A Rule Is Born

Gavin crossed him arms and glared at Jack.  “Tell me that you did NOT spank her!”

Jack sighed and shook his head.  “I told you that I didn’t spank her!”

Gavin pointed at Martha, cowering beside the bed.  “Then why is she LOOKING like that?”

Jack gave Gavin a LOOK.  “Maybe because she knows I’m NOT happy.”

Gavin searched Jack’s face.  Yep, this was definitely his “NOT happy look”. He squatted down and patted Martha’s head.  Sometimes that “Not happy look” was enough to send anyone cowering. 

“She knows she’s not to be on that bed.”  Jack raised an eyebrow at Gavin.  “And you’re not helping anything, by patting her on the head. She needs to know she’s in trouble.”

“Jack, you always pat my head after I’ve been in trouble.” Gavin glared at Jack. “It’s a requirement.”

Jack sat on the edge of the bed.  “Requirement or not, she’s been coming up here and climbing in that bed every time our backs are turned.  Everything we’ve done so far isn’t helping her to remember.  The next time I find her up here, I may just give her a swat.  Maybe that will help her to remember.  It does wonders for you.”

Gavin patted Martha on the head once more and guided her over to her own bed, before crawling in bed beside Jack.  “Jack, you know that book says that you aren’t supposed to spank her.”

“Gavin, I don’t want to hear ANYthing about that book, tonight.”  Jack flicked the light off and pulled Gavin down on his chest.  “I don’t know why she’s started doing this.”

“I told you what my theory was on that.”  Gavin poked Jack on the shoulder.  “I know you don’t believe it, but I really think that’s what it is.”

“Gavin, dogs do not *think* like that.  She wouldn’t know to be offended by us ...messing around on the couch or the floor in the family room.”  Jack grabbed Gavin’s fingers to keep them from poking at him. “She doesn’t have reasoning ability.”

“Jack, I’m telling you I’ve seen her face. And she’s embarrassed or something!”  Gavin was totally convinced of this theory.  “The only time we find her on the bed up here, is when we’ve just been....messing around downstairs in the family room.  I think she’s embarrassed and comes up here to hide.  She’s very young you know?  It could be traumatizing for her.  We’re parents now.  We have to be careful about these things.”

Jack’s shoulders started to shake.  Gavin pinched him in the ribs.  “Jack, it’s NOT funny.  I’m serious.”

“I know.”  Jack laughed, he couldn’t help it.  “That’s what scares me.”

“How’s David working out at the office?”  Jack spooned up some broccoli, adding it to both his and Gavin’s plate.

“Great.”  Gavin poured the milk in the glasses sitting on the counter and stuck the container back in the fridge.  “He’s really a fucking good graphic artist.  We can still only offer him part time work, two or three days a week, but he has other freelance stuff he can do at home. It frees up a lot of my time so I can work on the marketing side of the campaigns.  If things start to pick up, we can offer him more hours.”

“Things will pick up, Gav.”  Jack frowned at him. “You know, I hate to mention this, but you’ve been swearing an awful lot lately.  What’s with you?”

“What?  When did I swear?”  Gavin gave Jack a confused look.

“Just now. Out of the blue.” Jack saw the look of confusion on Gavin’s face.  “You just said ‘He’s a fucking good graphic artist.’ You’ve been doing that a lot lately.”

“I have?”  Gavin shrugged his shoulders.  “I haven’t noticed it.”

“I have.  It’s just not something you normally do, unless you’re mad.”  Jack took a drink of milk.  “It sounds odd hearing it.”

Gavin’s eyes narrowed.  “You cuss too.  Don’t even tell me you’re going to start telling ME I can’t swear?”

Jack held his palms up, stopping the tirade he could see coming.  “I didn’t say that, Gavin.  I was just mentioning that you’re doing it a lot.  I mean a *whole* lot.”

“Well, I would hope you wouldn’t tell me that.”  Gavin leaned his elbows on the table.  “Adrian mentioned the other day, when he heard me say something; that Conner was ALL over him for swearing. I told him that you NEVER told me I couldn’t swear ....well, unless I was swearing AT you.  You should tell Conner that.”

Jack raised a brow at Gavin.  “Gavin, what rules Conner and Adrian decide between them, are just that.  Between them.  It’s none of our business.”

“I didn’t say it was.”  Gavin held his hands out, palms up and shrugged.  “I just think if a man wants to swear, it should be his own business.”

“Well, apparently Conner and Adrian have decided it is Conner’s business and *you* keep out of it.”  Jack pointed his fork at Gavin. “We wouldn’t want anyone telling us what rules we should and shouldn’t have. And I’m telling you, now; that butting in and giving them your opinion on their rules is off limits.   And that *is* a rule of *ours* and you better remember it.”

“I’ll remember!”  Gavin huffed. “I can still think it’s a dumb rule though.”

Jack laughed.  “Which rule? The cussing rule or the butting in rule?”

Gavin grinned. “Both!” 

Apparently, they WERE going to have a dumb cussing rule!

Things sure did change in TWO days!  Monday night it wasn’t a rule.  Wednesday night it became a rule. And now on Thursday, here he was sitting on the toilet lid, a bar of Irish Spring sticking out of his mouth.  The fumes were going to kill him if the soap didn’t choke him first!  

Gavin sighed; soap bubbles foamed on his lips. The worst part of it was that he didn’t even realize he WAS cussing.  Maybe he was coming down with that Touretts Syndrome thing. He’d seen a report on 20/20 about it one time and once on some other show; he couldn’t remember which one.  He didn’t know much about that syndrome, but he did know that it caused people to say words that they didn’t mean to say....and at the most embarrassing times too.   He’d have to read up on that and see if it was something you could catch.

Jack walked in the bathroom and pulled the soap from Gavin’s mouth.  “Go ahead and spit.”

Gavin sniffed; then spit until Jack stopped him and pulled him in the bedroom, sitting him on the chair.  “Jack, I didn’t know I was saying it!  I really didn’t!”

“I know.”  Jack shook his head, rubbing his face.  “I know you didn’t realize you were doing it, Gavin.  But you have to start realizing it. We were out having a nice, friendly little chat with the neighbors, three sweet, little, old ladies; that have probably never even seen an R rated movie in their lives and every other word out of your mouth was “fuck.”  I thought Mrs. Masterson was going to have a heart attack and I really did think we were going to have to call an ambulance for sweet, little Mrs. Broughton. We won’t even mention what it did to Mrs. Simons.”

Gavin thought saying that Mrs. Masterson was sweet was pushing it a little, but he did feel bad about the other two.  “Jack, maybe I’ve caught that Tourettes Syndrome.  Remember, we saw that on 20/20?  It’s the only thing I can think of that I can’t stop saying it.”

Jack cocked a brow.  “Gavin, you can’t *catch* Tourettes..  It’s something you’re born with.”

“Oh.”  Gavin shrugged his shoulders.  “Well, I can’t figure it out.  I’ve never cussed in front of ladies before, Jack. I  KNOW when it’s acceptable and I’ve never said it all that much anyway.”

“I know that, Gav.” Jack sat on the edge of the bed and leaned his elbows on his knees. “You better hope you never slip and say it in front of Mom.  You’ll understand what we’ve always meant by “getting her Irish up’, if you do.”

“I KNOW that!” 

“Do you think, maybe, because Adrian said it was a rule with Conner, that you’re rebelling out of ...some kind of .....mixed up sympathy or something?”

“No.” Gavin shook his head. “That can’t be it.  I was doing it then.  That’s what made Adrian bring it up in the first place.”

“Okay.”  Jack scratched his head, totally confused.  “Apparently you’ve picked it up from somewhere that you aren’t aware of and it’s just becoming a habit.  We’ll work on it. I’m going to come down on you hard, Gav, every time I hear it, from here on out.”

Gavin groaned. “What do you mean....hard?”

“You *know* what I mean.”  Jack raised both brows and gave him a look.  “Are we clear?”

Gavin flopped back on the chair and starred at the ceiling.  He thought about that a minute.     “Crystal.”

Saturday the whole Ryan clan gathered at John and Mary Ryan’s to build a new shed in the back yard.   They had already dug the post holes and the cement was poured holding the poles in place.  That took most of the day.  They were framing the building and would probably be ready for the trusses the next day.  Once they got it under roof, the rest of it could be done an hour here and there whenever one of the boys and a free minute during the week.

Gavin was pounding nails in some boards, five of the Ryan grandchildren gathered around him, *helping* him hold the boards. 

“Jack, did we bring the other nail gun from home?”  Gavin called to Jack, who was helping his brothers put the boards up on the building.

“Yeah, it’s in the back of the SUV.”  Jack called back.  “Did that one die on you?”

“Yeah.”  Gavin started for the front of the house.  “I’ll be back in a minute.”  Daniel’s kids, Chris and Michael, and Patrick’s three, the red-headed duo, Nathan and Jason followed him.  Gavin picked Katie up and put her on his shoulders.  She squealed.

”Poor Gavin.”  Patrick chuckled, nodding his head towards Gavin as he disappeared around the house. “The munchkin brigade hasn’t given him a moment’s peace since he got here. I’m leaving my brood at home tomorrow.  It’s too hot for them to be crawling all over him like that while he’s trying to work.”

“Yeah, I’m leaving mine home tomorrow too” Daniel laughed. “We’ll get a lot more done if he doesn’t have to spend half his time helping them *help* him.”

“You guys just don’t understand.” Jack laughed.  “He’s having the time of his life.  He really doesn’t mind at all and wouldn’t have it any other way.”

Patrick laughed. “I know HE doesn’t mind.  But Gavin’s a good worker.  He’ll get a lot more done if he doesn’t have to baby sit them.”

“Yeah.”  Daniel winked at Jack and laughed.  “We’re thinking of the free labor and the fact that the more he’s able to do, the less we have to do.  He can baby sit anytime.......when we don’t need him for manual labor.”

“That’s true” Jack nodded head.  He spotted Sean coming out of the house.  “And if we could keep Sean from ducking in to the house every twenty minutes, we’d get even more done.”

“Mom says it’s time to quit. Dinners almost ready.  And I have been helping!”  Sean smiled at his brothers as he approached them. He held his arms out wide and waggled his eyebrows.   “I’m still single, you know.  It’s Saturday night and I had plans to make.”

Jack, Daniel and Patrick all looked at each other, smiling. “Plans?” They asked together.

Sean started backing up towards the house, holding his arms out in front of him, as if to ward of an attack.  He didn’t like the look in their eyes at all.

“Now wait a minute........!”   He might be the youngest brother, but his mother hadn’t raised any fools.  He took off in a run; all three older brothers took off after him. 

Jack tackled him from behind at the knees.  After pinning him to the ground, Patrick and Daniel, each grabbed an end and helped Jack pull him off the ground.  They started for the creek that ran behind the house; but because of the lack of rain, was now just a mud hole. Dumping Sean in the creek was something the older brothers had done quite frequently when they were young.  This wasn’t quite as easy as it had been years ago; Sean was much bigger now than he had been then.

Sean was howling and screaming for his mother, which was what he’d always resorted to, ever since he’d become old enough to start pestering his older brothers into killing him.

Mary and Big John Ryan, hearing the yelling from inside, came out on the back porch and laughed at the sight. This was just like old times and they loved it. After watching them wrestle for a few minutes, Mary walked down the stairs and turned on the hose beside the porch.  This WAS just like old times, and this was something she’d always done when the boys roughhousing became a little too... rough.

She turned the hose towards the boys and sprayed; full force.  Mary Ryan was a tiny woman, but she wasn’t someone you messed with.  She laughed, when the older brothers dropped Sean on his back and started towards her.

“Mom, we just wanted to dump him in the creek. You always did spoil our fun.”  Jack held his hands out in front of him, trying to keep the water from hitting his face. After being out in the heat all day, the cool water felt wonderful.

“I know, but we’re going to be eating in just a few minutes and I don’t want you muddying up my kitchen.”  Mary laughed again; now they’d all be soaking wet in her kitchen, but she really didn’t care.

Big John came out of the back door, holding a stack of towels.  His eyes gazed at the lovely, laughing face he’d fallen in love with thirty-six years before and in his eyes, still looked the same.

“Ah, Mary.  What a women ya are. You always did know how to handle this brood.” Big John laughed at the sight of his, tall, handsome, hulking, soaking wet sons, who all towered over the tiny, Mary Ryan and passed them each a towel. His eyes twinkled and he winked at her, just like he had every day for thirty-six years.

“You boys get dried off and clean up those tools.”  Big John ordered at his sons and then smiled at Mary Ryan, winking again. “We have to hurry up and eat.  I have plans for your Mother.”

Sean groaned at his dad, holding his hands out in front of him. “Ah Da! That is WAY too much information.”  Patrick, Daniel and Jack all agreed and held their hands out as well. “WAY too much information.”

Gavin and the kids came around the side of the house.  The kids were laughing and pulling on his shirt.  He grinned at seeing Jack and his brothers, soaking wet, drying off with towels.  Big John was putting the hose back in place and Mary waved at him and the kids before going back inside the house to finish dinner.

“What, did we miss all the fun?” Gavin grinned at Jack, wishing he’d been here for it. “Looks like Mom got you with the hose again.”

“I wanna pway in da wader”  Katie jumped up and down, seeing her dad and uncles all wet.  The boys agreed.  “Yeah, we want to play too.”

“Yeah, Mom turned the hose on us.”  Jack smiled, nodding his head toward Sean.  “We almost had Sean in the creek.  I’m telling you, Gav...... it would’ve been a classic.”

Sean headed up the stairs to the back porch, followed by Daniel and Patrick.  “Classic! HA! You guys would never have made it. I’m bigger now than I used to be.” 

Jack laughed when Daniel and Patrick chased Sean in the house, followed by Daniel’s boys, Chris and Michael.  “We’re getting ready to eat.  We’re finished here for today; we start again tomorrow.”

“I wanna pway in da wader!” Katie stomped her little foot and VERY plainly added,   “Fuck!”

“Yeah, Fuck!” The red-headed twin devils agreed again, just a plainly.

Jack’s eyes about came out of their sockets at hearing those words. After taking a breath he squatted down to eye level and pulled the three in front of him. He didn’t figure they knew what they were saying, but he wanted to explain it in a way that made sure they didn’t say it again.

“That is a very bad word. Very bad.  It isn’t a word that you’re to use. I know that you didn’t know that; .....but now that you do, I don’t want to ever hear any of you say it again.” Jack looked the three of them in the eye, making sure they understood.

The boy’s nodded their heads, eyes wide.  Their Uncle Jack was pretty cool, and a lot of fun; but he wasn’t someone you messed with. 

Katie was a little harder to convince.  Her little forehead wrinkled, she scrunched up her nose and crossed her little arms.  She looked like a Top waiting to happen.

“Unca Gabin thaid it.”  Katie thought if her Unca Gabin said it, then it must be okay. 

Gavin groaned.  “I did?”

The boys looked up at Gavin and nodded their heads.  “Yeah, you said it bunches of times today. A MILLION times! We heard you.”

Jack looked up at Gavin, his nostrils flared.  “Uncle Gavin knows better than to say it.  Don’t you, Uncle Gavin?”  

Gavin swallowed hard.  “Yes, I do know better. I’m sorry guys.  I should never have said it.”

Jack stood up, putting his hands on his hips; he cocked a brow.  “And Uncle Gavin isn’t *ever* going to say it again.  Are you, Uncle Gavin?”

Gavin swallowed again, really hard. He shook his head.  “Never.”

Katie looked up at her Uncle Jack, her eyes wide.  She had a feeling her Unca Gabin was in a lot of trouble.  She lifted her arms up towards Gavin and tilted her head.


Gavin lifted her up and she wrapped her little arms around his neck and whispered in his ear.  “Its okay, Unca Gabin.  I hewlp you.”

“Thank you, sweetie.”  Gavin eyed Jack from under his lashes, giving him a really sick look.  “I have a feeling I’m gonna need all the help I can get.”

Jack gave Gavin a very pointed look.  “Don’t worry, Gav.  I’ll give you all the *help* you need.”

Gavin didn’t say a word.  He couldn’t think of anything he COULD say and the only words that came to mind were words he knew would only land him in deeper trouble. 

Oh.... Fuck!

Gavin sat on the toilet squirming, lid down, soap sticking out of his mouth and sniffed.  There should be a law, an amendment even, that said you couldn’t put soap in someone’s mouth and LEAVE it there, when you’re nose was stuffy.  A guy couldn’t breathe this way! 

His bottom was still throbbing from the spanking he’d received before the soap had been inserted in his mouth. It wasn’t the worst spanking he’d ever received by a long shot, but it still had him squirming, having to sit on the hard surface of the toilet lid.  And he had howled and cried and he STILL couldn’t breathe out of his nose.   Not that he didn’t feel that he deserved everything he got, but he really did think that not being able to breathe was....maybe....going a bit too far. 

Jack came in the bathroom, wearing only his boxers and Gavin looked up at him with his most pitiful look.  “..ack..I can’k breev.”

Jack pulled the soap out of Gavin’s mouth and rubbed his head.  “Spit.”

Gavin jumped up off the toilet and began spitting and spattering in the sink.  Jack held out a cup of water and told him to rinse.  He grabbed a tissue out of the box on the vanity and handed it to Gavin, telling him to blow.

Gavin blew his nose, really loud and wiped his eyes with the back of his hands.  “I’m really sorry.  I will NEVER say that word again as long as I live. I SWEAR!”

“Well, I could mention that swearing is what got you into this in the first place.”  Jack smiled at Gavin.  “But that might be a little too clichéd’.”

Following Jack into their bedroom, Gavin went to his side of the bed and pulled the covers back, while Jack pulled from his side of the bed.  They climbed in and Jack held his arms out.  Gavin laid his head on Jack’s shoulder, practically lying on top of him and started sniffing again.

“I am really sorry.”  Gavin mumbled in Jack’s chest.  “I didn’t even know I was saying it.  I really didn’t.  Patrick and Daniel will probably never let me around the kids again. God, Jack! I’m dangerous around them.”

“I know you’re sorry.  And you know Patrick and Daniel love you and would never do that. And you are not dangerous with those kids.  You love them and they know that as well.”  Jack rubbed Gavin’s still throbbing bottom.  “Although, when they start getting notes from the pre-school, they may want to strangle you.”

Gavin groaned. “You don’t think they’ll ...say it at Pre-school, do you?” God, he’d have every parent in Cleveland ready to string him up.

Jack choked, trying to cover a chuckle. It really wasn’t funny, but the look on everyone’s face was something that would stay with him for a long time.. “No.  I think the kids were pretty much convinced it wasn’t something they were to say...ever again; after Chris, Michael AND Katie all started *chanting* it over dinner.”

Gavin groaned again, really loud.  “God, I thought Mom was going to pass out.  She’ll probably hate......”

Jack swatted Gavin on the butt, quick and hard, causing Gavin to jump.  “Enough of that.  She loves you as much as if you were her own blood, and you know that.”

“Jack, I just don’t understand why I keep saying it. I really don’t.  It’s not like I’m doing it on purpose or anything.  I don’t even realize I’m doing it.”

“I can’t figure it out either, Gav. You have to be pretty mad to use that word and you very rarely say it.” Jack stared up at the ceiling, trying to figure it out himself. “I just know that you aren’t saying it anymore and we’ll make sure of it.”

Gavin knew what THAT meant.  HE was going to make sure he never said it again.  This WE business usually ended up with him not being able to sit......or breathe.

Jack walked into the offices of MC2 and smiled at Missy behind the reception desk.  “Hi Missy. How have you been?  I haven’t seen you in ages.”

Missy smiled; a huge smile.  “Jack, it’s so good to see you.  You don’t stop in nearly enough.”    She thought it was a damned shame that this guy was gay and already taken. If she weren’t married, she’d have tried a conversion therapy.  

Missy moaned when the phone rang; she didn’t want to be interrupted from her fantasies.  “Fuck! The phone hasn’t stopped ringing today.  Things are really starting to pick up though.”

Jack blinked in surprise at hearing Missy say the word “Fuck”. It wasn’t something he’d ever heard her say before and it sounded odd coming out of her mouth.

Gavin walked out of his office; Jeff and David followed him and smiled when he spotted Jack.  “Hey, what brings you here?”

“Thought I’d see if you were free for lunch. My trial was postponed this morning.”  Jack nodded at Jeff and stuck out his hand.  “Hi Jeff, it’s good to see you.”  After shaking Jeff’s hand, he shook David’s hand.  “You must be David.  I’m Jack Ryan.”

“Good to meet you Jack.”  David smiled.  “Gavin’s told me a lot about you.”

Gavin gave Jack a disappointed look.  “We were planning on eating lunch in and going over the graphics with David for a presentation we need to have finished. We’re working under the gun on this one.”

“Gav, you go ahead and have lunch with Jack. It’d be a fucking shame to turn down lunch when someone else is buying, you know.”  David leaned against the desk.  “Jeff can pick out a few graphics and then you can look them over after lunch.  We’re not fucked yet, we have plenty of time. ”

Jack rubbed his chin and leaned against Missy’s desk, listening to the three men discuss the client and presentation they were working on.  In the ten minutes he listened, he’d have sworn he heard the “F” word about one hundred times.  Mostly from David, who had it down to an art;  but Jeff and Missy added their own “Fucks”, whenever it could be filled in....even when it didn’t make any sense. 

Jack worked with men all day.  He worked closely with cops and interviewed hard core felons on a weekly basis.  The word “Fuck” was something he heard quite frequently.   Hell, it was something he used on occasion himself.   But he didn’t think he’d ever heard it used quite this much or in quite the same way.

As he and Gavin were eating lunch, Jack leaned his elbows on the booth table and asked, “Gav, have you noticed that David uses the word “fuck” about every other word, in every single sentence?”

Gavin looked surprised.  “No, I hadn’t noticed that.”

“Well, he does. I figure that’s the reason you’ve been saying it so much.  Must be subliminal.”  Jack shook his head.  “You might want to get one of those “cuss jars”. You know, where everyone puts in a dollar every time they swear.  When I worked at the law offices, we had one of those.

“Did it work?”

“I don’t know, but it’s worth a try.”  Jack chuckled.  “You guys would have enough money saved to take the whole office on a trip to Europe in just... two weeks, from what I heard in the office today.”

“I don’t care about saving enough for a trip to Europe, Jack.” Gavin looked at Jack and shook his head.  “I’m only interested in saving my OWN butt and... our SOAP budget.”


Gavin, bored with the movie he was watching, leaned back on the couch and put his feet in Jack’s lap; shoving the book Jack was reading closed.  “Are you finished reading yet?”

Jack laughed, grabbing Gavin’s toes.  “I guess I am now.”

“Oh, I almost forgot to tell you.” Gavin laughed, trying to pull his feet away, but Jack grabbed his ankles and pulled. “Everyone agreed to the “cuss jar” thing.  Unanimously!  Jeff said that Lisa had been threatening to duck tape his mouth shut, every time he was around the baby.”

Jack smiled, pulling on Gavin’s feet until he was practically in his lap.  “I can understand the feeling.”

“Yeah, I know.  And Missy said that her husband threatened to wash her mouth out with soap if she didn’t stop saying it!”  Gavin grinned at Jack.  “Can you believe that? Do you think that they......you know.....?”

Jack wrapped his arms around Gavin and kissed him on the nose.  “I don’t know and it’s none of our business. Nosey!”

Gavin laughed and wrapped his arms around Jack’s neck. He kissed him back.  “I’m NOT nosey.”  He wiggled in Jack’s lap and grinned when he heard that groan. 

Jack was just about ready to pin Gavin to the couch when he noticed Martha, who had been lying at their feet beside the couch, stand up and..... LOOK..... at him.  Almost like she was ...upset about something.

Martha was getting a little annoyed at this wiggling habit and the fact that the Big Guy REFUSED to share that bed upstairs, even though they NEVER used it. And he had gotten down right bossy about it too.  It just wasn’t fair!  A little growl escaped from her throat.

Jack heard the growl and searched her face for any signs as to what she was thinking. Maybe Gavin was right.  Maybe she didn’t like them messing around on the couch.

No!  That was ridiculous!  He was NOT even going to mention that thought to Gavin! After all these years, he was starting to THINK like Gavin; and God help everyone if THAT happened TOO often. 

Dogs just didn’t.... THINK.... like that. 

He started to kiss Gavin again, when Martha growled once more.  She was staring at Jack....just LOOKING at him.

“Hey Gav, why don’t we ......finish this upstairs....in bed.”

Martha watched as her guys sprinted off the couch, making a mad dash for the stairs.  She sniffed and plopped back down beside the couch.  Maybe now she’d at least get to finish a movie now and then, and not be interrupted with that wiggling business. You just had to be a little assertive with her people, sometimes.

She would have them trained in no time.