“Doc, follow me mate.”
Taylor heard the deep and rather serious tone of his coach from behind him. At first he thought he was going to get the dreaded tap on the shoulder, and to be honest, he could hardly blame Clarko if that’s the way things went. Back-to-back games getting under 20 possessions wasn’t exactly setting a great tone for the younger players he was supposed to be a leader for. It wasn’t essential that he racked up possessions like he was Tommy Mitchell or anything, but he felt as though he was struggling to insert himself into games.
Maybe he wasn’t the leader he and the coaching staff thought he was?
He followed Clarko through the corridors of the club, past framed photographs of former Hawthorn champions, past a photograph that even included himself, posing with one of his two premiership medals. It made him even more anxious. If Clarko wanted to have a chat with one of his leaders, why was he being so serious?
After a walk that felt like it went for hours, they reached the coach’s office, the white door emblazoned with ‘Senior Coach’ on it open just a bit. Alastair, the smaller of the two somehow, stood aside as if to gesture for Taylor to enter the office first, and so in he went, nervously brushing past his mentor. Despite his marginal height advantage over the coach, he felt utterly powerless and submissive. The diminutive legend in front of him had this aura, this ability to intimidate and inflict a sense of pressure on whomever’s presence he graced.
“Sitt’own,” the older man slurred, pointing to the small chair in front of his desk, and Taylor nervously obeyed.
“What’s up coach?” Taylor said as casually as possible, trying to disguise the nervous tremor in his voice.
“It’s alright, Doc,” Alastair said immediately, obviously sensing Taylor’s discomfort and anxiety over this spontaneous meeting. “You’re OK. You’re playing this week, if that’s what you’re worried about.”
And yes, Taylor was worried about that. At 26, and with a host of youngsters he knew for a fact that Clarko was keen to get in and reinvent the team, if he were to be dropped, he wouldn’t like his chances of getting back in the senior team. At least not in season 2018.
He breathed a sigh of relief, and sat up a little straighter, eagerly awaiting the purpose of this meeting.
“We still think you could be a great leader for all the young fellas, and you’ve been with us for a long time now, haven’t ya?” Alastair said fondly, glancing out the window as if he were reminiscing the moment back in late 2009 when he saw Taylor for the first time, a scrawny, pale lad with a baby-face. He’d developed into a fine young man, built and mature, but still ultimately all the things that appealed to Alastair in the first place. He still had that milky-white complection, that baby face with the freckles that screamed innocence, and those piercing blue eyes that always made him appear to be more than just a dumb footballer from the country.
All Taylor could do was nod apprehensively, waiting for some kind of point or resolution to this conversation.
Alastair just leant back in his office-chair, inhaled like he was dreading this part. And Taylor visibly sunk in his chair, posture instantly going from intrigued to dejected, head dropped to face the floor.
“But you yourself said you could do better these last few weeks…” The coach was speaking in riddles and it was playing with Taylor’s nerves. Was he about to get promoted to vice-captain, or be delisted? What the hell was going on?
Again, Taylor just nodded. Just go with the flow, he said to himself. “And so I’m in a predicament here of what I should do. If you keep this kind of form up, there’s probably gonna be a few kids – Harro or one of those boys – they’ll come for your spot. And how could I defend not giving them that chance, y’know?” Taylor just kept on nodding in silent agreement. “But I don’t want it to come to that, I want you to be playing the kind of footy that makes it impossible for me to drop ya, Doc!” Clarko was speaking passionately now, still at a quiet volume, but with the kind of aggression and gusto he’d usually reserve for the field.
“I know, Clarko, I know.” Taylor responded, still afraid to look his coach directly in the eyes. “I promise, give me this week and I’ll deliver for you.” But his coach was just shaking his head, hands up and resting against the back of his chair as if he was lost for words and ideas.
“Nah, Doc, I can’t just take promises anymore. I need certainties son, and you haven’t been one for me so far this year.” He looked hopeless, and so did the player opposite him, both coming to some sort of realisation that this was not where either of them wanted to be at this time of the year. “Like I said, you’re playing this weekend, because I can’t justify dropping one of our leaders after two games. You deserve better than that. But I’m going to make sure that you deliver.”
Suddenly, Taylor felt a chill travel from his neck down his spine. His coach’s body language was as confrontational and as imposing as he’d ever seen it, like he was not fucking around anymore.
“What – what’ve you got in, uh, mind?” Taylor stuttered out like a nervous, naughty school-boy. Then suddenly Alastair stood up, strangely towering over the desk in front of him.
“Get up,” Clarko gestured by flicking his hands up, and Taylor just followed the command. Because it was not an offer, it was a command.
He stood there awkwardly in the middle of the room, one hand resting forward on the chair in front of him just so he wouldn’t tip over from confusion. He had no idea where this was going, but who was he to doubt this mad genius who had done so much for him throughout his career?
“Take your shirt off,” Clarko said so effortlessly, as if he was just telling him what the date was, or what the temperature in Melbourne was. The fact that this didn’t ring alarm bells for Taylor was more frightening than the actual command, but it wasn’t the craziest coaching tactic Alastair Clarkson had ever employed. Once, back in 2010 or 2011 – one of the years when the Hawks’ season finished prematurely – Clarko had them sit in a circle and hold hands for at least an hour, until they were literally sticking to each other from the profuse sweat. The players’ called it punishment for a disappointing September campaign, but Clarko defended it as “team bonding.” From then on, Taylor learnt to just go with whatever Clarko said, because he knew what he was doing – even when it seemed to be the opposite.
And so Taylor grabbed his grey training singlet by the scruff of the neck and pulled it over his head without any form of reluctance. He didn’t want to seem like he was completely doubting his coach.
Alastair had to desperately refrain from releasing an audible gasp at the sight of Taylor’s body, a sight that never got old as far as he was concerned. That pale skin dusted with a layer of freckles, soft hairs only just covering his chest, thicker fluff visible from his arm-pits. His nipples were bright pink and soft, so tender you could squeeze them. His arms were only slightly-defined, but it all contributed to his boyish charm. Because that’s essentially how Alastair had always seen Taylor as – a boy still in the process of becoming a man, even if he was 26.
“You look cold, relax..” Clarko said as he extended a hand forward to rest as gentle as possible on Taylor’s shoulder. At first he soothed his palm into that one spot, but then he began moving it around, gliding it over the expanse of his collarbone and his chest, down his arms, feeling that smooth skin coming into contact with his own. This man was beautiful, and he wanted to take this rare opportunity while he had it. “Better?” He asked the younger man once he felt him exhale and relax into his coach’s touch. All Taylor could muster was a silent nod, his eyes raising to finally meet Clarko’s, and didn’t the older man feel it. He felt that pleading look, as if to say don’t hurt me, but that also said, whatever you say goes…
It was a stern, assertive command that jolted Taylor out of his nervous hypnosis. He didn’t move, he didn’t even try to speak. He just waited it out. He needed more from Clarko, because this wasn’t making one iota of sense.
“Take them off!” Alastair growled, clapping his hands as if he was rearing his players into gear at three-quarter time of a grand final. “C’mon!” He said impatiently. And if this was him taking the piss, Taylor would be happy to fall for it, because to hell with disappointing or angering his coach any further. Yet Taylor still couldn’t get his body to synchronise with his mind. He had already processed that he simply had to fulfill his coach’s request, but the fibre in every muscle and bone in his body told him no; to try and take control of the situation; to try and avoid this somehow and protect his dignity.
“Listen, I want you to take your pants off, go and stand by the window, and bend over. I’m giving you 30 seconds! Have you ever known me to be a practical joker, Doc?” Alastair was calmer than he’d been this entire conversation now, which somehow made it all the more intimidating for Taylor. This eery calmness that had consumed Clarko was so rare, but it proved how in control he was, and how under Clarko’s control Taylor was.
“O-okay,” Taylor mumbled under his breath. He knew his coach wouldn’t care if he heard the solid confirmation that he desired. The confirmation would be in Taylor actually doing what his coach wanted. And so without even thinking so much as a ‘should I be doing this?’, he tucked his fingers into the elastic waistband of his running shorts, and pulled them down, stepping out of them once they reached his ankles. And there he was… standing in just his pale grey briefs and some socks and runners on each foot. When he looked up, rather embarrassed already, he saw his coach looking mildly satisfied, and so he continued on his way. He knelt down to untie his shoe-laces, before he felt a firm hand on his shoulder-blade, and a deep “No,” echo from over him.
He looked at Clarko, who just shook his head, as if to stop Taylor in his tracks.
OK… so he doesn’t want me fully naked. At least that’s something, Taylor mused to himself, trying to find something even remotely positive about this absurd situation.
He walked over to the window, turned to face the open field below, where the whole squad was still out training. The office really did have a panoramic view of the entire training facility. But that also meant the entire training facility had a pretty apparent view of the office, at least from a distance. Alastair emerged behind Taylor, placing a slow and steady hand on Taylor’s arm, and extending it to place it forward on the window sill in front of him. He did the same with the other arm, feeling the heat radiating through Taylor’s skin in the process. The gorgeous man before him was now hunched slightly, leaning on the window sill, while he hung his head. At first Alastair thought it was to hide his face from the view through the window, in case anyone happened to be looking from the training field below. But then he realised it wasn’t really that, it was just shame. Shame in accepting this defeat so easily. It almost made Alastair even more frustrated with him… he expected a bit more of a fight from one of his leaders.
He really would have to teach ‘Doc’ a lesson…
He placed a foot between Taylor’s legs, and kicked his left ankle out, before doing the same with his right ankle until his legs were spread more. There was barely a sound from the player in front of him, besides a slightly startled grunt when Clarko kicked his foot into Taylor’s shoe a little too forcefully.
Taylor still had no idea what his coach had in store for him. Did he want the rest of the squad to see one of their team-leaders being humiliated through the window of the senior coach’s office? Was it some sort of psychological test to make him mentally tougher? To make him want to prove himself on-field more? He didn’t know, for all he did know was the totally foreign feeling of a stern hand being placed at the centre of his back, pushing forward gentle enough that it almost felt soothing, but forceful enough that Taylor followed the general idea of what the hand wanted. And so he allowed himself to be pushed forward so that he was now bent over the window sill, his back arched, nothing but the muscles in his neck holding his head up from crashing down into the paperwork below it. His arse was perched out, curvy and rounder than Alastair had ever noticed before, and his legs were shaking with anticipation and the uncomfortable position his body had been manipulated in.
He heard the gentle, low rumblings of his coach’s humming to himself, or was it a stifled groan? He wasn’t sure, but it was in time with Clarko’s hands running up the backs of his milky white thighs and over the curve of his arse. He certainly was not expecting the harsh, loud smack that followed. Taylor didn’t even feel it for a few seconds after the contact was made, such was his shock at the unexpected assault. Before he could even speak, or react, or properly process it, another slap was delivered to the opposite butt cheek. It felt louder than it was, once Taylor realised that it wasn’t skin-on-skin, but rather Clarko just delivering blows to his arse through the fabric of his briefs.
It was a little relief, knowing that at least there was a chance someone walking by the office wouldn’t be able to hear it. At least, he hoped not.
Then he felt firm, aggressive fingers pulling at the fabric that was the only thing between his fierce coach and his most intimate body parts. And the pulling became more intensive. And Taylor could hear the faint sound of the fabric being torn.
“We’re gonna’ figure out how many possessions you should be getting… a fit lad like ya’self, you had a great pre-season… you’re playing off the half back. How many d’you reckon?” The coach said through gritted teeth as he concentrated on pulling the briefs over Taylor’s arse and down his thighs in an aggressive manner that displayed his dominance but didn’t actually rip the material. They were expensive CK’s after all, and he wasn’t about to leave the younger man with no underwear to leave his office in.
When he didn’t get a desired response from Taylor, he spanked him again, this time much harder, with more force, shoving Taylor forward into the window sill more. The briefs were now down around his knees, leaving Taylor’s bare arse open and exposed to the air in the room and Alastair’s predatorial eyes.
“Oh… wow,” Alastair mused aloud as he ran his fingertips over the smooth but plump skin of each cheek, enchanted by the feel of light hairs brushing through his fingers as he narrowed each finger closer to Taylor’s crack teasingly. Then, he realised his fault. The sheer beauty of the man in front of him had led to him dropping his guard, and he lost his focus momentarily. He removed his hands, leaving Taylor almost curious as to what his coach’s next move was going to be.
“I said, how many possessions do I expect of you, hm?” The thorough, ferocious tone was back in Clarko’s voice, and Taylor nervously strained his neck to look back at his coach over his shoulder, eyeing him up and down as if trying to figure out if the question was rhetorical or not.
“I – um – I don’t – know,” Taylor stuttered and fumbled his words as he procrastinated his way through a response to this situation that left him, quite frankly, speechless. Then another smack came, followed by the tips of Clarko’s fingers digging firmly into his arse cheek as if a warning sign: playing dumb would not cut it. “Ow! Fuck! I don’t know!” Taylor answered honestly this time, simply unable to control his words or concoct a response that he thinks would satisfy his coach. “You said, well, I think – twenty?”
He looked back again for any sign from his coach that he’d hit the nail on the head. When all he saw was a thoughtful gaze into space from Clarko, he added, “at least?”
And that seemed to stir his coach out of his deep-thinking, and he gave an arrogant smirk, as if to say, yes, that’ll do, Taylor thought.
Or that was what the smirk was about.
“Twenty at least, OK?” Clarko said firmly, as if he was relaying tactics on the white-board pre-game. “Count with me, yeah?”
And before Taylor could even ask what the hell Clarko was talking about by ‘counting’, he felt the harshest blow yet to his bare arse cheek, the flesh literally bouncing from the blow, and his skin felt as if it was vibrating from the stinging sensation.
“One!” Clarko grunted, and Taylor didn’t get it. Didn’t get what he did wrong for Clarko to deliver such a brutal pain upon him. After all, it wasn’t like he’d – SMACK!
Another brutal blow, this time on the opposite cheek.
Taylor was grunting and moaning, trying to restrain the rather petite squeals from the agony. Then they started raining down, one after the next, Clarko establishing a rapid rhythm of slaps that echoed around the room as skin pelted skin.
“Three!” “That’s four!”
And now Taylor understood. He finally realised that the degradation was to get worse, as Clarko actually expected him to count the smacks that he received. Like a play-by-play commentary of his own humiliation. But he felt Clarko’s slaps get even harsher, like he was aiming more of his palm and fingers on Taylor’s butt cheeks to increase the pain or something, and so he wasn’t about to protest or refuse.
So when the next blow followed, Taylor used one hand to steady himself on the window sill so his whole top half didn’t crash into the office décorations below him, positioned his back upright at a more straightened angle, and turned back to his coach as he uttered a breathy, “Five.”
It was one of the most beautiful sounds Alastair had ever heard, but he couldn’t allow his concentration to slip. So he just aimed his palm at Taylor’s arse-crack, this time landing his palm directly in the middle, the slightest slip of Clarko’s hand sliding down the cleft of Taylor’s arse. It caused a guttural moan out of the man in front of him, followed by another whispered “Si-six.”
“Eight, eight, eight,” Taylor began chanting as he started actually thrusting his hips in a back-and-forth motion, arse burning from the pain, but each new blow delivering some kind of numbing relief from the pain, even for just a split second. He was now needing each new smack just to replace the pain from the previous one. It was a fucked up game his coach was playing with him, and the more he became aware of this, the harder it became for Taylor to stop the tears escaping his eyes. He didn’t even know why he was welling up; surely it wasn’t from the pain – he’d experienced worse than this, believe it or not, on the footy field. No, more likely it was from how hopelessly degraded he felt in the moment. Bent over in front of his coach, presenting his grown-man bottom to his coach to spank until it was sore, and red, then having to speak through his cracking voice to announce each smack as it happened.
He’d entered into some kind of fucked up head-space where he couldn’t really compute what was happening to him, or just how bad the pain was. At some point, it just kind of went away; each smack felt numb, but not painful. And he was absent-mindedly counting up correctly each smack, not even realising that he was now at twenty.
He was awoken from his state of oblivion by a surprisingly soft hand reaching forward to caress his cheek. It felt warm, almost like a mother’s hands. How this could be the same hand that had just inflicted such torture on his back-side was unfathomable to Taylor.
“Sshh, that’s it. Shhh, you did so well, Doc.”
The whispering tone felt soothing on Taylor’s ears after what felt like an eternity of groaning and grunting and slapping and squealing. “Look at these rosy cheeks, hmm,” Clarko was so comforting it felt almost patronising, especially seeing how much he got off from exhibiting such force and aggression. Taylor couldn’t even imagine what said cheeks looked like as Clarko continued running his hands over the pink, raised and swollen hand-prints that covered both of Taylor’s smooth globes. “Such a good boy, think you’ve earned my trust, don’t you think?”
Everything about the way his coach was speaking suggested one of the versions of his coach was all an act. The stern, angry hot-head, or the gentle, tender fatherly figure. One of them was the real Alastair Clarkson. Or maybe they both lived within him, and it took Taylor to bring it out. Either way, Taylor lay utterly confused and breathless as his face was smudged against the window. For all he knew, the squad below could easily see a naked-from-the-waist-up Taylor pressed against the window, bent over with the senior coach standing authoratively behind him. But somehow the humiliation of that seemed preferable to standing upright again and coming face to face with the man who had just emasculated him.
But he didn’t have a choice in the matter, despite Clarko’s change in nature within a matter of minutes. He felt two strong hands grip his waist, and yank him backwards away from the window, and he lost his balance and fell back into the surprisingly steady body of the coach.
“Whoops! Hold on, son,” Clarko said patiently as he held the disoriented Taylor upright, smirking as he felt his hard-on in his pants suddenly and unexpectedly pressed against the tight crack of Taylor’s arse, longing for that extra contact but accepting the impracticality of such an idea. He knew the sensation was foreign to the younger man, because he ground his arse back almost experimentally, as if trying to figure out if that was really what he thought it was.
Taylor felt sick to his stomach, but also didn’t want to offend his coach in any way. At least the presence of a fucking boner in Clarko’s pants made things kind of fall into place a little. He now knew that yes, his coach was obviously gay, or bisexual at least. And that this wasn’t so much about causing Taylor any kind of distress or punishment, but rather about feeding his own desires – even if they were totally fucked up in Taylor’s humble opinion. That made Taylor feel used, it made Taylor feel rather embarrassed, and it made Taylor feel flattered if he was being totally honest. If he really wanted to hurt Taylor, he’d have done this exercise in front of witnesses.
And so as Taylor found his balance again and reached down to pull up his underwear over his raw arse, he couldn’t help but give his coach a wry little smile. A smile that told Clarko he’d be OK, because he could see the slightest trace of doubt in his coach’s eyes that maybe he’d gone too far, and he’d just pushed away one of his most trusted players forever. Taylor certainly wouldn’t be coming back asking for more, nor would he be comfortable sitting in his car on the way home from the club that night, but he felt like he understood his coach more now than when he walked into the office earlier that day.
Taylor headed to the door after putting all of his clothes back on and brushing a few loose strands of his hair behind his ears, before he heard Clarko clear his throat.
“Reckon you’ll kill it this weekend?” And relief flooded through Alastair when Taylor turned to him and simply nodded and smiled, those same dimples appearing and filling the coach with warmth, knowing this particular player-coach relationship would only be stronger from here on out.