Tuesday, February 2, 2010

Twas the Night before Family


Title: Twas the Night before Family
Authors: Rolf and Ranger

Allen looked over at Jamie, admiring the way he filled out a pair of jeans. His lover was standing still for maybe the first time that day, looking out the door at the snow flurries that had just started falling in plump little heaps. The fair head was resting against the doorframe, a sign of how tired Jamie was, from rushing about and readying the house for the Christmas Eve family get-together they were hosting the following day.
His family, mixed with Jamie's family, mixed with Jamie's parents divorce, didn't make for easy parties at the best of times- especially when it was impossible not to invite everyone, and equally impossible to put barbed wire down the middle of the lounge. By putting them together on Christmas Eve, theoretically they got the 'who do we spend Christmas with' battle over in one quick go, and Allen lived in philosophical hope that one day the entire family would simply learn to get on. In the mean time-
He walked across to the doorway, swatted the well curved behind gently across the seat of the soft denim and rested his hands on Jamie's shoulders, rubbing.
"Hey. I think you've cooked everything cookable, let's call it an evening, hmm?"
Jamie leaned back against Allen's strong frame, smelling deeply of his aftershave and enjoying the somewhat rough countenance of his partner's five o' clock shadow against his own face.
"Let's go for a short walk? The snow is so beautiful and I bet it's quiet outside. Please?" Jamie asked hopefully.
"It's still snowing, and it's freezing out there. How about we just put the Christmas tree lights on, I'll make some tea and we'll crash out and watch something stupid on the tv?" Allen said in his ear.
"Just a fifteen minute walk? You know how much I love the first real snow," Jamie said, turning to face his partner fully.
Allen hesitated, not keen for either of them to be outside, then softened at the sight of Jamie's eyes. It had been a hard afternoon of preparations, Jamie had been running around since before breakfast this morning and Allen knew what was on his mind under the need for everything to be ready and sorted. If the house was ready, if the preparations were perfect ENOUGH, he could force things to go well. He kissed Jamie's cheek and nodded. "Fifteen minutes. Put another sweater on, it's very cold."
Jamie's broad smile touched his eyes as headed upstairs to grab something warmer to wear. He accepted his coat and scarf but refused his hat.
Allen didn't argue, but swiped both pairs of gloves off the nail as they stepped outside, catching Jamie's hand. The snow was still very light, only just beginning to settle and falling increasingly thickly although slowly and leisurely from a heavy grey sky. Their steps were still mostly muffled on the pavement, the snow starting to stick but not crunch beneath their feet. Jamie's smile never wavered, catching sight of the huge flakes in the few streetlights in the area.
"Think it's going to get deep?"
"No, I think this is just a few flurries." Allen said calmly, steering Jamie to his other side to keep him from wandering off the kerb in his efforts to watch. "It'll be fine, the roads will stay clear, it'll just look pretty."
Jamie turned around to face Allen, walking backwards. "Let's dance!"
"Let's go into the woods." Allen said, laughing and catching his hands before Jamie tripped them both over. "I like my knees intact thank you. And yours. Come on."
They'd reached the stile at the end of their lane and Allen held Jamie's arm, steadying him as he swung over the low gate into the field which led down to the woods. In the open land the snow was thicker, starting to smooth out the ground like frosting and delicately ice the trees.
"It's SOO beautiful!" Jamie said, kicking up his feet to send some of the snow flying. He bent over to try rolling up a snowball, finding the thick, heavy snow a perfect fit. He quickly fired off one, hitting Allen in the back of his leg.
Allen scooped up a handful of snow and returned the fire, chasing Jamie across to the tree line where the snow was starting to cover the pine needle and leaf carpet. He threw up an arm to defend his head from Jamie's second assault and grabbed him, turning him around and digging expert fingers into his ribs, poking and tickling until Jamie was shrieking and squirming in his arms to get away.
"Not fair, NOT FAIR!" Jamie squeaked, finally twisting out of Allen's grasp. "HOW do you find my ribs through all this material?" he asked good naturedly, as he dusted the snow from his legs.
"Practice." Allen said succinctly, dusting the snow off Jamie's blond curls as well. "Want to cut home through the woods?"
"Yes," Jamie said, putting his hand in Allen’s and walking along the path that led through the woods. In the summer, the path was cool enough to use on even the most obnoxiously hot days, but in the winter the trees cut down on any wind and it usually seemed a few degrees warmer. Very few snowflakes were making it down to the ground.
The scents of fresh air, trees, the pine needles underfoot and the snow in the distance were deeply refreshing after a busy and harried afternoon. Allen walked, aware of Jamie's fingers wrapped around his, his lover's shoulder bumping companionably against his, and for the first time that day truly felt the tension drain away from his neck and shoulders and the pit of his stomach, leaving him warmed despite the chill of the air. It didn't get much better than this. If it hadn't been for the hour and the closeness of dark, he'd have tugged Jamie left instead of right through the woods and struck out for the long walk they loved that led down to the river. Maybe Christmas day which they had to themselves, jealously guarded. They definitely needed to do this more often.
There was a short, but spirited snowball fight on the way to the door, Allen closing the door just in time to avoid being decked by a shot that had flown a little too high. It landed with a mighty thud against the pane of glass, Jamie laughing as he headed towards the steps.
Allen grabbed him on the other side of the door with one more handful of snow which he rubbed cheerfully down Jamie's neck.
"HEY!" Jamie spluttered, ducking away from the cold snow. "NOT FAIR, you can't play with the snow IN the house!"
"What snow?" Allen said innocently, pulling him back for a kiss. "Show me the snow?"
"There!" Jamie said indignantly, pointing to a small puddle forming on the kitchen floor. He pulled his scarf off and unzipped his jacket, the house stifling after the chill of outside.
"That's water." Allen informed him, taking his jacket. "I'll put the kettle on. Go find something we want to watch and crash out on the sofa for a while. You look tired."
"Hot chocolate?" Jamie asked as he headed into the lounge. Spotting the tree, he turned for that instead of the tv and started pulling out the Christmas lights.
"Hot chocolate I can do. Jamie leave that, we'll finish it in the morning, or I'll do it."
"It's ok, it needs doing," Jamie replied, plugging in a strand of lights to see if they were all lit.
"Later or by me." Allen repeated, putting the kettle on and taking the hot chocolate powder out of the cupboard.
Jamie continued looking at the strand, changing out a bulb that was dead.
Allen leaned out of the kitchen and gave him a long, interested and currently friendly look. Jamie saw it and pulled a face at him.
"I'm JUST checking the bulbs! I won't put it on the tree, I promise."
Allen continued looking, propping his elbows on the counter.
Jamie pulled out the strand a moment later, content that it was all lit. He looked up as he went to grab another strand and thought better, going over to the tv to find something to watch.
Allen shook his head and straightened up, mixing the chocolate in the mugs. He added a few marshmallows and took the mugs into the living room, looking with growing resignation at the stack of videos and DVDs now being piled on the carpet beside the rapidly emptying shelves.
"Now what are you doing?"
"There's dust behind these videos. I'll just wipe that up before I put these back," Jamie replied, continuing to pile the tapes on the floor.
Allen put the mugs down, leaned down and picked the nearest stack of videos up, putting them back on the shelves. "Not tonight. What are we watching?"
"Allen! I've almost got the shelf empty!"
"What are we watching?" Allen repeated, filing the next stack.
"I don't know. YOU pick," Jamie replied shortly, standing up to get his hot chocolate.
Recognising the tone, Allen put the last of the videos back and picked up one of Jamie's favourites, sliding it into the machine. It started automatically. Picking up his own cup he went across to the sofa, collapsing at his usual end of it and holding out an arm to his disgruntled partner. "C'mere."
Jamie relented and slid over closer to Allen, leaning against him and sipping what he could of the hot liquid.
Allen ran his fingers through Jamie's hair, pulling him down where he could lounge comfortably. "You don't need to worry about doing anything more. We're done, it's fine. We'll cover the last details in the morning."
"You know your parents. They're always here about an hour before they're supposed to be," Jamie groused.
“They're not going to be here before ten then at the earliest. And the place is spotless, you've been over it with a toothcomb at least twice." Allen soothed him. "They're coming to see us, not check the house for dust."
"You saw how much is on that shelf! It doesn't have to be seen to cause problems. Are you finished?" Jamie asked, sitting up with his empty mug.
"We are not drowning in dust, chill out." Allen took his mug away, dumped it on the table with his own and pulled Jamie back down against him. "Chill."
Jamie settled back down against Allen having been given no other alternative. He tried getting involved in the television but couldn't. Jamie looked around when he heard a light snore, finding Allen with his eyes closed and sleeping. He slid out from under his hand and quietly picked up the mugs, heading into the kitchen.
Allen stirred around twenty minutes later with the strong feeling that something, somewhere was being washed. The sloshing of water was unmistakeable, even over the tv, and when he sat up and snapped the tv off, Jamie was nowhere in sight.
Jamie had a bucket and was cleaning the floor, paying particular attention to the area right around the back door where there were a few footprints visible. He'd already washed the few dishes they'd used since dinner.
Allen stopped in the kitchen doorway and sighed, seeing both the vigour in the hands scrubbing at the floor and the expression on Jamie's face. He'd seen it much of the afternoon. Set, grim concentration. Stepping carefully on the wet floor, he took the brush away from his partner and pulled him up to his feet, keeping firm hold of both wet hands.
"Jamie. Look at me."
"What?" was Jamie's frustrated response at being stopped in mid-chore, even as he brought his eyes up to his partner’s.
Allen held his gaze, chilling it slightly until he saw it cool some of the temperament in Jamie's face.
"Stop it." he said quietly and clearly. "We are done cleaning. Nothing else is getting cooked, cleaned, washed or re organised until tomorrow. Are you receiving me?"
"At least let me finish the floor," Jamie tried, a whine creeping in against his will.
"No." Allen reached for a dishtowel and put it into his hands. "Dry yourself off, go upstairs and run yourself a bath. We are done. The house is not going to fall down, the gremlins are NOT going to get us, it is ok to leave this until tomorrow."
Jamie wiped his hands and arms down before surrendering the towel to Allen. He walked carefully past the wet part of the floor and tried not to stomp upstairs for a bath. It was only nine, they had plenty of time to continue working.
Allen, not without a good deal of sympathy, wiped his own hands and tipped out the bucket, putting it back under the sink. The phone rang as he finished and he picked it up before it distracted Jamie, finding himself talking to a colleague in need of some brief advice on a shared patient of theirs at the hospital.
Jamie had pulled out a towel to replace the one currently being washed. That reminded him that he hadn't set out linens in the guest bath, in case anyone needed anything. On the way back down the hallway he stopped to straighten the books on the shelf.
Allen, wandering through the lounge with the phone to his ear, discussing skin grafts and jaw reconstructions, heard footsteps cross the landing the wrong way and mentally sighed. This was going to be one of those evenings. Jamie, once wound, found it incredibly difficult to unwind. This party was weighing heavily on his mind, tomorrow would be a hard day and unless he settled down now and was able to get a good night's sleep, his ability to cope with the party itself was likely to be severely compromised. Wondering for the fifth or sixth time this week whether they'd do better to spend the whole of Christmas away on holiday and just not see any family at all, Allen headed upstairs, the phone still to his ear.
Jamie, lost in the process of straightening, didn't even hear the footsteps nor the conversation behind him. Allen took the books out of his hand without a word, tapped his shoulder and pointed at the bathroom. Jamie glared, but got up and headed into the bathroom. While the tub filled he took out a sponge and wiped up the few spots on the sink that had somehow missed his sponge earlier in the day.
Allen took a seat on the landing, working as quickly as he could to reassure a young, talented but somewhat insecure plastic surgeon and get him off the phone, listening to the water run.
Once the tub was filled, Jamie undressed and unwillingly climbed in, settling against the back of it and tuning into his partner on the phone.
"Yes." Allen said for at least the fourth time. "Yes, I agree. That's the best thing you can do at this stage. Yes. Well I'm happy to verify that, I can check when I see her on Monday. Yes. Ok Larry. Yes. Merry Christmas."
With some relief he shut the phone and got up, going into the bathroom where in amongst the steam Jamie was sitting, looking anything but relaxed.
"Who was that on the phone?"
"The plastic surgeon for the girl who had the car crash." Allen pocketed the phone and sat on the edge of the bath, trailing his fingers in the water. "He's doing all the right things, he just wants to keep checking back."
"You're not going in, are you?"
"No, no. I'm going to have a look at her on Monday when we go back to work and see whether she's healed enough to do some of the jaw reconstruction, and once that's done the plastic surgeon can do a bit more with her. It's not an emergency, he just wanted to compare notes really."
Jamie relaxed only slightly, not saying anything.
Allen dipped his fingers in the water again and let it trail down Jamie's shoulders, watching him for a moment, then leaned over and picked up the sponge.
 "Sit forward, let me do your back."
Jamie sat up, handing over the sponge and the body wash. He leaned forward slightly in the water.
Allen soaped the sponge and began to scrub it in slow, heavy circles over Jamie's neck and shoulders, pushing where the muscles were tense.
Shutting his eyes, Jamie tried to concentrate on only the movement of the sponge, trying to shut down on the thought a minute his brain was shoving his way. It worked, as long as Allen was scrubbing.
Allen soaked the sponge in the water and let the water pour over Jamie's back, then put it down and used his hands instead, massaging his way from Jamie's neck downwards and taking his time, letting the touch grow intimate and soothing as it was unhurried. By the time he was done the water was cooling and he bent his head, kissing Jamie gently on the lips.
"Stand up beautiful."
Jamie somehow found the strength to stand up, Allen's massages always leaving him feeling like a limp noodle. He shivered only a moment before he was wrapped in one of their large bath sheets and found himself dry in seconds.
"I could have stayed in there longer."
"We're having an early night." Allen drained the bath and steered him towards the bedroom. "Get some night clothes on and find something on tv to watch, I'll be up in a minute."
Jamie wandered into the bedroom and slipped into a pair of his warmer pyjamas. As the fog of the bath started to clear he realized he'd forgotten to polish the wood upstairs. He'd gotten it dusted but had saved the polishing for later. He found a bottle of polish and a rag and started in their bedroom.
Allen locked up downstairs, picked up a couple of glasses and poured a couple of cognacs and took them with him, glancing at the clock on his way. It was past nine. With luck, an hour of peaceful tv watching and dozing, Jamie would sleep and leave the stress for tomorrow morning where it - Jamie was polishing the wood of their door, moving slowly out towards the landing.
Allen stopped where he was, giving him a long, slow glare.
Jamie couldn't stop the slow flush that heated his face. With one final swipe, he stepped past Allen, thankful for his full hands, and put the polish away and set the rag out to be taken down in the morning. He washed his hands and walked slowly back into the bedroom.
Allen put the glasses down on the bedside table and sat down on the bed, fixing Jamie with another hard look.
"DON'T drive me mad."
Jamie quickly shook his head no, stopping in front of Allen but out of his reach.
"I won't.
"Last warning sunshine, or it'll be the superman pyjamas." Allen said severely. "Come here."
Knowing he was safe, Jamie slid into Allen’s arms, settling on his legs and wrapping his arms around his neck. "It's going to be crazy tomorrow."
"No, it won't." Allen pulled him closer and hugged him tightly. "It'll be fine. They're going to arrive, eat, chat, they'll be gone by threeish and the whole thing is over with, it really is NOT going to be a problem."
"Mom and Dad, I don't know if they'll talk to each other or chew on each other. At least your parents still like to be together."
"Jamie, don't worry about it." Allen said firmly. "It's their problem. If they choose not to enjoy tomorrow that's their decision, we can't stop them. And they'll be too well mannered to make a scene, don't worry about it."
"I don't know," Jamie said quietly, pulling away so he could see Allen's face.
"What don't you know?"
"If it will BE nice. It's supposed to be a happy occasion and I'm more worried than happy."
"I know." Allen put a hand up to smooth his hair back from his face, sad for him and trying to find some form of words that would help. "I know it's hard. But I think this is the best way to do it honey. We see them in one occasion, no one's left out, we don't get into the 'you spent the day with them and not us', and then we've got the whole of the rest of Christmas without stress."
"That day is what I'm really looking forward to," Jamie replied, kissing Allen.
And that wasn't half of what was on his mind. Allen held on to him, making Jamie look at him.
"It's going be fine. The worst that can happen is that they don't enjoy themselves- that’s not our fault, that's not something we can control. And in a few hours it's over and it won't matter. Nothing awful is going to happen."
"Okay," Jamie said, exasperated. "What did you bring up to drink?" he asked, looking over at the table.
It wasn't going in. Allen let him go and passed him one of the cognacs.
"The good stuff, I thought we deserved it after all the work today. What are we going to watch?"
"I don't know." Jamie slid off his lap and collected the remote, sitting on the end of the bed and changing channels as he sipped his drink. He finally settled on a variety show, going around to his side of the bed and sitting against the headboard.
Allen got up and began to change, taking his time, half his attention on the tv. When everything was put away he picked up his own glass and stretched out on the bed beside Jamie, crossing his ankles.
Jamie was mostly still for about fifteen minutes, when his drink ran out. "I'll be right back," he said, sliding to his feet.
Allen tipped his head back to watch him, lifting his voice as he realised where Jamie was headed. "You've had enough Jamie."
"A touch more?"
Allen shook his head. "You won't be happy in the morning if you wake up hung over. Come back to bed."
"I'll just put the glass in the dishwasher then," Jamie said on his way out the door.
"Jamie." Allen said, raising his voice.
"I won't drink!" Jamie said from the hallway, though he stopped for a minute to see what Allen's response was.
"James."
Jamie rolled his eyes, but turned and headed back into their bedroom, putting the glass down on the table and getting back into bed with a scowl on his face.
Allen put his own glass down and reached for the remote. "Go clean your teeth."
Jamie rolled back out of bed, mumbling and went to the bathroom. He took his time brushing his teeth, choosing to floss and use mouthwash as well.
Allen snapped the tv off, opened the window and stood for a moment watching the snow drifting down. Still light, still falling in a slow, leisurely way that meant it was unlikely to be serious, but currently very pretty. Then he turned the bed down and took his watch off, glancing from it to the bathroom where there was still no sign of his other half.
"Jamie. Clean them, don't re wire them."
Jamie finished a few minutes later and headed back to bed, sliding in and curling next to Allen, who still sat above the covers.
"What took all that time?" Allen asked, turning the light out.
"Just decided to floss too."
"Let me see."
"In the dark?" Jamie replied, snickering.
Allen put a finger between his teeth to part them, and nodded. "Yep. Dazzling. And bleeding. You don't need to do that, you've got great teeth."
"Every once in a while they need a little extra work," Jamie said, pulling away so he could shut his mouth.
"Well before you decide the blankets need re crocheting or the sheets re hemming...." Allen said, sliding down under the covers beside him.
"I'm useless with a needle and thread, that's your department," Jamie replied, poking Allen in the ribs and laughing.
Allen rolled over for answer, hugging and squashing him.


Trying to settle down to sleep was next to impossible for Jamie. His mind was still racing with everything that was, or could, happen on the following day. He tried to remain still so as not to disturb Allen.
To Allen just three inches away from Jamie Trying To Be Quiet, Jamie might as well have had a flashing neon sign over him. Stressed Jamie. He lay for a while, deliberately trying to relax himself, hoping that the quiet and the calmness would pass to Jamie by osmosis. Then when that was clearly failing, he rolled over and wrapped an arm around Jamie, pulling him onto his side and rubbing his back slowly and soothingly.
"Relax honey. Come on, it's fine."
"Mmmhmmm," Jamie said by way of reply, leaning against the rubs.
"What shall we do on Christmas day?" Allen said softly, not stopping. "I thought a walk might be nice- right down to the reservoir if the weather's right."
"That would be nice."
"What do you fancy?"
"I don't know," Jamie said, trying to get comfortable and getting increasingly aggravated with keeping them both up.
Allen let him go, aware he wasn't helping. "Want the radio on?"
"No, that'll just keep us up."
"Never mind that. Do you want it on?"
"No," Jamie said shortly before adding "Thanks," to take away some of the sting.
Allen put out a hand, feeling for his in a silent message that no offence was taken. He could feel Jamie's resonating tension. Jamie gave the hand a squeeze, then tried again to will himself to sleep, and Allen as well.

Allen lay still, keeping quiet, more than ready to sleep and starting against his will to doze off. Jamie was about fit to scream when he finally heard the gentle rhythm of Allen's breathing, signalling sleep. He moved experimentally, adjusting himself slowly, listening to see if it affected Allen at all. Finally he was able to get to his feet and slowly walk from the room, mindful of the corner of the dresser and the end of the bed which he'd kicked in the past. He headed slowly downstairs and wandered for about ten minutes, checking the view from each window as he went along. His eyes kept straying to the tree but he kept from doing anything to it, remembering Allen's warning. Finally it got to be too much, and Jamie felt around until he'd located the string of lights and plugged that in, hoping the dim lights wouldn't be seen from the bedroom upstairs. He wrapped what he could of the lights around his shoulders, then leaned over to the tree and started to unwrap each layer on himself to apply to the tree. He'd only made it a third of the way down when his heart caught in his throat.
Allen waited for his eyes to adjust to the light he'd just snapped on, and came downstairs, taking in the tree and Jamie and the coil of lights. Jamie was looking anywhere but at him when he lifted the coil off Jamie's shoulders and laid it down, snapping the lights off at the socket. Then he took Jamie's hand and towed him firmly up the stairs.
Blinking hard on the bright light of the bedroom, Jamie had a quick and gentle try at removing himself from Allen's grasp to make his way over to his own side the bed, but with no luck. Allen towed him across to his side of the bed, sat down and acquired Jamie's other hand, holding him to meet his eyes.
"What did I say to you about that tree?"
"I couldn't sleep," Jamie said, shifting his weight on his feet.
"What did I say?" Allen repeated, not changing his tone.
"Not to work on it," Jamie capitulated.
"Exactly."
There was a lot more to it than that, none of which really needed saying. Jamie looked tired, despairing and Allen had no inclination at all to lecture any further. Gently, he drew Jamie in between his knees and tugged down the shorts of his pyjamas before drawing Jamie down over his lap.
Finding himself in this position was both expected and unexpected, leaving his stomach twisting as it always did. Not that he was in for a serious spanking, but the entire process of a spanking sent the message that he'd done something he shouldn't have, and that already unpleasant thought was going to be followed up by a lot more unpleasantness. He put his head down in despair on the duvet and tensed.
Allen rested a hand on his back, anchoring him, and rubbed, slowly and deeply, well aware of the tension there.
"Are you planning on letting this go any time before morning?"
The ‘yes’ Allen got was muffled by the duvet.
"When?" Allen asked, still rubbing.
"Five minutes ago?" Jamie asked, risking a quick look around.
"That was a good thought." Allen said, stifling the smile. "I mean it James. Are you going to stop stressing? Because you do have some control over that."
"I'll try," Jamie said earnestly. "Can't we just go to bed?"
"Trying isn't good enough. We've done trying. And we've done going to bed too. You chose to get up and go downstairs and you knew exactly what I'd think of it too. Didn't you?"
"Yes, sir," Jamie said slowly, trying to will his body to settle and for this to be over soon.
"This can go on all night Jamie." Allen said firmly. "It can get a lot more unpleasant and a lot more painful, it's entirely up to you how difficult you want it to get."
He raised a hand and swatted, a lot more firmly than he thought Jamie was probably prepared for, lifted his hand and unhurriedly swatted the other upturned cheek just as soundly. Jamie jumped against his will on the first swat, his breath a sharp intake and an all too quick outflow on the second swat. He tried to remain still and silent, the sharp swats very loud and almost as upsetting as the pain they were generating.
Taking a lot more time than he'd usually take, Allen continued to swat, soundly and slowly, well aware of the rigidity of Jamie's body against his.
Tears were running down Jamie's face as he fought the natural reaction of his body to jerk away. He was fighting the sobbing almost as much as the desire to move from his current position. Grimacing hard and hissing through his teeth had replaced his surprised 'ohs' and 'ahs' as Allen hit particularly sensitive areas because those were threatening to turn into sobs.

When Allen connected solidly twice in a row on the soft underside of his right cheek, Jamie's muttered "ah!" continued as he feared it would, into a long and heartfelt sob, breaking the dam that had welled up inside his throat. His body lost the rigid tension it had held as he realized again, that this spanking was going to continue until Allen thought he'd been truly chastised.
That was Allen's job, same as it was to help direct him when he was having trouble with a particular problem, like tomorrow. Allen said it was going to be fine and to stop, and he hadn't been willing to listen, to trust. If things didn't turn out fine, Allen would be there to help fix it, and that, Jamie realized belatedly, was all that truly mattered.
Whatever 'they' did, whoever was in their house, would be a temporary problem. The day would return to just the two of them, which was all Jamie had ever desired in the first place. He sobbed harder, wishing he'd trusted Allen.
Thank goodness, Allen thought, feeling the tension drain out of Jamie's body as he went limp and his shoulders began to shake. Taking his time, well aware that what to Jamie would feel like several years would actually not add to up to very much damage at all physically, he landed another three or four sound swats and stopped, running his hand slowly up and down Jamie's back.
"Are you going to stop stressing now?"
"Yeeeessss," Jamie replied, sounding strangled between the sobs.
"Thank you." Allen said quietly. He drew up Jamie's shorts and lifted his partner back to his feet, steadying him until he got his balance.
"Then I want you to go and put your nose in that corner, and stand there until you are ready to get into this bed and go to sleep. We're not playing any more games tonight."
"Yes, sir," Jamie said, straightening his shorts and wiping at his face as he made his way over to the corner. He took a few minutes to indulge in a pity party, then slowly settled down, aware that he was the only one making any noise in the quiet of the room.
Tense himself, Allen sat back against the bed head and deliberately relaxed his neck, jaw and shoulders. He hadn't wanted to do that, he really hadn't. On the other hand he was well aware that sometimes it was the one thing that reached Jamie when all else failed. Jamie's temperamental nerves weren't always entirely under his control.
He cast another look at Jamie, seeing the shaking of his shoulders diminish and be replaced by a slump that was tired and unhappy more than agitated.
Jamie reached back and rubbed the throbbing ache in his backside. Sniffling again despite himself, he started, coughed, then said again, "Allen?"
"Yes?" Allen said quietly.
"I.....I'm ready for bed."
"Come here then." Allen said, turning the covers back.
Jamie wiped at his face again before turning around and making his way back to the bed. He kept looking at the sheets as he got in, keeping close to his side of the bed and with his back towards Allen, ashamed.
Allen waited until he settled, turned the light out and put a hand on his shoulder, voice very kind. "Jamie come here."
Jamie's shoulder jumped with a sob before he could stop it, then he rolled over and buried himself against Allen's side, trying very hard not to cry.
Allen lay down and held him tightly, burying his face in Jamie's soft hair.
"Shhh. It's all right. It's okay sweetheart, it's all going to be fine."
"I'm so sorry," Jamie said between deep gulps of breath.
"It's fine." Allen said soothingly, "It's going to be okay Jamie. I wouldn't LET you do anything that could go badly enough to justify this kind of stress."
Jamie nodded against Allen's chest, feeling more tired now that he'd felt all day. It was almost like a truck had hit him.
Allen stroked the back of his head, shaking the strands of Jamie's hair out around his fingers.
"There's only one person you have to worry about, and that's me. And I'm a lot scarier than the whole lot of our parents combined, trust me."
Jamie gave a muffled snort as his answer before he looked up to steal a salty goodnight kiss.
"If they only knew," Jamie mumbled as he settled against Allen, sound asleep.
~ THE END ~

Copyright Rolf and Ranger 2010

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