Thursday, January 28, 2010

Go to Bed!

Title: Go to Bed!
Authors: Rolf & Ranger

The Beast stalked after me as I fled, through the entire length of the castle to the end of the lounge where he cornered me against the French windows. I clutched the floor-length curtains for protection and glared at him, standing with his paws firmly planted on his hips, his mane tousled and his fangs distinctly visible.

"Go away," I told him, keeping the curtains between him and me. "I'm not coming."

"Gabriel, it's nearly midnight. We went up to bed at TEN … are either of us going to get any sleep tonight?"

"I told you I wasn't tired!"

"You ARE tired and you WILL sleep if you give it half a chance."


"I've had enough of that word tonight," The Beast informed me, snatching for my curtain. I wrapped it still more tightly around me.

"Leave me alone! Go away and let me be, Get off me! GET OFF ME!!"

My voice spiralled up into a screech as he grabbed me through the heavy fabric. We were locked in a moment of wild struggle with the curtain, then he whirled me out of it and picked me up. He is a lot too strong to fight off when he's feeling beastly. I couldn't get an arm free although I was thrashing around as hard as I could. The Beast dropped onto the sofa and pinned me on his lap, wrapping his arms so tight around me I couldn't move.

"Stop it. You're all right, just stop it. It's okay."

He had me so tangled up with his long limbs I couldn't move. I took a few deep breaths and tried to stop screaming. The quiet reasonability of his voice reminded me: at this hour of the night, I was probably keeping the village awake. Not to mention the fact that sleeping wasn't something that most grown men had a nervous breakdown about.

"It's okay," The Beast said again in my ear. I twisted around and struggled until he let my arms go and I could cling to him. He rocked me then, his palm cupping the back of my head and holding it against his neck, making me feel very secure.

"What am I going to do with you?" he said eventually. I buried my face deeper in his neck. He twisted me around on his lap until I could tuck my feet up, curling into a ball, and his heavy hand rubbed deeply and soothingly over my hip. "Sweetheart, you can't live on sleeping tablets. Sooner or later you're going to have to get into the habit of just going to bed and going to sleep."

"It's just a bad few months," I mumbled. The Beast grunted.

"Rubbish. When I first met you in Atlanta you used to wander around the hotel all night. I lost hours of sleep nagging you."

"Among other things."

He smiled, but still shook me slightly.

"We still have to get you into a sleeping pattern."

"No, we don't."

"Yes, we do," he corrected firmly. "And without the dramatics, the screaming or the fighting, either. There's no excuse for that and if it happens again, you'll be getting into a sleeping pattern on your stomach. Got it?"

I nodded slowly. The Beast lifted me to my feet and gave me a pat on the bottom, just a little bit too firm to be friendly.

"Then let's go back to bed."


I couldn't sleep. Naturally, my body clock ran down about 3 AM , that was the time I could doze off without the aid of a pill. The Beast chased me up to bed nightly at ten, and since he'd hidden every sleep-related medication in the castle, I was faced every night with five hours of hell. More meanly still, he dragged me out of bed at seven every morning. By the end of a week I was so tired I could barely see straight. He was going to have to admit defeat on this one, he was just plain WRONG. No matter what he did I wasn't going to be able to sleep when he said so, no one was ever going to fall asleep JUST because the Beast said, like some large, fanged Captain Picard. Make it so. I was driving him mad by fidgeting and frustration in the hours I lay awake in bed and he was losing a lot of sleep too. This was pure insanity.

"Why don't you just GIVE UP on this!" I wailed at him at two AM on Thursday morning when his snapping and snarling was on the point of reducing me to tears. He wouldn't let me get up to get a drink. He did let me go to the bathroom, but called me straight back to bed. He opened the window when I pointed out that the room was too hot, and swapped pillows with me when mine was proven to be lumpier than his. After that, his mood disintegrated noticeably. Even the magic mirror was keeping shtum by now and shaking when he looked at it.

"Because you HAVE to sleep." The Beast shook the duvet straight over us, pulled me over and held me too tight to squirm away. Since he'd tried this at least five times since ten PM , I didn't hold out much hope.

"I don't!"

"No, you mean you're determined not to," The Beast said sternly. "This is about will, not insomnia, and I'm getting very tired of it."

"You're tired of it?!" I spat, squirming. "What do you think I-"


 I jumped, fought my way out of the duvet and looked at him in shock, tears stinging my eyes. He looked right back, not in the least apologetic. I rolled as far away from him as I could get and curled up, swallowing down on the lump in my throat. His arm hooked straight back around me, yanked me close, and when I fought, his paw landed hard enough on my bottom to make me stop struggling pretty much instantly.

"Go to sleep."


I folded my arms tightly, one or two tears leaking from under my eyelashes against my will. HE thought this was so easy. HE thought all he had to do was yell and I'd jump to it like the enchanted clocks did. Well it wasn't. He was mean and unreasonable and he didn't care. I was stranded, all alone in this castle with a mean Beast who probably wished he'd never followed me to Munich airport. Just three months ago, he'd just been a VERY cute and rather growly physiotherapist with the team who seemed to think I needed mothering. Now-

- he had fangs and a tail; I'd thrown myself completely into his power and I wasn’t allowed to call my soul my own.

"All right, that's it," The Beast said, snapping the light on and yanking the duvet out of the way. I looked at him bitterly from my huddle, not blinking the tears away in case he missed them. He gripped my wrist, pulled, and the next thing I knew I was face down over his lap and he had one arm clamped around me like a vice while the other was pulling down my shorts.

"This takes TWO of us, young man. Whether you're happy with my decisions or not, your job is to trust in them. I am not going to put up with this kind of defiance and temper."

"I'm not BEING defiant, I just can't sleep!" I wailed at him, struggling in dire apprehension. It didn't get me one inch out of position.

"You're determined you're not going to be able to sleep," The Beast said grimly. "Just as you're determined this is not going to work and you're not going to give up your night owling habits. I'm NOT having that, Gabriel. Nor am I putting up with sulking and withdrawing when your behaviour is challenged. I know you're not happy about it, I don't expect you to be, but when I see that kind of sulk it tells me that all you're thinking about is how mean I'm being, and you're not thinking at all about what WE need to achieve. This is OUR job, not just mine, and if you can't see that then it's my job to remind you."

And his hand landed hard. A lot. And VERY accurately. I was already in tears, but within a minute I'd moved from self pity to crying hard and with nothing on my mind except that this hurt, that I was in trouble and Graham was angry with me.  And there was nothing in the world that made me more miserable. It wasn't by any means the hardest spanking I'd ever had from him, but I was totally incoherent and limp by the time he let me go. I more or less climbed up him, using his t-shirt as a ladder, got both arms around his neck and clung, still leaking unconnected words about being sorry and not meaning it. He held me against him and shifted back until he could lean against the headboard, and we cuddled for some time, his big hand sliding under my t-shirt to rub up and down my spine, his voice in my ear. Not words exactly, but deep, comforting sounds that got right into and unravelled the twists in my stomach. We'd travelled a whole plane journey like this once, all through the night, and in the morning I'd woken up in this bed, still in his arms. Even with a hot and very tender bottom, there was no way I'd want to be back at Munich and alone, I had no doubts about that.


He was, however, going to have to understand about this sleeping thing.

"My body clock is different than yours," I explained after breakfast. To show willing I'd actually eaten most of what he'd asked me to, and without making a fuss about it. I'd even cleared the table alone while he shaved; he'd walked back into an immaculate kitchen, and been so surprised it wasn't difficult to get him to sit down and listen to me.

"I've been used- for years- to working hard, physically, all day- I used to be SHATTERED in the evenings."

"You still didn't sleep," The Beast said unhelpfully. "You just prowled around. I chased you out of every bar in -"

"You said you'd hear me out," I pointed out, hurt. The Beast nodded, sighing.

"I'm sorry. Go on, I'm listening."

"I'm used to being tired. Now I'm not expending half that energy. And I'm younger than you; my body clock DOES work differently. And it says in all these sleep books that the worst thing you can do is lay in bed when you can't sleep, you should get up and do things and only go to bed when you're sleepy." I looked at him, making it clear I wasn't done yet while I tried to assess how this was going down. "I think we ought to try for a couple of weeks you going to bed when you're tired and I'll come up when I'm tired, and see if that doesn't make more difference than me keeping us both awake every night."

I stopped, somewhat nervous. We'd gone over this so many times I could virtually say it with him. The Beast sat for a minute, looking at his paws on the table as though his claws needed cutting, then he looked up and nodded, calmly.

"Okay. A week. And we'll see."

"And I don't have to come to bed?"


"And you ARE going to go to bed?"


I stared at him suspiciously. "Where's the catch?"

"No catch." The Beast got up and kissed my forehead as he passed. "Want to come into town with me? I thought we'd try the farmer's market this morning."

This reasonable discussion thing worked like a charm. I was going to have to try this a LOT more often.



He went up to bed at ten-thirty that night, leaving me curled on the sofa still watching a film. I returned his hug, more relaxed and happy about it being night time than I'd been for weeks.

"Sleep tight."

"And you. Don't get cold."

And he padded upstairs, without another word. I'd been waiting for the list of don'ts, I knew them well. Quite content without them, I watched the end of the film, which took me to about eleven PM . There was nothing else on the TV worth watching, I flicked through the channels for a while, then snapped the set off and wandered into the kitchen. There was the remains of a cold pizza in the fridge. That was something the Beast had insisted I would like, and something which in time he might well prove right about.  I took a couple of slices and poured myself a coke which I took with me back into the hallway. The castle was big enough to wander around for some time without getting bored. Several dust-sheeted rooms which we never used but which had their own particular features. One had a large, carved chess set which I settled down to fiddle with while I finished my coke. Through that door was the gallery- the big, empty room the Beast had cleared for me to practice in. Not that I did much of it. Where was the point? I balanced the coke glass on the windowsill and climbed up beside it, looking out over the garden. Wet and cold, that about summed it up. And dark. And spooky. Shivering, I pulled the curtains to cover it and snapped the light on.

I played for a while on the open floor, not working or following any routines, just tumbling, which I'd always enjoyed. Fast, strong, accurate and satisfying. There wasn't the room here to do a long series, but I tried several combinations that had been in my repertoire for years- old ones I remembered landing lightly and easily with no effort at all. I wasn't as flexible as I had been. I spent awhile trying to warm up muscles that used to be well-disciplined and cooperative and in the end went out to the hallway to the stairs, moving quietly to let the Beast sleep. Five or six times I stood on my hands on the third or fourth step up and tried to find the flexibility in my back to fold over onto my feet rather than be forced to make that slight spring to compensate. It wasn't there. My back was aching and my stomach hurt by the time I gave up and crept upstairs. The Beast was sprawled face down on the bed, the duvet over his hips. I crawled up the bed, patting his shoulder tentatively.

"My back hurts."

"Why?" the Beast said sleepily, without opening his eyes. I flopped down beside him.

"It’s stiff. I can't move like I used to."


He was a physiotherapist, he knew about these things. The gentle snore I got was not filled with expertise or even basic comfort. I slid off the bed and went back downstairs, cold and still aching.

That kind of flexibility took hours of practice every day to maintain- that's what he usually said. And that beyond a certain age it was a daily battle to prevent the body hardening into its adult form, bones fusing into place- the body was not meant to do the contortions you were awarded medals for.

It didn't have the same impact unless he was saying it.

It wasn't even midnight yet.

I went back into the kitchen and made myself a mug of coffee to ward off the chill. Then sat in the lounge, looking at the video cabinet. I had a complete set- every televised championship I'd ever performed at since I was fourteen. Right up to the dismal failure at Munich this year.

It wasn't a good idea. I knew it, but the temptation was strong.

In the end I opened the cabinet.

The Beast was still asleep when I landed on the bed, furious.

"WHERE are the videos?"


"MY videos!" I said louder, not caring if he was asleep or not. The Beast rolled over, rubbing his eyes.

"Put away. You're not going to torture yourself with those all night."

"They're MINE-"

"Gabriel, get into bed and go to sleep, or go downstairs," The Beast said in no uncertain terms. "One or the other. If you don't want to sleep, that's fine, but I need to."

Abashed, I left him in peace and went back downstairs.

My head was starting to thump when I curled up in front of the TV, I felt faintly sick and my back ached with overstrained muscles. There was nothing on that I wanted to watch. The whole world was subdued, quiet and dull, or else ugly and frightening like the films running quietly on the alternative channels. Totally miserable I picked up the remote and snapped the TV off. I was shivering; the heating had clicked off about an hour ago. At least upstairs I could hear the Beast's deep and steady breathing, he was there and the room was warmer. Maybe I could draw the curtains enough to read. Or maybe it was better just to curl up and be miserable up there where at least I could see him. I pulled myself together and slid off the sofa, heading for the stairs.

The Beast was sitting halfway down them, barefoot and pyjamaed.

"Tired yet?" he said lightly, holding out his arms to me. I ran up the stairs and buried myself against him, feeling his arms close around me tight and the heavy pressure of a kiss dropped on my head.

"Did you really think I could go to sleep without you?"

"I feel awful," I said unhappily. The Beast nuzzled at my ear, kissed what he could reach of my face and pulled me to my feet.

"What did you eat?"

"Pizza- and coke-"

"And coffee," The Beast said, snatching another kiss to check. "All the things I tell you not to at bedtime. Come on, come and get warm."

The bed had never seemed so inviting. There was nothing lonely or frightening about the darkness of our room. I shivered, huddling closer against the Beast for his warmth and he pulled the covers closer around us both.

"I'm tired," I confessed, very quietly. The Beast snorted.

"No kidding."

"What if I can't sleep?"

"It’s very easy." The Beast shifted us both into a more comfortable position and settled down beside me, big and heavy and his breathing slow and sure. "You let me do the worrying and you just do what you're told. There's nothing you need to think about until tomorrow. Nothing you need to do until tomorrow. Stop thinking about it and find something nice to concentrate on instead."

There was a moment of peace and calm while I considered that, then the Beast laughed and wrapped his arms tighter, imprisoning my hands.

"NOT that, you little horror."

~ The End ~

Copyright Rolf and Ranger 2010

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