"Hid it in your briefcase and hoped it would go away." Damien said at last, when he was quite sure I didn't plan on finishing that sentence myself. "Is that what we do with appointment cards?"
"Is that what we do about the appointment cards?" Damien interrupted in exactly the same tone, as if I hadn't spoken. Which was mean. With no other justifiable refuge available other than to surrender and accept what I knew was going to be a thoroughly unpleasant outcome, my temper slipped sideways into a yell that just about expressed how much I hated those cards and all they stood for.
"I know when you're faking it," Damien interrupted, "And if I hear you swear once more I'll get the cod liver oil down."
"Jeans." Damien repeated, not changing his tone.
"Nicky," Damien said above me, and without criticism. "Does that really make it go away?"
"You'd make me go anyway!" I said bitterly, trying not to struggle upwards or to slide back off his lap. I hated beyond measure trying to hold conversations in this position, bare and waiting and knowing very well what was coming.
"You weren't being horrible." Damien said firmly. "That was a four star paddy, but that was all."
"I think that was about the heart of it, don't you?" Damien said gently. I took another deep and shaking breath across his lap, still aware of his hands on me, warm and heavy.
"No, you don't." he said with heartfelt sympathy. "You really don't, it isn't fun and it isn't fair."
"I'm not that bad." I argued as much as is possible in this position. Damien's free hand tapped my thigh where it rested, just below my extremely smarting backside which was still having a highly subduing effect on both my mood and the conversation.
"Yes, you can." Damien said in his most flatly unreasonable tone. "You can be responsible for how you feel and how you handle how you feel, you can make the decision NOT to let yourself fret and bother over what you can't do and what you have to do, and you can concentrate instead on what you CAN do. If there's a problem we talk about it, and if we have to talk all winter to find a way around it we'll do that, but I don't want to hear 'I can't help it'. This is a simple obedience issue Nick. We are going to sort out exactly what you need to do – what meds you take and when, what hospital admissions are necessary – and you're going to do them cheerfully without sulking or withdrawing or driving yourself mad, or you're going to answer to me. Is that clear?"
"What DO I mean Nicholas?" Damien said without changing his tone.
"That's what it comes down to." Damien agreed. "Accepting known limits and not fretting at them – which is no different to any of the other limits and rules we have." And which he also demanded I accepted with cheerful obedience – he's old fashioned my boy, but I do agree with him in principle. Grudging obedience – or with scowling and muttering, outward only, is only just north of flat out disobedience, and its an attitude I can't stand in other people, I admit it. I hate it when he's right.
"And I'll do this as often as I need to." Damien said with a certain grimness.
"You're rotten." I told him, pushing back into his arms. It's a variant on 'I love you' that he's pretty used to. He hugged me tightly, one hand sliding down my back to rub briefly and comfortingly at my scalded rump before he patted.