BONUS CHAPTER: A FAIR AND UNBIASED OUTLOOK ON BRAD
Is Brad really the devil Steven makes him out to be, or is he simply a misjudged character that's gotten the short end of the stick, so to speak?
Let's examine the facts and remove Steven's personal bias from the equation before attempting to make heads or tails of this heavily debatable character.
Brad's past and upbringing remain shady at best.
We know he was one of Nick's closest friends in high school and can safely assume that he must've been very popular with the girls and the other jocks.
Steven never gave us any specifics about his early relationship with Brad. But from what we can gather, Brad was most likely part of the jocks who merely tolerated Steven's presence because of his affiliation with Nick.
Brad can count Nick as being among his closest friends, and even today - after this latest altercation over Jeremy's custody - the two remain on speaking terms and show at least some
signs of renewal.
While Brad did
manage to make a few friends, he also made an impressive amount of enemies.
Much to Steven's satisfaction, Nick's cousin (Shawn) and Jeremy's potential new love-interest (Zack) both expressed a certain distaste for Brad.
Curiously though, Nick is not quick to abandon his friend and seems to appreciate Brad in a way that his peers and fellows do not.
Let's take a look at Brad's role in this little fiasco of ours.
Brad was a key player in Steven's initial kidnapping last year.
But he was hardly the only one. Nick was just as guilty, if not more so.
Strangely, Steven apparently forgave one of his kidnappers while holding the other one fully accountable for his actions. Of course, it doesn't help that he had a low opinion of Brad to start with, but from an outside standpoint, Nick's position is even LESS defendable than Brad's in this instance.
At least Brad didn't betray his friend, kidnap him, drag him into the woods against his will and agree to share him with another dude. Those were all Nick's actions! Yet our big, blond Alpha apparently get's away scott free.
Brad has demonstrated time and again just how crafty and resourceful he can be.
He not only managed to convince his buddy to share Steven with him, but he also managed to temporarily drive a wedge between those two and later on, successfully snares himself a cute little nineteen year old kid in the hopes of finally getting a taste of that power he's been lusting after for so long.
His short reign over Steven painted a slightly different picture than what you would expect though.
He was hard, iron-fisted and a little rough around the edges.
But probably not quite as cruel and as mean as Steven made him out to be.
Here's an extract from Steven's own journal: Chapter 31 - The Hike
"Alright guys. Let's do this!" Nick cheered, leading the way up into the steep, densely forested terrain.
We didn't have a compass, or a GPS. But from what I understood, Brad knew these woods well.
And so we set off, Nick leading the way, me in the middle and Brad taking the rear.
The hike went relatively well.
Considering how disadvantaged I was with my hands bound up in front of me, my performance was surprisingly good. Or so I'd like to think.
To my credit, I managed not to lose my footing even once!
It's only after the first half hour that I started feeling the fatigue setting in. Nick's pace was unrelenting.
So much so that I had trouble catching my breathe and walking correctly.
Brad had overtaken me and I was now in the rear, being pulled by the leash, like some prisoner of war being forcefully dragged to the enemy camp.
I tried to groan and moan, but neither of them paid me much attention.
Only when I collapsed on my knees and let my head hang in defeat did the jocks take notice of me.
To my dismay, Brad actually showed some amount pity.
I wanted to think of him as a monster and actually wanted to continue hating him, which I still did.
Strangely enough though, Nick was the one showing me little empathy this time.
In retrospect, I should've been expecting that.
He was by far the most competitive out of the two and probably didn't want me screwing up his average kilometer-per-hour ratio.
"Already!?" the blond hunk complained, frowning down at me as I kneeled on the ground, attempting to catch my breath and calm my heart rate. I couldn't help but notice how his smooth, massive torso was glistening with sweat.
"Aw chill out, bro!" Brad snapped, quickly telling Nick to stand still so he could unzip the backpack and take out a water bottle.
I thought Brad was gonna use the leash to beat me or something, but he did nothing of the sort.
Instead, he came over to me, drank some water and crouched down next to my kneeling position before cupping my chin up and forcing me to drink from the bottle as well.
My chest heaved and I quickly lowered my gaze back to the ground after having finished the contents of the bottle.
Brad held my leash, but gave me a moment to recover while Nick stood there, impatiently waiting for me to get up.
"Thanks for nothing." I thought to myself, raising my eyes up just enough to throw the blond hunk a spiteful glare.
Nick wasn't paying attention though. He was too busy fidgeting with his fancy cardio watch, probably trying to find a way to erase this pause from his track record.
Brad eventually motioned for me to get up and even bothered checking to see if I was alright.
Ignoring the proper protocol, I nodded my head yes and kept my miserable expression angled down towards the ground.
In a final and seemingly desperate attempt to try and get Steven to capitulate and show him the respect he thought he deserved, our handsome jock decides to tie Nick's protégé up, gag him and take him out to the lake for a dip.
Brad uses this opportunity to scare his prisoner into submission and force him to acknowledge his superiority, a move that Steven apparently never forgave.
Brad's audacious strategy came full circle and slapped him right in the face when Steven later lied about the event and went crying to Nick, conjuring up a whole altercation in which Brad had threatened to rape him and abuse him.
Of course, Brad denied all of it, but Nick wouldn't hear it.
We all know what happened.
Our handsome dark prince had not only fallen victim to a lesser male's secret plotting, but he also got his ass whooped in a brawl with Nick and ended up being bound up and secured into a cruel hogtie.
For all his sharpness of mind and intellect, poor Brad never got a chance to fend off Steven's outlandish claims.
The bigger, heavier, blond hunk wouldn't have it, and promptly muffled Brad's protests by stuffing one of his socks into the guy's mouth and taping it shut.
A fitting payback for all the trouble he'd caused Steven.
Brad's thirst for power didn't end there, however.
On the contrary.
After apparently managing to snare himself an uneducated cutie from off the web, our charismatic 27 year old muscle-hunk finally gets a taste of what it feels like to be in control and dominate another person.
Something definitely wasn't working out though, and it was obvious to all parties involved that Jeremy and Brad were a poor match for each other.
Brad's iron-grasp and his desire for absolute control should've
worked out well for a kid like Jeremy. But for some reason, it didn't.
The full on, duct tape mummification ordeal Steven and Jeremy had been put through, gave us a strong presentiment that something was amiss. Instead of freeing his sub like Nick had freed Steven, Brad appeared quite content with calling it a night and abandoning Jeremy's helpless form on the living room floor.
There was also never any physical display of love between those two.
At least, not publically.
Having said that, it wouldn't be far fetched to assume that Brad probably wasn't satisfied the way his relationship with Jeremy was going. More specifically, he probably wasn't satisfied with the feeling he got from controlling a kid who was already heavily compliant to begin with.
Brad's gradual use of physical violence becomes inexcusable and deeply discouraging for fans of the character.
Even from a neutral viewpoint, it's hard to miss what a soured and deeply troubled individual he must've been.
The abuse seems to stem from his desire to feel and provoke strong reactions, both for himself and those around him.
He would not lower himself to sitting down with Jeremy and explaining what he wanted.
Such a display would've been a sign of weakness in his eyes.
His insecurity and obsession with not breaking the codified Master/Slave relationship, can easily be interpreted as a sign of low self esteem and lack of confidence.
In short, he was too proud and too insecure to step down and talk to his boi eye to eye.
And Jeremy was too confused and too inexperienced to give his Master what he truly wanted.
Instead of breaking down and expressing himself, the lad would further retract and isolate himself into the safety of his own mind, becoming less and less responsive while the guy he loved became increasingly desperate for some form of reactionary entertainment...like the one Steven provided him months ago.
His exercise of power over Jeremy must've seemed pointless, considering how utterly submissive the kid was right from the start. There was never any fighting. Never any battles to be won, or habits to be broken or built up.
Brad's expectations and desires were never made clear to us, so it's very hard to get a complete picture of what his motivations, hopes and dreams are.
Truly a grey character if ever there was one.
In your opinion, is Brad at all salvageable as person and as a Dom?
Can his relationship with Jeremy be repaired and saved?
What kind of relationship (if any) do you think Brad would be most suited to?
If you had the chance, would you go back in time and take Jeremy's place in an attempt to change Brad for the better? If so, what would you have done differently?
If you could choose THREE words to describe Brad, what would they be?