Although I'm not entirely pleased with this part, I'm going ahead and posting it.
Title: Teegan’s Interlude
Series: Another Life, Harvest Quest
Silence flowed over the room as soon as Lars led the unexpected guests out. Silence that was ignored by the two men left standing by the table. Teegan was still feeling the wave of relief that he would be going with Joel back to earth. Teegan hadn’t heard anything said after the young Historian had agreed that Teegan would go with his dominant. They’d been together almost constantly since he’d fallen out of the tree right at Joel’s feet. He couldn’t breathe even thinking of Joel on Earth and him here on Gliese.
As the wave of relief started to recede, Teegan saw Joel standing, staring at the closed door. The link between the two men started to hum throughout his body. “Joel?”
Joel startled and then turned to face him. The look on his dominant’s face was full of grief and sorrow. When the haunted eyes met his own, Teegan’s breath caught in his throat. Memories of Joel’s family flooded into Teegan. He could feel the overwhelming anguish flowing through his dominants body. “Joel? What is it? What is wrong?”
“There were seeds. Seeds that could have save them,” Joel cried out.
Teegan rushed to embrace him. He pushed at the link; he had to give comfort to this strong man. “You didn’t know. And if you did, it wouldn’t have helped.”
“I studied farming all my life. I dedicated everything I was to the art of growing food.”
Continuing to hold on to his dominant, Teegan voiced words of reason. “You told me the land, the soil, had no nutrients left to give. That there was no water to give life to the plants. Had you had those seeds, would they have been able to grow?”
Teegan felt Joel’s emotions turn from despair to logic and Joel’s arms lifted to embrace him back.
“No. Acid rain had scorched the earth. The soil was nothing but dust. We hadn’t had a good rain in decades. That’s why I moved to the city. I’d heard of a group trying to produce food using hydroponics. The problem was two-fold. The water was polluted and it was impossible to grow enough food to feed more than a few people.”
Teegan leaned back and met Joel’s eyes. “You did all you could. Your family knows that.”
Joel leaned in and softly kissed him. “Thank you, agape. I’d believed that time and space had erased my tracks. That there was no way back. With the opportunity to go back, memories overwhelmed me. I’m ok now. Let’s fix our meal.”
“Are you frightened to go back?” Teegan asked as they moved toward the cooking area.
“No. It will be a hard journey, but I’m not frightened. Are you?”
Teegan ducked his head. He put some meat in a pot and placed it on the wood stove. “Maybe a little.”
“That is only natural. You’ve never been there. I don’t know where the seed vault is, but I can tell you what I know of Earth.”
Teegan listened as Joel talked of a dry and dead planet. Of smog-choked air. Of water that killed. The link flowed between them giving the sub glimpses into Joel’s memories. Memories filled not only with images of the land but of faces gaunt with hunger and hopelessness. With each pulse of despair that came his way, Teegan would push comfort to his dominant.
They cooked and then ate their dinner as they talked. Joel reminded Teegan that he’d left the dying planet over a year ago, he didn’t know what they would find when they went back.
“Enoch, Astrid, and the others didn’t tell us much. Just that we had to go back. That the seeds there would help those of us here,” Joel said.
“The Historians usually keep to themselves. To have the wisdom of the past and the future must be a terrible burden,” Teegan mused.
“I wish they would have told us more. At this point, we will only be guessing as to what lies before us,” Joel said pragmatically.
Cleaning up the few dishes, they were lost in their own thoughts. The link that was unique to them was kept open reassuring both of them. They’d made one long and dangerous journey when they’d traveled to Tarvos, they would rely on each other again.
The thought of how they relied on each other brought another thought to Teegan’s mind. Even knowing the pain that would be involved, he needed the discipline that had been interrupted earlier.
“Joel? Can we...are you up to...” Teegan stuttered.
Laying down the drying towel, Joel met Teegan’s eyes. “Yes. I’ve left you adrift far too long. We’ll finish our earlier discussion and start fresh tomorrow.”
Teegan’s emotions became a pendulum. A bit frightened at the thought of Joel using a paddle on him for the first time. But also reassured that their power exchange would once again be in balance.
“Go on. Bring me the paddle,” Joel instructed.
Teegan went into their sleeping room and picked up the wooden paddle that he’d left on the bed. Walking back he saw that Joel had pulled a chair out to the middle of the room.
“We’ve lost the balance between dominant and submissive,” Joel said, holding his hand out for the paddle. “The words you threw at Lars were harsh and cruel. And I know you are neither. Lars forgives you for them. As do I. But you need help in forgiving yourself.”
Teegan nodded his agreement. He did need help forgiving himself. He knew it would become a vicious cycle unless he felt some closure. Handing Joel the paddle, he stood still as his dominant untied his pants and helped him step out of them.
He felt their link dim as he settled across Joel’s lap. His dominant would feel his emotions, but not the pain of the paddle. That was for Teegan alone to feel.
“I would hold your hand for safety,” Joel said softly.
Teegan moved his hand to the small of his back. The feeling of safety swept over him when Joel pinned his hand with his own.
“We’ve discussed this enough,” Joel stated and when Teegan nodded brought the paddle down.
When the paddle came down, Teegan was more than thankful for Joel’s forethought. Teegan knew his hand would have flown back to protect his bare behind. Ten times the paddle came down. With one hand pinned to his back, and the other hand grasping the chair, Teegan couldn’t twist and turn. He could only lay across the hard legs and gasp with each blow. By the time the paddle fell for the last time, Teegan’s cries echoed in the room. Cries of pain, but also repentance.
The hand that had held his captive soon became a calming force. Joel’s strong hand stroked up and down his back. Soothing him. Quieting him. Teegan turned and buried his head in Joel’s shoulder. The day had been long and filled with a storm of emotions. Exhaustion swept over him.
“Come, my agape. Sleep is what we both need,” Joel said tenderly. Then he half carried Teegan to their bedroom.
Joel quickly undressed Teegan and helped him under the covers. Teegan waited impatiently for Joel to disrobe and get in bed with him, he needed the comfort of his dominant beside him. Soon, the night sky peeked through the window to see two men wrapped in each other’s arms.