|Sticks and Stones
Author: ggo85 PM
The story is set a decade after S5. When James Henry gets in trouble for fighting at school, Doc Martin and Louisa are forced to deal with the unexpected - and quite unpleasant - fallout.Rated: Fiction K - English - Drama/Romance - Doc Martin & Louisa G. - Chapters: 5 - Words: 8,173 - Reviews: 55 - Favs: 7 - Follows: 5 - Updated: 01-12-12 - Published: 01-03-12 - Status: Complete - id: 7707953
|A+ A- Full 3/4 1/2 Expand Tighten|
"Now, James," my mother said, "We still need to talk about what happened today at school."
Bugger. I'd been kind of hoping that, when my mum and dad got all goo-goo eyed, they might forget about what I'd done at school. Obviously not and, for now, I decided to keep quiet and see how things played out.
"I know that what Ben said made you angry," Mum was still talking. "As you get older, people will say a lot of hurtful things. And when that happens, you can't just hit someone."
I snuck a glance at my dad to see if he was agreeing with this. Best I could tell, he was. "Mum, I couldn't just let him say those things about you and Dad. It's not right!"
"Neither is fighting. Fighting is wrong, James Henry. It gets you in trouble at school and, when you get older, will get you in trouble with the law. Not to mention that you or someone else could be seriously hurt."
I wasn't convinced. If I let Ben get away with saying stuff like he did today, pretty soon it would be all over school and everyone would think my mum was a slut and I was a bastard. No way would I let that happen.
"There'll be no more fighting at school or anywhere else. Do you understand me, James Henry Ellingham?" Mum asked sternly.
I shook my head sullenly.
"James Henry," my father said in a voice that made clear that this time I'd get no help from him. "Answer your mother."
"Yes, Mum," I mumbled.
Mum's eyes locked on mine with an icy stare that I was sure had frightened many a student in her days as head teacher. "Yes Mum what?"
"I won't fight no more." My tone made clear that I was being forced to say the words.
"Any more," she corrected as Dad gave me a look that said I'd better answer up smartly or I was in for even more trouble with him.
I knew when I was beaten, and this time I tried putting a little enthusiasm into my tone. "Yes, Mum, I won't fight any more."
"That's better," she said and stood up. "Now I'll fix you some dinner and then you need to go to bed. We have to meet with Mr. Gladstone in the morning and I expect he'll have some discipline in mind – as will your father and I."
Oh boy. Mr. Gladstone would probably make me stay after school for at least a week. And I knew my parents had lots of options in terms of punishment, all of which would suck. At the time I'd done it, I was glad I'd punched Ben in the face; now, I was having second thoughts. Not because he didn't deserve it but because in the end I was probably going to suffer more than he would. Double bugger.
"Only give him something light to eat," I heard Dad say as Mum started to pull things out of the cupboard. "He was punched in the abdomen so his stomach's bound to be a bit queasy."
"He got punched in the stomach!" Mum looked horrified. "He won't develop a ruptured spleen like Peter Cronk, will he?"
What in the world was Mum talking about?
"No," Dad reassured her. "Boys his age can't really inflict that much damage with their fists. I'll check him again before he goes to bed to be sure."
After some discussion, Dad agreed to let Mum fix me scrambled eggs with cottage cheese. While it wasn't exactly my idea of dinner, my stomach was starting to act up a bit and I was just as happy not to try the spicy fish stew that I knew Mum was preparing for the two of them.
Mum and Dad didn't say much while I ate, and I was sure they'd have a long talk after I'd gone to bed. At this point, I was too beat to try to outlast them. The various parts of my body where I'd been punched and kicked were hurting; I could only hope Ben Carstairs was faring even worse.
"All right," Dad said, when I'd finished off the last of the eggs. "Off to bed you go."
I pulled myself out of the chair as gracefully as I could, fully aware that Dad's doctor's eyes were watching my every move.
I gave Mum my usual peck on the cheek. "Night, Mum. And . . . I'm sorry for fighting at school today."
"I know, James. And I love you." She hugged me back, hard, and again I had to control the urge to cry out.
I nodded at my father. "Good night, Dad." Boys my age didn't hug or kiss their dads.
He put a hand on my shoulder. "Go get your pajamas on. I'll be up shortly."
I diligently worked my way through my evening ritual and, for the first time all day, got a good look at myself in the mirror. I was already developing quite the shiner and rather hoped that the guys at school would be impressed. Despite my apologies, I felt quite proud of myself for defending Mum. Yeah, fighting was wrong but sometimes you had to do it and today was one of those times.
Dad came into my bedroom as I was pulling on my pajama top. "Did you brush your teeth?" he asked.
"Use the lavatory?"
"Wash your hands and face?"
"All right, then, into bed you go."
I climbed into my bed and started to pull up the sheets. Dad slid next to me and gently grabbed my hand.
"Wait a minute. I need to check you again."
I rolled my eyes. "Dad, I'm fine." I knew he was simply being his usual thorough self, but at times like this I wished my dad wasn't a doctor.
"Shush," he said, but his voice was gentle as were his hands as he probed the area around my eye and then pressed on my stomach.
"Dad, what's a ruptured spleen?"
"The spleen is an organ in your abdomen, located here." He pressed lightly on an area near the top left side of my belly. "The spleen purifies your blood and stores blood cells. It's very susceptible to injury and, if damaged, can rupture, or split open, which causes severe internal bleeding."
"Oh." My dad sure knew a lot and, I had to admit, always answered my questions, no matter how stupid he probably thought they were.
Dad continued probing my belly and then pulled the blanket over me. "You're fine."
"Told you so," I said.
"Yes, you did." He reached for a bottle on the bedside table and poured some of the liquid into a measuring spoon. "I need you to take this."
"What is it?"
"Paracetamol. It's an analgesic, a medicine that helps relieve pain."
"I'm not in pain," I protested.
"Really?" Dad gave me a look of disbelief.
"Well, not too much," I admitted.
"I can promise you the pain will get worse during the night. The paracetamol will help you get the rest you need." Dad handed me the spoon with the medicine, and I dutifully swallowed it.
"Will I have to go to school tomorrow?"
"I expect so."
"Hmm." It figured. There was no way Dad would write me a sick note if I wasn't really sick and, as a teacher, no way Mom would let me stay out of school one minute more than absolutely necessary. Especially when we had an appointment with Mr. Gladstone. I bet Ben Carstairs would get to stay home for at least a day. Somedays it sucked being me.
"I'm glad you and Mum told me the truth."
"We'll always tell you the truth, James. And we expect you to do the same. And now that you know the truth, it shouldn't matter what others say to you."
It was funny the way Dad talked to me, almost like an adult. Mostly it felt good; sometimes, it was a little scary.
"Yeah, but if anyone says anything bad about Mum, I'm still going to smack 'em." And I would too.
"James, you promised your mother and me that you wouldn't fight—"
"Dad! I'm not going let tossers like Ben Carstairs dis Mum. It's wrong."
"Yes, it is wrong. As is fighting. And I know you long ago learned that two wrongs don't make a right."
"So what am I supposed to do?" I knew what my mum wanted, but she was a girl. I needed to hear from my dad what a guy should do when someone dissed his mum.
"Sometimes you have to let them tease you," he said softly.
Strange words coming from my dad, who suddenly had a faraway look in his eyes, as if he were remembering something. I frowned. "What?"
"It's something your mother once said, a long time ago when some people were saying nasty things about me."
"About you? Like what Ben said?"
Dad shook his head. "No, something else. And I responded much as you did today."
"You punched them?" I asked, trying unsuccessfully to imagine my father hitting anyone.
"Of course not! But I became angry and said things that were better left unsaid. My words only encouraged them and made it worse."
"So what happened?"
"I proved to them that what they were saying about me didn't matter."
"How'd you do that?"
"I saved a boy's life. Peter Cronk, the boy your mother mentioned tonight."
The way my dad said it, so matter-of-fact - it was like he saved people's lives every day. Which, come to think if it, maybe he did. "Cool! How'd you do that?"
My dad frowned. "Let's save that story for another time. You, young man, need to get some sleep."
"Oh, come on, Dad. I want to hear the story."
He shook his head and stood up from the bed. "Some other time, perhaps. Not tonight."
"Tomorrow night?" I asked hopefully.
"Some other time, James," he said firmly.
I'd long ago learned there were times when pushing my dad wouldn't do me any good, and this was definitely one of those times. "Bummer."
Dad gave me his GP look. "Right. Now, if you have pain during the night, or feel sick, I want you to come wake me right away. Come to our bed immediately. Understand?"
I sighed. "Yes, Dad."
He leaned down and brushed his hand along my forehead and into my hair. "Good night, James."
"Night, Dad." I waited until he'd reached the door. "Hey Dad."
I smiled up at him. "I'm glad you're my dad."
He paused a moment, then said, "I'm glad you're my son."
And, just before he flicked off the light, I saw a smile on his face.
So my little tale comes to an end. A huge and sincere thanks to all of you who took the time to comment and for your words of encouragement. And, as always, to my beta, jd517, who convinced me this story wasn't too "out there."
As I've told some of you, the mind of a 10-year-old boy, and especially the son of DM and LG, is sometimes a strange place to be! But, it was fun and, maybe, one of these days in the not-too-distant future, I'll venture back there.