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Goodnight Little Monkey

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Jeremy could say, with a fair amount of ease, that he was used to James being at times irked with him. That of course was a bit of an understatement to say the very least but he'd learned to cope with the fact that among the three of them especially it was all but inevitable.

It didn't pain him much to say that it didn't bother him. Sometimes even there was a bit of a glee with making the other Brit angry with him. But he wouldn't admit that out loud. No, he was certain that fact went without saying for all persons involved in their relationship. It was the way of it.

However if there was one thing he never expected James May, his long time lover of a neigh nearly two decades, to be irritated at him about was his parenting skills. In fact, before Richard's accident, everyone had had their respective partners and children and that was well and the end of that. Them being parents had been well and separate from all their jibes. Mostly.

But arguing with James about something involving parenting over Richard? Not something he'd ever seen coming.

“What you did back there was completely uncalled for and I suggest, no I demand you go back to our campsite and you apologize to Richard. Are you daft man?” he continued, struggling to keep his voice down so that the man in question they were discussing wouldn't overhear. And he lowered his voice still further, taking some angry steps towards Jeremy – seemingly far from finished with his rant. “When he regresses he has a mind of a toddler. Do you realize the amount of damage you could do to him when he's like that? The way we tease and joke with each other is an aspect of our relationship that has no business being mixed with Richard and age play. Absolutely none. And it's more than just that Jeremy! You know he can't control when he regresses sometimes. That's not just play. That's his mind for god's sake.”

A moment of silence fell as James lost some steam momentarily, Jeremy himself feeling properly chastised. And it annoyed him. He didn't like to admit when he was wrong or to feel this badly about it. But he agreed with James and he regretted it now more than anything. Richard was terrified of insects. That was more than ample fodder between them when he was in a 'mature' state of mind. He'd crossed lines though tonight that were unacceptable, breaching an amount of trust that he could have very well destroyed. And suddenly he felt a bit sick with it all.

James opened his mouth, drawing in a breath for what seemed to be a continuation of his previous rant – but Jeremy quickly held up a hand. “No... no James you're right. Of course you're right.”

James stared at him a moment as if he were trying to figure out if Jeremy was joking with him or not so Jeremy took that opportunity to take in a breath of his own – reaching up with a hand to rub at his forehead. “You're right and I was stupid and dear god I don't know what I was thinking.”

“You have to apologize to him.” James said quietly, but his tone was softened. “And you have to promise me that you'll never do anything like that again.”

“You and Richard both and I will James, I'm sorry. I promise.” Jeremy let out another breath roughly and ran his hands over his face, mentally preparing himself for an overdue apology and some damage control. He turned a look up at his fellow Top Gear presenter, noting that while James still looked a bit upset – he'd forgiven him already. Jeremy wasn't sure he deserved that much, least of all from Richard, but he was hoping for it. And grateful at least for James' reluctant forgiveness.

Straightening and letting out another breath, Jeremy started for their small camp – set away from the rest of the cast and crew more for filming than by any actual distinction between them and the rest of their cast mates. Most of them were practically family by now and while they knew of their relationship – Jeremy, James', and Richard's – only Andy knew about Richard's occasional age regression. He didn't know a thing about the age play though and separation was just plainly needed.

“Richard?” he asked as they stopped outside their younger lover's tent.

There was a sound of movement from within, a sleeping bag rustling, and then a more than awake voice replied. “Yes?”

James shot him a look and Jeremy felt, again, properly scolded. He'd been a bad parent, letting a younger child watch a movie too scary before bedtime although in this case it was a book he'd read to him about all the ways insects could kill a person in the rainforest. He probably couldn't feel more like a dick if he tried and when Richard finally slept, Jeremy would later no doubt wake up with a tentative regressed version of him later that night outside his tent door. No what was more painful is that he'd probably stay in his own tent, too afraid of the bugs outside to leave it, and spend the rest of the night trying not to fall back asleep.

“Richard will you let Daddy in? We have to talk about something.” Jeremy asked, pitching his voice different from the norm and silently pleading for the regressed tone of his lover in reply as much as he felt like he probably didn't deserve that trust right now. But he couldn't think that way, he couldn't feel that way. He wasn't going to let anything like this happen again – certainly not like he had or in any way for that matter.

He didn't really get what he was wishing for but the tent did start to unzip after a second's hesitation, his lover's large brown eyes blinking up at him from inside.

Richard had moved away from the entrance so Jeremy took that as a sign that he could come in, bending his considerably tall frame through the opening of the tent and stepping carefully in, James close behind him. Both of them were well aware that every square inch of the jungle was crawling with insects and neither one of them were too keen on letting any of them in, James quickly moving to zip up the tent door closed behind them.

“Richard, baby?” Jeremy asked, reaching out and touching his knee as he moved to sit close beside him. “Daddy... did something tonight that was absolutely inappropriate. It was wrong. It was mean and it was cruel. That story I read to you tonight by the fire?”

Richard noticeably cringed a bit and Jeremy winced, James giving him an 'I told you so' look that Jeremy accepted with a slightly baleful expression he hoped beseeches forgiveness as much as he was trying to fix the situation.

“I'm sorry. That was uncalled for and it wasn't nice. It was very, very wrong and it was incredibly stupid of me and I'm very, very sorry. I promise I will never do anything like that to you again, ever. It's wrong to tease someone isn't it?”

Richard nodded, turning those big brown eyes up at him from where he sat crossed legged beside him.

“Yeah.” Jeremy agreed, “It is. And I'm sorry. I really am baby. I'm very sorry. Can you forgive Daddy?”

Richard actually hesitated a moment and Jeremy found himself holding his breath, heart skipping a beat in his chest. He'd really hurt him, scared him, and in his regressed state that was unforgivable with how much trust he placed in him. Jeremy absolutely couldn't feel worse and if he couldn't forgive him, so be it. He didn't feel as though he deserved it.

But Richard, bless his gentle, forgiving soul, surprised him by moving to crawl into his lap a painful second or two later – opening his arms to bring them around his neck. Jeremy let out a breath that was largely relief, wrapping them around his lover and bringing him close as the smaller man crawled into his lap to settle between his legs.

“Of course I forgive you, daddy.” he whispered against his neck and Jeremy reached up, caressing long brown strands – pressing a kiss to the side of his face.

“Thank you sweetheart. I promise I'll never do that again.”

“I love you.” Richard murmured and Jeremy caught James' eyes, his previous expression having dissolved into a smile he suspected awhile ago.

“I love you too baby boy.” Jeremy said, pulling Richard back just enough so that he could look at him – still keeping him in his lap and in his arms, despite the protest of one of his legs – which was already going numb. Richard might be a small man but he was still a man, even regressed like this, and Jeremy had to shift a bit – settling him a bit more properly. “Now.” he said to his lover, “How would you like a proper bedtime story?”

“Please daddy?” Richard asked, eyes big in a way that was impossible to refuse. Jeremy often thanked whatever deity would listen that, despite being an arrogant you know what who certainly knew how good he looked, he was as of yet unaware of that look. The big, all brown eyes and innocence look that could probably get him a pardon from the queen herself.

Richard yawned suddenly and despite looking awake, that was a give away as any that he was just as exhausted as they all were – Jeremy smiling and chuckling. “Maybe just a short one.”

“I'll go get a book.” James smiled and even though he was tired too, he turned to the tent door and made to unzip it.

“Ooh how about Day Monkey, Night Monkey?” Jeremy asked.

“Who's the toddler again?” James asked over his shoulder but it was with a smile.

Both Richard and Jeremy said to each other at the same time as they pointed to one another. “He is.”

Jeremy smiled and Richard dissolved into a more boyish grin, though not by much, and Jeremy reached out to tickle lightly at his sides.

“You two...” James heaved a breath as he pulled himself out of the tent, “Were made for each other.”

“Eee James the bugs!” Richard shrieked and James quickly moved to zip up the tent.

“Sorry! Sorry. I'm shutting it now.”

James returned later with Richard's baby bag, which they'd nicknamed the Top Gear Bag or TGB for short. No one asked. The dog had received the same lot and the crewman didn't question anymore their ways or antics. All the better too.

“Here you are.” James said, handing him the book and sitting down beside them – just a bit of a distance away on the other side of the tent. And in Richard's tent, just a bit of a distance away was easily only a foot. He set the bag down beside Jeremy and gave them a bit of a look that border lined on sheepish. “I'd like to stay.”

James was never as comfortable as Jeremy to take care of Richard like the other man did. But he often watched on and that made him feel apart of things just as much as if he were doing them. To them it meant the world that he was just there. They understood that with matters of the emotional sort, James wasn't as easily able to receive or to give for that matter. Richard had never felt slighted. Even regressed or during their age play sessions he was remarkably understanding – never pushing James past any limits. He always tried to be a 'big boy' around his other lover when he could in that state of mind.

“Okay.” Jeremy said, tone soft. Richard was already settled in his lap with his back to his chest – eyes focused solely on the book Jeremy was holding in front of him as he opened to the first page, eyes full of child like wonder and fascination. He had the look of the 'fixated toddler' as any proper toddler did when faced with a book, children's program, or an avid storyteller.

“The moon shown down on the jungle. Night Monkey climbed up the tree. He clambered and leapt to where Daddy Monkey slept, and whispered. 'You can't catch me!'.”

James expression softened into a further smile, unable not to feel lulled by the two men in front of them – his heart swelling with love. Jezza really was a remarkable father. He could also read a child's book like nobody's business and the thought made James smile still further.

Jeremy finished the second page and turned it, drawing in a breath to continue as Richard watched avidly on.

“'Help!' Cried Day Monkey, 'Flying mice! Or maybe I'm wrong and they're rats.'” Jeremy turned towards the other side of the page, “'Don't be daft.' Night Monkey said, 'Haven't you ever heard of bats?'.”

Richard's thumb had wandered up to his mouth and as Jeremy turned the page, he switched to holding the book with one hand and reached with the other for the baby bag beside him. “'Stop!' said Day Monkey, 'Listen to that. They're sawing the trees into logs.'”

James reached out to help him, noticing he was reaching for a soother and placed it into his hand. Without missing a beat with the story, Jeremy reached up and gently touched Richard's arm down – encouraging his thumb out of his mouth and reaching up to put the soother in it instead.

Richard quickly took it, eyes big as he suckled and watched the book intently, as tuned into Jeremy as James had seen him in a long while.

“Night Monkey laughed and said. 'Don't be daft! It's only a chorus of frogs.'”

Richard lasted nearly to the end of the book but he was fading quickly, James himself covering a yawn with his hand – smiling as he watched his two lovers.

“And now Night Monkey sleeps in the daylight and Day Monkey sleeps in the night. But now and again at sunrise when it isn't quite dark and it isn't quite light –” Jeremy turned the book to the last page, Richard's hooded eyes watching from Jeremy's arms, “They share a bunch of bananas half way up a tree. Day Monkey calls it breakfast. Night Monkey calls it tea.”

Richard punctuated the end of the book with a yawn that made his soother fall out of his mouth and onto his lap and Jeremy grinned down at him. “Time for bed little monkey.” he whispered, stroking a large hand over the top of his head.

James smiled, taking the book from Jeremy with movements that were slow and easy – not wanting to rouse Richard or catch his attention. Jeremy meanwhile settled the soother back into his mouth and started to move from behind him – keeping his hands on the smaller man to make sure he didn't fall over with the lack of support from his bigger body.

Supporting his head as he laid him down, James parted Richard's sleeping bag so that Jezza could settle him inside – the bigger man doing so with as much care as he'd give an infant.

It was too hot to zip it up so he reached out and caressed a hand over his shoulder, “Love you baby. Sleep tight.”

Don't finish that phrase. James silently begged him, relieved when the other man didn't.

“Good night Richard.” James whispered, gently squeezing his shoulder and moving to leave.

Jeremy kissed Richard's head and smoothed back his hair before doing the same but he followed after picking up the book and baby bag – leaving him with the soother to have while he slept. They usually fell out sometime during the night anyway or were replaced by his thumb.

It was hard not to feel like parents as they straightened their backs from bending through the tent doorway and zipping it behind them, joints creaking and weary bones popping. It was also hard to fight back the satisfied feeling of a job well done in the parenting department, casting a look over at his lover that said many things. They loved Richard, with all their heart. And both had said before that while his age regressions had at first been a terrifying and unknown thing – now they, along with the age play, fulfilled a big part of their lives they never knew they'd been missing.

But with all their children quickly approaching eighteen and the baby and toddler years far behind them – it was hard not to miss it. But it was something one didn't miss until one realized just how much they had been. It had been that way with Richard.

Jeremy nudged James shoulder gently, rousing him from his thoughts. “Come on.” he murmured quietly with a smile, “Let's try and get some sleep.”

Looking out at the vast jungle and all that it still had yet to throw at them – James wasn't going to argue at all with that.

FIN