Saturday, February 13, 2010


Title: Glasses
Author: Ranger

"Daig. Please come down."
Dagan folded his arms and declined to answer. It was childish, admittedly, but he didn't feel very inclined to be grown up.
The older of his two friends and lovers leaned on the banister at the foot of the stairs and looked up at him. Dagan glared back, determinedly unswayed by soft, blue eyes.
James held out a hand to him. Dagan folded his arms tighter.
"It isn't actually my fault you know? Or Gordon's?"
Dagan didn't answer. James sighed and straightened up. "Allright. I'll be in the garden if you change your mind."
Dagan scowled at the hall, listening to the mower starting up outside.
GORDON wouldn't leave him to sit on the stairs.

~*~ ~*~ ~*~ 
Actually Gordon took one look at him from the doorway, before heading straight upstairs, his rather chiselled face instantly concerned.
"Daig? What's up?"
"Nothing." Dagan said into his arms. Gordon sat down beside him, running a hand over his shoulders.
"What? What's that face in aid of?"
Dagan pulled a piece of paper out of his pocket and pushed it into his hands.
"Look at that."
"What is it?" Gordon unfolded it, frowning. Then sighed. "Oh."
"Yes, oh."
"Well you needed it done, love." Gordon hooked a heavy arm around his shoulders, pulled him close and kissed his hair. "Come on. It's not the end of the world, get yourself out of those clothes and let's go for a run before tea."
"I won't be able to run much longer." Dagan said bitterly. Gordon got up and pulled him to his feet.
"Rubbish, you won't need them for running."
"I don't need them at all!"
Gordon looked with sympathy at Dagan's scowling and miserable face, and turned him towards the upper storey with a gentle swat.
"Go on. Quick. I'll tell James where we're going."
He waited until Dagan was upstairs before he went out into the garden, yanking the knot of his tie loose. James glanced up from the mower, turned it off and pushed his thinning hair back from his eyes.
"Seen Daig?"
"Yes. Hi." Gordon gave him a quick kiss hello and passed him the prescription. "You were right then."

"Unfortunately." James glanced up at the window of Dagan's room, flinching as his stereo started. Blasting out something loud and heavily percussive. Dagan, fed up with James, usually took refuge in heavy drum solos as the most offensive sound possible to someone whose height of musical taste was Peter, Paul and Mary. Gordon patted James' shoulder, heading back to the house.
"It's okay, I'll go. We're headed out for a run, that usually calms him down. You got him to have the test. You've done the hard bit."

James privately doubted that, but didn't argue. He restarted the mower and returned to neat stripes of the lawn, sighing in relief as the stereo cut out as abruptly as it had started, returning the garden to it's usual state of tranquillity. 

~*~ ~*~ ~*~ 
"Got ANOTHER headache?" he'd asked on Friday night when he came home to find Dagan poking at a saucepan on the stove where cheese sauce was curdling into a lumpy, discoloured mess.
Dagan hunched his shoulders, poking harder. It was an unwritten rule that whichever of them got home first started the evening meal. It was a chore that fell mostly to James; it was unusual for Dagan to make it home before him. James dropped his keys on the table, wrapped both arms around Dagan's waist and kissed his cheek before he peered at the contents of the saucepan.
"What did that start life as?"
"It's tea." Dagan said in tones which dared him to make an issue of it. James took another look at the sauce and took the spoon from his hand, not unsympathetic; but pity for Gordon who would come home tired, starving and intolerant of curdled cheese took precedence.
"I hate to break it to you darling, but it’s dead. I think the best bet is to ditch it and start again."
He was startled when Dagan slammed the spoon into the saucepan and pushed it towards him, voice high pitched and uncharacteristically sharp.
"Fine, YOU do it then!"
James snagged his wrist, turned the gas off and pulled Dagan back to him, taking in the reddened eyes and whitened face. 
"What's the matter with your eyes?"
"Hay fever." Dagan said shortly, trying not to too obviously struggle. James kept hold of his hands, keeping his voice quiet.
"Is it bad today?"

"Did you take your tablets?"
"Eye drops?"
"Why don't you go and have a shower and cool down then?" James suggested, not reacting. "Get the pollen off you. And I'll see what I can do with this."
"It was a packet thing." Dagan said, indicating the packet on the side. "Stupid bloody recipe too."
"I'll have a look at it." James let him go. "Go on."
Gordon was still not home twenty minutes later when Dagan reappeared, damp, in t shirt and shorts and barefoot. Which emphasised the length of his legs and the solidity of his shoulders. James gave him a smile from the stove, watching him flop into a chair.

From his eyes and the tension in his shoulders, not very. James turned the gas down on the stove, pulled a couple of aspirin out of the cupboard and filled a glass with water.
"How long have you had the headache?"
"Since lunchtime. It's not a bad one. How are you?"
"Okay? Wasn't today your fourth year day?" Dagan said with a glimmer of liveliness. James sat down beside him, watching him gulp the aspirin and water.
"Yes, but they're close enough to the exams now that they're actually trying to learn something. It's a novel experience for all of us."
Dagan managed a faint smile, sipping the rest of the water and glancing apprehensively at the stove.
"Was the sauce THAT dead?"
James put a hand on his head, smoothing wet hair back.
"You needed a litre of milk in it. You'd put in well over a pint."
"What's given you a headache this time?"
"I don't know." Dagan leaned against his hand, closing his eyes. James rubbed his forehead for a minute, then quietly moved over and began to massage his neck.
"Did you eat at lunchtime?"
"Yes. And YES I stayed off the bloody caffeine LIKE Gor said."
"I'd watch your language, he'll be home any minute now. Were you on the computer all day?"
"Not all day. And no, it wasn't a BAD day. It's going pretty well at the moment." Dagan arched against his hands like a cat. "Its just a headache. Maybe it's the weather. Or the hayfever."  

~*~ ~*~ ~*~ 
They were watching tv that evening, James in his usual chair, book in his hands, Gordon and Dagan sprawled together on the sofa, when James looked across and saw that Dagan had his eyes closed. Gordon, who being a banker was invariably irritable and exhausted on Friday evenings was already dozing, but it was more than slightly unusual for Dagan to be entwined with Gordon in this mood without being summarily ejected for fidgeting. James shifted enough to take a closer look and spoke softly, trying not to disturb Gordon.

"Is your head still bad?"
Dagan turned his head to see him, looking somewhat embarrassed.
"Not really."
"I thought you liked this cult rubbish- if you don't want to watch it why don't you put a video on? I'm not watching and Gor's past caring."
"I do like it." Dagan glanced back at the screen which was filled with vampires and various other green and horned things which defeated James' understanding. "I'm just tired. I'm listening."
A few minutes later his eyes were closed again, his head turned away from the screen.  

~*~ ~*~ ~*~ 
Saturday mornings in their household were invariably chaotic. Gordon was programmed to clean. With noise, efficiency and increasing irritability which wouldn't end until the chores were done. Dagan, who was actually as efficient as he was and who could bang and mutter as effectively as Gordon, leapt into battle with him and between the two of them the house and all three cars ended up immaculate and sparkling by lunchtime. James, as he had done since he and Gordon first shared a house nine years before, hid in his office and shut the door, leaving them to get on with it. He looked out of his office window at one point in response from a yell from Dagan and saw Gordon pursuing their youngest partner down the drive, both of them drenched and Gordon with a streaming car sponge in his hand, but otherwise he buried himself in the piles of weekend marking he brought home every weekend. When he risked emerging at mid day, intending to go down and make lunch for the other two who by now would be filthy, tired and in much better tempers, he found Dagan sitting on the floor of his own room, glowering at the tv screen, his nintendo controls in his hands.

James paused in the doorway, watching him for a moment before he cleared his throat and Dagan glanced around.
"Hi. Where's Gor gone?"
"The retail park, he wanted something for his car."
There were two scowl lines marking Dagan's forehead. James nodded at the screen.
"What are you playing?"

James looked from him to the screen, then switched the light on. "Don't give yourself another headache."

He was making lunch when Gordon came in and ran upstairs, pulling his damp and oil stained sweater over his head, his voice perfectly audible from the landing.
"Get off that thing, you've been staring at computer screens all week."

"I'm playing."
"Your whole working week is spent playing like that, you can spend your weekends in the real world. Turn it off."
Dagan growled but James heard the tv snap off. A minute later Dagan appeared in the kitchen, still scowling.
"His majesty's home."
"I heard. Get some plates out love."

Dagan scowled but pulled plates out of the cupboard. James picked up a packet and tossed it across to Dagan's hands, busy with soup.
"Tell me how long these need cooking for?"
It was watching him scowling at the packet and the angle at which he held it that clicked  the connection. James waited, watching him hold the packet away from him to read and realising how many times in the last few weeks he'd seen Dagan make that same movement to look at something. The headaches. The misreading a packet of recipe instructions. The light trying to make a computer screen clearer.
"You can't read that, can you?"
The look he got was guilty and upset over the edge of the packet. "It's too small and the light's shining on it."
"Not at all?" James said gently. Dagan tried again, twisting the packet to take the shine off the surface. Eventually James took it from him.
"I don't think you should use the nintendo or try reading until we get you an eye test."  

~*~ ~*~ ~*~ 
Which was why, on Tuesday afternoon, James left his sixth form English class to their own devices and went to collect Dagan from work. Dagan devoted his working life to designing computer games: an occupation Gordon muttered darkly about as a group of youngsters, most of whom should be in school, finding a way to evade all reality, play all day and be paid for it. He'd been less than happy when Dagan took the job, but James always found Dagan's offices a far more intense working atmosphere than he or Gordon dealt with on a daily basis. It took him a while to extricate Dagan from his meeting and take him, muttering, to the optician in town. The results were more or less what he expected. Dagan's near sight had deteriorated, probably through eyestrain. They left with a prescription for glasses, and the news he would need to wear them for all near vision work.

"What is so wrong with glasses?" James said patiently on the way home, aware of Dagan getting quieter and more sullen by the mile. He'd co operated with the eye test under protest, but he'd made it very clear he wasn't happy. Had Gordon been with them, he would have been lucky to escape being yanked out for a brief discussion on manners.
Dagan shrugged, arms still tightly folded.

"So what's the problem with wearing them? About half the population do. I do and you still manage to fancy me, don't you? It won't make any difference to you."
Another silent shrug. James gave him a thoughtful look and let it go. Dagan by nature tended to go quiet when upset. Sometimes that quiet built up to a detonation, and other times, left alone, he would get some insight into his own feelings and settle himself down.
Usually running with Gordon was one of the ways he settled himself down- James never understood why jogging side by side in silence was a bonding experience but Dagan and Gordon found it so. It was a habit they'd established from the very earliest days of their relationship, when Gordon used it as an active means of keeping Dagan's temper under control. It was quite possible Dagan would use that time to tell Gordon about it and let the steam go.  
~*~ ~*~ ~*~ 

Actually, they endured a week of steadfast, subtle sulking. And no one could sulk like Dagan in the right mood. Any attempts to talk to him fell on deaf ears. In fact most conversation fell on deaf ears. Not un used to him, Gordon and James lived around it, quietly trying to wear the edge off his mood. The glasses arrived on Wednesday. Gordon, always less tolerant of this kind of behaviour, lost the battle with his patience that evening and turned Dagan over his knee to impress on him, briefly but clearly, that they had had enough and that his mood needed to change. Immediately. And that in the living room, while reading or watching tv, the glasses WOULD be worn.
After that Dagan worked harder on being polite and as far as possible, pleasant. But it was clearly an effort.
The first sign of interest from him came on Thursday night when Sam, a friend from his office, rang in the late evening. The phone lived in the outer hall- the one way of ensuring relative privacy, mostly for Dagan whose friends were numerous, varied and still at an age where many of them were not Gordon and James' friends. He came back into the living room with something like his usual bounce and leaned on the back of the sofa to blow at Gordon's neck: something that invariably annoyed him intensely. Gordon tipped his head back to see him, suspicious.
"What are you after, brat?"
"There's a group of my mates meeting for Paul's birthday in a club tomorrow night- Sam and some others are going to walk down to a bar and have a drink there, and go onto the club around ten." Dagan leaned closer, taking in James in his hopeful gaze. "Can I go?"
"Which club and which bar?" Gordon said bluntly.
"The Stick and Bucket and the Jazz club on Bridge street. Please?"
Gordon glanced at James. Many of Dagan's friends were from college and were people he and James would gladly evict from Dagan's life were it not that it would have been extremely unethical. Sam however was sane and reliable.
"Who else is going?" James asked, accepting Gordon's look of reserve. Dagan propped his chin on top of Gordon's head.
"Sally. Lynn from work. David. Garvey."
"And?" Gordon said warily. Dagan pulled a face.
"Allright, Lee and Craig too. But they'll only be at the club. They're mates of Paul's as well as mine. It IS Friday night."
Gordon glanced once more at James for confirmation. "Home by midnight.  And no drinking. Right?"
"On a FRIDAY-"
"Midnight." Gordon repeated clearly. Dagan pulled a face.
"Okay, okay."
"Allright then."


Dagan dropped a quick and rough kiss on Gordon's head and headed back for the phone. James braced himself for the exuberant bang of the living room door and raised his eyebrows at Gordon.
"Well that's an improvement."

~*~ ~*~ ~*~ 
Dagan's mood noticeably lifted following the call. By the time he appeared in the kitchen on Friday night, dressed and going through his usual pre-night-out checks with Gordon, he seemed more or less his usual self. Having clearly proved he had cash, small change, a fully charged phone and some ID, he stuffed the items back in his pocket and headed for the door, shouldering into the jacket Gordon had made him take.
"I'm going to be late you realise-"

"Don't take the bus from Castle end, walk around to the Square where-"

"- it's properly lit. I will. AND I'll lock up when I come in. AND I won't wake you."
"Midnight." Gordon said sternly. "Without fail."



Dagan froze at the tone. Gordon clicked his fingers and pointed at the ground in front of him.

Dagan turned, apprehensive. Gordon turned up his chin and kissed him.
"Have fun."
Dagan grinned and jogged down the drive. James turned back to the fifth year essays he was marking, not lost to the fact that despite Dagan's apparent change of heart, he had not received even a 'goodbye'.

~*~ ~*~ ~*~ 

They were both still awake and listening for the front door at two am.
Gordon gave up the struggle first, leaned over and turned the light on. James put a sleepy hand out to rub his back, wincing on the light.
"He's a big boy, he'll be fine."
"I shouldn't have let him go."

"He needs to spend time with his friends. He's very good really. Considering the life he was leading at college it's amazing we've got him at all domesticated-"

"He was running wild and he hated it." Gordon said shortly.
James didn't mistake the tone. He rolled out of bed and picked up his robe.
"I'll put the kettle on."
"I'm going to call him." Gordon sat on the edge of the bed and picked up the phone. James halted in the doorway and stood with one hand on the doorpost, waiting. After a minute Gordon slammed the phone down.
"It's turned off."
"He'll be okay. He'll be with his mates somewhere, having forgotten the time."
"Or walked out in front of a car. Or got himself too drunk to be let on a bus. If he comes home drunk I'll kill him."
"Or he's decided he's having too much fun and there's a good chance we'll fall asleep and won't see what time he comes in." James said calmly, heading downstairs. Gordon sat where he was, muttering for a moment. Then picked up the phone again.
James was making tea and trying to rub some clarity into his eyes when a stentorian bellow from upstairs made him jump.
"What?" James headed for the foot of the stairs, alarmed. Gordon ran down, already in jeans and trainers and shouldering into a sweat shirt.
"I called Sam, I know where he is. I won't be long."

"Are they still at the club?" James grabbed Gordon before he could get the front door open. "What are you going to do? Drag him out in front of half his mates and colleagues? It's not a major issue. He'll come home in an hour or two, we'll sort it out then."
Gordon took a deep breath and let it out slowly, running his hands through his hair. James waited, eyes narrowed.
Gordon hesitated. Then growled.
"He never got to the club. Sam said he got into trouble on the way there and he got himself arrested. I'm going down to the station-"

"No." James interrupted. "We don't know if he's still there, if he's been charged, if we can talk to him or what's going on. Sit down, drink that tea. I'll ring and see if they'll tell us anything."
"I'm not leaving him there alone." Gordon snapped.
"I know, but storming in and shouting won't help. Did Sam say why?"
"No." Gordon folded his arms tightly, one heel tapping, watching James dial. "I swear, I'll wring his neck when I get hold of him…"
James reached for his hand, concentrating on the phone. Gordon waited, barely keeping silent until James put the phone down.

"He's there." James turned to face him, looking tired. "They won't tell me anything else. They say there's no point in going over to wait and that he'll be released when they're finished. He can call us if he wants a lift home."

Gordon stared at him. Then shook his head.
"No way. You don't seriously mean to leave him to it?"
"Gor they're not going to let you reason with them."
"Can you IMAGINE what state he'll be in? He isn't a kid who'll handle that kind of treatment and you know it! Dear God, what if they put him in a cell? He'll be terrified!"
"Arguably, it'll make a strong impression on him." James said dryly. Gordon grabbed his car keys.
"I don't believe you! They can't handle him like that, you know Daig-"
"I do and we'll cross that bridge when we come to it. Calm DOWN. Let me dress." James took the keys from him as he passed. "STAY."

~*~ ~*~ ~*~ 
It was nearly five am. when Dagan was brought out to the desk sergeant at the town police station. By which time Gordon was approaching screaming point. Dagan was walking slowly and a little unsteadily in front of a policeman, collar open, untidy and very pale. He looked from one to the other of them, then buried himself in Gordon's arms. Gordon held him tight, rocking him slightly. James ran a hand gently over his head, ruffling his hair, and Dagan freed himself from Gordon long enough to accept James' brief and discreet kiss before he clung to him too. He signed for his belongings with a hand that visibly shook, and trailed them outside, pulling his jacket on. No one said a word on the short walk to the car. Once in the car, sitting beside James who got into the back with him, he coughed once and then awkwardly began to cry, twisting to get into James's arms. Gordon turned around in distress, and put a hand out to rub his back for a moment, ruffling the dark hair at the nape of his neck. Then he turned the car's engine over and headed for home, trying not to keep glancing back. James held Dagan, stroking his hair, aware of the hands clinging to him, and still no one said a word.
In the front hallway Gordon took Dagan's jacket out of his hands and nodded at the stairs.
"Straight up to bed."

Dagan looked from one to the other of them, eyes red and mouth twisting with distress and apprehension. Gordon turned him around with a firm but gentle swat.
"Bed. We're all tired enough little boy, we'll talk about this when we're coherent and not before. Go on, I'll be up in a minute."
Dagan still hesitated. He looked about to lose his temper. Both Gordon and James who knew him better, knew he was on the brink of tears. James pulled his head down and kissed his forehead, passing him on the way to the kitchen.
"Go on sweetheart. I'll bring you something to eat."
He went. Slowly. Gordon watched him go, then followed James into the kitchen, shutting the door behind them.
"NOW what?" 
"We try and catch up on sleep." James said calmly, switching the kettle on and buttering bread. Gordon snorted, leaning with both fists planted on the kitchen table.
"Now he's actually safe I feel like doing something drastic. What was he THINKING? We still don't even know what happened!"
"Yes we do. He was messing around on the bridge until a squad car saw him. At which point he lost his temper and resisted arrest."
"You'll tell me next we should feel lucky he wasn't done for assault!"

James licked jam off his fingers and handed Gordon the jar to put back in the fridge.
"This is all about his glasses."
"He can't throw tantrums to this style and scale every time something doesn't go his way!"
Gordon straightened up, recognising that tone. "Oh no-"

"The glasses problem was between him and me."

"This is SERIOUS."
"So it involves all of us!"
"He will need to talk to you about coming home on time, since you set that deadline for him." James agreed placidly, picking up the plate and mug. "It's allright Gor. I won't maim him."
"I KNOW that-"

"So?" James paused in the doorway to look at him. Gordon slammed the fridge door shut and growled.
"OK. Allright. It's your problem."
James accepted the brief and somewhat sulky kiss, holding the mug out of harm's way. "Are you coming back to bed then?"

~*~ ~*~ ~*~ 
The curtains were closed and blocked enough of the sunlight to create an impression of darkness. Dagan turned over, aware he was alone, and found the alarm clock on Gordon's side of the bed. Eleven am. He hadn't noticed James or Gordon get up, although he had vague memories of settling down between the familiar warmth and comfort of the two older men, Gordon's arm wrapped around him with a consoling weight. They'd clearly slipped away quietly at some point this morning to let him sleep.  After two hours of being locked alone in a small, brightly lit cell containing only a hard cot and a toilet, it seemed strange and wonderfully free to be wrapped in the softness of their duvet, safe and comfortable and without that terrible sense of powerlessness and trouble.
Except Gor was going to go ballistic.
Dagan turned over, unwilling to face the day quite yet, wanting to enjoy the warmth and quiet a little longer. It was not going to be fun, facing the wrath of Gor.
The more he thought about it, the less he was able to slip back into a doze. Eventually, stomach now filled with butterflies, he pushed the quilt off and considered his options. Finding Gordon and facing trouble head on was not attractive.
The sound of footsteps on the landing was still less attractive. Dagan hastily pulled the quilt back over himself. James opened the door and went to draw the curtains, not looking at the black hair visible over the edge of the duvet.
"Into the shower. I've got breakfast almost ready."

"Its too late for breakfast." Dagan pointed out in tones which implied he was barely awake. James pulled the quilt away.
"An early lunch then. Come on. If you sleep any more now you won't sleep tonight."

Unwillingly, Dagan put his feet to the floor and cast a wary look at James as his oldest lover left the room. Calm as always. Quiet as always. Tentatively, Dagan padded to the window and peered at the driveway. He noticed with something of a shock- then relief- that Gordon's car was gone. Somewhat reassured, he went to shower and shave, ears out for the sound of the front door.
He found James in his office when he passed it, dressed and on his way downstairs. A tray of toast and orange juice was in the middle of the floor amidst James' usual and dusty pile of books, files and records worryingly out of date. Piles of '78s which could no longer be played and which James placidly refused to get rid of or remove to the attic. James was sitting in his desk chair, munching toast and thumbing through some large and yellowed book on top of the muddle of papers on his desk. Dagan glanced briefly out of the window and picked up some toast from the tray.
"Where's Gor?"
"Gone to see my mother. He promised he'd get her car serviced this weekend. Sit down."
Relaxing somewhat, Dagan took up a seat on the hearthrug, pushing the coal scuttle out of the way of his long legs. This was the room where he and James had first spent time together. A photograph on the edge of James' bookcase showed himself in cap and gown outside the university hall, with James in a determinedly out of date tie standing beside him, an arm around his shoulders. Gor, who had been as immaculate in his suit as he was every day of his working life, had been the one holding the camera, but looking at the picture Dagan was as aware of his presence there as if he was visible. He had been failing his degree badly when his tutor referred him to an old friend for some private tuition. Initially he'd been less than impressed with his new tutor: an older man with a soft voice, ridiculous patience and piercingly gentle eyes. Except for some reason he never understood, he'd come back. And stormed out. And come back. And stormed out. 
Until one evening the tutor's lover, who had watched his nightly door slamming and swearing with increasingly tight lips and flashing eyes, intercepted him at the front door, pulled him into the kitchen and administered an ear burning, blasting lecture that had reduced him in ten minutes flat from an angry, swearing and aggressive young man to a scared and shame faced small boy. He'd been marched upstairs to apologise: something a few minutes earlier he couldn't have considered. And somehow had found himself sitting on this rug, forgiven, calmed and reassured, while both men worked to make the study material comprehensible to him. After that somehow it made sense to spend more and more time with them. Leaving college in time to sit and talk to James about the ridiculous, tiny but vital details of college life which James had a startlingly genuine interest in and memory for while he cooked.  
Eating with them, since Gordon after one look at the college canteen was convinced he was malnourished and the kitchens were unfit for humans. Running with Gordon; a quick and effective trick of temper management taught to him by a man who had the knack of making you feel vitally important to him and worthy of his full attention. Bringing homework to their house, since they asked and reproved and encouraged: sitting and doing it under James' eye and assistance when his mind outstripped his short and easily frustrated concentration span. Staying with them in the late evening to watch tv, or more often just to talk, stretched out full length on their rug, enjoying their company and the easy closeness of their relationship. 
Warmed by their interest in him and his life, their frequent encouragement and their frank disapproval of the rougher elements of his life, the missed lectures, the frequent troubles, he'd found their friendship of rapidly growing importance to him. When they invited him to lodge with them instead of in college halls he had been stunned that they seemed to enjoy his company as much as he needed and wanted theirs. Except it had taken a bare few weeks for things to become very much more complicated.
"Finished that toast?" James said mildly from his desk. Dagan brushed crumbs off his trousers and put the plate back.
"Yes. I'll clear it up."
"It can wait." James book marked his page and closed the heavy tome. "Come here Daig."
Dagan gave him a doubtful look. James leaned on his desk, neither face nor voice hardening in the slightest.
"Where are your glasses?"
"In my car." Dagan said a little uncertainly. Without commenting, James took them out of his desk drawer and put them down in front of him.
"Oh." Dagan said weakly. "Maybe I brought them in then-"
"Come here." James said again. It was That tone. The one that reminded him that James was used to dealing with classes full of stroppy teenagers. Slowly, he got up and came to the desk. James leaned his elbows on the desk, absently petting the book binding.
"What on earth did you think you were doing last night?"
Oh God.
Dagan swallowed, picking up the cues and instantly feeling trapped.
"I was going to tell Gor-"
"You can tell me." James said just as calmly. Dagan tried and failed to think of a good approach to this. James continued to wait, blue eyes calm and still very gentle.
"I'm waiting." He pointed out when Dagan didn't identify anything possible to say. Dagan cleared his throat and swallowed again.
"I didn't mean to get into a fight- it wasn't really a fight-"

"So what was it?"
"I don't know." Dagan said lamely. James raised his eyebrows.
"The police did. They called it disturbance of the peace, reckless behaviour and resisting arrest. What exactly were you doing on that bridge?"
"Walking on the rail."

"Had you had anything to drink?"
"No sir."
The sir slipped out automatically. It was something to do with the tone and the expression. Dagan linked his hands behind his back and felt his fingers slippery with sweat.
"We hadn't gone to the bar yet- the club wasn't even open."

"So you were stone cold sober? And yet you got up onto the rail of a bridge over the river, with a - hmm. Shall we say thirty foot drop? How wide is that rail, Dagan?"
"I don't know sir."

"Six inches?"
Dagan managed something between a shrug and a nod. James tapped the book binding.
"And you walked along this? Does that seem like a safe or a sensible thing to do?"
"I don't know sir."

"Oh I think you do."
"DID it seem like a safe or a sensible thing to do?"
"No sir."

"Then why were you doing it?"
Silence. Increasingly out of arguments or justification, and therefore getting increasingly angry, Dagan stared at his trainers, side by side under the cuffs of his jeans.
"I'll assume then," James said conversationally, "That when the police tried to persuade you to get down, you weren't impressed. And that you were difficult enough that they felt they needed to arrest you. And that you then lost your temper?"
"Leave me alone!" Dagan said hotly. James didn't move.
"No Dagan, I will not leave you alone. Am I right? You refused to get down when asked. And when made to, you lost your temper."
Dagan glowered at the carpet and the whiteness of his trainers.
"Dagan. Is that right?"
Dagan swallowed for a moment on an answer too much to swallow and then spat it out.
"Go to hell!"
James didn't flinch at the slam of his study door, nor of the heavy thud of his youngest lover running down stairs. Instead, he found his bookmark, reopened his book and went back to reading. Part of him was listening for the slam of the front door: he'd heard it before. It didn't come. Not unimpressed, James carried on with Kipling's 'Kim', and lost himself in the wilds of Edwardian India.

~*~ ~*~ ~*~ 
At twelve thirty, returning from the bathroom, he looked directly at the long-legged, gangly figure he'd taken no notice of on his outward journey. Dagan was sitting at the top of the stairs, not looking at him and scowling in a way that should have burnt a hole in the carpet. James walked past him and held the door open, waiting. Dagan slowly got up and followed him inside.

It was muttered and graceless, but unprompted. James resumed his seat and waited still further. Dagan fidgeted, kicking at the one foot he was standing on.
"It's not fair, I hate this."
James waited.  Dagan kicked at his one stable foot again, harder.
"Yes I DID lose my temper."

"And refused to get down?"
"Why, Dagan?"
"Because I was bloody angry!" Dagan said hotly.
"With whom?"
"I don't know!"
"Me. Is that right?"
"I don't know."
"Yes or no, Dagan."
"Allright, yes then!"

"If you're angry with me, what should you do?"
"Leave it because Gor goes mad if I shout at you!" Dagan said furiously. James looked at him.

James waited.
"YES." Dagan said again, louder. James pushed himself back from the desk and patted his lap.
"Come here Dagan."
"Why?" Dagan snapped. James gave him a wry look.
"Why do you think?"
"So you can beat me into doing what YOU want me to do." Dagan said savagely.
"Not quite." James waited, hands still on his knees. "I'm going to spank you. Initially to see if it helps your memory at all, and then I am going to spank you for your behaviour last night."
Dagan flushed hotly, face still angrier. James looked at him inquiringly.
"Unless you'd rather continue to talk this through?"
Dagan glowered at him. James nodded and patted his lap once more.
"Come here then please."
Dagan didn't move.
Gordon would have detonated by now. He wouldn't tolerate ten seconds of this kind of defiance. James was different. Dagan felt his face getting hotter and his stomach tighter with apprehension. He still didn't move. Finally James picked up his book again.
"Allright Dagan. You can face the corner while you're thinking. Let me know when you're ready to continue this discussion."

Silence. James turned the page, not looking at him. After a long while, Dagan turned around and scuffed, slowly, across to the corner.
It took barely three minutes before he saw Dagan's head begin to drop, and another minute before his shoulders began to shake. At the five minute mark he heard the sniffle and laid his book down. Their boy was deceptive: confident, defiant, hot tempered. And all too easily frightened. He got up and put his hands on Dagan's shoulders, turned him around and hugged him, feeling Dagan's head tuck tightly into the junction of his neck and shoulder. The comfort was unconditional. He stood for several minutes, saying nothing. Waiting until Dagan's trembling calmed a little. Then he gently disengaged Dagan's hands from his sweater.
"Do you want to finish this?"
Silence again.
James began to turn him back towards the corner and felt the protest in his body. He stopped, waiting.
Silence. Then Dagan nodded very faintly, and this time followed him, slowly and hesitantly back to the desk. James pulled his chair well out of reach of any obstacles, took a seat and waited.
Scarlet to from neck to hairline, Dagan very slowly unbuttoned his jeans. It felt like it took several hours, and James waited patiently all that time it took to pop the buttons, unfasten the zip and finally push them down to his knees. James continued to wait. After another long moment Dagan put his hands to the waist band of his boxers and pushed them unsteadily down over his hips. Finally James sat back and took Dagan's wrist, drawing him forward until Dagan finally bent, stiffly, and lay over his lap. One arm rounded Dagan's chest, drawing him closer against James' stomach. The other hand briskly tugged the shorts further clear of his bottom and rested, warm and heavy, across both cheeks. Dagan bent his head, shut his eyes and gripped the leg of the chair for support, all too aware of James' soft voice above him.
"What SHOULD you do if you're angry with me, Daig?"
"Tell you." Dagan said quietly.
"Why do you think, Daig?"
Anger swelled up in a bubble and burst, overwhelming self preservation.
"So you and Gor can yell at me and make me shut up."

James's hand fell once, soundly and accurately, making Dagan jump at the sound and the strength of the swat.
"Is that true?"
Dagan hesitated, that one swat already stinging hotly. Another swat fell, just as hard, on the other cheek.
"We can talk about it. Sort it out. Except you WON'T."

"What won't I sort out?" James asked patiently. Dagan twisted, trying to get up or to see his face. James' arm held him firmly where he was, with surprising strength for a man who always looked so easy going.
"You just want me to accept I'm WRONG. You won't listen to anything I say-"

"Daig, is it really my fault your eyes are strained?"

"Is it really?"
"YES." Dagan said hotly, needing the unreasonability. James didn't move.
"Allright. How did I strain them?"
"You just did!"

James swatted again, not just once but a short and sharp flurry of swats on the upturned bottom that made his culprit wriggle, long legs kicking.

James paused. "How did I strain your eyes?"

"You said I needed an eye test!"
This was likely to go on for some time, but it was a ritual they needed to go through as many times as was necessary.
"Why did I do that?" James wondered aloud.
Dagan's answer was prompt and fierce enough to suggest he was close to losing his nerve.
"I don't know!"

That not being an answer, James raised his hand again and slapped briskly and sharply, moving from one cheek to the other, waiting for the protest that would open the door to further negotiation. It came quickly.
"James don’t!"
"Why did I want you to have an eye test?"
Dagan sounded tired and plaintive, like a little boy realising he has no defendable secrets left.
"Because I couldn't see properly, things close up, and I k-kept getting headaches…."
"Why would I find that a problem Daig?" James asked gently. "Why would I want that sorted out?"
That was the end of Dagan's self control. James heard him start to cry and moved his hand to rub his back, feeling the hitching breaths under his palm.
"What made you lose your temper on the bridge, baby? Not with the police. What made you get up on the rail?"
Dagan was crying too hard to answer for a moment. James waited, then gently pulled him upright, turning him around to get him into his lap.
"I couldn't see the damn rail, I was too close." 

Dagan said eventually, unsteadily. "I walked into it."

"And that was enough?"
"Everyone laughed. Of course."

"That you walked into it."
Dagan leaned against him, not holding on, too upset and too angry, and now too deeply lost in his own overflowing emotions to think what he was saying.
"It was the same damn thing at school, every kid with glasses-"

"Mmn?" James said quietly, when he trailed off.
"Got laughed at." Dagan said viciously. "I've done it myself. Take the glasses off and they're bloody useless, can't see a damn thing-"

"You can see without them. You just can't read small print."  James rocked him slowly, feeling him shudder. "Or things too close to you in bad light. Neither can I."
"I DON'T want to wear them!"

"I know. But you need to. Dagan. Seriously. Who is going to laugh at you for wearing glasses? Several of your friends wear them."

"They wear contacts mostly!"

"I don’t, you've never laughed at me."
"You're different."
"You don't need contact lenses, you only need glasses to read and drive. And your eyes are strained, they don't need to cope with lenses going in and out all day."
Dagan didn’t answer. James went on rocking well aware that this battle was far from over yet and that like many other things in Dagan's complicated head, this was tied up with some memory with plenty of buttons to push. Not bright enough. Not good looking enough. Not successful enough. Not athletic enough. Those were the insecurities that drove Dagan and had done all his life. There was no instant solution.
Feeling Dagan calming down fractionally in his arms, he brushed the dark hair back from his forehead and kissed him.
"Get up, pet."

Dagan got up, shaky and tearful. And broke into fresh tears as James opened his desk drawer and took out the wooden hairbrush that lived at the bottom of it. Not unsympathetic, James steered him round to the right and once more turned him face down over his lap.
"Every part of the trouble you got into last night, boils down to a tantrum, Dagan. That started when you walked into that rail and escalated until the police had no choice but to arrest you. You are only lucky they didn't actually charge you. They DID warn you about your temper, and Gor and I are going to continue to warn you as often as you need it. No matter how angry you get, you have a responsibility to control your actions. You are responsible to me and to Gor to keep yourself safe. NOT to take stupid and dangerous risks, with your safety or your freedom or your career. What if you'd hit one of those police officers? A charge of assault, a criminal record for nothing more than a tantrum. A fit of childish temper."

"I'm sorry." Dagan said indistinctly and sincerely. He was really crying now, not so much in anticipation as in genuine distress at the entire situation.
"Sorry will not wipe out a criminal record." James pointed out quietly, placing the hairbrush on the desk. "Sorry will not wipe out a punch or a kick or a broken nose. Sorry will not unbreak your back or undo brain damage if you do something stupid and careless, like falling off a bridge. Will it?"
"No. You're right." James shifted his grip, drawing Dagan closer against him. "Which is why I am going to make sure you remember today and exactly what happens when you DO lose control of your temper, before you have to remember something a lot more horrible and a lot more permanent."
Dagan was already crying. As James resumed spanking his still faintly pink bottom, his sobbing quickly became more urgent. Gordon spanked harder: his spankings tended to be short and cathartic. James however had a thoroughness and a habit of pausing for thought and comment that left Dagan feeling thoroughly wretched. The faintly pink bottom was bright pink and turning red when James paused once more.
"You KNOW what to do if you're angry enough that its hard to control. We've talked you through it again and again. Haven't we?"
"Yes…"  Dagan sobbed as James picked up the hairbrush, aware of what was coming. Wriggling did nothing to change the vulnerability of the target. "I'm sorry, I won't do it again I promise, I won't-"
"Tell me what you do if you're angry." James said steadily. Resigned to the inevitable and no less miserable about it, Dagan tried to find enough breath to talk.
"Walk away. Call you or Gor. Talk to you. Tell people to leave me alone for a while.  Count. Breathe."

"ANY of those would have saved you- and us- a very unpleasant night last night." James shifted the brush into a better grip and brought it swiftly down in the first of a series of very firm and accurate swats, continuing until Dagan's wailing confirmed he'd made the impression he sought. Then he laid the brush down on the desk and rubbed Dagan's heaving back, slowly and deeply, waiting for the sobs to ease a little. Eventually Dagan slid down to his knees and buried his head in James' lap. James threaded his fingers through Dagan's dark hair, stroking gently.
"I'm sorry." Dagan said eventually, sincerely. "I'm really sorry."

"I know. And it's over with now, we've dealt with that. Come here." James pulled at his hands until Dagan got up and let James pull his shorts up, but flinched at his jeans. At James's coaxing he heeled off his trainers and kicked the jeans off too.

~*~ ~*~ ~*~ 
Gordon found them curled on the sofa together in front of one of the MGM musicals that they both loved. Dagan was dressed in sweatshirt, boxers and socks, lying with his head in James' lap. Both shifted over to make room for him. Gordon tousled Dagan's hair gently and caught sight of reddened eyes and a tired but calm face. It was altogether too much for him. Dagan groaned as Gordon grabbed him and pulled, but let Gordon drag him over James' lap and hugged him in return. James shifted Dagan's long legs to a more comfortable position and settled down again. Gordon kissed Dagan's head firmly and Dagan's head subsided against his chest.
"You're not watching tv without glasses, are you?" Gordon demanded.
James pulled Dagan's pair from his breast pocket and handed them over. Dagan slipped them on and blew Gordon a kiss.
"What about you?" Gordon demanded of James, digging a hand inside Dagan's sweatshirt to poke him. "Where are your glasses? you've got all the same problems he has-"
"Upstairs. Somewhere." James said placidly, waving a hand. Gordon snorted.
"WHERE upstairs."
"You're the one with perfect eyesight." Dagan pointed out.
James ducked as Gordon grabbed him, evading Dagan's flailing limbs until he escaped and fled to the kitchen, Gordon in pursuit
"Since you've got the perfect eyesight, how about you make some tea?" he called without looking around.
He counted ten before they both dropped on him.
~The End~
Copyright Ranger 2010


Anonymous said...

*laughs* lovely story & interesting dynamic here, like the idea of two sharing a brat. I can see how it would work, but I think the initial working of it would be more complicated.

Anonymous said...

I want to see more of these three!

Ranger said...


Anonymous said...

definatly would like to read more stories about these three guys!!

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