Elizabeth Barrette (ysabetwordsmith) wrote,
Elizabeth Barrette

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Poem: "Holiday in Handcuffs"

This is the extra freebie for the December 4, 2018 Poetry Fishbowl. You have new prompters Hikaru and [personal profile] louisadkins, and new donor Sarah Elkins, to thank for that. This poem was inspired by a prompt from [personal profile] bairnsidhe. It fills the "Holiday in Handcuffs" square in my 7-1-18 card for the Winterfest in July Bingo fest. It belongs to the Shiv thread of the Polychrome Heroics series.

Warning: This poem contains some intense topics. Highlight to read the warnings, some of which are spoilers. It features acute stress, disoriented behavior, Shiv actually has a level head in certain types of crisis, helping someone undress, telepathic soothing, watching over a sleeping person, reference to past panic attack, mistaken identity and police interference, past negative experience with kink, Shiv is an inexperienced but earnest top, trust issues, kinky activities, knifeplay (but no blood), bondage with superpowers, when Gray drops he drops like a rock, crying, aftercare, and other challenges. If these are sensitive issues for you, please consider your tastes and headspace before reading onward.

"Holiday in Handcuffs"

[December 29, 2014]

It was between Christmas and
New Year when Pain's Gray
slunk into Blues Moon with
his hands jammed into
his armpits and his coat
flapping open in the wind.

"Hey, are you okay?" Shiv said.

"No," Gray said, turning
to pace in a tight circle,
all his former grace gone.

That was when Shiv knew
that something was really wrong.

"I'll get the boss," he said, and
bounded down the stairs
taking three at a time.

"What's up?" Boss White said
as soon as Shiv reached the office.

"Something is wrong with Gray,"
said Shiv. "I don't know what, but
his coat's open, he's hugging himself,
and he almost bumped into one
of the tables upstairs."

"I'll take care of him,"
Boss White promised,
heading for the door.

In minutes he came back
with an arm around Gray.

"Come give me a hand
with him," Boss White said,
and led the way to the guest room.
"Let's get him out of these wet things."

Shiv realized that Gray's coat was,
in fact, splashed with slush and
so were the clothes underneath it.

Without much experience in
undressing another person, Shiv
had to follow Boss White's lead and
hope it was good enough, with Gray
fumbling along as best he could.

They got him stripped down to
undershirt and shorts, which
fortunately weren't wet, and
Shiv found spare clothes in
the dresser on the back wall.

It felt weird handling Gray
like this, the way he just let them,
and yet ... oddly sweet, too.

Once Gray was wrapped
in a soft gray tracksuit with
navy blue stripes, they
tucked him into bed.

"You wanna talk about it, or
sleep it off?" Boss White asked.

"Sleep it off, please," Gray said.

Boss White laid a hand over
his forehead, and Gray went limp.

Shiv sighed, remembering
the warmth of that soothing touch.

Boss White straightened up,
then stroked a hand down
the length of Shiv's back.

Shiv leaned into him,
seeking reassurance.

"You done good,"
Boss White told him.

"What's wrong with him?"
Shiv whispered. "Usually
Gray is the one calming
me down when I freak."

"You ain't the only one
who had a rough week,"
Boss White said. "Ask him
yourself, later, if you really
want to know about it."

"Will he be okay?"
Shiv said. "I mean,
in here ... by himself?"

Boss White smiled faintly.
"You wanna sit with him?"
he said. "I'm sure Gray
would appreciate that."

"Yeah, I think so," Shiv said.
"Just let me grab some stuff --
I can do my paperwork in here."

"Go on, then," said Boss White.
"I'll sit with him a minute until
you get back with that."

Shiv scampered upstairs,
grabbed his folder, and
hurried back down.

Boss White patted him
on the shoulder and then
slipped out of the room,
leaving Shiv to watch Gray.

Shiv made sure that
Gray was okay, then
sat down to work
on his papers.

Dymin had given him
a stack of year-end stuff
for budget and financial goals
he was supposed to fill out.

Shiv had taken one look at
the yearly budget planner page
and had a massive panic attack.

Showing some mercy, Dymin had
taken it back, instead handing him
a year-at-a-glance page with just
the months in blank boxes, then
she told him to write one big thing
he wanted to do in each month.

After that, they were supposed
to talk it out and she'd write up
the budget for him to follow.

First Shiv wrote Winter Clothes
in the January square, because
most of his were for warmer weather
and it was only going to get colder.

Then he set Valentine's Day --
Solo Supper
under February,
because Heron put him up to it.

Tucking his tongue between
his teeth, he put down Niobium
for March. Tolli had given him
a troy ounce of the stuff, and once
Shiv realized that he could turn it
rainbow colors with his superpower,
he wanted to get more of it.

Then he thought about taking
a vacation, because that was
a thing people did, wasn't it?

But he didn't know what to put,
since he'd never done it before.

Feeling desperate, Shiv scribbled
Vacation? in the margin by
the summer months.

He was also expecting
to visit Motor City in trade
for Gray, but Shiv didn't
know when that would be.

He jotted down Motor City?
on the side just so that he
wouldn't forget about it.

Gray still hadn't budged,
so Shiv hit the lunch room
to get himself a sandwich.

While he was munching on that,
he pulled out his smartphone and
searched How to take your first vacation.

Then he got lost in looking at places to go,
especially the free campsites, because
he hadn't gone camping in a long time
and that hadn't sucked when he
went with one foster family.

Atwoods. That was their name,
the Atwoods family. They had
turned him on to outdoorsy stuff.

Shiv shook himself and went back
to researching vacations. He
still had a lot of work to do.

It was quite a bit later when
Gray groaned and sat up.

"Hey," Shiv said quietly,
setting his phone aside.

"Hey," said Gray. "You
stayed to watch me?"

"Yeah," Shiv said. "I didn't
think it would be good for you
to wake up alone, just in case
you didn't remember much."

"Oh, I remember," Gray muttered.

"You wanna tell me what that
was all about, Gray?" Shiv said.

Gray sighed. "Some cops thought
I looked like a guy they wanted, so I got
cuffed and hauled down to the station,"
he explained, rubbing his wrists. "I wasn't
him, so they cut me loose ... and then I
had a flashback on the way home."

"Not good," Shiv agreed. "Did the boss
take care of the flashback for you?"

"Yeah, he turned it off," Gray said.
"Now I just feel antsy, not awful."

Shiv considered asking Gray
if this had anything to do with
what happened recently. He
knew how stress could pile up.

Then again, maybe he should
leave that discussion for later.

"Flashbacks suck," Shiv said.
"I should know, I have enough
of them myself. So you what,
remembered a bad time in cuffs?"

"This was from before I got
my superpowers, even," said Gray.
"Ricasso loaned me to a lady who
liked to play with her bodyguards, and
I was game. It went great -- until she
threw me out on the street right after.
I barely made it back home."

He was rubbing his wrists again,
hard enough to leave red marks.

"Hey," Shiv said, daring to reach out
and wrap a hand around Gray's wrist.
"Quit that, you're gonna scratch yourself."

Gray went still under his touch,
almost as if ... waiting for orders.

"Something I can do for you?" Shiv said.

"I don't know," Gray said. "I guess
I could use a distraction now."

Shiv looked aside. "Sometimes,
after the cops roughed me, I'd
come home and do stuff to myself,"
he admitted. "It helped, if I could
just feel something else for a while."

"I get that," Gray replied.

Shiv squeezed the slender wrist
in his hand, just hard enough
to feel the bones of it.

As he watched, Gray's eyes
fluttered shut, and he leaned
back against the headboard.

"If you want, we could
go over to my other place,"
Shiv said. "I could maybe
help you out a little."

Gray opened his eyes.
"Do you have any idea
what you're doing?" he said.
"I appreciate the offer, but ...
sometimes I drop hard, when
I'm switching down, and I need
a top who can handle that."

Shiv remembered the prison
and Dr. Bloch and Mr. Vanburen,
but he couldn't mention them
here without risking trouble.

"I've had some lessons," Shiv said.
"Nothing fancy, but if the shit hits
the fan, we got people to call."

"Okay on that," Gray said.
"What did you have in mind?"

"I wasn't planning on making
a big deal out of this," Shiv said.
"Just give you something else to feel
for a while, and if you want, maybe
work on that thing with your wrists."

"Like what?" Gray said.

Without moving a finger,
Shiv flicked out his butterfly
and set the knife dancing
in the air between them.

"I control sharp things.
I can manipulate metal,"
Shiv said. "I could do
a little knifeplay, no cutting,
and bondage if you want
to try it. Anything I put on,
I guarantee I can take off."

Gray licked his lips.
"Yes to the knifeplay,"
he said. "Anything more,
ask me again later."

"Okay," Shiv said.
"I gotta use the can,
and I need to go upstairs
to grab some stuff. Meet
you at the front door in ten?"

"I'll be there," Gray said.

Shiv galloped up the stairs
to his apartment. He shucked off
his clothes and kicked them
toward the hamper by the wall.

Then he put on the blue sweater
and black jeans that he'd found
while shopping for Verne
and Largo at Nick's Thrifts.

If he was going to do this,
he was going to do it right,
and that meant looking nice.

Gray always dressed up for him,
after all, so that must matter.

Recalling Gray's tendency
to run out of gas at awkward times,
Shiv crammed his pockets with
energy gels, some kind of
gourmet strawberry stuff
that Heron had given him.

He checked his throwing knife,
cleaned it just to make sure, then
tucked it into an ankle sheath.

He'd have to wash it afterwards,
but it was stainless steel -- you could
literally boil the thing to clean it.

Then he put his wallet in
his pants and called a cab.
He'd learned that from Gray, too:
don't drag your date on a bus.

Finally Shiv went downstairs.

As promised, Gray was
waiting for him near the door.

Together they rode over
to public housing, and Shiv
led the way to his apartment.

Gray sat down on the bed, which
Shiv had forgotten to put away
the last time he had been here.

"How do you want me?"

"Just like that for now,"
Shiv said, giving Gray
a moment to settle down.

Shiv squirmed under the bed
and pried up the loose floorboard.

One hand rummaged through
the metal ingots stashed there.
He wanted something soft enough
to flow well, light enough to feel
comfortable, and pretty enough
to be worthy of putting on Gray.

His fingers found the silver.

Shiv put the board back and
then used some copper wire
to fasten it from the inside,
so nobody else could open it.

Standing up, he put one finger
on Gray's chest and pushed gently.

Gray melted back onto the bed.

Shiv felt a little flutter of accomplishment.
Then he realized that Gray hadn't moved,
other than to lie down, so his legs were
still hanging over the edge of the bed.

"All the way on the bed, on your back,"
Shiv said, patting Gray's knee.

Gray flowed up onto the mattress,
exactly as ordered. Gorgeous.

Shiv was getting excited.

Something about this scene
reminded him of that time with
Mr. Vanburen and the staples --
the soft, open look on his face
and the unexpected trust.

Shiv had gotten through
the mess they'd made of
each other in the prison.

He wanted to give Gray
that sense of -- of safety,
even while they were doing
something a little bit dangerous.

Cautious of his slight weight,
Shiv straddled Gray's thighs.
"This okay?" he asked.

"Yes," Gray whispered.

"So, now I need some skin,"
Shiv said. He reached up
and pushed Gray's shirt
toward his armpits, baring
a stretch of pale, smooth belly.

Then Shiv took out his butterfly
and set it to twirling in the air.

"Please," Gray said. "Just
give me something to feel."

Shiv grinned at him.
"Oh yeah, I got this."

Flourishing the butterfly
one last time, he put it away.
Then he took the throwing knife
and laid it flat on Gray's belly.

"Nifty thing about my ability:
the blade can't actually touch
your skin unless I let it," Shiv said.
"What you're feeling is my power."

"It's like -- like static," Gray said,
panting a little. "Only sharper."

Shiv could feel it too, power
dancing between them,
electric and brilliant.

He lifted the knife away.

He'd have to be careful
of that, because he wanted
to give Gray a distraction,
not a powergasm.

Neither of them was
ready to flip that switch,
especially not today.

So Shiv used his fingernails,
and sometimes the knife,
to give Gray the sensation
he so desperately craved.

It was wonderful,
and a little scary.

Shiv watched him
very closely, wanting
to make it good for Gray.

He wasn't sure what-all
Gray saw in him when it was
Shiv stretched out on the bed,
and certainly Shiv had nowhere
near the experience that Gray did,
but he could damn well try.

It was working, too,
the tension flowing out of
Gray like water, leaving him
all soft and happy now.

Shiv toyed with him,
letting him feel the metal
just a breath away from skin.

Gray made the most amazing sounds.

When Gray was as boneless as a filet,
Shiv wrapped a hand around his wrist
and said, "Want to try something new?"

"Mmm," Gray said, smiling.

Shiv poked him in the ribs
with a fingernail. "You never
let me get away with that.
Say it in words now."

Gray glared at him
through pewter lashes.
"Make the cuffs," he said.
"Don't chain me to anything."

Shiv brought out the silver
and began melding it gently
around Gray's wrists.

"Is that sterling?"
Gray squeaked.

"Only the best for
the best," Shiv purred.

The metal gleamed over
pale skin, wide and careful.

They were more like bracelets
than handcuffs, because Shiv
hadn't fastened them together.

"Feel the difference," Shiv said,
making the silver slide over Gray
like a smooth cool snake, almost
alive under his superpower.

Gray's mouth fell open
in a pleading gasp.

Shiv snugged the metal
just a little bit tighter, then
curled a tendril of it around
to tickle the inside of Gray's hand.

Gray's whole body jerked on the bed,
and for a moment Shiv wondered if
he'd done something wrong, but then
Gray's hands flopped over, palms up.

Asking for more.

Shiv let him have it,
coaxing the metal to wrap
around him until it looked
like thick, lacy gloves.

Gray shivered so much
under the light touch that
Shiv put his hands on
the older man's shoulders,
pinning him gently to the bed.

"Steady," Shiv said. "This is
supposed to help you calm down."

"Tickles," Gray said, then, "Deeper."

Shiv frowned, because they had
agreed on no cutting, and then
realized -- oh right, deep touch.

He pulled the silver back into
two thick, simple cuffs and
touched them together.

Gray flinched, but Shiv
was ready for that.

"Shh, I've got you,"
he said, remembering
how Gray had talked him
through the alligator clips
and how awesome they
had been in the end.
"You can take this."

He stretched the metal so
that it went from wrists
all the way up to elbows,
thin enough that Gray could
have torn it like tissue if not
for Shiv's power holding it
close against his skin.

"What do you feel?" he said.

"You," Gray whimpered,
and then, "Hold me."

Ah. There it was.
Shiv felt glad that Gray
had warned him about this.

Quickly he peeled off the metal
and wadded it back into an ingot,
which he tucked under the bed.

Shiv stretched out over Gray,
pressing him tenderly into
the mattress, just as Gray
had done for him before.

"I've got you," Shiv said again.

Gray's breath was warm against
the side of his neck, uneven
with silent, needy cries.

Shiv held him through it,
and had no wish to let go.

His own feelings startled him --
that desire to possess, to protect --
but he wanted to focus on Gray.

Really all Shiv was doing was
copying what he'd seen Gray do,
or Dr. Bloch do, making himself
into some sort of human mirror,
so he had to keep his head
in the script or he'd lose it.

Still felt amazing, though.

Shiv made sure that
all the toys were put away
safely out of sight, and
held Gray until he stilled
and turned drowsy.

Then Shiv rolled off
and lay beside him.

Gray's stomach growled.

Shiv fished out one of
the gel packets and
said, "Hungry? These
things are pretty good."

"Yes, please," Gray said.

Shiv bit into his and
passed Gray another.

And another.

After the third,
Shiv said, "Okay,
slow down there.
Let it settle. Then if
you need more, I'll
let you have the last."

Once Gray gave his body
time to realize that it was fed,
though, it stopped snarling.

"Thanks," Gray said,
snuggling against Shiv.

"Any time," Shiv said,
and he really meant it.
"I got apples in the bowl
if you want real food later."

Gray had been so good
to him, the man deserved
to get something back for it.

They lay together, watching
the sky slowly tint toward
winter twilight through
Shiv's big prow window.

Neither felt compelled to move.

"So, what did you think?"
Shiv said when he was
pretty sure that both of them
could get the right words out.

"I think," Gray said softly,
"this is the first time I've spent
any part of a holiday in handcuffs

... and not regretted it."

* * *


This picture shows the outside of Blues Moon with the main floor and two layers of apartments.

The basement contains the working part of the lair. The largest office below the lunch room and kitchen belongs to Boss White. The powder room is next to the lunch room. Across from Boss White's office is the guest room. The accounts/manager and board room offices are shared space. The big corner office in the upper right is the patch room. They actually don't have an exercise room in their own lair; instead they have a group membership at a nearby gym.

Here is the layout of the main floor showing the jazz club and restaurant.

This is the guest tracksuit that Gray borrows.

Dymin gave Shiv a yearly planner with deailed budget page, which didn't turn out well. So she swapped it for a year-at-a-glance page, financial goals, one-year planner, and goal list. Shiv is making at least some progress now.

A solo date has many benefits. Single men can take themselves out for Valentine's Day.

Niobium is often used in jewelry. This supplier sells it at $38.95 for one troy ounce. Most of the elements are for sale, although some are very expensive.

Budgeting for your first vacation can be a bit confusing. Explore some fun places and things to do for solo travelers.

Local-America has only a few days per year when it costs nothing to visit national parks. Otherwise, parks are only for people with money. In Terramagne-America, citizens can visit free because they already paid, otherwise known as taxes. Premium campsites (like RV pads with utilities) and some activities cost money, but there's always free stuff to do. There are some other free campsites that you can try on a roadtrip too.

See Shiv's blue sweater and black jeans.

Canaberry Energy Gel is one of Heron's favorites that Shiv also likes.

This is Shiv's throwing knife. Practice risk-aware consensual kink.

Knifeplay is an advanced form of kink.

Bondage is the first part of BDSM! L-American handcuffs are dangerous (including when "used properly"). This is why T-America prefers wide figure-8 handcuffs instead. One important safety tip: the first time playing with a new bondage partner, the bottom should not let the top fasten them TO anything. Handcuffs or wrist ropes are popular because they only bind body parts to other parts of the same body.

The sensory system includes different nerves for light and deep touch. Here is one test for light touch in a sensory exam. Deep pressure stimulation feels soothing to most people. Explore the difference and watch a video about it. Kinky people love to play with this stuff. Tactile defensiveness can create challenges for children and adults. If light touch is uncomfortable, try deep touch instead.
Tags: cyberfunded creativity, family skills, fantasy, fishbowl, poem, poetry, reading, romance, weblit, writing

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