Monday, February 15, 2010

Blood on the Mountain Part 6

Title: Blood on the Mountain 
Author:  Ranger

Adam spent the following day having a variety of tests. Sara went home to sleep and Stuart waited through the scans, wandering slowly up and down green painted corridors with his arms tightly folded, and reading public information notices. One of the tests involved provoking a fit, something Stuart didn't found out until later, but which was apparently done successfully for the benefits of the scanner. Adam came out of it once more ill, exhausted and wanting only to sleep. Sara met them in the ward at four pm to find Adam dressing, heavy eyed and grey faced.
"Discharged," Adam told her, tossing her the medication they'd been issued with. The Valium tubes had finally been issued. This time he'd had no energy to fight it and Stuart had silenced him with a look before he could protest. Sara flipped the box over in her hand.
"What were the scan results?"
Adam sat down to put his boots on. "Nothing. Heightened activity, no reason. This is a phase."
"We could have told them that," Stuart added. Adam glanced at him.
"No knowing how long it will last, and until the fits are under control, adapt my lifestyle accordingly."
Grania wouldn't allow him back at that price.
Sara took her own car to follow them home, and got held up at a roundabout somewhere near the motorway. Stuart and Adam arrived at the flat first without saying very much. Adam stood, watching Stuart lock the car up, shivering slightly in the evening chill.
"Did anyone ask you if you mind about the Valium? That wasn't in the contract when we met."  
Stuart stopped and stared at him. "Don't be daft."
"Well it wasn't.! Adam said frigidly.  "True love, with a boyfriend who screams and shouts half the time and the rest needs you to stick tubes of drugs up-"
He hesitated as if he'd been bitten. Stuart felt the rush of cold to his stomach but Adam pushed his hand away and jogged down the street to a tall, dark man in his mid to late thirties who was leaning on the gatepost of the flats entry way. He straightened, caught Adam and the two to Stuart's surprise, kissed each other there on the street. Stuart followed somewhat warily, thinking over what he knew of Adam's ex-lovers, but once he saw the two men side by side light dawned. The older man had the same nose and eyes, the same grin although he was a little taller and a lot more solid than Adam. He stood comfortably with an arm slung over Adam's shoulders.
"This is Bryn," Adam said in disbelief. "My brother- Bryn, this is-"
"Stuart." Bryn held out a hand. He had a more open face than Adam; the smile had real warmth in it and there was something attractively childish about his face, which argued with shrewd and intelligent eyes. Stuart gripped his hand, somewhat reassured.  
"Sara," Adam said grimly. "She's been telling tales."
The initial joy at seeing his brother had faded. Bryn tightened the arm around him and gave him a gentle shove towards the door. "You don't know why I'm here."
"Yes I bloody do."
And this wasn't going to be pretty.
Stuart took the keys and went tactfully ahead of them to put the kettle on. It was some time before he realised the conversation behind him had drifted into Welsh. He found himself hesitating to interrupt them, but Bryn who had taken his lanky frame to prop up the windowsill in the lounge, switched straight back to English at the sight of him. 
"-worried. That's all. Ianto wanted to come too but we thought you and I might argue a bit less."
Adam smiled faintly. He was balled up in a corner of the sofa like a cat, feet under him, chewing his nails. Stuart hovered near him. Bryn cleared his throat. "We heard you'd lost your job."
"I'll kill Sara."
"She's right isn't she? If you're not fit to work- to earn-"
"Grania just want me on sick leave until it all settles down again. I'll be okay until I get the medication straight."
"I wish you'd tell us what was going on," Bryn said resignedly. "Sara told us last weekend your fits were out of control again, then last night she phoned and said you were in hospital."
 "They've topped the dosages up, that's all."
"How many a month?" Bryn asked matter of factly. "Adam? A week?"
Adam shrugged. Stuart sat down on the sofa arm beside him.
"Seven last week. Nine this week- seven in a row last night which was why he was hospitalised."
"Duw boy-"
"It's been worse than that before now, you know it has," Adam said shortly. Bryn gave him an experienced look.
"All tonic clonics?"
"We've been given Valium to stop the long ones."
"Or if he has more than two within any six hour period," Stuart added.
Bryn shook his head. "All I've got to say is you thank God Ianto didn't come to hear this."
"For God's sake," Adam said exasperatedly,  "I've been doing this for years, there are good patches and bad patches."
Bryn shrugged. "What do you make of this, Stuart? Do you work?"
"Full time. But we'd agreed I was going to take compassionate leave."
"I've had fits on my own all my life," Adam said again. Bryn looked across at him.  "But if you hurt yourself- or go into one of the big ones and don't come out of it and you're here alone? You might have told us."
Adam swore and stalked out to the kitchen before Stuart could reach to stop him. He realised belatedly he'd moved automatically. Bryn ran his hands through his hair.
"We suspected it was bad. I had no idea it was this bad. I don't think Sara really knows either."
"Its only temporary, he says he's been through this before."
"Aye, I know. And God knows he's tough, he's a damn sight more together than the rest of us."
"It's just that this is your little brother," Stuart said wryly.
Bryn smiled. "Well."
Stuart returned the smile, the last of the wariness dispelling.
"How about you and him?" Bryn said frankly. "I've got to be honest, boy; how serious are you two?"
"Serious," Stuart said flatly. Bryn smiled.
"Don't look so worried. We've known for a long time. Three boys in the house you notice these things. Two of us chasing every girl in the valley and one mooning after Tom Cruise. But if he's not earning, or if he loses his job here-"
"It's not a problem," Stuart said matter-of-factly. "Want another coffee?"
Bryn smiled and peeled himself off the windowsill. "While Adam sulks himself out? Runs in the family, Ianto's the same."
The front door shut. A loud, fast argument in Welsh exploded in the hallway. Bryn pulled a face at Stuart and pulled himself up off the windowsill.
"Sara. With language like that they'll have the paint off the walls. Want me to break it up?"


Bryn had driven over 200 miles that afternoon; there was no question that he would not stay the night with them. He had ended the fight with a simple request to Sara to stop shouting or go home. Which, added to Adam's request to remove herself back to her estate agent with all possible speed- or words to that effect- had led to her slamming the door as she exited.
Stuart fixed Adam with a glare that narrowly prevented him opening the door and continuing his instructions for her exit. Balked of his prey, Adam left Bryn flicking through the tv channels on the remote and followed Stuart into the kitchen where he hung both arms around his waist and rested his chin heavily on Stuart's shoulder. Stuart put down the saucepan he was filling with pasta, turned the gas ring off and twisted inside Adam's arms to hold him. He felt thinner. Cold and fragile and tired to the bone. Stuart tipped back his chin and took in his shadowed eyes with a tightening stomach.
"You ought to be in bed."  
"I haven't seen Bryn in months and he'll go home tomorrow morning."
Will he?" Stuart said shrewdly.
Adam touched his face. "Bryn knows he can't make me do a damned thing. What's more, I know Bryn and he wouldn't try. Nothing to worry about."
They had everything to worry about. Adam stretched up to kiss him before he could argue.
"Bryn'll be knackered, he'll go to bed in an hour or two. He'll have been up since five."
"You're not much better."
Adam pulled a face. Stuart pushed his hair back off his forehead.
"How do you feel?"
"Okay." Adam rolled his eyes at Stuart's look. "OKAY. Headachy, tired, that's all. Stu, I'm not spending the next six weeks in bed, I can't just give in to this."
And now was not the time to start an argument. Stuart let him go with a gentle swat.
"Go and sit down at least. Keep your brother company."
Adam went but paused in the doorway, grimacing at the pasta Stuart once more began to prepare.
"Don't cook for me, I'm not hungry."
"That's what you said when they tried to give you breakfast and you slept through lunch."
"I'm still not hungry."
"Tough," Stuart said simply and went on filling the pan with water, taking no notice of Adam behind him until a mutter told him Adam had given up and gone.
Stuart left him to his brother and took some satisfaction in the mechanical and methodical actions of cooking. It was the first time in some hours he had had a chance to let go of the stress and panic of the last 24 hours and it left him drained and feeling not in the least prepared for the battle he sensed was ahead. Adam might be very well used to getting his own way as the youngest of a large family- but if Sara was any gauge of their protectiveness towards him, Bryn might turn out to be a more formidable opponent than he looked.

Adam was asleep in the armchair by the window, his head hanging in a way that suggested he had not chosen his position intending to sleep. Stuart winced. Bryn glanced up and accepted the plate from him with a nod of thanks.
"He looks shattered."
"They did an MRI scan this morning. They didn't tell me at the time, but part of the test was to provoke a fit, and he only had an hour or so's sleep afterwards," Stuart said bluntly. Bryn grimaced.
"Did you get the results?"
"Nothing. The most sensible suggestion was that he's grown used to the medication and needs changing over to another drug, and it'll be awhile before things settle down again. He's so methodical about taking them there's no danger the dosage hasn't been right or the schedule not consistent."
"Yes. He's always been careful," Bryn said dryly. "Sometimes you'd think he needs no one else on the planet. Not like Sara, she was far harder work as a kid than him."
Stuart put a hand on Adam's shoulder. He woke with a jerk and with a dazedness about his face that Stuart hated, and it took a few seconds to clear. He shook his head at the plate in Stuart's hand.
"I told you I wasn't hungry."
"You haven't eaten all day." Stuart held out the plate, expecting him to accept it. Adam got to his feet and stretched, heading for the window.
"No thanks. Are you STILL driving that wreck, Bryn?"
"I knew you'd take it apart at Christmas and go over it with a toothcomb," Bryn said mildly. "Ianto was hoping you'd go over to the auctions at Merthyr at some point, he's looking for another ATV."
"Adam," Stuart said quietly. Adam glanced at him. Stuart caught his eyes and held them.
"If you're going to take the painkillers they prescribed, you ought to take them now; you were supposed to have them with food."
For a minute he thought Adam would refuse. Then he scowled and went into the kitchen. Stuart followed him, dropping his voice below Bryn's earshot.
"Adam, I want you to eat. And I'd think if I were you before you answer."
"I'm not hungry and I feel sick," Adam said savagely, cracking the seal on the bottle of painkillers. Stuart watched him fill a syringe with the required amount and drink directly from it, pulling a face at the taste.
"Nevertheless I want you to eat. Adam, think."
The warning paid off. For a few seconds. Adam's scowl didn't change, but the answer was angry and deliberate.
"Right," Stuart said calmly. "I'll ask your brother if he'd mind going down to the Coach and Horses for an hour-"
Rebellion, followed by dismay crossed Adam's face in the space of  that sentence and he grabbed for Stuart's arm at once.
"Stu- don't, please- I'm sorry."
Stuart looked at him. Adam flushed, looking still more tired and miserable.
"I really don't want to eat anything, I'm not hungry."
"I know," Stuart said gently. "But some of why you don't feel well is that you haven't eaten all day and you've got no energy. All I want is for you to try."
"I'm sorry." Adam said again, less certainly. Stuart pulled him close and held him, stroking his neck and back as Adam clung to him.
"It's all right. It's all right. We are going to talk about that 'no', but that can wait until Bryn leaves tomorrow. Come and eat, and then you can get some sleep. It's going to be fine."
"I feel like hell."
"I know." Stuart kissed his forehead and silently damned Bryn. "Come on, baby."


He was woken in the night by the now familiar gasp and cry that warned him even before he felt Adam go rigid beside him. Stuart leaned over and switched the light on, pulled Adam onto his side and held his head, glancing at the clock. The jerks like last time, were harsher than they used to be, but short lived. About a minute later Stuart heard a tap at the door and Bryn opened it, looking apologetic in t-shirt and shorts.
"Sorry, I heard-"
"He's all right," Stuart said with more calmness than he felt. Adam was already relaxing under his hands, but his heart was thumping under Stuart's hand and Stuart was aware of his own heart hammering in sympathy. Bryn nodded, eyes on his brother.
"Wondered if you'd need the valium."
"He's okay." Stuart settled back a little, watching Adam's colour come back. "I think he'll just go straight back to sleep again. It's if he has more than two then I'll worry." 
"Are YOU okay?"
Stuart glanced up and Bryn reflected back his look of disbelief with a faint, wry smile.
"Yeah, I know. One of his teachers at school had a daughter with epilepsy, and he said he could watch Adam fit with nothing more than professional concern. If it was his daughter he started sweating and shaking every single time, even though he knew there was no reason to worry."
"Want some tea?" Stuart got to his feet with a last glance at Adam. His colour was back, he was nothing more than asleep now. Bryn sat on the edge of the bed, watching his brother while Stuart boiled the kettle and carried two mugs back. On the street outside a gang of kids were noisily playing football, unaware of the fact it was two am . Bryn accepted the mug with a wry nod at the window.
"Is it always this noisy around here?"
"Pretty much." Stuart leaned on the windowsill, half an eye on the match outside. "Don't usually notice it."
"Nothing but sheep to hear at home." Bryn swallowed tea, eyes on his brother. "You should come with him at Christmas. Get away from all this racket."
"I thought you came up here intending to take him home now," Stuart said evenly. Bryn shrugged, unrattled.
"I came mostly to see what state he was in and that he could look after himself."
"And he can't at the moment," Stuart said calmly. "But I can."
"Aye. If he'll let you." Bryn gave him another of those faint smiles. "I know our Adam. And I know how worried Sara's been."
Stuart didn't answer that. Bryn got up.
"Thanks for the tea. I'll go back to bed, let you sleep if you can through this row."
He glanced at Adam before he left. Stuart sat beside him as the door closed and put a hand over his chest. His heart was beating quietly and steadily and he stirred at the touch. It was still a long time before Stuart could make himself turn the light out.


He woke to find Adam gone, and to hear the bath running next door. Stuart leaned around the door and Adam smiled, the shadows gone from his eyes and some life back in his face.
"I think you'd be better staying out until Bryn's left, love…."
Stuart smiled back, but shook his head. "No. Just reminded me. The hospital said you'd be better having showers, not baths, and leave the door open."
Adam's face changed instantly and Stuart regretted the change, but said before Adam could retort,
"Yes, please. It's safer."
"That's ridiculous!"
"It's that or you wait until I can stay with you."
There was a long silence. Then Adam muttered something under his breath and turned the shower on. Stuart went into the kitchen in search of breakfast, well aware this was the first of several changes they were going to have to make. The fire and the stove both needed guards while Adam was at risk of falling against them. The doors opened inwards in most of the rooms which meant he was at risk of falling against them and blocking anyone reaching him to help if he needed it. There had been other things on the list- not handling kettles or saucepans, blocking the radiators so he couldn't fall against them, looking for sharp corners and surfaces he could hurt himself on. Not letting him eat or drink anything hot without the protection of sitting at a table. The more Stuart thought about it, the more he thought they needed to rearrange the furniture in the lounge and living room to make it safer. All of which Adam was going to love. 
He took his coffee across to the computer and flicked it on, intending to check his mail. The two mails in the box raised a brief sense of guilt. Mitchell@N... mails stretching over three days. The second was brief and concerned.
Not wanting to bother you, but I'm hoping your time in responding is due to a long weekend and pleasant circumstances, and Adam is well. Although I suspect the hope is probably unrealistic. If we can help at all, please let us know.
We're both thinking of you.
Stuart sighed and opened a fresh mail.
Thanks for your mail. We ended up in hospital the day before yesterday. Adam went into status- a fit he didn't come out of- and needed emergency drugs to stop it. We spent most of yesterday going through tests and scans, none of which have told us anything useful, and we came home to find his brother on the doorstep which isn't helping at all. Can I ask a personal question? How on EARTH do you handle Nick when there are other people in the house?
Adam's okay. Just very tired and very fed up. We're going to have to make a lot of changes to the flat, and he's not going to be happy about most of it. At the very least he isn't safe to be alone. His family is naturally very concerned but its hard enough managing things between ourselves, never mind with added complications.
I haven't spoken to Nick for ages- I will try to get on to the net at some point this evening, and at least leave him a mail.
Take care,
 Stuart hit the send button and sat back in his chair, raising his voice. "Adam?"
"I'm FINE," Adam snapped back from the bathroom. Stuart ignored the tone and skimmed through the rest of his mail, deleting the junk. Adam emerged before he had finished, hair wet but as immaculate as his clothes.
"Breakfast," Stuart said automatically. Adam pulled a face.
"I'm warning you, Bryn won't eat your wholemeal bread and cereal."
"Bryn can eat whatever he likes." Stuart put a couple of slices of bread in the toaster and watched Adam sort out his morning medication. "How are you?"
"Fine. Headache."
"I was thinking about the changes we need to make to the flat." Stuart leaned back against the counter. "You've done it before, I wonder if we should make a list."
"We don't need to."
"We do. If you're getting no warning, if you're likely to have a lot, we need to make the place safer."
"It's easy. I have showers not baths, like you say, I don't pick up anything hot and that's all," Adam said shortly. Stuart pulled a pen and paper out of the kitchen drawer.
"Fire and stove guards. The consultant said that much. Look at moving the furniture, cover the radiators-"
"That ISN'T necessary!"
"It is, Adam. You don't need any more black eyes and split lips from falling against things."
Adam straightened up from the counter, grabbed his coat off the rack behind the front door and Stuart caught his wrist before he could open the door.
"Where are you going?"
"Out!" Adam tried and failed to get his wrist free. Stuart took the coat away and pulled him back into the kitchen.
"Ad. I know you're upset-"
"You don't!"
"I do," Stuart said quietly.  "And however much you walk away from it, the problem won't go away. This is a temporary problem, we can handle it, it's short term."
"What if it isn't?" Adam said hotly.
"It's only a matter of getting the drugs right. We only need to be sensible for a while. That's all."
"I don't WANT to start messing around with the flat-"
"We're going to have to," Stuart said firmly. "I'm sorry, love. I really am, I know this is horrible for you but you need to be safe."
Adam pulled away from him and folded his arms, tight. Stuart gently untangled them, breaking his defences.
"Ad. All we need to do is take precautions- rearrange the furniture, get some guards. It won't affect anything you do."
"You might as well hang signs all over the flat!" Adam said bitterly. Stuart ran his hands over his shoulders and squeezed them.
"You can't ignore it. Would you rather pretend it wasn't happening and take the risks? Because I wouldn't. I'd far rather you were safe."
"I AM safe," Adam said stubbornly. Stuart shook his head.
"I'm sorry, but we are going to do everything I can think of that's going to stop you being hurt or in danger. You can't expect me to do anything else. Can you?"
Adam didn't look up. Stuart saw movement in the doorway, glanced up and saw Bryn leaning there, arms folded, brows drawn together. He straightened up as Stuart saw him.
"I thought I'd give you a hand turning the doors around before I go. That's the toughest job."


In the event Bryn stayed until noon, an efficient pair of hands in changing the hinges and in shifting the furniture. It was well apparent from his knowledge that this was a task he'd done before. Adam stayed off the boil throughout the morning, but remained pale, grim-faced and when forced to speak did it one or two word answers. Bryn gave him a crushing hug when he left, shook hands with Stuart and the only thing he said was addressed to them both.
"We're always on the end of the phone if you need us."
And there appeared to be no other string attached.
Adam turned on his heel and went back inside as soon as the truck was out of sight. They ate silently, sitting at the table. Or rather Stuart ate. Adam sat without ever lifting his eyes from his plate. Stuart watched him with sympathy, but the more he thought about it, the less he thought was to be gained by supporting Adam in evading the issue.
"All we need now are guards," he said when they finished eating. "Maybe the retail park would be a good place to look."
Adam pushed his plate away, heat rising into his chest.
"I'm finished."
"Where are you going?" Stuart said calmly. Adam got up, heading for the door.
Stuart's hand snagged over his wrist.
"Ad, there's no point in fighting with me."
"I SAID I was going jogging. I'm a legal adult, there is NOTHING you can do to stop me."
Stuart pulled Adam around the table and down into his chair.  
"You know why I'd stop you. We're not getting into this."
Adam took a good grip on the table and pushed.
The table crashed to the floor. The china spread still further and wider with a better crash. Adam folded his arms and looked at Stuart. Stuart tipped his chair back and put his water glass carefully down on the bookcase.
"Okay. For a start you can pick the table up. Then you can sort the china out, and then we'll talk."
"Go and fuck yourself," Adam said precisely. Stuart put a hand over Adam's wrist and brought him to his feet.
Adam wrenched in his grip. Stuart released him at once, gripped his arm and swatted him firmly.
"That's enough. Table. Right now."
"Make me." Adam taunted. Stuart's face didn't change but his eyes got a great deal more certain. He pointed to the nearest corner to the overturned table.
"Okay. You can stand there until you feel like picking it up. We've got nowhere else we need to be today."
Adam didn't move. Stuart sighed and once more took hold of his arm.
"Adam, move. Stand there and cool down, that's all I want you to do, then we'll deal with this-"
"You can deal with whatever you fucking like, you are not fucking touching me!"
Adam wrenched out of his grasp and kicked out, hearing Stuart's gasp of agony with open satisfaction. The already smashed china fractured still further in response to another solid kick at the table which skidded a foot or two on the carpet, then Stuart's hands gripped his upper arms like steel.
"Okay, that's enough."
What was he doing sounding so damned quiet about this? What on earth did it take to make Stuart Hutton scream? Adam jerked Stuart closer, trying to throw him over his shoulder but he only let Stuart get an arm around his chest and another around his neck, pinning him still.
"NO, Adam. We are not getting into this"
"If you think I am EVER picking up that fucking table you have another think coming! If you want it off the floor, you fucking do it!"
Stuart didn't answer. Adam twisted, hearing the reasonability in his silence and hating it to new heights of emotion. He could move nothing from the waist upwards. Stuart evaded his kicking feet with silent skill, dragged him clear of the china and put his back to the wall. One sweep of his leg hooked both of Adam's out from under him. Stuart slid down the wall to sit with Adam still locked in his arms, out of reach of anything to kick or overturn. When Adam thrashed, he hooked both his ankles over Adam's weighting them down, folded Adam's arms across his body and pinned his wrists. His voice was still calm.
"Its all right. When you're ready I'll let you go and we'll talk about it. Until then, you're staying here with me and you're going to-"
"Fuck you!" Adam said passionately. Stuart continued as if he hadn't spoken.
"-work on calming down. It's okay."
"FUCK YOU!" Adam screamed so loudly tears came into his eyes with the physical effort, "FUCK YOU, STUART! ARE YOU LISTENING TO ME? FUCK YOU!!"
"Say it a few more times if it makes you feel any better, you're not moving until you calm down," Stuart said matter-of-factly. Adam fought against his grip for a few minutes and had to acknowledge the truth of that. He shut his teeth and forced his body to be still.
"So I'm calm."
"That's being still, not calm. When you calm down I'll let you go."
Adam kicked out with all his strength. Stuart was not just the stronger, he was larger and heavier and there was no way he was moving. He didn't even manage to inflict any bruises. Adam collapsed back against Stuart, out of breath and so angry he couldn't swallow. There was nothing he could use except his voice and he used that with all the strength and volume he could summon up to sing the most obscene of the rugby songs he knew at the top of his lungs. He'd reached the second line when Stuart shifted his grip and put a hand over his mouth. Adam struggled to bite that hand and found it as unreachable as it was determined. He found himself sobbing from sheer rage and felt Stuart's face against his, his voice soft and soothing just as though they weren't locked in some nightmare combat the like of which normal people never indulged in.
"Okay. Shhhh, easy, honey. Easy, it's okay. It's all going to be fine."
You bastard. Adam said silently behind the slowly releasing hand. You bastard, let me go.
It was nearly forty minutes before Stuart released him. Adam shifted and lay down in amongst the shattered crockery, folding his arms behind his head. Stuart leaned his elbows on his knees to look at him.
"Are you feeling any more like picking that table up?"
"I am never picking that fucking table up," Adam said flatly. "I'm getting out of here. I'm packing a bag and I am getting so fucking far out of here, even I won't know where I am. You can tell Grania fucking enterprises what they can do with their fucking job and then you can shack up with Damien or Bryn or whoever the hell you want because I am going to be fucking history."
"Right," Stuart said mildly. "And then you're going to pick that table up, we're going to get the crockery off the carpet and I'm going to put you to bed for a couple of hours."
"DON'T YOU FUCKING TALK TO ME LIKE I'M THREE!" Adam screamed at him. Stuart ducked the hurled cup, reached over and trapped Adam's wrists.  
"Then show me a man I can talk to. Until I see one, I'm going to keep dealing with the kid throwing this tantrum."
Adam bit at him. Stuart pulled him around and once more put his back to the wall, wrapped Adam up in his arms. Adam once more began to sob, hearing his own voice wander out of control.
"Get OFF me!"
Stuart sighed. Oddly enough, there was no sense of what do I do now. No even fleeting thought of, is anything else going to happen this afternoon. He was calm, committed and focused, without interest in anything else but Adam.
"You're not going to hurt yourself or me, Ad. When you're finished, we'll straighten this out. Until then, I'm going to handle this and it's going to be all right."


Adam was face down on the carpet, face on his folded arms. Stuart was still sitting with his back to the wall, elbows on his drawn up knees.
"You know I didn't eat anything?" Adam said spitefully into the silence. "Aren't you worried the medication will get out of balance and I'll have a fit? One of the f things?"
"I can clear a space around you," Stuart said without moving. "There's the rug over the chair there. I think you'll be all right and the diazepam is in the kitchen if we need it. Then when you're feeling better, we can go back to getting this table picked up."
"What is with you and this fucking table!" Adam demanded. "It's just a table! Just one fucking little table!"
"Ad, you're not going to throw things around in our house. Not today, not ever. And what you DO throw, you're going to pick up. And if it breaks, it takes even longer to pick up."
"Did you learn somewhere to be this much of a bastard? Was there a course you took somewhere or something?"
"Why don't you pick up the table and we can get on with the rest of the day," Stuart said mildly. Adam spat at him.
It took a lot of effort and resulted in a blob of spittle on the carpet about equal distance between them. Stuart tipped his head against the wall to look more closely at the picture hanging above the wreckage on the opposite wall. Adam turned his head and went back to staring at the carpet.


There had been no need to tell Stuart anything. Adam had made one uncoordinated scramble for his feet and suddenly Stuart had had an arm around him, had got him through to the kitchen and supported him while he threw up into the kitchen sink, not just once but over and over until his stomach was completely empty and every muscle was pulled. Stuart let his head go and reached up to take a glass out of the cupboard, turning both taps on full. Adam gulped on water, his eyes yet again filling with tears. Partly to do with physical discomfort, partly feeling more wretched than he ever had in his life.
"I told you!" he said without logic or provocation. "Now I'm ill and what do you care?"
"I care a lot and you're not ill. You're too tense and you've been shouting and crying all afternoon, that's why you were sick." Stuart took the glass from him and once more stroked his hair out of his eyes. "Are you finished?"
Adam nodded, exhausted, wanting nothing more now than to escape to bed. Stuart took his shoulders, steering him through the kitchen door. Adam balked hard as Stuart once more returned him to the shattered china and overturned table, dissolving into tears of helpless outrage.
"No! No Stu, it's NOT fair…"
Stuart caught him, held him as Adam turned and got both arms around his neck, almost as much in a plea as for comfort. "NO! Damnit I was just SICK, leave me alone!"
"When you do as I ask and pick that table up," Stuart said calmly. "That's all you have to do."
"No!" Adam found himself crying properly, harder now than he could bear or control, and his arms tightened and wound around Stuart's neck as though he was afraid of someone taking him away. "No, no…"
"Baby, you're going to pick it up."
Even to Adam's ears, it sounded pathetic now. Stuart sounded less than concerned above him, just quiet and calm and very convinced.
"Yes. Come on."
Adam started to cry in earnest as Stuart detached his arms from around his neck, turned him and steered him towards the table. Both hands over his wrists, Stuart pushed him down until his hands reached the overturned table on the floor, and there was no point in fighting any further. Too blind with tears and distress to know or care what he was doing, Adam gripped and pulled and felt the heavy wood rock upright. Then Stuart turned him around, pulled him close and picked him up, carrying him across to the sofa. He sat down with Adam in his lap and Adam clung to him with all his strength, sobbing so hard he was in serious danger of throwing up again. Stuart stroked him, his back, his hair, murmuring words that Adam couldn't hear, but he was constantly aware of Stuart's voice. Quiet, calm, very gentle.

Copyright Ranger 2010


Anonymous said...


bean-montag said...

Hi there,

I was introduced to your stories by a rec from 1more_sickpuppy at livejournal (she recommended Fleur De Lys, which was just excellent and absolutely beautiful, in my opinion). I've been picking through a few of the others and am so far really enjoying this one especially. I appreciate the elements of h/c combined with domestic discipline, and both characters. I do hope you're able to update it soon, you have so many completed stories that I was sadly surprised to find no link at the end of this chapter. ;) On the upside, though, that just gives me more opportunity to read what else you have.

Thanks for sharing the stories and putting them up on this new site (I heard the previous one had an issue with a virus?). Best of luck with your writing and again I hope to see more soon,


Anonymous said...

I have read Blood on the Mountain three times over the years to the end of chapter 6. It's well worth reading to this point, but I live in eternal hope that one day it will continue and Adam and Stuart can have their sorry told in full. Sighs!
Cathy S

Most of the artwork on the blog is by Canadian artist Steve Walker.

Rolf and Ranger’s Next Book will be called The Mary Ellen Carter. The Mary Ellen Carter and other works in progress can be read at either the Falls Chance Ranch Discussion Group or the Falls Chance Forum before they are posted here at the blog. So come and talk to the authors and be a part of a work in progress.

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