Pumpkins and Brownies
             by Rusty

“I want this one. Doesn’t it look like an old man?”  Gavin added the pumpkin to the other three he had picked out and headed back towards the patch again. 

The early October evening was warm.  You could smell fall in every breath you took. The leaves that colored the trees, covered the ground they walked on.  And they had walked on every square inch of ground in this pumpkin patch three times on this Monday evening, searching for just the right pumpkins to decorate their home.

Jack laughed and shook his head.  “Gavin, you have four pumpkins.  I have two.  Don’t you think that’s plenty?”

Gavin looked back at Jack and rolled his eyes.  “Jack, our front porch is big.  We’ll need several for there.  Then we’ll need at least two for the side entrance to the house.  Two more for the back porch.”

Jack was still laughing as he followed Gavin back towards the patch.  “I suppose you’ll want a few for inside the house as well?”

“Well yeah, of course.” Gavin bent over to pick up a deformed looking pumpkin and smiled as if he'd found a treasure.  “I think we should wait to carve them until closer to Halloween.  We can just draw faces on them until then. They won’t get wrinkled and gross if we don’t carve them too early.”

Jack laughed again, watching Gavin search through the pumpkins. Bending up and down. Laughing and making comments about this pumpkin and that one. His face, always animated, lit up with excitement as he searched for just the right pumpkins to take home.  Every pumpkin had a personality according to Gavin. 

Jack felt that all too familiar stirring in his groin and subtly shifted his jeans. Not that he ever needed a reason, but there was something erotic about watching Gavin’s excitement when he was in his “decorating for the holidays” mood.

According to Gavin, you could never start to soon or have too much when it came to decorating for the holidays.   At Christmas time there were rain deer and a sled sitting out in the yard.  Wreaths in every window and on every door.  Lights outlined the house and the bushes in front.  Jack was the one that had to climb up the ladder in the freezing weather to outline the roof and upstairs windows with the lights, since Gavin was afraid of heights. 

Pumpkins and cobwebs cluttered the front porch at Halloween. He’d even made two men out of old clothes and straw to sit in the rocking chairs. Usually two of the pumpkins were laid in their laps so it looked like headless men holding their heads in their hands.

And Gavin was always laughing and chatting non-stop about where each item would look best and why.  Just the joy of being in the moment was evident in every movement and facial expression. 

Jack enjoyed it too.  Well, mostly he got a kick out of watching Gavin enjoy it. 

It was contagious.

After picking out a few more pumpkins, in various shapes and sizes, Gavin decided they had enough.  He stood like a king surrounded by little pumpkin people and grinned.

“Okay, I think we have enough now.”  Gavin picked up the deformed looking pumpkin, his face was beaming.  “I think I’ll use this one for my straw man that sits in my rocking chair.  Which one are you going to decorate for your straw man?”

Jack coughed into his hand, trying not to laugh out loud.  He knew Gavin already had his own ideas on which one should be used for the other stuffed man.  Jack knew that he really didn’t have a choice, but every year Gavin asked his opinion anyway. 

Jack picked up a little round pumpkin.  He held out in front of him as if he were trying to decide.  “I think this one will do.”

“Jack, that pumpkin isn’t scary at all.  It’s way too small.”  Gavin rolled his eyes again and bent down to pick up a long dented pumpkin.  He held it out in front of Jack.  “Don’t you think this one would be scarier?”

Jack coughed into his hand again.  “Yes, I think you might be right Gav.  That one probably would be better.”

Gavin smiled, holding back a laugh of his own.  “I thought you might see it that way.  Well, let’s get them loaded up and head for home.”

Jack watched Gavin walk away, balancing four of the pumpkins in his hands.  That stirring feeling in his groin had him groaning out loud.

What was it about Gavin McCourt and pumpkin patches that always got him horny as hell?  Jack bent down and picked up a few pumpkins and walked fast to catch up with Gavin. 

“Hey Gav!  We really should wait until the weekend to make the faces on these pumpkins, don’t you think?” Jack called out, as Gavin was placing his pumpkins in the back of the SUV.

Gavin turned around and smiled at the look in Jack’s eyes.  “Sounds like a great idea to me.  You pay the man and I’ll go get the rest of the pumpkins.”

As Gavin gathered the rest of the pumpkins, he smiled, thinking about how Jack always got that look in his eyes when they started their holiday decorating.   He got that same look, right in the middle of putting up the outside Christmas lights.  Some years it took several days to get those lights completely finished.  And pumpkin patches did the same thing to the man.

Gavin grinned to himself, that special grin that always did funny things to Jack as well;  and hurried back to load the rest of his pumpkins in the SUV.  He wanted to get home fast. 

Jack really enjoyed all this holiday decorating.  Well, Gavin did too. But, mostly he got a kick out of what it did to Jack.

It must be contagious.
******************************
Tuesday night, as they were sitting at the dinner table, Gavin had lost his holiday decorating glow.  He was too busy complaining about a potential client to think about pumpkins. 

“I’m telling you Jack, this guy is a complete asshole. Nothing I can come up with satisfies him. If this doesn’t work I don’t know what else to do.  Jeff and I’ve tried every way you could possibly market and advertise a dry cleaning chain.”  Gavin pushed his dinner plate back and put his elbows on the table. “And he’s nasty too.  I’ve never met anyone so hateful in my life.”

Jack pushed the plate back in front of Gavin.  “Eat Gav.  You’ve been living on coke and junk food for the last week.”

Gavin rolled his eyes.  “How can I think about eating?  The guy’s gonna give me an ulcer.”

Jack looked up at Gavin, nodding his head towards the plate.  “Eat please.”

Gavin sighed and picked up his fork.  “And talk about eating!  This guy’s the biggest slob going. I’m telling you, the guy’s stomach looks like it’s ready to explode.  His belly is HUGE, Jack.  HUGE! He comes to our office and eats everything sitting out.  We have to refill the candy dishes every time he leaves."

“Gavin, you put that candy out for your clients to eat.”  Jack chuckled. “You just don’t like the guy, so you’re looking for things about him that bug you.”

Gavin shook his head.  “No, really!  We had donuts the other morning and he ate SIX of them.  SIX Jack, without even taking a breath. It’s no wonder the guy opened up a dry cleaning chain.  You should have seen the mess on his shirt from powdered sugar and cream filled donuts.  He probably figured it was cheaper to open his own business than to take his shirts to some other cleaners. ”

“Well, you’re going to run into people like that when you own your own business.” Jack took a drink of his milk.  “The plans you showed me when you came home today looked good.  Maybe he’ll finally be satisfied.”

“Pfllllt!” Gavin blew out a breath. “I’m telling you if he doesn’t like this one I may blow a gasket.  It seems like he’s just wasting our time.”

“You’re going to have that happen too. You're good at what you do.  Don’t let some idiot put doubts in your head.”  Jack pushed his chair back and picked up his plate.  “Just give him what you have, which I know for a fact is the best he’s going to find anywhere.  If he’s still not satisfied, tell him to go elsewhere.”

Gavin put his fork back down.  He folded his arms and pouted.  “He just makes me feel inadequate somehow.  He says things just to be hateful and it stumps me.”

Jack looked back at Gavin and smiled.  “Some people are hateful, Gav.  You’re just going to either have to overlook those remarks or NOT do business with the man.  Owning your own business gives you the power to decide that.”

Gavin grumbled to himself. “Yeah right.”
******************************

After dinner Gavin started to work on his presentation.  He'd been looking at the damn thing over and over again.   He spent the better part of the evening mumbling under his breath and throwing papers balls around the room. This guy just rubbed him the wrong way.  The frustration he felt was stunting his creative energy.

“I thought you were almost finished with this.” Jack stood behind Gavin’s chair and rubbed his shoulders. 

“I’ve been finished with it.  I’m just making sure there aren’t any loopholes anywhere that he can find to bitch about.”  Gavin jerked his shoulders away from Jack’s hands.

Jack shook his head and sighed.  He knew this mood and had a feeling it was only going to get worse.  “I think it’s time to quit.  You’re just going over the same things...over and over. Go on up and take a hot bath.  It’ll relax you.”

Gavin growled.  “This is MY business Jack.  I’m the one in charge of it.  So I decide when I’m finished.”

Jack closed his eyes a second and let out a breath.  Yep, this was going to be one of *those* evenings.   “Gavin, I would never do anything to jeopardize your business.  You know that.  I don’t normally interfere with it.  But you’ve done everything you can tonight. You’re just obsessing.” 

“And you’re right.  It is your business and you’re in charge of it.” Pulling the chair away from the computer, Jack placed his hands on Gavin’s shoulders and turned him around. “But you *are* my business.  And I say ...you’re finished for the night.”

Gavin’s head was pounding and his stomach was in knots.  Jack never interfered with his business. He was always Gavin’s biggest supporter and had been the one to encourage him, even pushing him, to open his own firm. Well, now that he had his own firm, he’d be damned if anyone would dictate to him how to run it. 

Gavin narrowed his eyes.  “Let me tell *you* something, Mr. D.A..  I don’t tell you how to do your job.  And I never gave you the right to tell me how to do mine.  So ...bug...off!”

Jack placed a hand on each side of Gavin’s face and patted.  He then leaned down, placing a kiss on his forehead.  Moving one hand down to the computer mouse, he gave Gavin a very determined smile.  “Is your work saved?”

Gavin didn’t like the looks of that smile.  Not one bit. Oh brother!  He nodded his head.  “Yes, it’s saved.”

Clicking the mouse to shut down the program, Jack then shut off the computer.  Taking hold of Gavin’s arm, he pulled him up off the chair.  Gavin’s eyes widened, not so much in surprise, but with the realization that he may have stuck his foot in his mouth.

“Gavin...just so we’re perfectly clear on this.... I’m going to explain.  I am not interfering in your business.  You *are* in charge of that.”  Jack’s voice was way too pleasant. “But....if I see that you're obsessing or getting wound up over things that you can’t change about your work....then that changes from being work related to being “Gavin” related.”

“And in case there are any doubts in your mind about *who* exactly is in *charge* regarding “Gavin” related things.....I’m going to remind you.”  Still holding on to Gavin’s arm with his left hand, Jack pushed him towards the den door.

The first crack of his right palm on Gavin’s butt had him scrambling for the door in an effort to avoid anymore.  Since Jack still had a firm hold on his arm, he just followed Gavin through the hall and towards the stairs...landing crack after crack along the way.

“I’m going! I’m going!”  Gavin yelped with each swat.

“Oh..I know you’re going.”  Jack said as they reached the bottom of the stairs.  He landed three more swats before letting Gavin’s arm loose.  “Bath! NOW!”

Gavin didn’t even look back.  He ran up those stairs as fast as he could towards the bathroom.  There wasn’t a doubt in his mind about who was in charge regarding “Gavin” related things.

*************************************

Mr. Allman got up from his chair and stood in the middle of the conference room.  “I’m not completely satisfied with this.  It’s a little better than the crap you've been showing me though.  I’ll give you guys one more chance to get it right.  After that, I'm taking my business elsewhere.”

Gavin was usually the one that handled the wooing and courting of the clients at Mc2.  He had a charm about him that made people like him. But Jeff noticed the look on Gavin’s face today and decided it would be best if he handled this one himself.

"I’m glad you’ve decided to give us one more chance.  I know we’ll be able to fix this in a way that you’ll be happy with.”  Jeff shook Mr. Allman’s hand and opened the door of the conference room.  “We’ll make an appointment for Friday.  We’ll work on it today and tomorrow. That should give us the time we need.”

Mr. Allman let out a disgruntled sigh.  “Well, I hope so.  This is getting to be a waste of time.  I’m a busy man. You and your *boyfriend* here need to stay out of those leather bars and concentrate on your business. ” 

He leaned over the conference table and took the last donut from the tray.  “I’ll just take this one for the road.  I didn’t have a chance to eat breakfast this morning.”


“Help yourself.  Just follow me and I’ll have Missy put you down for whatever time is convenient for you.”  Jeff held the door open and allowed Mr. Allman to exit the door.  Before following him out the door Jeff turned around and rolled his eyes at Gavin, mouthing the word “asshole”.

Gavin stood in the conference room ready to explode.  This was probably some of his best work and this idiot still wasn’t satisfied.  He didn’t think he could make it any better than it was. 

They were bringing in new clients’ everyday, gaining a reputation for creative advertising and successful marketing campaigns.   He and Jeff were still building up their business and needed all clients they could get.  But Gavin was just about ready to tell this guy to stuff it. And what was all that stuff about leather bars. 

Jeff came back into the conference, finding Gavin exactly where he had left him.  “Gavin, don’t let that idiot get to you.  What’s wrong?  You’re usually the one that can win anybody over.”

“I’m telling you Jeff, I’m about ready to tell that guy to kiss off.”  Gavin pushed a chair back and plopped down. "He's always making comments about us.  You've shown him the pictures of Lisa and the baby that sits on your desk everytime that idiot comes in here. And I've never been to a leather bar in my life."

“Gav, the guy's a bigot. Don't let him bother you. Consider the source.”  Jeff laughed and sat down on the other side of the conference table.  "How many donuts did he have this morning?

“I counted four.  He would have had more if you and I hadn’t taken the other two.  I swear he was glaring at us when he realized that we were going to each have one.”  Gavin rested his chin on his hands.  “The guy is a pig.”

“Yeah, that he is.  I had this teacher in middle school that was always eating in front of us during class.  A couple of my buddies and I made brownies laced with laxatives and brought them to class.”  Jeff laughed, leaning back in his chair.  “He missed school the next day.  No one ever knew why.  He never found out about it either.  I’ve always thought it would be great to run into the guy now and tell him about it. Every time I see Allman stuff something in his mouth I think about that.”

Gavin perked up a little.  “Really!  How did you make these brownies?”
**********************************
Gavin pulled into the garage and smiled when he saw Jack’s SUV.  Jack’s tag football team played on Wednesday nights and he usually didn’t get home until ten.  Most of the time Gavin went and watched the games, but he needed to pick up some supplies for the office and do a few errands.

Before doing the errands he had made those special brownies Jeff had told him about.  Gavin figured it would be wiser to make them on a night that Jack wouldn't be home.  He figured Jack wouldn't think this practical joke was very funny. At all!

After making the brownies, Gavin had sat at the counter and imagined Mr. Allman scarfing down about a half dozen of them.  Then he imagined what would happen too Mr. Allman a few hours later.  He enjoyed that little fantasy for quite some time.

It was almost like...therapy. 

Although, Gavin was already having doubts about actually giving the brownies to the man.  Even though the guy was a complete asshole, it would be a mean thing to do and Gavin didn’t think he could actually go through with it.

Grabbing the bag of groceries from the passenger seat, Gavin got out of the car and entered the house.

“Jaack, I’m home!”  Gavin called as he entered the kitchen.  He put the milk in the fridge and put away the few items he’d picked up at the store.

Jack appeared in the archway to the kitchen. He leaned against the doorframe, looking a little pale.  “Hey, where did you go? I’ve been home for two hours.”

“Went to get some office supplies for work, then stopped at the grocery store.  Did your game get cancelled?”  Gavin asked, shutting the cabinet door.

“Yeah. Not enough guys on the other team showed up.”  Jack sighed and rubbed his belly.  “It’s probably a good thing it was.  If I hadn't already had my appendix out, I'd swear I was having an attack.”

“What’s wrong?”  Gavin walked over to Jack and felt his forehead.  “You do look a little pale.”

“Mike, David and I stopped and got something to eat before I came home.  I was fine then.  Got home about 7:00.  Ate some of the brownies you made.  Then just a little while ago I started getting these sharp pains in my side. Feeling kind of sick to my stomach.  I think I’m going on up and lay down.”  Jack rubbed Gavin’s head.  “I’d kiss you, but if this is the start of the flu or something, I don’t want you catching it.”

“Oh, I hope your not getting something.  Go on up and I’ll bring you some ........”  Brownies?  Gavin stood perfectly still. He must have misunderstood.

He closed his eyes and prayed, really hard, that he had misunderstood.

Gavin was afraid to look.  He felt like he was swimming in cement. He forced his body to move and slowly turned around towards the counter where he had left the brownies.  He blinked once and then blinked again. 

Oh GOD!

The pan was half gone!

“J..JJack...how..many brownies....did you have?”  Gavin asked slowly.  He took a shuddering breath.  He was a dead man.

“Umm..I had about three... I think.”  Jack grabbed his stomach.  He groaned a little.  “Patrick was here to borrow the saw.  He had Katie with him.  She ...wanted some....   God...I feel....

Jack ran for the bathroom and slammed the door.

Gavin’s heart was pounding.  He covered his face with his hands.  Oh My God! He was having a hard time catching his breath.  This HAD to be a nightmare.  It couldn't really be happening. Any minute now he would wake up.

He pinched himself. Hard!

Damn!

Eating just three brownies out of a dozen, even with a double dose of Ex-lax in them wouldn't kill a man, would it? Jack was big and strong. Then he remembered that Jack had said Katie had taken some.

Oh GOD! Katie!  

He ran to the bathroom door and leaned his head against it.

“Jack...Jack, how many brownies did Katie eat?”  Gavin said through the door.  If those brownies did *this* to Jack, what would happen if a three year old ate them? 

“I...Gavin....jjust wait...okay.”  Jack’s voice sounded weak.

Gavin pounded his head on the door.  “Jack...please, I have to know.  How many brownies did Katie have?”

“Patrick...wouldn’t let her.  She took ..’em home.”  Jack sounded like he was in pain. 

Gavin stood away from the door.  Gasping for breath he ran for the phone and dialed Patrick Ryan’s number.

“Patrick...did Katie eat those brownies yet?”  Gavin asked as soon as Patrick said hello.

“No.  She fell asleep on the way home.  Why?”  Patrick’s answer had Gavin sighing in relief.

“Don’t let anyone eat them.  Throw them away....right now!  Oh God...the boys didn’t eat any did they?”  Gavin asked, closing his eyes in prayer.

“No.  Jack put them in a plastic bag and Katie squashed them on the way home.  I threw them away.  What’s up, Gav?”  Patrick asked.

“Ohhh nothing.  Just ...they weren’t really...very good brownies." Gavin chewed on his lip.  “Tell Katie I’ll make her some good ones. Okay?  I’ll talk to you later.”

Not waiting to hear Patrick’s goodbye, Gavin pressed the button on the phone and laid it back in the cradle. He let out another sigh and leaned forward on the counter rubbing his hand over his forehead. 

He had never really thought about this causing any pain.  He figured it wouldn’t cause anything more than really annoying problem. What if he’d put too much of the stuff in the brownies?  What if Jack had some sort of allergic reaction to it? 

Oh God!  What had he been thinking?  These were things he should have thought about BEFORE making the brownies. He looked over at the bathroom door.  Jack had been in there forever. Maybe he needed to go the emergency room.

Picking up the phone again, he dialed 911.  When the dispatcher answered, Gavin whispered quickly, “What do you do if you …think..someone overdosed on..uh..laxatives.”

The dispatcher connected him to Poison Control.  Gavin explained again why he was calling.

“Sir, can they tell you how much was swallowed?”  The woman sounded calm.

Gavin looked at the brownies, trying to figure how many of those little squares would get divided up into a dozen brownies. He had used three boxes of laxatives, so he figured maybe two or three per brownie. 

“I’m not really sure.  Maybe five or six.”  Gavin whispered again into the phone.  “Let’s say seven to be safe.”

“How much does the child weigh sir?”  The dispatcher asked, thinking it was probably a child they were taking about, if they couldn’t tell him for sure how much was taken.

“Well, about…210 pounds.”  Gavin groaned. Why was she asking so many questions? 

“Oh, this person is an adult then?  Can’t they tell you how many they took, sir?”

Gavin groaned again.  “Well, I…uhm, I don’t think they know. It was sort of…an accident?”

“At 210 pounds, even taking seven will probably only cause some discomfort.  Probably quite a bit of cramping. If the effects of the laxative has already started to appear, there really isn’t anything that you can do except make sure they drink plenty of fluids.”

“So, you don’t think he needs to go to the emergency room?” Gavin felt horrible that Jack was going through this, but at least it didn’t sound like he was in any danger from…..dying…or anything.

“No sir.  Just make sure he drinks plenty of liquids.”

“Oh God, thank you so much.”  Gavin pressed the button on the phone and placed it on the counter. 

Looking out of the corner of his eye, he saw Jack standing just outside the bathroom door. He rubbed his hands over his face and looked at Jack through his fingers.

Jack’s face was as white as a sheet.  He looked weak and tired. Definitely not in any shape to murder him tonight. 
 
“God, I think I've got the flu or food poisoning.  I haven't thrown up yet though.” Jack said, leaning against the doorframe. "I think I'm going to go to bed."

"Oh Jack, I'm so sorry.  Is there anything I can do?" Gavin looked like he was about to cry.  He blinked, trying to stop the tears from falling. He felt so awful about all this.

"Gav, don't worry.  It's just a bug."  Holding his gut, Jack walked over to Gavin and rubbed his shoulder. "Maybe I should sleep in the spare room. Just in case I have something contagious."

"NO!" Gavin almost shouted. "I mean no, don't be silly.  You might need me during the night or something.  I don't, uh, think it's contagious anyway. Let me help you up the stairs."

"Gav, I’m fine.  I can walk up the stairs. But could you please bring me up some ginger ale?"  Jack began slowly making his way out of the kitchen.

“I'll bring it right up. You should drink plenty of liquids.”  Gavin closed his eyes.  “I love you."

Jack didn't answer.

Gavin heard a door slam.

Opening his eyes, he realized Jack had run back into the bathroom.

OH GOD!

**********************************

Lying in bed Gavin sniffed and rubbed Jack’s shoulder, wishing there was something he could do to fix this. “I’m just so sorry."

Jack sighed and rolled over on his left side.  He pulled Gavin closer and kissed him on the forehead.  “Gavin, don't worry.  It's just a bug. Now settle down and go to sleep."

“I love you. I just want to help.”  Gavin whispered over a sob into Jack’s ear.

He felt so bad about everything. He never meant for all this to happen. Jack was always telling him to think ahead, but that was kind of hard to do.  How could a person  think ahead,  when they didn't think at ALL! He wanted to confess it all right now. But he knew confessing now would only help to ease his own conscience and would do nothing to make Jack feel better. Gavin decided it would be kinder to tell him when he was feeling better. 

Of course, when Jack got to feeling better and found out exactly what Gavin had done.......

Maybe he’d call Jack from a pay phone.  From that third world country he always thought about going to whenever he found himself in one of these messes.   The one without an airport.  He had been meaning to look into where those countries were and always seemed to forget about it; until the next time he needed one. 

Like NOW!

They probably didn’t have pay phones in countries like that though.  Maybe he’d just write Jack a letter.  A letter could work.  He could send the letter by bottle.  He could throw the bottle into the…….Indian Ocean.  It could get to the Atlantic or the Pacific Ocean from there, couldn’t it?  From there, maybe it could find its way to Lake Erie……..one day.  A hundred years from now. 

Yeah, a hundred years sounded about right!

Jack would probably never trust him out of the yard by himself for the rest of his life. Gavin really wouldn’t blame him.  He needed to be under twenty four-hour protection. The whole human race would be a whole lot safer without the Laxative Predator lurking about, poisoning unsuspecting boyfriends in their own homes.

Jack rubbed Gavin's back.  "I love you too.  If you really want to help you'll get some sleep. Okay babe."

Jack felt Gavin's nod. After a few minutes the gurgling sounds coming from his stomach were getting louder.  Jack sighed; pushing his covers off he climbed out of bed and headed for the bathroom. 

Again.

"Oh Jack can I   help.." Gavin started to ask, wanting to do SOMETHING to make this go away.

"Gavin. Go. To. Sleep!"  Jack said through clenched teeth as he ran the rest of the way to the bathroom.

Gavin groaned, staring at the shadows on the ceiling.  The awful sounds coming from the bathroom did nothing to help him relax.

*********************************
Gavin went in search of Jack as soon as he came in the door. Walking through the kitchen and into the hall, he saw Jack coming down the stairs fresh from the shower. He looked so much better than he had this morning when they had left for work.  Gavin gave him a weak smile as he met him at the foot of the stairs. 

"How are you feeling?"  Gavin asked, wrapping his arms around him and leaning his head down on Jack's shoulder.

Jack wrapped his own arms around Gavin and kissed his head.  "Better.  I came home after court and took a nap."

"I know. I called your office this afternoon to see how you were feeling."  Gavin lifted his head up and kissed Jack's mouth.

"I'm so sorry this happened."  Gavin eyes started to well up.  He felt sick and guilty about the whole thing.  Gavin had decided today that he would just confess it all.  The whole “letter by bottle” plan would just take too long and he couldn’t live with the guilt for…....a hundred years.  

Jack was going to KILL him.

"I need to tell you something."

"What's up?"  Jack asked, smiling down at Gavin’s face.  Then he groaned when they heard the phone rang. "I better get this.  Jim said he'd call if the defendant in my case tomorrow decided to take a plea. I'll grab it in the den. My papers are in there." 

Gavin sighed as Jack left him to take the call. "I'll start dinner, then."

Gavin went into the kitchen and looked in the fridge for something light to make for dinner.  He didn't figure Jack's stomach could take anything too spicy. Maybe he'd wait until after dinner to make his confession. Jack needed to eat.  Get his strength up.  He was going to need all of his strength in order to kill Gavin properly.

Taking the chicken breast out of the fridge, Gavin laid them on the counter.  He opened the cupboard door and pulled out what pans and bowls he would need.

As Jack entered the kitchen, Gavin smiled and asked, "Chicken sound okay to you?"

Jack stood beside the bar and crossed his arms.  "That was Patrick."

Gavin ripped open the plastic on the chicken and turned on the water. "Oh, what did he want?"

“He wanted to know which blade to use on the saw he borrowed last night.”  Jack leaned his hip against the counter.  “He also wanted to know why you were so worried about Katie eating the brownies.  He said to tell you she’s going to hold you to the promise to make “good” ones.”

Jack pressed his palms down on the counter and leaned over it.  “What was in the brownies, Gavin?”

Gavin slowly turned his head in Jack's direction. From the look on his face, Gavin figured Jack already had a pretty good idea what was wrong with the brownies. The man was a prosecutor, after all.  He knew how to look between the lines and get the answers he needed without seeing actual hard evidence.

"I..I

“What. Was. In. The. Brownies. Gavin?” Jack's lips barely moved.  Gavin was sure his teeth were going to crack from the clenching.   

Gavin turned off the water and wiped his hands on a towel.  Holding out his hands, palms up in a very Gavin like way, he said, "Jack, I started to explain about that before the phone rang.  Remember? That was what I wanted to talk to you about, you see."

"Answer the question, Gavin!" Jack practically growled. 

"Ex-lax!” Gavin closed his eyes, praying the ceiling would please now drop on him. Before Jack got a hold of him and KILLED him.

He kept his eyes closed for several seconds.  When Gavin didn't hear any evidence that Jack was just going to explode all over him, he slowly opened his eyes. 

Jack was just standing there. Staring at him. Gavin cleared his throat. Then he took a deep breath. Damn. This would have gone over so much better if he had been able to tell Jack about this whole mess first.  In his own way.

Jack shook his head.  Then rubbed his face with hands.  Looking at the ceiling, in a very Jack like way, he asked, "Why?"

Gavin shrugged his shoulders and sighed. "Therapy?"

When Jack just starred at Gavin with a look that was a combination of “I’m going to kill you” and “You really can’t kill an insane person”; Gavin decided it might be best to work his way towards to basement. 

He knew that Jack rarely felt any sympathy for the “Guilty by Reason of Insanity” plea when prosecuting someone in the courtroom.  Gavin was sure that the “I’m going to kill you” look was going to win out in the end.  It was just a matter of time.

When that happened, he figured it would be best to be in the basement.  Away from the windows and any prying eyes that might happened to walk by.  It was something that always worried him.  There were just so many Ryan’s in Jack’s family and Gavin was always worried that one of them would just drop by at times like this.  Or a neighbor would be lurking about. And SEE!

Jack was still just staring at him as he made his way towards the door of the basement.  Walking backwards towards the door, Gavin held his palms out again. 

“I really think..,” Gavin gulped, “we’re probably going to need to go to the basement for this conversation. Don’t you think?”

Jack let out a breath and slowly walked around the corner, pushing his sleeves up as he went. 

“NOW!”

Gavin turned and fled down the stairs.
*****************************

Jack was sitting on the chair beside the couch with his elbows resting on his knees.

Sitting on the couch with his feet on the cushion, Gavin wrapped his arms around his knees. "Jeff and I were talking and he was telling me about making these brownies for this teacher he had in….uhm...middle school.  This teacher reminded him of Mr. Allman, see. So, when I came home I made them, just the way Jeff said. Then I just sat there awhile and *imagined* what would happen.  Therapy, you see?"

“Therapy!” Jack rubbed his face with his hands.  “So, you didn’t plan to give them to Mr. Allman?  Is that what you’re saying?”

Why did Jack have to ask these really hard questions?

"To be honest, I did originally make the brownies with *kind of* the intention of taking them to the office tomorrow for our meeting with Mr. Allman. I really didn't think it would be… so awful.  But I had pretty much already decided I wouldn’t give him the brownies. I’m so sorry that I left them there for you to eat, Jack. I just didn’t think."

"Gavin, you didn’t THINK about anything.  If this Mr. Allman bothers you this much, then *don't* do business with him.  You don't plot behind his back, planning evil deeds to do to him."  Jack took a breath. " If you would have given him the brownies, he would have never have known that YOU caused it to happen anyway. It's a terrorist tactic, Gavin."

Gavin flinched at Jack's words. He felt so bad, he wasn't even going to try and talk his way out of anything. Like *that* would EVER be a possibility anyway.

“I had already decided I wasn’t going to give them to him, Jack.  Really! I’m not just saying that to get out of anything.” Gavin laid his head on his knees.

Jack raised both eyebrows and shook his head. “I know you would never intentionally harm anyone. It's just not in your nature. But when I think about what could have happened! God, where was your head."

"I know, I know.  I.." Gavin hid behind his knees and moaned. " I feel SO bad about what happened to you. So guilty about it all.  And when I think about what could have happened if Katie would have eaten them….well, I get sick to my stomach."

“I do want you to remember what *could* have happened.  Believe me, when I get through with you you’re going to remember that...for the rest of your life." Jack rubbed his temples. It wasn't in Gavin's nature to deliberately harm anyone, but he had to learn to think things through. 

“Aside from what happened to me Gavin; and let me tell you, I AM plenty upset about that.  A man shouldn’t have to worry about being poisoned by his partner in his own home.” Jack shook his head. “And aside from what *could* have happened to Katie, who by the way, only weighs about thirty pounds; she could have ended up in the hospital and should NEVER have to worry about eating something that her favorite uncle has made and left OUT on the counter….for ANYONE to eat.”

“Jaack, I didn’t mean for… “ Gavin starting pleading; tears were escaping from under his lashes. 

“I know you didn’t *mean* for those things to happen, Gavin.” Jack stopped the pleading;pointing a finger at him.  “But it *did* happen!  Because you didn’t think.”

“And as I was saying; ASIDE from those things, the very thought that you would even think about doing this to someone just because you don’t like them scares the shit out of me.”

Gavin didn’t think Jack was trying to be funny with that little pun.  No, he decided after glancing up from behind his knees to get a look at Jack’s face; the pun was definitely unintentional. Although, this whole thing had scared the shit out of him and he hadn’t even eaten any of the brownies.

Gavin sniffed and tried to speak again.  “But I wasn’t really going to give the brownies to……”

Jack stopped him again.  “Gavin, you kept a spider in the basement as a pet all last winter and nearly had to have counseling when he disappeared. I know you.  I really do believe that when it came right down to it, you wouldn’t have been able to go through with it.”

Gavin sniffed again, the tears were rolling down his cheeks.  He knew that there was no excuse for making the brownies in the first place, but at least Jack didn’t believe he had been living with some sort of serial laxative predator for the last seven years.

“Apparently you aren’t thinking very clearly right now.” Jack pushed himself up from his chair and crossed his arms over his chest. “If you can’t think for yourself, then it’s up to me to see that the decisions you do make are wise ones.”

Gavin lifted his head from behind his kneess again, wondering what Jack meant by that.  He knew he was in for one hell of a spanking, but it sounded like Jack had other ideas.

“Oh, you’re going to be spanked, buddy boy.  For making the brownies and then just leaving them out, without any thought to what might happen.  There are times when you have to learn to start thinking ahead Gavin.  Not just in the moment.”  Jack walked over to the hutch and opened the drawer. 

“Contaminating food isn’t only dangerous, and this could have ended up being so much more disastrous than what it was.  It’s also illegal and unethical. It’s not something that should be used as “therapy,” Gavin. Playing with a loaded gun is dangerous. That’s basically what you were doing. Once the gun goes off, you can’t take it back.  You have to start thinking about all of the possibilities.”

Gavin heard the drawer open and couldn’t help but let out a little sigh of relief.  Not that he was looking forward to being paddled, but he was expecting Jack to order him to go get a switch.  He hated being switched worse than anything, but if anything he’d ever done deserved THAT, well, this was it.

Jack walked back and stood in front of the couch; motioning for Gavin to stand up.  Jack sat down as Gavin stood and he laid the paddle down on the cushion beside him.  He pulled Gavin between his knees and began unbuckling and unzipping his pants.

Tears were already streaming down Gavin’s face when Jack pulled him between his knees. He pushed the jeans and shorts to Gavin’s ankles and guided him over his knees. Jack didn’t pause to lecture, not another word was said.  He just picked up the paddle and began.

The paddle landed hard, over and over again. Each swat landing on an untouched portion of Gavin’s backside until there wasn’t an untouched spot to be found.  Gavin tensed, his face twisting and distorting with every crack. 

When the second round of that paddle began the tension in his body seemed to loosen, his body jerked in reaction to each swat and the howling began.  He was already convinced that there would never be a reason to EVER purchase laxatives again.  If he ever became irregular, he’d just live with it. FOREVER.  As for playing with loaded guns.  NOT in this lifetime.

Gavin’s body changed from jerking motions to wriggling and kicking.  His howls turned to gasping pleas. After several more circles, he just lay across Jack’s knees in exhaustion.  His gasping pleas had turned into hoarse sobs.  

The sobs continued after the paddle stopped landing.  Jack rubbed his  back for several minutes, then pulled Gavin up until he was cuddled in his lap.  Still rubbing his back, Jack kissed Gavin’s forehead. 

“I’m s.so sorry that you ….” Gavin sniffed into Jack’s neck.

“Sshh! I know you’re sorry.  Hopefully that will help you remember to think things through,” Jack whispered into Gavin’s ear. 

After several more minutes of rubbing and soft sshhing sounds, Jack lifted Gavin’s chin so that he was looking directly into Jack’s eyes.

“We’re going to work on how you deal with people that make you angry or upset, Gavin.  I don’t normally interfere with your business, but if you can’t find a better way to work through your feelings when a client can’t be satisfied or isn’t someone you like, then it’s time for me to step in.  We’ll talk about that a little more later this evening and a good bit more over the next month or so.  You can just plan on spending every moment of your free time with me. If you need a “therapist” to work out those feelings, that’s what I’ll be. Do you understand what I’m saying?”

Gavin sniffed and nodded his head. “Yeah, I think so.  Not really grounded, just sort of under twenty-four hour protection.”

Jack chuckled and pushed Gavin’s hair off of his forehead. “Well, I wouldn’t put it quite that way, but I guess it’s one way of looking at it.”

Gavin laid his head back on Jack’s shoulder.  That wouldn’t be so bad, Gavin thought. It wouldn’t be like he was really grounded.  He liked being with Jack anyway.

****************************************

Saturday was another warm fall day.  Gavin and Jack had spent most of the morning decorating their pumpkins.  They had discussed and decided which ones would be scary, ugly or goofy by looking at the shape and size of each pumpkin.

Well, Gavin had really made those final decisions, after carefully studying each and every shape and dent that marked the pumpkins.  The smile on his face and laughter in his voice when each of the pumpkins were completed, gave definition to the word joy.

Sitting on his knees in front of one of the rockers that sat on the front porch, Gavin make the finishing touches to the second straw man.  While he stuffed the straw, just so, he chatted about his meeting with Mr. Allman the day before.

“Did I tell you what Mr. Allman’s face looked like when I told him if the changes we had made didn’t suit him, he should probably go elsewhere?”

Jack was sitting on the porch railing, looking down at Gavin as he worked.  “Yeah, you told me.  You also told me that after you were finished with your presentation, he was excited about it.”

Gavin looked back over his shoulder at Jack and smiled. “I think he always liked our ideas.  He just likes being a bully.”

“When you run into people like that, you just have to learn to stand your ground.  Once they know they can’t walk all over you, it tends to put a crimp in their style.”  Jack shifted in his seat. 

His jeans had kept getting tighter with each and every pumpkin they had decorated this morning.   Right now they were about ready to pop a seam. 

Gavin stood up and smiled over his creation.  “I told you this pumpkin would look scarier than that little one you picked out.  I think these are the best straw men we’ve ever had.  Don’t you think so?”

Jack shifted his jeans again as he stood up from the railing.  He didn't even glance at the straw men.   His eyes were busy watching Gavin’s features.  His eyes were sparkling and his smiling face beamed with the simple joy he felt in seeing his handiwork completed. 

“Yeah, I think these are probably the best yet.”  Jack agreed, still not seeing the straw men.

Gavin turned his head and looked at Jack’s face.  Yep, he thought, there was that look again.  Looking down the length of him, Gavin noticed that Jack jeans appeared VERY snug. 

He had read on the Internet where weird things turned some people on.  He’d read things about people getting turned on by feet.  Some were turned on by tickling and even sneezing.  There were some really bizarre ones that he didn’t even like to think about. He had even read that spanking turned some people on.  Well, Gavin thought, he KIND of understood that one.  He enjoyed the occasional paddywhack himself.  Although, the REAL ones didn’t do a thing for him, other than make him REALLY sorry for whatever it was that had him in that position in the first place.  He rubbed his backside at that thought.  No, the people that got off on that sort of thing probably didn’t have a Jack Ryan in their life.

But he’d never read anywhere about holiday decorating turning someone on, like it seemed to do for Jack.

Gavin rubbed his hands on his jeans and started for the front door.  Well, he wasn’t complaining.  It did seem to do the same thing for him as well.  Maybe he and Jack were the only ones that had this particular fetish.

Grabbing hold of the door handle, Gavin turned back towards Jack and grinned.  “You know Jack, we can finish the cobwebs and figuring out where to put the rest of the pumpkins later. I think I’m ready for…..a nap.”

Not waiting for an answer, Gavin opened the door and ran for the stairs.

Jack didn't hesitate; he took off after Gavin, nearly beating him to the stairs.   He was just damn glad that whatever this thing was that happened during holiday decorating time...... was contagious.