I sent him a message on Fet a few days before the party: How full is your card Saturday night? He had only planned a couple of scenes so far, and he’d want a break from fire. He agreed to pencil me in for a scene. I swap to text message to ask how long I could expect to be too sore to visit the gym.
“I dunno, are you looking for an excuse, or must the gym go on like the eponymous show?”
“Oh, the gym will go on. At least, cardio will, no excuses allowed. Still, there’s something lovely about being horribly reminded of a good scene every time I attempt a workout.”
“Well, in that case you should schedule yourself a long vacation.”
It’s something I know I’ll miss about him, how loose and flirtatious we can be with negotiation. I tease and goad just to remind him to play harder, and he’s happy to oblige.
After I tell the worst joke ever and arrange to have someone bring me a robe and room-temperature water when the scene ends, I find the Fireman rummaging through his bag for toys. SAP gloves. Walnut paddle. Another paddle, smaller and darker. Nothing so easy on either of us as a flogger: tonight is going to be rough body work, hard and heavy. My favorite.
“I brought the sandman, if you want it.”
He beams. “God, yes.” The sandman is the heaviest of my new toys, two feet of 3/4″ copper pipe filled with sand. I fish it out and choose us a station, one with an AC vent he can stand under but which won’t reach me.
He comes in before I finish undressing. I decide to lose the heels, but keep my socks. The floor is clean, but cold. I move to stand at the station, glance over to see what he’s doing. He’s taken off his overshirt, changed his shoes. There’s a small crowd gathering at a discreet distance. I face the wall, trying not to see them. I watch his shadow instead. He moves smoothly, with too much grace for a man his size. The shadow is distorted, foreshortened. I can see him lifting something from the table, but can’t tell what it is. I close my eyes and try to stop thinking. I refocus on my skin: the lacquered smoothness of the cross under my hands, the faint gusting of cool air across my back. I’ll be shivering in no time if he doesn’t get started.
He leans in close. I can feel his breath against my cheek, a heavily gloved hand on my hip. “Let’s see if I hit like a girl.” I can hear a laugh, barely contained in his voice. I turn my face to grin at him, just for a moment, before the slapping starts.
It’s not hard. He’s testing, seeing which bruises are superficial, which run deep enough to make me wince. I hiss when he hits my thigh over a bruise a week old and the size of a paperback cover, still livid. He laughs.
I watch his shadow when he moves away and lifts something from the table. There’s no more warm-up. He moves in rough and thorough, punching, paddling, caning while I dance from foot to foot and try not to scream. A solid blow to the thigh and I cover my mouth to muffle the shout. He leans in, lifts my face. “You okay?”
“Aside from the fact that we’re playing to the Pet Shop Boys, and some bastard keeps hitting the same damn spot, great.”
“The thigh needs a break?”
“Nah, keep going.”
I see his shadow take a new stance. Oh, fuck. There’s no time for a deep breath. The first kick to the ribs has me howling, struggling to stay on my feet. The next dozen hit the same spot, easy and precise for him no matter how I sidestep and twist. I find the rhythm to it, time ragged breaths to exhale on impact. I don’t want to avoid this pain but my body rebels, and I have to grip the cross hard to keep from covering my ribs with my hands. I’m staring at the speaker on the ceiling when it stops, and for the space of a breath feel the lack where pain should be.
He grabs my hair, twisted into a tight bun, pulls it hard to arch my back, until I’m only touching the cross with the tips of my fingers. With one hand still gripping my hair, he starts to punch my shoulder, the same spot, over and over again. I hear him growl under his breath and snarl back, earning a bite to the neck before he shoves me forward against the cross again.
I feel cool metal against my back. The sandman. It slams into me hard, too cold. With this he moves, from ass to thighs and back again, throwing a few brief flurries of hits against my calves. I bite my shoulder to muffle the screaming. I stamp my feet, claw uselessly at the cross, in some vain hope that moving will make it hurt less. It doesn’t.
He leans in close, running gloved hands over my swollen skin. I feel the heat of his body, smell clean sweat and copper over the polished wood of the cross. I lean back into him, press my bruised skin against his, wondering when he took off his shirt. His arm moves across my chest, holding me upright and slightly off balance. He’s breathing hard. I turn my face to his. His mouth opens to speak. I kiss him instead, hard, moaning into his mouth when his fingers find bruised flesh and push into it. I push back. Part of me wants to turn around and fuck him where we stand (not an option), another part wants him to start beating me again. I ignore them both: I’m not done kissing him.
He pulls away roughly, slams my hips into the cross so hard they bruise, and starts punching again. I lean into it, wishing I could hold back from shouting and groaning. He steps back for a moment. “God please don’t stop,” tumbles out of my mouth, and someone–not the Fireman–laughs behind me. I’m startled, but it’s only a friend bringing the Fireman water.
Something’s wrong when he starts again. Not with him; the pain is sharp and precise as ever. I breathe deep, stare at the ceiling, count silently to three. I feel–off. Slight vertigo. My hearing feels dulled. I’m not sure I can stand. “Wait,” I say. I’m glad it came out clearly.
He stops, steps forward with a hand on the small of my back. “Okay?”
“Yes. Bit dizzy. Is there water?” I drink, breathe deeply for a few seconds before grinning up at him. “Sorry. Continue.” We both laugh at that. It sounds too normal for such a strong moment. He starts in on me with the paddle. It stings before blending down into the heavier pain of fists and feet and metal. Then it sharpens. Every blow is almost too much. (Later he tells me he held the sandman behind his paddle to give it extra weight.) I hear myself sob, though there aren’t tears.
I know people are watching–I catch glimpses of them whenever I peer over my shoulder to smile at the Fireman while he pauses to switch toys or gulp down some water–but they’re far away, unobtrusive. All but one of them, that is. A redhead domme leans against the wall just a few feet to my right. Her stare is intense, unnerving. She’s like a lioness watching another predator with his kill, waiting for the right moment to snatch the carcass away. It’s unnerving, but I revel in it, stare back at her. Her eyes linger on my mouth when I gasp. It makes me smile at her. I’m immediately shy afterwards, and turn my face to the ceiling again.
He pauses for more water and she steps up, quietly offers to tag in while he takes a break. He grabs me by the throat and growls before I can laugh. He’s hitting harder now, on flesh already battered. His left hand moves slowly, sensuously down from neck to collarbone, breast to ribs. I sob in frustration, pushing myself into this too-gentle touch while his right hand continues to bring the sandman thudding down on my flesh. I scarcely feel the pain. I’m focused on the slow trawl of his glove, navel to hip to oh, please another inch–. The sounds I’m making plead. I don’t care. Neither does the Fireman. He laughs, low and quiet an inch from my ear and grabs my bruised thigh hard. “You bastard. Oh, God, you bastard.”
He laughs louder. I turn and hop down as he steps back, grab his water from the floor and drink. I know I’m dehydrated but it’s too cold and I only manage a few sips. I move back into position, bouncing on the balls of my feet. “Sorry, we’re good.” He shakes his head, smiling. Each blow is slower now, but just as hard. The next bout of kicking doesn’t last as long.
The sandman almost does it. I feel a tear welling up while he’s working my thighs. I wrap my arms around the arms of the cross, my legs thrashing too much to reliably bear my weight. Then the too-heavy sting of paddle-and-pipe hit again. And again. I realize I can’t feel all of it, that my body is moving as before but the pain feels dull, as if I’m wrapped in a thick blanket. The vertigo returns, stronger, and I hear the sound of rushing water. I say his name, quietly. He stops instantly, moves in to hold me up. “I think I need water. And to sit down.” He helps me to a chair before falling into another one next to me. He’s shaking and covered in sweat. “Are you okay?” I ask.
He laughs. “Beating you up is hard work!”
“I’m not complaining. Still think I hit like a girl?”
“Nope.” I look around. Robe and water had been promised, but not delivered. I stand up, marveling at the soreness of it. “Okay, I’m going to find my water. Shall I bring you one?”
“Nah, I’ll get it.” We both move back to the social area. I cover up, drink a liter in one long chug, and refill if from the tap. I’m shivering violently. I rummage in my bag for snacks: dried fruit and cookies.
I find the Fireman leaning exhausted against a counter, empty water bottle in one hand. I take it away and hand him a cookie. A good one, from a bakery he’s told me he loves. His eyes widen “Have I told you I love you recently?”
“Me, or the cookie?”
He says something around a mouthful of crumbs, but I’m distracted by the appearance of the friend who was supposed to bring my water. “Where did you disappear to?”
“I gave up after you started hopping around like a rabbit. I guess half an hour ago? If you can jump down for a drink and walk right back up for more punishment, you can get your own stuff at the end.”
“Wait, half an hour?” I look at the Fireman, confused. “That felt like it was near the end of the scene.”
“Yeah, it did. How long was that scene?”
“No idea. An hour?”
“Eighty-five minutes,” says a bystander.
Eighty-five minutes. The Fireman and I just stare at each other for a minute. “Jesus,” he says.
“I think that counts as your workout for tomorrow.”
“Yeah, but back to running Monday. No excuses, remember?”
“I don’t know, wait until you see how those bruises look tomorrow.”
It was four days before I could run more than half a mile. And well worth it. That was almost certainly the best scene I’ve had yet.