Sometimes everyone needs a crash course in the basics -- except maybe those who have heard the 'basics' more often than they'd like.


Family 101

By:  M. J. Cogburn and C. E. Krawiec

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"Sometimes it took a father grizzly's attitude to ride herd on these two in their wild and wooly days as boys."  Then he focused on her.  "But I must say that some of Marion's insistence on good manners and such seemed to have benefited Trevor mightily."

        Marion grinned at her husband’s interaction with the young woman and made a sweeping motion with her hand toward the couches in the living room.  “Dinner’s almost ready,” she said graciously.  “So, why don’t we sit down and talk for a few minutes?”

        Trevor inwardly rolled his eyes.  ‘Oh boy!  Here comes the inquisition!’





Siren glanced at Trevor and headed toward the couch that Trevor pointed her toward.  She sat down and looked up at Trevor before he sat down beside her.  She smiled up at Mr. Conroy who sat across from them and said to him, “Well, you must have done well.  He seems to have turned out okay.”

        Siren grinned at Trevor as she lightly leaned against him for a moment before she leaned back to look at the man across from her.

        Glancing at his oldest son as he sat down beside his date, Lyle saw him darting glanced between his mother and his brother.  Smiling to himself, he turned his attention to the young lady, responding, “A little whip cracking and remembering how I was as a boy helped a lot,” he told her.  Chuckling when Trevor snapped a look, he quirked an eyebrow at him.  “But you’re right.  He turned out okay.”

“Thanks for the vote of confidence in your oldest offspring," Trevor responded to his dad. They had picked at each other like this since he was eighteen and it was done with love. 

        Siren nervously put her hands lightly in her lap.  Looking up at Trevor’s mother, she asked, “Is there anything that I can do to help with dinner?”

        "Thank you, but no," Marion replied.  "It's nothing fancy.  Just a nice pot roast and vegetables, and I think I saw someone's favorite dessert somewhere in the fridge...." Glancing at Trevor, Marion saw his expression become interested.

        "Might that be what I think it is?" Trevor asked, unable to resist that lead-in.

        "Could be," she teased him.  Glancing at Siren, Marion told her, "Ever since he was barely old enough to walk, Trevor's had a weakness for anything chocolate.  But..." she glanced at him again.  He looked like a man dying of thirst and hearing someone saying there was water close by.  Marion turned back to his date.  "But when he was nine, I tried a recipe for double dark fudge cake with white chocolate icing.  After that I had to make it only on special occasions.  Otherwise that long, lean body would be a butterball!"

        Trevor ducked his head.  If this gets any better I'm gonna kill myself!’

        Siren laughed at Marion's comment as she glanced at Trevor.  "And here I thought that he didn't like chocolate.  Something gave me that feeling that he didn't like it."  Siren grinned at him and then looked back to Marion.  "But it does sound wonderful."

        "Trevor? Not like chocolate?"  Marion shook her head as she smiled broadly.  "Must be somebody else named Trevor because my son loves it.  In fact, when he was three..."

        Oh God, no!  Not the birthday party….’ Trevor turned a pleading look to his father, but both his father and his brother were grinning like hyenas.  “Mom…” Trevor started, but it was too late.  Dropping his face in his hands, his elbows on his knees, he prepared for yet the millionth telling of that party.

        Siren couldn’t help but grin at Trevor as he put his face in his hands.  Putting her hand on his back, and giving him a light pat, she listened intently to his mother.

        Leaning forward slightly in his chair, Lyle said, “Come on, son.  Be a man.  Sit up and take it like Ron and I do, when it’s our turn.”

        Marion ignored the men in her life with a knowing smile.  “Anyway, as I was saying,” she shifted slightly turning more toward Siren.  “The year Trevor turned three we had a small party for him.  And if you've ever been around three year olds, you know what a handful they can be. Especially in a party setting.

        “Of course the cake was chocolate... and so was the ice cream.  And my little angel decided that just eating the ice cream wasn't satisfying enough so...."

        From the hiding place in the palms of his hands, Trevor said quietly, “Mom… if you love me… don’t….”

".... so, when I went out into the kitchen for a moment and came back...."

        ‘Here it comes….’

"....there was Trevor, in his high chair, his eyes closed as he blissfully rubbed ice cream in his hair."  Marion laughed again at one of her most precious memories of her son.  "You'd have thought he was in heaven by his expression.  And he cried when I put in the tub and washed his hair."

        Siren grinned at Trevor as he died in his palms and she tried her hardest not to laugh.  “Oh, I bet he was cute… with ice cream everywhere.”  She cleared her throat only to see Trevor shaking his head which only made her laugh. 

        "To make up for it tonight, I'll get you some chocolate ice cream before bed."  She told him giving his back a rub but unfortunately, the remark wasn't lost on anyone else in the room.  Realizing what she had said, she lightly blushed and looked down at her lap wishing that she had her own place to hide.

        Ron grinned knowingly when Siren said something about bedtime.  When Trevor looked up at his mother, he couldn’t help it, he had to say something.  “So, what happened that makes you to… co-punishment partners as you put it in the hall?”

        Trevor didn’t even have to lift his head to know what Ron’s expression looked like.  He knew that his father’s would be about the same; however, it was his mother that he wondered about.  But this wasn’t an embarrassing memory that was before them now.  Raising his head, he found his mother’s eyes on him.  But her gaze flicked from his face to his arms and back to his eyes.

        It had been almost a month since Trevor had been to visit so Marion Conroy had noticed almost instantly that his arms had several long, thin healing welts.  And those welts, well, they were of more interest to her than whether or not her son was sleeping with the young lady beside him.  But from the look in his eyes, that was a subject not for a family dinner with a guest.  Ron’s comment about punishment got her undivided attention.  She saw Lyle’s attention sharpen too.

        Shooting a withering look at his brother, Trevor glanced between his parents and knew that it was truth or consequences time and memories of the situations in the past rose up and pushed him toward the truth.  He started to speak but glanced at Siren first.  He saw the panic in her face and the green color that he recognized from this morning.  Seeing her standing up quickly, he pointed, “Down the hall, first door on the left.”

        Once in the bathroom, Siren leaned against the door and took off the mask and rinsed off her face putting cold wet hands on her cheeks.  She then sat down on the tub to calm herself down.       

        Only when the bathroom door slammed shut did Trevor turn to Ron.  “You still don't know when to keep your mouth shut do you?" Trevor couldn’t help but snap as he stepped past them and went to the bathroom door.

        "Don't snap at me, Mr. High and Mighty one."  Ronald looked at his parents and held up his hands.  “Hey, I was just trying to keep the conversation going.  How was I to know that she was going to turn green?  It's not my fault.  Damn... you'd think that I'd learn by now... everything is my fault."





        Siren heard a soft knock at the door and she quickly grabbed the mask and placed it back on her face, then turned to the door from where she sat.  “Yes?” When Trevor opened the door, she looked up at him glad that it was him and not one of his family members checking in on her.  “Oh, Trevor, I… I don’t feel so well,” she told him swallowing.

When Siren looked up at him, pale, and her eyes moist like she's fighting not only nausea but also the threat of tears, Trevor stepped inside and closed the door.  Stepping over to her, Trevor knelt down in front of her, taking her hands in his.

        "If you want to leave, we will," Trevor said softly, rubbing his thumb gently over the back of her hand.  "I'm sorry Ron upset you," Trevor apologized.  "He can be kinda brash at times.  He doesn't always think before speaking," he told her.  "But he didn't say what he did to be mean.  Aggravating, irritating... that's Ron.  But he's never been deliberately mean."

        Reaching up, he brushed a tendril of hair from her cheek and waited for Siren to decide.  After a moment, he added, “Besides, right about now Mom's probably cleaning his clock.  And she doesn't have to yell to do it, either." Trevor smiled at her, hoping that the lightness of his tone would help.

        Siren took several deep breaths.  She looked into his eyes then quickly turned her head away from him, snatching her hand away from his to sneeze.

        Turning back to him, she looked into his eyes and told him.  “No.  We’re staying.  We don’t need to leave.”  She shook her head lightly.  "Just give me a few minutes.  Okay?  But don't say anything to your parents until I'm out there.  I was part of the problem and you shouldn't have to take the full brunt of this on your own.  Promise me, Trevor," she asked him softly.

        Trevor heard her out then nodded.  “Promise,” he said evenly, searching her eyes.  He reached up to wipe at the hint of moisture under one of her eyes.  “And don’t let Ron get to you,” he told her with an encouraging smile.  “In some ways he's still a little boy who doesn't think before he speaks.  But when the chips are down..." his smile became a grin, "... I can't think of any guy I'd count on more than him."

        Standing up, he waited a moment, watching her.  Then, touching her cheek softly, he told her, "I'll let Mom know she doesn't have to hang Ron at sunrise." The hesitant smile he got was good enough for him, and he left the bathroom, closing the door gently.

        As Trevor left, she sat there taking several deep breaths.  Why she had let that get to her, emotionally, as it had, instead of just getting mad, she didn’t know.  If it had been anyone else, she was sure that she would have torn into them, but holding it in, only made her stomach turn.  She sighed heavily then said softly, “Come on, Siren.  Chin up.”  Then she rose and took another deep breath before placing the mask on once more and walked out into the hallway listening for a just a moment out of sight.

        “I don’t see why I can’t join in on the conversations mom.  I mean, geez, I live here too.  I just wanted to know… he,” Ron pointed to Trevor as he came into the living room.  “He was the one that brought it up outside.  I can’t help it if I’m curious.”

        Marion turned a look on her youngest son as she waited for him to flounder through what he almost said.  “Ronald,” she said with extreme patience as she started toward Trevor, pausing to face him.  “There are simply some things that are not discussed in company.  And things such as… punishment…” she glanced to Trevor before looking back at Ron.  “… those sort of things are left to more private times.”

        Going to Trevor, she paused putting her hand on his arm.  “How is she?” but before Trevor could respond, she caught a movement from the corner of her eye and saw Siren step into the room.  Stepping around Trevor she went to her.  “Are you all right, my dear?” Marion questioned solicitously, taking Siren’s hands, looking concernedly into her eyes.

        Siren looked intently into her eyes and realized how much she missed not having a mother figure in her life.  She smiled at her softly.  “Well,” she once again snatched a hand from one of the Conroy’s to turn her head quickly to sneeze.  “Oh… excuse me.  I’ll be okay.  We were in a little rain shower this afternoon.  I think I might have caught a chill.  That’s all,” Siren told her lightly.

        But when a hand came up directly to Siren’s forehead, Siren dropped her shoulder slightly.  “You are your son’s mother.  He did the same thing to me earlier,” she told Marion with a grin.  “Honestly, I’ll be fine.”

        Smiling when he heard Siren’s comment to his mother, Trevor got the feeling that she was going to be okay – at least until they left.  And then he knew his mother would go into her ‘just to be on the safe side’ routine.  Shaking his head slightly, he grinned at the thought of the list his mother was going to reel off as they walked away from the door.

        Trevor waited for Siren to come to him, but it was Ronald who met her a few steps before.

        Siren looked at him warily and he didn’t blame her.  Putting his hands in his pockets to avoid letting her see how nerve racking it was to do this in front of his own family, he said, “Siren… I’m a putz.  Okay?  I don’t know when to shut my mouth and I’m sure that Trevor has proven that part of the Conroy legacy.  I’m sorry if I upset you.”
        Standing away from the group, Lyle Conroy watched his sons and he was proud of them.  He had told them separately and collectively on different occasions, “Once you're of age, I won't interfere in your lives.  You'll live your lives; make your mistakes by your own hand and doing.  But I'll be here when you need me."  And right now, he knew that Ron was in one of those 'on his own' situations. And he was proud to see that he knew when, like it or not, he needed to apologize and set the record straight.

        Siren looked at Ron and saw the look in his eyes, especially when he started talking and couldn’t help but grin at him as he finished.  “Tell you what, Ron,” she swallowed before she pushed on remembering something that Trevor had told her about Ron this afternoon.  “I'll forgive you if..." she saw his eyes grow curious.  “...if... one day we, I mean... you me and Trevor watch Ghost.  I love that movie.  What do you say?"

        When she mentioned Ghost, Ron turned to Trevor and gapped at him, but turning back to look at Siren, he told her after smacking his lips, “Okay.”

        It was the most difficult thing that Trevor had ever done, not roaring at the expression on his brother’s face, or for that matter, grinning at him.  Where’s my Oscar?’ Trevor thought.

        “I don’t know about you, but I love any of Demi Moore’s movies,” Siren announced as she made her way over to Trevor.  “Don’t you like her too, Trevor?” she asked.

        “Yes,” Trevor picked up quickly on what Siren was doing.  “I enjoy watching any of her movies.”  When Siren reached his side, he couldn’t help put a hand lightly against the back of her waist.  It was almost a protective move and he knew that Ron would see it and hopefully drop any kind of act that he might want to keep going.

        "Well, now that we've had our roller coaster ride," Marion said brightly, "I'll get dinner on the table." Glancing at Ron, she looked him in the eye.  "Would you help me please, Ron?"  She didn’t have to look at him to know that he was following her instructions.

        Before Marion tried to get dinner on the table, Siren took a step away from Trevor's side and stopped her.  "Mrs. Conroy, could you wait for just a moment, please?"

        Marion paused and turned back to Siren.  “Yes?”

        Siren knew that she was about to go into what happened with her son and she didn’t want to be blithering like an idiot, but she knew that she couldn’t stop the progression that had already started.  “Would you please sit down?”

        Siren couldn’t help but see the glance at Lyle that Marion made as she sat down.  Siren lightly cleared her throat before she in turn sat down and leaned forward just a tad.

        "I know that you must be wondering about the welts on Trevor's arms.  And I'm afraid that I'm half of the reason why they are there."  Siren saw her eyes flick to Trevor's arms then back to her.

        "You see, on Tuesday, I went to go get some breakfast for my father and myself and Trevor bumped into me spilling everything on me.  Well, my anger flares hot and furious and words were said at the time.  Little did Trevor know that I was his boss... and when I went to work later on, some more words were said... disrespectfully on both ends.  We were both put on correction... one that entails us to be together 24 hours a day for two weeks, then per Lothos' orders.  I... since I was partially part of this, I asked Trevor not to say anything until I was present.  I felt that I owed the explanation... not him.  However, what has surprised both of us,” Siren said as she looked up at him with a smile. "... is the relationship that has sprung up between us."  Siren looked back at Marion and waited – expecting an explosion.

        Marion listened and made a few decisions about Siren already.  She was not one to let someone else take the heat when it was hers.  She had to grant the girl that. But what impressed Marion even more was that there was no braggadocio about her.  She just stated the situation and left it to the listener to draw their own conclusions.

        "Whatever the reasons that brought you together," Marion told her quietly, meeting her eyes, "it appears to have worked out for the best." Her eyes then went to Trevor who had been quiet for the entire time.  "How... severely were you whipped?"  Marion’s words seemed to startle Siren. "It's all right, my dear," Marion reassured her. "I've seen my share of punishment whippings.  Nurses usually do."

        Siren nodded to her and closed her eyes before she told her softly, “Unfortunately, it was thorough, and drew blood."  Siren swallowed tightly before saying, "I was to put the salve on him afterwards."

        Trevor’s mother never had been one to pussyfoot around something she wanted to know about.  And her question to him was direct.  He listened to Siren respond then added, "I was whipped for six hours before being sent to begin the joint punishment time with Siren."  He paused then answered the question he saw in her eyes.  "The welts are still a little sensitive, but they're almost healed."

        "How much of your body is welted?" Lyle asked.  Like Trevor’s mother, he’d seen... and in his time as a security chief... administered a few whippings.

        "From my neck to my ankles," Trevor told his father glancing at him.  "Front and back."  A glance at Ron revealed him to be a bit pale, but he didn't look away.  "I bled for a little while after the whipping, but, like I said..." Trevor held his arms out from his body a little and said, in an attempt to lighten the mood trying to dampen the evening, "... I'm well over it."

        But the look in his mother’s eyes told him that there was one more thing that he’d had to do to satisfy her.  So, without a word, he lifted the front of his shirt a couple of inches so she… they could all see the few fading welts across his midriff.  Putting his shirt down, he waited.

        Siren sat there on the sofa quietly listening to them and lowered her eyes.  She didn’t feel right sitting here in front of his family talking about the aspect, but she had brought it up.  It needed to be said and with it done so, she licked at her lips and shivered ever so slightly.  It was almost as if someone had turned down the air in the room a couple of degrees.  When she saw Trevor pulling up his shirt to show them, she closed her eyes then finally sniffed slightly before looking up into Marion’s eyes.

        “All right,” Marion said quietly as Trevor put his shirt down. Getting to her feet, she glanced over at Siren.  After a moment she said with a smile, “Would you like to help me dish up dinner, Siren?  The table’s set so it should only take a couple of minutes.”

        Siren nodded and stood going to the kitchen with her..  She wasn’t sure why, but she had the feeling that something would be said between the two of them.  What, she wasn’t sure.  “Yes ma’am.”

        Glancing at Trevor, she tried to give a small grin, but it didn’t even reach her eyes and he knew it.  She could tell by the way that he looked at her.  She turned away from him and followed his mother.

        Leading the way into the kitchen, Marion knew that Siren was close behind her.  Taking a couple of potholders from a drawer near the over, she took the roasting pan out and set it on the hotpads on the counter.  "There's a platter in that cupboard above the sink," Marion told her calmly.  "Could you get it down for me?"

        “Yes ma'am."  Siren found the platter above the sink and set it beside the roasting pan on the counter and felt just about as Thumbelina did.  She lightly bit at the inside of her lower lip and waited.  She knew something was coming.




        Marion didn’t say anything of any consequence as she directed Siren to get a can of crescent rolls from the refrigerator and put them on a baking sheet and in the oven.  She was quiet, waiting, but Marion didn’t say anything yet, at least not until the roast and vegetables were on the platter and the salad was taken from the refrigerator.

        Seeing her pick up the salad bowl and turn toward the door, Mario put a hand on her arm.  Almost obediently, Siren stopped and turned to face her.  There was definite anxiety in her eyes.

        “What’s wrong dear?” Marion asked gently.  “You seem like you’re waiting for me to... I don't know... maybe blow up about..."

        “... pick up a kitchen knife and stab it through my heart because your son was whipped because of me... and yet you see no welts on my body... per chance."   

        "Set the bowl down, Siren," Marion told her gently.  When Siren did, Marion took her hands in hers and looked directly into her eyes. "Let's be straight on one thing," Marion began calmly, but with sensitivity to Siren’s feelings. "Trevor is twenty-five years old and yes, he's my son and I love him with a mother's love as strong as any mother's.  But," Marion waited for her to look at her again.  "He's a man now and he makes his own choices... and suffers the consequences of those choices on his own."  When Siren’s eyes widen at that, Marion went on.

        "I don't think less of you because you and Trevor happen to be in a punishment situation together; or, as you pointed out, that you didn't get a whipping.  All that tells me is that whoever set the punishment specifics knew what sort of punishment would gain the most impression and results.  And even do the punished one... or ones... the most good."  Marion smiled at her expression.

        "The expression on Trevor's face when he introduced you to us told me all I needed to know about you, Siren," Marion assured her, squeezing Siren’s hands gently.  "He may be stubborn... even pig-headed sometimes... but he's always been a good judge of character.  And I know his judgment was right on the mark... with you."

        Siren slowly began to smile as she described the points that she’d seen in Trevor, but when his mother told her that he was right on the mark, tears instantly sprang into her eyes as well as a light bead of sweat on her brow as she lightly shivered once again.  Damn, how cold do they like it in this place?’ she thought to herself.  "I hope that I meas... measure up to his judge of character."  Siren tried to say lightly before wiping at the small amount of moisture.  Why couldn’t I have a mom like you when I was growing up?

Marion allowed Siren the dignity of her tears.  But seeing her shiver again, her mothering instincts kicked into high gear and she put her hand on her forehead again.  "You've got some temperature," Marion said concerned.  "Are you sure you don't want to go home and get in bed?"  But seeing the determination in her eyes, Marion smiled.  "You're as bad as Trevor," Marion teased her gently.  "Okay," she said, turning to the cupboard by the kitchen sink and taking out a bottle of Tylenol.  "I'll stop fussing if you'll take a couple of these right now."

        When Siren had swallowed the medicine with some water, both of them took the food out into the dining room and called the men.

        Walking into the dining room and seeing the women, Lyle Conroy smiled.  Rubbing his hands together, he glanced around at his sons and his wife and the young lady that could become a part of the family.  “Nothing like having the family together,” he said as he sat down at his place at the table.

        Siren lightly smiled at Lyle and glanced over at Trevor.  She knew that she couldn’t hide the tears still shining in her eyes from talking with his mother, nor could she hide the way that she was feeling about him either. 

        Trevor gently pulled out the chair for her to sit down and Siren lightly thanked him.  She had wondered when someone might ask about the mask that she wore and Ron didn’t disappoint her either.

        “Siren, why do you wear that mask?  I mean, I see the bruise on  your cheek…” he asked then dropped into his seat when he received daggers from his brother.

        Siren closed her eyes and lowered her head lightly and felt Trevor put his hands on her shoulders giving them a slight squeeze.  Slowly though, she turned her gaze up to Trevor and glanced between Lyle and Marion.

        Trevor glanced at Siren and saw that the question was a delicate one, causing anxiety to appear in her gaze.  He squeezed her shoulders a bit tighter, almost reassuring her that he was guarding her back. 

        She was silent for a long moment before she brought her hand up to his.  Removing his hands, she turned back to Ron.  Swallowing, she told him, “It’s a custom that was required of me since I was little.  Only my family may see me without it on, as per Lothos' orders.  The bruise that you see, well, that happened yesterday evening.  But, Ron, I'm fine.  I was just wondering when someone was going to ask about it."

        Marion and Lyle accepted her explanation with a nod of understanding.  Ron however, was another different matter.

        “Oh… sorry… I didn’t mean to… I’ll just keep my mouth shut,” he stated dramatically.

        Trevor blew out the breath he had been holding and moved to sit beside Siren.  Glancing across the table at his brother, he said, “So your brain does have an ‘on’ switch, huh?”

        Ron turned his attention to Trevor.  “Yeah, but you left your on switch in the womb... I found it."  Ron sat down at the table and glanced at his mother and decided for the remainder of the evening that it might be better to just shut up. 

        “Ron, that’s enough, if you don’t mind,” Marion reprimanded her younger son crisply.  Turning to Siren, she assured her, “Your explanation is more than sufficient, dear.  Now, what may I pass to you?”

        Siren smiled lightly at Marion.  “I’d like some roast, please.”  But as dinner began, Siren felt the sinking spell taking its toll on her.  She knew that Trevor had noticed it even though she tried to hide it from him.  The meal itself was wonderful, but the way that she was picking at her food, she didn’t want Marion to believe otherwise.  Glancing up at Marion, Siren told her, “It’s delicious.”

        Lyle watched the young woman sitting across from him and he could tell just from the way that her body position began to almost droop that something was definitely wrong with her.  He noticed that she was trying to remain upbeat and talk with them, but at the same time, he knew that she was feeling bad.  He could also tell from the little bead of sweat on her brow and although she thought no one had noticed the small shiver, Lyle shook his head.

        Trevor had noticed that Siren was waning; eating small bites and replying politely.  Toward the end of dinner, he looked up at his father and seeing the lift of his eyebrow followed by a subtle nod of his head, Trevor and Lyle excused themselves from the table and went into the living room.  Following his father, they both stepped out into the hall and shut the door for a bit more privacy.  Before his father could say a single word, Trevor stated plainly, “I think I need to take Siren home."

        “I think so too.  Did you know that she was feeling bad this afternoon?”

        “I took her topside late this morning,” Trevor explained.  “She’d never been up there in her life.  And... we got caught in a rain shower.  I think she's probably got a chill.  But, she's stubborn and wouldn't back out of dinner." Trevor saw the question in his father's eyes.  He decided to tell him a small bit about the punishment.

        "Part of our punishment is that we have to be in each other's company twenty-four hours a day for two weeks.  Today is the third day.  And I was going to cancel..." Trevor saw his father’s lips twitch.  “Yeah, I figured mom told you about it.  But... well, things changed and I decided to bring her, which brings us to this moment."

        Lyle saw the spark in his son’s eye as he talked about Siren.  He clapped his hand on Trevor’s shoulder and pulled Trevor toward him.  "So, she's the one, eh?"   Lyle saw the shocked expression on his face and laughed.  "Yes, I can tell, Trevor.” 

"She is.  But it's been like ... I don't know... porcupines trying to kiss.  A really prickly situation but it's one that I don't want out of." 

Lyle grinned.  “Come on.  Your mother will wonder why we aren't in there... and you know how she gets when we aren't together."

"Yeah, she'll come looking for us if we're out here any longer."

        Turning to open the door, Trevor opened the door to find Ron.  “Mom asked me to track you two down and threaten you with... no dessert if you don't get back inside...Now!"

        Trevor didn’t need to be told twice.  But the look on Siren’s face when he walked in… even his favorite dessert was forgotten.  Going to her, he leaned down, one hand on her shoulder.  “Come on,” he said in a soft but firm tone.  “I’m taking you home.  You need to be in bed.”

        Siren blinked her eyes trying to get her vision to focus on him.  “But… dessert…” she began but Trevor was already pulling Siren out of her seat.  Siren turned back to look at Marion in hopes that she’d tell Trevor to sit down and leave her alone, but she just took her napkin off of her lap and then put her hand on Siren’s forehead and shook her head.

        “Desert can wait.  I’ll save some for both of you.  You’re burning up.    You’re going to bed.  Trevor,” she began but he was already helping Siren to stand.

        Siren’s expression became crestfallen when his mother responded to her.  Trevor knew how she felt.  He had been in the same position, more or less, many times when he was still at home.

        Sliding a hand behind her waist, he helped Siren to stand and stepped back from the table.  “Come on,” he told her gently but firmly.  “This time you’re outnumbered and Mom’s leader of the pack at the moment.”  He could tell by how bad she was feeling and by how Siren wasn’t attempting to argue just how horrible she felt. 

        It was then that Marion Conroy came back from the kitchen with a small cup in her hands filled with green liquid. “Take this, Siren.”

        Siren did as instructed and wrinkled her nose in disgust at how it tasted.

        Marion took the small cup back, telling Siren, “Taste isn’t much, but it’ll help you sleep and work on that fever at the same time.  And what you need more than anything right now is sleep."  Glancing at Trevor, his mother told him, "If she's anything like you were, put your foot down and see that she gets into bed immediately when you get her home."  Marion knew that he could see the twinkle in her eyes. “Where it is that home is...."

"Okay, mom," is all Trevor replied.  His mother’s eyes spoke quite clearly.  He got the same look from his father as he opened the door and let Siren out before him.  “Good night,” he told them then turned his attention to the drooping lady at his side.  She looked like her knees were about to give out.  He had plenty of practice as he swept her off her feet and headed toward the elevator.

Siren automatically wrapped her arms around his neck and laid her head on his shoulder.  But as they entered the elevator, she slowly rose up and put her hand on his right cheek, pulled his head toward hers and brushed her lips against his.  The kiss deepened quickly, each drinking from the other.  “Ohh God,” she whispered against his lips.  “I’ve been wanting one of those from you all evening.”

        “Damn,” Trevor whispered when the kiss finally ended.  “I guess you must’ve been practically starving,” he told Siren softly as he nuzzled her cheek, but her cheeks were flushed and he was pretty sure that it wasn’t from passion.  But then again, that kiss wasn’t from someone who’s only thought was of going to sleep.

        Leaning his forehead against hers, he sort of looked down at her eyes.  "Just exactly how sick are you?" he asked in a softly teasing, accusing sort of voice.

        Hearing his words, Siren softly smiled at him then leaned up and caught his lips once more, holding his head as she kissed him.  Slowly, she let her kisses travel down his chin, letting the tip of her tongue lightly lick at his jaw and kiss that soft little nestle behind his jaw before his ear; licking at it lightly.  “Not enough to not want you,” she whispered huskily into his ear before she lightly nibbled at his earlobe.

        “Didn’t think so,” he muttered huskily.  He chuckled in his throat.  “Mom was right,” he murmured as he kisses moved back along his jaw toward his mouth.  “You’re burning up, but the fever isn’t in your head, is it?” he pulled back just enough to look her in the eye and saw her flush deepen.  Squeezing her lightly, he told her, “Come on, now.  What’s there to be shy about? Admit it.”

        Siren flushed at the insinuation.  She bit at her bottom lip then looked at him and smiled as she blinked at him.  He was blurry and she couldn’t make him out even as close as they were.  She blinked several times trying to clear her vision and a frown replaced her smile.  “I… I can’t see you clearly,” she finally told him not sure if he was looking at her or not. 

        The lightheartedness left him when he realized that Siren was not playing or faking.  “That does it,” he said firmly as he stepped to the control panel and punched the button for the infirmary.  “You’re going to see a doctor right now.” 

        Siren struggled in his arms but she wasn’t able to wiggle in his grip.

        “No, Trevor.  Just take me home,” she mumbled against and tried to push against him but finally relented.  I… I…”  Suddenly blackness won.




        When Siren fainted in his arms, Trevor watched her face and chest, as he wanted to make sure that she was breathing.  Assured that she was, he moved in front of the elevator doors and was through them before they were fully opened.  Striding down the hall to the infirmary ER, he shouldered the door open.  As luck would have it, Olivia Robinson was on duty and she looked up at him.

        “She got caught in a rain shower this afternoon and now has some fever.  And, as you can see, she just fainted.”

        “Put her in cubicle three,” Olivia told him crisply then followed after him.  When he laid her on the examination table, she covered her with a sheet then took her temperature and pulse.  She was removing the thermometer from her mouth when the doctor on duty walked in.

        “Temperature’s one hundred point nine, doctor,” Olivia told him then waited for his instructions.

        When Dr. Vanderweld heard Olivia talking about the young woman lying on the bed, he looked to the man standing beside her and recognized him immediately.  “Trevor… haven’t seen you in a while.”  He looked back down at the young woman and saw the mask knowing her instantly.  “Ms. Siren.”

        He frowned slightly as he asked the nurse again what her pulse and temperature was again.  He asked Trevor what had happened during the day and upon his response, he looked at Siren and took the thermometer from Olivia once again.  Taking her temperature again, it read now – one hundred one point three.  “A rain shower… hmmmm.”

        He felt her pulse and how fast it seemed to be going.  “Did she have any medication this evening?  Anything?” he asked as he looked down at her unconscious form.

        When the doctor looked at Trevor, asking about medication, he shook his head.  “I don’t think so,” he replied honestly.  “We… spent the afternoon together before going to my folks place for dinner, but that’s all.”  But when he asked Trevor what they did, damned if his cheeks didn’t get warm.  “Well,” Trevor saw him waiting for an answer.  Come on Trev,’ he thought.  Take some of the advice you gave Siren and admit it.  Taking a breath, Trevor looked at the doctor square in the eye and admitted, “We spent the afternoon in bed… making love, if you must know.”

        Dr. Vanderweld grinned at Trevor.  “Well, I didn’t need to know that much information, Trevor, but… I doubt that her fever is rising because of that.”  He cleared his throat and glanced at Olivia.  “She didn’t take anything at your parent’s house?  You’re sure?”

        “Come to think of it, Mom did give her a small dose of cold medicine, but that’s all,” Trevor recalled at his prompting.  “But it wasn’t even a full dose.  I know.  Mom usually only takes a half dose herself and she’s about Siren’s size and weight.  Could that have done it?”

        “Well, it’s a possibility, Trevor.  If there was something in it that she was allergic to.  Do you know hat cold medicine it was?  What brand?”

        “That green stuff,” Trevor told him.  “She gets it at the pharmacy.  Nyquil?  Yeah… that’s it.”  Trevor frowned.  “What could be in it that she’s allergic to?”

        Dr. Vanderweld frowned as he laid his hand on her brow and shook his head.  “I don’t know, but let’s get her cooled down.  I don’t’ see any swelling that would indicate allergic tendencies but that doesn’t mean that it’s ruled out.”  He sighed.  He honestly didn’t want to wake Dr. Hugen, but since he was the one that usually treated Siren, he knew that he might have to.  Screwing up his mouth, he finally said, “Olivia, call Dr. Hugen and lets get him in here to check on Siren.  He'll know for sure what's going on here.  He knows her file through and through."

        While Olivia went to call, Dr. Vanderweld walked over to the cabinet and pulled her file walking back over to the bed.  Flipping it open, he began reading just waiting for Dr. Hugen to cross the hall awake and ready to go.




        “Damn,” he muttered through the quickly fading fog of sleep, groping for the phone.  This was the third time this week – about par for the course.  “Yeah?” he said sleepily into the receiver, his left cheek still on the pillow, his eyes still closed.  “Sorry, Olivia, I was about ten feet deep in sleep.  What is it?”

        He listened to his unofficial head nurse’s words and sleep faded from him and he sat up.  “Nyquil?  Okay.  She’s probably having a slight reaction to the antihistamine in it.  She’s got a slight sensitivity to it.  Have Carl give her an injection of 2 ccs of Benadryl.  I'll be there in a minute."

        Hanging up the phone, he pulled on his trousers and a T-shirt and slid his feet into his sleepers and then crossed the hall to the infirmary.  Except for Siren, the ER was empty, and Carl Vanderweld had just finished the injection when he entered the cubicle.

        Dr. Hugen also checked her vital signs.  A couple of minutes after the injection, her color was slightly better and what little restlessness he saw in her when he had came in eased considerably.  He didn’t speak to any of them while he focused on Siren.  After another five minutes when her temperature was checked, it was down almost a half of a degree. 

        “Okay," Dr. Hugen said at last.  "That Benedryl helped.  Her fever should ease some more, but," Dr. Hugen glanced at Trevor significantly, considering what Vanderweld had told him, "it looks to me like she's coming down with a cold.  Get her into bed... for sleeping purposes only."   Dr. Hugen saw his cheeks flush slightly as Trevor nodded.  "And..." he took a prescription pad from the nearest counter, "have Xavier get this prescription filled for her.  It's an antihistamine she can handle.  And don't give her anything but Tylenol for the fever and aches and pains."  Handing the script to him, Dr. Hugen nodded at him.  "You can take her home now, Mr. Conroy." 

        Stepping back, the two doctors watched him pick Siren up carefully, cradling her close to his body then turned toward the door. 

        “Remember, Trevor,” Dr. Hugen reminded him.  “You stay out of her bed until she’s over this.”

        Trevor couldn’t stop the flush that rose in his face, but he never looked away from Dr. Hugen.  He nodded at his instructions, even the parting shot about him staying out of Siren’s bed.  “Talk to Lothos, sir,” Trevor told him.  “We’re in punishment and it entails that we're together twenty-four hours a day for two weeks.  And we've still got eight days to go."

        “Okay,” Peter saw his point, but added a parting comment that was plain as day.  “Just keep your shorts on when you get in bed.  Understood?”

        "Yes, sir," Trevor nodded.  Now he was totally red and embarrassed.  He wouldn’t have been surprised if his ears weren’t red and Siren was blissfully unaware of anything.

        Getting Siren back into her bed, wasn’t too exacting on him, but when you have her father breathing down his neck, watching him like a hawk, he wasn’t about to try anything – not for all the tea in China.



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