Connor would have been surprised if steam wasn’t coming out of his ears. Did Mark seriously just say that to him?! Granted, the word was a lot nicer than others, but still…to tell a grown man to “Hush!” was plain insulting. He barely managed to keep his mouth shut until Mark was off the phone, but as soon as his partner pressed the OFF button, Connor laid into him.
“Did you actually tell me to HUSH?!” he nearly shouted.
Mark frowned at him, not looking any happier with Connor than Connor was with him. “I did, and I’m not apologizing for it. I was on the phone and you were interrupting.”
“I just wanted to know where the dang newspaper was! You could have just pointed to where you left it!”
“And you could have waited for my call to end or gone looking for the dang paper yourself,” Mark said with irritation. “That was Mom on the phone and she needed someone to talk to about some things for Dad. That was more important than a newspaper that will be in the garbage tomorrow morning.”
Connor refused to feel bad, believing his two-second question about the paper barely qualified as an interruption and he definitely did not deserve to be hushed over it.
“Fine! I’ll find the paper myself.”
“Connor.” Mark’s voice got dangerous. “I don’t appreciate the attitude or the inconsiderateness.”
Connor whirled back around. “And I don’t appreciate being told to shut up by my partner!”
“I did not tell you to ‘shut up’. I do not like those words and I will not say them to you. However, I will tell you to ‘hush’ when you’re interrupting me on the phone for something that is not an emergency.”
“You weren’t dealing with a life or death emergency either! Why didn’t you tell your mom to ‘hush’ and let me know where the stupid paper was?!” Connor asked petulantly.
And that was crossing a line. They both knew it and Connor was so shocked over his own words that he went from his angry outburst to speechlessness. Mark’s eyes flashed as he came close and took a grip on Connor’s arm, turning him to land several hard swats that brought the younger man up on his toes.
“I will not show that kind of disrespect to my mother and….”
Mark’s words suddenly stopped. A look of realization replaced the anger on his face and his voice became much softer.
“And saying that to you didn’t show you any respect either,” he finished regretfully. His sudden turnaround was quick, but sincere. “I’m sorry, Connor. I shouldn’t have spoken to you like that.”
Connor’s eyes, already burning over the painful swats on his rear, weren’t able to hold back a couple tears from falling down his cheeks over Mark’s apology.
“I’m sorry too. That was an awful thing for me to say. Your parents are great people and I know your mom needs your support when it comes to your dad’s health.”
Mark pulled the smaller man into a hug. “Thank you for understanding that.”
“I do, and I deserve a lot more than a few swats for saying something that terrible,” Connor claimed with his voice muffled in Mark’s shirt.
“No, you got all that was necessary. I’m sure you’ll feel those for awhile as it is,” Mark stated. “I forgive you and I hope you forgive me.”
“I do, but those were horrible words and I was interrupting and I would never want you to say that to your mom and….”
“Connor…Connor…” Mark interrupted as the younger man’s run-on guilt trip seemed to be quickly building steam. He made his husband look at him and cupped his face. His thumb wiped away the streak the couple tears had left and he offered Connor a soft smile. “We’re ok. Hush now.”
When he said it like that, all Connor wanted to do was obey that tender tone. A shaky chuckle came to the surface as he felt his self-reproach melt away with Mark’s forgiveness and inability to hold a grudge.
“Yes, Sir,” he answered quietly as he moved in for another hug.
Mark hugged him back for a moment. “Hey, Connor,” he said softly, his voice sounding somewhere between a caress and a tease. “The paper is in the kitchen.”