by PJ

The woods were beautiful. It was late summer and they were teaming with wildlife. And the lake, well it was simply stunning, sparkling in the morning light. Wes remembered watching the sun rising over the lake earlier this morning. Sharing the view with Link as they snuggled together in the double sleeping bag while they munched on a breakfast of bear claws and hot chocolate. Deciding to make time for this camping trip was a great idea. It was the perfect opportunity for them to spend some time alone, away from the noise of the city.

But now, Wes wasn’t so sure as he looked around, suddenly realizing he had wandered off again!. Damn, why did he let this happen? How could he be lost? Again? He only followed the doe and her twins for a few minutes, at least he thought it was only a few minutes. Link would never accept that as an excuse, being distracted by the fawns. Wes knew Link wasn’t going to be happy about him wandering off. Hell, Link wasn’t happy the first two times. This time he would be furious. Wes couldn’t blame Link. He had been warned that these woods could be dangerous and for that very reason wandering off would have consequences. Link had warned him, making him look at the bark on that big ole tree the first time and spanked him the second time. The last time was only yesterday afternoon and his butt was still a bit sore. He didn’t want to think about what Link might do this time. Maybe he should just keep walking, if Link couldn’t find him, maybe his butt would be safe. Wes knew that wasn’t an option. First off, Wes really didn’t want to be alone in these woods at night and second, he knew his lover would find him.

This was the first camping trip they had planned together. Linken Walker was an experienced outdoorsman. Having spent most summers camping and hunting in these woods with his dad and brothers. The only wilderness Wesley Cooper had seen growing up was visiting the local Nature Center in his hometown. Because this was his first real camping trip, Link had sat him down explaining a few simple survival rules before they left the house. Link knew Wes could take care of himself in the city but wasn’t sure how he would respond if they become separated out here.

Wes tried to remember what Link told him to do if they became separated. He knew the first rule was to STOP where he was. Link would find him. He needed a place to rest and wait. Maybe Link wouldn’t be so upset if Wes followed the rules. Maybe but he doubted it. Looking around, Wes found a boulder in a little clearing. There was a second boulder leaning against it to form a crude bench and windbreak. Being in the sun it should absorb the heat, maybe it would keep him warm if it cooled off before Link found him. Of course when Link found him, Wes didn’t think keeping a certain area warm would be a problem. He was afraid Link would never bring him camping again. Which sucked because Wes really loved it out here.

Wes checked his pockets and found his knife and the matches Link insisted he carry with him at all times. But he didn’t bring any water. Of course not, he didn’t know he was going to wander off, it just happened. Another rule broken – never leave camp without water. He did have gum, maybe that would help if he got thirsty. Or he could try that old sucking on the pebble thing. He remembered reading about that in school. Wes wished he had brought his jacket with the emergency whistle Link had attached to the zipper tab.

* * * * * * * * * * *

Linken was down at the lake fishing while Wes was at the camp cleaning up and looking for wood for tonight’s fire. Fishing was good and Link came back to camp after 90 minutes with two plump catfish, all cleaned and ready to go. Looking around, not seeing his partner, he first thought Wes must still be looking for the fire wood. Wes had also mentioned that he might pick some black berries for desert, but Link would have seen him from the lake if he had gone to the berry patch. After starting the fire with wood that was left from breakfast, Link set about getting the rest of the meal ready. It didn’t take long to realize Wes was missing again! Where was that boy? Link was sure Wes would have thought twice about leaving camp alone after the last time. That was the real problem, Wes wasn’t thinking. He was easily distracted out here. Link could understand the wonder of a place like this with all the animals, but Wes knew the rules and the consequences. Link had hoped they wouldn’t have to do this again, at least not so soon, but he would if it meant Wes would be safe. He didn’t want to picture his life without his lover. An inexperienced Wes, wandering alone in these woods, could be lost to him. A haunting thought Link didn’t want to think about.

Quickly dousing the fire and putting the fish, along with the rest of the food back in the cooler, Link took a quick look around the edge of the camp, trying to find the way his wayward brat had gone. Cupping his hands around his mouth Link yelled “Wesley James” as loud as he could. Then he blew his whistle long and loud, nothing. After a couple more tries and getting no reply, he checked to make sure he had extra water and granola bars in his survival pack. Then Link picked up Wes’ jacket and started moving in the direction he thought his brat had gone. It didn’t take him long to find the track with all the bent grasses, scuff marks and three sets of deer tracks. Probably a doe and her twins. No telling how far Wes followed them before he realized he was not close to camp. Link carefully picked his way along. His brat wasn’t staying to the trail which was making it harder to follow. They would be talking about leaving the trail.

* * * * * * * * * * *

Back on his boulder Wes was getting antsy just sitting and waiting. It was cooling off and he was getting hungry. And from yelling every few minutes his throat was getting sore. He changed tactics from yelling to banging a rock against his boulder. That whistle sure would have come in handy. He wasn’t sure staying in one spot was still a good idea. But Wes wasn’t moving his butt off his boulder until Link found him. There were two things he was sure, Link would find him and when he did Wes was dead meat.

Deciding to build a small fire to knock the chill off, Wes carefully cleared an area forming a ring of rocks for the fire. He figured he was in enough trouble without setting the woods on fire. Once he got the fire crackling Wes thought back to when he first met Link.

Wes was staying at his parent’s new house while they were traveling back east to visit his grandparents. Coming back to the house after spending the afternoon job hunting, Wes was met in the living room by 2 baby raccoons. They were cute little critters but Wes knew enough not to try and pick them up. Not knowing what else to do he called the local animal control who dispatched one Mr. Linken Walker to the house. Linken Walker was tall, ruggedly handsome, with dark hair & eyes and complete with a closely trimmed beard. Linken Walker looked to be about 27 or 28. For no real reason, Wes found himself wondering if Linken, like Wes, might be gay.

Link quickly trapped the raccoons and soon discovered how they had gotten into the house. Wes had forgotten to shut and lock the back sliding glass door when he went out that morning. Wes quietly listened as Link firmly explained how lucky he was that the raccoons didn’t do more damage to the house or to Wes and that raccoons weren’t the only bandits around so he should be more careful in locking up. After a quick check to make sure there weren’t any more unwanted visitors in the house, Link helped Wes clean up the mess the raccoons had made. When they were through straightening up Link asked Wes if he wanted to see the babies’ new home. Wes jumped at the chance. He needed to find out a little more about this man.

Unknown to Wes, while Linken was checking one of the bedrooms, he stumbled across a high school yearbook lying on the floor. As he picked it up, a napkin with writing on it fell out of the book. Unable to stop himself Link read the message “Wesley, I’ll never forget our senior prom or saying goodbye behind the gym. Have a great life. I’ll miss you. Luv Always, Timmy.” Checking the date on the book and doing a little math, Link realized Wes was probably 22 and more importantly he was probably gay. He needed to find out a little more about this man so he asked Wes if he wanted to see where the babies were being taken.

Smiling, Wes was remembering how the conversation finally got around to their sexual preferences when he noticed the berries. Link had been right about these woods being full of wild black berries. Wes moved carefully toward the berry patch, aware of Link’s warning to watch for animals when he was picking berries. He really didn’t want to spook a bear so Wes decided to throw a couple of rocks into the patch from a safe distance just in case.

He didn’t scare up a bear but he did agitate a few bees. Not worrying about the bees Wes started picking the berries, eating as he picked. Sweet and juicy, the berries hit the spot. The bees, not being happy with an intruder in their prized berry patch, placed a couple well aimed stings in Wes’ hand. Jerking his hand back, Wes lost his balance and got tangled in the vines. All of a sudden Link was at his side. Wes didn’t know where he came from but he was sure glad he was there.

* * * * * * * * * * *

Link had followed the trail left by Wes and the three deer for close to an hour before finally coming upon his wandering brat. Instead of blasting into the small clearing, he chose to stay back and watch for a few minutes. Wes seemed to be doing everything Link had taught him. A small fire was going in a ring of rocks, a wide area cleared around the fire ring. Wes was sitting on a boulder like his life depended on it and every once in a while he was banging a rock against the boulder in the universal S-O-S signal. Wes looked lost in thought with a goofy grin on his face but then sat up straighter looking off towards his right. Link followed his eyes noticing the black berries. He watched as Wes picked up a couple of rocks and tossed them into the patch. Then saw Wes go to the patch and pick a few berries. Just as Wes popped a berry in his mouth he jerked his hand back getting caught in the vines. It was time to make himself known. Link was at Wes’ side in a heartbeat.

No words were spoken as Link cut Wes from the vines. Wes was still trying to process the fact that his partner had appeared from nowhere. When Wes finally got his wits together all he could say was “I’m sorry, Link, I’m so sorry”.

“Shhh, hold still and let’s get you out of these vines”

“But I didn’t mean to wander away again. I’m sorry” he choked out almost hysterical. So relieved that Link was there and he didn’t have to control his fear any longer, Wes broke down. Tears flowed freely and Wes clung to his lover.

“Wesley, look at me.” Link gave Wes a little shake and sternly demanded he look at Link “Wesley James, I said look at me”.

Wes slowly looked into Link’s eyes. All he could see was love and concern. Link should be angry but he wasn’t, well at least not right now.

“Wes, calm down, sweetheart and let me take care of this first then we’ll take care of the rest”.

Link held Wes until he calmed down kissing his forehead, then they walked back to the boulder and the fire. Guiding Wes to his boulder, Link gently forced him to set down. Retrieving his pack, he returned to Wes. “Let me look at you. I need to clean up those scratches. We don’t want them getting infected.”

Wes tried to convince Link he was ok. But Link wasn’t having any of it. Pulling the first aid kit from the pack he started cleaning, disinfecting and bandaging the deeper scratches. Wes sat quietly knowing Link wouldn’t stop till he was satisfied Wes was ok. “Hurt anywhere else, Babe?” Link was giving Wes the once over when he noticed Wes’ hand seemed a bit swollen. Reaching for it, Wes pulled it back just as Link touched it.

“OUCH that hurt” Wes winced tucking his hand behind his back.

Link reached out with his palm up “Let me see it Wes.”

Wes shook his head with a resounding “NO, it’s ok”.

“Excuse me? Do you think saying NO to me is a good idea?” Link growled tapping Wes’ hip.

Wes looked down knowing there was only one answer to that question. Not wanting to push his luck, Wes meekly answered “No Sir.”

Holding out his hand again and snapping his fingers Link waited for Wes to place his hand in Link’s. Slowly the hand appeared, moving toward Link.

“It’s swollen and inflamed. Do you remember what happened, Babe?”

Wes shook he head, wincing again as Link touched the red area. “It burns”

Link remembered watching Wes jerk back from the berries just before he got tangled in the vines. “I think you were stung. Were there bees over at the berries?”

“Yeah, I think I scared some when I threw the rocks to make sure there were no bears.” Wes answered while trying to get his hand back without any luck.

Concerned Link asked “Wes, do you know if you’re allergic to bee stings? I need to know, it’s important.”

“No, never have been. And I have been stung before. It was just sore for a couple of days.” Trying to convince his worried Top.

Link dug out the antihistamine cream and spread some on the stings. Then gave Wes a couple of Benadryl and told him to rest for a while. Because of the stings, Link decided they should spend the night where they were. He didn’t want to take a chance of spreading the poison during the walk back to camp. He had enough food and water for the night. His brat was napping on the boulder from the effects of the day and the Benadryl. Link cut some grass for a mattress, spreading one of blankets from the pack over it. He gathered enough fire wood to keep them warm through the night. Then set about making dinner from the emergency rations. He even picked some black berries for desert. Not quite the catfish dinner he had planned for them but it would work.

Looking around the camp, Link was proud of his partner and the way he handled his predicament. Wes had actually listened to the survival rules that they had discussed before this trip. Link glanced over to the boulder and saw a pair of sleepy green eyes following him. There was also a look of confusion as those eyes looked around the camp site. “We’re going to stay here tonight and head back to our camp in the morning” Trying to ease the confusion.

Wes got up and came to Link as he opened his arms to pull his brat to him.

“I didn’t mean to wander off again, Link, it just sorta happened” Wes whispered into Link’s shirt.

“I know Babe, I saw the prints you were following. Hard to resist a doe and her fawns, huh?”

“Yeah, they were something to see, but I shouldn’t have followed them, I knew better. I’m sorry I worried you.” Wes confessed.

“I was worried but we’ll take care of that tomorrow back at camp”.

Link hugged Wes closer telling him how proud he was of Wes for the way he handled being lost. “I tried to do everything you told me to do if I got lost. I knew you would find me. I love you Link.”

“You did great babe, I’m proud of how you thought things through and kept your head”. Link answered. Then with a catch in his throat he kissed the top of Wes’ head and said “I love you more”.

“Link?” Came a whisper from somewhere near Link’s chest.

“Easy Babe, I got you now.”

Wes pulled back, raising his eyes to meet Link’s “Do we have to wait till tomorrow to take care of this?”

“Wes, you’re already hurt, I don’t want to add to that tonight.”

“I know Link, but it’s only my hand and I don’t think you are going to be spanking my hand, are you?” Wes couldn’t believe he was asking for this.

“It’s not going to be with my hand this time, Wesley, we tried that already, it didn’t work. If we were home I’d use a paddle but because we are in the middle of the woods, this time I’m using a switch. I don’t want you to have to wait until we get back home for the paddle.” Link said watching Wes closely.

“A switch? But that’s gunna hurt!” Wes gasped with a look of shock on his face.

“Wes, sweetheart, that’s the point. I could have lost you today. I don’t ever want to feel like that again. And if it takes a switch to keep you safe, then I’ll use a switch.” Still watching Wes for signs of refusal, Link said “If you still want to take care of it tonight, we can.”

Wes stood there a long time, He knew what he needed to do but it was so hard. Finally Wes softly said “Link, I need this out of the way. I need to know we are ok.”

Link came forward taking Wes in his arms “Babe, we will always be ok. This can wait until tomorrow, but I want you to understand this isn’t about us being ok as much as it’s about you obeying me when it’s about you being safe”.

“I do understand Link, I am going to try harder” Wes replied returning the hug.

“Link, I don’t know why, but I need you to do it now, please.”

“OK Wes, I understand, go wait on the boulder, I’ll be back in a minute” turning he slipped into the woods.

It took a while for Link to find a flexible switch the right size and length. After stripping it and making sure it was smooth he returned to Wes. “Ok Wesley, stand up jeans and boxers off.”

Wes stood up and followed Link’s instructions. Link moved to the boulder, setting down. Guiding Wes over his left leg, Link angled him so Wes’ head and shoulders were resting on the bench behind Link’s left hip so could he reach Wes’ butt with the switch. It would be easier to bend Wes over the rock but Link needed to hold his brat. Wrapping his left arm over Wes’ back and holding tight around his waist, Link dropped the first stroke to the center of the soon to be red butt.

If Link hadn’t been holding him so tight, Wes would have bucked off Link’s lap. Wes sucked in a breath and held it until Link reminded him to breathe. Then he began to cry, promising to never go anywhere without Link again. Link swiftly applied the remaining strokes throwing the switch into the fire when he finished. Rubbing circles on Wes’ back, Link began to comfort his chastised brat. Link shifted Wes then held him until he finally calmed down. The cool air of the night felt so good on his punished butt. Linken helped Wes to his feet and Wes dove into his lover’s arms. “I’m sorry Link, I’ll never wander off again.”

“I hope not Wes because I never want to do that again.” Link leaned down and gently kissed Wes softly murmuring “let’s lie down, Babe.” Link led Wes to the makeshift bed, lying down first. Wes quickly laid face down across his lover’s chest protecting his stinging ass from the blanket. Link kissed Wes’ hair whispering “Go to sleep babe, I got you. Tomorrow is a new day.”

~ PJ


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