Co-written by: Jo and LJ

Cameron looked into his closet and sighed. Since starting work at the lounge, he’d put muscle on across the shoulders and his shirts no longer fit him. Last time he tried on one of his two hundred dollar silk shirts, it had torn straight across the back. He padded out to the living room.

“Chad, can I use the credit card to buy some new shirts?” he asked, hopefully. “There’s a sale on one of my sites,” he continued, hoping that using his ‘puppy dog’ eyes would work.

Chad lowered the newspaper he’d been reading. He had been expecting this even though Cameron knew he had to pay off his debits before running up more. It had just been a matter of time before his young partner would be in need of new clothing with the way he had filled out over the past year.

“No!” he clearly replied, closing the door on further discussion involving the use of a credit card.

Holding out his arms, he softly invited, “Come here, Mugs.” Once his Brat was firmly ensconced on his lap, Chad suggested, “I think it would be a better idea for you to get somewhat more practical shirts and jeans, love. Surely, in the almost year and a half that you’ve lived here; you’ve notice that Jade Heights is not exactly the fashion capital of the world. Most folks aren’t really impressed with fancy trappings and all.” He smiled understandingly at the look of chagrin that passed over the other man’s face. “I know you appreciate fine clothes, but you could save yourself a lot of money if you settled for something a bit more conducive to the location you presently reside in. ‘Money’ you no longer have, truth be told.”

Chad tightened his arms around Cameron and waited for the explosion.

“I can’t go around wearing discount clothes,” Cameron yelped. “I know I stand out a bit, but I don’t care. I like my clothes. I can pay off the credit card using the minimum payment option.” He crossed his arms and glared at his partner. “It’s not fair,” he whined, not at all aware he sounded like a petulant child. “You just want me to wear clothes like that god-awful work shirt,” he accused, getting into a snit.

Chad set the younger man beside him on the couch and turned to face him. “I am not suggesting you shop at Wal-Mart, Mugs. There are plenty of stores like the Gap and Northern Reflections that carry well-made and great-looking lines of clothing. Adding to your credit card and only making minimum payments will never get it taken care of, and it will cost you mega amounts of interest.”

He decided the time had come to put forth an idea he’d had for some time now. “You know, Cameron, you have bitched about the uniform our employees wear since day one and I’m sick of it. I think it is time you gave serious thought to either finding another job or, if you’re interested, going back to school and learning a new trade.”

Cameron’s mouth dropped open in shock. “But... but,” was all he could say at first. “Chad, I love working at the lounge. I promise I won’t moan about the shirt again. Honest.” His blue eyes were watery. He rubbed the tears away. “Baby,” he admonished himself, under his breath. He rested against Chad, craving physical contact. “I guess shopping at the Gap or Northern Reflections wouldn’t hurt me. After all, you get your stuff there and you always look good.” He glanced up at his Top, smiling wickedly. “Really good.” His eyes brightened “What about if I work on a new design for the shirts?” he asked in somewhat pleading tone. “But if you want them to stay the same, I’ll wear it without complaint.”

Drawing Cameron closer and kissing his head, Chad patiently pointed out. “I thought it was the material you objected to, Mugs. Because regardless of the design, which happens to be the one Kipper chose after a great deal of deliberation,” he winked and smiled at his partner, “the shirts would still be made of a polyester/cotton blend. I know you enjoy wearing designer clothes, love. Once you get your credit under control, you’ll be in a better position to afford them.” Hauling his love back onto his lap, Chad nibbled on his ear and murmured, “Besides, you look good in anything you wear….hmmm, especially your birthday suit.”

Chad laughed Cameron tried to squirm away from the tickling. Turning a bit serious, he earnestly inquired, “You’re quite sure you wouldn’t be interested in furthering your education, learning something new maybe? I am more than willing to help you in any way I can.”

Cameron leaned into Chad’s embrace. “I didn’t like school,” he muttered. “I didn’t spend a lot of time there. I did a lot of modeling when I was younger and sometimes had a tutor, sometimes not. You know, being here with you is the first time I've felt secure and can look forward to a future of any kind.” He wriggled up and kissed Chad. “I love working at the lounge and really, I am happy there.” Cameron wriggled. He was never happy talking about feelings. “Are we going shopping together?” he eventually asked.

“There is no need for you to make any changes if you’re happy with what you are doing, Mugs. I was merely pointing out that you do have options.” Chad’s arms tightened and he gave thought to his partner’s request.

“Seeing as it is our day off and drizzling out, shopping is probably as good an activity as any,” Chad teasingly capitulated, prepared to accept several hours wandering through a number of clothing stores in Kelowna if it made his Brat happy. ‘Besides,’ he consoled himself, ‘he really needs new things.’

Gently pushing Cameron off his lap, Chad instructed, “Go get ready, we leave in ten minutes. We’ll find a posh restaurant for dinner to make the trip even more worthwhile.”

Cameron did his happy dance. He was not only going shopping for clothes; he was going to be with Chad while he did it. He changed into a pair of slacks and a peacock blue silk shirt. The shirt was a bit tight across the shoulders but Cameron didn’t care. If they were going to a posh restaurant, he didn’t want to show Chad up. Within ten minutes, he was by the front door itching to go.

“Come on, Chad,” he said, bouncing on the balls of his feet. “I’m ready to go.”

Chad shook his head at the other man's impatience. “Hold your horses, Mugs.” He appeared wearing blue jeans and a light blue cotton shirt opened at the throat. He smiled appreciatively at his lover’s outfit. ‘That blue colour certainly looks good on him,’ he mused.

Having an over-abundance of self-assurance, Chad dressed to please himself, totally uncaring of how other people saw of him. However, he was aware of such not being the case with Cameron who often placed a little too much importance on clothes instead of the person wearing them.

Chad knew the glamour world the younger man had inhabited before coming to Jade Heights was a superficial one. One in which Cameron had never learned his own worth; one in which others exploited him because of his good looks; one which afforded him few, if any, opportunities for setting and reaching goals; and one which did not provide him with the joy of achievement necessary for developing self-confidence.

But slowly over the past year, Chad had proudly watched as his partner slowly but steadily matured into the man he was destined to be. Cameron had gradually taken on more responsibilities at the lounge and had become a much valued employee. Chad seeing all this and getting Cameron to see it were two different things, but Chad was a patient man.

Chad clicked the remote to unlock the doors to the Ranger and chuckled when Cameron got in and buckled up before he himself had the driver’s door open.

“It took you long enough to get ready.” He teased then laughed at Cameron’s snort of disdain.

“Did not,” Cameron shot back. “Ten minutes isn’t long.” He grinned at Chad. “I wanted to make sure, I didn’t let you down. Let’s get going,” he said eagerly. “The earlier we get there, the more time we have to shop.” Cameron loved shopping. He saw it as combat sport. “First in, best served is my motto.”

Chad laughed again as he wrapped an arm around Cameron’s shoulders, hauled him closer and kissed his head. “You never let me down, my love,” he whispered. He did up his seatbelt, checked his rearview mirror and backed out of the driveway. “Okay; as my grandfather used to say, ‘we’re off in a cloud of monkey dust and moonshine’, and you needn’t bother asking me what he meant because I have no idea.”

Cameron was so excited he didn’t stop talking for the entire trip until Chad pulled the car up in front of Wal-Mart. Then he was silent as he led the way and walked over to the clothing area. He wrinkled his nose and looked at Chad.

“You’ve got to be kidding,” he snapped. “I wouldn’t be seen dead in these shirts and as for those one-size-fits-all T-shirts...”

Chad frowned at his partner’s choice of words and manner of speech. Keeping his voice low enough to be for the younger man’s ears only, Chad firmly stated, “We are no better than anyone else, Cameron. If those clothes are good enough for the average person, they are good enough for us. However, I wasn’t expecting you to shop here. My intention was only to use this store as a shortcut to the mall where there are several excellent clothing stores. It was you who made a bee-line for this area of Wal-Mart, not I. Now, if you are unable to say anything positive about something, I’d prefer you say nothing at all.” Chad waited to see what, if any, affect his quiet scolding was having on his Brat. Wrapping a big hand around the back of Cameron’s neck, Chad began steering him towards the mall’s entrance.

“Thank God for small mercies,” Cameron muttered, pulling free of Chad’s grasp and leading the way out. He hated being told off and muttered to himself all the way to one of Chad’s favourite clothing shop. He looked in the front window and grimaced before turning to Chad. “This doesn’t look much better,” he said. “These clothes are for old people.”

“Look again, Cameron,” Chad crossly instructed. “Northern Reflections carries clothing for all ages and in all sizes. There is a large choice of well-made, great looking outfits to choose from. There is also a special men’s branch called Northern Elements which is where I prefer to shop unless looking for formal wear.”

Leaning in closer, Chad stared directly into Cameron eyes, making sure he had the young man’s undivided attention. “You utter one more complaint, make one more derogatory comment or so much as grunt in a pessimistic manner, and we will be heading home so fast your head will spin. You got that, Cameron?”

“Yes sir!” Cameron knew he had pushed Chad too far. His Top was generally an easy-going man but he had his limits and Cameron knew it. “I guess we’d better go in and see what they’ve got,” he suggested amicably, wanting to smooth the waters. “I’m sorry,” he quietly said for Chad’s ears only.

Once inside, Cameron’s bounce returned. He couldn’t help himself; he loved shopping for clothes. Chad was right. There were some cool things in the shop. Cameron didn’t know where to look first. “Hey Chad,” he called out, turning around and holding a brightly coloured silk tie. “You’d look great in this.” He grinned at his lover, eyes sparkling.

“Yeah, right; if I was dressing up for a costume party.” Chad smiled and returned the light bantering, happy to see his love making the effort to behave. “But we’re not here to get clothing for me; it is you who needs some casual shirts and pants. New underwear and socks would come in handy too, because your old stuff is getting a little threadbare. Not that I mind. The more I see of you, the better. Of course I don’t want anyone else seeing as much as I do.” Chad laughed at the simulated piqued expression on his partner’s gorgeous face.

Cameron chuckled, he knew Chad didn’t wear ties unless he had to be formal and even then, if he could get away without one, he would. Cameron headed straight for the rack of shirts that had caught his attention and started to look through them. They were cotton but he kept his comments to himself. He did admit to himself that at least he wouldn’t have to do so much hand washing.

He then headed towards the jeans. He had the designer jeans he’d picked up from the last shoot but the ones from the year before he’d met Chad had wear spots in interesting places. Fine for around the house but he’d never wear them outside. He grinned to himself. Chad liked those jeans. After grabbing two pairs, he made his way to the changing rooms.He pulled the new clothes on and wrinkled his nose. “Yuck,” he muttered to himself. He knew Chad would like them and he had to admit in these clothes he’d blend in more, but he liked standing out. He couldn’t quite wipe the discontented look off his face as he walked out to show Chad his new clothes.

“Turn around and let me see the back of you,” Chad instructed as he swirled his finger in a small circle. “Hmm, seems a good fit and just tight enough in all the right places,” he teased. “The shirt looks very nice on you as do the jeans, but are they comfortable?” He had noticed his Brat’s expression of disgruntlement but chose not to comment on it.

“Yeah, they’re comfortable,” Cameron begrudgingly admitted. “They’re just, I dunno...” he hesitated, not wanting to rile Chad again, “so normal,” he finally said, weakly. “I guess that’s what you wanted, huh?” He raised his eyebrows at Chad in question.

“It isn’t a question of what I want, Mugs. It is a matter of what you can afford,” Chad patiently reminded him. “I am not trying to dictate what you wear; just trying to help you accept the inevitable. These clothes may be more practical than what you are used to, but believe me, they look very attractive on you.” Chad smiled at the expression of doubt that passed over Cameron’s face. He understood this was a difficult transition for his young partner to make. “You decide what things you want and after they’re paid for, we’ll find some place nice for dinner. How’s that?”

“That sounds good,” Cameron replied. “I can afford these three shirts and two pairs of jeans.” He looked with distaste at the box of underwear he saw on a shelf. “Five for the price of four,” he read, muttering a little under his breath. “That’s because they can’t give them away. I can afford two pairs of those silk boxer shorts,” he said a little louder. He looked at Chad. “Well I can,” he pointed out. “Afford them, I mean. I need some silk,” he pouted.

“Tell you what, Mugs,” Chad smiled at the younger man and made an offer. “You pay for the shirts and pants; I’ll buy you the silk boxers. I think you deserve it and besides,” Chad leaned closer to growl, “I like you in silk boxers almost as much as I like you naked.” Laughing, he straightened up and ordered, “Now let’s get out of here.”

Cameron blushed. “Maybe I can put on those old jeans when we get home with those new silk boxers,” he said for Chad’s ears only. Then he busied himself collecting up the shirts and jeans to pay for them. “Why don’t you choose the boxers,” he suggested to Chad. “I trust you.”

“Yeah, right!” Chad rolled his eyes in disbelief then set about choosing three pair in varying shades of blue and adding an extra pair in a rich shade of burgundy. Going through the cash was quickly accomplished and they were on their way back to the parking lot.

Twenty minutes later, they were seated at a table in a Swiss Chalet restaurant and placing their order. As their waitress walked off, Chad glanced at his Brat and smiled. “Are you satisfied with your purchases, Mugs? Was your shopping expedition as traumatic as you might have thought it would be?” he teased, pleased with himself for having survived the event unscathed… far.

“This place is really nice,” Cameron side-stepped the question. He was not going to tell Chad what he thought of the clothing he’d bought. He liked standing out but the new shirts and jeans would make him blend in. He felt much more comfortable in what he was wearing, a silk shirt and expensive slacks. He did not want to be dragged out of the restaurant. He remembered Chad’s warning from earlier that day. “How did you find out about this place?”

Chad decided to let the evasiveness pass. ‘Pick your battles,’ he reminded himself. He was surprised that his Brat had never been in one of these establishments before. “This restaurant is one of a large chain, honey. I make it a point to eat at one whenever I can. Reminds me of my childhood as every Christmas my parents made it a point to take us three boys here for a kind of time-out during the holiday rush. Besides, the food is always delicious as you will soon find out.” He sat back and drank his water.

“Is there anywhere else you want to go before we head home?” Chad asked just as the waitress returned with their meal.

“No, I’m kind of tired and I just want to go home if that’s all right with you,” Cameron replied before putting a forkful of food into his mouth. Chad was right, the food was delicious. But Cameron didn’t really taste it. He was irritated and felt antsy. He knew better than to push Chad any further, so he tried to swallow his feelings. He felt his identity was linked to his clothing and that didn’t make much sense to him at all. He knew deep down it had to do with his relationship with his parents. Expensive clothing had meant he’d made it and didn’t need their help. He still heard in his head his mother’s complaints of how much it cost to feed and cloth him. It irked him to still have that old insecurity, even after being with Chad for a year.‘Snap out of it, Cameron!’ he silently admonished himself as he settled himself in the car for the trip home. But none of his thoughts were convincing enough and he started to fume.

“This just sucks!” he hollered, finally losing control. “I hate this and I hate those clothes. I just want to buy nice things. What’s so wrong with that?” Even as he lost his temper, Cameron felt ashamed. He truthfully admitted that the clothes were fine. He just felt a bit vulnerable as he saw his clothing as a type of armour he could submerge his personality into and play the ‘I couldn’t care less’ persona. Only this new clothing would not work like that.

Chad was startled when Cameron hollered out his grievances. He had to grip the wheel to avoid losing control of the Ranger. Rolling his eyes and taking a deep breath, he briefly glared at the man in the passenger seat. “There is nothing wrong with wanting nice things. But you chose your own clothing, so what are you gripping about now?” His stern voice clearly indicated he wanted a proper explanation and was not about to put up with any temper tantrums.

“Fucking cotton shirts and bloody levis,” Cameron spat. Once he lost his temper, his mouth always got dirty. “It sucks. I’m going to look like everyone else. My mother always said that clothing makes the man. So what does that say about me now?”

“It doesn’t say anything more or anything less that it does for many people in the world, Mugs, including me,” Chad calmly replied. “Seems to me a lot of folks didn’t do right by you, love, and it’s left you with a pretty slanted outlook on life. The reality is, my boy, that you bought what you could afford and granted it, it’s not what you’re use to, but at least you didn’t rack up a lot of debt.”

The older man didn’t hold out much hope that using reason would help the situation and so it was with a sigh of relief that he drove into their driveway and parked the truck. He braced himself for a major explosion. “I think it would be best if we continued this conversation in the house.”

Cameron was not mollified. He was in a snit and well past the point of caring. When he was feeling vulnerable and scared, he often translated it into anger. “Conversation,” he spat. “You’ve been bossy all afternoon,” he accused. His inner voice said unfair, but he easily ignored it.

“Get out of the car, Cameron. Leave the bags where they are and go inside,” Chad determinedly ordered. “I expect to find you standing in a corner when I get there.” He waited to see if his directive was being adhered to before getting out of the truck and following his Brat into their home.

“Chaaaad,” Cameron whined. “That’s not fair.” He suddenly realized he’d been mouthing off to his Top. “I didn’t mean anything by it. I was just letting off steam.” He knew better than to continue arguing and went into the house, moving automatically to a corner.

Chad quietly closed the front door and walked into the living room. Lowering his big frame onto the sofa, he studied the young man in the corner and contemplated how best to handle the situation. He knew once Cameron settled down and thought over his actions of the day, his partner would begin feeling guilty and end up acting out again. There was only one way to avoid another outburst and get Cameron to the point of talking things over in a calm, reasonable manner.

He sadly shook his head at his Brat’s slumped shoulders and sighs of contrition. “Come here, Mugs. Please,” Chad gently requested. He bit his cheek to keep from smiling as he watched Cameron reluctantly shuffle across the floor. Once the young man was within reach, Chad reached up and pulled his partner down onto his lap.

“I love you and I appreciate the times today when you’ve been a joy to be with, Mugs. Unfortunately, there have also been too many instances of appalling behaviour on your part. It is this negative behaviour we’re going to deal with first.” Chad gave his love a hug and kissed him before easily flipping him over. He bared his intended target and asked, “Why are you getting this spanking, Cameron?”

"I don’t know. Why don’t you tell me?” Cameron muttered, stubborn to the last. If he thought he’d felt vulnerable before, it was a hundred times worse in this position. Standing in the corner had not really calmed him down. His mind was still whirling and he had always hated telling Chad why he deserved to be spanked; it was beyond embarrassing.

Chad growled. ‘Cheeky Brat!’ he thought, before cupping his hand and lifting his arm high. Then he began to wallop Cameron’s bare-bottom. After half a dozen firm swats, he paused and sternly repeated his question. “Why are you getting this spanking, Cameron?”

“Ow, Chad, that hurts,” Cameron wailed as tears starting to fall. “I’m getting spanked for losing my temper and being disrespectful to you and others. Please, Chad, I’m sorry. Please don’t spank me.” Cameron’s anger had completely disappeared. He began to feel guilty about his behaviour and always forgot how hard Chad’s hand was. If he could beg his way out of a spanking, he would.

“Exactly! For being disrespectful,” Chad concurred, ignoring his partner’s plea and immediately resuming the repetitive rhythm he had established moments ago. “We do not treat each other in that manner and I refuse to put up with it for another minute,” he scolded as he spanked. A minute later, feeling the lesson had been well-taught, Chad stopped and the hand that had been so hard was now gentle as it soothingly stroked the reddened flesh.

Lifting the sobbing man onto his lap and being mindful of the sore bottom, Chad set about calming the chastened man.

When Cameron’s sobs had faded to hitches and sniffles, Chad began to patiently reason with him. “I understand why you believe what you do about clothes, Mugs, but you are mistaken. You use expensive things as a shield to hide behind when you have nothing to either hide from or keep hidden. It is only a façade. Your parents should have taught you better. They are the ones who failed you, not the other way around. But hey, no one’s perfect. Now, you are going to be twenty-three this fall and over a year ago you gave yourself a new start here in Jade Heights, so maybe it’s time for you to leave the negative crap from your old life where it belongs…and that is in the past.”

Seeing he had his partner’s undivided attention, Chad winked and continued. “You are a wonderful young man, Cameron, with so much to offer; not just to us as a couple but also anyone you come in contact with. You just have to learn to love yourself for the very unique person you are. Do you think it a worth-while goal? If so, I’ll do whatever I can to help you achieve it.” He waited to see if any of this was sinking in and hopefully making good impression. ‘Hell,’ he thought, biting his cheek not to let the other man see his smirk. ‘Normally a man of few words, I think I’ve out done myself.’

Cameron almost forgot his burning bottom as he listened to Chad, his mouth open in shock. Chad was a silent man at the best of times and he couldn’t quite believe his Top had just said so much. “Wonderful man?” he asked, wide-eyed. As usual after a spanking, all his defenses were lowered and he snuggled into Chad’s chest. “Good goal,” he agreed, smiling and feeling safe. He shifted slightly and the burn in his backside made itself known once again. He grimaced. “Sore,” he complained.

“Hmm,” Chad murmured and kissed Cameron’s damp cheek. “I think you are also tired enough to benefit from a nap.” He raised an eyebrow when his Brat opened his mouth to dispute Chad’s observation, only to yawn widely. Within moments, the young man was asleep. Chad gently placed his partner face down on their bed and covered him with a light quilt before heading into the kitchen to prepare supper.

A couple of hours later, Chad stood gazing down at his still sleeping partner. He decided it was time for Cameron to get up; otherwise the young man would never be able to sleep tonight. Chad removed the blanket and deftly began to undress his partner, waking him in the process.

Quickly divesting himself of his own clothes, Chad lay down next to Cameron and began slowly caressing him from shoulder to thigh and back again while tenderly nibbling where his wondering hands had been.

Cameron moaned in appreciation. He couldn’t think of a better way to wake up. He rolled onto his back and feeling his still-tender bottom, turned onto his side. He kissed Chad and his hands began to wander, oh so gently. “Love you,” he muttered, after disengaging from Chad’s mouth. He was so hard; he desperately wanted Chad in him.

Chad captured Cameron’s mouth and tasted the sweetness inside while opening the lube he had taken from the bedside table. He expertly prepared his young lover and when he felt Cameron was ready, lifted his partner’s legs and gently entered his welcoming body.

“Don’t touch yourself,” he growled out an order. “I want you to cum just from my being inside you but not until I say so.” He began rocking back and forth, finding his tempo and gradually increasing the speed and depth of his thrusts. He soon had Cameron whimpering for release.

“Now, baby, now!” Chad commanded and with one final thrust, climaxed at the same moment as Cameron. “I love you, Mugs,” he stated as he let his love’s legs slowly slide off his shoulders and leaned in to passionately kiss him. Then he gently wiped the cum off Cameron's stomach and chest with a handful of tissues.

Well-sated, he stretched out on his side of the bed and drew Cameron into his arms. Gazing into the dazed blue eyes of his lover, Chad smiled and asked in a slightly lazy voice, “You hungry? I made Lasagna and garlic bread.”

It took Cameron a while to get his breath back. He smiled back at Chad. “I’m always hungry after a good f....” his voice trailed off, “after good sex,” he ended lamely. He rolled out of bed, keeping his butt well out of range in case Chad decided to swat him. “I’ll go set the table,” he offered, grabbing up some clothes and walking out of the bedroom. He wanted to make sure his seat had a soft cushion on it.

Chad stretched contently and stayed where he was on the bed, listening to the muted sounds of his partner moving around the kitchen. Their day had certainly had its’ ups and down, but Chad was confident it was ending on a positive note. He got up, slipped on his boxers and sauntered out to enjoy a relaxing evening with the man he loved.

The End

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