Balancing Act

Co-written by: Teri and Jodie

Taking advantage of the long empty aisle in front of him, Kyler placed one foot on the bottom rung of the grocery cart and shoved off with the other. He cruised down the length of the meat department and came to an abrupt halt next to his oldest partner.

“Having trouble deciding which one to buy, Hugh?” He grinned at the man who had a package of chicken in each hand. “Hmm, let’s see; whole chicken or cut-up. Make it easy on yourself and buy both of them. Patrick will be thrilled. He’s been yammering at us to eat less red meat and this should just fit the bill.”

“You’re right; Patrick should have no problem with this meat because it contains a lot of proteins and hardly any fat.” Hugh suddenly realized the younger man was much taller than him and sharply ordered, “Get off the cart, Kyler! You’re going to fall or run into someone riding it like that. Besides, it’s been a while since you were six.”

“But it’s still fun to do.” Kyler gave his partner a sassy smirk.

Hugh rolled his eyes. “Don’t think I won’t smack you here, my boy. Now come on, have you got all the things on the list?”

“Yeah, I think we’ve got just about everything. Fresh fruit and veggies, milk, cheese, eggs and yogurt, whole grain bread and bagels, healthy cereal,” Kyler checked the items off on the slip of paper he was holding before folding and stuffing it into his pant pocket. “Now it’s time to start shopping for you and me. We gotta get some junk food, right?”

“No, I didn’t say that.” Hugh corrected, pulling his recalcitrant partner down the aisle. “I said we can pick up a little treat. That means maybe one bag of potato chips.”

“But this is the perfect time to buy it; while Patrick’s at work.”

Hugh shook his head firmly. “One only, Kyler. Goodness; where did that come from? Put it back.”

“But we need one this big, Hugh. After all, you did say I could buy only one.” Kyler held the bag up high in an attempt to keep it out of the older man’s reach.

Hugh swatted Kyler smartly on the side of his hip. “You know very well what I meant. That is jumbo sized, probably meant to feed an entire team of swimmers. What have you been eating, Kyler? You are way too hyper today. Have you been sneaking candy behind my back again, hmm?”

“Give me a break, Hugh. I can’t totally give up sweets and snack food. Maybe you guys can, but I don’t even want to try.”

Hugh looked sympathetic. “I know, honey. I like them too, but Patrick has a point. We cannot keep putting junk into our system and expect to stay healthy.”

“Yeah, but you’re only changing your habits now. You never even considered healthier eating when you were my age,” Kyler sadly pointed out.

Seeing Kyler’s expression, Hugh relented. “Well if you promise to make this last the whole week, I guess we can get the bag of chips and one bar of chocolate. That’s it! No more. And no secret stash when we are not looking. Is that clear?”

“I don’t think our family ‘doctor’ is going to be overly pleased with that.” Kyler wrinkled his brow as if giving the idea some thought. He deliberately avoided making any promises in regard to secret stashes.

“Let me worry about Patrick,” Hugh suggested with a smile. Kyler looked too cute when he scrunched up his face like that. “Come on; let’s get all this to the check-out. Did you bring the reusable bags?” 

“Of course; we get extra points if we have our own bags and I’m saving up for a new barbeque; or maybe a new flat-screen TV. I haven’t decided yet.” With that, he replaced his foot on the cart and pushed it towards the front of the store. He chuckled mischievously when he heard Hugh’s growl fading as he put some distance between them.


Patrick whistled softly to himself as he locked his car and sauntered up the driveway to the front door. He hadn’t parked inside the garage because he was planning to go out again after dinner. He had promised his parents to drop in and check up on ‘Uncle Ben’, an old friend of theirs.

“Hey guys,” he called out as he let himself into the house. He could hear voices coming from the kitchen and Kyler’s giggles, so he made his way there. He caught hold of his Brat as he came into the kitchen and kissed him on the forehead. “What have you got there, Ky?”

“The last of the groceries,” Kyler informed him as he tried to hide the frowned-upon treats behind two boxes of cereal in the cupboard.

“Been shopping? Did you get all the things on the list?” Patrick came over to Hugh and they both automatically came together for a quick kiss. 

“Every single thing; as well as a couple of items not on the list,” the younger man admitted somewhat shamefacedly. He was embarrassed by being caught in the act of hiding something.

“I told him he could get one bag of chips and one bar of chocolate. That’s to last the entire week, right, Kyler?” Hugh looked warningly at the young man.

“I’ll do my best.” Kyler still wasn’t into making any iron-clad promises.

Patrick grinned. “No wonder you always prefer to go shopping with Hugh,” he teased. “Next week, you shop with me, young man!”

Kyler jokingly stuck out his tongue and carried the last few item into the pantry.

“Why did you park on the road, Patrick?” Hugh inquired.

“I promised Mom and Dad to check in on Uncle Ben. He’s been feeling poorly and I said I’d drop by to save him the trip to the clinic. It’s probably a touch of the flu.”

“There’s lots of that going around at this time of year,” Kyler commented, coming back into the kitchen in time to hear Patrick’s last statement.

“Which is why I think it’s important to watch what we eat. A strong constitution will build immunity. There are all kinds of diseases and illnesses going around lately.”

“I can’t agree with you more, honey.” Hugh winked at Kyler before turning to Patrick with a sombre face. The good doctor was always lecturing them on eating right and exercising regularly. Not that he or Kyler needed pushing on the latter; Hugh jogged and swam several times a week and Kyler ran, swam and was involved in several team sports.

“Geesh, Hugh and I get more exercise than you do, Patrick. Of course, we also have more time than you do; but still….”

“I don’t mean to nag, guys.” Patrick smiled ruefully. “But seriously, if you saw the number of sick people every day that I do...”

Hugh went to stand behind Patrick and draped one arm across his shoulders. Holding him tightly, he leaned down and nuzzled his neck. “I know, babe, it must be trying sometimes. Why don’t you go take a bath while I prepare dinner?”

“Better yet,” the youngest of the trio piped up. “Let’s all take a shower. Shopping can be a real grimy job. Besides, I know a tired-looking doctor who might appreciate a little help.” Kyler was always game for spending time together; especially if in the buff.

The two Tops didn’t need very much more encouragement to get upstairs, get naked, and get down and dirty. The minute they were in the shower together, they were a bundle of arms and legs. Breathing became ragged as torsos rubbed up against one another. 

Knowing that Patrick needed to go out again, Hugh didn’t want to waste time.  He knelt down in front of Patrick and took the half erect penis into his mouth, glad to hear Patrick’s moan of appreciation.

Kyler grabbed up a sponge and the body wash. He moved in behind Patrick and began lathering his back. When soapy enough, he dropped the sponge and stepped closer to tantalizingly rub the front of his body against Patrick’s. He pressed his own erection into the welcoming space between Patrick’s butt cheeks and reached around to play with Patrick’s nipples. Kyler grinned at the gurgles he enticed from his lover as the nipples hardened. It wasn’t difficult to pick up on the older man’s fast approaching climax.  

Fifteen minutes later, all three men emerged from the shower stall well-sated and breathless. When they were all dried and dressed, Hugh pushed Patrick down the stairs ahead of him. “Babe, go sit down in front of the TV while I finish dinner,” he lovingly suggested. “Kyler will bring you a cup of tea. Come, Kyler.”

Kyler obediently returned minutes later with the hot beverage. Then he puttered around fluffing pillows to support Patrick’s back and draping a light throw over his legs. He chuckled mischievously when his exaggerated administrations caused Patrick to groan and roll his eyes.

“Hope I’m not getting on your last nerve here, Patrick,” Kyler teased and he stepped behind his partner to begin massaging the older man’s shoulders.

“I’m not complaining,” Patrick explained. “I love it when you guys pamper me like this.”

“Well you work really long hours and most of them under a lot of stress.“ Kyler’s fingers applied firm pressure to a particularly stubborn knot at the base of Patrick‘s neck.

“Thanks, honey. You guys work as hard as I do. Please don’t stop the massage, just go a little lower, okay?”

Kyler moved his hands down as requested, working out more knots as he went. “It’s a shame you have to go out again. And just when we got you all nice and relaxed.”

“I wish I didn’t have to go out either, but duty calls.”

Hugh’s voice sailed out to the living room. “Dinner’s ready. Come eat, guys!”

Dinner was a simple affair consisting of grilled chicken wraps with plum sauce for dipping.   

His hunger satisfied, Patrick kissed his partners and left the house, leaving Hugh and Kyler to clean up.

“I could use a snack just about now,“ Kyler commented as he hung the wet dish towel over the rack to dry.

Hugh shook his head. “You just had dinner, darling!”

“I need something sweet. We didn’t have dessert, remember?”

“Have a fruit instead.”

“Don’t feel like it,” Kyler groused, taking his chocolate bar down from the cupboard shelf.

“If you eat that candy bar now, you’ll have to wait until next week to get another one,” Hugh warned.

“But I think I’m having a sugar low or something, Hugh,“ Kyler pointed out, looking undecidedly at the candy in his hand.

“I’m not going to stop you, Kyler. I’m sticking to the agreement we made. As long as these two treats last the week, I don’t care when you eat them. You’re an adult and should be able to decide for yourself. I’m just reminding you of the consequences of polishing off all your snacks too early in the week. Pace yourself out, darling, but the decision is ultimately yours.”

Kyler put the bar back and went to the fridge. “Maybe I’ll have some cola instead. At least that wasn‘t mentioned on the taboo list.”

Hugh sighed and shook his head. “Okay, technically I agree we did not discuss soda. Not that it’s any better than that candy bar, and you know that as well as I do. So since we were silent on that, I am willing to make a concession. Patrick will have a lot to say to me I am sure for giving in so easily, but you can have one now instead of the candy.”

Opening the fridge door, Kyler merrily grabbed out a bottle of his favourite pop. “This should do the trick.” He grinned as he unscrewed the top and took a long swig of the sugary liquid.

“Now will you settle down?”

“I’ll try, but no guaranties.” Kyler stretched to good-humouredly kiss his partner’s lips.

Hugh kissed Kyler back, and then swatted his butt playfully. “Now go do something quietly in the living room. I have papers to grade. Don’t spill soda on the table or Patrick will really have something to complain about!”


Patrick looked glum as he walked through the door.

“What’s wrong, honey?” Hugh asked at once. He quickly turned the stove off and walked over to give Patrick a hug.

Patrick leaned gratefully into the muscular chest and let go of a long breath. “I’m just tired and drained. Mad day at the hospital. And …”

“What, baby?” Hugh murmured into Patrick’s hair, as his strong arms engulfing his long-time partner.

“I lost another patient today. That’s two this week.”

“Oh honey,” Hugh crooned, rocking Patrick gently. “I’m so sorry. Did you know him well?”

“Yeah,” Patrick sighed. “I’ve been seeing him for years. In fact, both he and his wife are my patients. They’re in their sixties. It was so hard seeing her after he … I don’t know why I chose this field sometimes.”

Hugh placed a hand on the back of Patrick’s neck and gently kneaded the muscles there. “You help people get better all the time. That’s why you do it.”

Patrick disentangled himself from Hugh’s arms, rubbed his face with one hand and then flicked his dark-brown hair back. “I need a haircut.”

“Well, I think you look sexier with your hair this length but I’ll make an appointment for you for this weekend, okay?”

“Thanks, honey.” Patrick glanced around the kitchen with a tired smile. “Where’s Ky?”

Hugh hesitated for a moment before answering. “He’s in the study writing lines.”

“For what?” Patrick raised his eyebrows.

“I found a half-eaten candy bar in his jacket which is not the one we bought last weekend. He’d already eaten that two nights ago.”

“And that horrendous bag of chips?”

“All gone as well,” Hugh replied with a chuckle.

Patrick grimaced. “We’ve been too slack about snacks in the past. He just doesn’t get it! These things will kill you if you are not careful.”

“He does get it, Patrick,” Hugh responded patiently. “It’s just difficult to give them up altogether, and immediately. He’s doing much better already.”

Patrick grunted. “How can it be better when he’s still sneaking snacks behind our backs? You are always taking his side.”

“I’m not! I just understand it better.”

“And I don’t?”

“You don’t have such cravings, Dr Dean; so you don’t know what it feels like. You’ve always been a careful eater. I haven’t. Don’t you remember how and what I ate when we first met?”

“Yeah,” Patrick groaned with a lop-sided grin. “You were a walking time-bomb.”

“Well, it took a lot of discipline and self-control to change my eating habits and I still have those cravings, so I know how hard it is.”

“I guess. Hmm, I’ll go check on him. How many lines?”

“Fifty.” Hugh turned back to the stove. “He should be done any time now. I’ll finish dinner.”

The study door had been left ajar, enabling Patrick to see the blond head bent over the desk and Kyler’s hand moving steadily across the page as he wrote.

The young man jumped when he felt a hand drop on his shoulder.

“Sorry, didn’t mean to startle you.”

“It’s okay,“ Kyler murmured with a shrug, not looking up.

“So why are you in trouble?”

“Hugh can tell you,“ Kyler muttered sullenly.

“I’m asking you, not Hugh.”

Kyler turned the chair around and glared up at his partner. “It’s cause I had a measly bit of candy and Hugh freaked out over it.” He knew he was exaggerating but was too unhappy to stick to the facts.

“Why, Kyler? Don’t you know why I … we … want you to eat sensibly?”

“Yeah, I know. It’s just hard sometimes. I’m sorry, Patrick. I’ll get better at it, honest.” Kyler said in a quiet voice, his cheeks blushing slightly. He disliked upsetting either of his Tops. He put down his pencil and neatly folded the paper he’d been writing on. “Guess I should take this out to Hugh so he can see I got it done.”

“Here; give it to me, honey. I’ll check it for you,” Patrick said, holding out his hand.

“You better tally up the lines to see if the number matches the fifty Hugh said I had to do.“

Patrick scanned the page quickly and then handed it back to Kyler. “Okay, you missed a few words but I’m not feeling too picky tonight. I’ll tell Hugh you’re good. Now go wash up and get ready for dinner. It should be done soon.”

“Can I ask you something first?”

“Of course; you know you can ask me anything.”

“I understand your concerns regarding our living habits, but how come we’re having to make so many changes all of a sudden?”

“Do I sound like an ogre to you?” Patrick looked surprised.

“No; that is, not exactly,” Kyler searched for the right words to use. “There just seems to be a lot of new rules lately.”

Patrick hooked a hand into the waist band of Kyler’s jeans and pulled him over. “Babe, you know I don’t set rules to make you unhappy. I’m not Hugh!” Patrick’s eyes twinkled and he laughed at his own jest. “I’m joking; Hugh doesn’t do it to make you unhappy either. There’s always a reason for the rules. Always!”

“Yeah, they’re to help things run smoothly around here. It’s challenging enough being a threesome and without clear expectations of each other, there’d be chaos.”

“That’s right; the rules are to help us function. You do understand that. So why is this rule on snacks so difficult?”

“Because I just happen to like junk food now and again. I want to be able to eat it without worrying about having to account for every candy bar or bag of chips.”

“I know it’s hard and that is why I watch you so closely.”

Kyler was finding it difficult to keep his frustration in check. “But you don’t have to!”

“I’m sorry, but I don’t agree. Honey, its not that I don’t trust you . I just think it’s easier if you know someone is watching over you. Isn’t that usually the case?”

“Most the time it is,” Kyler honestly admitted. “But maybe this new lifestyle thing is something I should just decide on for myself.”

“If I know how harmful unhealthy eating is and don’t do anything about it, then I am really not doing my job. For example, if I know the car is not functioning properly and I let you take it out, am I not then endangering your life?”

“Of course, but that’s different,“ Kyler adamantly point out. “An unsafe vehicle could get me badly injured or even killed. A bit of junk food won‘t do that!”

“It’s the same principle. I just want the two men in my life to be fit and healthy so that I can live with them and enjoy them for as long as possible.”

Just then Hugh hollered from the kitchen demanding to know what was holding them up. Supper was on the table and getting cold.

Kyler sighed at not having gotten his point across. He knew of his partners’ love and concern for him. He also understood where they were coming from and wanted to please them. “Okay, I’ll follow your lead then and try harder to stay away from sweets and stuff,” he not too graciously capitulated as he followed Patrick out of the study.

Taking his seat at the kitchen table, Kyler glanced at his plate and smiled up appreciatively at Hugh. “This is both delicious and healthy. I always enjoy your stir-fry meal,” he complimented as he dug in.

Hugh grinned and turned to Patrick with a mocking glare. “Does Dr Dean approve as well?”

Patrick picked up his chopsticks and waved them in the air. “This is a start! But we can still do more!”

“Maybe we can figure out a way to get more exercise,” Kyler suggested, hastily swallowing so he wouldn‘t be speaking with his mouth full. “I’ve been thinking of looking into the new wellness place that opened recently at the community center.”

“Good idea,” Patrick responded at once. “Count me in. Do they have weights training for Hugh?”

Hugh reached over and punched Patrick playfully on the arm. “No, I’m not interested in weight-lifting. But I’d enjoy the large walking track on days when the weather was lousy. I heard it opens real early seven days a week.”

“Really? That means I can sometimes pop in before I start my shift. Wonderful!” Patrick pulled out his blackberry and checked his schedule. “All right then, I am going to arrange for a day off this weekend so we can go check it out. Great suggestion, Ky! We can at least all be doing something together.”


It had been three weeks since they’d agreed to increasing their level of physical activity with Hugh and Kyler adhering rather well to their routine. Although Patrick only made it to the center three times in total, the other two managed to put in at least two days per week. Feeling particularly pleased with their progress, Hugh and Kyler decided to reward themselves for a job well-done. Out of deference for Patrick, Hugh always prepared something lighter and healthier but since Patrick wouldn’t be home for dinner, they decided a little deviation would be fine.

Their mouths were watering by the time they finished making the meal and putting it on the table. Unfortunately, just as they sat down to a longed-for treat consisting of hot hamburger sandwiches with lots of gravy and French fries, Patrick walked in. They’d been so caught up in their meal preparations, they hadn’t heard either his car pulling into the driveway nor his entrance through the back porch.

“Hey, honey,” Hugh called out. “What are you doing back so early? I thought you said you’d be late?”

“Yeah, I know,” Patrick responded rather listlessly. “I got Dr. Andrews to cover for me.”

Hugh got up and went over to Patrick. “Hey, what’s the matter?” Hugh’s voice was soft and full of concern.

Patrick shrugged.

Hugh gave him a quick hug followed by a little shake. “Come on, talk to me.”

Shaking his head, Patrick sat down as if he was too tired to support himself. “I lost another patient today. That’s my third this past month! Three patients dead.”

“But it’s not your fault. These things just happen.” Kyler tried to sound philosophical. 

“Kyler’s right, Patrick. You can’t blame yourself.” Hugh seated himself again and picked up his fork.

“I don’t know. I could have tried harder I think; been more diligent with his routine. This last patient wasn’t even an old man. Only in his early fifties! He shouldn’t have died, not of heart disease. He didn’t have a family history or any of the genetic traits.”

“I bet you did everything possible, Patrick,” Kyler insisted.

“Everything possible would have meant I made sure he took the proper precautions!” Patrick pointed out harshly. “I didn’t!”

“And how could you have done that, Patrick?” Hugh asked. “You don’t live with him. You are not his caregiver. You are his doctor and as such, all you can do is advise.”

“Maybe I missed something,” Patrick mumbled, running a hand down his face.

“Not necessarily. You know, some patients aren’t always upfront with their physicians. Uncle Bob was like that. He’d tell his doctor everything was fine and that he was following orders but he wasn’t being truthful. He died as a result of his own lack of care and he wasn‘t even fifty.”

Hugh turned to the younger man. “Which relative is that, Kyler?”

“Well, he wasn’t exactly a blood relative; just a real close friend of the family back in the Maritimes. He got injured in that mining accident that took my dad’s life. Bob had to go on permanent disability after that because of his leg being crushed and he really let himself go. He could have lived for a long time; instead he died two years later.” 

“Maybe his doctor didn’t advise him properly!” Patrick commented with uncharacteristic contempt, still unwilling to let go of his self-blame.

“He sure did. I don’t know a lot of the details cause I was just fourteen at the time, but I overheard Mom and Uncle Kipper taking about it. They flew back east for the funeral and to pay their respects. I remember it was in the Spring, because I couldn’t go and had to stay with Chad . I wasn’t too thrilled about that, I can tell you. Mom said the doctor had told Uncle Bob to eat properly and exercise sensibly. But Bob chose to be a couch potato and munch down on fast foods and stuff from the local greasy-spoon diner. That stuff will kill you every time. Of course, Bob wouldn’t admit his horrible eating habits to anyone, including himself. So you see, his doctor wasn‘t at all to blame.” 

Hugh looked meaningfully at Kyler. After all, what Kyler was describing came pretty close to what they had been about to chow-down on. But it was a little too late; his Brat had not picked up on the implicit message. So Hugh made an attempt to smooth over the moment. “Well, every case is different, Kyler. He could have had other complications as well. Sounds like the accident took away more than just his ability to work.”

“Whatever his condition may be, what he puts into his body will determine his ultimate state of health. Now you see why I stress so much on how we care for our health?” Patrick said severely.

“Yeah, I guess so,” Kyler reluctantly admitted, almost regretting having told Patrick about his Uncle Bob. He wondered if he had said something inappropriate.

“What are you guys eating?” Patrick raised his brows as he looked at the two heaped plates. “Is that gravy? On top of fries? Is that burger store-bought or home-made? You know they put in all kinds of fats and unhealthy bits when it’s processed in the factories!”

“We didn’t know you were coming back to eat, Patrick,” Hugh explained. “Or I would have fixed something lighter.”

Patrick threw up his hands in frustration. “You shouldn’t be doing it just for me, Hugh!”

“No. But what I am saying is I would have fixed something lighter because I know you don’t enjoy such a substantial dinner. I didn’t fix this because I thought you wouldn’t know.” Hugh’s brows were starting to pull together.

“It’s just a one-time binge to kind of reward ourselves,” Kyler piped in. “Patrick, it’s just for one night. We have been eating very sensibly for the last three weeks.”

“That doesn’t mean you blow it all with one calorie-laden, fat-saturated meal!” was the explosive response.

“But we’ve kinda already burned it off ahead of time,” Kyler pointed out, using his own brand of logic.

“Well, it’s a waste of all that effort!” Patrick snapped.

“Don’t worry, Patrick. We get to the gym more often then you do, so we’ll be okay with this,“ Kyler tried to assure him.

“That’s not the point!” Patrick got up, sounding irritated. “You don’t go to the gym and then pig out. The only reason I didn’t go as often as you guys is because my schedule didn’t permit me to go. And just because you went more often doesn’t mean you ...”

Hugh also got to his feet. “Patrick!”


“I think you need to stop.”

It wasn’t often Hugh used that tone with Patrick and it got his attention. Patrick glared at Hugh silently for a moment and then with a shake of his head, he walked out of the kitchen.

Kyler hung his head and shoved his plate away. Any enjoyment he would have had in the meal was now gone; a feeling of guilt in its’ place. He glanced up at Hugh to see what his take was on the whole situation. 

Hugh looked after Patrick’s disappearing back. His brows drawn together made him look extremely stern. Suddenly aware that Kyler’s eyes were on him, his face relaxed and he reached out to the younger man. “Come here, Kyler.”

Pushing back from the table, Kyler warily got up to obey.

Hugh dragged his chair away from the table, sat down and folded Kyler onto his lap. His strong arms wrapped around his Brat and held him tight. “He’s just tired and depressed. He’ll be fine.”

“Guess I wasn’t much help, huh?“ Kyler mumbled, wrapping his arms around the older man’s neck and placing his head on his shoulder.

“No, you were very supportive. And you didn’t say anything wrong at all.”

“But it didn’t make Patrick feel any better did it?”

“Let him have some time alone. I will talk to him in a bit.”

Just then, Kyler’s stomach protested its’ emptiness. “Ya think we should make something else for supper?” he asked while gazing longingly at the delicious-looking meal on his plate.

“I think this is a very good dinner we’ve made and I see no reason why we shouldn’t finish it. I’ll make Patrick a sandwich later.”

“Okay then,” Kyler jumped up with a bit more enthusiasm than he’d shown a few seconds ago . “I’ll just re-heat these in the microwave.” If his Top said they could eat this, then that is exactly what they’d do. Although Kyler’s mind was at ease with their food choice, he was still inwardly fretting over the manner in which Patrick had spoken to them.


The study was in semi-darkness and Patrick was sitting on the leather sofa with his head in his hands. His eyes were closed and his lips firmly pressed together. A sure sign of distress.

Hugh switched on the softer lamp and placed a small tray on the side table; then he sat down next to Patrick. “Honey,” he murmured, strongly suspecting his mate might prefer not to be disturbed just yet but not wanting to let this hang between them too long. That had always been Hugh’s way; what you could get resolved right away, you did. No procrastination.

Without opening his eyes, Patrick mumbled, “I was an ass, wasn’t I?”

Hugh gave some thought to the question and with a soft chuckle, agreed. “Yeah, kinda. Well, if you really want the truth; you were a real pain!”

Patrick cracked open one eye and looked up at his long-time partner. “Thanks.”

“You wanted to know.” Hugh smiled.

“I wonder how you both put up with me.” Patrick’s voice was sombre.

Hugh ran a finger along Patrick’s arm, rubbing gently. “When you love someone, you find a lot of reasons to do so. It’s hard though sometimes.”

“You’re not letting me off easy, are you?” Patrick demanded, as he pulled himself up to a more upright position.

“You don’t expect me to,” Hugh replied easily. “Listen, Patrick. Even Tops are allowed to go off the rail sometimes. But they better be quick to get back on track or some other Top is gonna have to come and kick their butts!”

Patrick gave a rueful laugh. “I get you.” He caught a movement and saw Kyler lurking uncertainly at the doorway. His brow creased. “Ky?”

“Hope this isn’t a conversation for two,“ Kyler teased nervously as he advanced towards the sofa. 

Patrick grabbed Kyler’s hand and tugged him down beside him. “I’m sorry, sweetie. I was an utter ogre earlier and Hugh is giving me hell. Come save me!”

“Better you than me,“ Kyler responded with a soft chuckle. “It shouldn’t have been such a big deal. After all, it was our first treat in three weeks and not an overly large one at that.“

“I know, darling. I was just trying to explain things and doing a poor job of it. There was no excuse for being so mean-tempered. I am really sorry for being such a pain, as Hugh referred to it.”

“Hugh might have something there. But what the heck, we all lose it at one time or another. Well maybe you and I do; not Hugh though.“ Kyler winked at Patrick and then smirked at his other Top.

“Oh, you just haven’t seen it, babe. Hugh’s no saint!” Patrick retorted with an affectionate grin at the older man.

“No, I definitely am not and you should know there’s no such thing as a perfect man!” Hugh shook his head wisely. “So don’t knock yourself so hard, Patrick.”

“Although I did go overboard,” Patrick admitted. “Losing a patient is never easy, but I didn’t have to take it out on you guys.”

“It’s been a bad month, Patrick. We get it. Don‘t we, Hugh?“ 

“Of course, we do. Patrick, you’re overworked and exhausted,” Hugh concurred. “It’s easy to work yourself up. We understand that. But seriously, darling, a little treat now and then won’t kill us!”

“Not picking sides here, Patrick, but I agree.” Kyler smiled somewhat ruefully. 

Patrick looked so apologetic that Kyler couldn’t help but throw his arms around the good doctor’s neck and kiss his cheek. “Maybe you could help balance things out more to your liking if you took some of the meal planning and preparations chores, Patrick. Whatcha think of that idea? Any comments, guys?” 

In due time, Kyler would come to regret that suggestion. Patrick’s idea of well-balanced meals and his own differed dramatically.


Kyler had put in a long day and was stressed out by the time he had left his last client. He was thankful he only had to do the end of month financial statements for Mrs. MacKenzie, the town’s seamstress, because he didn’t think he’d survive  going over the same accounting principles more often than that. He still couldn’t wrap his mind around someone thinking it was okay to add an extra amount to a deposit that had not actually be made in order to balance the general ledger to their banking records. 

He’d ended up with a headache that was probably aggravated by his not having eaten since breakfast. To be truthful, he wasn’t looking forward to supper at home. It was Patrick’s turn to cook and Kyler knew instinctively the menu would not be to his liking. So he stopped off at the Dairy Queen and treated himself to a double bacon-cheeseburger, an order of onion rings and a large pop. With his hunger satisfied and the pain in his head quickly receding, Kyler headed for home.

Even though he was well aware of running late, he didn’t let it bother him. He’d be surprised if supper didn’t include something revolting and similar to a lot of the strange stuff being served lately; much of it not overly tasty as far as Kyler was concerned.

He parked in his usual spot in their driveway, shut off the engine and slurped down the last few mouthfuls of his drink. Then he got out and ran towards the house, dropping the now empty cup in the trash on his way.

Entering the kitchen, Kyler discovered his partners already sitting at the table with steam rising from the food on their plates. He kicked off his loafers and skirted around them in order to get to the washroom as soon as possible. His bladder was strongly protesting the amount of soda he had imbibed.

“Be right back,” he shouted.

Hugh called after his retreating back. “Hurry up if you don’t want the food to get cold.” And under his breath he muttered, “It’s not that great even when it’s hot!”

Patrick swiped him on the arm and Hugh grinned back. “Just kidding, love. I don’t know how you did it but I am no longer revolted with this dish, and I consider that a near miracle!”

Kyler returned, took his seat and stared down at the pile of he-knew-not-what on the plate in front of him. “What the hell is this!” he demanded, curling up his lip in disgust.

Hugh raised his eyebrows at the tone but Patrick quickly interjected before the older man could speak. “It‘s tofu, honey. You’ve had this before and it wasn’t that bad. Remember?”

“And more importantly, it’s good for you. High in protein so it helps builds muscles for your sports and games.” Hugh looked at Kyler steadily, a silent warning in his eyes.

“Well, I’m not hungry so I think I’ll pass.” Kyler chose to ignore the look directed at him and made to get up from the table.

Patrick tried not to sound upset. “Ky honey, don’t ...”

Hugh spoke at the same time. “Stay right there! Patrick spent time cooking this meal for us and you are going to eat it!”

“No way, man!” Kyler hotly exclaimed. “Here, if you like it so much you can have mine.” With that, he scooped up a hand full and slopped it onto Patrick’s plate. The soft substance splattered over the front of the older man’s shirt, a couple of smaller chunks landing on his face.

His  action hadn’t had time to registered when Kyler found himself being hauled out of his chair and his other Top taking his place. In less than a heartbeat, his jeans were undone and lowered along with his boxers, and he was facedown over Hugh’s lap.

Hugh landed a hard smack on Kyler’s white bottom. “There is no way a Brat of mine is going to get away with this show of disrespect.” He spanked again, just as hard. “I don’t know why you think you can behave in this way, Kyler.”

The punishment continued, while Patrick looked upon the scene in suspended horror. Although it had been agreed that on his days to cook he could plan any meal he liked, he still felt awful. In a way, he felt it was his fault. He had insisted on cooking tofu when he knew how much his partners hated it. Sure, Hugh had said he didn’t mind, but Patrick knew Hugh would rather not touch that food if given a choice.

Kyler cried out his apologies and struggled to avoid the painful onslaught. By the time the spanking ended, his pants and underwear had been kicked halfway across the room.

As soon as he was set on his feet, Kyler made a beeline for the stairs leading up to the master bedroom. Once there, he threw himself down on the bed, and sobbed into his pillow. Several moments later, he felt someone next to him.

Hugh put his hand on Kyler’s head and stroked his hair. “Move over,” he ordered but not unkindly. Settling down beside Kyler he asked rather sternly, “Why did you run away? You don’t run away after a spanking, do you? I wasn’t done and we need to talk.”

“It’s not fair, Hugh. We shouldn’t be forced to eat all this so-called healthy crap.” Kyler wiped at his eyes and tried to speak coherently while hitching over his words and sniffling.

Hugh didn’t say anything, only continued stroking Kyler’s hair and listen to what was being said.

“We never get dessert anymore unless it’s fruit. Last Sunday, because of Patrick’s ongoing preaching about eating right, my mom couldn’t serve her delicious homemade apple pie and ice cream. She served Jello and fat-free Kool-whip instead.”

“And that was a real shame,” Hugh agreed with a wry grin. “I missed her pie too!”

Glancing up, Kyler heatedly declared, “It’s your guys fault that when I want a treat, I have to sneak it and that’s not right.” Burying his head in his pillow, he again began to cry out his misery. “If we have to keep this up in order to fight off dying prematurely, I’d rather be dead and get it over with.” His mumbled distress heartbreaking to hear.

Hugh looked across the room to the doorway where Patrick had been standing all the while. Patrick looked pale and sad. Encountering Hugh’s eyes and seeing his invitation, he came into the room and went to the other side of the bed.

Sensing his other partner’s presence, Kyler glanced up somewhat apologetically. “Guess you heard it all, huh?”

“Yes, I heard you loud and clear.” Patrick handed Kyler the clothing he had picked up from the kitchen floor.

“I didn’t mean to hurt your feelings, Patrick,“ Kyler softly responded as he moved closer to Hugh to make room for Patrick to join them. He accepted the boxers and struggled to get them back on without putting too much pressure on his sore backside. Dressing proved difficult as he was determined to do it while still on his stomach. Hugh spanked hard. The message regarding his lack of tolerance for disrespectful behaviour had been painfully delivered.

“No, it’s good to hear the truth sometimes.” Patrick bowed his head and remained silent for a moment. “Have I been that strict?”

“I guess not. But things were a bit better before you took over all the cooking,“ Kyler truthfully admitted. Sad as he was, it wasn’t his intention to make his partner feel worse.

“I am sorry. I really didn’t mean to make you this unhappy.” Patrick sounded sincerely remorseful. He looked at Hugh. “Neither of you.”

“You had good intentions, babe,” Hugh assured him, reaching across Kyler to touch Patrick’s face. “Don’t be too hard on yourself. What you are trying to achieve is excellent; making us more aware of our health and all that. But the intensity and the approach was a bit off.”

“The exercise ideas worked well,“ Kyler offered as a conciliatory gesture. “It’s just that the food choices left a lot to be desired. I mean, healthy eating is okay like Hugh says; I‘m not trying to knock it or anything.” 

“I think it’s a good habit actually, only it needs to be tempered,” Hugh commented in an attempt to clarify his and Kyler‘s feelings on the subject.

Patrick digested the words and felt miserable for what he had imposed on his partners. “I know, I hear you. Say no more please. Gheez, how the hell did ‘Patrick the doctor’ sneak into the house instead of ‘Patrick the man‘. I must have been dreadful to live with!”

“Don’t beat yourself up, Patrick!” Kyler insisted. “Maybe you can just drop the whole ‘no junk food’ bit. And possibly ease up on the lectures.” He grinned to take the brusqueness out of his words.

Hugh tried to pull Kyler into sitting position but wasn‘t completely successful. “Nice try, but no, Kyler. That’s not going to work either. We are not going to load up on junk food. However, we won’t ban it either and we also won’t be too strict about it. Right Patrick? Balance is what we are looking for.”

“Yes,” Patrick readily agreed. “Sensible eating it is. Okay, guys? I want us to watch what we eat and to exercise right but I was stupid to expect us to live like a Spartan.”

“So you’re saying there should still be room for treats in our diets, right?” Kyler looked to Patrick for agreement while squirming to find a comfortable position. His bottom definitely wasn’t ready to have unnecessary weight put on it.

Patrick grinned at the young man. “Yes, darling, that is what I am saying.”

“Okay then, just so we’re all on the same page here. We’ve jointly come to the conclusion that balance is the key!” Kyler wrapped up the topic in that one last statement. Then he rubbed his hands together to show his satisfaction when both Tops nodded to seal the deal.

The End

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