Every relationship has its ups and downs. If you love somebody, really love them, you have to be willing to take the bad with the good. And Kyle loved Jake. So when Jake got rough -- and Jake always got rough -- when Kyle was lying there raw and bloody and knowing in his heart that he couldn't possibly handle one more lash, he always took it anyway.

It could have been worse. Jake was a saint compared to his last boyfriend, who hadn't seemed very concerned about whether Kyle survived his beatings or not. One time he'd beaten him so hard that -- but that was a story for another day. No, when Jake was done with the whipping or the lashing or the torture that always accompanied sex, outside of the bedroom, he was sweet and kind and gentle with Kyle; cooking him dinner, giving him back rubs, not getting angry when he was clumsy or forgetful -- and Kyle always fucked something up. It was so good.

Truth be told, Kyle liked the rough sex, too. Well, he liked it to a point. Jake always managed to cross the threshold from hurts-so-good to just plain hurts. But Kyle had a good thing going, and he had to take the bad with the good. So he took the pain and he never said a word. Until one night he couldn't keep silent.

It was a Friday night and probably the best night of Kyle's life. Jake had cooked him a fancy dinner, they had talked for hours about their pasts and their futures, and what they really wanted out of life. They had cuddled on the balcony and watched the sun go down and shared the sweetest kiss Kyle could ever remember having. It was utter perfection, and so much more than he deserved, until Jake had picked him up, carried him into the bedroom, and started spanking him.

At first, Jake used the flat of his hand. It felt good, hot and firm, with that bite of pain he craved. But then the hand was replaced with a flogger, and the pain sharpened.

The small whip broke the skin just as Jake thrust into his tight, lubed-up entrance. Kyle couldn't feel the pleasure for the pain. His perfect night was going down in flames, and it was too much to bear. A tiny sob escaped, then another.

Jake stopped instantly.

"Kyle," he grumbled, and Kyle trembled. He knew then that the pain hadn't ruined the night. He had.

"I'm sorry," he spit out. "I'm sorry! Don't stop. Please don't stop." He repeated it over and over, holding his breath, hoping against hope that Jake would keep going and forget all about it and please, please not do something worse. His nerves were too raw and he couldn't handle a punishment.

Jake's hand smoothed his thigh and slid around to his groin. Kyle winced when his lover found him laying soft and limp against his thigh.

"I'm sorry," he whispered again. He knew it was too late but he couldn't help trying to fix it anyway.

Jake pulled out. "Kyle?" His deep voice was hesitant as he stroked the cock that was beginning to harden in his hands.

"Please," Kyle begged, unable to stop.

Jake flipped him over and he flinched as his ass pressed into the sheet that was already dampening with blood. He knew from experience that if he stayed there too long the blood would dry, and then moving would really hurt. He stared up into Jake's bottomless brown eyes with his own tear-filled ones.

"Please, what?" The words seemed dark and laced with menace.

"Please, Master. Please don't kill me."

The silence was deafening.

And then Jake laughed. The sound was rich and warm, but it made Kyle shiver. Jake lowered his body fully onto Kyle's, as if his arms simply gave out, and rubbed their noses together gently. Kyle was dumbstruck. This was his boyfriend, not his lover. This was the Jake that cooked for him and asked him how his day was. This Jake didn't exist in this room.

"Oh, Kyle," Jack rumbled, still chuckling. "We've got to get you a better safe word."


"I mean, 'please don't kill me' works, but it kind of kills the mood too, don't you think?"

Kyle just stared.

"I hurt you?" his lover/boyfriend asked, running his hands up and down Kyle's sides.

"You always hurt me."

"You like it when I hurt you." Jake grinned. "But I went too far?"

He always went too far, but Kyle didn't have the heart (or the guts) to tell him that. So he nodded instead.

"Baby, why didn't you say something?"

The tenderness in Jake's eyes made Kyle's well up again. He shook his head. "Not my place. You're the master. If you want to go too far, that's your right. I take what you give."

"Oh, God." Jake pulled back, supporting himself on his arms. "I always go too far, don't I? And you never say anything."

Kyle shrugged. "I submit, Master. It's what I do."

Jake was ignoring him and seemed to be talking to himself. "I should have expected this, after your last boyfriend. God, that guy really did a number on you and fucked with your head. You've got this all wrong, Kyle."

So Jake was talking to him after all.

"I may be on top, baby, but you're the one in charge. I do whatever I want to you, and you have to trust me to make you -- us -- feel good."

"I do," Kyle whispered, mesmerized by the look in his lover's eyes. That earned him a kiss.

"But you set the limits," Jake continued when he pulled away. "I have to be able to trust you to tell me when it's too much, too hard, too far, or I'll always be too nervous to take us to the brink. So do your job, slave."

Slowly Kyle began to realize that he wasn't in trouble. "So you're not going to punish me?"

"God, have you heard a damn thing I've said?"

He nodded.

"Good, then pick a freakin' safe word so I can get back to making you feel good."


"That's right, pick one."

"Safeword," Kyle repeated.

Jake flashed him an annoyed look for a second. Then he got it and he rolled his eyes. "You can't pick 'safeword' for your safe word, Kyle."

"Why not?" he asked. "It will be easy for both of us to remember."

They stared into each other's eyes. Finally, Jake nuzzled his neck sending delicious tingles down his spine, and shook his head. "Only you would pick that. But okay, sure. Safeword it is. Now be a good little slave and turn over." His voice deepened with the promise of pleasure. And pain.

Kyle could do naught but obey. As his lover spread Neosporin over his healing wounds, part of him wondered if this gift of power was just an illusion. The other part of him didn't care, because Jake had lifted him to his knees, and his hands were pulling on Kyle's cock while his mouth enveloped Kyle's balls in melting-soft heat.

"Oh, God." He was overcome.

For a moment the heat disappeared. "See, baby. Pleasure doesn't always have to hurt."

Then sharp nails dug into trembling thighs. Kyle screamed, going over the edge.

"But it's better if it does."