Mark tossed his pen on his desk and ran his hands through his hair with a groan. His patience, while usually long-fused, had a low tolerance for whining; and his much-loved partner was coming very close to making Mark's patience nonexistent.
"Mark! Are you done yet?!" Connor yelled from the living room for the fourth time.
Mark rolled his eyes in irritation. "Connor, I am NOT done. I told you five minutes ago that I had at least another hour of work, and every time you interrupt me, it slows me down!"
There was a pause, and then a "FINE!" The fine was followed by thunks and stomps. Mark sighed, but ignored the noises and went back to reading the student essays in front of him, although his attention was still partly on his partner.
It had been a good move for Connor to quit his job a few weeks earlier. While he could do the work, and do it well, the company itself had been a bad match for him. Management was untrained and negative, and coworkers were trying more to top each other than actually taking pride in their work. It had been a stressful and negative place for Connor, and Mark was glad when he finally quit.
For now the two of them could live off what Mark brought in as a high school teacher. It would be tight, but so long as it was temporary, it was doable.
But now they were faced with two problems. One, the poor economy made finding employment—even for those with the experience and degrees that Connor had—difficult. And two, Connor was bored; and a bored Connor became a fidgety, mischievous, cranky, and whiny Connor. Mark was pretty sure that he'd swatted, spanked, and put Connor in the corner more in the last two weeks than he had in the last two years.
With a low growl, Mark pushed away from his desk and left the small office. He came into the living room with his arms crossed and not bothering to hide his perturbed mood. His husband abruptly looked unsure to have called for a fifth time. Mark lifted an eyebrow, not smiling.
"Um, I just wanted to know how…"
"How much longer I am going to be?"
Flinching, Connor barely nodded.
"As I said earlier, I have at least an hour of work, and that time gets longer every time you interrupt me."
Connor dropped his head, his voice dropping to a mumble. "So just wait around and do nothing, Connor," his tone mocked.
Mark, not appreciating the tone, tried to be reasonable and understanding of his husband's boredom and frustration, although he was reaching the end of his tether too. "Why don't you take a walk?"
"Too cold," Connor argued.
"Watch a video."
"Bake something. Call your parents. Read a book. Write a book. Clean the house…"
"Mar-aaarrrkkk!" Connor whined.
Mark's eyes narrowed. "Connor, I don't care what you do to fill the next hour, but I don't want any more whining at me! Got it?"
In response, Connor did something very unConnor-like. His eyes narrowed to match Mark's expression, and his tone turned completely mocking. "BEEEEEEEEEEEEEEPPPPPP!!! Attention, listener. This is the National Whining Service. A whining storm of epic proportions is about to land in your living room. Connor does not want to walk. He does not want to bake or clean or read or talk to his parents. He's bor-ed. He's tir-ed! He feels useless and irritated and fed up with having nothing significant to do while you get to carry on with your career as the world's greatest high school teacher and soccer coach. How DARE I interrupt such an esteemed person since I'm just an unemployed, broke, whiny…"
He didn't get any further as his rant was interrupted with an arm grab and a series of several hard swats landing on his posterior. He didn't have time to register the smacks before he was just as suddenly pulled into a hug.
"E-NOUGH," Mark ordered firmly, feeling Connor jump at the tone. "Do you need more time with me? Is that what you're saying?" he asked as he held Connor solidly against him.
Connor's arms slowly lifted and wrapped around Mark's waist. There was a long minute of silence before his shoulders shrugged. "Yes…no…I don't know. I just want something to do, and I'm tired of being by myself so much while you're at work and I stay here just waiting for someone to call about my resume."
Mark hugged him a bit tighter. "I know, Connor-baby. I know you're bored. I fully believe you'll get another job before too long, but it sounds like maybe I need to get involved in keeping you busy until then."
Connor groaned in his arms. "Noooo," he said, another whine creeping into his voice. "I can entertain myself."
Taking a breath to not let the whine annoy him any further, Mark argued his husband's words. "You've spent the entire evening whining at me that you can't entertain yourself, so now it's my turn." He took a step back and eyed the younger man. "You're going to go get two things…a book you think you could stand reading for an hour for you, and the paddle for me."
Connor's eyes got big. "Maaarrr…"
Mark shook his head. "I highly recommend getting rid of the griping and whining. I've had enough. Go on now."
Head hanging and body tense, Connor went to the bookshelf first, grabbed a novel without even looking at it, and then trudged to the kitchen. Mark followed behind him and waited as Connor got the paddle from the top of the fridge. He held a hand out and Connor reluctantly placed it in his palm.
Mark didn't waste any time, although he knew he surprised his husband when he took a grip on the back waistband of Connor's jeans instead of bringing him over his lap. He turned the smaller man sideways, lifted the wooden paddle, and brought it down in five hard and quick smacks that brought Connor up on his toes. The last smack was followed by a loud "OW!" and a dance in place as his hands latched onto his butt and tried to squeeze away the sting.
Mark returned the paddle to the top of the fridge. "That was for the creator of the `National Whining Service'," he informed and then took Connor's hand and brought him to the office. He pulled a folding chair over and placed it next to his desk chair. "Sit," he ordered.
Connor sat…carefully. Mark sat next to him, put an arm across Connor's chair and kissed his cheek. His mouth moved to Connor's ear and spoke in a whisper.
"Beeeeppppp!! Top Radar has been tracking Whining Storm Connor. The worst is passed. The next hour will be calm and peaceful, followed by an extended period of cuddling which has a strong probability of hot and heavy sex…" He paused, grinning as Connor chuckled. "And with the night ending in comfortable temperatures under our covers."
Mark nipped Connor's ear. "Sound good?"
In answer Connor caught his lips in a kiss and then opened his book. "Get to work teacher-man, cause those hot and heavy storms approaching might get here quicker than you think."