The Participant

image from Abby Sage

A sequel to The Witness

The quiet of the ride home was a welcome relief for Kelsey. Over the last few weeks, she’d viewed the change in Danny’s temperament from boisterous to solemn with a touch of trepidation, worried that this incident would end their friendship. It suited her current mood just fine, though, and she certainly had no desire to talk at the moment- about her recent experience or anything else.

Danny, however, had other ideas.  He’d held his tongue for most of the ride, but as they approached their neighborhood he broke the silence, “Care to tell me more about this ‘John Smith’?” He kept his tone flat and his eyes on the road, but the rise in tension was palpable.

Kelsey squirmed, or rather squirmed more intensely than she had been, as she remembered the false name she had listed on her court-ordered corporal punishment form. “I already told you, I didn’t know you would come. I didn’t want to have your name on there if I needed to bring someone else.”

“Why?” Danny asked, his confusion and frustration infiltrating his voice. “Why were you in such a rush to return the form before lining up a witness?  You should know better than to complete official documents with inaccurate information. I certainly hope you din’t take the same approach with your first tax return. And even then, why did you think I wouldn’t go?”

Kelsey was quiet for a moment, fiddling with her seatbelt before responding quietly, “You’ve seemed so distant lately, like you wanted to be done with me.  I didn’t want to force you to do something for me if you’d rather not see me again.”

Danny sighed with exasperation, “People who are giving up on you don’t follow you to court.  I know I’ve been more reserved lately; you’ve given me a lot to think about. We’re not kids any more, and we need to stop acting like it.”

Kelsey felt tears prickling in the corners of her eyes, and was relieved to see that Danny had pulled into his driveway. The walk home would be painful after her strapping, but all in all she was thankful for the early end to the awkward conversation.

As he stopped the car, Danny looked over just in time to see the first tears fall before Kelsey quickly looked away. “Oh Kells,” he sighed, reverting back to his pet name for her. He draped his arm around her and pulled her into as much of an embrace he could in the front seat of the car. “Things are changing now, but you have to know, especially after today, that I still care for you.” When no reply came, he dropped his arm and unfastened his seat belt. “Come on, let’s go inside.”

“Thanks, but I’d rather go home. I don’t think I’d be a particularly good house guest just now, I don’t want to have to explain anything to your parents,” Kelsey sniffed, imagining how she would explain her odd gait and tear-streaked face to his overly-involved family.

“Nonsense. You’re coming in, we need to talk.  Besides, my parents are out for the night. I bought them theatre tickets as an early anniversary gift, and the show just so happens to be tonight,” Danny said with a wink as he helped her out of the car.

Once inside, Danny rounded up an extra pillow for Kelsey’s chair and set about making hot chocolate. He set the two steaming mugs down and took a seat next to Kelsey. She sipped her drink slowly. He had made it with about three times the powder one was supposed to use and tossed in a large handful of marshmallows, just the way she liked it. He even spared her the “you’ll rot your teeth out” lecture this time.

Seeing her shoulders relax for the first time that day, Danny asked gently, “How are you feeling?”

“Sore,” Kelsey said with a slight huff, “what do you think?”

“I figured that much, but what else?”

“Exhausted,” she replied simply.

“Also understandable,” Danny continued, “you’ve been through quite the ordeal today, though I hope it’s an ordeal you’ll remember the next time you’re tempted to participate in petty vandalism.”

“You have that right,” Kelsey replied. “It’ll be weeks before I can walk straight again.”

“I very much doubt that,” Danny laughed. “You’ll bounce back soon enough, though some lotion may help. Would you mind. . .?” Danny let the question hang. Their relationship had been remarkably chaste, much to the relief of their families.  As much as he wanted to help her, he didn’t want to force her to into anything she’d find uncomfortable; she’d been through enough trauma for one day.

Kelsey blushed at the implication. She would have rather dropped the subject entirely, but the twinging ache in her behind wouldn’t let it fall from her mind for long.  “I guess that would be nice,” she consented.

Danny dropped the mugs off into the sink and disappeared off to the bathroom, emerging with a bottle of lotion. He lead her into the living room, and couldn’t quite keep the glint from his eye as Kelsey winced and danced as she lowered her jeans. Flopping face-first onto the sofa, she turned away quickly, embarrassed by the show she realized she had inadvertently given him.

Danny sat on the edge of the sofa and gasped as he got a close-up view of her deep red behind. “You’ve had quite the workout,” he remarked as he began to gently spread the soothingly-cold lotion on her.  “I don’t imagine you’re surprised, neither am I for that matter. It looked fearsome, and you’ll almost certainly have bruises.” Danny let silence fall for a few moments as he began to gently rub in the cream. “It’s a pity,” he said softly, as if to himself, “so much damage done and not even for a true punishment.”

“What do you mean?” Kelsey bristled turning around and sitting up to face him, her rant screeching to a halt as her bottom grazed the sofa when she tried to sit.  After a few moments of scrambling, she crossed a leg under her and glared back at Danny with her arms crossed. She could see him smirking at her discomfort as she struggled to find a comfortable way to sit. She knew she must look ridiculous, but that self-knowledge did nothing do dull the indignation she felt at his comment. “I’ve most certainly been punished. How could you say that? You saw what they did to me.”

Danny held her eye for a moment to make sure she was finished and that he had her full attention before responding. “You’ve had an official punishment, yes, but I’m not sure if it was sufficient.  Painful, yes, I know, but there’s more to a good punishment than just pain. That facility, the disciplinarian, the whole procedure was very cold and impersonal. There was pain and humiliation, but that was about it. While I’m sure it provided you with sufficient motivation to stay on the right side of the law for a long while, did it really make you think about what you had done? Do you have any regret for your actions?.”

Kelsey remained quiet, staring down at her knees. Danny took advantage of her reticence and continued, “Makes me kind of agree with the whole ‘spanked and school, spanked at home’ philosophy. A true punishment needs a more personal element than can be conveyed in an institutional setting.”

“What are you saying?” Kelsey asked, her ire beginning to return. “You think my parents should whack me too?”

“I see no reason to bring your parents into this. We’re both adults.  I’m assuming they still don’t know?” Kelsey nodded. “We can keep this between us, but I don’t think the matter is closed yet. For one thing, if you’d been truly punished, you wouldn’t be so defiant now. Besides, if you parents had come along today, do you think they’d just let you go on afterwards as if nothing had happened?” he fixed her with an uncharacteristic steely glare.   “Now, would you like me to continue with the lotion, or is there more to your outburst?”

Kelsey would have liked to give him a piece of her mind, but the promise of his soothing touch and the gnawing, subconscious thought that he may be right kept her mouth shut as she laid back down.

Kelsey winced as he continued his work. His hands hands hurt as the rubbed her, but not in the same, terrifying way that the strap had. It was pain, but it was cleansing. While being strapped, she hadn’t felt much of anything, she now realized. All she could think of was what was happening to her and desperately pleading for it to stop.

“As I was saying,” Danny continued gently when he saw the tension leave her back, “you’ve been through a lot today, but I think we’ll need to discuss this further, just the two of us.  Believe it or not, today was traumatic for me too. I don’t ever want to see you go through something like this again, and I’m willing to do whatever I need to to be sure you won’t.”

Capping the lotion bottle, Danny set it aside and pulled Kelsey onto his lap, careful to keep her bottom off the sofa.  “I care for you, and you deserve better than you got today. I think you know this too. I don’t want to do anything more now, but I think we need to continue this discussion once you’ve had a chance to recover. Let’s say, next Friday? My family will be out again, the calendar says something about  a dinner party for my father’s office, so we should have plenty of privacy. I won’t force you to come, but I think it will help you,” he said gently, feeling a damp puddle gather on the shoulder of his shirt where she had laid her softly shaking head.

He held her for a while longer, both of them reflecting on the day’s events, before he roused her and told her to get dressed. “My family will be home soon, and yours must be wondering where you’ve been.” He drove her home in silence, giving her a quick but loving kiss as he dropped her off.

***

The next week passed in a blur for Kelsey. During the day, she focused on her classes, welcoming the distraction. Every evening she got together with Danny, either at his house or her own.  The presence of other family members didn’t give them the opportunity to bring up the subject that was weighing on them both, but she was grateful for his company.

Friday afternoon rolled around, and Kelsey dawdled at her locker.  Feeling a hand on her shoulder, she looked around to see Danny behind her. “Ready?” he asked.

“I guess,” she mumbled, allowing herself to be steered out of the building and into his car.

Once in his house, he again fixed mugs of hot chocolate. Just as before, he prepared hers just as she liked, but she only stared at the mug as it steamed. Her stomach was roiling too much for the introduction of any foreign substance, no matter how chocolatey, to be a good idea. Before her official punishment, she would have thought it was impossible to be more nervous than she had been waiting for that ordeal to begin. Now, she was beginning to wonder just how many new levels of anxiety there could be for her to discover.

“You remember why we’re here?” Danny asked kindly.

“Yes,” Kelsey mumbled at her mug. She was nervous, but she trusted Danny. The last week had given her plenty of time to think this over, as much as she tried not to, and she couldn’t argue with him. She knew she deserved this.

“It will hurt, but not in the same way your official punishment did. I’ll make sure you feel it, but I won’t harm you. You know I’m doing this because I love you.” Kelsey felt the tears run down her face. As solemn as the situation was, the last three words warmed her. He had never told her that before. He had expressed affection, of course, but everyone knew that particular phrase represented something different- something special.

“Do you want to drink that, or should we get started?” Danny asked. She shook her head, stood up, and followed him into the living room. “Take down your jeans,” he instructed.

Kelsey baulked, part of her knew this was coming, but that didn’t make it any easier.

“Kells,” Danny said softly, “no need to be shy, I’ve seen everything last week. I’m guessing you’re in a much better state now, too.  I don’t want to hurt you, so I need to see what I’m doing.” Kelsey didn’t move, so he reached out, grabbed her hips and drew her in closer. She made no effort to stop him as he slowly eased her clothing over her bottom. He drew her over his lap and ran a hand over her bottom. “I see you’ve recovered quite a bit since last time, though you still have a few bruises. That will make this more painful, though I see no reason not to continue.”

Kelsey sniffed at this pronouncement. It was no surprise to her, she’d carefully examined her bottom every day. She had half-held a hope that the fading blue marks would grant her a stay of execution, but knew that Danny wouldn’t let her off so easily.

“I’m disappointed in you,” Danny said with the sternness that she had never heard from him before the incident but which was becoming more and more common in their discussions. “I know you’ve always had trouble feeling like you fit in at school, but I like how you walk your own path. I’d have never thought you’d let your classmates persuade you into doing something as silly as spray painting the school.” He punctuated his scolding with a few sharp swats to her behind. She winced at the contact, but it was nothing like the strap. The warmth of his lap under her and his arm circling her waist made her feel secure and kept her calm as he continued the spanking.

“I expected better of you,” he scolded. “There’s nothing wrong with participating in pranks, but you should know the difference between harmless fun and vandalism.” A particularly hard stroke made her wince and kick on his lap, but he held her in place. “Do you understand?” he asked, pausing to rub her bottom.

“Yes, Daniel,” she replied.  She’d never used his full name before, but it felt appropriate now. One doesn’t allow oneself to be scolded and spanked by a “Danny.”

Daniel spanked quietly for a few moments, gradually reddening her bottom, though it didn’t take on the brilliant sheen it had the previous week. When he paused again, he noticed her shoulders were shaking with silent sobs. “You’re doing well, Kells, but we’re not finished here yet.  Tell me about that form. What possessed you to list a fake name as the witness? Did you really expect me to go along with that? Did you not think to wait until you knew who would accompany you before returning it? How long does it take to ask someone if they were willing to come?” He continued spanking, not expecting a reply.  Before long, she began to squeal and kick as the pain intensified. He kept a firm grip on her waist to hold her still as he rounded off the spanking with a series of hard swats to her upper thighs that made her shriek before stopping to stroke her bottom again. Her cries died back to quiet sobs as he gently massaged her cheeks.

“Now let’s address the ‘didn’t know if you’d say yes part.” Her sobs grew louder as she tensed her bottom in anticipation.

Instead of spanking her, Daniel drew her up into his lap and held her tenderly as she cried into his shoulder. “That’s not something I was going to punish you for,” he soothed as he hugged her. “I love you, and I’ll always be there to support you. If you ever doubt that, please tell me,” he said, stroking her back as she rested her head on his shoulder. “Things will change, we’re both about to graduate, and I’m sure you’ll face many more temptations in college. I’ll be here for you, and I want you to talk to me. I can help you. All you need to do is ask. Can you promise me that?” he asked, lifting her head to look into her eyes.

“Yes, Daniel,” she replied, enthralled by his earnest expression.

“Thanks, Kells,” he said with a smile.  “Now, I believe you have some hot chocolate waiting for you, though it’s probably cooled off now. I want you to put your nose in the corner and think about what we just talked about while I heat it up. Can you do that for me?”

She nodded and schluffed off the the corner, struggling to not trip over the clothing bunched around her knees. She rested her head against the cool walls, unable to muster any indignation at the childish position. It felt odd to stand there, listening to Daniel bustle about in the kitchen, but she was grateful for the time to reflect. He was right, things would be changing very rapidly, very soon.  As chaotic as it would undoubtedly be, after how he had supported her this week, she knew she could count on him.

The End

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