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Even Starflowers Fade and Fall

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The sun was shining down hotter than usual. The sand was almost burning and there wasn't a single breeze to cool anyone down. Toby was at the grill, cleaning the grates before he ended his shift. He smiled briefly when he saw Adam arriving for work. Just as he was about to drop his brush to wave, Ambrosius blocked his view.

"I'm not paying you to wear a shirt," he scolded Adam and his hands immediately reached up towards the buttons.

Toby narrowed his eyes. He began to scrape the grill harder with the brush as he watched Bro run his hands all along Adam's chest. The tension in his lip exposed his teeth as Bro continued to ogle his boyfriend. Adam was fully capable of taking off his own shirt. He certainly didn't require any help from a warlock.

"Yessssss," Ambrosius moaned devilishly as he exposed the tanned skin of Adam's chest. "That's what the customers want."

Adam politely nodded his head and smiled. "Thanks, Bro. I mean it. I really need this job."

"Well," he sighed, before casting a brief glance over his shoulder at Toby. "Don't hesitate to ask for anything else." Then he stared back at Adam. "And I do mean anything."

The muscles in Toby's arms now strained as he raked the brush harshly over the grate. He hated that Ambrosius now owned the club and could order him around. He hated that Bro could control anything on the island. He especially hated that Adam seemed to encourage that behavior.

The sun blazed into his eyes and that was the final straw. He threw the brush back into the bucket of soapy water and decided to call it a day.

Toby bent down to retrieve his own shirt and when he stood up, Ambrosius was immediately in his face.

"I don't pay you to work without a shirt," he sneered. "It's unsanitary for a chef."

"My shift is over," Toby snarled back.

"Is it?" he frowned mockingly. "What a pity. I suppose I will have to focus my attention on Adam while you're away."

"Why do you insist on torturing me? You already have Kevin. You have took everything you possibly could! What more do you want?"

Ambrosius pretended to think. As he did, he enjoyed the sight of Toby steaming with impatience and anger. "I thought I might collect a playmate for Kevin. Someone to keep an eye on him while I'm off supervising my staff at the club."

Toby bared his teeth and growled. "You stay away from Adam! He doesn't want you!"

"He doesn't?" Ambrosius taunted with a condescending smile. "Well, he keeps coming back to me. I suppose I do have something he wants…"

Ambrosius reached into his shirt pocket and pulled out a single, five-petaled flower. He twirled it between his fingertips and held it directly in front of Toby's face.

Toby's jaw clenched as he stared at the white flower. His hands were tightly fisted and he was too fed up to restrain himself. The sun's scorching rays were blistering his skin and the air was too dry to breathe. It wasn't a day for patience, so Toby lunged at Ambrosius and began to shake him violently by the shirt collar.

"You son of a bitch!" he snarled into Bro's face. "You stay away from him!"

"Hey, hey, hey!" Adam interrupted as he grabbed at Toby's shoulder. He tried to pull him off of Ambrosius, but Toby shook him away.

The two men continue to claw and push each other. Curses and sweat were flying through the air.

"All the magic in the world and all you can do is control this tiny island!" Toby shouted in Bro's face. "Just get the fuck out of here! You want power? Go fuck with Bilderberg!"

"Toby, enough!" Adam scolded. He squeezed himself between the two of them and managed to separate Ambrosius and Toby. He held Toby away by arm's length, but he could feel his muscles tensing with uncontrollable rage.

"Taking his side as usual!" Toby spat at Adam. "Why am I not surprise? I guess only he can give you what you need!"

"Toby—"

"Forget it! You want to be with Ambrosius? Fine! Be with him! But you don't have to ruin your whole life in the process!"

"He's my boss!" Adam defended. "Show some restraint! We're both lucky to be working here!"

"Yes," Ambrosius agreed as he looked down his nose at Toby. "I'm owed some gratuity."

"Fuck you! My shift's over. I don't have to take any more of this crap!" Toby then stormed off without even a parting glance.

"Toby, wait!" Adam called after him, but Ambrosius pulled him back.

"Leave him. He was out in the sun too long."

Adam raked a frustrated hand through his hair. He had no idea what he missed in the conversation. "What the hell did you say to him!"

"I didn't say a thing. Like I said, he was out in the sun too long. The heat has a way of playing tricks with one's eyes."

Ambrosius looked around the club and saw a fresh batch of faces stampeding in.

"We have customers waiting," Bro pointed out then he placed the starflower in Adam's hand. "Take care of this, would you?"

Adam didn't acknowledged Ambrosius as he left. He simply stared at the flower in his hands. The starflower was still crisp and fresh. Even its faint aroma was an enchanting temptation. Just the sight of the tiny flower was enough to erase the clash between Bro and Toby and the strain it had on their relationship.

Finally, Adam dropped his eyes and he saw Toby's departing footsteps in the sand. They had an argument before about his past relationship with Ambrosius. It was just one of many mistakes he never made up for and it was hard to move away from the habits that brought him so much comfort in the past. Even though saint was one of those mistakes, it was always a sure way to make everything feel right in the world.

And there it was – right there in his hand.

It was a temporary fix, but nothing helped him forget better than saint.

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Toby had taken a swim to cool off. Even with the angry heat of the sun, the water had a way to remain calm and patient. Toby was able to take some of those qualities with him. The cool, crisp water washed away the strain from the sun and his agitation with Ambrosius. His brief dive left his mind and body feeling fresh and relaxed.

He had not expected to see Adam sitting at home. He was leaning his crossed arms against the kitchen counter. A full cup of coffee, now cold, was still in reach.

When Adam heard someone enter the house, he looked up anxiously. He was glad to see it was Toby, but was unsure if an argument was imminent.

He stood up when Toby approached him. The other man immediately had his arms around Adam and pulled him in for a tight hug. Adam let himself be crushed by the solid comfort of Toby's body. His hair was still wet from his swim, but the scorching heat had dried off his skin.

"I'm sorry," Toby mumbled into Adam's ear. "I didn't mean those things I said."

"I'm glad to hear you say that," Adam sighed with relief. His hand knotted in Toby's wet hair as he pressed him closer to hear all the muffled apologies.

Toby pulled back and quickly kissed Adam's lips – another request for forgiveness. "I know you don't fuck around. Ambrosius just has a way of getting under my skin."

"I'm not Kevin, alright? You don't have to worry about me."

"I know," Toby smiled and he couldn't resist. He just had to pull Adam in for another hug. "I love you. You know that, right?"

"I do. I love you, too. Always have."

"I never doubted that." Toby released Adam and simply admired him. He came along way from the bratty, highschool bully he used to know. "You're home early."

"I asked Bro to cut my shift short." Adam smiled and cocked an eyebrow. "Not such a bad guy after all, huh?"

"Don't, Adam," Toby cautioned. "That's a conversation you do not want to have with me."

"He's not as evil as you make him out to be."

"I said, we're not going to talk about it," Toby reminded with a smile. He ran his hands across Adam's shoulders. Then he slid them down across his chest and slowly began to unfasten each button. "Now, what do I have to do to make you shut up?"

Adam bit his lip and pressed his groin against Toby. "I think you're heading in the right direction."

"Really?" he laughed.

Adam's shirt fell to the floor. Toby grabbed him around the waist and pulled tightly. He slipped his hands into his back pockets and shoved them closer together. As he admired Adam's tight ass through the fabric of his jeans, Toby felt something else.

"What's this?" Toby pulled out the soft item. He froze when he saw it was a starflower.

"Toby…" Adam started cautiously as he pulled away. That tender, but brief moment made him forget what he had planned.

"Adam," he gasped. "What the hell!"

Adam held his hands up defensively. "I'm sorry. It's not what it looks like!"

"Not what it looks like! Where did you get this from!"

"It doesn't matter! It was an accident! You were never meant to see!"

"You got this from Ambrosius, didn't you?" Toby accused harshly. "Is everything he said true! What else are you hiding from me?"

"Toby! No! It's not like that!"

Toby stormed to the opposite side of the kitchen. Adam had just started to pick up the pieces after he recovered from saint. After everything he and Toby sacrificed to get him through his addiction, Toby never thought he would return to it so soon.

"I don't believe this. I thought I could trust you!"

"You can!"

Adam started to say more, but he suddenly became aware of the starflower again. The scent was stronger this time. Its aroma was pulling him towards the floor and his legs felt weak.

His eyes rolled to the back of his head and he could not fight off the dizziness he felt. He saw flashes of him and Toby. They sped through his mind; mingled with cries and sharp, shooting noises. Everything was so fast. He fell to his knees, but Toby was there to catch him.

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When Adam woke up, he was already in bed. Toby sat at his side. It was not a sight he wanted to see; Toby shaking his head with disappointment. It knotted Adam's stomach to see such disapproval. He already knew that his family disapproved of his life on the island, but at least he never had to see it on their faces. The sounds of their frustrated voices on long-distance phone calls were enough.

While Toby could not hide the disappointment from his face, he still continued to wipe the sweat off Adam's forehead with a cloth. Adam realized that there was never a time when he collapsed that Toby wasn't there when he woke up.

"I can't keep going through this," Toby announced sadly. "I just can't sit by and watch as you ruin your life with saint."

Toby's face was drained and he just kept shaking his head. Adam couldn't stand that look, but he was determined to keep eye contact. He had to if he ever wanted the man to listen. He needed Toby to know he could be just as reliable as he's been with him.

"Toby, I swear. I'm not doing saint anymore."

Toby wasn't sure if he could believe him. All the evidence was there. "Then what's with the fainting spell?"

"It must have been the smell. It invoked another episode. I didn't know that would happen."

"Then why did you even have it?" The sound of betrayal was evident in his voice. "You promised me you wouldn't mess around with that crap anymore."

"I just… had it…" he mumbled sadly. Then he shifted uncomfortably in the bed. "…just in case."

"In case of what?" Toby asked firmly, knowing full well where the conversation was heading. He threw down the cloth and stared sternly at Adam.

Adam cringed then sat up in the bed.

"…in case you left me," he answered softly.

Toby groaned and rubbed his eyes with both hands. "Adam, that's not an excuse!"

"I know. I'm sorry, but after your fight with Ambrosius, it just reminded me."

"Of what?"

"Of all the mistakes I've made. I can't take any of it back."

"Adam, you're a recovering addict. You can't keep stuff like this around. Not even just in case." Toby groaned then added more firmly, "Especially not just in case!"

"I know!" Adam flinched. "I'm sorry! I had this temptation and you weren't there to talk to. I screwed up. If I could take it back, I would!"

"Settle down," Toby ordered and pushed Adam back on the bed. "It's alright. You didn't use it. That's all that matters."

Adam wasn't as convinced. "Really?"

"You were upset. I'm disappointed that you thought about it, but at least you had enough restraint to stop yourself."

Adam sat up again and flung his legs off the bed. "That's not good enough."

"Don't talk like that. We're working on it. Together."

"But how? I saw the starflower and I couldn't even walk away. I even asked Bro for the day off so I could get high."

"I thought you said you weren't going to take it?" Toby reminded sternly.

"I wasn't!" he insisted before he cringed. "Not exactly… I came home to wait for you. Everything depended on what happened…after."

"I see," Toby sighed. Then he shook his head as he accepted the blame. "I really messed up, didn't I?"

"Toby, you did nothing wrong!" Adam assured. "It was me. I messed up."

"Because I lost my temper with Bro. But I never meant to hurt you. I mean that. I'm sorry."

"Toby, you fight with Bro all the time. I should have talked to you, but I didn't."

"You couldn't because I ran away!" Toby argued. "I made you feel like you were to blame. This is all my fault."

"No, Toby. I have to learn to handle things on my own. Especially my saint addiction. You are not to blame for that."

"Fine," Toby agreed with a tensed shrug. "Then it's both our fault."

"No," Adam corrected insistently. "I shouldn't need constant supervision to keep me away from my bad habits."

"There's nothing wrong with needing a little help. You can't get through these problems without the love and support of your friends."

"But I'm my biggest problem."

Toby sighed. "Lie back. You're just feeling down from your saint flashback."

"It wasn't exactly a flashback," he cringed. "It was… a vision."

Toby slid across the bed and sat beside Adam. He could tell from the man's posture that a hug wouldn't console him, so he simply sat back to give him the personal space he needed and whispered calmly. "What was it?"

"It was…" Adam paused for a moment. His hand nervously rubbed the back of his neck. He could feel the sweat racing down his back. The heat from the weather was making the awkwardness of the situation much worse. "…you…and…me…"

He took another breath. He then rested his elbows on his knees and cradled his forehead in his hands. He groaned as he rubbed at his temples. It was hard enough to see flashes of the vision, let alone voice what he had seen.

Toby placed a hand on his shoulder and gave a gentle squeeze. "It's going to be alright. Take your time."

He breathed another heavy sigh. "Toby…you were…" Adam pulled a face, then clenched his teeth. Very cautiously he added, "…spanking me."

Adam still held his head bent and in his hands. His fingers parted slightly to look up at Toby and measure his expression. Toby's eyes had widened and, for a moment, he was completely still. Then he tilted his head slightly and mumbled. "Huh."

"Huh?" Adam jumped, completely insulted. "What? You're not surprised!"

"Adam…!" Toby then opened and closed his mouth. He frantically searched for words to comfort Adam, but then decided to just be honest. "Well, maybe I have thought about it once or twice over the years."

"Toby!"

"Adam, you were a trust fund brat your entire life. You never had to learn any responsibilities until now."

"I was never that bad! I may have had a brief superiority complex at one time, but that's not who I am anymore!"

"Don't get me wrong, Adam. You are not the person you were in highschool, okay? You're not even the same man you were six months ago. You're a great guy but, yeah, there were a few times when I thought you deserved a swat or two."

Adam's voice was quieter this time. "Toby…"

Toby quickly knelt before Adam and firmly squeezed both his knees as he looked up at him. "Hey. Not in this situation, okay? I never intended to do that to you. Never. It was just a funny, little thing that popped into my head when you used to torture me, alright? That vision you had means nothing. Okay?"

Adam groaned and went back to rubbing his face. He twisted his body away from Toby and stared off at the window. Visions were still new to him, but from what Grace had told him, they were never wrong.

Toby raised an eyebrow. "What?"

Adam stretched his neck and exhaled. He hoped that if he concentrated enough on breathing, the words would eventually flow out. Unfortunately, he was not used to the insecurity he suddenly felt. He had spent his entire life living under the protection of his family's name and wealth. For the first time in his life, he had to work for a living and accept that there were consequences to his actions. After living a life full of comfort and confidence, he now had to admit that he had flaws. Flaws that he wanted to fix.

"I think you should do it," Adam answered softly. He then tightly crossed his arms around his chest to shield himself from any arguments Toby might have about that idea.

"What?" Toby quickly answered. He tried to gauge Adam's expression, but his face was still stiffly turned away.

"Please, Toby," Adam sighed awkwardly; cringingly slightly in his crossed arms. "Don't make me asked for it."

"Ask for what exactly?" Toby jumped up anxiously and ran his hands through his hair. "You don't actually expect me to spank you, do you?"

"I'll do it again," Adam warned and finally turned to face Toby. "I know you don't want to hear it, but it's true."

"Adam, you were upset with me. You made a mistake. It was partly my fault."

"No, it wasn't. This has become routine for me. I can't run to saint every time I have a problem or think about the past. I have to learn to deal with my issues responsibly. I can't always expect someone to be there when I fall."

Toby grabbed Adam's face with both hands and looked him in the eyes. "I'll believe if you say you won't do it again."

"Exactly," Adam sighed and kept his eyes on Toby's as well. "People always accepted my mistakes, so I continued to make them." Almost whisper-quiet, he added, "Toby, I had this vision for a reason."

Toby slowly dropped his hands. There was a suspicious pull to his bottom lip, but he didn't say anything. He exhaled sharply, then sat on the bed beside Adam.

Adam stiffened as he felt the weight of Toby's body on the bed. Both were silent. Adam kept his head lowered and only occasionally glanced up at Toby. The other man stared blankly at the floor. One eyebrow was raised and his eyes were unblinking. Every time Adam glanced up at him, Toby still has that same expression.

Finally, Toby moved, but only slightly. His hand now rubbed at his mouth. His eyelids were slightly lowered. The house had never been so still and the silence was unnerving to Adam. He started to think about what would happen if Toby said no. Then he thought about what would happen if Toby said yes.

"Are you still thinking?' Adam asked quietly, yet hopeful that he came to a decision.

"…yeah," Toby nodded then began to rub his mouth with both hands.

He was mentally weighing what Adam needed versus what he wanted. Adam was looking for a way to ease his guilt. It was his own attempt at regaining some security – knowing that someone would be there when he messed up. Someone to care for him, not bear with him. Like he said, 'people always accepted my mistakes.' He needed someone to take notice and react. Someone to show him attention because they loved him, not because of good looks or wealth. Adam had trouble forgiving himself because he never had to work at forgiveness from others. He wanted to find peace within himself and move away from all his bad habits. That was something he never had while growing up.

Adam's father had offered him money, but support and encouragement were never on the table. His father wanted a duplicate of himself and he could always cover Adam's mistakes with a sizeable pay-off. Suppressing his mistakes was what made his life take a downward spiral. Now that he no longer had that assistance from his family, Adam couldn't risk making any more mistakes. But he could achieve everything he wanted as long as he had support from one person.

Toby cleared his throat and shifted gracelessly on the bed when he realized that he was that person. He had stood beside Adam their entire lives, even when Adam had pushed him away. He was that constant force that Adam needed. He would be there for him even when his family wouldn't.

"It would help if you thought aloud," Adam suggested with a nervous laugh.

"I know," Toby acknowledged then went back to running his hands through his hair.

Even though Adam had been a trust fund brat, he still didn't have the freedom the others had on the island. For years, he had to hide who he was and push people away. The straight act had Toby convinced for years. It was only recently that Adam had the opportunity to discover who he really was. Honesty was a struggle for him and now that he was being completely honest with Toby, Toby couldn't turn away. Nothing was worse than being cast aside and Adam had been spurned enough for one lifetime.

"Okay," Toby announced suddenly and Adam jumped.

"What? Now? I just had a saint episode."

"You're fine now," he said with a smile. Then he inched closer and placed a hand on Adam's shoulder. "You are okay, right?"

Adam nodded. It never took long to recover from a saint flashback. Usually, the only thing he needed was a few minutes of fresh air, but Toby always sat with him until he felt better.

"Okay then," Toby said as he straightened himself where he sat.

"How many?" Adam asked softly.

"How many?"

"Yes. How many?" he repeated firmer. "I want to know how many times you plan to spank me."

Toby shook his head uneasily and tried to think of a number. "Adam, I don't know. We'll see how it goes, okay?"

"No, Toby, I need an answer. If you don't set a number, you'll go soft on me. I don't want you letting me get away with a few swats."

"Okay. Fifteen."

"Fifteen? No."

"Adam, I forgive you—"

"Toby, I need this."

Toby sighed, but reminded himself he was doing this for Adam. He could actually admire Adam for looking past the physical discomfort of a spanking and finding the healing aspect of it. Of course, Adam already knew how this would all play out. While he could not find the words to express his vision, the emotional impact was there. Toby would just have to trust him.

"Thirty," Toby relented. It was twice the amount, but he could still measure Adam's reaction and adjust the pace and strength accordingly. He wouldn't go higher than that if Adam asked.

Adam took a deep breath and accepted it. "Okay."

Toby nodded back and offered him an awkward, but reassuring smile before he leaned in and began to unfasten his jeans.

"Wait," Adam said quickly and snatched Toby's hands away.

"You're not getting shy on me now?" Toby teased gently to lighten the mood.

Adam smiled back and shook his head. "No, I guess not."

Adam began to unbutton his own fly. He had asked for this after all and wanted the spanking to have the desired effects. In his vision, his backside had been exposed, so that must have been the proper way. Adam lifted his hips and slid his jeans down to his knees. Toby's hand was already at his back, gently guiding him across his lap.

Adam shifted across Toby's thighs. Everyone walked naked around the house, but he felt vulnerable in that position. He trusted Toby, so when he willingly exposed his backside to this punishment, he understood why it would work. It was frightening, yet intimate, and he trusted Toby to give him what he needed.

Toby gave a quick pat to his back before he adjusted him across his knees. He made sure Adam's legs were balanced on the bed and that his chest had the support he needed on the other side as well. After a while, he realized he was just wasting time and didn't want to draw this out any longer than he had to.

Adam hadn't expected Toby to dive right into it. He expected some sort of awkward announcement. So when Adam felt the sharp sting of Toby's hand landing on his backside, his entire body jerked forward and he shouted his surprise.

Toby instantly paused and stared down at the back of Adam's head. He wasn't expecting such a loud reaction so soon. "We can still stop," he offered. He knew Adam didn't exactly know what he had agreed to. Maybe the reality of a spanking would change his mind.

"No," Adam answered and he sucked in a sharp breath. He was surprised at the lingering ache one simple swat left, but he was determined to see this through. He never had to deal with consequences before. That was what allowed him to live the carefree existence that he did.

Toby nodded then carefully wrapped one arm around Adam's waist. He was surprised at how secured the position felt. With Adam stretched across his thighs, he was protected and safe. Neither Ambrosius nor saint could interrupt this moment. Adam just lied there with unquestionable trust, so Toby tightened the embrace and delivered another swat on the opposite cheek. They both were prepared this time, but Toby flinched along with Adam nonetheless.

Toby carefully aimed the next swats. He didn't want any blows to overlap the last just yet. He covered Adam's posterior with red handprints, raising very little protest from Adam. Just the expected clenching of his cheeks. When the skin had darkened along his entire backside, Toby aimed lower and caught the top of his thighs. That's when his wincing actually became audible.

Adam groaned and buried his face into the mattress. He involuntarily kicked a leg then kicked it out again. He hadn't expected Toby to smack his thighs and was startled at the new pain. He was already surprised at the force of the blows. Toby certainly wasn't letting him get away with a few light swats. He didn't want to struggle over Toby's knees, so he settled for cursing breathlessly to keep himself still.

Toby quickly finished hitting his thighs and returned to spanking his backside, but as his hand landed over already punished skin, Adam's hisses and cries became louder.

"We fought your saint addiction together," Toby said between swats. "I don't ever want to see you fall down that path again. I will do everything I can to prevent that."

Toby had his hand raised in the air when he saw Adam's arm shoot out. But instead of blocking the next swat, he gathered enough strength to grip the bed sheets instead. He dug his fingers into the material to anchor his hand in place. Toby sighed, hating that he was causing Adam so much discomfort, but content to know that Adam was accepting the absolution he needed.

"I'm proud of you," Toby stated firmly. He relaxed his arm and simply rubbed Adam's back. "You recognize your weaknesses and you want to change them. Most importantly, you are including me in your decisions. You're not hiding anything from me. I never had that in a relationship before."

Adam had done pretty well holding back tears, but he couldn't help but choke out a sob as Toby spoke. He had always compared himself to Kevin. And in every way, Kevin seemed better. Maybe loyalty and truth was the path to Toby's heart. In which case, Adam promised himself to always remain truthful to Toby. Adam had never sought after anyone's approval before. His family's fortune allowed him to walk around the island like he was better than everyone else, but now he realized that he needed Toby to be proud of him. He gave up his wealth to be with Toby and was still unsure how to live life as an average man. He was thankful to have Toby be by his side and grateful that he never left him after all these years.

As Toby continued to rub his back, Adam realized that he showed no signs of resuming the spanking. Adam's voice was strained, but he managed to mutter, "Just ten more, right?"

"Five."

"No," Adam choked on another sob. "Toby, I kept count."

Toby closed his eyes in defeat. Of course Adam was counting, so Toby wrapped his arm back around Adam. He thought Adam's need for discipline would waver, but he didn't realize how far it went. It wasn't just about proving his dedication to Toby, but to himself as well. Despite the soreness from such a punishment, Adam was drawing the reassurance he needed.

Toby smacked his palm down against the already red skin. Adam's breath was shaky now. Each swat was greeted by a strained sob. When Toby got down to the final five swats, he rapidly landed them one after the other to quickly end the punishment.

Adam twisted as the last five landed immediately on his sore backside. He cried out, but was instantly relived that they were the last. Just as quickly as it was over, Toby lifted him off his lap. He helped him step out of his jeans and pulled him back into the bed and covered him with the sheets.

Now that he was no longer draped across his boyfriend's knees, Adam was able to reign in his tears. He still looked up at Toby through wet lashes, but he was no longer crying. The disappointed face Toby had when Adam first woke up from his saint episode was completely gone. Toby's brown eyes were wide with adoration and affection as he wiped the sweat off Adam's brow.

"I'm sorry," Adam mumbled with an awkward smile. He felt almost silly for crying after he asked to be spanked.

"I know," Toby said as he slowly rubbed his back with long strokes. "I'm sorry, too."

"Toby," Adam moaned and shook his head into the pillow. Toby was still the stubbornly sweet boyfriend he always was. "You don't have to be."

Toby smiled. "I know, but I can't help it. Come here." He settled back against the headboard and then pulled Adam onto his chest. Adam hugged him and nestled his head underneath his chin. While he asked Toby for this punishment, the familiarity of his comfort was needed just as much.

"We'll talk to Ambrosius together tonight," Toby announced as he brushed back Adam's hair.

Adam propped himself up on one elbow. "Toby, I know I just asked you to spank me, but I 'm not giving you permission to control my life."

"You just got over your saint addiction. You're body needs time to heal. Just let me take care of you for a while."

"This is my first job ever. I'm not happy about it either, but I need it. And I like working at H2Eau."

Toby sighed and wiped the last tear from Adam's cheek. "I know. I'm not asking you to quit. I just wanted to get our work schedules in sync."

"You don't trust me?"

"It's not you, it's Ambrosius. It's like everyone on this island's gone crazy, but me. Why can no one see that he's a century year old warlock? I mean, he kidnapped Kevin and I'm certain he killed Marco. I wouldn't be surprised if he caused that tsunami. It is simply not safe to be around him."

Adam nodded and settled back against Toby's chest. He remembered how Toby reacted when he discovered he had slept with Ambrosius. He wondered how he would react if he knew Bro had supplied him with saint in the past. He understood now that Ambrosius was using saint to gain his trust. His acquaintanceship with Bro was never healthy to begin with.

"You care that much about me?"

Toby laughed "You even have to ask?"

Adam moaned contently as he pressed himself closer. "I want to work the same hours as you. Then I get to see you all day. You're fucking hot when you cook with your shirt off."

Toby hugged him back and kissed the top of his head. "Then we're working the late shift tonight. We better both get some rest before then."

"You sleep," he sighed. The sting in his backside was quickly fading. With any luck, there would only be a slight lingering soreness when he started work. "I'll just lie here quietly and absorb your company."

"You're not tired after all this?"

Adam shrugged. He was exhausted, but at the same time relieved. "A little."

Toby laid his chin against Adam's head and closed his eyes. He thought back to when Adam started spending more time at the club. Just a single second-hand puff of saint was enough to make him collapse on the dance floor. Had he not been there that night, Toby probably wouldn't have believed it was an accident. In fact, it took some convincing before Toby actually believed him at all. He knew Adam wanted to quit, but there were still some obstacles.

Toby's greatest problems with relationships in the past were with trust. Adam wanted to be honest and Toby felt that they could finally trust each other as well as be trusted.

"Did I mention I was proud you?" he whispered quietly.

"Go to sleep," Adam answered back.

Toby sighed with a smile and burrowed himself beneath the sheets. After Bro took complete control over H2Eau, Toby was sure his life was going to be a nightmare. But with Adam close by, he felt he could find the strength he needed. So he wrapped his arms tight around the strong, solid body on top of him.

For the first time since moving to the Cove, it seemed like life could be normal.

THE END.