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Growing Pains

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There was arguing in the boys' room. There was often arguing, but this time Ethan's indignant screeching had reached new octaves in his annoyance. Something slammed.

"I don't care! You did this you bastard! I wouldn't put it past you to have done it on purpose!"

"Ethan... Love... This was your idea."

"Only to please you," Ethan bawled, breaking into tears. Several springs protested as he must have sat on the bed.

"And you didn't want to try yourself?"

"That's not the point! It hurts, Ripper. Oh god it hurts..."

Deirdre knocked on the door. Ethan was sitting with his knees drawn into his chest, rocking back and forth. He peered around Ripper's legs to look mournfully at her.

"Phil let me in. Why did you call me round?"

"He won't be persuaded he isn't dying and there's nothing I can do to help him."

Deirdre rolled her eyes and crossed her arms. "Been playing rough again or just have a cold, baby?" she asked Ethan, pouting in mimicry of his sour expression. Ethan threw a pillow at her.

Ripper was going a slightly interesting shade of red. His earlier exasperated amusement was fading quickly to embarrassment.

"Uh..."

"I want morphine!" Ethan demanded shrilly, throwing the remaining pillow short of their feet and then choking back a sob.

Deirdre laughed. "You expect me to play mother? If you did this you can bloody well sort it out."

Ripper blushed even more, mumbling into his chest. "We...sort-of-hoped-you... might-know-more-about-this..."

Ethan was still curled up, but pushing his hair back behind his ear nervously. Rip grabbed his hand and held it away from Ethan's body, despite the round slap he got on the thigh.

Deirdre didn't realise at first. Then she looked again and snorted. "Tell me those aren't real."

"They feel sore enough to be real," Ethan snapped, arms around knees again to hide a fairly generous bust.

"What have you two been up to?"

"...He won't change back for another ten hours yet. And I keep telling him we can't help because- if there was something anyway you'd use it and what with... the other stuff..."

"How did you manage it?! It never said this would happen in the book!"

"How was I to know you'd be on your cycle?"

"CYCLE? The only kind of cycle I'm ever on has big tyres, slick handlebars and vibrates!"

Deirdre was finding it hard to breathe.

"Alright, will people stop LAUGHING at me and help me now? It feels like I'm giving birth to an elephant, tusks first."

Ripper started trying to explain. "He's..."

"On the rag? I think I guessed. Had any paracetamol yet?"

Ethan nodded sulkily, but at least quietly.

"Go put the kettle on, Rip."

"Tea? Is that everyone's answer to everything?" The - boy? Girl? Ethan sounded horrified.

"No, the hot water bottle. And some chocolate too."

Ripper grumbled something about women, was glared at by both, then put his hands up in defeat. "Fine. Bloody hell..."

When he returned, Ethan was leaning on Deirdre's chest while she rubbed his lower back. Ethan was telling her how the experience was practically enough to make him straight with his new-found admiration for the female of the species. She just laughed and kissed him on the nose.

She gave him the hot water bottle and ordered him to hug it. Then she told Ripper to feed Ethan the chocolate and do whatever he said. That got a very malicious grin from Ethan and a worried laugh from his partner.

"Breathe a word of this..."

"Oh don't worry, I will. You make a very fetching girl. If you try it again I'm sure everyone will want to see."

Ethan appeared to be considering that, but Ripper looked unconvinced. "You know, the both of you would make good women. Well, a butch one Rip. I'll leave you to your marital bliss. And oh- don't forget sex can help with the cramps." She winked.

She could still hear them arguing about it when she closed the front door.