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.
"Is your head still bad?"
James paused in the doorway, watching him for a moment before he cleared his throat and Dagan glanced around.
James looked from him to the screen, then switched the light on. "Don't give yourself another headache."
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.
"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.
"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."
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.
"- it's properly lit. I will. AND I'll lock up when I come in. AND I won't wake you."
"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.
"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."
Gordon stared at him. Then shook his head.
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.
"Its too late for breakfast." Dagan pointed out in tones which implied he was barely awake. James pulled the quilt away.
"So what was it?"
"Then why were you doing it?"
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.
Silence. James turned the page, not looking at him. After a long while, Dagan turned around and scuffed, slowly, across to the corner.
James's hand fell once, soundly and accurately, making Dagan jump at the sound and the strength of the swat.
"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.
"Daig, is it really my fault your eyes are strained?"
"Is it really?"
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!"
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.
Dagan said eventually, unsteadily. "I walked into it." "And that was enough?"
"Mmn?" James said quietly, when he trailed off.
"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 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."
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.
"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.
"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 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.