you won’t spank me.” Another hiccupped sob escaped. “So because of my being irresponsible, I can’t have those pieces of our relationship that I value.” Quinn’s sobs took over again and he couldn’t continue.

James had a difficult time keeping his composure when Quinn was sobbing against him like this. There was no person on the earth more important to him than his husband, and their relationship meant more to him than any possession that could be named. He drew a deep breath and determined himself to get this situation in order. He raised his hand from where it had been rubbing Quinn’s back and brought it down in a resounding smack on his husband’s butt.

“I hope that got your attention, boy, because I expect you to listen to me carefully. You belong to me and as such you will do what I say. You will stop beating yourself up over this situation. You will allow me to comfort you and love you the way I want to and to punish you in my time. You will relax yourself and go to sleep in the sure knowledge that I’m here with you, and I’m in control. You will not keep replaying your feelings of guilt in your mind. And you will do all of this immediately, is that clear?”

Quinn let out a grunt at the swat. It had the full force of his husband’s authority behind it. He nodded his agreement into James’ chest and took a couple of deep breaths to calm his breathing. James had control of the situation, and it would be okay. He would be okay. He felt his body begin to relax and the medication began to win. He closed his eyes. “Thank you,” Quinn said. “I love you.” He fell asleep secure in the knowledge that all though things weren’t totally settled, all he needed to do now was what he was told.

~*~ ~*~ ~*~ ~*~ ~*~

James allowed Monday and Tuesday to pass without dealing with Quinn’s punishment. Although Quinn was not terribly ill, he was still uncomfortable and out of sorts. Keeping him home from work had not been easy on either of them. When Wednesday morning arrived, James decided it was time.

James had been up for almost an hour and been to the Inn to see to his business. He returned to the cottage and got some coffee on. He put one of Mrs. Chelsea’s quiches into the oven to warm. He woke Quinn with a call for breakfast and his husband joined him in the kitchen dressed only in his robe. The two ate their meal making small talk and reading the morning paper. James couldn’t help but notice that Quinn was quieter than usual and fidgeted constantly.

Once they’d finished, James stood and began to clear the dishes. As Quinn rose to help, James put a hand on his arm. “I’ll take care of this. I’d like you to go to the study, pick a corner please and wait for me.”

Quinn gave James a sad look. He was glad it was going to be over, but he still dreaded the punishment yet to come. He realized he was in just his robe and worried about having to take it off for his spanking. There was something about being totally naked that made a spanking that much harder for him. It was physically and metaphorically baring all. He really wanted to go to the bedroom and put on at least boxers and a tee, but he didn’t want to disobey James by not going to the study. He took a deep breath and went to the study to stand in the corner, knowing he would be okay. James would make sure of it.

James made short order of the clean up. He didn’t want to leave Quinn waiting too long. He found his husband just as he knew he would, standing stiffly in the study corner. He went to his desk and retrieved the leather paddle. He placed it in the centre of the coffee table and then took a seat on the soft leather sofa.

“Come here please,” he called softly. Quinn turned from the corner and walked slowly over to stand beside James. James could see he was eying the paddle on the table. “Sit down,” he instructed, patting the seat beside him. He wrapped his arm around his lover and pulled him in close.

“I think this has waited long enough, my love. You understand why you’re going to be spanked. Bringing extra beer you had been told not to, is not acceptable and certainly would have earned you a spanking for disobedience. However, the more serious infraction of endangering yourself is the one that has me most upset. Taking off when you were told to wait and then proceeding when you were met with a choice of direction. I was left in the dark as to your location. These were poor choices to say the least. You and Kyler came across conditions that could have caused serious injury with no access to immediate help and no way for me or Kyler’s partners to know where you were or if you needed aid.”

He paused to see what effect his words were having on his Brat. Though stoically silent, Quinn had large tears pouring down his cheeks. “This is a lesson I hope will not need repeating, Quinn. Stand up please.”

James didn’t undo or remove Quinn’s robe, just guided him across his lap until his upper body was situated on the sofa cushions and his butt well presented for James’ attention. He flipped up the back of the robe exposing the firm cheeks. Knowing there was no reason to delay; James began the spanking with an intense first crack on the cheek farthest from him. He moved in his tried and true pattern around the entire bottom and upper thighs, ensuring that no spot was left untouched.

By the fourth circuit Quinn was sobbing miserably and James hand was burning badly, though he’d paid it no heed. He simply reached for the leather paddle and brought it down with a resounding smack. He repeated this three times on each side, paying careful attention to the crease at the top of each leg. Quinn let out a heartbreaking wail with each smack of the paddle and continued to cry long after James had stopped and taken his lover into his arms. James planted gentle kisses on the tear soaked face, whispering soothing words of love with each kiss.

“I’m so sorry, James,” Quinn said through his sobs. “I’m sorry I worried you. I’m sorry I disobeyed you, but I never meant to get us lost, or to get sick.” He rested his head on James’ chest.

James had comforted Quinn through his apologies, reminding him that there was nothing more to be sorry for; the slate had been cleaned and all was forgiven.

Though he supposed that Quinn would not appreciate his feelings, James loved the time they had together after a spanking. It was intensely close and gave him a feeling of contentment that all had been put back to rights in their relationship.

The more Quinn’s emotions calmed, the more aware he became of the sting and heat in his butt. He squirmed a bit, trying to get more comfortable. “I don’t like that paddle,” he pouted. “It’s cruel and unusual; I think we need to get rid of it.”

James gave a gentle laugh at Quinn's comment about the paddle. “Sure, honey, we can get rid of that one. I saw one on the Extreme Restraints website that had a handle with an ergonomic grip that would be easier on my hand. I could order it if you really think it would be better.”

Quinn gave a pout. “No, if I have to have a sore butt, it’s only fair if you suffer through with a sore hand.”

James gave another soft laugh and patted Quinn’s butt, agreeing to keep the dreaded leather paddle.

Quinn yawned and pulled his soft blanket off the edge of the couch. He wrapped himself in the blanket and cuddled more into James.

The End

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