No Matter What It Takes

Disclaimer: I don't own anything from the SAW franchise and I'm not making any money from this fic

Summary: Everyone has regrets. Written as a standalone fill for the Advent Bingo challenge. Cane or switch, required, coerced, regret, supervisor or boss (which may be considered a stretch). Bingo!

Warning(s): Spanking involving hand and cane; strong references to violence; MAJOR spoilers for Jigsaw 2017; minor spoilers for the other movies in the SAW franchise; references to cancer; mentions of masochistic tendencies; unhealthy dependence of one character on another

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He couldn't sleep. Couldn't turn his mind off. That was the only reason why he was back in the workshop, frantically drawing and redrawing over his plans. Revenge was a dish best served cold...and even though John Kramer didn't feel he was doing this for the right reasons (he'd never said anything, but Nelson had learned to read his moods and expressions; like a puppy being trained), he hadn't stopped Nelson working on his revenge against Halloran.

Everything had to be perfect.

The room was flooded with light and Nelson looked up, blinking, as he saw John Kramer framed in the doorway. There was little sign of the cancer riddling the body of the older man and Nelson looked away, swallowing, as guilt and regret stabbed him. He knew Kramer wouldn't be dying now if he hadn't made such a stupid mistake. He forced that sense of guilt away and forced himself to smile at the older man. "Can't you sleep, sir?" He didn't try to keep the deferential note out of his voice. Kramer was his teacher, supervisor, friend all rolled into one.

"It's late." Kramer stepped further into the room and walked to the desk, circling just behind Nelson.

Nelson could feel the other man's eyes on the plans he'd drawn up and he sat back, shuffling his stool to one side so that Kramer could see better. He stopped himself from looking up into the older man's face like an eager puppy looking for approval.

"You haven't designed the trap right."

Nelson shook his head at the disapproving tone. "What do you mean? It's perfect for my revenge."

Kramer leaned over, right into Nelson's personal space, and pointed at the plans. "Where's the chance to live if he repents?"

"He's not going to repent." Nelson shifted in his seat and grimaced at the pain that sliced through the healing wounds in his back. It wasn't anything like as intense as when he'd first been wounded, but a part of him still welcomed it. He knew Kramer would never hurt him like he felt he deserved and so he shifted enough to allow the material of his shirt to scrape against the wounds.

Kramer's hand on his shoulder stilled his movement. "There should always be a way out. A choice he can make to save his own life. If you can't accept that, why should I have taken you on?"

Nelson's stomach dropped at those words and he didn't try to shrug off the older man's hand. "I don't have anything if you give up on me," he muttered.

"You've lost sight of the point of these games."

"To punish the bad guys. I get it." Nelson swallowed and looked down at his hands. "The people who make mistakes that cause others to lose their lives."

Kramer paused and then gripped Nelson's shoulder with surprising strength, considering the weakness caused by the cancerous cells attacking his body; an unseen enemy impossible to kill. "I told you. You've suffered enough pain for what was a mistake."

"You didn't give me a chance to repent." Nelson looked up into Kramer's face. "You saved me, even though I consigned you to a slow, painful death," he whispered.

Kramer searched his face for a moment and then nodded. Reaching past the plans, he picked up a pocketknife and put it in Nelson's hand. "You've convinced me. Go outside and cut a switch."

"What?" Nelson frowned.

"You need to feel punished for the mistake you made. I need you to understand the real games we set up. I've decided a spanking and a switching is in order."

The worst part was the matter-of-fact way Kramer said the words; as if he was discussing the weather and not talking about a child's punishment. Nelson shook his head. "You can't do that. You can't spank me. That's not...it isn't appropriate...I won't let you..."

"If you fight me on this, I won't be able to force you," Kramer replied. "I won't fight you. I won't make you take a punishment. But if you choose to resist it and to learn fully what I'm trying to teach you, I'll have no choice but to cut you loose."

"Please don't," Nelson said quietly. "This is the only thing that gives me purpose now."

"It's your decision."

Nelson took a deep breath and looked down at the pocketknife in his hand. Wordlessly, he stood up and walked out of the room, walking along the hall and to the door. He opened it and stepped out into the cold night air.

The building was out of the way, enough that Nelson didn't have to worry about any curious neighbours glancing out of their windows to see what was going on. There weren't that many trees on the property, but after glancing around a bit, he noticed one that had particularly sturdy branches. He walked over to it and snapped off what looked like a strong branch. Taking the pocketknife, he began to strip the small twigs and leaves from the wood.

It took a few minutes for Nelson to feel satisfied with the switch. It wasn't too thick, but it was springy and flexible. He tested it with a gentle swing against his palm and winced at the sting even that small action caused.

Maybe it would be enough.

Nelson skirted the entrance that led to where the bodies of those who had failed Kramer's games were, walking back through the door and into the room.

His papers had been cleared from the desk and Kramer had moved the stool back and to the side. He didn't say anything; simply held out his hand and Nelson placed the switch in it. He also handed the pocketknife back over.

"Take your pants down and bend over the desk," Kramer directed.

Nelson hesitated, casting an uncertain glance towards the older man. Should he allow himself to submit to this? It wouldn't change the trap he'd designed. Halloran deserved to die. The only thing Nelson was interested in was making the man confess before he died.

"It's either this or I ask you to leave," Kramer continued. "And move away so I can't be found again."

So he couldn't find Kramer again. Knowing this was the only thing that gave him any meaning...that had allowed his broken mind and soul to begin to heal. He moved over to the desk, unfastening his pants and pushing them down before he bent over the surface, shifting forward slightly so the edges didn't dig into any uncomfortable places.

Nelson felt rather than heard Kramer move to his side. A split second later, he heard the soft swing and felt the switch land on the seat of his boxers.

The line of fire made Nelson draw in his breath sharply. He stared straight ahead as he heard the switch whistle through the air again. And then a third time.

Nelson clenched his fists, breathing deep as the switch continued to land, working from the crest of his backside down to his thighs, bare, as they weren't covered by his boxers. He drew in a sharp breath as Kramer began switching again, somehow managing to land every stripe on top of the previous...at least that was what it felt like as the switch landed over and over. He could tell Kramer wasn't using that much force, but it was still painful enough to have him wincing.

By the time the switch had landed a complete circuit for the third time, Nelson was breathing hard. While he'd been through much worse pain, there was something about the repetitive switching that had tears springing to his eyes.

Kramer was silent throughout the switching, but just when Nelson thought he might break and begin outright sobbing, the switching stopped.

Nelson's entire backside, down to his thighs, felt aflame. His breath hitched and he rapidly blinked his eyes, trying to stop the moisture that was leaking out. But then he slumped as he felt Kramer tug his boxers down. Instead of the thin stripes of fire caused by the switch, though, he felt the older man's hand begin to smack over his already-sore backside.

"I'm not punishing you for making a mistake. I know you regret it, but it wasn't done with malicious intent," Kramer stated, his palm landing to emphasise each word. "I know you feel guilty, but you forget. I know your past. I know you. Before I took you in, you were a broken man. As dead inside as those I took with you are truly dead."

Nelson listened, his breath hitching, the tears leaking out of his eyes having more to do with Kramer's words than with the pain from the spanking. Although the smacks stung, they made him feel like a child. "If I hadn't messed up, you wouldn't be dying now," he whispered.

"We all have to die sometime."

"But it didn't have to be so soon." Nelson slumped over the desk as he began to sob. His hands loosened their tight grip on the edge and he relaxed; not quite slumping bonelessly, but close to it.

Kramer finished the spanking with a final few to Nelson's sit spots, eliciting a groan from him, and then let his hand rest on Nelson's lower back. "Then make the most of the time we have left to us."

Nelson relaxed, even though Kramer's hand was resting on the wounds on his back. He wiped at his eyes, took a deep breath and pushed himself up. Pulling his clothing back into place, he turned fully to face Kramer. "I am sorry. For making that mistake. Even if you don't blame me. Even though you've made peace with it...I'm still sorry." But he wasn't sorry for designing a trap without a loophole and he was certain Kramer knew that.

The older man nodded and then picked up the plans, spreading them on the desk once more. "But you still need to give a chance. No matter how sure you are."

The End