John tensed as the first touch of wax coloured his skin.
“Shh,” said James, running a hand down John’s back. John hadn’t made a noise. “You’re okay. Are you okay?”
“I’m okay,” John promised, wriggling a bit. It wasn’t that bad. Just hot. And it would he worth it, because he’d be pretty in the end. He wanted so badly to be pretty for James.
“Okay. Tell me if that changes, and stop moving if it doesn’t.”
“Yes, sir,” John said, trying to relax. He was safe. He was always safe with James, and if he got scared they’d stop and James would cuddle him and it would be okay, just like last time with the paddle.
James hummed as he went back to pouring the wax on John’s back. It was slow and constant, a light almost burning that didn’t exactly hurt but didn’t exactly not hurt. It faded pretty fast, leaving a heaviness in its wake as more heat fell near it.
It wasn’t unlike getting a tattoo, John told himself. It wasn’t uncomfortable in quite the same way, but it was something John could think about. He liked his tattoos, they were so pretty, they made him so pretty.
They also always made John cry when he got them, so John wasn’t surprised when he started crying this time. He focused on James’s humming, letting that calm him down, his tears falling quietly as he endured the discomfort. It was worth it.
James stoked his hair, his ear, humming. John squeezed his eyes shut, enduring.
Then the heat was just fading, not being replaced. “There,” James said, hand on John’s wet cheek. “Done. You did such a good job, baby boy.”
John’s face cracked into a grin. “Am…I pretty now?”
“Yes,” James promised, bending down to kiss John’s forehead. “And I’ll remind you again, since you forgot. You are always pretty, Johnathon. Always. That’s why I like decorating you so much, because the beauty is already there.”
John’s face felt hotter than the wax, and he lowered his eyes. “I…I know,” he said, taking a deep breath. He did know that, because James always said it and James never lied. “Thank you.”
“Any time. Now, do you feel okay? I’d like to draw you, so I can show you what I did on your back.”
“Yeah,” John said, feeling all happy and light, even with the wax heavy on his back. “Yeah, I feel great.”
“Okay, good. Hold still for a while longer then, and you’ll get your reward after.” James retreated to get his drawing stuff.
John smiled to himself, relaxing. He didn’t need a reward. Just being with his big brother was his reward.