Higher Education

Party Time

by Adele


Jane sighed. This was perhaps the worst party she had ever attended. And that was saying something. The music was loud and annoying and impossible to dance to. Not that there was any room to dance anyway. The room was dark, crowded, smoky and hot. But all of that could have been forgiven if there were only something decent to drink. Jane did not like beer. She wasn't a teetotaler. She liked rum with almost anything and if the goal was to get as drunk as possible as quickly as possible vodka would certainly do the trick, but beer? Beer was just . . . gross.

Jane wandered across the room to where she had last seen Carrie. Or maybe maneuvered was a better word. The room was pretty big, but really, crossing it should not have taken five minutes and involved saying, "Excuse me," at least seven times to people who could not hear her and didn't care anyway. Carrie was still ensconced on a love seat in the corner with a boy Jane did not know who looked to be about fourteen.

"This is my roommate, Jane. Hi, Jane!" Carrie said cheerily. She had said the exact same thing the last time Jane had wandered over twenty minutes earlier.

"Hi, Jane," the boy said. Then he broke the pattern. "Can I touch your hair?"

Okay, so there was a difference from the last time. The kid was even more drunk than before.

"No," said Jane.

"Yeah," said Carrie looking a tiny bit put out, "Don't touch her hair. Nobody touches her hair, but me. Right, Jane?" The boy pouted while Carrie reached out to stroke Jane's long thick hair.

Impatiently, Jane tossed her hair out of Carrie's reach. Now Carrie was pouting too. Great.

"That's right, Sweetie. Nobody but you. And you don't want to make your friend feel bad, right?" Jane asked. It worked. Carrie looked happy and the kid seemed to have already forgotten what he had asked.

At that moment someone rushed by babbling about the campus police coming to break up the party. The cry was taken up by others and passed around the party like a virus. The rumor didn't make much sense to Jane - how could someone have found out the cops were coming before they got there? On the other hand, it was a good excuse to take Carrie and head home.

"We better go," Jane said.

"What about Kirk?" Carrie asked.

Jane supposed she ought to at least try to find Kirk and make sure he had heard the warning or rumor or whatever it was. "You stay here," she said to Carrie, "Don't move. I'll be right back." Carrie nodded solemnly and Jane headed back into the crowd.

There was more tension than party atmosphere in the room now as masses of people in varied states of inebriation tried to evaluate the urgency of the situation. Jane tried to think where Kirk might be. She was distracted by her grumpy thoughts. Why do I have to find Kirk? Why isn't Wade here being the responsible one? Oh yeah, because Wade refused to go to this party. In fact, Wade had said attending the party was a bad idea. Repeatedly. Damn him for always having to be right. It was his most irritating trait.

Jane finally saw Kirk at a small table in the back of the room. He was playing Quarters. This time Jane didn't bother with the "Excuse me's." She just shouldered her way through the thinning crowd. Kirk did not acknowledge her arrival. He was as intent as if he were in the World Series of Poker instead of playing a stupid drinking game. Jane put a hand on his shoulder.

"We should probably go, Kirk."

No response.

"They say the cops are coming to break up the party." This got a reaction.

"That's crap," Kirk said without taking his eyes off the glass in front of him.

Jane opened her mouth to argue, but then closed it again. It probably was crap. Whatever. She had done her part. She said, "Okay, then. We're taking off. Seeya," to the back of Kirk's head and went to collect Carrie.

"Kirk's not coming," Jane announced matter-of-factly. "Let's go." Jane held out a hand to Carrie, but she did not take it.

"I want to bring Jim," Carrie insisted. Jane sighed again even more heavily.

"Why?"

"He's cute."

Assuming the kid on the love seat was Jim, he was cute in a puppy-dog kind of way. Entirely too much of a puppy for Jane's taste.

"How old is Jim anyway?" Jane asked.

"I don't know. He's a student here."

"Yeah? What year?"

Jim finally decided to enter the conversation. "I'm a fleshman," he slurred.

In their current condition this slip of the tongue struck both Carrie and Jim as uproariously funny.

"A 'fleshman'!" Carrie laughed, "You're a naughty boy. Mama's going to have to spank you."

Jane indulged in a brief fantasy of spanking both of them before saying through clenched teeth, "Fine. Bring Jim. Can we go now? Please?"

Willing now that she had gotten her way, Carrie took Jane's hand and pulled herself off the love seat. Then Carrie tried to help Jim up, but only succeeded in falling back on the couch herself. Jane finally grabbed both of them by the wrist and hauled them to their feet. Without letting go, Jane made a beeline for the door dragging Carrie and Jim stumbling behind her.

It was a relief to get out of the room, even though Jane could still hear the thumping of the bass through the closed door behind her. Keeping hold of Carrie and Jim, Jane joined the flow of people down the stairs and out the door to the courtyard. Once outside, Jane finally let Carrie and Jim go. Now what? Jane really didn't want to bring Jim back to their room with them, but she didn't know where he lived and doubted he would tell her as wrapped up in each other, and as drunk, as he and Carrie were.

For a moment Jane watched the dark shapes of people fanning out from the door and separating into pairs and small groups as they abandoned the party. Then she noticed a solitary figure walking purposefully in the opposite direction, back toward the party. A few more steps and Jane recognized Wade. Wade passed under a courtyard light and Jane could see that he looked pissed, but she gathered her charges and moved to intercept his path anyway.

"Hey, Wade," Jane said quietly when he was close enough to hear. Then she added dutifully, "Umm . . . if you're heading to the party, well, somebody said the campus police might be coming." She was embarrassed to even mention it.

"I know," Wade responded shortly, "It's true. Where is Kirk?"

Suddenly much more concerned than before, Jane answered truthfully, "He's still at the party. He wouldn't come with us."

"I'll get him." Wade nodded toward Jim, "Who is that?"

"I'm the fleshman!" Jim crowed before falling into Carrie laughing and nearly knocking her down. Wade stared at the two of them in disbelief. He looked as if he wanted to hit someone and didn't much care whom, so Jane casually took a few steps positioning herself between Wade and her drunk roommate. If Wade noticed the adjustment, he did not comment.

"Have you been drinking?" Wade asked Jane.

"No. Not at all," she answered honestly. No need to explain why.

"Will you please take these two back to your room, while I get Kirk?" Wade requested, "Then I'll come by your place and pick up the kid and get him home."

"I don't know where he lives," Jane admitted.

"I'll find out," Wade said without a shred of doubt, "But first I need to get Kirk out of there before the cops get here."

Jane nodded. "Thanks," she said. Wade turned and strode off toward the building where party music could still faintly be heard and, feeling somewhat relieved, Jane got Carrie and Jim moving toward Winthrop House.

*****

Kirk woke up, opened his eyes, and squinted confusedly at the bright sunlight. He blinked a few times and then closed his eyes entirely, the better to evaluate his condition. He was in his bed in his room. His mouth tasted awful, but beyond that, he didn't feel too bad, considering. If only it weren't so bright in here! Without opening his eyes, Kirk felt around and grabbed his pillow and pulled it on top of his face. Ah, that was better. Only a second later, Kirk realized he could not just stay where he was, much as he might want to.

Grumbling and groaning, Kirk sat up. Still muttering, he stood up, shuffled the few feet into the bathroom, pissed, and then shuffled back into his room. He collapsed on the bed, pleased with himself for having accomplished the arduous task. Now he could go back to sleep.

Before he could drift off, Kirk heard the sound of footsteps in the bathroom, followed by running water. The water shut off and Wade walked into the room. Wade had a glass of water in one hand and two aspirin in the other, all of which he held out to Kirk. Kirk took the glass and swallowed the pills with the water. "Thanks," he said as he tried to hand the glass back to Wade.

"Drink it all," Wade ordered.

Kirk obeyed. He had a vague memory of Wade doing the same thing the night before with the exact same words, which probably explained why Kirk didn't feel worse than he did. When Kirk had finished the last swallow, he sat the glass down on the bedside table and looked at Wade warily.

"Do you want to get kicked out of school?" Wade asked as if he were really curious to hear the answer.

"No," Kirk replied sullenly.

"Well, that's what would have happened if you had gotten caught drinking by the cops. You're underage."

"That rumor was true? Why on earth would they let people know they were coming and then take so long to get there?"

"They're University Police, Kirk. They don't want to arrest students. They just want the party to break up. They will arrest you though if you're stupid enough to force them to by sitting there drunk and a minor when they finally do arrive."

"Well I wasn't there when they arrived, was I?" Kirk pointed out.

"No, you weren't," Wade acknowledged, "Because I came and got you and dragged you out of there. I am not going to let you throw your education away, Kirk. I won't."

Kirk nodded his acceptance of Wade's statement. Then when Wade started unbuckling his belt, all Kirk's acceptance went out the window. Wade pulled the belt free of the loops and doubled it over in his right hand. "Roll over. On your belly," he commanded.

Kirk did the opposite, scrunching back on the bed as far away from Wade as possible and pressing his entire back side against the wall. Frantically Kirk stammered, "No, Wade, wait! Please."

"Wait? For what? You have an explanation? Extenuating circumstances perhaps?"

"You don't have to be sarcastic," Kirk said in a hurt tone.

Wade was losing patience. "Kirk, I want you on your stomach, now."

Kirk shook his head miserably. Wade paused for a second, then turned to put the belt on the dresser. Wade standing in front of Kirk holding a belt was scary, but for some reason, Wade putting the belt aside was downright terrifying. Quickly, Kirk forced himself away from the wall and face down onto the bed. He grabbed hold of the metal bar at the head of the bed with both hands and buried his face in the pillow.

Wade pulled the twisted covers off Kirk and completely clear of him. Kirk was wearing nothing but a pair of boxers. This was his usual sleepwear, but he probably had Wade to thank for that too, since he didn't really remember getting undressed the night before. Kirk heard Wade pick up the belt and then felt Wade's hand on the small of his back right above his waistband. Wade was not holding Kirk down, just making contact. He always did this when he punished Kirk using something other than his hand and not over his lap. Kirk did not know if it was Wade's intent, but the physical contact kept Kirk connected to what was happening and why. It prevented Kirk from losing himself in a world of meaningless, sourceless pain. And God, did it hurt.

Wade struck Kirk with the belt across his ass over and over again. The blows were not overly fast, but they were steady and they were hard. Each lick stung Kirk's skin and then immediately generated a deeper, more lasting pain. When Wade started hitting spots for a second and then a third time, Kirk could not keep back the tears. He muffled his cries in the mattress and refused to let go of the metal frame. He felt a split-second of relief when Wade switched to the backs of his thighs, and then wished desperately he still had the thin protection the boxers had provided. By now Kirk was writhing on the bed, but he couldn't go far hanging onto the bed frame the way he was. All he succeeded in doing was letting the fold of the belt curve around and catch the side of his thigh a couple times and that really hurt.

Wade had not paused or changed rhythm once since he started, but when the belt didn't fall at the expected time, Kirk still couldn't trust that it was over. Not until Wade took his hand off Kirk's back did Kirk uncurl his fingers and release his death grip on the metal bar. While Wade replaced his belt around his waist, Kirk painfully rolled onto his side and curled up with his back to Wade. After a moment, Wade sat down on the edge of Kirk's bed. Wade put a hand on Kirk's biceps and gently stroked back and forth with his thumb and didn't say anything.

After a long time, without changing position, Kirk asked accusingly, "Why did you let me go to that party anyway?"

"I did say you shouldn't," Wade reminded him quietly.

"You said I shouldn't. You didn't say I couldn't."

"You know," Wade said mildly, "Going to a party and not getting so shitfaced you can't even think straight is also an option. Jane went to the same party and she didn't drink at all."

"Hell, the only reason Jane didn't drink is she doesn't like the taste of beer and there wasn't anything else!" Kirk scoffed.

"Oh, really?" Wade said with the air of someone filing information away for future reference.

Shit. Sorry, Jane. Kirk thought. Then he said out loud, "Well, it's not an option for me. Apparently. So next time don't let me go at all, OK?"

"All right. Next time I'll say 'no' and mean it, but I don't want you giving me grief when I do, understand?"

"I understand." Even as he said it Kirk knew the odds of his keeping the implied promise were not good, but he figured it would be better to get spanked for giving Wade a hard time than to get whipped for getting drunk. And much better than getting himself expelled.

Wade gave Kirk's arm a final pat and then stood up. "I'm going to go grab some lunch. Do you want to come?"

"NO!"

Wade smiled a little. "Do you want me to bring something back for you?"

"No thanks." Kirk hesitated, then asked, "Could you stay with me? Just for a little while longer?"

"Sure," Wade said immediately. Wade pulled off his shoes and then lay down on the bed next to Kirk. The bed was really too narrow for two people. Kirk rolled to his other side so his chest was pressed against Wade's and Kirk's head was tucked under Wade's chin and they made it work. Wade held Kirk close until he fell back asleep.

~ Adele

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