Ian took one, resigned look at the long lines for the roller coaster and sighed.
"Are you sure you want to ride this now?"
"Yes, of course I do." Kiernan nearly spat back. He was hot, and eager to ride. The lines did nothing for his temper. Ian started to correct him then paused: Kiernan had grown increasingly argumentative all morning and Ian was just about ready to lay down the law; but he decided on reflection that now was neither the time nor the place. He looked around and spotted an ice cream stand. The best strategy perhaps was distraction for now, to preserve both his temper and Kier's. At least while they were in public.
"Care for some ice cream while we wait?"
"That would be good." Promptly sunny tempered now that there was no danger of being thwarted, Kier gave him his usual sweet smile. "Chocolate, please."
Glad of something to do other than stand around and wait, Ian headed for the stand. It was a HOT day, and the theme park offered no shade. It was actually one of his least favourite ideas on how to spend a day, but Kier was young and not the most mature young man of his age either. He was also a very active young man, who took a lot of keeping busy, and the theme park was one of his all time favourite things to do with a weekend. For that reason- and through not having seen him much over the last few weeks- Ian had suggested it this morning. As a way to spend a day with him when he was happy and having fun rather than sullen and short tempered as he'd been for so much of the time recently. And partly as a way of spending some good time with him, ensuring he felt loved and secure before they embarked on the talk Ian was planning to have with him tomorrow.
Kiernan couldn't stand still. He was continually moving, touching everything, pulling at the leaves of the bushes that lined the wide walkway, silently fuming when someone was slow to move. He looked over and noticed that Ian was still three people from the front of the line for ice cream. His attention was brought back in front of him, when two boys about his own age came up and started talking to the guys in front of him. When he overheard them say they wanted to ride, and were invited to stay there, he promptly spoke up.
"If you want to ride, the back of the line is that way." he said, pointing.
"They were saving my place" the dark haired one said dismissively, before turning his back on Kier.
"Two chocolate please." Ian said to the vendor, shaking coins out into his palm. He glanced over his shoulder for Kier. Fidgeting as usual but deep in conversation with two other guys around his age.
"This is a QUEUE buddy." Kier said sharply, "And the end of it is that way."
"I'm standing here." the guy in front of him said, turning slowly to look at him.
Kier gave him a sweet smile. "You're going to go to the end and wait like everyone else."
"And you're going to make me?" the guy invited, beckoning Kier closer.
Kier kept the sweet smile in place, and without warning, threw a right hook that connected solidly with the guy's nose. His smart reply died on his lips when the pain from his own hand registered, as well as the shock of seeing the guy drop like a rock, blood running down his face and all over his shirt. Everyone around the two guys stepped back, sounds of shock registering up and down the line.
Kier shook his hand, swearing hard as the shake aggravated the pain still further. From the corner of his eye he saw Ian running at full speed towards him and tried without success to pull himself together. Ian had little enough sense of humour recently. The guy on the floor gradually stirred, blood streaming steadily from his nose. Ian pushed through the crowd, voice raised to the professional bark that made Kier pull a face.
"OUT of the way please! Stand back."
The crowd moved aside, letting him kneel over the semi conscious guy on the floor and turn his head to the side.
"It's allright, I'm a doctor, you'll be fine."
Stop wasting your time. Kier thought irritably. Ian glanced back at him, eyes icy.
"Kiernan, go over to that bench, sit down and DON'T move."
Kiernan was embarrassed enough by the attention given him from the punch, and when Ian spoke like that, he was certain everyone around was just waiting for Ian to spank him right then and there. He stalked off without a word, too upset to argue. He sat down on the designated bench and grimaced when he placed his hand in his lap.
"Damn, he had a hard nose."
He tried not to watch Ian, but his attention was again drawn to the area when another gentleman came running to the boy's side. "No one is interested in me." he thought angrily. Ian already had someone bring him a large glass of ice water, and a handful of napkins. He worked quickly at staunching the flow of blood from the guy's nose.
"My name is Ian, what's yours?"
"His name is Lucas. What happened?"
Ian looked up at the stranger speaking, attention caught by a vaguely familiar voice. "Randolph? Is that you?" Ian said in surprise. Randy looked from Lucus to Ian.
"Ian? My God....of all the places- how are you?"
"I'm good. Lucas, however, isn't." Ian said, turning his attention back to the younger man, who had started shaking now that his partner was near at hand.
Randy turned his attention back to his partner.
"What happened? Who did this to you?"
"It was my partner." Ian admitted. "I have no idea what happened, I just saw a punch thrown and Lucas go down."
"What started the fight?" Randy demanded, helping Lucas sit up. Lucas winced, still dabbing at his nose.
"I don't know! One minute I was standing talking to John and the next that maniac-"
Lucas paused and looked at Randy, dropping his tone. "He just hit me."
"There's a first aid tent about 400 yards that way," Ian said, "Why don't you bring Lucas over there, I'll check nothing's broken and we can talk this over properly."
Randy turned to Lucas and helped him to stand. "Keep the pressure there, Lucas."
Lucas nodded miserably, and kept the napkins pressed to his nose, allowing Randy to guide him towards the tent. Kier had continued to fume at the attention paid to the guy on the ground, until Ian started heading his way. Now he really WISHED he were invisible. Ian looked nothing less than very unhappy. Kier tried to sit up straighter and adopt an uninterested expression, while inside his stomach was churning. Ian strode purposely up to Kier, and stopped directly in front of him, nailing him with an icy glare.
"What possessed you to make a complete fool of yourself like that?"
"He jumped the queue!" Kier said hotly, glaring past him at Lucas.
Lucas pulled a face back at him, leaning hard on Randy. Ian sat down beside Kier, talking quietly and very sharply.
"Are you telling me you hit him because he got in front of you?"
"He wouldn't move to the back! You know how long we'd been waiting."
"Is that an excuse?" Ian demanded. Kier pulled away from him, snarling.
"He was behaving like a total ass and so are you! I knew you'd take his side!"
Ian looked hard at the sandy ground between his boots for a minute, then got up, still speaking very quietly.
"You stay right here. Don't move an inch. I am going to make sure that Lucas does not have a broken nose and then you and I are going home to discuss this. I am NOT happy with you."
Kiernan waited until Ian had gotten three steps away from the bench, before standing up and shouting
"You don't even care that my hand hurts, do you?"
Ian turned quickly, well aware of the stares they were getting from passers by. He stepped quickly over to Kier and growled
"Keep your voice down young man, before I take matters into my own hands."
"I knew you didn't care!" Kiernan said spitefully.
Ian swallowed his immediate reply and clicked his fingers.
"Show me the hand."
Kiernan had only wanted to argue with Ian, not get his majesty into the doctor role and swallowed lamely, putting the hand out of sight.
"I'll be fine."
"Hand." Ian said flatly.
Kiernan held out his hand, rolling his eyes. Ian ignored him and gently manipulated his fingers. He didn't have to do much. At the first touch, Kier yelped and pulled away, his eyes filling with tears. Ian grabbed his wrist.
"Can you move your fingers? Try."
"Try." Ian said more gently.
Kier tried and shook his head. "Only my thumb."
The fingers in question were swelling rapidly. Ian swore under his breath, pulled Kier's head down in spite of himself and gave him a quick, hard hug.
"Stay here just a minute, I'll be back with some ice."
Sniffling, Kier sat down and watched Ian jog at full speed towards the first aid tent. He was back two minutes later with a bag of ice, which he wrapped around Kier's hand, moving it very gently.
"Okay, that should hold you for a while. Lucas is okay, just bruised. Randy's taking him home. I think we're going to the nearest hospital."
At the mention of the hospital, Kiernan went white. "No, I'm fine, really. Just bruised."
"Come on kiddo. Let's get going." Ian helped Kier to stand, making sure the ice stayed in place. "We need to get that hand xrayed, it'll be fine."
"Not the hospital! Please, I don't need to go there. You're a doctor, you can do whatever at home, right?" Kier asked hopefully.
Ian spoke soothingly. "We need an xray. It's simply a picture, no needles, no nothing. You'll be fine."
"WHY?" Kier demanded, trying to pull away. Ian tightened the arm around his shoulders, steering him towards the carpark.
"I think you might have cracked a bone, love. It's okay, no use worrying until we've had it checked."
Kier dragged his feet, getting steadily more anxious as they reached the car. Ian at work was one thing- he'd spent enough time racing around their local hospital trying to find Ian to be familiar with it. But being the partner of one of the consultants was a radically different role to being a patient. In that sense, there was nowhere Kier hated more than hospitals.
They were about fifty miles from home and Ian didn't even try getting on the highway that would take them there. Just drove straight to the nearest town and found the ER there. Kier grew increasingly twitchy as they picked up the signs to the hospital.
"Can I take the ice off? It's too cold."
"No, leave it on, it can't help with the swelling if it's not in contact with the skin."
"Ian, I'm fine, it doesn't hurt anymore."
Ian put a hand out without looking and put the ice back in place. "Kier, we're going to have your hand checked. You'll BE fine, but we ARE going to get it checked."
Ian pulled into the carpark at the hospital. Once parked, he almost had to drag Kier out of the car.
"Kiernan, come on. It's not that bad."
"You don't know anyone here, do you?" Kier said unhappily, pulling against Ian, though still walking with him.
"I do. Not that it will help or hurt, but yes, I know a few people."
Ian tightened his grip around Kiernan, feeling him tighten up as they reached the door. He directed him inside and to a chair. "Wait here, I'll go sign us in."
Kier curled up in a chair and hugged his knees. It took nearly two hours of waiting before he was seen and before they were sent up to xray. It was approaching five pm when Ian finally took him down the hall and a plaster cast was put on his hand from mid fingers to above his wrist, covering the two fractured knuckles.
The doctor who signed them out talked to Ian in detail about painkillers and Kier swallowed the two he was given with water, dizzy, tired and in shock by the time Ian got him back out to the car. It was beginning to turn to dusk outside. Ian turned the heating up, pulled the seat belt over Kier and drove home, keeping an anxious eye on him. Kier managed to stay awake only for the first twenty minutes on the ride home. The painkillers put him out quickly, though they did nothing to return a normal healthy color to his face. Ian pulled into the driveway and parked, before going around and pulling Kier out of the car and carrying him into the house. He managed to get him straight upstairs and into bed without waking him. He smoothed back the hair on his head before delivering a kiss to his forehead and pulling the blankets up around him. He looked much better than earlier, but still not quite enough colour for Ian's tastes. And surprisingly innocent, considering the day he'd had.
Kier woke about four am, cold, miserable and with an ache in his hand that he'd been dreaming about for a while before it became too strong to sleep through. He turned over and yelped as he moved the cast. Ian roused and captured the damaged hand before he could move it any further.
"Hey. It's allright, I've got you. Come here."
Kier moaned, not capable of much else.
Ian pulled him close, held him with one arm and reached to turn the light on with the other.
"What's wrong? Hand hurting?"
Kier pulled away and looked at him with eyes full of sleep and distress. Ian pushed his hair off his forehead and kissed him before he got out of bed.
"You're okay. I'll get you a couple of painkillers, you can go right back to sleep and you'll be fine."
Kier curled up tightly, watching Ian collect the tablets out of the bathroom cabinet and bring them over. He lifted his head to take the pills and the glass of water, taking a few swallows to wake himself up. Ian got up and went to the window, drawing the curtains tighter and turning up the heating.
Kier looked at the tablets, not certain he wanted to take them. He hated the fog they put him in, but decided as it was still early to go ahead. He tossed them back and finished off the glass of water, handing the empty glass back to Ian.
"That will help." Ian said, putting the glass back in the bathroom, before sliding under the covers and pulling Kier to him. He gently rubbed Kier's back until the deep breathing told him that Kier was out for another few hours. Then he turned the light off and went back to sleep himself.
Ian was up by 8 am. He took his time over a cup of coffee and the paper, waiting for Kier to awaken before he started breakfast. Finally around nine, he heard the unmistakable sounds of an awakening brat padding down the stairs.
Kier appeared in the kitchen, barefoot, sleepy and heavy eyed, and buried himself straight in Ian's arms. Ian rubbed his back, rocking him for a moment, then kissed his forehead.
"Back to bed, you could do with a little extra rest this morning."
"I'm okay." Kier said sleepily. Ian gave him a gentle swat towards the stairs.
"Back to bed."
"Go." Ian said firmly. "You're still drugged to the gills. Another hour or two in bed won't hurt you."
Kier hesitated in the doorway as the phone rang. Ian picked it up, sparing Kier a glare over the receiver.
“Hello? Hi Jamie. No, he isn't. Not today. No, I'm sorry. Try in a day or two. Give my love to Allen."
Kier, who had headed across the kitchen, hand held out for the phone, looked at him surprised and outraged as he put the phone down.
"That was MY call!"
"And we have things to talk about today. Go back to bed." Ian said firmly.
"I have a broken hand, not--"
Ian took three steps towards Kier, before Kier turned and stomped towards the stairs. Ian let him go, but the now familiar rush of exasperation reminded him of what he'd had planned for this morning. Well, Kier was going to be a captive audience now: there was no reason to postpone it. He fixed a tray with breakfast and followed Kier upstairs, intending to get him settled and comfortable, and then sit down to some serious talking.
It was apparent when he reached the top of the stairs that far from being back in bed, Kier was in the office and on the computer. No doubt glued into email or IM. Ian put the tray down on their
bedside table and went down the hall to the office. The look he got over the hood of the computer was nothing if not defiant.
Ian didn't even bother to ask, just walked around the desk and hit the off button. Kiernan screeched immediately.
"I was BUSY!"
Ian took firm hold of Kiernan's ear, lifted him from the chair and guided him into the bedroom, Kiernan mouthing the entire way.
"I said upstairs and IN BED Kiernan, and I meant it."
As soon as he released Kier's ear, Kier grabbed for it and fell into bed.
"You aren't even funny."
"I wasn't trying to be. Now if you'll sit still, I'll put the breakfast tray on the bed."
"I was TALKING to Jamie!"
"And I said it was breakfast time." Ian said bluntly. "Sit down and sit still."
The pout would have got him into Olympic heats. Ian put the tray down and took no notice, collecting two painkillers from the bottle in the bathroom.
"Here. Get these down. How does it feel this morning?"
"All right." Kier said sullenly. "Doesn't hurt and I don't need these."
"It doesn't hurt because you've got the medication to the right level in your blood stream. Keep it constant and it won't hurt." Ian picked up his mug of tea and the phone, dialing the building corporation Kier worked for.
"Who are you calling?" Kier demanded.
"I'm calling in sick for you."
"I could --"
Ian silenced him with a wave as he replied to the receiver.
"Hi, Michael? This is Ian- Kiernan's partner. He had a minor accident yesterday and has a broken hand. He'll be out at least a week."
Ian had to quickly hit the mute button and check the ceiling to be sure the paint was still there at Kiernan's outraged shriek.
"When did you pass your medical degree?"
Kier glared at him. "I CAN'T be out a week!"
"I'm the one with the qualification and I'm TELLING you, a week. Possibly more. Your work is heavy and you can't do it with a fractured hand."
Kier glowered at him. Ian flicked the phone back on.
"Sorry Mike. Yes, he'll be fine. If it's more than a week I'll bring a certificate over."
"I don't BELIEVE you did that." Kier said half under his breath.
Ian sat on the edge of the bed and called the hospital.
"Taken those pills yet?"
Kiernan glared out from under lowered lashes. He knew he'd not be able to breathe until Ian was sure he'd taken the medication. He held the pills up to show Ian, brought his hand to his mouth and swallowed water immediately after.
"Happy now?" he said sardonically, as he made sure to keep his cast upright so the pills wouldn't fall out of it. "Can I go to the bathroom? Is that allowed?"
"Be my guest." Ian said quietly, not liking the tone in the least.
Kier slid off the bed and headed for the bathroom with all the superiority he could muster. There he flushed both pills down the toilet.
"So what are we going to do today?" he demanded, returning and flopping across the bed hard enough to make the tea slop in the mugs.
Ian gave him a look for a minute, then said quietly, "There's a few things we need to talk about. We have all day; this seems like a good time to do it."
"Talk about WHAT?" Kier said suspiciously.
Ian turned to see his face.
"Work for a start. And us. And what happened yesterday. Although I think all three things are connected."
Kier rolled onto his back, looking at the ceiling, not liking where this seemed to be going.
"What about work?" he said, absently tracing the quilt lines with his good hand.
"Let's start with us, and work our way there. Sit up please."
"I'm listening, what more do you want?" Kier snapped.
Ian shook his head, making a deliberate effort not to respond to the provocation. "I asked you to sit up."
"And I asked you why?" Kier said flatly.
Ian took a deep breath.
"This is a case in point Kier. Your moods have gone steadily down hill these last few months. We're spending most of the little time we actually get together in fighting, which I don't enjoy and I don't think you do either."
Kier scowled, taken aback and uncomfortable. He didn't much like arguing with Ian, but he enjoyed work and he assumed that ten minutes after an argument it was forgotten. He hadn't noticed it being too frequent.
"I don't think we fight."
"We don't fight. You are however very often tired, which makes you cranky and aggressive-"
"I am NOT aggressive."
"And your temper seems to be getting more and more out of your control. That IS a major problem Kier, it always has been."
"You're ALWAYS going on about how lousy I am at controlling my temper!" Kier said hotly. "I'm a LOT better than I was, it isn't a problem!"
"No, it's so little a problem that you attacked a stranger who annoyed you yesterday." Ian said quietly. "We WERE making good headway with it, you were a lot more settled before you started taking out of town projects with the company. What we need out of this relationship takes more time than you're giving it. For me to help you get your temper under control needs you to be here with me a lot more than you are."
"You can't ask me to stop working! That isn't fair!" Kier nearly screamed as he sat up.
"Stop it." Ian said calmly. "I'm not asking you to stop work, it --"
Kier jumped off the bed. "I work for a construction company, we have to go where the work takes us! It's not like I have an office, you KNOW that!"
Ian stood up and caught Kier by the shoulders, turning him face to face. "Listen to me-"
Kier roughly removed himself from Ian's grasp. "You are being entirely TOO controlling, and I WON'T PUT UP --"
Ian's bark was sharp and interrupted his shout. "FACE THE CORNER Kiernan. Right now."
Kier pulled up short. Ian hardly ever raised his voice, and he was shocked by the tone and level it had reached. He brought his eyes up to meet Ian's and started to work on a penitent look, but when he reached Ian's eyes, he stopped. He couldn't quite read what was there, but knew it wasn't good. He could only hold the gaze for a moment, before dropping his eyes and walking over to the corner, a little shaky.
He found himself getting shakier the longer he stood there. A few minutes later Ian's hands slid over his shoulders, gentle and reassuring.
"Can we talk about this civilly now?"
"You just want to blame me for everything." Kier said unsteadily, feeling near to tears. Ian turned him around, stroking his face, then lifting his chin.
"I don't. I want to talk about us. We have some problems we need to do something about- whether you want to hear it or not."
Kier gave him a defensive look. Ian steered him across to the bed again.
"Why don't you sit down and let me finish? Let me say what I'm thinking. Then I'll listen to what you have to say."
"And then you'll get your way." Kier said hotly. Ian sighed.
"Kier. This is not a committee. Keeping us on track is my responsibility. I think if you're losing sight of that, it's a good sign that we're not spending enough time together. I also think you need to stop taking out of town work. You need to come home every night, and we need to spend some good time together every day."
"Let me finish," Ian said gently. "I know what your job entails. And there is more than enough
work here in this city, and the surrounding close areas, that you don't have to work overnight. I've seen so little of you lately. Not only do I think it's getting in the way of our relationship, I miss you." Ian pulled Kier's chin up to catch his eyes. "I miss us."
Kier flushed as Ian had touched on one of the things that he felt the most guilt over. For a long time he had kept his mind focused on work- Ian was just always there. Always reliable. Always at home. Now it seemed when he thought about it, they were always either arguing over chores that had to be done, or actually doing the chores. Or sleeping.
"It's not my fault." he said defensively. "YOU work ridiculous hours-"
Ian shook his head. "Kier. I schedule my hours to give me as much time with you as possible, you know that. And I'm here a lot of evenings alone when we could be together. You NEED to be at home."
Kier stared at the floor, upset and furious. Ian shifted beside him, turning closer.
"I think you need to make it clear to the company that you will no longer take out of town work."
"They'll never give me ANY work if I do that!" Kier replied hotly.
"Kier, you're a good worker. You're one of the few that show up every day on time, and willing to work hard while you're there. You've got no worries where that's concerned."
"They'll think I can't handle stuff." Kier tried again.
"That's not true. You don't have to tell them it came from me." Ian countered.
Kier was quickly running out of excuses and he knew it. Which made him even more upset.
"I can't!" He finally cried, falling backwards on the bed and burying his head in a pillow.
"You can, and you will." Ian waited a beat before adding, "or I will."
"You CAN'T do that! It isn't fair and you don't have the right!"
Kier felt Ian's hand rub his back, as soothing as his voice was firm.
"It’s up to you. Either you talk to the company tomorrow, or I go with you and I do the talking. Either way I want to see a new and signed job description when you're done that states you work in town only."
That was too outrageous to be considered now. Kier took a few more long, gulping breaths.
"Was that everything you wanted to say?"
"Most of it." Ian said mildly. "Except for dealing with yesterday."
"He deserved what he got!" Kier started with.
Ian pulled Kier up by the arm. "Your temper got the best of you yesterday. That's something that we've discussed almost from the beginning of this relationship."
Kier rolled his eyes to the heavens and sighed, loudly, and went to fall back on the bed. Ian's grip on his shoulders prevented that.
"Look at me, Kier."
Ian waited until the blue eyes found their way to his. "The punch you threw yesterday was completely out of line. Aside from the fact that it was hardly a gentlemanly way to solve a disagreement, it IS a quick way to find yourself in trouble with the local police."
Kier laughed derisively.
"It's called assault and battery, Kier, and it's NOT a laughing matter."
Ian's tone was sharp enough that Kier went quiet.
"I am thoroughly disappointed that you reacted as you did. Your temper IS out of line, and we will be working on that, starting right now. If your hand wasn't broken, you'd be spanked good and proper. As it is, you can consider yourself grounded until the cast is off your hand. But we are going to spend that grounding getting your temper back under control and getting this relationship back how it ought to be."
"There's nothing WRONG with it!" Kier snapped, heading for the door. "It's just YOU being as anal as you always are, and-"
"Kiernan." Ian's voice was quiet but meaningful. "We are not going to argue, we are going to discuss this. Quietly."
"You mean you're going to TELL me what I can do! Well fuck you Ian-"
Kiernan managed to get turned towards the door and intended on walking out of it alone. He was surprised as Ian steered him out instead. He started to wrench himself free and as he opened his mouth to protest, Ian interrupted.
"If I were you, I'd think long and hard before I said anything else."
Before Kiernan could react to that, he was ushered into the bathroom. That's when it dawned on him what was getting ready to happen. Before he could get back out the door, Ian had pushed him firmly down on the toilet, and held him there.
"You and I are going to work on OUR problems. That takes both of us, and we ARE both going to do it. Willing or not."
While Ian was talking, he took a new bar of soap and lathered it up in the sink, before turning back to Kier. "I gave you several opportunities to speak sensibly, calmly, yet you chose to ignore them. I will NOT tolerate you swearing at me."
Ian inserted the soap into Kiernan's mouth.
"Hold it there."
Once Kier was settled, Ian washed his hands, then leaned against the sink, crossing his arms.
"I didn't lie to you at the beginning of the relationship, and I'm not going to lie to you now. This isn't going to be easy. We both know that. You've lost sight of the ground rules we've always had, and recently I haven't done as much as I could to hold you to them. That's my fault, and it's why you're not in a LOT more trouble than you are about assaulting Lucas yesterday."
Kier stared at him, hurt and feeling more than slightly betrayed. And scared. Ian's eyes didn't alter.
"So we are going to set down the rules again, clearly, in ways we both understand and we're going to stick to them. We've got time together now to do this and to make a good start, and we BOTH have to use this opportunity. Do you understand?"
Kier stared at him. Right now, he looked distraught and that was about all.
Ian took the soap out of his mouth, not able to withstand the large eyes fixed on his.
"Go on, rinse."
Kier dived for the sink, spitting. Ian gave him a minute, then dropped a hand on his shoulder.
"That'll do. Right now I want you to get dressed. The tea must be stone cold by now. Come downstairs and I'll make another stab at breakfast."
Kier spat once more, then grabbed a few tissues to wipe off his face before heading into the bedroom to put something on. He remained mad at Ian for the pre breakfast treat and that combined with one useless hand that was starting to ache fueled his temper. He refused to yell downstairs for Ian's help. Finally he grabbed a pair of sweat pants out of sheer frustration and was able to slid those on. He stopped back in the bathroom on the way down the hall to try water to rinse his mouth.
"Kier? Breakfast will be lunch if you don't come down now!" Ian called upstairs.
Kier finished rinsing what he could and headed downstairs.
Breakfast was not a happy meal. Kier would have conducted it in sullen silence anyway, but as soon as he picked up a cup his hand gave an unpleasant jab of pain and after that began to ache with a growing ferocity. Ian ate quietly, apparently unaware of the hot eyes glowering across the table.
"Are you done?" he said when Kier pushed away his cup, unable to stand the ache any longer.
"I suppose so."
"Then there are the bulbs in the sack on the terrace, all of which need planting."
"I don't know if you noticed DOCTOR, but I have a broken hand?"
"You can plant with your left hand, you don't need your right."
Kier slammed his chair back and grabbed his coat. "Yeah right. Whatever."
Ian looked up and without blinking, pointed to the corner. "Face the corner, Kier."
Ian slid his chair back and stood up, eyes centered squarely on Kier. "When I ask you to do something, I expect you to do it without backchat. You WILL face that corner without another word, or I can make life REALLY difficult for you this morning. It's your choice."
Kier took only a moment to decide that now was not the time to push further, and went to the corner designated, fury radiating from him in almost visible waves. Ian shook his head. This was not going to be a fun way to spend the next several days, but he knew that the end result would hopefully be worth the aggravation now. He knew too he should have done this some time ago. He sat back down and finished reading the paper.
Kier's workload had been steadily building over the last few months, each job taking him further and further away until recently he was spending maybe three nights at home out of seven. It wasn't nearly enough for Kier's needs. What got him by with his work mates and in motels was not going to get him by at home, or with anyone who really cared about and would challenge him; and they were habits Ian had seen building with growing concern. And for weeks he'd seen Kier too stressed, too tired, needing to make the best of what little time they had together, to put a foot firmly down. It was going to be hard to intervene now. Hard on both of them.
"Are you ready to try planting now?" he invited five minutes later. Kier shrugged without turning.
"Fair enough." Ian said, and returned to his paper.
Kier started to fume as he realised Ian actually wasn't going to respond. He sighed heavily once or twice, kicked at the skirting boards and finally said out loud,
"Do I need to review the rules for behavior while in the corner?" Ian asked.
Kier wanted to scream, but managed to get out a sullen "No." instead.
Kier bit his lip hard, trying not to let loose the obscenities that were swirling in his head. He was just about to say something when Ian questioned him again.
"Now ready for planting?"
"Yes." Kier nearly spat, without turning around.
Ian ignored the tone. "Then you may get started."
Kier turned from the corner and grabbed his jacket before heading outside. The only thing that saved him from getting yelled at for slamming the door was the fact that his jacket got caught as he did that, and softened the blow. Kier pulled his jacket out and pulled it on as he cursed soundly under his breath as he headed out to the back shed.
"I don't get him." he informed the lawnmower as he collected the trowel. "One minute he's going on like I'll break if I get out of bed. The next it's get out and do the gardening!"
He kicked the shed door shut, grabbed up the sack of bulbs and flinched, hard, as his hand jarred. Almost, he considered going back to the house for more painkillers. Except Ian being the doctor of the house, believed in keeping all medication under his own control, and in Kier taking nothing that he wasn't directly given. Which meant there was no way of getting at the pills without Ian knowing. Kier gritted his teeth and decided he'd manage. It was only two broken knuckles, he'd survive.
Ian watched him from the window, very little of his attention on the kitchen chores he was doing. He intended Kier to be out for an hour at the very most: enough to give him some fresh air and some space. Planting bulbs was hardly arduous and at least would keep his mind occupied and himself out of trouble.
Kier kept up his end of the conversation with the various bulbs as he dropped them into the holes that he managed to forge with his left hand.
"One minute this, one minute that. He's like two people. 'Go plant.' 'Face the corner, DON'T plant.' What next?" Kier looked up in time to see the curtains drop back into place. "What, am I a SPECIMIN under a microscope?" he yelled in frustration.
Getting no response, he went back to digging.
Ian watched discreetly after being caught watching. He had to assure himself that Kier was in fact okay, but he did want to give him at least the sense of aloneness. When the hour was up, he went outside.
"Looks like you've done a great job!" Ian complimented him.
"Yeah and now my hand really hurts." Kier snapped back without thinking. "Happy now?"
Ian caught the cast before he could get out of reach.
"Hurting? How bad?"
"Not too bad." Kier back-tracked hastily. Ian checked his fingers, frowning slightly at the heat in them.
"I told you not to use this hand, you don't need two hands to put bulbs in holes. Go on, inside, wash your hands and don't track mud everywhere. I'll get you a drink, you can sit down and rest for a while."
Kier quickly got up and went inside, happy to leave the mess with Ian. And very glad that Ian didn't pressure him about his hand. He groaned with frustration as he couldn't figure out a way to wash his hands with soap, without getting his cast wet. Finally he just turned the water off and grabbed several paper towels, sitting down to try his best at wiping off the excess dirt that way. He barely looked up when Ian came in.
"Want some tea?" Ian asked as he washed his hands off at the sink.
"I guess." Kier replied distractedly, as he was still working on his hands.
Ian set the kettle on and went over to take a closer look at Kier's hand. "Let me see the cast again. I want to make sure that your fingers aren't swollen."
"You're still hot." Ian felt his fingers over carefully, covering over his anxiety. "There's another hour yet before I can give you any more meds. I'm going to put some ice on and I want you to lie on the sofa for a while. Get yourself flat, I won't be a minute."
That sounded more like a way to spend the day. Kier headed for the sofa, automatically flicking the tv on as he passed. Ian turned it off a minute later when he came in, ice in hand.
"You're grounded remember?"
"But I'm ILL." Kier said hotly. "What else am I supposed to do here?"
"Read. Nap." Ian settled him flat, put a cushion on his chest and lifted the hand up on to it. "Keep that hand up."
"OW! That's too cold!" Kier said as soon as the ice was placed against his fingers.
"It's ice, it will be cold."
"Thanks for the update, Einstein." Kier tried to pull his hand away.
"You're dangerously close to being in trouble young man." Ian said, keeping Kier's hand under the ice.
Kier bit back a reply and turned his head away, his eyes following the patterns of the stitching in the sofa. His hand was increasingly painful, yet he wasn't going to admit that to Ian. Once Ian was certain that Kier would leave the ice alone for a few minutes, he headed upstairs, returning a minute later with a book in hand.
"Here, you're reading this, aren't you?"
Kier took the outstretched book, hoping it would take his mind off the pain in his hand. He accepted Ian's help to get the book situated so he could read, and tried to bury himself into the characters.
Ian sat back down, watching Kier. Something wasn't right with the picture, but he couldn't quite lay his finger on it.
Kier fidgeted for the rest of the hour. Ian was watching the clock by the end of it, well aware from his colour and his restlessness that he was no more comfortable. It was a relief to be able to get up and collect the next two pills and a glass of water, with some hope that the top-up dose would dull the pain he was in. Kier accepted both silently, and for a moment considered taking the pills. His hand certainly hurt. But a demon of obstinacy stuck to it's guns. He didn't NEED the pills, he wasn't in agony. He didn't want to be sleepy. And most of all, Ian WANTED him to take the pills. That was a very good reason to refuse. Once more he let the pills slide down into his cast, gulped water and handed the glass back. Ian took the book from him and laid it out of reach.
"Why don't you see if you can get a nap?"
Kier stood up. "Good idea. Bathroom first though." He headed in and after a little coaxing, the pills slid out of his cast and into the toilet. He used the restroom then flushed the evidence away. He walked slowly back to the couch and laid down, hoping that a few minutes of rest would ease the pain.
Ian slid Kier's shoes off and covered him with a blanket. "If you need anything, I'll be in the office."
Kier waved his hand and closed his eyes, but try as he might, the aching in his hand didn't allow for him to sleep. After thirty minutes of trying, he sat up. He thought about turning the tv back on, but decided he'd head upstairs and see what Ian was doing. He spotted Ian in the office chair and tried to settle in on his lap.
Ian pushed back from the desk to make room for him, and hugged him when he cuddled up.
"Any more comfortable?"
"Yes, fine." Kier lied, tucking his head under Ian's chin. Ian stroked his back, reaching for his casted hand. The fingers Kier tried to pull away were still hot and swollen.
Ian unobtrusively felt Kier's forehead and winced. Much as he didn't want to stress or distress Kier any further, this was not looking good. He closed the folder he'd been working on and gently slid Kier to his feet.
"Get your shoes sweetheart. I want to take you back to the hospital and get another xray of that hand."
"What?!?" Kier nearly shrieked, outraged by the comment almost as much as having lost his comfortable lap.
"You and your hand don't seem to be responding to the medication as it should. The xray will tell me if there is any kind of trouble brewing that you might need help with. It's just an xray, no needles involved."
Kier didn't know how to get himself out of the mess he was in. The xray didn't scare him, but the hospital did. But comparing that to Ian's fury at hiding the medication, he chose the hospital instead. He walked unsteadily downstairs to find his shoes.
Ian watched, trying not to let his worry show. He could tell Kier was still suffering pain as he remained white and shaky looking. He helped to tie the laces on Kier's shoes, and they headed out the door.
It took a harrowing two hours for him to grab the colleague he needed, find a space in the busy xray schedules to fit Kier in, to get the pictures back and analysed, and then check with another colleague that he hadn't missed anything. Kier's hand seemed to be set right in the cast, the cast seemed sound, the only possible thing left was to change the medication to something stronger if this one wasn't helping. Which was odd, as Kier was easily knocked out by most medications. Ian fought the desire to get the cast off and changed as a precaution, got his colleague to sign a second prescription and took a now white, miserable and thoroughly pathetic Kiernan home.
Once there he chased Kier up to bed, got him undressed, refusing to let him use the hand, and drew the curtains.
"I'm going to get you something to eat and give you one of the new pills as a top up. That ought to help. And then maybe you can get some sleep."
"Okay." Kier said, sliding under the covers. He felt as pathetic as he looked.
Ian fixed a bowl of chicken noodle soup and took that upstairs with a sandwich. He placed the tray down on the dresser, and brought one of the new pills over to Kier, with a glass of water.
"Try this. It might make you sleepy, but I think you could do with a good nap."
Kier took the pill and expertly slid it into the cast, taking a good, long gulp of water to follow that. He handed the glass back and started to get out of bed.
"Kier? Where are you going?" Ian asked as he put the glass back down on the tray.
"To the bathroom, mein fuhrer?" Kier said.
Ian grabbed Kier by the arm and turned him to face him.
Kier watched in horror and as if in slow motion, as the pill he had so expertly slid into his cast now rolled across his knuckles and bounced on the floor at their feet.
Kier looked up at Ian's face in horror. Ian's eyes were fixed on the progress of the tablet as it rolled away, then they lifted to Kier's with a mingled look of startlement and growing exasperation. Kier giggled in sheer nervous overload.
"Whoops." he said lightly.
Ian resisted the urge to pursue that remark. Instead, he took Kier's arm and sat him firmly on the edge of the bed.
"How many pills have actually gone into your mouth since yesterday evening?"
Kier's eyes went round as saucers. Ian folded his arms to keep his hands from upending Kier where he sat and making his opinions more emphatically known.
"I took them last night." Kier said hopefully. "Both of them."
He always looked so little when he was caught out. All the fight and fury gone, the look of crushed bewilderment spreading from his wide eyes to his parted lips like a lost little boy. Ian blinked to kill the illusion.
"None? Is that what you're saying?"
Kiernan looked away quickly from Ian. The look in his eyes had changed from one of exasperation to one of determination. Kier knew he was sunk. "Yes" he mumbled quietly.
Ian resisted the ever stronger urge to wring his lover's neck. He stood up and got in front of Kier, pulling his chin up so he could look him in the eyes.
"You mean to tell me that the trip to the hospital earlier was completely unnecessary? That fitting you in between patients who were there for a REASON, and taking up my colleagues' time was just done because you failed to take the drugs that you needed to?!? Is THAT what you're saying?"
Kier shriveled inside as the implications of the days actions were brought fully into focus by his irate partner. Faced with that knowledge, the ache in his hand, and his general unhappiness, he managed to get out one long "Noooooooooo" before bursting into tears and trying to bury himself into Ian's chest.
Ian took just a moment to hug his lover back, before peeling Kier off of him and heading downstairs.
Kier buried his face in the pillow and continued with the gut wrenching sobs. He didn't hear Ian return, nor pay any attention as Ian opened his medical kit and took out a syringe and a bottle. He inserted the needle in the bottle and drew up the top dose allowed, tapping the needle to get rid of any excess air, then laid that down on the table.
Kier shifted in shock and then outrage as he felt Ian's hands on his sweatpants. In pain with a broken hand he felt in no condition to withstand anything, never mind one of Ian's spankings. He lifted his head and was about to inform Ian so in no uncertain terms when he caught sight of the syringe. He froze, his mouth drying, then he quickly rolled over, moving any potential target well out of Ian's way.
"NO, you can't! I only did it once-"
"Three times." Ian pointed out.
"But I didn't WANT them! I'll take them now, I promise!"
"Why on earth should I believe you?" Ian inquired. "You were bold enough to drag me through a two hour charade and waste a lot of people's time, just to get out of taking those pills-"
"I WILL take them now, I swear!" Kier pleaded. Ian's face was not promising, and he hadn't put down that damned syringe.
"I can't trust you, and I won't let you mess around any longer. This was your choice, Kier, not mine."
Kier renewed his struggle to get away.
Ian put the syringe back down and pulled Kier to a sitting position. "Arguing with me while I'm holding a needle is NOT a smart thing to do, little boy. You have gone much farther than you should already, and I suggest you stop right now."
Kier quieted down as Ian's tone was frightening him.
"The medicine you were given is not a joke, it's not something that you brush off without thought. You need to take ANY prescribed drug very seriously. I thought I'd taught you enough to know that. Since I clearly haven't, and since you've clearly got no concerns at all about abusing them, I'll give you the medication in the only way I know you'll safely get it, all and on time."
"I promise I'll take it." Kier said plaintively. "I promise."
"And I need more than your word." Ian said gravely. "Which again was your decision and not mine. You've demonstrated how little I can trust you."
Kier's eyes filled with tears. Ian grasped his hips and rolled him over, flat on the bed. He knew from experience he had no chance of getting a hypodermic anywhere near his partner if Kier was able to see it, but right now he was angry enough to see this through no matter what Kier did or said. Some of that determination sank through to Kiernan who started to cry quietly but didn't fight as Ian rapidly and very deftly gave him the anti inflammatory shot.
Ian slid Kier's shorts back into position, dropped his hand on Kier's slightly shaking shoulder and gently said
"Some food would do you good. Sit up and let's get lunch eaten."
Kier was completely miserable and did what he was asked to do without a word. He ate the food without tasting it, tears tracking slowly down his cheeks.
Ian hated to see Kier as miserable as he looked. He was still angry with him, but as soon as Kier finished his lunch, Ian removed the tray, then set down on the side of the bed, pulling Kier against him. He brushed the sandy hair away from Kier's face and wiped away the tears. Kier took comfort in the closeness, and between that, the food, and the medication, was soon asleep.
Ian sat with him a while longer, continuing to stroke his hair back and feeling his hot forehead gradually start to cool as the drugs took effect. He still couldn't believe that Kier had dragged them both to the hospital over sheer one up man ship. Kier had a temper and a will of iron- and no forethought whatsoever- but- Ian bit off the thought before it started. Kier would not have realised the time wasted, the people delayed. In many ways, he was a baby. Naiive, quick thinking, with all the attention span of a grasshopper and the natural trust of a puppy. And a tendency to dig his heels in like a mule when the mood struck him. The fact that he had pulled this trick however- in pure defiance, and for few other reasons than defiance- was not a good sign. Ian laid Kier gently down and headed for the office to catch up on his paperwork. He had a feeling he was going to need his time free for the next few days.
It was three hours later that Ian heard a thump and got up to investigate. He found the book that had been on the bed on the floor, and Kier perpendicular on the bed. "Kier?" He said as he walked over to the bed.
"Yeah. I'm fine." Kier muttered without opening his eyes. Ian hooked one arm under his shoulders, the other under his knees and pulled him round to get his head back on the pillow.
"Go back to sleep, sweetheart."
"No, I'm fine." Kier hauled himself upright via Ian's arms and clung to him. Ian rocked him, rubbing his back. Semi conscious, it took barely a minute of soothing before Kier was fast asleep again. Ian laid him down, intent on tucking him in, and instead grabbed for the phone as it began to ring. He snatched it up before it's shrill could disturb Kier.
There was a deathly hush at the other end, then a click as whoever it was hung up. Ian shook his head and put the phone down again. Kier stirred and rolled towards him.
"What time is it?"
"It's time for you to go back to sleep." Ian said, pulling the covers back up.
Kier pushed them down and tried to get up again. Ian's hands prevented him. He got angry enough to be able to open his eyes and nailed Ian with a look that should have turned him to stone. Ian shook his head.
"I love you too, sweetheart. You're staying in bed."
"Am NOT." Kier struggled for a minute more, before that little movement wore him out. He shut his eyes to gather his strength and fell asleep.
Ian slid Kier off and under the covers and pulled them up again. He dropped a kiss on the hot forehead and walked downstairs to finish making dinner. Sometimes, he thought the answer to Kier was a LARGE playpen, constructed somewhere in the living room and stocked with a nintendo, a bookshelf and a running machine. On other days, he thought a cage would be more appropriate. Then he pulled himself together. No, the answer was simpler. He needed to re establish the boundaries and enforce them. More clearly. Until Kier recognised the lines again and thought before he crossed them, even when he wasn't thinking straight.
Kier looked more awake when he went upstairs, his eyes were clearer and he was trying to read. The book was instantly cast aside at the sight of him and the pout returned at full force.
"I feel terrible."
"Does your hand hurt?" Ian said matter of factly.
"No." Kier admitted. "But I HATE feeling this dopy."
He never reacted well to drugs. But without the painkillers and anti inflammatories he was in for a couple of very painful days, and Kier was naturally highly strung: enough to fret himself into a fever if he was uncomfortable The drugs were the lesser of the two evils. Ian put a tray down on his knees and sat down beside him, voice soothing.
"You'll live. In 24 hours or so you'll be more used to them."
"I won't." Kier said under his breath, picking the spoon up to stir his soup.
"You will." Ian said as he sat down to eat his own meal.
Kier finished his soup, both hunger and thirst being quenched. He put the bowl down and slid his feet to the side of the bed.
"Where do you think you're going?" Ian inquired.
"To the bathroom, unless that's not allowed?"
Ian ignored the tone. "Do you need a hand?"
"I do NOT need any help, thank you." Kier replied tersely, before stumbling towards the bathroom.
"DO you need any help?" he asked his reflection as he passed the mirror. "No, I didn't think so."
He finished up and wandered back to the bedroom, gave the rumpled bed and Ian a brief look and reached for his clothes. "I'm ready to get up now."
"That's a problem, since I'm not." Ian said firmly. Kier gave him a frustrated look.
"I'll be GOOD now."
"That isn't the point." Ian leaned over and took the clothes out of his hands. "Bed please."
Kier looked askance at him. Getting his whine returned did NOTHING for his barely held temper.
"I am NOT tired, what GOOD does it do for me to SIT there?!?"
"I'm not going to tell you again." Ian said very sternly. He was determined not to argue with Kier, and that Kier WOULD understand he was serious.
Kier glared hotly at Ian, trying to judge his choices quickly. Out of the corner of his eye he saw the medical kit, and fear of the needles overrode ANY sense of self preservation. He bounced over the bed, landing on the other side of it to put distance between him and Ian, crossed his arms and said very plainly, "no."
Ian mentally sighed, got up and went around the bed, in no hurry but without hesitation. Kier stood for a moment, defiant, then his nerve broke and he made a run for the doorway. Still unsteady with drugs he didn't do it well and out of concern for him trying this game on the stairs, Ian quickened his pace and cornered him before he made it out of the doorway. Kier struggled as he was grabbed and Ian twisted him around, swatting him hard. Kier's jaw fell open. Ian pushed him back to the bed, deliberately keeping his voice steady and calm.
"If it takes a day, a week, a month, you WILL learn to follow instructions. And it will be MUCH pleasanter for you if you do it the first time, not the second or the third or the tenth."
Ian took a quick seat on the bed and pulled a struggling and reticent Kier across his knees, quickly and firmly anchoring him and starting on a few very firm and solid swats to the wriggling backside.
"Ian! OW! That hurts, you don't HAVE to ... OW! Ian?! OOOWWW!"
Kier tried to twist around to block the blows that were raining down without mercy, but he found his only free hand firmly held into the small of his back giving him even less room for movement. He tried a few more times to get free, then just concentrated on trying to move ANY part of his body away from the punishing hand, unable to believe Ian was spanking him. He was SICK and Ian was spanking him.
Ian didn't slow up in the slightest. Far from being a mild, Stop and Behave few swats this was a serious spanking and Kier was as startled by it as hurt. Within a few minutes he was tired and hurt enough to have no strength left for fighting. He collapsed over Ian's lap and sobbed, surrendering. Ian hardened his heart and delivered a brief, last set of swats before he stopped.
Kier was crying hard, the serious tears of 'I'm in major trouble'. And with distress and confusion. Trying not to feel guilty, Ian lifted him up and hugged him hard. Kier folded into the arms, sobbing against the strong shoulder. Ian pulled him close and rocked him, murmuring nonsense to get Kier to settle down.
"Why did I spank you?" he said into Kier's neck.
Kier shifted deeper, hunching his shoulders. Ian peeled him away. "Why?"
Kier's lip slipped out as Ian made him look.
"I don't know."
"Why?" Ian repeated. Kier managed to hold on to the pout a moment more, then his eyes filled again.
"Because I said no."
"That's right. I'm not going to fight with you about every little thing Kier."
"But I'm booooooooorrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrred," Kier whined again, ducking his head back down.
"And I said you're staying put." Ian said as he shifted Kier back onto the bed with purpose. "And it's time for your next dose of painkillers."
Kier huddled up around his pillow, totally miserable, not moving as Ian gave him the shot. Ian pulled the covers back up over the cold shoulder he was getting from Kier and hesitated for a minute, instinct strong to comfort. Then he made himself get up and leave his young lover in peace. The lesson was starting to sink in, this was no time to encourage Kier to forget it. Kier should sleep for another couple of hours and they'd try again at general conversation upon the next awakening.
Kier curled up, upset and uncomfortable, by no means ready to let Ian go. But also not ready to call him back. He curled up around his pillow and cried a little more, quietly and mostly with self pity. Ian was horrible. He HATED Ian to be mad at him. Hated still more when he got into trouble. The phone came as unwelcome intrusion. Ian didn't pick up on the downstairs extension- he had to either be in the garden or the basement. Kier uncurled, fed up, and picked up the receiver, still sniffling.
"Kier, I've been trying to get you for ages." Jamie hissed at the other end, sounding tired and panic stricken. Kier sat up and then promptly wished he hadn't.
"Ian's being a total swine." Kier said bitterly. "It HAS to be PMT, there's no other reason he'd be such a pig-"
"Allen too." Jamie sounded on the brink of tears. "Kier, I've left him."
Kier sat bolt upright at that news, completely forgetting the pain he was in.
"What happened?!?" he nearly screeched into the phone.
"Could you PLEASE be quiet? I've had to hang up on Ian several times and I only have a couple of minutes," Jamie said forcefully, before sliding back down into sorrow. "I...he..." Jamie took a deep shuddering breath, before dissolving into tears, the phone falling down beside him, the disconnect button getting hit on the way down.
"Jamie? Hello? Jamie!" Kier slammed the phone down when he realized he'd been disconnected. He sat, panic stricken for a moment, trying to digest all at once. After the initial course of panic, he realized that Jamie must have just run away, otherwise Allen would have already called Ian.
It took Kier only a moment more to realize he could pick the phone back up and dial the last number that was connected. He pressed the requisite buttons, Jamie's phone ringing several times before it was answered.
"So..sorry," Jamie hiccuped as Kier's number flashed on his readout.
"Are you okay?" Kier asked immediately, concerned.
Kier's questions were met with several sniffles as Jamie worked on calming down.
"I....I...think so," Jamie finally managed.
"Where are you?"
Jamie wanted to answer, but was afraid of being found. "Around," he said evasively, hating to leave Kier out of it.
"Jamie don't do that to me, you can trust me."
"Ian's there isn't he?" Jamie said through tears
"So Allen'll call and Ian'll ask you and you'll tell him in the end"
"You will, you know you will."
"You know my car?" Jamie gulped and tried to breathe. "We had a huge row. Oh God I am in so much trouble Kier."
"Calm down and talk to me, it's ok."
"It isn't, I am in so deep-"
"Kier?" Ian said downstairs, "Who's on the phone?"
"Don't-" Kier started to say, but Jamie had already slammed the phone down.
"Damnit," Kier hissed as the phone switched to a dial tone, then hastily straightened his face as Ian came in. "Wrong number, and they didn't believe me!"
"You know you shouldn't be ON the phone."
"Then you NEED to be here to answer it then!" Kier replied.
"Fair enough," Ian said, and meaning it. "How are you feeling?"
Kier lost the will to look fine, and curled up on the bed, taking the weight off his backside. "Too damned tired to exist," Kier mumbled into his pillow.
Ian sat down and pushed the hair out of Kier's face. "It will pass. And it would have already been over with, if you hadn't monkeyed with your medications."
Kier flushed hotly. "I SAIDI was sorry."
Ian looked at him. Kier dropped his eyes, realising and slightly ashamed of the snap in his voice.
"I AM sorry."
Ian kissed his forehead. "Why don't you roll over and try to sleep for a while? I'll open the window for a bit, just don't get cold."
Kier watched him open the window and draw the curtains, half his mind elsewhere.
"Do you love me?"
Ian turned to look at him, startled. "Kier.... of course I do! What on earth makes you ask that?"
"I don't know. You get mad at me, I do stupid things all the time-"
Kier trailed off. Ian looked at him and saw nothing manipulative or false in his face; just the little boy look of concentration on a thought that wasn't too happy.
Ian walked back over to the bed and sat down. "Want to talk about it?" he asked gently, taking Kier's hand. Kier didn't know how to respond to that question, nor the look of love that was returned in Ian's eyes. He shook his head and hugged Ian tightly, before sliding back under the covers.
Ian didn't press, knowing that Kier would eventually tell him what was wrong. He headed back downstairs and outside, wanting to get some gardening done while Kier slept.
Kier was startled awake a few minutes later by the ringing phone." 'Lo?" he got out, totally disoriented.
"Its ME you idiot, where's Ian?"
"I don't know..." Kier sat up, forcing himself awake. "Jamie what's going on?"
"I TOLD you, I've left him. That's the end of it, I'm going."
So why are you telling me about it? Kier thought frustratedly.
"Jamie where are you?"
"I'm just going. I need money, that's all. Cash and then I'll be okay."
"Jamie I'm grounded unto infinity, I'm never getting away from Ian today!"
"Just fifty dollars and I'll be ok, please!"
"HOW am I supposed to get you fifty dollars if Ian's watching me EVERY second?"
"You'll think of something. I'll be there in about fifteen minutes, and you HAVE to make SURE that Ian doesn't know I'm there."
The rest of Kier's sentence would have been to a hung up phone, so he put it back into the cradle. He rubbed his temples, trying to figure out a way to make it happen.
He got up and wandered over to the window, looking over the backyard. Ian was elbow deep into the flower bed in the back corner of the yard. If he'd be busy working there when Jamie arrived, things would be okay. He picked up his wallet and found thirty dollars, a quiet snort escaping when he thought about when he'd actually NEED money again. He went over to the sock drawer and pulled out a $20 and put it with what he had.
Then he spent the rest of the time pacing between a front window and the back window, watching for both parties.
Ian straightened up a few minutes later, ran a forearm over his forehead and glanced up at the window. He was well aware it would be a mistake to leave Kier alone too long. Kier at the moment needed no chance of adding to his troubles; the answer was to stay close enough to him not to allow him the opportunity. Which meant over the next few weeks, he was going to be grounded quite as effectively as Kier, never mind the punitive effects of Kier's temper and moods. He'd been out long enough. He washed his hands at the kitchen sink and went quietly upstairs, expecting to find Kier asleep.
Kier was busy scanning the backyard for signs of Ian, when the footsteps behind him caused him to turn around. He swallowed the panic in his voice and managed a quite normal "hi."
"Hi yourself. What are you doing up?"
"Just wondering where you were, it was quiet. Done in the garden?" Keir asked, hoping the answer was no.
"Yes. Now didn't I ask you to stay in bed?" Ian asked, raising his eyebrows.
"Yes. But I had to go to the bathroom, and like I said, I was just wondering where you were."
"I'm right here, now back to bed," Ian said, ushering Kier ahead of him.
Kier looked out the front window as he passed it, spotting Jamie by the fence, his car no where in sight. Kier was quickly working through possible solutions when the phone rang.
Ian picked the phone up and sat on the edge of the bed, holding the cover for Kier to get in.
"I don't WANT to go back to bed." Kier said, unable to do it without protest.
"Hello?" Ian said, without paying attention. "Allen! You're out of work early-"
Oh no. Kier dived into bed and burrowed under the covers, pressing close around Ian through the quilt. Ian listened in silence for a moment, dropping a hand subconsciously onto Kier's head to pet him.
"Slow down." he said eventually in the calm voice Kier recognised as his semi-professional one. "It's been what- two hours? That's nothing. Just a minute."
Kier looked up anxiously as Ian got up.
"What's wrong? What's happened?"
"It's ok, just a problem he wants help with." Ian pulled the covers over him. "Go back to sleep, it's fine."
"Get out of bed again unless it's to the bathroom and you can spend all day tomorrow there too." Ian said firmly. "I won't be long."
Kier's lip made an appearance but Ian paid no attention. He pulled the door too and walked down the hall to give him and Allen some privacy. Kier waited a couple of minutes before stepping out of bed and heading over to the window. He popped the screen and leaned out.
"Hey! Jamie!" he said as loud as he dared.
Jamie looked up and quickly made his way over to the window. "Do you have the money?"
"Yes. Just a sec." Kier grabbed the money from under his pillow and went back to the window, folding up the money and letting it drop.
Jamie took a minute to gather it up.
"You DO know Allen is talking to Ian right now, and it sounds like he's worried about you," Kier said, trying to help.
"Worried about finding me so he can KILL me is more like it," Jamie said as he pocketed the money.
"What's happened?" Kier said softly, glancing at the doorway of his room. "Jamie?"
"It doesn't matter." Jamie said without looking at him. Kier leant further out, anxious Jamie would be spotted and still more anxious that he would leave.
"It can't be THAT bad- are you sure you're doing the right thing?"
"I told you, I've LEFT him," Jamie said fiercely, "I can't deal with this Kier. I'm sorry. Thanks for the cash."
"Thanks," Jamie said as he quickly ran along the fenceline and around the corner.
Kier sighed in frustration and put the screen back quickly, in no frame of mind to deal with Ian catching him out of bed. He quickly got back under the covers and tried to listen to the phone conversation, but only hearing an indistinct murmur every once in a while. Kier tried to stay awake, but sleep overtook him.
Ian hung up the phone and returned to the bedroom to put the phone back. He looked down at Kier, snoring gently. He thought to himself how glad Kier was there, safe, when Allen was very obviously afraid that Jamie had left him. He dropped a featherlight kiss on the forehead, putting the phone down and heading downstairs.
Between the drugs and the residual strain on his body from his inflamed hand, Kier slept for several hours despite his worries.
He was woken two hours later by Ian sitting on the edge of the bed and a familiar hand pushing his hair back from his forehead.
Kier got his eyes open and felt the now familiar jolt as he tried to move his casted hand and felt the weight the throb. "Ow."
"How are the fingers?" Ian took his hand gently, glancing at the fingers more from habit than consciously. "I need to talk to you for a minute if you're awake."
The events of the earlier afternoon rolled back into Kier's consciousness, and he rolled over, against Ian's back, resting his head on his lap. "What about?" he mumbled into Ian's stomach.
"Allen called earlier, and he's worried about Jamie. Seems they've been having a rough couple of days. Jamie and his car aren't at the house, and he's supposed to be grounded. I was wondering if Jamie had said anything to you?"
"What happened, do you know?" Kier asked by way of an answer.
"Seems Jamie went a little overboard on spending and Allen was trying to work with him to correct the problem. Allen got a call today about Jamie's car payments being long overdue, and I think Jamie knew that. He took off with his car, as Allen's answer to that is to sell the expensive sports car and get something more reasonable that Jamie can handle. Have you heard from him at all?"
Kier had looked up towards Ian while Ian was speaking, but dropped his head back towards the stomach.
"No. Is he going to be okay?" he ventured, wanting some sort of reassurance that he was doing the right thing by hiding Jamie.
"Yes." Ian said at once and positively, "It's natural that Jamie's upset now but once they start dealing with this he'll feel a lot better about it. But Allen's very worried about him, and going off and sulking on his own isn't going to help him much."
Privately, Kier agreed. If sulking was actually what Jamie was doing.
"Did he give you any clue at all in the last few days that he was thinking about going anywhere or doing anything different?" Ian asked quietly. Kier shook his head, glad he could be honest.
"No, nothing like that. I've hardly seen him and I didn't know."
"If he does call or contact you, I need to know." Ian told him. "I know too that's going to be difficult because Jamie won't want you to, but it's best for him to be found as soon as possible."
Kier felt like he'd been punched in the stomach with that comment, knowing it was true. He still thought he could fix things without getting Jamie mad at him. He thought it best to change the subject.
"What's for dinner?"
"What would you like?" Ian said, finding in dinner one way to let Kier be happy about something in each day.
"I can make some. Chicken or beef?" Ian asked, running his hands through Kier's hair.
"Chicken. I'll come down to help," Kier volunteered.
Ian smiled at the unending ability of Kier to think he was getting his way.
"No, sweetheart. You're spending today in bed, and that means you're staying put. I'll fix it and bring it up."
"Don't you trust me to make it right?" Ian teased as he slid out from under Kier's head.
"No, I just want to come too." Kier said unhappily. Ian lifted his chin and kissed him.
The pizza was delicious, but Kier was in no mood for eating. Worried, bored, the evening stretched on forever and by eight pm he was restless, frustrated and growing less happy by the minute.
Ian was downstairs cleaning up the kitchen when the phone rang. "Hello?"
Ian heard some movement, then the phone disconnected. He hung it up, thinking that it could have easily been Jamie. After the dishes, he headed upstairs again, immediately "attacked" by Kier.
"Can I PLEASE go downstairs or SOMETHING?" Kier asked, dying of boredom.
"We've been through this too many times today, Kier. Give it up." He went over to the med kit and readied another syringe, his back to Kier.
Kier knew what he was doing, and huddled down into the bed, not the least bit interested in seeing Ian's face. The phone rang again.
"Could you get that?" Ian said, surprising Kier.
"You think it's Jamie?" he blurted out.
Ian hesitated. Then nodded. "He might talk to you."
Kier hesitated then reached for the receiver. "Hello?"
"Kier, it's Allen, is Ian there?"
Allen sounded tired, upset and unsteady.
"Sure." Kier said at once and handed the receiver to Ian.
"Hi, any sign of him?" Ian turned to face Kier, tucking the phone into the junction of his neck and shoulder. "What about Luke and Jase? Would he think about going to them? No. No I don't think so."
Kier watched Ian's face, hating the expression there. Ian glanced at his watch, lips tight.
"I know, but I -"
He trailed off and glanced down at Kier, then got up, taking the phone with him. "Ok, ring me back. If you haven't heard anything by then, let me know."
"What did he say?" Kier asked, sitting up straight.
"He's not heard anything at all from Jamie and he's worried to death." Ian said shortly.
Kier's stomach tumbled again. "WHY won't Jamie just call?"
Ian shrugged, looking tired and worried. "He's angry and he's frightened, and being alone right now, I think, is the worst possible thing for him. All he's going to be doing is sitting there thinking of all the horrible things he imagines Allen will do to him, when what he needs is to know Allen loves him. If he'd JUST call...." Ian trailed off.
Kier's desire to go anywhere disappeared, and he curled up into a ball,under the covers.
"What did Allen want you to do?"
"He was wondering if it's worth looking round town for him." Ian said heavily. "I think he's hoping Jamie hasn't gone very far and is just too scared to go home. If there's no sign of him by ten, I'll go out and help look."
"Can I come?"
"Absolutely not." Ian said so flatly that Kier didn't even try arguing. Ian picked the syringe up again and set it.
"Roll over sweetheart."
"I'll take the tablets," Kier said miserably. "I will, I swear."
"And we've been over this ground before too. Roll over." Ian's tone didn't change at all.
Kier, looking completely defeated, rolled over and buried his head into the pillows, a sob escaping him against his will.
Ian quickly lowered the shorts and delivered another injection. He pulled the shorts back into place and disposed of the syringe. "Would you like a book to read or something?"
Kier just shook his head no, wanting nothing more than to swallow the first pill handed to him, and take a walk outside.
"If you're awake, I'd like for you to answer the phone in case Jamie does decide to call. I'll be in the office doing paperwork if you need anything."
So not only was he to be bored, he was getting deserted as well.
"Fine." Kier said, flopping back down. "You don't care what I think or whether I'm sorry or not."
"Is that really true?" Ian said mildly, getting up.
"Yes." Kier snapped. Ian lifted his eyebrows.
"If that's really what you believe, you can spend your time giving it some more careful thought. You obviously need to."
Kier jerked up, grabbing for a book on the bedside table. Ian's eyes became very warning.
Kier glared at him, then slowly let go of the book, turned over and ignored Ian.
Ian mentally sighed a sigh of relief. He really didn't want a major scene again today. He went into the office and sorted through his stacks of paperwork, the endless stacks of paperwork.
Kier grumbled to himself, willing the phone to ring, wanting to go out and find Jamie. Fifteen minutes later, the phone did ring. Kier jumped on it. "Hello?"
"Hello, Kier. It's Sarah. How are you today?"
Kier usually liked Sarah, one of Ian's nursing assistants. He just wasn't in the mood for chatter tonight. "Fine. You want Ian?"
"Yes, please. You don't sound too happy, everything alright?" Sarah asked, concerned.
"Yes, fine. Thanks, Sarah." Kier handed the phone over to Ian who had appeared in the doorway, certain that it was Jamie on the phone as well.
"Sarah." Kier informed him, getting out of bed. Ian let him go without a word, only watching to see he went into the bathroom. Kier took his time, wanting the chance to do anything but be in bed, but as soon as he heard the phone click down next door, Ian's voice called him.
"Come on, you're washing your hands, not scrubbing for surgery."
"I'm BORED." Kier said angrily, heading unwillingly back to bed.
"Oh dear." Ian said mildly. Kier flung himself down full length and felt in the bedside drawer. Ian went back to the office. Kier located a baseball and lay back, tossing it in his one good hand.
He got bored with that after five minutes, lofting the ball near to the ceiling, listening to it as it thunked down on the carpet and rolled to the door.
Ian said mildly from the office, "Leave the ball where it fell."
Kier was about to reply nastily when the phone rang again. Kier got it before it finished ringing.
"For someone who's grounded, you sure are doing a good job of answering the phone."
"Jamie! WHERE are you?" Kier asked quickly.
"I'm around. Did...did Ian know I was there?"
"No. Jamie, Allen is worried SICK over you."
Ian was in the doorway. Kier caught his eye and Ian came to sit on the edge of the bed by him.
"He isn't." Jamie said unsteadily, "He doesn't give a damn what I feel."
"That's rubbish. Look, where are you? Jamie please?"
Ian hesitated, then held out a hand for the receiver. Kier shook his head at him, holding on to the phone.
"Jamie? Jamie come on. It's dark, what are you going to do? It's cold, you're not even safe."
"I'm ok." Jamie said bitterly. "Better than at home."
That's rubbish and you know it." Kier said hotly. "If you meant that you wouldn't be phoning me."
Particularly when Jamie would know Ian was there and would catch on quickly with call after call like this. Kier blinked as he realised that. Ian looked at him and this time Kier handed over the phone, aware now who Jamie really wanted to talk to. Ian took it, speaking quietly and gently.
"Jamie, are you allright? Are you somewhere safe?"
Jamie almost lost it when he heard the concern in Ian's voice. He swallowed a sob and managed "Yes....I think so."
"Could you tell me where?" Ian asked.
"No," Jamie said quickly. "Allen, I don't want him to know."
"He needs to know you're safe. He's very worried about you, you know."
Ian talked to him for a few more minutes, not getting anything out of him. He handed the phone over to Kier when Jamie requested it. He mouthed out "try to find out WHERE he is" to Kier, before heading down the hall and finding his cell phone.
"Jamie," Kier said as soon as Ian was out of earshot, "He's gone- where are you?"
He heard Jamie start to cry, quietly and exhaustedly. Kier's heart tightened in response and he sat up, gentling his voice as much as he could. "Jamie... come on. I know you want Allen, in your shoes I'd be wanting Ian so bad I couldn't think about anything else."
"He's going to kill me."
"He is not, he loves you."
"Jamie. Nothing's so bad you need to do this. Whatever's happened you can sort out with Allen, he's going to know the right thing to do. You just have to trust him enough to let him do it. You DO trust him to know what's right, I know you do. If you didn't, you wouldn't have been with him for the last three years. Would you?"
"I've got him." Ian said very quietly into his cell phone, standing in the doorway to watch Kier. Allen's sigh was deep and filled with relief.
"Oh thank God, where is he?"
"Kier's talking to him, trying to find out."
Ian walked back out and into the room across the hall to give Kier some space, while still keeping an eye on him.
Jamie took a moment to answer hesitantly. "No."
"So what is he likely to do?" Kier asked.
"Kill me," Jamie answered miserably.
"That is NOT an option and you KNOW it." Kier's voice gained a slight edge. "You fucked up. Ian said something about the car and late payments. So it's JUST a car. You'll get a new one. And so WHAT if you're stuck at home for a while? And if a spanking is in your future, at least it's something that will come and go quickly. Try being in *my* shoes right now. But I'm STILL here. So quit feeling so damned sorry for yourself, and let me come get you. Home is a damned sight better than where you are. Which is where, by the way?" Kier finished.
Jamie took a shuddering breath and looked around. He was parked in the park, by the river. It was dark and spooky, and he didn't really picture sleeping there alone. It was getting rather cool in the car and he couldn't run the gas out just trying to use the heater.
"I'm in the park. Parking lot 2. Can...can you come?"
Filled with relief, Kier took the edge of his voice and looked up to catch Ian's eye.
"Of course we can. We'll be right there. It's okay Jamie, it's going to be fine."
Ian held out his hand for the receiver and Kier handed it over gladly. "We'll be right there." Ian said calmly, "You've done the right thing Jamie, you don't need to worry any more."
"Parking lot 2, the park." Kier said as Ian put the phone down and picked up his cell once more. "Allen? I know where he is, I'm going to meet him now and we'll bring him home."
"Thank you." The relief in Allen's voice was palpable. Ian hung up the phone, pulling Kier into a hug.
"I'm proud of you. Let's go get him."
Kier struggled with his clothes, finally having to let Ian tie his shoes for him, and they headed downstairs and out to the car. A short fifteen minutes later they pulled alongside of the bright red car. Kier jumped out and grabbed the door as Jamie opened it.
Jamie stood up unsteadily and nearly crumbled when Kier pulled him into a rough hug. Ian had rolled his window down. "Get the keys and lock up the car. We'll take care of that later.
Jamie nodded uncertainly and took the keys out of the ignition. Kier stood back, watching him lock up with growing sympathy. From Jamie's shaking he was in no fit state to drive or to do anything much. Ian opened the passenger door to let Jamie in next to him, put an arm around his neck and pulled him close enough to kiss his forehead.
"Are you allright?"
Jamie shook his head against Ian's. Ian tightened his grip, rubbing his back.
"Come on. You're cold, you must be starving and Allen's worrying himself sick about you. let's get you home."
Jamie started to cry again softly. Kier slid forward in his seat and put his arms around Jamie's neck from behind. Ian started the car and drove the two miles to Jamie and Allen's home. Allen must have been watching for them; the door was opened the second they turned into the street and he was jogging down the driveway. He looked nearly as bad as Jamie. Ian got out of the car as Allen opened the passenger door and Jamie flung himself into Allen's arms, his quiet tears turning into tearing sobs. Allen picked him off his feet, holding him tight and talking softly into his ear, oblivious to Kier or Ian.
Ian waited for a minute, then put a hand on Allen's shoulder and Allen freed a hand long enough to take Jamie's car keys and spare them some fragment of his attention.
"Thanks Ian- Kier." Allen turned far enough find Kiernan. "Thanks. We'll talk to you tomorrow."
Ian nodded, tousled Jamie's hair gently and got back in the car.
Kier remained in the backseat, watching Allen carry Jamie into the house until the door closed and they rounded the corner. He slid down in his seat, lost in thought.
"You okay?" Ian asked, eyeing him from the mirror.
"Yes. It....will be alright, won't it?" Kier asked, talking as much about Allen and Jamie as he was about himself and Ian.
Ian gentled his voice, knowing what he was asking.
"Love and reassurances. Jamie will get enough of that to smooth out any other bumps in the road."
The next day dawned crisp and clear, the perfect Fall day.
Ian woke ahead of Kier and for several minutes lay deliberately disposing of the tension collecting in his stomach as he thought about the day ahead. Kier had come home exhausted, emotionally and physically, and had put up no resistance to going straight back to bed. Today was going to be another hard day- there were probably several weeks of hard days ahead of them and Ian knew it, but this morning Kier needed a break and he needed a chance to let off steam. He turned over, pushed the dark sandy hair off Kier's forehead and kissed him.
Kier stirred and groaned, rolling over to bury himself against Ian from the daylight. It was an old habit of his and Ian hugged him, smiling, and aware of how much he'd missed that over the last few months when they saw less and less of each other. That was going to change, they were going to fix this.
"I'm going down to make breakfast. You've got ten minutes to get conscious, put a robe on and come down. I'll help you have a shower and get dressed later."
Ian's only reply was a muffled "hmmmrrphh" into his chest.
"Ten minutes." He kissed the forehead, got up and opened the curtains to the day and headed downstairs to fix breakfast.
Kier pulled the covers over his head to knock out some of the brightness. As he slowly rose from sleep, he tried not to think of the endless day stretching ahead of him. Why couldn't Ian just let him sleep in, instead of making him get up and then getting put BACK to bed later? He heard the distant sounds of Ian moving around in the kitchen, then realized that he could actually walk downstairs and join him at the table. When he dropped the covers from his head, the unmistakable smell of coffee and bacon enticed him out of bed and down the stairs. He took the glass of juice Ian held out to him and slid into a chair.
Ian cut the bacon into bite sized pieces and plated it up, adding a heap of scrambled eggs and putting the plate down in front of Kier. "How's the hand this morning?"
"Not bad." Kier said, flexing his fingers experimentally, and guarding his tone. Right now he wasn't sure whether he liked Ian or not and he wanted more time to think about it before Ian coaxed him into a good mood.
"I need to do your morning meds as soon as we've eaten," Ian said, digging into his own bacon, "But you can't have them on an empty stomach."
"PLEASE can I have pills this morning?" Kier said on impulse. "PLEASE Ian?"
"You lost that opportunity yesterday. Do NOT ask me again," Ian said with clear finality.
Kier stared at the table, on the edge of rebellion. Eventually he tried hard to calm his voice and speak politely.
"Allright. I just want to say, I'm sorry I messed about with the meds. It wasn't a good thing to do and it was mean to try and cover it up from you. I know that and I'm sorry, and not just because I'm in trouble about it."
"Thankyou." Ian said calmly. He poured orange juice into two glasses and pushed one over to Kier. "Drink that and the milk. You need all the vitamins you can get while you're healing."
"I'm NOT trying to get out of trouble." Kier said sharply. "I just want to know. I'm sorry, I understand why you're upset, I just want to know how do I fix this?"
"It's not a matter of saying or being sorry after every action that isn't correct, Kier. You needed to take your medications on time and as prescribed. You didn't, so now the choice on that is out of your hands," Ian said as he buttered another slice of toast.
"So you're telling me that from now, until the day I die that I cannot be trusted with medications, and everything will be done by you?" Kier replied astounded.
"No.But for the near future, that's something that you'll have to live with. Put it down to a lesson learned and let it go."
"That isn't FAIR!" Kier said hotly.
"Isn't it?" Ian said, passing him the buttered toast. "It sounds perfectly fair to me. And part of the fact that you need to remember. That I decide what we do and how we do it. Not you."
Kier went very red and his lip slipped out with sheer frustration. Ian glanced at his face, torn between sympathy and a desire to smile at the strength of the pout.
"Eat your breakfast Kier."
"You are an overbearing -"
"And calm person at this time, so I'd suggest following that sentence with food, before you find yourself adding more unkind words to that sentence," Ian said calmly.
Kier was caught between a rock and a hard place. The smells from his plate were tantalizing, so he turned his attention and anger to eating.
As soon as the meal was completed, Ian got up to clean. "I could use your help drying the dishes, please."
The look he got nearly made him smile again, mean as he felt for laughing. Kier grabbed a tea towel and began to scour dishes as Ian took them out of the water, brows nearly drawn together in a scowl.
"Thankyou." Ian said when he finished the last one. "Upstairs, we'll do your meds-"
"It isn't FAIR!" Kier exploded. Ian waited, folding his arms. Kier stamped his foot, past being sensible.
"NO! You can't be this mean and then jump on me because I get mad, that isn't fair either! Ok, I get what I'm doing wrong, I'll fix it, I'm sorry, can we PLEASE let it go now!"
"Not that easily Kier, I'm sorry." Ian said gently.
"WHY NOT?" Kier demanded. "WHY are you so mad at me?"
"I'm not mad at you baby, its got nothing to do with that."
"You ARE mad!" Kier yelled, stamping his foot.
"I will be, if you don't march upstairs, without another word, RIGHT NOW," Ian said in his no nonsense voice.
Kier turned smoldering eyes on Ian's set face. He didn't have the courage to speak again, but neither did he move.
"One," Ian said, mentally sighing.
Kier nearly snarled, but didn't move.
Kier was caught between wanting to speak and go, or stand silently. He chose to turn around and head upstairs, mumbling. "Try to TALK to someone and they just refuse to allow you..."
Ian let him go, waiting until he heard the footsteps reach their room. In the past he would have accepted that. At the moment, he knew he couldn't let it go. And it was going to do nothing to improve Kier's temper or make their day any better. Deliberately keeping his face and body language calm, he went upstairs, took the medication he needed out of the side drawer and prepped a syringe. Kier gave him a baleful look but moved over without complaint, let Ian move his robe aside and give the shot.
"NOW can I have a shower?" Kier demanded, sitting up. Ian snapped the disposable syringe and binned it.
"You can at ten am. Right now, because of that little tantrum you just put on for me, you're going back to bed for an hour. And if I hear any more snapping and snarling from you this morning, I can extend that to all morning, or all day. It's entirely up to you Kier."
The anger bubbled up in Kier, and with great effort he held it back, managing a barely civil
"You're going to learn to listen to me the first time, and without complaint sooner or later. I'd prefer sooner, but it isn't my decision. Lie down, no more talking."
"An hour and a half."
Kier flung himself backwards, his cast clunking on the headboard. "OW!"
Ian, knowing he was allright, left the room with "I'll be back in 90 minutes. Any sooner......"He went into the office to check his email and catch up on his paperwork.
Kier rolled over and clutched his hand. It didn't actually hurt, but he was upset Ian hadn't shown more concern. And furious that he was abandoned yet again. The phone rang next to him. He reached for it and was almost instantly interrupted by Ian's voice next door.
"I'll get that Kier."
Kier dropped back, snarling under his breath. He heard Ian's voice rise and fall for a while, not able to make out the words, then the click as the receiver was put down. Kier glanced at the clock. Nine fifteen. He had an hour and a quarter to go of lying here without a book, without tv, without any way whatever of entertaining himself- except one, and he was pretty sure Ian would put a fast stop to that if he realised. He lay back and sulked instead, concentrating on each and every thing Ian was doing wrong and how angry he felt about each one. When he was tired of going over the multitude of things wrong with Ian he rolled back over and realized that he STILL had an hour to lie there. THIS was near intolerable!
He spotted a book on Ian's side of the bed. It was a medical text, but at least would provide something to look at instead of the white ceiling. He picked it up and started flipping through the pages, finding one that looked remotely interesting and starting to read. He was asleep face down in the book within ten minutes.
Ian shut down his computer at ten thirty, glanced at his watch and went into the bedroom. The sight of Kier asleep didn't surprise him. The painkillers were still heavy and Kier's main defense against boredom was often sleep.
He shook Kier's shoulder gently and waited until Kier stirred, lifting his head from the book.
"Hey. How about we try this morning again?"
Kier nodded cautiously, still not happy. Ian held out a hand to him. "Come on. I'll help you have a shower."
Kier sleepily sat up, mollified somewhat with the thought of a shower.
Ten minutes later Ian had his hand wrapped in plastic and was busily scrubbing his back, sending waves of pleasure through Kier. Ian worked out the kinks in Kier's back, and the water washed away some of the stress that Kier was feeling. He was invigorated upon exiting the shower.
"Man, I'd LOVE a run about now."
"Ok, get dressed." Ian gave him a pat on the butt to get him moving. "Put on something warm."
Kier moved, unable to believe what he'd just heard.
"We're going out? Seriously?"
"Seriously. How about the lake?" Ian opened the wardrobe and found clothes loose enough to jog in. "Come on Kier, get cracking!"
Kier moved, hurriedly. Ian helped him dress in the clothes he chose, picked the car keys up from the shelf downstairs and held the door open for Kier to come out into the crisp morning sunshine.
Kier blinked rapidly, the sun blinding him. He slid into the car and was fairly bouncing out of his seat on the short drive to the lake. Ian had barely put the car in park when Kier bounded out, shutting the door none too gently in his excitement at being outside and able to move.
Ian hurriedly pulled the keys from the ignition and got out, locking the door behind him.
Ian jogged to catch up to Kier and grabbed his good hand. They walked slowly and contentedly around the lake, kicking occasionally at the leaves. There were several people on the north side of the lake where the parking lot was, but only a few stragglers here and there on the opposite side, where Ian and Kier found themselves.
Kier looked behind him where he could hear a child yelling in delight. He watched as the father tossed an armful of leaves at the child, the child delighting in trying to catch them, laughing.
He turned back around and spotted a pile just a short distance in front of them. The temptation was too great to resist. He scooped a handful, snuck up on Ian at a fast walk and stuffed the handful down his shirt before Ian realised what was coming. Then he fled. Ian's yell was more than satisfactory.
Kier picked up his pace, screeching as Ian bore down on him at a sprint he had a hard time keeping ahead of.
"No! Ian, it was only LEAVES-"
"COME HERE!" Ian vaulted a bench, made a grab for him and missed. Kier took off down the bank and headed towards the main path, making for the shelter of the trees.
Ian got ahead of him on the bank, made it down in one flying jump and caught him, yanking him around.
"Ian..." Kier squirmed, breathless with laughter, "come on, don't be a wimp..."
"I'll give you wimp young man." Ian scooped him up and carried him out onto the dock, heading for the water.
"I've told you before. Leaves down the neck is a drowning offense."
Kier struggled ineffectually as Ian walked down the dock."IAN!!!" Kier screeched, seeing water on both sides of him, "IAN!"
He thumped Ian's back with his cast, nearly knocking the wind out of him. Ian carefully set Kier down, making sure that both feet were firmly planted on the dock. He grabbed Kier's shirt in his hands and pushed a bit towards the side.
Kier's eyes got big as saucers, as he was certain that Ian was going to let him go.
Ian's eyes all of sudden twinkled with glee. "You were SO scared!"
"I know you!" Kier clutched Ian's wrist, still laughing. "I'm sorry- really sorry?"
"HOW sorry?" Ian teased him, still holding him just off balance.
"Ian pleeeeeeeeeease-" Kier screeched and giggled as Ian jerked his hands, hanging him even further off the edge of the dock.
"Ok, I'll do anything- anything!"
"You are SOOOOOO mean!" Kier screeched again as Ian moved his hand a bit. "Okay, OKAY! I'll mow!"
Ian smiled and pulled him back. "I got you. Na na na na boo BOO," he chanted at Kier, as he'd heard Kier do before. Then he took off running towards the shore and a bench under the trees.
Kier grabbed another handful of leaves and chased after him. He chased Ian all over the bank under the tree for a while, Ian always staying just out of his reach, until Ian collapsed full length on the grass.
Kier dropped on his chest and Ian promptly grabbed his wrist, taking the leaves out of his hand.
"NO brat, I don't think so!"
"There's more leaves!" Kier said, grinning. Ian fended off his hands and kissed him.
Kier rapidly forgot about leaves. He let Ian pull him down and for a minute forgot they were in a public place and in plain view. Then he heard a dog bark near by, flushed deep scarlet and pulled away.
Ian sat up, kissing Kier firmly on the lips, before letting him get up. "Let's go sit on the bench.....like civilized people," Ian joked as he wandered in that direction.
Ian sat down while Kier laid full length, head in Ian's lap. He laid, looking at the lake, thinking everything through.
Ian smoothed Kier's head with one hand, the other resting gently upon Kier's side. He looked down in surprise when he felt Kier's side shaking as if he were crying.
Kier rolled over, his face buried against Ian's stomach, letting the sobs overtake him. It was many minutes later that he calmed down enough to speak at all.
Ian just held him, letting him get rid of the emotions. When he thought Kier was ready, he spoke.
"Want to talk about it?"
"You're not happy with me." Kier managed to get out eventually. Ian hesitated for a minute, stroking his hair.
"No I'm not. Not exactly. But that doesn't mean I don't love you. It doesn't even mean I don't like you."
"You want to change stuff about us."
"I want to break us both of some bad habits, yes. But because I think that's going to make us both happier."
Kier stared at the water beyond Ian, his stomach twisting in to knots.
"What's the matter?" Ian said gently
"You know how I feel about being lied to?"
"I don't LIKE you being mad at me."
"Whether or not you like it isn't too high on the scale of things at the moment. If you don't want the trouble, you know how to avoid it."
"I already LEARNED that lesson." Kier said hotly. "Hearing repeats does nothing for me!"
"I don't think you've even started to get the point on this one." Ian said mildly. "And what you're cross about is that I'm still not happy about it and I won't make it magically go away."
Kier shut his eyes tight to stop the tears coming again. After a second he felt Ian's hand on his hair, smoothing again.
"I know this is hard for you."
"HOW do you know?" Kier said bitterly. "Have you ever been in my position before?"
"I know because I've lived with you for three years and I love you very much." Ian said calmly. "I know when you're unhappy."
That was too much. Kier buried his face in Ian's stomach to stifle the wail.
"So make it go away!"
Ian pulled him close at once, gathering him up. "I will. I will. It just isn't going to be instant. Come on baby, it's okay. Nothing awful is going to happen. I won't let it."
"I KNOW I screwed up!" Kier fought for the breath to explain. "I just - GET it! WHY can't we just let it go!"
"I know. I know." Ian rocked him, rubbing his back to quieten his sobbing. "I'm not angry with you. But we do have to get your temper under control. I have to do it. I can't bear the thought of anything worse happening to you. I couldn't bear to see you seriously unhappy because I let something happen that I couldn't control the consequences of."
That, at the moment, didn't mean much to Kier. He settled back into a few more minutes of self pity and sobbing. Ian didn't interrupt him, instead just continued to soothe. As Kier calmed down, he continued to stare at the lake.
He kept wanting to really dislike Ian, dislike his situation. But every time he did that, he thought of Jamie and Allen. He knew EXACTLY how Jamie was probably feeling about now, but he did believe WHAT he was telling Jamie, that Allen loved him and was only doing what he thought was best for him.
Spending the extra time with Ian could be fun. Today most certainly was, after the bad start to the morning. He always enjoyed the time they spent together, especially when it was lazy mornings wrapped up on the couch, reading the paper or catching up on shows they'd missed the week before on tape, the little every day things that made him feel as though they were a part of each other. And seriously- deeply and seriously- Ian made him feel safer and more accepted than he'd ever felt before in his life. Nothing ever got out of control around Ian. Nothing had to be hidden, nothing was too awful to be managed. The safety within that had taken away so many barriers. Kier knew he loved Ian deeper than he'd ever let himself love anyone. Angry, upset, frustrated, irritated- no matter how he felt, he knew at the bottom of his heart: Ian and home equated as the same thing, and that was the end of it.
Ian ran a hand over his hair, watching the internal struggle. Kier had serious problems in identifying and dealing with what he was feeling- it was one of the things that made his temper so dangerous. Impulsive, active, volatile, Kier had trouble remembering for two minutes together what he was in trouble for, and Ian knew he'd too often fallen into the trap of being too sympathetic. It was too easy to let him forget. Ian hated to see him unhappy, and knew he'd too often given way to the need to comfort him, letting him get away with too much, forget things too fast, before he'd seen the implications in things he had done.
It was hard not to give in to Kier. But one battle and pain now would save them future battles and pain that could become too much for the both of them to handle. Kier switched gears, trying to gain some hold on his emotions.
"What do you think Allen and Jamie are doing now?"
Ian saw that for what it was, a way to talk about them without it being them.
"What do you think?" he asked, wanting to prod Kier into talking it through himself.
"Jamie's probably mincemeat by now," Kier said with a bitter laugh.
"Do you REALLY believe that?"
Kier remained silent for a moment or two.
"No," he ventured quietly. "I wouldn't have told Jamie everything would be fine if I didn't believe it."
"So do you think they'll work it out?" Ian asked.
"Well. Allen will work it out, Jamie probably won't have much to do with it." Kier said simply.
"But you think they'll stay together?"
Kier looked up at him, shocked. "Of course they will! Allen wouldn't leave Jamie!"
"What about Jamie leaving Allen?"
"He was only upset, he didn't really think that for a moment- you don't think he DID do you?" Kier added in alarm.
"No, I think you're right." Ian reassured him. "They'll be fine. They'll deal with this problem and then they'll forget about it."
"I probably won't see Jamie for months," Kier groused, thinking about Jamie being grounded.
"I don't think you need to worry about him right now. We have us to keep us busy. Speaking of which, it's getting close to medication time, and I think you've had enough exercise for one day."
Kier looked up, worried. "But my face...."
"Your face is gorgeous and people won't run -"
"I'm SERIOUS!" Kier said, sitting up and running his arm across his face to dry up any wetness.
"Let's walk down to the water and get you cleaned up then."
Kier followed Ian down the short incline to the dock, laid down on his stomach and splashed some of the crystal clear water against his face with his uninjured hand. He accepted Ian's help in standing up.
Ian brushed the excess water from his face and soothed the drawn brows.
"You look fine, if a little tired," Ian said, taking his hand and walking back to the shore.
"I don't want to go home." Kier said, pushing against him. Ian pulled him closer and hugged him.
"You're okay. Come on. We'll do your meds, get you some lunch and you can have a nap."
"Gee that's tempting." Kier said, pulling a face.
Ian smiled but didn't answer.
Kier tried to put the medications and going home in the back of his mind and concentrated on enjoying the last few minutes of temporary freedom by the lake. The day was entirely TOO beautiful not to be cheered by it.
An hour later Kier was back in bed, medications taken, again by an injection. He found he was more tired than he thought, and drifted off with the afternoon breeze gently tickling his hair.
Ian headed outside to work in the garden. Digging in the dirt was almost therapy for him, and the day was perfect for it anyway.
Kier was awake and in the process of trying to decide what to do when the phone rang.
He leaned over and picked it up, trying to sound away. "Hi."
Allen sounded tired but Kier could hear the smile in his voice.
"Hi- is Jamie ok?"
"He's fine, he's asleep." Allen said reassuringly. "Don't worry about him."
"That's too hard." Kier said lightly.
"How are you doing?" Allen asked him gently.
Kier hesitated. "Ok I guess."
"I wanted to thank you for what you said to Jamie yesterday. He really needed a friend yesterday and I'm glad that friend was you."
Kier blushed. "It was nothing," he tried, wanting to brush off the comment.
"It was a lot more than nothing," Allen replied. "You talked Jamie into coming home. He could have gone missing for the night. You kept that from happening."
"I knew.....I knew it was a mistake, and that it would work out," Kier said quickly.
Allen smiled into the phone. "Just remember that next time Ian says something you don't immediately like. Speaking of which, where is he?"
Kier got up and went to the back window. He covered the receiver and yelled for Ian, who came inside to answer the phone. Kier hung up quietly, then headed downstairs to get a drink.
Ian smiled at him from the phone connection in the kitchen. He was making reassuring sounds, listening more than anything else. Kier got a glass of milk out of the fridge and stood listening for a minute until Ian pointed firmly at the living room. Kier pulled a face at him and left, hearing Ian's voice behind him.
"No, just a sec. One little pitcher wandering around, ears flapping."
Kier leaned back through the door to blow a raspberry. Ian blew him a kiss in return.
"Shut the door."
Kier gently closed the door and plopped down on the sofa. With the door closed he could make out that Ian was talking, but not what was being said. The clock slowly ticked off the minutes. Ian passed him on the way to hang the phone up and gave him a quick smile.
"How are you doing?"
"Fine." Kier sat up to see his face. "How are they?"
"They're allright. Jamie's a little volatile and wanting a lot of time at the moment, but they're fine."
"Allen didn't sound too bad."
"They'll be okay." Ian sat down on the arm of the sofa and brushed his hair back off his forehead. "What are you going to do now you're up?"
"Watch tv?" Kier said hopefully. "Please? Come on, I've been angelic all day so far, I am SO bored...."
"Grounded means no tv, Kier. You know that," Ian said.
"WHAT does that leave me to do, pick my nose?!?" Kier snapped.
"We are NOT going to continue arguing the same argument everyday. You're grounded, there IS no tv, don't ask again," Ian said evenly and with finality.
Kier turned smoldering eyes on Ian and with effort, kept his mouth shut. He HAD had a pretty good morning and didn't want to find himself buried in the corner or under the covers yet AGAIN. He'd had more of that treatment than he could stand. Ian watched him, more than braced for the explosion. He knew the routine well, they both did. And he'd meet it firmly as he did every time. Kier- for all his intelligence and his essential desire to learn- never caught on quickly. Kier took another deep breath and swallowed. Ian WOULD get unpleasant. And the morning HAD been good. And he had no desire now to change it, or to see the stern look back in Ian's face. Those thoughts didn't resolve well with the basic fury inside him at being prevented from doing the one thing he wanted to do at this moment in time. The battle raged for about thirty seconds, clear in Kier's face, but his mouth stayed shut. Then Ian put an arm around him and pulled him close. Kier wrapped both arms around his neck and hugged tight with frustration.
"I WANT TO."
"I know." Ian said quietly.
Silence. Kier took another deep breath and buried his face in Ian's shoulder. Ian rubbed his back slowly.
"How about you get a book and come and sit outside with me?"
"You mean I can go outside?"
"Only when I'm out there with you. Go on, it's another beautiful day. I have some gardening to do and you can relax in the swing."
Kier got up slowly and headed upstairs for his book. As upset as he was about being refused what he wanted, the outdoors and some fresh air would be nice.
And if he tried really hard at being cute, maybe Ian would change his mind.
The next few days passed without - much- incident. To Kier's relief, Ian reduced the painkiller dose daily until by the weekend he was needing only one shot a day and the hand was pain free.
His immediate desire to return to work had caused one or two long hours spent in bed, glowering at the ceiling and wondering if what Ian really wanted was a prisoner instead of a lover, but the time they were spending together was undeniably- nice. Kier thought they'd probably fitted in more time of being together and of cuddling than they'd managed in the last three months. All of which was good. If he could just talk Ian into slackening the reins slightly.
He was in the garden again, lying full length in the shade and watching Ian watering the flowerbeds early on Tuesday evening when a rattle at the garden gate made him look up. Allen put a hand over the top and unlatched it, standing aside to let Jamie in. Kier dropped his book, scrambled up and ran across the lawn, pausing very briefly to bestow a passing hug on Allen before he flung himself on his friend. Jamie still looked fragile and the smile wasn't as vibrant as usual, but he laughed and hugged Kier back hard.
Kier grabbed Jamie's hand and tugged him towards the house. "Drink?"
"Get one for everyone, Kier!" Ian said as he headed over to shake Allen's hand. "Come on up to the porch and we'll settle there."
Ian and Allen settled on the porch and a few minutes later Kier brought out a lemonade for Ian and Jamie had one for Allen.
"We're going to the front porch," Kier said as Jamie followed him down the steps towards the gate.
"No, you're staying in the backyard where we can see you," Ian said sternly.
Kier muttered, but changed direction and instead went to the farthest reaches of the yard and settled down on the grass with Jamie. Jamie settled on his stomach, eyes still on Allen. Kier gave him a gentle push to get his attention.
"Hey. Do you WANT to sit right under their noses and talk about gardening?"
Jamie smiled but shook his head. Kier glanced back at Allen and Ian, settled side by side on the porch rail.
"How are things? How are YOU?"
"I'm okay," Jamie said, noncommitally.
"This is ME you're talking to," Kier said, pushing Jamie's shoulder.
Jamie looked down into his glass. "My car goes to auction tomorrow," he said sadly.
"I'm sorry. I know you loved...love that car." Kier rubbed Jamie's shoulder.
"Thanks. Allen says we can still find something nice. I can't believe I got behind on the payments, SO behind."
"Allen didn't say there was anything else you could do?" Kier inquired gently.
Jamie sighed, but shook his head immediately. "No. He was right, there WAS no other way around it. It was a deal I got myself into before we met or he wouldn't have let me do it in the first place."
"Was he okay about the sitting in the park bit?" Kier asked cautiously. Jamie snorted.
"I'll give you three guesses."
"He wasn't happy." Jamie said softly. "And he was right. I should have told him a long time before I got into the mess I did."
"What's the bottom line?"
Jamie snorted again, appreciating the hidden joke. "I was spanked within an inch of my life, I swear. It's been days, but it sometimes seems like hours. The car is sold, Allen will help me pick out a new one after we see what we get from this after paying off the debts. He's taking over my checkbook for a while and I'm on allowance. I'm grounded for however long, he didn't set a limit."
"Ouch. But....you're okay?" Kier asked again.
Jamie looked over to Allen, getting an unexpected wink. He looked back to Kier and said "Yes, I am. Thanks to you for helping me to see that."
"I didn't do anything."
"I went home." Jamie said lightly. "I would have done in the end, but I was so scared-"
"You don't have to tell me."
"Its ok. Allen and I went over and over this."
Jamie cleared his throat, looking down at his hands. "I don't know what happened. I just sort of froze up and got too panicked to think. I don't know what I would have done." Jamie stopped and his lips twitched. "Well I do. Allen would have found me and he really WOULD have killed me instead of just making a general attempt. But it turned out better because of you."
Kier blushed, leaning up against the fence, drawing his legs up.
"How are things with Ian? You seem a little happier."
Kier seemed lost in thought, staring up at a bird in the tree. He answered after a few minutes had passed. "It's hard....."
"What is?" Jamie prompted when no more was forthcoming.
"Ian is not giving an inch. Not even a smidgen of an inch. He tells me to do something, and if I even THINK about saying something, I'm buried into the nearest corner or put in bed."
Kier glanced at Jamie, then looked back up. "But it's been nice in between those times. We went to the lake the day after you...we picked you up. And we've spent a lot of time together, NOT arguing."
"That's got to be better." Jamie said lightly. Kier hesitated, then glanced sideways at him.
"Do you think I was getting- a bit...?"
"Just a little." Jamie said frankly. "Allen would kill me for half the stuff you've said to Ian the last few weeks."
Kier flushed deeply scarlet. Jamie leaned over and gave him a hug.
"It's okay. I think you and I share that same gene. The one that turns on every once in a while and takes over, causing us to do things we'd NEVER imagined,"
Kier smiled. On impulse he got up and headed for the porch, aware of a peaceful conversation about lawnmowers going on as he approached Ian. Ian glanced up at him and moved automatically, making room on his lap. Kier curled up, watching Jamie make his way more slowly up the steps and settle into Allen's arms, sliding his fingers through Allen's hair. Ian ran a hand down Kier's back, feeling his tension, and pulled him closer, arms folding more tightly around him. His voice was low enough for only Kier to hear.
Kier leaned back against him, tucking his head firmly under Ian's chin, catching Jamie's eye.
He mumbled "Mmmmhmmm" in response to Ian before saying "Think they'd buy that as an excuse? Your gene theory?"
Jamie looked at Ian while Kier looked at Allen, before turning back to each other, saying at the same time, "No."