Saturday, February 13, 2010

At the Sign of the Coach and Horses


Title: At the Sign of the Coach and Horses
Author: Ranger
Characters: Nicholas Martin Hayes and Damien Guy Mitchell (esqs)
Warnings: BAD brat alert. Those easily shocked avert their eyes now.
Author’s Note: This is for the Halloween challenge- it's a rush job and I'm afraid will look it, but it's squeaked in by the deadline thanks to Rolf and his usual endless patience this afternoon. {}


AT THE SIGN OF THE COACH AND HORSES


"I'm not going." I pointed out for the fourth time.

"Mmn." Damien said sympathetically, not looking around. I curled up in the passenger seat, wrapping my arms around my knees.

"I'm not."

"Mmn."

"Don't mmn at me!"

Damien turned into the carpark and put a hand out to pat my knee. "You'll enjoy it once we get there."

"It'll be dark and cold and crowded." I said bitterly. "Yes or no?"

"Very probably."

"That is NOT a yes."

Damien parked the car on the end of the line of cars in the main carpark, flicked the headlights off- naturally he never forgets to turn his headlights off, the man was born in the image of total perfection - and leaned past me for his jacket.

"It WILL be dark. AND cold. AND crowded." I told him. "And what's worse, HE'LL be there."

"He isn't intrinsically dangerous."

"How do YOU know?" I demanded. Damien kissed me as he passed and declined to answer, in a manner calculated to make me fantasise about bouncing hard objects off the back of his head.

"Put your coat on."

I sat back in the seat, folded my arms and glared. He didn't look at me. Just got out of the car and stood for a moment, pulling his fleece on, leaving his door open wide and enabling a blast of icy October night air to enter the car. I huddled away from it, scowling at him.

"SHUT THE DOOR."

He shut it obediently. And walked around the car to open my door. I nearly - NEARLY - locked it. Before I made my mind up he pulled the door open and waited, looking encouraging. I gave him my look of Icy Disdain. He laughed, took my hand before I could wriggle away and pulled me out of the car, swatting me firmly.

"Put your coat on you stroppy article. "

I pulled on my fleece, zipped it RIGHT up to the neck and stuck my hands in my pockets, hunching my shoulders. It was FAR too cold to be out anywhere tonight, never mind anywhere that was going to involve Robin.

The pub was fairly local, the Coach and Horses. And it was draped tonight in pumpkins and orange bunting and various other trappings indicating Halloween. A small crowd of people, all fully equipped with loud and hyperactive children, were swarming around the carpark, waving sparklers by the decorations. Damien grabbed my arm and bounded into the midst of them with enthusiasm that made me think longingly of bed, hot chocolate, the book waiting on my bedside table, Anastasia sprawled out on the duvet and purring sleepily. And preferably, Damien coming home over excited and chilled from a night out. On his own.

I dragged my feet, trying to slow him down enough to see where we were walking. There was a strong smell in the air of night, and frost, and a fainter scent of bonfire smoke mixing with the rustling trees in the dark around us. There was virtually no breeze and the stars were crisply clear above the park- fogged vaguely by the lamplight from the gates and doors of the pub. It was an old one. Years ago this had been the main coaching inn on the post road to London, the wide and cobbled yard was still much as it would have been in Regency days and the pub itself was red bricked and oak beamed in the way Damien likes his pubs to be.

Two children shot past us, screeching with excitement, one busily trying to throttle the other with his woolly scarf.

"I bet you did this all the time as a child." I accused, clinging to Damien as my footing once more got lost on cobbles of the coach yard. "I bet you trick or treated and mucked around with pumpkins and chased your sister all over Northumberland parks WITH those bloody dogs in the dark on bonfire night. And burned guys. And waved sparklers. Every pagan ritual you could lay your hands on."

"Of course." Damien said cheerfully, keeping me on my feet. "Didn't you?"

"NO." I muttered. "I stayed at home, like a sensible person."

"Your parents never took you to any displays?"

"They didn't want me to have an asthma attack." I said curtly. "Through it being cold. And dark. And frosty. And smoky."

"And you throwing a wobbly?" Damien inquired. I declined to dignify that with an answer.

Although yes, my parents were often- fractionally nervous – about pressuring me into anything I was unenthusiastic about. It was something Damien had picked up on FAR too quickly and called all kinds of ugly names within about a week of us first living together.

The light spilling from the front door of the restaurant section of the pub spilled out over the cobbles and with it came a welcome warmth far more inviting than the orange paganism going on out the front.

Allen and Robin met us inside where the d├ęcor was no less virulent and halloween themed. Cauldrons and witches and Harry Potter broomsticks hung from the ceiling and several large black spiders hung over the doorway. Allen gave me a hug and smiled at Damien, leaving Robin to sneer at me in a way I suppose he thought appropriate for evening greeting. Allen was dressed as always, comfortably, looking solid and vaguely scruffy in a way that I always found endearing. Robin, frankly, looked like an escaped member of the cast of Grease. Hair gelled, collar up. Jeans and a leather jacket and a wallet come handbag in his hand that made me itch to snarl. Gucci was clearly on the label he flashed at me.

"Hi Nick."

"Good evening."

If he found that draculaic, then all to the good. I smiled back without showing my teeth.

"We got a table." Allen said, leading the way. "There's some sort of event happening at eight pm apparently, something to do with the stories of the inn."

"It was a coach." Robin said cheerfully, taking the seat at the table opposite me. Allen had chosen our seats well: we were within sight of a roaring fire in the brick grate and low beams overhead made Damien have to duck his head as he sat down.

"Presumably why the pub's called the Coach and Horses. White or red Nicky?"

"White please, medium."

Damien leaned back to give our order to the waiter.

"It was a coaching house," Robin went on, unphased, as if I didn't live with an architect who could spot a historic building at 100] paces. "For the post, this huge carriage and four that ran every day down from London. High speed. It left here one night when it was foggy-"

"- and I'll have the fish please." Damien said cheerfully, looking at me. I peered at the menu over his shoulder.

"Toad in the hole please."

"And the same for me." Allen added. Robin broke off in mid flow.

"Can I have the chicken curry? Thanks. Anyway, it was foggy and the coach left late, and it had a tight schedule to keep so on the road towards Marston Mortaine, it brought the horses up to full gallop. And at the top of Dead Man's hill by the A5 the horses lost the bend in the road and went over the edge, the carriage crashed down after them and the coachman and his outrider or whoever was killed. And they were in mid mission that night, running late, had to get the post to Woburn and Northampton by morning-"

Thriller struck up on the pub wide music system. Damien winced, accepting the wine the waiter brought us.

"I hope they're not going to try Halloween music all night, there's a limited repertoire of suitable songs."

"You listen to a vast number of very scary albums." I told him. He grinned but shook his head.

"You just have no taste-"

"THIS COACH." Robin said, louder, chattering on without taking the hint. "The two men were on this mission and that's why they're supposed to haunt the road, the coach gallops out of the gates on foggy nights in winter, and they try to hold the road and take the mail safely through."

"Very touching." Allen said calmly. "I should think this eight pm extravaganza will be something like that-"

"It's the coach arriving." Robin interrupted, "I've got a mate who works here, he told me the story. He said there are staff who've seen the coach go out of the gates- silent horses galloping. They've run cars off the road too at Dead Man's hill, people never see the coach itself, just something big and bright coming towards them and they swerve over the road edge. Makes you wonder if they realise they're dead- or if it's like some kind of recording that just replays and replays-"

I ducked as a hail of black things landed in a shower all around me, punctuated by a burst of electrical and maniacal laughter right in my ear. Several staff, all beaming happily wearing vampire teeth and cloaks, suddenly surrounded me and burst into a clapping and singing routine which effectively silenced the entire restaurant and focused every single eye on me- those I hadn't attracted by yelling in pure shock. The song appeared to be based on happy birthday and was too loud to be interrupted. I sat and gaped, shaken and highly indignant. Damien put a hand on my arm and I sat, scarlet and mortified, my heart still thumping, until they finished. Then Damien turned in his seat and thanked the staff politely, and to my relief they moved away. Feeling my face burning and my hands still shaking, I looked down and jumped again at the sight of the huge scattering of black rubber spiders all over me, the table, my lap- Damien brushed them off, his hand quick and effective, flicking them out of sight and out of reach as I leapt to my feet.

"It's allright, they're just toys. Stand up, shake them off."

I shook them off with vigour, only then realising that Allen looked annoyed and Robin was nearly tearful with laughter. It took him several minutes to respond to Allen's inquiries, by which time my heart wasn't pounding quite so much and Damien's hand on my arm had become sympathy more than restraint. It took a while before I got enough breath back and sufficient hold on my temper to sit down.

"I did," Robin admitted when he calmed down, "They always do that kind of thing for birthdays anyway and I knew they were doing some kind of halloween type thing- your FACE Nick-"

"For your information," I said hotly, "My birthday's in July and I wouldn't tell you the date under torture."

"It's allright, no harm done." Damien said steadily, giving Allen a quick glance and then looking at Robin. "Just a joke, we can take a joke."

I glowered at Robin, who promptly laughed again. Damien rubbed my knee where his hand rested and began to talk to me, intently, about Halloween type music. Allen joined in, and if Robin continued to laugh much longer I didn't get the chance to pay attention.
 Sadistic little bugger that he was.

We'd eaten our main course at eight when a town crier came through the restaurant, ringing a hand bell and declaring,

"Come ye, come ye, the Post is arriving…"

People began to move towards the yard and wide front drive of the pub. Damien got up and picked up my coat, holding it for me to put on.

"Come on, I suppose we need to see this."

"It'll be cold out there." I informed him irritably. He pulled me gently to my feet.

"It'll be fun."

"HE's out there."

"Who?"

"The wicked wanker of the west."

Despite the flow of people still leaving the restaurant I got swatted for that. Under a Damien glare I let him help me into my jacket.

"He's a PAIN, I don't know why I ever agree for us to go out like this."

Robin had already gone, Allen trailing him as he caught up with a Vampire teethed member of staff- clearly his friend- who he was chattering to. Damien put a hand on my back as we walked towards the door, rubbing discreetly.

"He's just in a very silly mood, don't let him annoy you."

"How?" I said pointedly.

"He's very young and over excited. Just try."

Grrrrr.

It was freezing outside. Damien took my hand and we drifted around the back of the crowd assembling around the gate. Pumpkin lanterns were on the gateposts, lit and flickering, and a man in huntsman's dress for no apparent reason was winding a hunting horn. A few moments later we heard the clatter of hooves, a steady trot, and a battered old coach draped in white, came into the yard behind a team of four horses, driven by two men in white shirts and trousers and suitably corpseish makeup, including blood stains. They got a round of applause and were brought a tray of drinks. A charity collection began to be taken. A fire eater- what he had to do with this I had no idea- moved forward and began to perform in front of the coach.

"Isn't that your cricket captain?" Robin asked Damien, moving back through the crowd to join us. Damien peered and nodded.

"Yes. I suppose I ought to say hello- Nick do you want to go back in? I think the exciting bit's over."

I nodded gratefully, folding my arms against the evening breeze which bit like a knife through my jacket. "I'm freezing. Do you want me to order some coffee?"

"Order whatever looks good to you. Preferably something sweet." Damien winked at me and pressed on through the crowd. I headed away from the light and bustle towards the quieter lights of the doorway. Half way there a heavy hand dropped on my shoulder. I glanced around, and nearly went through the roof at the large, blood stained and white faced man behind me, teeth fixed in a ghastly grin. Before I had time to react, or admittedly scream, he gripped my shoulders, bent and kissed me, firmly enough on the mouth to make sure that the blood all over his teeth was wiped well over me.

There is a limited response one can make in that situation, especially when initial shock turns to outrage. I wrenched my shoulders free as he released me, gave him a shove in the chest and kicked him hard in the shins. The man staggered backwards and swore, stooping to rub himself with a somewhat reproachful glance at me- and of course Robin. Who was standing behind him, still carrying that ridiculous handbag.

"Steady on mate-"

"Sod OFF!" I informed him, rubbing a hand over my mouth and getting yet more fake blood over my face. It tasted disgusting. "AND you, you bastard, I suppose you think THAT was funny too-"

"I know how worked up you get about ghosts- your crystals and witches, Allen told me." Robin's eyes glinted at me and he patted the still groaning actor.

"Sorry Pete, it's ok. He just needs a bit of a sense of humour transplant."

That was it. I'd had Robin and his half baked pranks up to here. If Damien wanted me this evening he could find me in the car, with the doors locked, waiting to go home, I wasn't spending another moment with this lunatic. Robin trailed me as I stormed across the car park, still laughing.

"Oh for God's sake- you're not going to sulk in the car are you? One little kiss, a few spiders-"

"Total bloody humiliation in front of a restaurant full of people!" I spat, pulling out the car keys. "You're a BASTARD Robin Porter, you don't HAVE a sense of humour, just a warped HOLE where it should be!"

"You can kick my shins too if you like?" he offered, grinning. That was my limit. I spun on him, not kicking out, but wrenched that shiny Gucci wallet from his hand and lobbed it out of the carpark, over the fence into the dark woodland pub garden beyond. Robin's smile promptly died.

"What did you do THAT for?"

"Guess." I snapped back. "THAT might keep you occupied and off my back for ten minutes, PISS OFF Robin."

Scowling, he jogged past the cars and in through the narrow wrought iron gate that led into the garden.

Fuming, I stalked off into the quiet of the carpark and worked on calming down slightly. When I was no longer ready to kick things, I pulled my handkerchief out of my pocket and wiped off yet more fake blood. Robin seemed to delight in finding ways to infuriate and torture me. I still didn't get how a nice man like Allen could stand to live with him, never mind some how continue to love him.

Across the carpark, Robin stamped out of the garden, brushing leaves off his handbag, and stalked without seeing me, back towards the coach and crowd. I stood and smouldered. The crowd was dispersing now, chased off by the cold. The two actors, bloody and cheerful despite their ghastly makeup, were standing by the horses, finishing their drinks. Apparently the coach was going on to Northampton, following the fateful route as part of the charity drive tonight, ending at the coaching inn the poor so and so's on the original coach would have reached. I drifted across, staying on the outside of the crowd. The coach must belong to the Royal Mail, the insignia was on the door. Although I doubted it was as old as the style suggested, it looked much like a reproduction. Too sound and too well sprung. The horses were restless and the two actors went to their heads, checking the reins. Clearly getting ready to leave. I walked around the back of the coach. And recognised the laugh. The coach door was open, a jeaned leg was swinging from the ledge, and that flaming Gucci bag was on the knee. Robin. Yattering to his staff friend- who clearly didn't have anything better to do- and lolling on the coach seat.

The huntsman stepped up to the gates and sounded his horn, and the coach swayed as the two actors mounted the box. Robin's staff friend ran to take their glasses. On pure impulse, I tapped at the closed coach door on the far side. It worked like a charm. Robin's jeaned leg disappeared into the coach as he went to investigate.

Most of the crowd was gone, and the rest were walking away. The coach was starting to move. I nipped smartly around the coach, slammed the open door shut and gave the coach a friendly slap on the side, waving to the two actors. The one who had kissed me gave me a surprised nod and wave, the other shook the reins and the horses picked up to a trot, moving at a startling speed out the gate.

It was so easy.

I stood and watched as Robin was whizzed out of sight, down the road and towards Northampton.

And then went back to the tranquil warmth of the pub.

***************************************

Five minutes in the pub bathroom managed to get rid of the last of the blood. I ordered coffee and sticky toffee pudding for four at the bar and went back to the table, where Allen and Damien were waiting patiently. Damien gave me a smile, moving to let me to my chair.

"Did you order darling?"

"Yes, they shouldn't be long." I sank into my chair and sat back. Oh the peace and tranquillity. And tried to stifle a giggle at the thought of Robin's current state of tranquillity. With luck and the wind in their ears, they'd get a fair way before they discovered their passenger.

"Did you see Robin?" Allen asked. I made a non committal noise as the coffee arrived. Damien poured one for me, passed it over and poured another for Allen and himself.

"There's still a few people out there. He'll come in when he gets cold, looks like a frost's starting."

The sticky toffee puddings were wonderful. Damien and I ate placidly, Damien purring faintly as he does over seriously good sweet things. Allen glanced several times at his watch and finally got up.

"I'm going to give him a shout."

"Good luck." I said sweetly into the last of my custard. For the first time I was aware of Damien shooting me a brief look. It was a look I recognised.

It was a few minutes before Allen came back, looking cross.

"I can't see him anywhere."

"Has he got his phone?" Damien suggested affably. Allen shook his head.

"I brought mine, I saw him put his on charge."

OH dear, poor little Robin.

Damien finished his toffee pudding and glanced to me.

"When did you last see him Nicky?"

"Around the coach when it left." I said mildly. "I believe they were finishing the run to Northampton."

"I spoke to his mate on the staff." Allen took a seat, looking increasingly irritated and now somewhat agitated. "He said one minute he was there and the next he vanished."

"Probably just distracted?" Damien said soothingly. Allen ran a hand through his hair.

"We're in the middle of dinner, he wouldn't just clear off- and I walked all around outside, there's no one left out there now. I've shouted, I've checked the car-"

Ah but had he checked the coach?

Damien gave me another, more careful look.

"Nicky, what's on your teeth?"

Um. I ran my tongue over them, but not fast enough. Damien turned my chin up and made me show him.

"Is that yours? What's bleeding!"

"It's fake." I said grumpily. "Robin made one of those stupid actors sneak up and grabbed me- he kissed me and wiped the fake blood everywhere, it tastes revolting."

"I'm sorry." Allen said wearily. "I WILL speak to him Nick, he doesn't intent to be such a pest-"

"When did that happen?" Damien interrupted, still looking at me. I looked back, keeping my face as innocent as possible. Not easy when he was giving me that stare.

"When you said to go back in and order-"

"And what did you do? Did you two have a fight?"

Silence. I looked down at the table and found Damien's hand under my chin again.

"Nicholas? Did you two have a fight?"

"No…." I said indignantly. "A bit of an argument-"

"And what was said in this argument?"

"I wasn't happy about the blood." I retorted. Damien waited. It was his harmless look. It goes on… and on… and on… I swallowed again, my mouth opening involuntarily.

"So I grabbed that stupid bag and threw it over the fence and he went and got it and I went off into the carpark to calm down, I'd had enough of him!"

"And you saw him come back out of the garden?" Damien went on as Allen got up, lifting a hand. Allen stopped. I hesitated, aware that both of them now looked concerned.

"Yes, he got it! I saw him come out ok, he was fine!"

"And where did he go then?"

I shrugged, picking up my coffee cup again. "He was hanging around the coach, chatting to that staff member he was with."

Silence. Damien took the coffee cup out of my hand and his voice was quiet but now anything but off hand.

"Nicholas Martin Hayes, take that look of impending sainthood OFF your face and tell me what you did."

How did he know? HOW did he know?!

I glared at him, taking refuge in outrage.

"What do you mean what did-"

"NICK."

It was low but extremely stern. Allen slowly sat down opposite me, but I couldn't take my eyes off Damien's. Hazel, gold in the flickering of the firelight, they were nevertheless at this moment in time looking VERY cross.

I hesitated. Damien got up, taking my hand.

"Come out to the car please, I'd like a quiet word with-"

"He was IN the coach!" I said in panic. "He was already there!"

"The post coach?" Allen repeated blankly. I nodded, still talking to Damien who was still Looking at me.

"He was sitting in there talking to the guy from the bar as they were getting ready to leave-"

"And you did what?" Damien said grimly.

This time I felt the slow heat start to burn on my cheek bones, then gradually into my forehead. They were both looking at me and waiting.

"Shut the door…."

Silence. Damien folded both hands on the table, looking at me with studied calm.

"Did you see him get out?"

Arg.

"No…" I admitted unwillingly. "The coach started up and went back on the road to Northampton…."

Further silence.

I stole a look at Allen. He looked stunned.

"I think," Damien said after a moment, with steady and deliberate calm, "That we need to find out exactly where that coach was heading. And then explain to the organisers that Robin's been mailed to Northampton."

**********************************

"What on EARTH possessed you?" Damien inquired from the foot of the stairs.

"Because he's a sod and I hate him." I pointed out from my corner.

The decanter clinked a second time. It had been a while since he'd needed two brandies during a discussion.

"Well you succeeded in scaring the hell out of him. Not to mention him being freezing cold and VERY travel sick by the time they found him."

"He deserved it." I said quietly.

Damien didn't answer. For some time I glared in silence at my stretch of wall. It had taken Damien about ten minutes to establish where the coach was going, and that the police were trailing the coach at a discreet distance to keep it safe- several phonecalls had resulted in the coach being stopped and Robin extracted, to be driven back to the Coach and Horses in a police car. Green and shivery and thoroughly indignant. By which time I'd been planted in Damien's car with death threats if I moved, and I watched Robin and Allen reunited in Damien's rearview mirror.

Allen still looked totally flummoxed, an expression that increased every time he looked at me.

"I'm not sorry." I told Damien as he reached the top of the stairs. He looked a lot less than amused, and the jerk of his head I got towards the bedroom was not promising.

"Move Nicholas."

I moved. Damien took a seat on the end of the bed, fixing me with a glare that implied insisting I was still not sorry would not be at all politic.

"Did you see Allen's face this evening? Do you think HE had a pleasant evening?"

That was a fair point. Allen clearly hadn't been happy, in fact he'd looked downright- worried? Although goodness knows Robin didn't deserve it.

"Allright, I'm sorry Allen was upset." I said mutinously. "But I'm not sorry about Robin. He'd been pushing me all evening, he started it and he was a total pain!"

"DO you go shutting people in against their will?" Damien said sternly enough that I jumped. "DO you dispose of dinner guests in mid meal? I still don't believe you actually had the audacity to do it!"

"I didn't PLAN to, it was impulse!" I argued. "And I was fed up with him!"

"Do you act on impulses when you're angry?" Damien said grimly.

Caught. I scowled, but shook my head. Damien's voice sharpened.

"Do you Nicholas?"

There is one answer to that tone and only one. I lowered my voice.

"No sir."

"You do not. NOR do you shut people in on impulse or for any other reason. You ARE going to be punished for that, sorry or not."

Arg.

I ducked my head, not happy with the glare I was getting for all I was still boiling with righteous indignation.

"HE started it- he was horrible to me all evening-"

"HE is Allen's problem." Damien interrupted shortly. "It's YOUR behaviour I care about and that is BEYOND the pale. Come here young man."

I scowled, but did as I was told. Damien drew me in between his knees and began to undo my slacks with short, brusque movements that gave away that he was not too impressed with me right now. It wasn't fair. It seriously wasn't fair.

Damien pulled me down over his lap and one arm wrapped around my waist, while his free hand tugged my shorts down with ruthless dispatch.

"It WAS his fault-" I said once more, without much hope. Damien paused, his hand resting across my backside.

"What are you being punished for Nicholas?"

"Posting Robin to Northampton." I muttered. And yelped as Damien swatted, hard.

"WHAT are you being punished for Nicholas?"

"Shutting him in." I mumbled. Damien's tone didn't soften.

"And?"

Arg. He wouldn't start until I surrendered- and there was no way this would be over until I did. I shut my eyes and gave in.

"Giving in to impulses."

"Correct. You do NOT take action affecting other people on impulse when you're angry Nicholas."

Unless they really, REALLY deserved it.

I held onto the courage of my convictions for about forty seconds after he began spanking, steadily and hard, as though he believed very much I was in the wrong.

Another thirty seconds later and I was starting to be sorry- very sorry - even if not perhaps for quite the right reasons.

I slid down to my knees, crying hard when he finally ended, blazing
and sore and trying to get one hand behind me to rub while I buried my head in his lap. Damien's arms wrapped around my shoulders for a moment, holding me warmly and firmly until I got the sobs under control. Then he helped me to my feet and reassembled my clothing, giving me a firm pat where I was still extremely uncomfortable.

"Corner please."

"Damieeeeeeeeeeeeeeen…….." I pleaded, still sniffling.

The pat this time was a little firmer and he looked still extremely
stern.

"Corner. You do NOT behave like that however justified you feel, I am NOT happy with your behaviour this evening."

It wasn't fair.

And he meant it. I could see how much he meant it. I went slowly and unwillingly to the bedroom corner and stood, sore and fed up and increasingly plaintive. I could hear Damien undressing, the sound of him winding his watch and settling on the edge of the bed to read. Which meant he was in no hurry.

Which meant he really was cross.

"He DID deserve it." I said quietly, still sniffling. "It WASN'T fair-"

"Nicholas."

"It wasn't!" I pleaded.

Damien didn't answer.

I hated him being cross with me. If he disapproved then no matter how I thought about it, I felt as though I HAD done something wrong. Really wrong. I mean yes, there is no up side to shutting someone in a coach bound for a town twenty miles away, but even when well deserved- Damien wasn't happy about it.

He wasn't happy with me.

"I'll apologise to Allen?" I offered, still more tentatively, risking a look back at him that included something of a plea. Damien looked at me over his book, still not approving.

"Thankyou, I think that would be a good idea."

"Robin had better be in trouble for mucking about with me though."

"A few admittedly annoying practical jokes do not equate with getting someone abducted." Damien said crisply.

Yes, they did.

I glared at the wall some more. My legs were starting to ache and the awareness of him behind me, still frowning, nagged at me still more than the aching muscles.

"Damieennnnnnn…" I pleaded eventually.

"Yes?" Damien said unpromisingly. I shifted my weight, tears starting to sting again.

"Allright. I'm sorry, I mean it. I shouldn't have done it and Allen WAS upset, he's probably fed up with me now- I didn't mean to, it was just an impulse and I couldn't resist it, he'd made me so mad-"

"Come here."

That was my Damien's tone. I buried myself in his arms on the bed, saying it and meaning it even as he drew my head in under his chin and kissed me, forgiven and reclaimed.

"I'm sorry. I am."

"You're going to apologise to Allen AND Robin." Damien said in my ear. "No arguments and no excuses Nicholas. And if you ever lock anyone up in anything again I'll cane you."

"I won't." I promised, meaning it. "I really won't."

He didn't say anything, just kissed the top of my head and went on holding me, warm and solid, his arms folded tightly around me in a comforting wrap.


He nudged me gently a while later and I realised I'd almost dozed off, my cheek still against his shoulder.

"Go and get ready for bed."

"Do you want me to phone Allen now?" I offered. Damien shook his head.

"It's nearly eleven."

"Ok."

Glad at the moment to be in his good graces and newly enough there to want to STAY there, I washed and changed quickly, and headed back to bed.

He'd turned off all the lights and was in bed himself, just his nightlight on and the covers turned down. I slid under them beside him, turned over and cuddled up, still sore enough to be feeling faintly pathetic. His arm wrapped again around me and he turned off the light.

"WHY does he have to be such a pain?" I said plaintively after a minute in the darkness. Damien's hand ran soothingly down my back, rubbing.

"He isn't really. You're the only other brat he knows, you're older, you're a lot more experienced than him- a lot of it purely is that he likes you."

"LIKES??" I twisted around to see his face in the dark. "HOW can you say he likes me?"

Damien lay where he was, patiently meeting my glare. "Darling, most of it boils down to trying to get your attention. He goes into over drive when you're around, it's trying to get you to take notice of him - in a convoluted way it's jumping up and down shouting 'look at me'."

I subsided back down onto his chest, thinking about that.

"I'd like him an awful lot more if he'd stop."

"He'll give up eventually." Damien said comfortingly. "He'll get tired of it."

Well we could hope. I shut my eyes, curling more comfortably up against him.

"After all," Damien mused in my ear, sleepily, "It's not as if he ever wins."

~ The End~

Copyright Ranger 2010

4 comments:

dswdiane said...

The last line is hilariously true. Thanks Ranger

Key said...

"The wicked wanker of the west." see it's comments like that keep me re-reading all your stories! lol

jen vieira pinto said...

And yet again Damien doesn't care at all that Robin was torturing Nick. Didn't do anything at all about him being humiliated in the pub even though he KNOWS Nick is shy and no care at all for what was essential a sexual harassment/assault set up by Robin. If that was done in the workplace that guy would have been fired and possibly sued. But God forbid Nick does anything in retaliation on impulse even though the crap Robin does is premeditated. Just as long as no one upsets Damien's poor pet Robin. That pisses me off so much and I really HATE Robin with a passion and I don't care for Damien often. Nick and Allen and Beth are the only decent people in this world.

Your writing is so freaking awesome to get me this worked up. It's really great to be able to feel something other than numb, even if it is annoyance. ^_^

Thanks. Heading back for more! :D

Anonymous said...

Ugh. If my s.o. ever out-and-out forced me to spend so much time in the presence of such a toxic character as Robin, he wouldn't be my s.o. for very much longer.

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