Notes: I have rewritten the second half of this twice, and it’s still not quite right. I don’t want to give you crap, so this is the first half. I’m still beating—I mean, caressing the second half into submission. I’ll try to post it before another week goes by, though.
Part Fourteen-A: So Close, Yet…
It was the speed of it all that surprised Jonah the most.
In retrospect he knew he shouldn’t have been so surprised. Garrett was capable of incredible efficiency when he wanted to be, and he had to learn it somewhere. Apparently his role model was his father, and where Garrett was good, Miles was absolutely astonishing. Jonah woke up alone (again) and went to check on Cody, who was happily ensconced on his bed with Garrett watching a projection of the latest Space Rangers movie. Apparently they were fighting giant mutant frogs in a swamp ruled by a wicked sorceress. Well, someone had to do it.
“Daddy!” Cody turned happily and held up his arms. He’d been a little more clingy since the bug incident, which didn’t bother Jonah at all. Jonah sat down next to them and pulled Cody into his arms while Garrett turned off the movie. Cody was warm in his embrace, but when he took Garrett’s hand it was so cold it shocked him. “You been sittin’ in ice water, darlin’?” Jonah asked, only kind of joking at this point.
“I’m fine,” Garrett said with a smile. “Maybe it’s lack of sleep.”
“I noticed that.”
“Don’t be.” There was something anxious in Garrett’s demeanor and Jonah wanted to dig deeper, but Cody was demanding his attention.
“Daddy, I had fish for breakfast.”
“What?” He stared over at Garrett. “How’d he get fish? How’d you get him to eat fish?”
“They were Taiyaki, pancakes cooked in the shape of fish, filled with red bean paste,” Garrett clarified. “Claudia has a special pan to make them with, they’re a favorite where she’s from. We colored in the gills and scales with blue whipped cream.”
“Sounds like a pretty good breakfast,” Jonah said as he pictured it.
“The red was like guts,” Cody said gleefully. “And I pretended to be a shark when I ate it.”
“It was a good but messy breakfast,” Garrett added. “It required copious use of cleansing facecloths to recover from.”
“Yeah? Did you pretend to be a shark when you ate yours too?”
“Garrett didn’t have any,” Cody told him. “He said he wasn’t hungry.”
Jonah looked up at his fiancé. “Did you already eat?”
“Not long ago.”
“What does that mean?” Jonah asked, but Garrett just shrugged. “Maybe that’s why you’re so peeked now. You’ve gotta eat, darlin’.”
“I’m fine. I’ll eat a big lunch, I promise,” Garrett said with a dismissive wave. “So, I talked to my dad this morning about the situation.”
Jonah frowned. “Don’t you think that’s the sort of thing we should have done together?”
“You were sleeping. You were tired, sweetheart. I just wanted to get the ball rolling, and my father is the last person who would judge.” Garrett looked a little worried. “You’re not mad, are you?”
“Ma—no, I’m not mad,” Jonah said, and he really wasn’t. It was only, “I just don’t want you to take on too much of the responsibility for this. It’s something we should deal with as a team. You said it yourself, this is us, right? I know I don’t want to do it alone, s’why I told you about this mess.”
“Oh.” Garrett still looked worried. Jonah leaned across the bed and pulled him into a kiss. Garrett’s lips were soft and yielding, and it made Jonah want to take him back to the bed he’d been avoiding, but then Cody made a very pointed “ugh” sound. They pulled apart and looked down at Cody, who rolled his eyes.
“Can I get up now?” he asked. “The doctor said I could get up today. My fever is totally gone.”
“I don’t think that should be a problem,” Jonah said. Cody crawled out of his lap and bounded toward the door. Jonah watched him go, then turned back to Garrett. “So what did your dad say?”
“He’s preparing to offer Drifters an economic incentive to do business legally on Paradise. He’s got the framework set up already, it’s something he’s been thinking of for some time. He’s got an appointment to talk to Kilroy Dechiara later today. He’s also got a family practice lawyer on staff who’s collecting information that can help us once Kilroy and Jack break ways. Which they will, once my father is through with Kilroy.”
“That’s…wow.” That was a lot of doing in a few short hours. Jonah felt kind of superfluous. “What does he need us to do?”
“Be prepared to talk to Gunny—the gunnery sergeant, Fred Bowman, he’s our lawyer—and prepare yourself to deal with Jack once he gets here.” Garrett tilted his head. “Are you worried? You look worried.”
“About Jack?” Jonah leaned against the head of the bed and shut his eyes for a moment. “I always worried about Jack. That hasn’t changed. It’s hard because, while he hasn’t been a part of Cody’s life, he has…he’s a part of him, you know? He’s in Cody’s blood, he’s part of his DNA. He’s half of my boy. And I love every part of Cody.”
“You feel guilty.” Jonah nodded. Garrett sidled a little closer and leaned his forehead against Jonah’s. “You have a soft spot for him, and it bothers you. Of course you have a soft spot, he’s your son’s other biological father. But that doesn’t mean he has a right, legal or moral, to jam himself into your life now, yours or Cody’s. And he’s being an absolute bastard about it.”
“True.” Jonah opened his eyes and looked at Garrett. Their faces were only a few inches apart, close enough that Jonah could almost count the pale silver flecks in Jonah’s irises. “I love you, darlin’. You’re the best man I know.”
Garrett smiled weakly. “I’m not so great.”
“Of course you are.”
Garrett shook his head, then drew in a deep breath. “There’s something I have to tell you.”
“What?” Jonah stroked his fingers along the side of Garrett’s face. Garrett turned his head and kissed the trailing fingertips, but he looked tense. “What, baby?” Garrett looked at him in silence for a long moment, then opened his mouth.
The stillness of the moment shattered. They both turned to look at Cody. “What is it, bucko?”
“Grandpa needs you in his office, he says Mr. Dechiara is coming and he wants you guys to be there for the meeting, and there’s stuff you need to know first.”
“Tell him we’ll be right there, please,” Garrett said, pushing himself into an upright position. Cody nodded and ran off, and Garrett sighed. “I guess we’d better get a move on.”
“No, darlin’, tell me what you were gonna say.” Whatever it was, it was clearly eating at Garrett. “Just tell me fast, get it out.”
“It’s not the sort of thing that can really be told fast,” Garrett said wryly. “But don’t worry about it. I’ll tell you as soon as we can take a break. I promise.”
“I’ll hold you to that.”
“Good.” He smirked, trying to lighten the mood. “Sometimes I need a firm hand.”
Jonah nipped at his chin. “We’ll see later just how firm a hand you can take, baby.”
“Dad! Garrett!” Cody was back at the door, but this time he had his hands dramatically clapped over his ears. “Gross! Come on!” He ran away again, and this time his fathers followed.
Mmm, fishy delishy...