Blind Man’s Buff

by Mark Apoapsis, April 2001
a Lone Gunmen slash story (Bond/other, Byers/Bond)
(“missing scene” from “Bond, Jimmy Bond” episode)

This is a slash story. Disclaimers:
  1. Slash is a type of fan fiction, which means I'm writing about someone else's characters without the creator's permission. In this case, the characters were created by Chris Carter and are owned by Ten Thirteen Productions.
  2. As a slash story, this story may imply sexual feelings between same-sex characters, never intended by the creator.
  3. This is soft-core shower/locker pornography.

Jimmy Bond leaned against the tiled doorway, keeping a close eye on the well-muscled naked bodies of the team he had worked so hard to build and train. As always, he kept real quiet as he watched. He didn’t want the guys to know how carefully he watched over them in case one of them slipped on an unseen bar of soap in the crowded shower. They were big boys — real big — and it was important for them to feel they could take care of themselves, and each other. But he couldn’t stop picturing the domino effect of one guy falling against another, who would lose his balance, and the rest of them stumbling around in the slippery environment until they fell on top of them, ending up in soapy, naked dogpile. That never actually happened, although a few of the guys — usually Smith, Jones, and Garcia — always seem to get a little lost when making their way out of the shower. Watching any of those guys groping and sliding his way past every single one of his teammates, trying to find the exit, always made Jimmy ache to take his shirt off and rush in and give him a shoulder to hold onto. But they always managed on their own eventually, and Jimmy liked watching them succeed on their own two feet. The other guys never seemed to have any trouble, for some reason. It must be some fifth sense. Or maybe they could tell which way the cold air was drifting in.

The guys were in really high spirits today, slapping each other on the ass, and sometimes accidentally on the hip, or right in the balls. The quarterback had caught almost every single snap, and there had been a few really solid punts. They’d also made some great tackles — although, of course, two of those had been that little reporter from the hunting magazine who’d wandered onto the field.

Jimmy was enjoying himself so much, watching the camaraderie in the shower, that he didn’t see Garcia pad out of a thick cloud of steam until the man had bumped right into Jimmy. Automatically, Garcia grabbed Jimmy to steady himself. He looked confused for a minute to encounter a sweater instead of another teammate’s bare flesh. His wet hands patted different parts of Jimmy’s chest, feeling the muscles underneath as though to identify him.

Then he grinned. “That you, Coach?,” he asked.

“Yeah. I was just, um...”

“Just leaning against this wall the whole time we was takin’ our showers,” Garcia said, touching the wall with one hand while holding tightly onto Jimmy’s biceps with the other.

“What makes you think that?”

“Cuz this part of the wall’s dry.”

Oh, man! Busted! How was he supposed to know he had Sherlock Holmes on his team?

By this time, the other guys had must have sensed something was up, because they’d all stopped their raucous banter and were feeling their way forward. Smith arrived first, his fingers encountering Garcia’s back and moving up to rest on his broad shoulders, establishing his orientation. “What’s goin’ on?” he asked.

“Coach has been standing right here the whole time, watching us shower!” Garcia declared, not taking his dark eyes off of a point above Jimmy’s left shoulder.

“He was probably just waiting for his turn in the shower,” Johnson said. “After all, we dumped a whole jug of Gatorade on him.”

“You guys missed him by ten yards, and you know it!” a guy in the back said. “I could hear it hitting an empty bench from clear across the field.”

“Maybe, but he sure seems interested in the shower,” Johnson said. “Maybe we should give him his shower now.”

There was a shocked silence as the men absorbed this idea. Then they grinned and began advancing — a few advancing into the walls, but most of them heading in Jimmy’s general direction. Jimmy took a step back, only to hear a yelp from behind him at the same second he felt a bare foot under his heel. One guy had gotten past him when he wasn’t looking! He instinctively recoiled forward to keep from putting any more of his considerable weight on the poor guy’s foot, and stumbled, finding his face pressed against a brown chest in front of him. Garcia and the guys around him managed to catch him in their arms without anyone falling.

“Sorry back there,” Jimmy called, his voice muffled against Garcia’s chest.

“It won’t happen again,” Brown’s voice said from behind him. A hand grabbed his ankle. “I’m taking off your shoes.” Jimmy felt fingers fumbling for his laces. Meanwhile, more hands grabbed his shoulders and moved down to pin his arms behind his back. He still had a close-up view of Garcia’s well-developed chest and abs, but wasn’t actually mushed up against him anymore.

“OK, guys,” he said uncertainly. “That’s enough horsing around. Let me go.” He was actually kinda pleased at the degree of teamwork they were showing in subduing him. He wondered how far they would actually go. Were they really planning on holding him under a running shower? He’d driven here already dressed in the clothes he wore for coaching, and didn’t have dry street clothes to change into until he got home. He almost hoped they would strip him first, so he wouldn’t have to drive home soaking wet. But he sure wasn’t going to ask to be stripped!

“Is that an order, Coach? We ain’t on the field. And I didn’t hear you blow your whistle.”

Jimmy’s whistle was still swinging from around his neck. Garcia must have known that, because his hand reached out and felt around Jimmy’s chest for a few seconds, finally locating the whistle, which he dangled tauntingly before Jimmy’s eyes. Jimmy struggled, but these guys were as strong as he was, and they had him outnumbered. Brown had gotten his shoe off by the time, and he felt his sock being tugged off too. Someone was starting to work on the laces on his other shoe.

Garcia was now holding the whistle lightly between his fingers, rubbing it as if savoring the texture of the silver finish. Slowly and unerringly, he brought it to his lips. Funny how you don’t need to see in order to do that. The cinematic sense, or something like that. Garcia’s fingers probed the back of his neck until they found the cloth ribbon that held the whistle, and lifted it off. That whistle meant a lot to Jimmy — not only did it make him feel like a real coach, it was also a gift from a buddy and ex-teammate of his who had laughed at his plan to train a blind football team. Now his whistle was in another guy’s mouth, and there wasn’t a thing Jimmy could do about it.

Garcia gave a short toot on it, which sounded loud in the shower, although he obviously wasn’t blowing it as hard as he could have. “OK, listen up. Coach — I mean, Jimmy — has been waiting for his shower, and he was too polite to ask us to hurry up. We’re gonna make sure he gets it.”

“I really don’t need a shower, Garcia. I haven’t been working as hard as you guys.” Both his feet were bare now. They hadn’t let go of them, either. The men behind him were holding his ankles and running their thumbs across the soles of his feet. It tickled a little. He was suspended at a 45-degree angle above the wet floor, and would have sunk to his knees in front of Garcia if the guys holding his arms let him go.

“Your shirt’s awfully wet, Jimmy. Feels like you’ve been sweating.”

“That’s just from your hands, you big oaf,” Jimmy said, though in all fairness Garcia was a tad smaller than Jimmy and probably a lot smarter. It was a real thrill to see Garcia displaying leadership qualities and even dominating his own coach. He’d had no self confidence at all until Jimmy had gotten ahold of him. Like many of the other guys who had been born blind, he’d spent his whole life being pitied.

“OK, then,” Garcia said, and began pulling off his sweater. A few other guys helped. He made a show of drying his hands on it, then handed it to a teammate with instructions to pass it out of the shower, and it was relayed efficiently out of Jimmy’s sight. He was grateful that they bothered to be so thoughtful even as they prepared to humiliate him. It also did his heart good to see how well they were working together.

Garcia ran his hands all over Jimmy’s thin T-shirt. “Cotton feels nicer on the fingers any... Hmm, still seems pretty wet to me,” he said. He grabbed the front of it and hoisted Jimmy close to his nose, with his buddies helping to support his weight. “Hmm.” He stuck his nose down into it and sniffed. “Raise his arms over his head,” he instructed the other guys. Once they’d fumbled him into the position they wanted, Garcia nosed around against his T-shirt, zeroing in on the damp material covering Jimmy’s armpit. Jones felt his way over and did the same with the other armpit.

“He’s definitely worked up a sweat, Garcia.”

“Yeah. I think you could use a shower, Jimmy.”

“OK, OK. I’ll take a shower, guys. Just let me go.” When they made no move to set him down, he added, “You can even watch.”

“How’re we s’posed to do that— Jimmy?” Smith said. There were muttered agreements all around.

Garcia quieted them with another soft toot from the whistle. They all waited expectantly. “Strip him,” he ordered.

Breathing hard, Jimmy struggled uselessly as his T-shirt was peeled away and roughly pulled over his head. It too was passed hand to hand out of the shower. These guys were great — really considerate under all the horseplay, and as coordinated in close quarters as any sighted team. The hands fumbling at his fly finally got his pants unbuttoned, and before he knew it they were around his knees, then being pulled off over his bare feet. He was down to his boxer shorts now. He never wore a jock strap when coaching. He didn’t need one, as long as he remembered to call a timeout before going anywhere near the beeper-equipped ball.

While he was thrashing and kicking with one temporarily free foot, one of the guys holding an arm lost his balance and let go. Jimmy got his feet under him and used his free hand to break another guy’s grip. In the confusion they all grabbed each other and wrestled each other to the ground, leaving Jimmy to pick his way through a sea of naked grappling bodies amid confused shouts of “I’ve got him!” and “That’s me, you idiot!” and “He’s over here!”

Two of his halfbacks had the presence of mind to plant themselves in front of the door, shoulder to shoulder, arms and legs spread wide to cover the whole exit. There was no room between them. Their inside feet were almost touching. Jimmy’s only chance was to crawl through one guy’s legs, the same way King Odious and his men escaped from the blinded Cyclotron. He got almost halfway through when he felt hanging flesh lightly brushing against his back. “Hey!” said the startled sentry. Jimmy felt muscular thighs tighten around his rib cage, cutting off his breath. Several guys heard this and let each other go, and crawled over to grab his ankles. He was dragged backward across the slick floor on his belly, back to the waiting throng.

They flipped him onto his back and stretched him out spread-eagle on the tiled floor. They had him good now. He felt himself swell with pride, just thinking about how he was giving these guys their first opportunity to gang up on a helpless victim in a locker room. They’d prevented him, a sighted man, from getting past them, and all he’d accomplished in his escape attempt was to get his boxer shorts soaking wet from the floor. The clammy cotton clung uncomfortably to his balls and to the head of his penis.

Garcia leered down at him. “Where did you think you were gonna run to, wearing only your shorts?” He poked him in the ribs with his toes. Jimmy squirmed, but he wasn’t going anywhere. He was truly at their mercy, not just playing along, and they knew it.

At least five hands were pressing on his naked chest now, not counting the ones pinning his arms over his head and the guys sitting on his legs. He saw more hands reaching in, carefully running down their teammates’ hairy arms, following them down toward Jimmy’s body, groping around the sea of their buddies’ hands in search of a piece of exposed skin not yet claimed. His chest was heaving as he gulped in great lungfuls of air scented with the aroma of the freshly scrubbed men crowding in around him. He’d never felt so helpless before in his life! They were doing great!

“I wonder if he’s ticklish,” Smith said.

“No! Please, guys!” He didn’t have to plead. He could have toughed it out silently. But he wanted to give the guys the satisfaction of hearing him beg. The looks of glee on their faces, as they fully realized that they were in control for once, was worth a little humiliation any day. OK, a lot of humiliation.

“Start with his armpits.”

“Nooooo!” he moaned, putting all the powerlessness he felt into his voice. It was only fair, since they couldn’t see his face. God, it felt good, being able to utterly humble himself in front of these guys!

The fingers already near his armpits began to lightly play with the hairs, while other fingers dug into his ribs, explored the spaces between his toes, or ran lightly down the center of his chest. The combination drove him nuts, and he couldn’t have held his laughter in if he’d wanted to. They went at him without mercy until it seemed like every square inch of skin was sensitized. After what seemed like hours, they finally stopped and let him catch his breath.

Someone found the waistband of his boxer shorts — running his hand lightly down Jimmy’s abs to do so, which almost set him off again — and snapped the elastic painfully. The others laughed, and more waistband snapping ensued. Jimmy closed his eyes and endured it. “Let’s get his shorts off.” Several hands tugged at the waistband and began peeling the wet shorts off. “They’re down to his knees now.” “Got ’em. OK, they’re around his ankles.” “They’re off! What’ll I do with ’em?” “Just toss ’em in the corner.” “OK.” “Ow!” someone protested at the same time as Jimmy heard the sound of wet cotton slapping against bare flesh.

Jimmy opened his eyes. He was entirely naked now, and still being held spread-eagle. He was half erect, which had often happened to him when he was clowning around like this in locker rooms. So were a lot of the other guys, each probably thinking he was the only one.

Some of them located a couple of bars of soap. They gently soaped him up all over, rubbing until they’d worked up a creamy lather. He was too exhausted to resist. They stepped back and rinsed off his prone form with warm water. Just as he was starting to relax in the warm spray, someone turned it ice cold without warning. He jerked, and feebly started to crawl away, but they turned it warm again. By the time the warm water had washed away the last of the soap lather, he had allowed himself to relax again, and this time they just turned off the water.

Several guys approached with towels and rubbed him dry. Then they stood him up and marched him out of the shower and into the locker room, where they pushed him gently but firmly down onto his knees and gathered around him. Some of the guys had wrapped towels around their loins, and some were already half dressed in their street clothes, and some, but the most of the ones who had marched him out were still naked.

“What now, Garcia?” Smith asked. “Should we let him go, or make him do something?”

“How about tickling him again until he promises no more push-ups?” O’Brien suggested.

Glancing over at him, Jimmy was started to see that someone in dress pants was standing behind O’Brien. Someone in a suit! None of the guys ever came to practice wearing a suit. Shame and fury warred in Jimmy; he was angrier than he’d been at anyone in a long time. It was one thing to be totally humiliated at the hands of his team — his loss of power was their gain — but he wouldn’t stand for an outsider watching him get humiliated. “O’Brien, four o’clock!” he snapped. “Rodrigez, eight o’clock! Grab him!” The two men obeyed instantly, grappling the surprised intruder who had been standing behind them taking cowardly advantage of the fact that they couldn’t see him.

Jimmy stood up to get a better look. The intruder was one of those three guys who had stumbled into the middle of practice, claiming to be journalists. The handsome one with the beard. His eyes, wide with fear, met Jimmy’s, reminding him that he was in the presence of another sighted person who had probably watched the whole thing. Jimmy felt very naked in the presence of this impeccably dressed stranger.

“Hold onto him! Where are my pants?” Five guys pointed in three different directions, and Jimmy went with the majority. Someone had thoughtfully hung them up next to the sinks, on a soap dispenser. He pulled them back on. He’d have to do without shorts. Later he’d see if he could beg, borrow, or steal a dry pair. He took all due care in zipping up.

He took the time to think things over. All during practice, a suspicion had slowly begun to emerge that the so-called journalists were not what they claimed to be. For one thing, this one was dressed less like a reporter than like a government flunky — maybe even an agent, except that agents all wear sunglasses. For another, all three of them looked nerdier than reporters ought to look. More like computer geeks. And also, he had begun to wonder why a hunting magazine would be interested in a football team.

Passing by Garcia, he reclaimed his whistle and, just for the hell of it, also whipped off the towel Garcia had wrapped around himself. He hung both around his neck, playfully punching Garcia in the arm. Then he strode over to the intruder, feeling in charge again with the silver whistle bouncing against his bare chest.

“Who are you?” he demanded, grabbing the man by the tie.

“My name’s John Fitzgerald Byers,” he stammered. “I’m a journalist, like I told you.” It looked strange, seeing a man neatly dressed in a suit, being held by two shirtless and barefoot football players, one wearing jeans and the other only a towel. Jimmy decided to fix that.

Jimmy had once earned a merit badge in knot tying, but he rarely wore ties and could never have managed to tie one as neatly as this guy. He knew just how to untie it, though. The careful work yielded quickly to his fingers. He yanked it off, then unbuttoned the collar, exposing Byers’s throat. He must shave below his beard every day; Jimmy’s fingertips felt only the slightest rasp of stubble. Byers’s Adam’s apple rose and fell as he gulped.

“Your story doesn’t add up. Why write about football if it’s a hunting magazine?” He unbuttoned the next two buttons, a little surprised to find that Byers wasn’t wearing an undershirt.

“What are you doing to do to me?” Byers whispered.

An idea formed in Jimmy’s mind. He unbuttoned the next couple of buttons, slowly exposing a smooth chest that rose and fell with the man’s panicky breathing. It looked like this guy didn’t spend much time out in the sun — no weekends moving the lawn, no shirts-and-skins pickup basketball games in the park. Not much in the muscle department, either.

It occurred to Jimmy that this was another great opportunity to empower the guys on his team. For all their lives, all these big guys had been denied their natural right to have a little good clean fun picking on scrawny nerds — and just because they were blind! Jimmy meant to finally give them that chance. Maybe he’d get a little information out of this guy in the process. “Explain something to me. What was a reporter doing snooping around our locker room? You sure as hell weren’t doing any interviewing. What kind of a magazine do you run, anyway? Maybe you’ve got one of those tiny little cameras hidden away somewhere in your clothes.” He peered under the shirt.

“N-no! At least, I don’t think I brought any with me,” Byers said, sounding sheepish and nervous.

“We’ll just have to see.” Jimmy unbuttoned Byers’s shirt down to the navel.

“Not again,” Byers muttered miserably as Jimmy pulled his shirt-tail out of his pants and undid the last button.

Jimmy leaned close. “What do you mean, ’not again’?” he asked softly.

“I, uh— I was stripped-searched just a few weeks ago by some corporate security goons.”

“Oh yeah? Look,” Jimmy whispered fiercely in his face. “You may be used to getting humiliated on a regular basis, but this is a rare opportunity for these guys. I won’t let you take that away from them. You’d better play along.”

“Looks like they just finished doing a pretty good job of humiliating you,” Byers said with a slight smile, recovering some of his composure.

Furiously, Jimmy ripped the unbuttoned shirt and jacket wide open. “How much did you see? How long were you standing around gawking? Strip him!”

Jimmy watched as several guys from the team wrestled with Byers. Two of them quickly pulled his shirt and jacket off his arms as two more untied and removed his shoes. It took some groping to locate his fly, but once that was undone his pants came off quickly, and they had him down to his white cotton briefs. “OK, enough. Get him on his feet.”

“I’m sorry,” Byers pleaded when he’d been hoisted to his feet. “I didn’t mean any harm. I came back to, to ask you something, and when I saw— I should have just left. I’m sorry.”

The poor guy was trembling — or did the warm steamy locker room feel cold to someone used to being in a suit? Jimmy felt a little sorry for him, but more than anything, he wished the guys could see the fearful way he was looking at them. He put a hand flat on Byers’s hairless chest, feeling his heart hammering a mile a minute. “Hey guys,” he called. “You should all feel this. Come here and put your hands on his chest and see how scared this guy is of you.” They filed past and took turns feeling the bare chest of the quaking Byers and jeering at him.

“Now let’s get some answers out of him,” he said, grinning broadly, once they’d all had a chance at him. “He told me he was a reporter for a hunting magazine, but he was dressed more like a government agent.”

“Even if he is a reporter,” Brown growled, “I’ll bet he’s in bed with the FBI.”

“Why would the FBI be spying on us?” Jimmy asked Brown, but forgot his question when he noticed that Byers was suddenly blushing furiously and avoiding Jimmy’s eyes. That was sure a weird reaction. There was definitely something up here.

He looked their prisoner over. In all fairness, this fellow was in better shape than a lot of other guys Jimmy had seen; he was no couch potato. It was only by contrast to the two big jocks holding his arms that he seemed weak and scrawny. And they looked a whole lot better than before Jimmy had started training them. “Do any of you guys know how to snap a wet towel? Here, I’ll show you how to do it. Someone soak a towel in cold water and bring it to me.”

Ten minutes later, Byers’s back was pink from the beating, he was grimacing in pain, and his breath was coming in ragged sobs. Same with the two guys holding him, who had taken almost as much punishment.

Slowly, they beat the truth out of him. “The Lone Gunman” wasn’t a hunting magazine at all. It was a small newsletter dedicated to exposing conspiracies. Byers and his two buddies were the entire staff, and their circulation was all of 2000 copies — something they hadn’t mentioned when asking Jimmy for his time. And the team was really pissed off when Byers admitted under questioning that it hadn’t even occurred to them to offer a Braille edition. He tried to justify it economically, just like they always did, whining about how they didn’t even have enough to pay the printer for last week’s issue. The guys were unsympathetic. Jimmy finally had to put a stop to their fun when things started to get a little rough. He didn’t want them permanently injuring the poor guy.

Byers refused to answer questions about what kind of conspiracy they were investigating that had anything to do with the team. He said he’d have to check with his partners before revealing anything. Jimmy decided to see how well he would stand up to tickle torture. The team, having practiced so recently on their own coach, was amazingly effective at this, and quickly had Byers begging for mercy between sobs of laughter. Soon Jimmy knew all about his recent adventures. They weren’t just journalists, or even investigative journalists. They were idealistic rebels spying on the government and big corporations, real cape-and-dagger stuff. It turned out that the strip-search Byers had mentioned had resulted from an operation straight out of Mission Impossible, trying to steal the prototype of the latest Octopus computer chip to prove that it was going to invade people’s privacy. The more Jimmy learned, the more his admiration of Byers and his two friends grew. They really had guts, and were as dedicated to doing the right thing as Jimmy was himself. His prisoner was an honest-to-God hero. He was little ashamed to find himself with a genuine hero in his power. Also more than a little excited, despite himself.

But this still didn’t explain what he was doing here today. They extracted all kinds of useless information from him, from his business address to the name of the printing company they used, but nothing about why he was here. When Jimmy confronted Byers with his theory on why they were investigating his team — “Did you think I was conspiring to start up a blind hunting club? Do you think I’m stupid?” Byers was seized with such a bad laughing fit that Jimmy was unable to get any more out of him, even after he had his men stop tickling him.

When he finally had caught his breath, he looked exhausted and defeated, hanging limply from the arms of the guys holding him, with his knees buckling. Jimmy walked up real close to him, towering over him, and asked softly, “You ready to tell us why you’re here? Or do we start this all over again?”

Byers bent his head forward, as if in submission. His beard brushed Jimmy’s bare chest. Then, to his surprise, Jimmy felt the guy’s lips moving against his skin, almost nuzzling. He stood there in shock, trying to figure out what was happening. Then Byers straighted up with Jimmy’s whistle in his mouth. Jimmy clapped his hands over his ears just in time to avoid the worst of the loud blast. As the echoes died away, curses rang out from all over the locker room from men doubled over with their hands belatedly placed over their ears. Byers was headed for the exit. Ruefully, Jimmy gathered up Byers’s clothes and carefully picked his way through the clumps of grappling bodies. “Here’s a little hint, guys,” he called over his shoulder as he left the locker room. “If he’s as strong as you are, you’ve grabbed the wrong man.”

He was just in time to see Byers disappear into the stand of trees bordering the playing field. It was hard going, in his bare feet, but he soon caught up and found him trying to hide behind a tree. He looked cold. Jimmy could tell by the way he was shivering and by how his nipples had shriveled to almost nothing. Great day for football, but definitely not shirtless weather. He was sure that if he had let the guys finish stripping him, he’d be looking at a very shriveled ball sac about now.

“Hey, buddy, you did the same stupid thing I tried to do a little while ago. Where did you think you were gonna go, wearing only your shorts?”

Byers hugged himself and looked sheepish. “At least I have a ride.” Huh. He’d figured out, just like that, that Jimmy’s car keys would have been in his pants. “But Frohike will never let me live this down, if I show up like this. I guess that’s why I didn’t head straight for the van.”

“I brought you your clothes,” Jimmy said gently, almost forgetting that Byers could see that. “You look cold.”

“That’s very kind of you,” he said with more politeness than most people could have mustered.

Jimmy handed him the pants and he started to step into them. Jimmy reached out and steadied his shoulder when he almost lost his balance.

“I’d better lean against a tree,” Byers said, accepting his shoes and socks. “Ow!” he said as the rough bark scraped his back.

“Sorry about your back. It’ll be fine by tomorrow. Here, lean against me.” Byers glanced doubtfully at the wet leaves covering the ground and complied. Jimmy flung the whistle over his shoulder to hang down his back, and pulled Byers backward to lean against his chest. Jimmy was beginning to feel a little cold, but the man’s skin felt warm against his own.

“Look, I’m sorry if we got a little rough,” he continued. “But it really meant a lot to those guys. They’re not used to being in control. Did you see the looks on their faces?”

Byers did not reply, as he bent forward to put on his socks and shoes, bracing himself on Jimmy’s pelvis. He seemed like a quiet guy and might be more angry than he was letting on. Jimmy realized that this wasn’t high school; there were laws to protect adults from being tormented by each other.

“I don’t blame you if you’re mad at us,” Jimmy said as he shook out the shirt and jacket and held them open for Byers to stick his arms into the sleeves. “But don’t blame those guys. You can take it out on me, if you want. Right now.”

“What do you mean?”

Jimmy spotted a thin flexible branch on a nearby tree and snapped it off. He handed it to Byers with a grin. “Here, this will hurt a lot more than a wet towel.” He got down on his knees in front of Byers. “Oh, and here’s your tie,” he said, handing him the piece of clothing he’d been holding.

Byers stared at him, with the tie dangling from one hand and the switch from the other. He made no move to do anything with either, or even to button his shirt.

“C’mon, this is your chance. If you’re mad, take it out on me.” Jimmy took off the towel that had been draped around his shoulders and held it between his hands, leaving his entire torso unprotected.

Byers took a step forward, holding out the switch, and touched the leafy end lightly against Jimmy’s bare shoulder. Jimmy bowed his head submissively and remained kneeling. Byers lightly ran the end of the switch down his back — just the tip of the leaf tickling his spine. Jimmy shivered — from the sensation, or the cold, or the anticipation; he didn’t know which. Then Byers stopped and said “You could blow your whistle, bring your team here. They’d tear me apart if they caught me hurting you.”

“They would, wouldn’t they,” Jimmy said with a proud grin. He removed the whistle, looked at it, and reluctantly held it out to Byers. “I want it back when you’re finished with me.” Byers nodded and put it around his own neck, where it was half hidden under his open shirt.

Jimmy hunched forward and Byers once again began teasingly running the switch between his shoulder blades. He shivered again, steeling himself for the payback he knew was coming. When the switch was withdrawn, he sucked in his breath and screwed his eyes shut, bracing himself for a painful lash across the back. Instead he felt the switch lightly tickling his ribs. He opened his eyes and straightened up to give Byers a better angle of attack. A chuckle escaped him; the tickling was starting to get to him. With a gleam in his eyes, Byers tried to dig the switch into his arm pits. Jimmy meekly put his hands on top of his head without being asked, leaving his armpits exposed and unprotected. The leaf didn’t tickle quite as much as the team’s fingers had, but knowing that the switch was about to inflict punishment, and that he was going to let it, somehow made it more intense. He tried not to laugh loudly enough to draw attention from anyone back on the field

Finally Byers said, “I know as soon as I strike you with this you’re going to jump up and thrash me.”

“No, sir, I won’t fight back. I promise. I’ll let you tie me up if you want.”

“You’re kidding.”

Jimmy dropped the towel and held out his hands, wrists close together. “Use your tie. Go on. Or I can rip this towel into strips for you. You can even gag me if you’re afraid I’ll call for help.”

Byers looked away, smiling a little, and blushing a lot. “I don’t believe this.”

“You want to get back at me or not? You can do whatever you want to me. Please, just promise not to take it out on the team.”

“You really love your team, don’t you?” Byers asked thoughtfully.

“More than anything. They’re going to be the best one in the league, once it gets going.”

Byers sighed, looking down at his feet. Then he looked Jimmy square in the eye. “You’re not what we expected. It’s so rare to meet someone like you, dedicating his life to something he really believes in.” He played the switch thoghtfully around Jimmy’s chest, then even more lightly down his abs. “No, I’m not going to do it.” He tossed it aside.

“You’re not gonna hurt me?”

Byers looked away. “Not like this. And not on purpose.” He took off the whistle and tossed it back to Jimmy. “Go get dressed and meet me by the bleachers. I’m afraid Frohike and I have some bad news for you. Well, not exactly bad, but disappointing.”

Byers was right. When they told him what they’d found out — that there was no blind football league, only his one team — that his benefactor was a front to launder money for some foreign power — it really did hurt to think that his team was never going to play with anybody but themselves. Given the choice, he’d much rather have been kneeling bare-chested in front of Byers, submitting to some minor physical pain that would fade in a few days. He could tell by the way Byers watched him take the news that the other man felt the same way.

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  • I followed this with another Lone Gunmen story, "Oil is Optional", based on a later episode. It's not necessarily a sequel, though.
  • If you like my writing, see also my long "2001" Bowman/Poole story, "Alternatives"