Are You Sure That We Are Awake? (Garatt/D'xon)

Laura Walker

The joy of knowing there was something you were meant to be getting early for was that it made it almost impossible to sleep in the first place. Garatt lay awake, trying desperately to think drowsy thoughts or just not to think but his brain was in full awake mode. If D’xon talked to M’ayen, then what would M’ayen do? If he could just write the essays fast enough, if, if, if..

Midnight and he was still awake, mentally rewriting essays as he fidgeted in bed. Two am and he was awake, by now conscious of just how late it was and how soon morning would be here. Four am awake and almost tearful with the desperation to just sleep and get some kind of rest before he had to be awake again.

And then it was 6am and people were up and moving around him and Garatt lay sleepily in his bed for a moment before it dawned on him like a slow nightmare that there was somewhere he was meant to be.

No amount of hurrying allowed you to dress in no time at all. Garatt threw his clothes on with desperate speed, his fingers all thumbs as he tried to button his shirt and drag a comb through his hair, yanking it through the curls as though it might make a difference.

He was still late - there was really no way to avoid being late at that point - and almost sobbing in panic as he raced in, breath heaving. “I’m sorry!”

“Faranth, boy, can’t you even manage to be on time?” D’xon asked from the classroom desk. He waved at a seat, far from impressed with the Candidate. “Sit down. Get to work.”

Garatt had had entire essays worked out in his head in the early hours. At 3am he was certain, he could have written all three in no time at all. Now though it was difficult to calm from that initial panic of ‘oh crap, I am late’, his stomach still turning queasily.

He stared at the paper, his mind a blank. Different roles inside a wing. What did he even know about that? Right now it felt like nothing at all. But D’xon was watching so he picked up his pen, trying to think. He could do this. Would do this.

His eyes hurt. Too little sleep, too long awake and they burnt, dry and sore with tiredness. He blinked and blinked again, fidgeting in his seat as his pen scratched at the paper, trying to move enough to stay alert.

But if he just closed them a minute they would hurt less. Just for thirty seconds, and his hand knew what it was writing anyway, though his usual neat handwriting became more of a scrawl, the line he was writing sloping abruptly downwards.

D’xon had saved some of the sharding homework to grade for the morning so he’d have something to do. He half kept an eye on the boy while he worked. If he was going to be up that early, then he was going to make sure that Garatt at least did what he was supposed to.

The eyes closing and pencil running down the piece of paper didn’t go unnoticed.

“Wake up!” he snapped. 

Garatt’s eyes snapped back open, hand jerking in startlement. He stared in dismay at D’xon, and at the mark the pen left across the half-completed assignment.

“That’s better,” D’xon said in a less harsh voice, but still was obviously unhappy. “I’m not here to watch you sleep. I could be in my own bed for a few more minutes if I didn’t have to be here. I’m doing you a favor with doing it now. So stay away, feck it.”

“Yes sir.” The line across the paper probably wasn’t going to make it worthy of handing in. Garatt tried not to sigh and started again.

If you couldn’t remember anything about a subject and wanted to stay out of trouble, write big and be wordy. It wasn’t a way to write good assignments but time was already running down and he had three (three!)  essays to write. So he worked diligently, copying out the last attempt and adding in every extra descriptive and bridge word he could think of.

“I’ve done the first one, sir.”

“Hand it up here,” D’xon said, sounding bored as he held out his hand without bothering to look up. He wasn’t expecting much from the paper.

Garatt got up to hand it over, returning back to his seat. Next paper to start...

D’xon read the paper and grew angrier by the second. “Didn’t I say not to mix in different information?” he asked. “Do you need to go back to the remedial classes for Candidates that have never learned to read and write before? Because I’m pretty sure even they would do better than this. You’re next essays had better be better and you’re rewriting this again tonight to be handed in first thing in the morning.”

“I--” Faced with an angry ACM Garatt went red again. “I couldn’t remember anything else,” he said in a small voice.

“So use your notes.” Feck this boy was dumb. “This isn’t a test. But don’t talk to others. If you took good enough notes, you should be able to use this on your own.”

“...I didn’t bring them.” He hadn’t thought to snatch them in the panicked dash first thing this morning. There were two more essays to write and it couldn’t be that long until breakfast. 

“Then. Do. It. Tonight.” Was this kid deaf, dumb, or just feigning oblivious? Either way, D’xon was less and less convinced that Garatt was a good choice for Standing. “Hurry with the other two or you won’t get breakfast.”

There were two hours detention already tonight, and then all today’s work and-- he was just never ever going to catch up. With anything, ever. Garatt ducked his head to start the next essay but his shoulders were shaking and he was blinking back tears. There was a sniff, and then another one as he tried to make a start.

And weak, too. What was so hard with what he was asking. He rolled his eyes. “Fine. Do it in detention tomorrow morning. If you can do a better job on the other two essays.”

Another detention tomorrow morning now. Already Garatt could see another rolling series of detentions stretching out in front of him, filling the mornings as M’ayen stole his evenings. The sniff turned into a gulped sob and he pressed his hand over his mouth, trying to muffle it, trying to make it stop. 

D’xon sighed. He didn’t want to watch or listen to a boy cry over his work. “Go back to your cot. If you can get your other two essays done today, I will let you get your other essay done tomorrow morning at your cot. No breakfast unless you get it done. Get one of your friends to bring back a roll or something.” He wasn’t a complete hard arse, but he didn’t want to let the boy out of the work either. “And get over this crying stuff. You’re supposed to be a man. If you think this is bad, you’ll be sorry if you ever Impress.”

“Y-yessir.” He hadn’t used to be the type to cry so easily. Suddenly though it was as though the slightest thing brought on uncontrollable tears. He gathered his stuff together, still trying to sniff them back.

“Very good,” D’xon said. “I think you can do this. You just have to work at it.” At least he hoped that the boy was capable of better if Garatt had any chance of staying in the program.


Blackadder: I mean, what about the people that do all the work?
Baldrick: The servants.
Blackadder: No, me; *I'm* the people who do all the work.