The room was a warm relief. The trusted hand on his arm lead him forward, the steady leg in line with his helped keep him upright. His muscles, tense from hesitance and worry, relaxed as soothing warmth eased his naked skin.

He stepped with the firm leg pressed against his own, steps sure and easy where he would have tentatively searched for good footing. But he trusted this man like no one else. Knew with no room for doubt that he would not be lead astray. The trusted hand on his arm pulled him to a stop and the voice said, "Five steps up right in front of you. Go up and sit cross legged." The man stepped away leaving him bereft for a moment but a task had been given and so he lifted searching toes up the steps and turned to sit on the landing.

A warm calloused hand closed on his shoulder and he dipped his head to rub his cheek on it, the blindfold caught on familiar callouses and scars. "Scoot back until you feel my hand on your ass." The voice was deep, familiar, and rough with exposed amusement and care. He scooted on the platform, fabric bunching under his thighs until he felt a hand over his crease. A thumb dipped in teasingly and he gripped it with his hands. The hand squeezed back and pulled away and he when he tried to follow it the ties kept his hands secure to his back. The hand ran along his pulled shoulders up to his neck. It held tight and an elbow dropped to his back, propelling him straight. "Sit up straight and cross your legs like a good boy," a voice said soft and clear in his ear.

The warm hand traveled down his chest, fingers catching on his nipple, until he was held tight against a strong solid front. He tilted his head to rest on steady shoulders and received a soft kiss over his blindfold covered temple. "No talking now," the voice reminded, "if you need something or feel unsure or if your feet start to fall asleep, snap your fingers." He nodded, rubbing his face along the stubble rough cheeks. "Do it once now to show me you can." He snapped his fingers but they were muffled by the man's body pressed against his. "Good boy," the voice rumbled and another kiss was pressed against his shoulder. The man backed away but the feel of warm lips kept him satisfied. The man moved around the platform. Soft thumps and clicks of glass or ceramic, the slide of metal on metal coupled with the movement of fabric on skin, shoes on carpet. It soothed him and he began to drift.

The ding of the doorbell was soft and not jarring and he absently counted the man's footsteps which left to answer it. 12 steps later the voice said, "welcome, put your coats over there. Our center piece is ready and not allowed to speak. This way please." There were soft exclamations, accents he recognized but he pushed it away. That didn't belong here. He could hear the voice among them, answering their questions and he didn't have to listen to them. He felt warm trusted hands set something cool and hard between his legs to rest gently on his naked genitals. He was soft, this wasn't about that either. The object began to warm as it soaked up the heat of his flesh, ceramic maybe, or porcelain.

The guests sat around him, their voices at his knee level but he was a centerpiece, an object, nothing more important than a fancy bowl. He didn't have to entertain, didn't have to be strong, be powerful.

He could feel metal trace him as it passed on its way to the bowl between his thighs, forks or spoons, a chip sometimes. He thought he might have held cheese or dip of some kind, maybe salsa. Occasionally he would feel trusted hands on his skin. Checking his temperature, making sure he was aware.

He drifted, lulled by the chatter and noise. He began to feel a tingling in his thighs and recognized it as a bad sign. He snapped his fingers softly and heard the voice ask, "Is your ass asleep?" he nodded.

The ding of the doorbell sounded and the voice said, "Go get the door."

He paused to see if warm hands would remove the dish from his lap, but when nothing happened he carefully maneuvered to his feet. He didn't want to step on anything, or anyone. He felt for the stairs and slowly stepped down. The doorbell dinged again and disoriented him. He snapped his fingers. "Go on," the voice commanded full of trust in his ability to figure it out.

He estimated the direction of the door and began to walk12 steps forward. At 8 he ran into a wall and used it to direct him towards the door.

The bell dinged again and he began to panic. The guest outside would get irritated and the voice would turn sharp and disappointed. He used his shoulder to press the button to open the door.

"Oh my," said a lady's voice, high and sharp with surprise. He stepped back so she could enter and heard the door close behind her. "Welcome," the warm voice called from the platform, "lead her over," the voice commanded. He turned toward the voice.

A cold thin hand curled along his arm, skeletal fingers gripped him, slashing him with razors, flaying him open, tearing his flesh, exposing his bone.

"Red," he said, "red, red, red, Bones." He didn't realize he was backing up until his back hit a wall. He darted along it searching for the shelter of a corner, "Bones, Bones, Red, Bones."

Hands pulled at him and she shouted, "RED, RED, BONES."

"I'm here," Bones crooned, running warm calloused hands along his arms and back. Bones pulled him forward and he pushed into the heat, burying his face in bones' neck. "shh now. I'm here. I'm here.

"Bones," he whispered shacking as the warmth soothed his fear away.

"No, Don't leave," Bones said but it wasn't directed at him so he ignored it. "Sit, eat, we'll be back soon."

Bones lead him out of the corner and helped him into his lap so that his butt was on the floor between Bones' legs and his knees cupped Bones' legs. He kept his face sheltered in Bones' neck. Bones rocked him a little, rubbing the alarm out of his limbs.

"Want me to take off the blindfold," Bones asked. He thought about it and then shook his head. He didn't want to see the guests. If he saw them here then he'd know tomorrow who had seen him, who knew. Tomorrow when he sat at another platform on another stage. Where he couldn't rely on strong arms to shelter him, where Red was just another color.

"Now, can you tell me what happened and why it was bad?" bones asked without censure.

"Cold," he told Bones, "cold thin boney reaper fingers, cutting me. I'm bleeding Bones!" He whimpered and Bones wrapped solid and strong arms around him, holding his pieces together.

"You're not cut, you're not bleeding," Bones told him. He felt the warmth of Bones hand wipe away the skeleton touch . He wondered if Bones wanted him to say why it was bad but Bones said, "What was the worst part? Was it the sharp nails?"

He imagined it had been a warm familiar hand with razor tipped fingers, cutting him, bleeding him. He would be safe in those hands. He could trust those hands to hurt him, if they wanted. He shook his head.

"Cold?" he imagined those trusted hands were cold, skin waxy, lifeless. He shivered.

"Thin?" he imagined those beloved hands frail and thin, boney, fragile, skin hanging from the bones. He shivered harder.

"Both?" he trembled at the image of the hands cold and lifeless, boney and frail, reaching for him, gripping him, pulling him, hurting him. He whimpered and pushed into Bones needing to feel the strong treasured hands on his skin.

"Okay, okay," Bones said holding him tight and safe. After a while, Bones squeezed his arm and leg and lifted him to his feet. Bones lead him back to the platform asking, "you doing okay?"

He nodded and said, "I don't think I want to answer the door again."

Bones laughed, "you would have liked it."

He shook his head.

"No? If you had made it to the door and back up the stairs, back to me using only my voice as a guide?"

He sighed, the way Bones panted it, it sounded nice.

"Next time," he said.

"Good, now no talking."