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The view from their balcony over the grounds is stunning, nature's sunset show far more beautiful than anything humans have ever created. Luke lifts his head from Alex's shoulder and reaches for the bottle beside him. "More wine?" he asks, liking that they've nowhere to go, nowhere to be; that they can just sit out, drink until it gets too cool and then move the few steps to their bed.

"Sure." Alex's glass is only half-empty, but he lifts it for Luke to refill anyway. The vintage is just too good to ignore.

Luke tops up Alex's glass then refills his own, setting it back down beside him. "To us, to finally finding the time for a real honeymoon," he says with a smile.

"No kidding." Alex kisses Luke's cheek. "But just remember, we're taking at least one more mini-trip before we officially call it a honeymoon. Maybe even two more, if we can manage it." It may be an unconventional vacation method, but he's determined that they won't get shorted by their work lives.

"Okay. But I think you're supposed to finish with the honeymoon before you hit your first anniversary," Luke teases.

Alex laughs softly. "Fine, fine. We'll get it done." Like it's such a hardship to retreat from the world for a few days with the love of his life. "And then next year, we'll just make up something new to call it."

Luke grins, delighted, reaching across to link his fingers with Alex's. "Can I ask you something?" He'd considered not bringing it up at all but he has to know.

Sipping at his fresh glass of wine, Alex nods.

"Are you okay with earlier?" Luke asks, mentally kicking himself for being such a wuss. "With Ryan and me, I mean."

Immediately Alex's jaw tightens, and he has to unclench his teeth before he can speak. "Yeah," he says. "I'm fine." It's not a lie. Not exactly.

"You don't seem fine," Luke observes quietly, leaning closer. "Talk to me?"

Frowning, Alex shifts uncomfortably in his cushy deck chair, propping his feet up on the railing and then putting them back down again. "I..." he begins, but doesn't quite know how to continue. "I felt... Look, it was ugly. Okay?"

"No. What kind of ugly?" Luke asks. "Lock me away in a cage ugly? Beat the shit out of Ryan ugly? Were you turned on at all or was it just miserable for you?"

"No, I--" Alex rubs his hand hard over his face, a headache beginning deep behind his eyes. "Yes. I was turned on. But it was in a really fucking sick way, Luke," he answers, then slams back the rest of his wine.

Luke sighs. He should probably leave well enough alone but that's never been his style, not when it comes to Alex and him. "What do you mean? Tell me. You know I'm not going to judge."

"Yeah, just like you know I'm going to judge myself worse than you could, anyway." Blowing out a slow breath, Alex tries to order his thoughts. And his confession. "I hated watching the two of you together. Like, I thought I could deal with it, but I couldn't fucking stand seeing him touch you and you respond to him. And I was so goddamn jealous of his dick," he adds in a mutter, and smiles weakly at the thought. "But then I started to look at you two differently. I was thinking about how you were only doing it because I wanted you to, and then all of sudden my mind started going crazy, picturing all the other things I could make you do in our relationship. Whether you're into it or not." He dares a tiny sidelong glance at Luke. "Fucked-up shit, just to feel my control over you."

"Isn't that part of the whole thing of having a boy?" Luke points out, genuinely curious. He cocks his head at Alex. "What kind of fucked-up shit?"

"Shit like... No, Luke," Alex insists, daring to meet his lover's eyes. "You're a boy. You have free will. You are not my slave, and you don't have to put up with my dumbass crap. You can say your safeword any time you want to."

Luke puts down his glass and moves from his chair to straddle Alex on his. "Tell me," he insists, arms looped around Alex's shoulders, staring down at him, ignoring the rest. "What kind of fucked-up shit?"

"Ah, Jesus." Now Alex can't avoid looking at Luke even if he tries. "The kind I wouldn't expect you to enjoy," he says quietly. "Like, a massive gangbang that just continued on long after you felt like you couldn't take it. Or a really violent abduction scene, where you really got hurt. And I wouldn't participate, I would just watch." He's whispering now, so fucking ashamed of himself. "I mean, like, scenes you were never even meant to enjoy. Because it wouldn't be about your pleasure, it wouldn't even be about mine. It would just be about me... having complete control over you. Proving it on your body, to see if I could break you."

God. Luke bites back a moan, his cock filling so fast and hard it makes his head spin. And at first he's really not sure what to say to that, to those words, those images, but then... "Give me your hand," he says, taking it when Alex doesn't react. "Feel this," he continues, placing Alex's palm over his crotch, over the hard ridge of his erection. "Do you think I really want those things? That I would get off on being hurt that badly?"

Alex's fingers flex automatically to cup that bulge, but then he yanks his hand away like the touch burns him. "No," he says softly, staring out at the vineyard, dark violet in the growing dusk. Confused. Fucking hell, what the fuck was he thinking, admitting all that to his boy? There's no fucking way his lover will feel safe being with him anymore. Luke will have to run, no matter all the promises they've made each other.

"No," Luke agrees softly, "but it still turns me on to think about it, to think about being used like that, for you, at your whim. Just as it turns you on to think about it. Emphasis on think. Fantasize. Neither one of us really wants those things, wants them to go that far."

"God, Luke, you don't know that," Alex whispers, shutting his eyes in denial. "I'm so scared I'm going to lose control if we play together. And you're going to let me do it, because you won't see it coming, and then it'll be too fucking late." And then Alex won't be able to cope, he has no doubt.

"Do you really think I'd be your boy if I believed you could go that far? That I would have married you?" Luke asks, incredulous. "I'm not stupid and I'm not naive. I know people and you're a good person and the fact that you're scared, that tells me you wouldn't go there. Only assholes who think they're invincible or really don't give a shit about anyone else do that sort of thing. That's not you."

"You don't know that!" It's a shout this time, and Alex instantly shrinks back into his chair like he can distance himself. He takes a breath, then looks up at his lover's face. "Why the fuck can't I stop thinking about it?" he asks in a small voice. "If I'm getting obsessive, then... What if I'm slipping?" His hands clench white-knuckled on the chair's arms. "For years, I've felt that guy inside me. The one who actually loves shit like that. And now, it's like he's taking over."

"He's not," Luke says, touching Alex's cheek. "There's a huge difference between getting off on the idea of doing something like that and actually doing it. That's what I'm trying to tell you." And he's not sure he's getting through at all. But... "I have those fantasies too. I have fantasies where I don't work, I don't go out, I don't see anyone and you keep me naked, chained, nothing but a thing to be used and hurt for your pleasure. Letting others, strangers, your friends but not people I know, use me and hurt me while you watch and get off on it. While you urge them on, because you own me and you can do whatever you want to me."

The words hit Alex like a punch to his gut, and he has to draw a steadying breath before he can speak again. "I want that," he whispers. "I want that so fucking much I can feel it."

"I know and it's okay," Luke whispers back. "It's okay to want it. You're not scaring me wanting it. Because I know you would never want to see me really hurt, to see me broken like that."

"Of course not," Alex says, reacting instantly to how completely untenable the idea is to him, before his brain gets around to remembering what the issue is here -- whose issue. "No way would I want that," he insists, because yeah, this is something they both need to be entirely clear on. "I would fucking kill anyone who tried to hurt you that way. And I love you because you're... who you are. A situation like that... No," he says, lifting his hand to gently caress Luke's face. "Never."

"Then we don't have anything to worry about, do we?" Luke points out, leaning into the touch. "Because it's okay to fantasize about things we'd never truly want."

Alex bites his lip, his heart aching. "You'd tell me. You'd stop me," he whispers, needing to hear his lover tell him so, no matter how irrational his thoughts are.

"Of course I would," Luke says, his chest so tight with emotion it pains him. "If you were actually hurting me, or wanting me to do something I knew would hurt me, I would safeword in an instant. I will always take care of you. You're my world."

I will always take care of you. Alex wraps his arms around his lover, hugging Luke tightly. It's a major element which so many people misunderstand about D/s: power exchange is genuinely a willing exchange, and for there to be any balance, both partners need to trust that the other will fight to keep them both safe. "You get it," he mumbles into Luke's hair. "You get it. I need you." Alex might just melt with relief. He truly can relax and trust that Luke will catch him if he falls. "I love you."

"I love you too, so much," Luke whispers, clinging hard.

God, Alex could drown. Could walk through fire, if only Luke will be waiting for him at the end of his ordeal, to hold him like this. "Please forgive me for being so fucking stupid," he whispers. "I'm trying to stop."

"You're not being stupid," Luke responds, keeping himself wrapped around Alex. "I'd hate it if you didn't share your worries and fears with me."

"You're incredible to trust me so much." Maybe Alex could - rightly - be accused of being a slow learner at times. But gradually the idea has settled into his psyche that he truly doesn't need anyone else to believe in him. Luke means everything.

"Except I know you're worth trusting," Luke says, lifting his head again so he can look into Alex's eyes. "We could go on like this all night," he adds with a soft smile. "But I expect you won't ever see yourself the way I do. You're the most amazing man I know and I'm not stupid, I know you're not perfect, but you make me so incredibly happy."

Gently pushing a dark lock of hair back from Luke's forehead, Alex nods. "Okay then," he breathes. "I guess I, I just need... a reminder, sometimes." He gives his boy a crooked grin. "So if you can stand that without losing all your patience, then I think we should be all right."

"We'll definitely be all right," Luke says with another smile. "I'll make sure of it."