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Protection In A Wild Land ~ Chapter 17

Title: Protection in a Wild Land ~ Chapter 17 (Commanding Styles)
Author: bubble_cake101
Genre: Historical, romance, slash, war
Summary:  Major Bailey travels West  after the US Civil War to an isolated little fort commanded by a general whose intentions become increasingly suspicious. While there, he also meets a young lieutenant who appears to be hiding something.
Chapter summary: Prior deals with his 'disrespectful' aides.
Rating: PG-13 for this chapter
Warnings: Eventual m/m relationships, violence (individual warnings in chapters) For this chapter: Spanking, Non-consensual, older/younger
Feedback always appreciated! Thanks for the feedback so far!

Chapter 17 ~ Commanding Styles

Taylor entered the office alone that night. It was dark in there, Prior having left early and not returned, and as he lit the gas lamp, he noticed his hands were shaking. The events of the day were still in his head. He had known the meeting wouldn’t be very smooth. He had known there would be a few questions, a few raised eyebrows, but he hadn’t expected Bailey to react in quite that way. He partially wished he hadn’t shown him the orders that morning. He certainly wasn’t meant to. But then, would it really have made a difference if he hadn’t have done? Bailey still would have found out and come to his own conclusion, just at a later time.

He still hadn’t liked seeing him get slapped though. There was a horrid tension over the fort now, especially in headquarters, not just because of the orders, but now because of how Prior had dealt with Bailey. He wasn’t sure how many people knew but had seen some of the officers standing by the window watching, having heard the argument start up soon after they left. This wasn’t good, especially just before an offensive mission that would be hard enough as it was.

Taylor sighed and slowly sat down in the large chair by the window. He reached for a cigar in the box he always made sure was on Prior’s desk but then stopped himself, thinking of the general. He instead found himself drumming his fingers on the windowsill, trying to keep occupied. Trying to stop shaking.

About quarter of an hour ago, he had seen Major Bailey heading towards Dawes’ cabin. He had been there too earlier, had attempted to pull Bailey aside and calm him, but it hadn’t done any good. This whole thing had a lot to do with him and Taylor wasn’t sure the colonel knew how much. Bailey didn’t want to see the men injured when it could potentially be avoided – he certainly didn’t want to see Dawes injured. Taylor knew what he was thinking, knew what he was worrying about. And it was one of the main reasons behind everything that day.

And now, there they were in Dawes’ cabin. Taylor was fully aware that they were arguing, probably heatedly, at least Bailey would be. He would fight for this, he believed passionately in it, and Dawes had been caught in it all. No matter what his friend said though, he would obey his orders. He always had, and he was a brilliant soldier. He cared for his men and would do the best for them, but knew he was powerless to stop the conflict at the fort, even though he was the centre of it all. Because he was, Taylor thought, and there was no use denying that anymore.

He wouldn’t be happy with what Bailey had done at the meeting that morning. He certainly wouldn’t be, and if he was arguing back, that would be what he would say. He’d say that Bailey had been respectful and calm when talking about what he believed so strongly in, that no one would listen if he yelled at them and accused them of things that he didn’t have proof of. Because that was what happened. Bailey had accused Prior of trying to shift the blame to Dawes if they failed out there. Taylor found he was scared for him.

Weakly, Taylor nudged the curtain across, not wanting to look out at the cabin anymore, in case Bailey came storming out, and placed his arms on the windowsill. He let his head drop down onto them, so his vision was blocked and he couldn’t see the room, or any of the papers, or the orders, or the documents. He found he was still trembling but even as he wished not to see him again that night, he couldn’t help yearning for Major Bailey to be at his side.

~~~

Bailey hated arguing with Dawes but as he had followed him into his cabin that evening, he had thought it would be the right thing to do, to get some release and relief from what had happened, to have somebody listen to him. It hadn’t happened like that though. In fact, he could still feel his stomach wound up and throat tight, maybe even worse now, and now he had to go to bed that night with the thoughts hanging over him of having viciously argued with his friend.

Dawes had been as respectful and proper as ever, had told him that this wasn’t the way he should deal with things. He had said he had been wrong, that he shouldn’t have spoken to his commanding officer that way even if he had so strongly disagreed with him. Now he certainly wouldn’t pay any attention to what he had to say, especially as he had accused him. Mindlessly, he had said. Mindlessly. Bailey felt like one of the only people with a mind there.

No. No, that was wrong. The other officers had been doubtful too, had seen the flaws as clear as day, and had spoken up about them. He didn’t go looking for things to argue with his commanding officers about, didn’t desire it certainly, but this time, he had felt it necessary. Necessary. Of course it was bloody necessary, Will, he had hissed at him. I will not willingly reserve my place as a pallbearer at your funeral.

He had shocked himself at saying that, but he knew it was true. He knew that a plan like this, if it went wrong, as he could so easily, though fearfully, imagine, could end with the deaths of many good men. He had thought he had lost Dawes once. He wouldn’t lose him for real now, not when he could potentially stop it happening.

He exited Dawes’ cabin that night, slamming the door hard, and had stormed his way over to his own quarters. He had almost reached there, when he had been startled by somebody grabbing at his arm. Thinking it might have been Dawes, he had turned, still furious at him, ready to tell him he wasn’t going to speak any more of the matter that day, but had instead been pushed against a nearby cabin wall. Prior stared back at him, fire burning in his dilated eyes.

‘’I’ve told you before, Major, not to bloody interfere with my running of the fort!’’ he hissed, livid, in his face. Bailey could smell the distinctive, pungent smell of whiskey on his breath. ‘’I’ve told you not to interfere!’’

‘’General, get the hell off of me! What kind of a commander do you think you are?! What kind of place do you think you have running a fort anyway?! The orders, handling me like this, and then the drinking too, General?!’’ Bailey found the words pouring out of his mouth, found them still clawing to escape.

‘’You will obey me, Major Bailey!’’ Prior grasped him harder and dragged him around the corner onto the porch. Bailey saw they were his own quarters, before he was yanked inside and pushed, struggling, into the bedroom.

‘’What kind of commander drinks away his troubles?!’’ Bailey yelled at him as Prior slammed shut the bedroom door. He couldn’t think of what he was saying, only knew after he said it. ‘’You answer me, general! You answer me! These are my quarters and you will answer me within them!’’

‘’You shut your mouth, Major,’’ Prior snarled and then Bailey was back on his bed. He stared up at him, eyes wide, and tried to move but the general immediately grabbed his legs, holding him firmly in place.

‘’General – get your hands off of me!’’ Bailey tried to roll yet Prior was quicker than him, despite being obviously drunk, and stopped any more movement. ‘’General, I will – I will –‘’

‘’You will what, Major? Who will believe you if you tell them?!’’

‘’They will believe me –‘’ Prior cut him off by pushing his hand against Bailey’s mouth. Bailey tried to protest, but found he merely sounded like he was whining like a petulant child. He was forced to meet the general’s eyes, staring down at him madly and widely. He swore he enjoyed seeing him struggling like this.

‘’I told you to shut your mouth, Major. I do not go looking for opportunities to act like this but I believe that in this situation, I am acting within my rights.’’ Bailey heard his meaningless complaints behind Prior’s hand again. ‘’I believe that you, however, are most certainly not, and you obviously didn’t take any heed of what I said to you earlier. So, I apologise, Major, but you have brought this upon yourself and caused me to act like this. And now you will listen to me.’’

Bailey tried to move, feeling a more fearful emotion now rise alongside his anger, yet Prior again stopped him in his tracks. ‘’I said - you will listen to me. And I will only say this once. I am the commander of this fort and I will make the decisions here. And if I give an order, I expect it to be obeyed without question! I will not tolerate your insubordination, I will tell you this again, and you will now take heed of this and regard it also as a warning. You will not make the decisions and tell me how to run this fort.’’

And just like that, it suddenly ended. Prior hissed that final statement at him and then turned immediately on his heel, marching out of the room and his quarters. Slowly, Bailey sat up, rubbing his legs where the general’s fingers had dug in, and found he was struggling to regain his breath. He watched the walls shake from where he had slammed the door shut and then gradually rose from the bed, thinking of going to the window before pulling the other door and returning under the sheets.

~~~

Taylor lifted his head at the sound of footsteps outside the door and then the quiet sound of it opening. For a moment, he imagined it was Major Bailey and realised he wanted ever so much for that to be correct. The appearance of the general looking around the corner at him shattered that image.

‘’Good evening, Dandy,’’ he greeted him and entered, closing the door behind him. Taylor slowly began to rise from where he had been slumped near the window, eyes on the general, trying to determine what he was feeling, but the soft light from the gas lamp wouldn’t stretch that far. He felt his back press against the wall near the window.

‘’G-good evening, general. How are you?’’ Taylor knew his voice sounded too timid and vulnerable. He felt even more so when Prior didn’t reply, just came further forward and closer to him. He only stopped when he was face to face with him, so close Taylor could feel his hot breath on him. He had been drinking. Taylor’s knees softened a little.

‘’Dandy,’’ he said slowly, softly, a finger coming up to stroke along Taylor’s jaw line. He couldn’t move. ‘’Dandy, do you know what you have been?’’

Taylor shook his head, looking into the corner of the room, the desk, anywhere but Prior’s eyes. ‘’N-no, sir.’’

‘’You have been a very bad lieutenant, Dandy.’’

‘’-no, sir. I-I don’t know what you mean –‘’

‘’…and do you know what we do with bad lieutenants? I think you do.’’

‘’S-sir, I…I don’t understand…’’

Prior smiled, coming even closer. ‘’My dear boy…’’ he whispered, breathless, against his neck. Taylor winced. ‘’My dear boy, I think you understand very well. You have been with Major Bailey…you have been turning against me. You have allowed yourself to fall by his side…turn to his opinions and believe them yourself…’’

‘’Sir, no…no…’’

‘’I think I am correct, Dandy. And you know I am fully well…’’ Prior paused again, his mouth gliding up Taylor’s skin. Taylor bit his bottom lip, his throat tightening. ‘’…what do you think of the new orders, Dandy?’’

‘’I-I’m sorry, general?’’

‘’What do you think of the new orders?’’ the general repeated. Taylor noticed one hand was on the wall at his side, trapping him there, as the other caressed his cheek. He couldn’t think straight. The new orders, the new orders…Oh, he couldn’t answer that…He didn’t know…He couldn’t…

‘’General, I…’’

‘’Just as I thought,’’ Prior smirked, then pulled back. His fingers closed around Taylor’s wrist, tugging him away from the wall. ‘’Come on, my dear. I have to deal with another of my disrespectful aides…’’

‘’General, please, I must protest. I haven’t – I don’t know what – I – general…’’ Taylor realised he wasn’t getting anywhere. He tried to stay where he was but Prior was pulling him a little now, still smiling softly yet he knew there was no way he would stop. ‘’I haven’t done anything…’’

‘’Dandy. Come here.’’ Prior now sat down on the large chair by the fire, his hand still around Taylor’s wrist. Taylor looked at him for another long moment, feeling his heart hammering like usual against his chest, glanced at the door then the window but knew it was no use. Maybe he deserved it anyway. He showed Bailey those orders earlier. He wasn’t meant to.

‘’Dandy,’’ Prior said firmly. ‘’Over my knee, lieutenant.’’

Taylor slowly lowered his head and found he was walking towards the general. Prior smiled as he approached, running his hand up his arm and helping him down across his lap. ‘’How old are you now, Dandy?’’ he asked softly.

‘’I-I’m 24, sir…’’

‘’Surely, you would have learnt by now to stop behaving like a silly child…Ah, well. Behaving like a silly child warrants being punished like a silly child. Stay still, lieutenant.’’

Taylor closed his eyes and waited.

TBC