Rick was sitting in his trailer, strumming on his guitar moodily, when there was a timid knock on the door.
“Door’s open, Matty.”
Matt pushed the door open and stood there, looking anxious. “Do you want me to go? Only I’m worried about you, and everyone’s freaked out and kind of scared of upsetting you, so if you’d rather be alone…”
“Scared of upsetting me? Shit. I didn’t know.” Rick put his guitar to one side. “Look, I’m sorry, Matty. The only person upsetting me is me. I know I was just a total dick.”
“Well… yeah. Kind of.” Matt closed the door behind him and came into the trailer.
“I saw this magazine article,” Rick blurted, much to his own surprise. He hadn’t realized he’d been brooding on that so much.
“Which one?” Matt sat down on the couch beside him.
“Torn between two doms?” Rick raised an eyebrow.
“Oh, that one.”
“You knew about it?”
“Yeah – I read it earlier when I was in make-up. What a load of shit.”
“You didn’t say anything to me. I mean, you didn’t bring it in, like last time, and rant about it.”
“Well, like you said, it’s all crap, isn’t it? I don’t know how they make this stuff up. I didn’t even know anyone had taken a photo of me and Karl at his birthday thing. We had a good laugh about it earlier.”
Rick frowned. “You had a good laugh with Karl about the article?”
“Yeah. He liked being described as a smooth and sexy Brit, or whatever it was they said about him.”
“I bet he did.” Rick felt absurdly annoyed about that. “Why didn’t you show it to me, Matty?”
“Well…” Matt hesitated, making a face. “I was going to, but… to be honest, Rick, I wasn’t sure you’d see the funny side of it. You’re so on edge these days, and I didn’t want to make things worse for you. I know life’s getting you down at the moment. With the… you know… lack of spanking and all.” He bit on his lip as he said that, and Rick had a suspicion that he was being mocked.
“Okay. Whatever. Look, I need to learn my lines, so…” Rick grabbed his script.
“Oh. Right. Okay.” Matt patted his arm awkwardly. “So, we’re good?”
“Sure, buddy.” Rick didn’t look up from his script as Matt left.
“What the fuck was that about?” he growled to himself after Matt had gone. “Why didn’t you show it to me, Matt?” he mocked in a whiny voice. “For fuck’s sake, Rick! Get a grip. You’re turning into a total asshole.”
He got up and gazed at himself in the mirror. His reflection gazed back, looking sad and wounded with one fake bruised eye.
Rick sighed. How the hell was he going to make it all the way to hiatus?
The others were already crammed into Karl’s trailer when he arrived, and Matt had the sense that the party had started without him. They all looked around when he came in, and Karl glanced at Daniel, who nodded.
“Am I late?” Matt asked, frowning. He glanced at his watch. “You said half an hour, didn’t you?”
“Come in, Matt. I was just explaining my idea to the others,” Karl said, beckoning him over.
Matt squeezed himself into a tiny gap between Estelle and the twins.
“We think it’s a great idea,” Cara said.
“Totally awesome,” Casey added.
“Sure – I mean, it’s completely crazy, but what the hell.” Estelle took a long drag on her cigar, blew out a cloud of smoke into Matt’s hair, and grinned. “I like crazy!”
“Let me explain,” Karl said to Matt. “I thought that as Rick’s issue seems to be the lack of a spanking partner…” Karl kept his face completely straight as he said that, “we should provide one for him.”
“What? How? We pay someone?” Matt asked incredulously.
“No.” Karl shook his head. “Rick’s a proud dom – he’d hate that. I thought… seeing as there are so many subs in the cast, and seeing as we all agree that we much prefer Rick when he’s happy than when he’s not, that we’d draw straws for it.”
“Draw straws for what?” Matt asked.
“To find a volunteer,” Cara told him. “To be spanked.”
“By Rick,” Casey added.
“What?” Matt stared at them.
“Only if everyone is happy with that,” Daniel said quickly. “Nobody has to volunteer if they aren’t.”
“Hang on,” Matt said, holding up his hand. “Am I in some surreal episode of the show, because this sounds like the kind of insane plan Alex Tanner would dream up. Or Jason Jarvis in one of his evil moments.” He shot Karl a suspicious look.
“It is a bit out there,” Karl agreed. “But desperate times call for desperate measures.”
“We’re not going to deceive Rick,” Daniel said. “Whoever draws the short straw will go to his trailer and offer their services as a daily spanking partner until Rick can make alternative arrangements.”
“Am I the only one who is living in the real world here?” Matt looked around at the others. “We draw straws and whoever draws the short one goes to Rick and asks to be spanked?”
“It’s called taking one for the team,” Karl said.
“That’s easy for you to say. You’re not a sub, so I presume you’re not going to be offering up your ass for a daily tanning?”
“Not a tanning – just a light spanking,” Karl said smoothly.
“And everyone agrees to this?” Matt looked around again. “You all agree – Daniel, Estelle, Cara, Casey? You agree that if you draw the short straw, then you’ll actually do this? You’ll go over there and ask Rick to spank you?” he asked incredulously.
“Nobody has to agree to anything they don’t want to do. You can lay down whatever parameters to Rick that you like,” Daniel said firmly. “And if you don’t want to draw a straw, nobody will make you. This is entirely voluntary.”
“And nuts,” Estelle said, blowing out another circle of cigar smoke into his hair.
“Completely and absolutely bonkers,” Karl said, with a straight face.
“Totally whack,” the twins said.
“Definitely unusual,” Daniel added. “But we’re all single, unattached subs…”
“More’s the pity,” Estelle commented darkly.
“So we’re free to offer ourselves up for this if we want,” Daniel finished.
The twins turned to look at each other, two red spots on their cheeks, and then nodded vigorously.
Matt sat there, completely dumbfounded. Then he remembered how Rick had eulogized about spanking that night at his house a few weeks ago, and how he had made it sound like an almost spiritual experience. Matt had a sudden, vivid mental image of what it might be like to be hauled over Rick’s thighs, his pants stripped down to his ankles, and his ass soundly spanked by those big hands.
“I’m in,” he said.
It took him a few seconds to register what he’d done, and then he clapped a hand over his own mouth, horrified with himself.
“Good.” Karl nodded. “So – we’re all agreed? Whoever draws the short straw goes over to Rick’s trailer and offers him their ass for a spanking?”
“Agreed!” they all said at the same time – except Matt who was still wondering why on earth he’d joined in this collective act of madness.
“Matt?” Daniel asked gently.
Matt nodded. “Agreed,” he whispered.
“Okay, then.” Karl opened a box of matches, snapped one in half, and held it up. “Whoever draws the short match is the person who does this.”
Everyone nodded, and Matt watched nervously as Karl arranged the little handful of matches in his hand, so you couldn’t see where the short one was.
Karl put his closed fist on the table nearest to Daniel, and they all watched, with bated breath, as Daniel gazed at the matches thoughtfully.
Matt tried to imagine the quiet, dignified Daniel going over the knee of Rick O’Shea for a spanking but his brain failed to compute. It simply wasn’t possible. It couldn’t happen. There was no universe in the world where Chief Christie went over Alex Tanner’s knee. It was wrong on every level.
He was sure he wasn’t the only person in the room who let out a massive sigh of relief when Daniel drew a long match.
“Now the twins; I take it you want to go as one person?” Karl asked, which was a redundant question because clearly there was no way just one of the girls would go into Rick’s trailer if they picked the short straw. The twins nodded, their sleek blonde heads bobbing in unison.
They reached out together and let their fingertips touch each of the matches in turn, as if trying to decide. This went on for several seconds.
“Oh, for fuck’s sake!” Matt said eventually, his nerves getting the better of him. “Just pick one.”
They grinned and then suddenly, without seeming to conspire at all about their choice, their fingers joined on the same match at the same moment, and they pulled it out.
It was a long one.
“Just you and Estelle, now. Fifty-fifty,” Karl said, putting his fist in front of Matt’s face.
“Right. Okay, then.” Matt swallowed hard. He thought of Estelle drawing the short straw and wondered what on earth Rick would think if she turned up at his trailer door with this insane offer. He felt a stab of something in his gut, and then realized, as his fingers closed around a match, that the only person he could bear to draw the short one was… himself.
He tugged it out, and then his stomach seemed to go into free-fall as he stared at the broken match in his hand.
“Oh, shit,” he breathed. Seconds ago he’d wanted it to be him, but now it was he desperately wished it wasn’t as his nerves came rushing in.
“Matt!” squealed the twins, enveloping him in a hug. “You are so lucky. Rick is so fit. We’d love to be spanked by him.” They giggled and hugged each other instead. Matt just stayed there, gazing at the broken match in his hand.
“You don’t have to do this, Matt,” Daniel said, gazing at him keenly. “We can come up with another plan if you don’t want to do it.”
Despite his nerves, Matt now felt anxious in case this was taken away from him. “No!” he said quickly. “I mean, I want the old Rick back as much as you do. So…” He took a deep breath, trying to work out his see-sawing emotions. “So, I’ll do it,” he said firmly.
“Good boy,” Karl said approvingly.
“Thank you, Matt.” The twins enveloped him in another massive twin-hug, and Matt twisted and squirmed away. “Sorry, Matt,” they said. “Too much hugging!” They knew he didn’t like anyone getting into his personal space. He’d tolerate the occasional hug from them, but he preferred to keep people at arm’s length.
“Well done, m’dear. You go and show that big, bad dom what a little tiger you are,” Estelle said, making claws with her hands. “Rawr!”
“You are all completely insane, you know that?” Matt told them, standing up.
“And you are a star, Matthew Lake,” Karl said, grabbing hold of his hand and pumping it.
“A star idiot more like,” Matt muttered. He walked over to the trailer door and turned to look back at them for moral support.
Daniel gave him an encouraging smile, Estelle saluted him with her cigar holder, and the twins clung onto each other and sighed at him happily. Karl just stood there, with a look of quiet satisfaction on his face.
Matt gave them a feeble wave and then opened the door and walked out into the L.A. sunshine.
He closed the door behind him and took a deep gulp of air as he gazed across the studio lot towards Rick’s trailer.
Was he really going to do this?
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