In this flash fic, see how Rafe is dealing with the tragedy.
Content Warning: While these fics take place after the event, they will discuss a school shooting.
Copyright 2017 Thianna Durston
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“Breathe.” Levlin’s firm voice made it through the sense of overwhelming panic and Rafe took a sharp breath. It felt like breathing through plastic. Why couldn’t he get enough air in his lungs? “Breathe, Rafe. Just breathe.”
Strong hands rubbed along his arms and back, bringing him back into the present. Rafe blinked and their living room came into sharp relief. “Éigneachán,” he gasped.
“Shh. Don’t try to talk yet. Just breathe.”
It was a simple refrain. “Breathe. Just breathe.” But by concentrating on those three words and the man holding him in his arms, the pounding in Rafe’s heart and the clamp around his chest began to recede. Slowly the fog that clogged his mind drifted away until he was left shaking and shuddering against his husband’s chest.
“That was the third one,” he whispered, slightly ashamed he wasn’t holding up well under the pressure.
“There’s no rating scale on panic attacks, love,” Levlin said. “Everyone suffers through tragedy and fear in their own way. As scary as the attacks are, you’re working through your pain. I want to set you up with therapy appointments. Trent, Bastien, and I are too close. I’ve already called a friend of mine and he’s willing to talk to you.”
“I don’t need therapy.”
“Yes, you do.” The firm tone in Levlin’s voice should have brooked no refusal, but Rafe flamed with annoyance.
“No. I don’t.” He jerked back out of Levlin’s arms and glared at him. “I’m going to be fine. You said yourself that it would take a few weeks. It’s only been two days.” Two days since that horrible shooting. Two days since…
“Rafe.” Levlin’s sharp voice jerked him out of his ruminations and he stared wide eyed at him. “What were you just thinking?”
He physically shrunk from the question. Rafe didn’t want to answer it. He was horrible for even thinking about it. But it kept running over and over in his head and it wouldn’t stop.
“Tell me,” Levlin said firmly.
Slowly Rafe looked up into his eyes and shook his head. “I can’t,” he admitted, wishing he could. He’d shared everything with the loving man in front of him but this was too raw, too painful. He couldn’t say the words yet.
If he could have seen this scene ahead of time, he would have expected exactly what happened. His husband’s eyes softened as he patted his lap. “Pants and underwear down, Rafe. Over my lap.”
There were so many things that popped into Rafe’s head in that moment. “That’s not fair,” “you can’t do that,” and “not now” being at the top of the list. The only thing to pass his lips was “But…”
Levlin’s eyes softened further. “Now, love.”
It never got easier. Whether he wanted it as he sometimes did or didn’t want it like now, it wasn’t easy to stand up, unbutton his jeans, and push them and his underwear past his knees. He hobbled forward and bent over the Levlin’s firm thighs and rested his upper body on the sofa cushions.
“Now,” Levlin said as he rubbed his warm palm over Rafe’s rear end. “You’re hurting. And I can help. But I can’t help if you don’t tell me what’s really bothering you. So this is what we’re going to do. I’m going to spank you until you tell me exactly what you think I don’t want to hear.”
Rafe’s eyes went wide. Levlin did that once before. Said he was going to spank Rafe until everything was out in the open. That damned spanking went on forever. He didn’t want that.
“I’ll be fi—Ow!”
Levlin had a hard hand and when he wanted Rafe to talk, he gave no quarter. That damned palm came down with the force of a baseball bat on his ass. And no amount of yelping or reasoning on Rafe’s side helped. Not that he didn’t try.
“I’m sorry. I’ll never do it aga—Not so hard!”
The next blow landed in the crease between butt and thighs making Rafe howl.
“What were you thinking?” Levlin asked, talking as though they were taking a stroll in the park rather than the fact he was turning Rafe’s derriere to ash.
“Nothing, I—” He yelped as Levlin pushed him away just far enough so that he could undue his belt buckle. “You don’t need to take off your belt,” Rafe said in a hurry.
Levlin acted as though he didn’t hear him. He pulled the belt from its loops and removed the buckle, setting it aside. After folding over the belt, he turned toward Rafe and cocked a brow. “What were you thinking?” he asked, his brogue intensifying as it did when he felt strong emotion. The emotion was clear in his eyes. He was worried about Rafe and even though he might not want to hurt him, he would spank Rafe’s ass until he finally confessed.
And yet Rafe couldn’t. So he shook his head, hoping the apology in his own eyes was enough.
With a nod, Levlin pulled him flush against his stomach, and brought the belt down with a resounding thwak. Fire lit up across both cheeks and Rafe yowled as the heat danced along his skin spreading the burn.
It was too much. Too much. “Please,” Rafe begged as tears trickled down his eyes and his fingers formed fists in the cushion. “Please, Éigneachán.”
“This is for us, love,” Levlin said over the sound of leather meeting scorched skin. Rafe hissed and arched his back. “Secrets and guilt will make your attacks worse. We agreed there would be no secrets between us. Whatever you’re trying to hide, Rafe. Let it out. You’ll feel better for it.”
Rafe wasn’t so sure about that. But it was hard to keep in mind that he had to keep it to himself when that damned belt kept smacking against his buttocks and thighs as if that was its mission in life.
The pain increased and the ability to reason with himself was subsumed under the fire running along his skin.
“What were you thinking?”
The question felt like it came out of nowhere and without thinking, Rafe opened his mouth and it all spilled out.
“I was supposed to be there,” he cried out. “I was a part of that meeting. I… I…” A low wail left his throat. “I should be dead.”
Levlin dropped his belt and yanked Rafe up so that he straddled his thighs. He pulled him close and held him so tightly it was difficult to breathe. And yet it felt so damned good. “Tell me,” Levlin said.
“I keep reliving what I imagine it was like. I imagine being there, watching him shoot my friends. Seeing the gun turn on me—” Unable to continue, Rafe began to shake, his entire body going into mini-convulsions. The nightmare kept repeating itself in his head over and over. Whether he was asleep or awake. It was there, constantly reminding him that he would have been dead if he hadn’t stopped to get a hot chocolate on the way.
Heat exploded over his ass at the same time as the sound of Levlin’s palm meeting skin met his ears. He yelped, but the horror faded a little. Rafe grasped Levlin’s shoulders and hung on. “I don’t wanna die, Éigneachán. I don’t wanna die. But I could have—”
“That’s normal.” Levlin’s soft words in his ear helped calm him. “It’s normal to wonder what would have happened if. It’s normal to put yourself into the situation. Your mind is trying to work out the terror, love. That’s what it’s doing. You need to discuss it so that it’s no longer a nightmare. You need to talk it out until the fear is beaten out of it. This is why you need to talk to a therapist, love. You’re not crazy or horrible or sick. You’ve been through a tragedy and you very well could have been part of that tragedy.” His voice shook at the end of that sentence. “Dear God, Rafe. I’m so glad you weren’t.”
His arms tightened and Rafe held him just as tightly. “Why do I feel so guilty?” he whispered, the shame of it swamping him.
“That’s normal too,” Levlin murmured. “You’re alive. You’re healthy. Since your friends died, there’s a part of you that feels like you should have too. And yet you’re glad to be alive. That’s probably where your guilt lies, Rafe. And that’s natural. And normal. And why you’re going to see Foster weekly, if not more, over the next few months.”
A sad sob left Rafe’s lips as he leaned against the man he loved. He knew Levlin was right and he would go. But in that moment, he wasn’t sure anything was going to help except Levlin’s hand on his ass. And that wasn’t going to take away the nightmares.
“I love you,” he said, pushing his eyes against Levlin’s neck.
“Rafe, gràdh mo chridhe, everything is going to work out. Trust in me.”
Closing his eyes, Rafe nodded. In that moment, that was about all he could do—trust in the man holding him so tightly that it almost fought back the terror.
If you have enjoyed this tiny window into Falcon Pointe, check out the first books in the Men of Falcon Pointe series.
Flash Fic #5 will be posted on Wednesday, Nov 1st.
Now check out the rest of the wips this week: