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Sunday, October 4, 2015

TLR Chapter 17

Zay wasn’t having a good day. First his asthma was acting up. Then he had wandered off again, which had earned him his second spanking.

Elijah had left Zay napping while he ran to the infirmary to see if the doctor had any ideas to help with the asthma.

Zay woke while his lover was gone. He couldn’t find him in the bungalow so he decided to go look for him.

Knowing that Elijah liked watching the loons at the lake with him, Zay headed there but got turned around and had to be brought back to the lodge by the same big security guy, Duke, that helped him the last time he got lost.

Elijah was waiting for him at their bungalow and wasn’t happy Zay had left without leaving a note again. “But you didn’t leave a note either,” Zay said when Elijah pulled him over his lap.

“You must not have looked very hard for my note, Zay, because it’s still on the table where I left it,” Elijah said as he began to spank Zay’s bare rump.

The young man didn’t think his rear end could hurt worse than it did after the first spanking, but he was wrong. He didn’t argue when Elijah sent him back to finish his nap.

An hour or so later Elijah took Zay's hand as they headed over to the lodge for a bite to eat.

“Hey! We haven’t tried the steak at the restaurant yet, how about we give it a try?” Elijah asked Zay.

“Ok,” Zay answered a little horse from the spanking that just happened an hour ago.

“You ok?” Elijah asked.

“Yeah, I'm ok. I'm sore though.”

“Good then maybe I made my point and you’ll remember it this time. Now let’s go get something to eat.”

Grabbing a corner table close to the restrooms, away from the crowd, Elijah sat down and then pointed to Zay to sit.

“Um, Elijah, I think I'll stand if that's ok with you.”

Elijah snapped his fingers for Zay to sit.

Zay looked from Elijah to the restrooms then back to his partner wondering if he could make it into the restroom before Elijah could stop him.  He walked over and very gingerly sat down. The younger man knew Elijah wasn’t happy that he wandered off again and Zay’s rear wasn’t happy either, but he couldn’t help being distracted here.  The place was beautiful.

Both men looked at their menus then ordered the same thing; draft beer and steak with potatoes and steamed vegetables and salad to start.
While waiting for their salads to arrive, Elijah decided to bring up about Zay's asthma medicine and why he's been missing doses.

“Zay, love, can you tell me why your not using your inhaler?”

“Um, I've been using it,” Zay said as he started to get antsy.

“Have you, Zay?” Elijah asked lifting his left eyebrow and looking at the men's room.

When his young man didn’t answer Elijah repeated the question again “Zay, have you been using your inhaler?”

“Ah, well, I missed a couple of times since being here.” Zay answered.

“Thank you, Zay. Now hand me your phone please!”

“Elijah, please not here. Can we wait until we get back?”

“No, Zay, now please.”

“Fine!” Zay snapped and handed over the phone.

Taking the phone Elijah pocketed it for later.

Their dinners came and they talked about their day and made plans tomorrow for one of the classes.

Walking back to their bungalow, Zay stopped and asked Elijah for his phone back.

“No, Zay we need to discuss more on why you haven't been using your inhaler.”

Taking the key out of his pocket Elijah opened the door turned on the lights and went into the kitchen. He grabbed two wine glasses and a bottle of wine.

“Elijah please now can I have my phone back?”

“No Zay, but you can stand in the corner and think how today went then we'll talk.”

Watching Zay fidget for about twenty minutes, Elijah called him over to sit on the couch.

“So Zay since your having a difficult time remembering to take your inhaler, which by the way should be taken every day, I've downloaded an app. for you.  It's called MediSafe and I entered all your information and…”

“Noooooo.... Elijah please don't, I'll remember to take my inhaler. I don't need that.”

“Sorry love it's done, and please do not interrupt me while I’m talking.” Elijah scolded.

“Sorry Elijah,” Zay said.

“Now where was I?” Elijah asked more to himself than his young partner. He continued, “This app here is to help you. To remind you to take your medicine on time. Also it will alert me on my phone if you missed taking it. If that happens you can be sure there will be consequences. Am I making myself clear?”

“Yes sir,” Zay answered.

“Good now let’s take this wine and head to bed,” the older man said. Then he kissed Zay's lips tasting the leftover steak juice and took his hand and led him back to the bedroom.


Duke Montgomery had had it. It had been one of his worst Wednesdays in a while. As he came off his shift he knew the bar at the lodge closed at midnight on Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday as there were fewer guests in the earlier part of the week. It usually closed at two in the morning the rest of the days. He knew he still had plenty of time to get showered and dress in clean clothes and still be able to get some food and relax. He wanted a stiff drink. His arm was hurting some now, but he knew the alcohol would take care of that for a while.

The security man got into his golf cart and pulled up to the lodge and rolled into his usual space, setting the brake as he stopped. Entering the bar with a dark scowl on his face, he parked his large, but lean frame on the bar stool he grunted. "Pour me a double of your best twelve-year old scotch on the rocks."

"So, Duke. What's with the dark cloud? Need to talk?" Jake asked when he saw the tall security guard enter the bar, looking very put out. Jake was worried. He'd been a bartender for a long time and he knew that drinking while angry wasn't the best thing for people to do. He poured a Coke on ice instead and placed it on the bar in front of the man. "It's not a good idea to drink when you're upset, Duke. Sit and relax for a bit, and talk to me." Jake said with a charming smile.

Duke glowered at Jake for a moment more. "Damn you Jake...I asked for scotch and you give me a Coke? All I want to do is to forget this Godawful day."

"How many times have you had to break up a fight between people who had bad days and drank to forget?" Jake asked gently.  "I'll make you a deal, my friend.  You have the Coke and talk to me, and before you leave, if you're calmer, I'll send you home with a whole bottle.  Just kidding.” Jake admitted. "I'll give you one for the road.  But first you have to talk to me.  Deal?"

Duke studied the man and then nodded. "All I couldn't drink a whole bottle anyway. It would kill me and if it didn't then James and Jeff would."

Jake laughed appreciatively.  "So spill, what's wrong, my friend?"

Duke sighed and took a draw on the straw of the drink Jake had just set down in front of him and flipped his longish blonde hair out of the way. "There must be a full moon out cuz it's been a hell of a day. I’ve had to rescue three of the newbies who got lost out on the trails during the day, takin' each of them back to their bungalows, or to the lodge. That wasn't so bad, but of course I had to come across that damned yearling bull moose that likes to stand in the middle of the trail and don't wanna move."

Jake sighed.  There were signs posted all along the trails to keep people from getting lost, but without fail, someone always followed a bunny trail and got lost. "Maybe the moose has a crush on you." He joked. "I mean, you're the only one who has to deal with him on a regular basis." The bartender smiled.

While Jake waited for Duke to tell him the whole story, he turned toward one of the waiters and ordered some buffalo wings and fries for the security man. In the meantime he picked up a basket of chips and set them in front of Duke.

Duke snorted. "Maybe. Seems I'm always runnin' into the damn thing. I should take my pistol and put him out of his misery once and for all." He griped, his face in a scowl once again. He noticed that Jake ordered food for him. He hadn’t realized that the man had set a basket of chips in front of him and started to reach unconsciously with his right hand into it but hesitated and then took a chip with his left and munched. "The young man I had with me had never seen a moose before and started screamin' and shoutin' at it and it tried to charge the golf cart. I had to fend it off and it finally bounded off into the woods. Then I had to deal with a hysterical kid."

Jake tried not to laugh at the picture Duke was painting. Using all of his will power he suppressed the smile and patted the other man on the shoulder. "It just goes to show you can handle anything, Duke, whether it's a mooning bull moose or a caterwauling kid. I'm just glad you avoided what could have been an ugly situation. How did you manage to get the moose to move on?"

Duke said, as he rubbed his right hand and forearm in an unconscious gesture where the moose's forehead and antlers had bruised him. "I got it to go away by whacking it over the head with my arm." He told Jake. He continued to munch on some chips and said. "I guess I scared it enough to take off. We were lucky his mom wasn’t around."

Jake looked at the bruise. "Have you had Doc take a look at that? That's pretty bad, even for you, big guy."

Duke looked down and shrugged. "I've had worse."

"You should still have Heath take a look at that, wait..."  He said, turning to pick up a bar towel and fill it with ice. He placed the impromptu ice pack on the larger man's hand and arm. "So, what about the kid?"

Duke looked down at the improvised ice pack and bit back a wince. "I got him calmed down and delivered him to his partner."

"I hope you reminded him that the signs are there for a reason. It seems we have a lot of people who suddenly forget how to read when they get here, don't you think?" He joked.

Duke smirked a bit. "Yeah, I think James and Jeff should give them literacy tests or somethin'. Look at what happened with Mike."

"Now that took me completely by surprise. Mike just never seemed the type to me. But I guess there's a lot about the kid no one knew, including Charles and Gary." Jake chuffed a laugh. "I'll bet the hardest thing Charles ever did was have to apologize. I'd have loved to have been a fly on the wall for that."

Duke nodded. "True, but both Harry and I have had to warn Mike away from the falls before. I'm glad Harry was on his toes. He's a good man."

"Harry is one of those guys you look at and never really consider the real strength and mind behind the uniform.

Duke had to smile at this and said, "Yeah, he reminds me of the saying still waters run deep."

"Definitely." Jake said, making a gesture to someone behind Duke.

Duke turned to see who Jake was gesturing to.

The waiter brought up a large basket of wings and fries while Jake poured another large glass of coke for Duke.

The waiter smiled and placed the food down slightly to Duke's right. "Bon appetite," he said winking at Duke, he turned and started to walk back into the kitchen.

Duke smiled at the waiter. "Thanks, it looks very good." He drained the coke he had been drinking and then pushed the improvised ice pack toward Jake. "This looks and smells good. I didn't realize how hungry I was." He slid the basket to his left side then picked up a wing and bit into it. "Mmmm."

“Nothing hits the spot better than a big basket of wings and fries." Jake said, smiling as he picked up the towel, added more ice then laid it on the bar top and nodded his head at the bundle.

Duke glanced at the towel covered ice, but ignored it while he continued to devour the wings.

Jake raised an eyebrow at the big man and patiently waited until Duke carefully placed his hand and arm on the ice pack once again.

Duke swallowed the bite of chicken wing he had taken and said, "There was a slight accident at the rock climb. One of the older men and his young partner were climbing and the man lost his footing and sprained his ankle. I had to take him and his worried young partner to the infirmary. I didn't stick around though because I got another call about some young men having a shoving match at the beach."

"Brats on the loose." Jake said, shaking his head in dismay.

Duke said, "I was just breaking it up when their partners came to claim them. Seems they slipped away somehow."

"Hmmm, well, if they're worth their salt, their brats won't be pulling a stunt like that again any time soon."

Duke nodded. "Their partners didn't look very happy at all. You’d think we were running a kindergarten today instead of a resort."

"Well, you did what you had to do, and you did it well. Kudos for a job well done." Jake smiled. "Would you like anything else to eat? Those wings are nearly gone. The kitchen is closing in an hour but we had some really great baby back ribs, there might still be some."

Duke nodded. "If you do that sounds real good."

Jake gestured toward one of the waiters, the same one who had brought the wings earlier. "Ben, check in the kitchen, would you please?  See if we have any of those ribs left. If we do set our friend Duke up, ok?"

The waiter smiled at Duke again. "It would be my pleasure." Ben said, winking at Duke before he turned toward the kitchen.

Before long, Ben had come back to the door between the bar and the kitchen and gave the thumbs up. "It'll be a few minutes but there's plenty left, and once I told Gary it was for Duke he said he'd make a double batch."

Duke squirmed uncomfortably. He was getting a little nervous at Ben winking at him and Jake making so much fuss over him. "Umm...Thank you."

Jake put another coke in front of Duke. He saw the other man's discomfort and dialed it back a notch. It was a question, unasked but yet a question, as to whether Duke was 'available' or not. No one could remember ever seeing him with, or talking about, a woman in his life. The man was a puzzle that a good number of the men at the resort would love to figure out.

While Duke concentrated on the rest of the chicken, Jake took out his phone and texted Heath from beneath the bar.

Ben brought up the ribs on a platter, rolled his eyes at Jake and went to the mic to announce that the kitchen would be closing in a half hour and for the guests to please place their final orders.

Duke sniffed appreciatively at the ribs and dug in. He sucked on the straw in his coke to wash the ribs down. Finishing off the fries from the wings he started on the ones with the ribs. He favored his sore arm a bit, but didn't complain about it hurting. "These are excellent Jake." He remarked.

Seeing that Duke was having problems with the sauce and the napkin, he took another napkin and wet it in the sink. "Here you go." He noticed Duke going easy on the injured arm but didn't say anything. He shook his head thoughtfully.

Duke finished half of the ribs, made a contented sound and drank more of his Coke.

"Now didn't that make you feel a lot better than fuddling your head up with booze?" Jake asked with a grin.

Duke flushed and then nodded. "Yeah, it was good. I wasn't goin' to get totally drunk, just that bit of a glow."

"Worst time to drink is when you're upset. Believe me, I see enough of that here every night. If... well, I'm glad you feel better. Want me to wrap up the rest of these ribs to go?"

Duke looked thoughtful for a moment, then shook his head. "No, I'm not much of a cook and I'll probably burn them. You keep them for me and I'll stop by tomorrow and have them for lunch." He gave Jake a small grin.

"You got it, my friend. Now what do you say you drop by Heath's and let him have a look at that arm before you go to bed. We both know that once your nerves catch up with the injury you're going to be in a lot of pain." He said, arching an eyebrow at the taller man.

Duke glanced at the clock. "It's late. I don't want to wake him."

"That's his job, my friend. He's used to it. I'll bet you another rack of ribs that if I call him he'll answer on the first ring."

Duke shook his head. "He's with James and Jaxon. They don't need to be disturbed. It can wait until mornin'." Duke insisted stubbornly.

"Too late, I already texted him. He's expecting you at the infirmary as soon as you can get there. Now Mr. Marine, march!" Jake grinned.

Duke scowled at Jake. "You didn't have to do that."

"You weren't going to, so yes, I did. You need to take care of yourself, Duke. People are depending on you. And if you won't take care of yourself, I will. That's what friends are for. Now go on, I'll make sure Gary saves a rack of ribs for you for tomorrow."

Duke studied Jake for a long moment and then sighed. "'Kay, can I have that one to go?"

“Now listen and no bratting,” Jake teased. “Heath won’t be able to give you anything for your pain if you’ve been drinking. And you are going.” Jake waited for Duke to argue.

Duke made a face. "Brattin'? I ain't one of those." He pouted as he used his left hand to down the last of his Coke. "All right, I'll go, since you have him up already."

"I'll wrap these up and you go straight to Heath. I'll know if you don't." He reached under the bar, took out a roll of tin foil and proceeded to wrap the leftover food.

"Hey, do me a favor while you're there?"

Duke looked at Jake, "What?"

"Give him this extra plate of ribs. He was asking for them earlier." Jake laughed as Ben brought up another plate.

Duke grinned. "Not if I get to them first." He teased, but knew he'd bring them to the doctor as asked.

Ben gave Duke a significant look, smiled and walked away with another glance and a smile over his shoulder.

Duke, seeing Ben, looked distinctly uncomfortable and he turned to Jake. "What do you think he's doin'?"

Jake laughed, “The same thing nearly everyone on this resort does, he's just not being shy about it anymore."

Duke bit his lip. "Why me?"

"Have you looked in the mirror lately?"

Duke chuckled. "At this ugly old puss?"

"You know you're a good looking guy. You're also one of the last of the single men on the resort, now that James and Heath have hooked up. Gay or straight, there are a lot of men here who would love to say you're theirs." Even me, he thought.

Duke blushed hotly. "I don't think so."

"Take a good look at yourself in the mirror tonight,” Jake said quietly. "That is, after you've seen Heath, who is still waiting for you. Now get going, kiddo." Jake smiled.

Duke nodded. "All right and thanks Jake." The slightly older man gave Jake a mock salute and taking the plate he needed to deliver to Heath. "Put it on my tab Jake,” he teased knowing full well that meals were free to residents and employees. He left the bar and walked down to the infirmary.

Jake smiled in the direction that Duke had disappeared and shook his head again. 'If you were mine...' he thought, letting the thought trail off.


Duke Montgomery made his way to the infirmary. He had decided while walking down the path that he really didn't want to keep Heath up and away from his new partners, at least that's the way Duke thought of the three men. He was skilled at being very quiet when it counted and when he got to the infirmary door, eased it open enough to slide the foil wrapped dish of ribs onto the counter, eased the door shut quietly and made his way into the night like a shadow. Once he made it to his bungalow he proceeded to get ready for bed.

Heath was in one of the exam rooms waiting for Duke and becoming a bit impatient. It had been at least twenty minutes since Jake had texted him that Duke was on his way. After another five minutes he headed to the reception area to see if Duke had arrived yet and when he got to the front all he found was a foil wrapped plate of what smelled like BBQ ribs from the lodge. Duke was nowhere to be found. Heath pulled out his phone and called Duke's cell phone. There was no answer. He tried Duke's bungalow and again, there was no answer. Becoming concerned, he called Jake.

Jake had just walked out of the lodge on his way home when his phone rang, "Hello."

"Jake, I thought you said you were sending Duke over for me to check out his arm?"

"Yeah, I did. He should have been there already with a plate of ribs," Jake explained.

"Well, I got the ribs but no Duke, and there's no answer on his cell phone or his land line."

Concerned, Jake changed course and headed toward Duke's place. "I'll find him and bring him over." He reassured the doctor.

"Ok, I'll hang around then," Heath said.

As was his usual routine as soon as he arrived home, Duke turned off the ringer on his land line and turned off his cell phone. Coral was on duty and he would be able to handle anything that came up.

Duke carefully wriggled out of his tee shirt and pants and changed into sweat pants. He was having too much trouble putting on a clean tee, so he decided to go to bed without. He went into his bathroom to see if he had some Tylenol. His arm was swollen and slightly discolored, but he wasn't too worried.

It took another five minutes or so for Jake to reach Duke's bungalow. Noticing the lights were still on he knocked on the door.

Duke stopped rummaging in the medicine cabinet, surprised to hear a knock on his door. He cursed silently to himself wondering what he was needed for now. He went over to the door and pulled it open, "What’s wrong?" He asked and then saw Jake standing there. "Jake?"

"Why aren't you at the infirmary?" Jake growled.

Duke looked surprised hearing Jake’s tone. "I decided I didn't want to keep Heath up and away from his partners and I did deliver the ribs as asked." He said a little defensively.

"But you didn't even talk to Heath," the bartender said. Jake looked at Duke’s bare chest and swallowed back a moan. Then he looked at his arm and saw the swelling. "Come on, let's go."

Duke looked at Jake. "I told you it can wait until mornin'. A couple of aspirin or somethin' will be just fine." Duke argued.

"By morning that hand and your arm are going to be bigger than your head, Duke," Jake growled.

Duke looked down at his hand and arm. "A good night's sleep will help it." He continued to argue.

Jake tried a new approach, "Duke, you are my friend and right now you are just being stubborn. If you broke something then waiting isn't a good idea and I think you know that." Jake paused to let his words sink in. "I only want what is best for you, but if I have to call James to come get you to go see Heath I will."

Duke's eyebrows rose in surprise at Jake's threat and then he said a little sulkily, "Oh all right, just because you're my friend and I don't want the big gun woken up."

"Good," Jake said relieved. "Let's go."

Duke walked to the infirmary wearing his sweat pants, slippers, and a throw blanket, courtesy of Jake, draped lightly over his shoulders against the early morning chill.

Heath was waiting on the porch when he saw Duke and Jake walking up the path to the infirmary.

"You didn't have to wait outside, Doc." Duke said.

"It was either that or eat that whole plate of ribs you left me, Duke," the doctor said. "Come on in and let me look at your hand and arm."

Duke said, "You'd have done better to eat the ribs."

"Do you need me to stay, Duke, or are you going to play nice with Heath?" Jake asked with a chuckle.

Duke scowled at Jake. "You can go on home guard dog."

Heath looked between the two men and if he didn't know better he would have thought something was going on between them.

"Ok, I'll see you tomorrow for lunch then, big guy." Jake said.

Duke smiled at that and said, "All right Jake. Thanks for everythin', even though it wasn't exactly fair to threaten me with the big gun."

Heath looked at Jake confused.

"He wouldn't budge so I told him I was gunna call James," Jake shrugged. "What can I say, it worked."

Duke pouted. "See, Jake don't play fair, Doc."

Heath laughed and led Duke inside. "Thanks for rounding him up, Jake."

Duke followed Heath back inside and to the infirmary.

Once Heath got him settled on a chair in the exam room he held out his own hand for Duke’s. "Let me look at you."

Duke hesitated for a moment, then with a resigned sigh put his injured hand and arm in Heath's.

"How did you manage to do this, Duke?" the doctor asked.

Duke said, "I hit a young bull moose on the head when it tried to attack the golf cart I was in.”

Heath just looked at the man in his care. "You hit a moose? You hit a moose with your hand?" he asked having a hard time believing it.

Duke shook his head. "Actually I clobbered it with my forearm. My hand didn't get much of the blow."


"I'd picked up a stray who began screaming when he saw the moose. The moose charged and so... I hit it."

Heath shook his head and bit back his first response. Concentrating on business, he asked, "What sort of symptoms have you been feeling? Dull throbbing? Sharp pain?"

"It was sharp and intense when it happened." Duke replied, “But I did just hit a moose so I guess that was to be expected." He said, unconsciously cradling his right arm.

"Right now, where do you feel the worst of the pain?"

"Uh, all over right now. The whole arm, from the wrist to the elbow."

"And you said you delivered the young man to the lodge. How did you drive?"

"Well, the arm hurt so I mostly drove left handed. Turning the wheel with my right hand made my whole arm hurt."

"Well, it looks to me like you might have bruised your hand here," the doctor said pushing on the side of Duke’s hand. Duke winced in pain at the pressure, despite his efforts to remain stoic. "I'm worried that you may have broken your forearm. I'll need to take x-rays to be sure." Heath led the way to the x-ray room.

Duke went with the young doctor, a slight frown on his handsome face. He didn't like the idea of an X-ray, but he really didn't have a choice. If he didn't cooperate Heath would just call James and James would either dress him down or...well he didn't know if the man would fire him, but when he was his Captain in the Marines he had used some rather unconventional methods of gaining his cooperation and he wasn't anxious to revisit any of them.

Heath took the protective lead apron and used it to cover Duke from the neck down. "Place your arm on the slide," Heath instructed. Once it was in the correct position he stepped out of the room to snap the picture. Duke wasn't saying much but Heath could see his mind working. "Let me get a couple more then you can go back to the exam room," the doctor said. "And, Duke, I mean the room not home."

Duke nodded. "Yes Doc...I know."

"Good," then seeing the pained looked on his patient's face he asked, "Have you taken anything for the discomfort?"

Duke shook his head. "Not yet, I was rummagin' for somethin' in my medicine cabinet when Jake dragged me off to see you."

Heath chuckled. "Well, it's a good thing he cared enough about you to get you here," Heath said, "because you obviously didn't."

Duke nodded at Heath. "Yeah, he's a good friend," he said thoughtfully.

Heath snapped the last picture and turned to Duke, carefully removing the apron. "Go on back to the room and I'll get you something for the pain."

Duke stood up and walked back to the exam room to wait for Heath to join him.

Minutes later, Heath came in to the exam room and put the films up on the lit viewing frames. After a minute he called Duke over. "See, this line here," he said pointing to the security guard's ulna.

Duke looked at the line Heath pointed out. "Yes, I see it." He told the doctor.

"When you hit that moose you caused a hairline fracture," Heath explained. "You didn't fracture your metacarpal but it is bruised.”

Duke shook his head. "When I do somethin' I don't do it halfway, do I?" he sighed. Then realization hit. "Damn... does that mean I can't work? I have to work. I'm not sure Harry will be able to cover all of my hours...and Coral only works the graveyard shift."

"Duke, I'll have to cast it."

Duke frowned. "Like you said, it's just a hairline fracture, can't you just wrap it?"

Heath looked at Duke a minute then said, "I can put a removable splint on it, like the one Jaxon has. But if I do that you have to promise me to be careful."

Duke thought about it for a moment and then asked, "Careful how?"

"Well, for one thing, you can't go around slugging any more moose," Heath smiled.

"What about unruly guests?" Duke joked.

"I'm pretty sure there is a rule against that too," Heath said. "I need your promise that you'll be careful and maybe in a couple of weeks I'll release you back to light duty at work."

Duke squeaked out, "A couple of weeks?!"

"The usual treatment is immobilization for approximately 8 weeks, maybe more, depending on how fast the bone heals."

Duke shook his head. "I can't be out that long...tell you what doc, you put the cast thing on and let me go back to work right away."

"Duke, I know you don't want to let James or TLR down but come tomorrow morning you are going to be in a lot of pain." Heath explained. "I doubt that you will want to work."

Duke asked, "How about the day after tomorrow then?"

"Duke, ignoring your pain is likely to cause further damage and may slow or even prevent the fracture from healing all together." Heath warned. "Once the worst of the pain is gone, you're going to have to undergo several more weeks of physical therapy to strengthen your arm. It can take weeks to months before you can return to your usual level of activity."

Heath knew Duke wouldn't, no, couldn't stay inactive for long. He knew it was just who the big man was. "Duke, rest tomorrow and keep your arm elevated. We'll talk about my letting you go back to work. But not tomorrow, or the day after tomorrow."

Duke nodded. "All right Doc.” Duke didn't know what he was going to do without being able to work...maybe he'd just walk around the immediate grounds. That shouldn't be too bad would it? He asked himself.

Heath stepped over to one of the cabinets and pulled out a removable splint with Velcro tabs. Duke watched as he examined the splint then put it back and pulled out a larger one. He turned back to his patient. "This one should work just fine."

Duke nodded. "I can take it off anytime I want to?"

"I only want you to take it off to shower," Heath answered. "Duke, I'm serious. If I find out you aren't wearing it I'll cast it."

Duke bit his lip. "Can I take it off to sleep?"

"No, you can't. That arm will need the protection more when you are sleeping." Heath answered. "You know, Duke, I'm wondering if you aren't really a brat the way you’re fussin'."

Duke scowled, "I'm not one of them!"

"One of them who? Mutt or Adam?" Heath asked. "Do you think less of them because they allow someone to care about them?"

Duke shook his head. "No, I like them, I mean I don’t think of Mutt or Adam as brats."

“Are you saying you aren’t gay or you aren’t a brat?”

Duke blushed. “I don’t think I’m either.” He told Heath.

"Then who are you talking about?" The doctor asked.

"The ones I have to rescue...and break up fights with...those kind."

"Well, there are brats and then there are BRATS," Heath chuckled. "Brat is just a term some use. But what it's really all about is loving someone."

Duke looked at Heath puzzled. "I always thought brats were misbehavin' people." He'd been at the resort for a little over ten years and knew what it was about, but he'd never really thought of how a DP relationship worked in private. He'd seen a lot as an outsider, but had never tried to apply that knowledge to himself.

"Yeah, I understand where you would think that but really a brat is someone, gay, straight or a little of both, who understands that he or she needs help from time to time. Look at Mutt, he has a degree in engineering. He is very capable of handling life on his own but he knows it works better with Jeff beside him."

Duke nodded. "Yeah, they work together. So do you, James and Jaxon. You guys seem to belong together."

"Yeah, we hope that will happen," Heath said a dreamy look in his eyes. "We haven't asked him to join us yet. He needs time to feel safe first."

Duke nodded. "I see." He looked at Heath. "I suppose you and James will make all the rules and rescue Jax from trouble when he gets into it like the other tops do."

Heath chuckled but he was happy Duke was curious. "No, we will all three make the rules. If we become a threesome all three of us will have a say in the rules and the consequences."

Duke had a puzzled look on his face. "Then sort of like a corporation?"

"Yeah, I guess you could say that," Heath agreed.

Duke nodded. "So there's the head man and the subordinates."

Heath shook his head, "OK, let’s see, there is a head of household, or in our case, if it happens, there will be two. But not because we are the bosses and certainly not because Jaxon would not be an equal."

Duke asked, "Then how does that work? It's not like a mom, dad and child is it?"

"No, it's not about kids and parents," Heath answered. "Look in any adult relationship most of the duties, if you will, are handled by one or the other member. James pays the bills. I do the cooking. That sort of thing. One will give the other the power, for lack of a better word, to handle what he is best at. Within a DP relationship, the brat usually allows the top to handle what he is best at. But that doesn’t mean the brat is less of a person. In my book that only makes him stronger."

"So since I can't cook, my partner, wife or whatever will do that then?"

"Yes and you would do something you are good at." Heath let that sink in then added, "The thing is, Duke, it's not a one sided relationship. A brat has more control than the top has."

Duke looked at Heath puzzled. "How do you figure the brat has more power than the top who's in charge?"

"The brat has the power to stop or at least discuss the dynamic of the relationship at any time." Heath answered.

Duke shook his head. "So they can stop the consequences?"

"Well, yes they can, but not during the consequence." Heath said. "That wouldn't work at all."

"I've seen a lot in the time I've been here, but I've never seen the inner workings of this type of relationship." Duke said. "What kind of consequences, besides the occasional swat, does your average brat face, and why wouldn't it work if the brat didn't like the consequence?"

"As long as they can justify what they did, then the consequences of their actions will vary. Consequences depend on the type of top he has and on the type of infraction the brat committed."

"Once the top has decided on a punishment, the decision is final?" Duke asked.

"Yes, if his brat can't justify his actions but I think that should be something that is decided by both parties in the relationship," Heath explained. "A good top will always discuss the situation with his partner... or partners... first. After that they'll discuss the consequences."

Duke was about to ask another question when they heard a knock on the front counter.

"Stay there, Duke, I'll be right back."

Heath returned to the exam room with Jake.

He looked up as Heath came back into the exam room with Jake. "What are you doin' here Jake? I thought you went home."

"I just came to see how you're doing and to help you get home if you needed it. Sometimes those pain killers can throw you for a loop." Jake smiled. "So how's he doing, Doc?"

"He has a hairline fracture on his ulna and a bruised metatarsal.”

"I'm glad you came to see Heath then, Duke. That could have been ugly in the morning if you'd waited,” Jake said, a stern expression on his face.

Duke said, "He hasn't given me anythin' for the pain yet. We got to talkin'.

"Yes, we did get a little sidetracked, didn't we," Heath agreed.

Jake looked at the men, curiosity on his features.

Duke nodded. "Yes, we did. Heath said I was a brat and I told him I wasn't and well, we got to talkin' about what a brat and then a top were. That reminds me,” he said, looking at Heath, "Are you goin' to put that splint on me and give me that pain stuff you wanted to?"

"You're right. First things first. Hold out your arm, Duke."

Duke tentatively held out his arm, supporting it with his left hand as he did so, trying not to let on that it was truly hurting now.

"Sorry, bud, I know it hurts even if you won't admit it," the doctor apologized. Heath wrapped the splint around Duke's arm and adjusted it. “Remember your promise or I will cast it," Heath demanded as he slipped a blue sling over his patient’s head and across his shoulder. Then he carefully helped Duke place his arm in the sling. “That should help you keep your arm up and safe.”

Duke took a deep breath and nodded. "Okay doc, it feels a little better now that you got that thing around it."

"I thought it might feel better," Heath said. "Now, before I give you anything for the pain, did you have anything to drink with your dinner?"

"I had a few Cokes. Jake here wouldn't serve me anything alcoholic." Duke told Heath.

"He was pretty upset when he showed up at the bar so I served him Coke instead of Scotch,” the bartender confirmed.

"Ok, these pain pills are nothing to play with and you shouldn’t drink while you are taking them."

Duke nodded. "No worries, Doc, I don't keep a bottle at home. I only drink at the bar."

"You should be fine, then, if that's all you drank. You need to take these with food. Have you eaten?"

"I had wings, ribs an' fries."

"Ok, here, take these two now and two more in four hours if you can't sleep." Heath instructed handing Duke a small bottle with 10 pills in it.

Duke nodded and took the two pills offered to him and put the bottle in his sweat pants pocket. "Kay Doc."

Heath handed him a bottle of cool water.

Duke drank most of it in one gulp. The food had made him thirsty as well as the conversation.

"Do you want to continue this conversation, Duke?"

"Yeah, if you don't mind."

"Let's move into my office where we can be comfortable, gentlemen." Heath suggested.

"Very well, lead the way, Doc." Jake grinned.

Heath led the way into his office and the men all made themselves comfortable on the couch and chairs.

"So, Duke, what other questions did you have? Maybe we can get things straightened out in your head before the pills kick in." Jake suggested.

Duke said, "It sounds like the brat is ...well a misbehavin' school boy or child who needs to be punished by his parents."

"It's not a parent/child relationship. The brat is an equal partner and has a say as to what happens if he does something wrong, but often, the brat will suggest a consequence completely the opposite of what he actually deserves."

"For instance... if I had a reckless partner..." He continued, looking at Duke to see if he was listening.

Duke flushed but kept his attention on Jake.

"I'd have had to do something to address the fact that he whacked a moose on the head with his arm. That would be endangering himself. I know you were defending yourself and the other man in the cart, but there were other ways to get the moose to leave you alone. Whacking the moose on the head with your arm was not a good option. Then, not coming to see Heath after you'd promised me you were going too... well, Duke, that's lying."

"Duke," Heath said, eyes wide as a thought finally hit. "That incident had to have happened while it was still daylight. You didn't go to the bar until your shift was over. So how many hours did you continue to work after you were injured?"

Duke said, "It didn't hurt all that much and I said, I didn't want to disturb you."

"You wouldn't have been disturbing me, Duke." Heath chided the older man. "It's my job to take care of sick and injured people. You're family, and family comes first."

Duke nodded. "I see that now."

"So, back to our example, Duke,” Jake said solemnly. "If I had a partner, it would be my job to make sure he got the help he needed. But if, like tonight, he endangered himself, ignored the injuries and ignored directions to come straight to Heath, well, then there would be consequences."

Duke frowned slightly, "You're not my partner though. But if you were, what kind of consequences are we talkin' about?”

"No, I'm not your partner or Top or even your CO, but I am your friend,” Jake said, smiling at Duke's tone. “It's a 'what if' scenario. And if I was any of those then we would talk about what happened, like we just did, and if I was your partner or Top we would have discussed consequences."

Duke frowned. "I didn't have another option. It was chargin' the golf cart and I had to protect the young man who was screaming and makin' the moose angry."

"Could you have just backed the cart back up the road?" Heath asked.

"Don't you travel with a flare gun? I thought that was standard equipment in the carts. I know mine has one."

"I didn't have it handy and the golf cart is much slower than the moose was when it began to charge and I wasn’t on the road, but the trail." Duke said.

"You also suggested that you could have shot it. Well, I'm not going to condone injuring any animal, but if you had your pistol handy, you could have just fired off a shot to scare it." Heath said.

Duke thought for a moment, “I could have shot into the ground near it’s feet perhaps, but I just wanted it gone so I didn’t really think, I just did what came to mind first. And I didn’t want to scare the kid any more than he already was.”

Heath was seeing both these men in a new light. Both he and James had always thought that Duke was gay even if he didn't admit to it. And now Heath was even more sure of it.

"Duke, a DP relationship isn't only about consequences," Heath said. "It's about knowing you can rely on someone. It's knowing that when you have a bad day, there's someone to talk to someone to catch you when you fall. Someone to look out for you when you won't do it for yourself."

Duke's blue eyes had widened at the mention of consequences, but he sat listening quietly.

At Heath's statement he asked, “Relying on someone? I've always relied on myself."

The doctor waited a minute then said, "The best feeling in the world is knowing you are loved enough for someone to pull you up short when you need it. Didn't you ever wish you could lean on someone else?" Heath asked. "That you didn't have to do it alone?"

Duke shook his head. "A Marine is self-sufficient. James taught me that lesson when I was in the service." He told the men.

“Wasn’t your life as a Marine based on both relying on yourself and relying on your Marine brothers? They were your family, and James and Jeff were your Tops, not in a sexual way but Tops just the same, whether you admit it or not. And I think you know that, because you still look at James as the big gun,” Jake said.

“You respected their authority, which is basically what a brat does with a top. And you've probably been looking for that security since you got out of the Marines because the military gave you that authority. The rules to live by and the discipline to be accountable to yourself and others. Discipline can mean a lot of things, can have many aspects to it and in many ways a brat has to be self-disciplined too give up that bit of control. No one can MAKE a brat stand in the corner, he has to have the self-discipline to do it.

"Duke, when you and James were in the Marines together, what did he do when you messed up?" Jake asked, suddenly inspired. "He didn't just say 'Oh, that's OK Duke, just go on and forget that you messed up."

Duke bit his lip and blushed a bit looking down. "That was personal." He mumbled.

"I'm not asking you to divulge anything you're uncomfortable with, my point is, when you messed up there were consequences. The same goes in a DP. Back then it was not only his job as your Gunny but it was his way of keeping his friend safe."

Duke thought about that and then nodded. "I never really thought about it at the time, but you're right."

"Right now that's the best example I can think of."

Duke nodded. "I get that."

Duke eyed Jake suspiciously. "So, if you were my... top, what would you have done?" He asked again.

"I understand that you felt there was no other alternative to dealing with the moose, but, Heath was right. When you saw it in the path, you could have backed away, or even calmed the brat down by talking quietly to him and pointing out aspects of the moose so that he wasn't so afraid."

"As far as you not going to Heath as soon as you were injured, well, if you were mine, we'd talk about it, like we're doing now. My first reaction would be that you deserved a spanking, but with your being injured that wouldn't have been a fair consequence."

"Writing lines wouldn't have been an option because your dominant arm is in a sling."

"So, if you were mine, I would ground you. You would go to work, once the doc cleared you to do so, and come straight back home, no fishing, no activities with anyone."

Duke looked down and focused his eyes on his splint as he processed all the information he'd heard tonight.

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