Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Paradise Post #15-A


Notes: Another two-parter, I’m sorry!  I really will try to get the other part posted quickly.  I’m so behind…but at least you get some Cody to tide you over.

 

Title: Paradise

 

Part Fifteen-A: Baby, I Was Born This Way

 

 

***

 

The room after Miles and Garrett left it was uncomfortably quiet.  Cody sat still at the very end of the couch, pressing his lips together tight.  He didn’t want to look at anyone.  Daddy was upset and confused, the way he almost never was, and even though no one was speaking, everyone was angry.  Cody could tell.  They were twitching, mouths twisting, like the words behind them were fighting to get out.  Wyl had a hand on Robbie’s arm and his chin pressed to his shoulder, trying to keep him still.  Jack’s lawyer was huffing tiny breaths through her nose like one of the dragons in the holobooks Garrett had been reading with Cody.  He sort of expected puffs of smoke to come out.

Something was wrong with Garrett.  Cody knew as soon as he saw him when he came into the room, but he hadn’t said anything.  And as soon as Jack touched his arm…Cody shivered, and his daddy pulled him closer.  Garrett had hurt Jack, and now he was sick.  Maybe he was dying.  Cody knew that every time he got sick, his daddy was always worried that he was dying.  Normal people were stronger, they didn’t have to worry about that sort of thing, but maybe Garrett wasn’t normal too.  Maybe he was broken like Cody. 

Not broken, his mind reminded him.  Daddy and his teachers and all the therapists had told him that over and over after they left Grandma’s ship.  The first few years of his life that he remembered, Cody had known he was broken, because so many people had said so.  Then everyone had said he wasn’t, but he didn’t really know how to believe them.  If he wasn’t broken, why had they had to move away?  Why had Jack left them alone for so long?  Why was Garrett sick now, if Cody hadn’t made him that way?

“I’m sorry.”

Everyone looked over at Jack in surprise.  He was cradling his broken arm close to his side, wincing, but he was looking straight at Cody.  “I’m sorry,” he said again.  “I shouldn’t have grabbed you like that.”

“Damn straight you shouldn’t,” Jonah said, but he didn’t sound angry, just tired and sad.

“Don’t apologize,” his lawyer said crisply.  “You did nothing wrong.  It was that unbalanced man’s fault.”

Cody frowned at her.  “He’s going to be my daddy.”

“I sincerely doubt that at this point,” the lawyer said.  She sounded like Grandma when she had talked to Daddy, like she was the biggest and bestest thing in the whole universe and everyone else was just stupid.  “He’s clearly unhinged.  A man who can’t be trusted to self-medicate in order to keep those around him safe belongs in an asylum, not taking care of little boys.”

“He’s going to be my daddy!” Cody yelled at her, knocking that superior look right off her face.  He turned to his dad.  “Promise he’s going to be my other daddy,” Cody demanded.  “You can’t put him in a ‘sylum.  You said he’d be our family.”

“Of course he will be,” Daddy said, and the speed with which he said it made Cody slump with relief.  Daddy pulled him closer into a hug.  “He’ll get better and everything will be fine.”  He glanced over at Robbie like he was asking a question, but Robbie just shrugged, a little helplessly, like he didn’t know the answer.

“I don’t like you,” Cody said to the lawyer.  She looked unaffected, but Jack looked upset.  Good.  Cody stared straight at Jack.  “And if you let her take me away, I won’t like you either.”

Jack looked curious.  “You like me?”

Cody shrugged.  “I don’t really know you.”

Jack looked at Jonah, who sighed.  “Not like I’ve been poisonin’ his mind against you,” Daddy told Jack.  “You don’t come up a lot.  Didn’t come up, at least.  He had his memories and they were fine and that was it.  Reckon there’ll be a lot more to remember now.”

“Stop talking to them,” his lawyer advised.  “You’re in a position of strength.  Don’t compromise it for the sake of expediency.”

“We’ll see about that,” Robbie said from the door, his voice cold.  A moment later Miles came back in, followed by a doctor holding a med bag.

“Where’s Garrett?” Daddy asked immediately.  The doctor came around the table to treat Jack, but Cody ignored both of them.  Miles looked very serious.  That wasn’t good.

“He’s in the infirmary.  He’s sleeping.”

“As soon as my client is treated, we’ll be leaving to draw up the necessary papers and alert the local police to this incident,” Jack’s lawyer said.

“They have no jurisdiction here, the altercation took place in the Governor’s Mansion, which is technically a part of the Federation military presence in the capitol,” Daddy’s lawyer told her.  “Moreover, your client isn’t a citizen of Paradise.  His very legality here is in question at the moment.  Any and all repercussions for this interaction fall within the purview of the military police, not the civilian forces.”

“That is pure sophistry,” the dragon lady huffed, her face so tightly screwed up Cody thought she was on the verge of sneezing.

“You’d know if it were, your whole case is based on it,” their lawyer replied.  Miles stepped in before anything else could be said.

“Now is not the time.  We’re in the middle of a family emergency.  These discussions will continue tomorrow, at noon, here.”  He held up a hand before the dragon lady could even get out the first word.  “This is the most neutral territory you’re going to be offered.  The incident that happened today was regrettable, and I apologize for it, and for my son.  However, it has no bearing on the issue at hand.”  Miles’ face, which was almost always smiling when Cody saw it, was so stern and dark that he looked like a thundercloud.  “The issue at hand is Cody’s legal placement, his future and his happiness.  Compile whatever documents you want, but rest assured that we’ll be doing the same.”  He looked hard at Jack.  “I sincerely doubt your past is so pure that you’re safe from it, son.  Remember that when you’re thinking about what you hope to get out of this.”  He stood up and walked out the door.  After a moment, Robbie turned and went after him.

Claudia came into the room, without Renee this time.  She smiled and held a hand out to Cody.  “Do you want to come with me for a while, honey?”  She glanced coolly at the lawyers and Jack.  “We can leave the details to the grownups and watch a show.”

Cody looked up at Daddy, who gave him a little smile.  “It’s okay with me, bucko.”

Jack looked surprised.  “I used to call him that.”

“Well, I’d never hold a nickname against him,” Jonah said softly.  He unwrapped his arm from Cody’s shoulders and smiled again.  “Go on.  I’ll come find you soon.”

“Okay.”  Cody got off the couch and walked around the back of it, very conscious of every eye on him.  He took Claudia’s hand and they left the room, and it was like coming up for air after he’d dived really, really deep into a pool.  Part of him wanted to bury his face in Claudia’s side and cry, but he couldn’t.  He needed to make sure Garrett was sleeping okay.  Being in the infirmary sucked, and Cody sometimes got nightmares.  He always felt better when Daddy and Garrett were there with him, and he would do the same thing for Garrett.

Claudia was leading him toward the living room, but when she saw Miles and Robbie talking so seriously there, she diverted to the kitchen instead.  The remains of their cake party were still out on the counter, but just seeing it made Cody feel sick now.  “Do you want something to drink?” Claudia asked.

“No thank you.”  Cody sat on one of the stools and tucked his feet up so that his knees were right under his nose.  He shut his eyes tight and tried not to remember anything at all, not the noise of Jack’s fingers breaking or the way Garrett had swayed, like he was just about to fall over.

“Oh, sweetheart.”  Claudia’s arms came around him and held him close, and he gave in and held her back, hard.  She smelled so good, and was warm and soft.  Cody had never had a mom, but if he could have picked one he would have wanted someone like Claudia.  “It’s going to be okay,” she promised him.

“How do you know?” Cody asked miserably.  “Why is Garrett sick?  I thought normal don’t get sick.”

“I don’t really know,” Claudia admitted.  “I don’t know much about the details, but Miles does.  He knows what to do for Garrett.  He can explain it to you."

“When?”

“Right now.”  A new hand fell on Cody’s shoulder, and he turned and launched himself into Miles’ chest instantly.  Miles picked him up like he was little again and put him on his hip, and even though Cody was really too old for that, he let him do it anyway.  “Should we go and see him?”

“Can we?” Cody asked, wiping a stupid tear off with his palm.  “He’s not in…”  What did Daddy call it?  “Solitary?”

Miles smiled.  “You mean isolation.  No, he’s not.  We can get right up close.”  He turned his face and kissed Claudia, then started walking toward the infirmary.

“Where’d Robbie go?”

“He went to get something out of Garrett’s ship that he thought might help us with Jack.”

“Like what?” Cody sniffed.

“He’s not sure.  He’ll have to listen to it and then we’ll see.”

“Oh.”  They went a little further before Cody confessed, “I don’t want to live with Jack.”

“You won’t have to.”

“But I’m sorry he got hurt.”

“Yeah, me too,” Miles said with a sigh.  “I had no idea Garrett had let it get so bad.  He’s supposed to take his medicine every day when he’s travelling, and he forgot this time.”

“He was very busy,” Cody defended.  “He was always working or planning or helping me with my school work.  Daddy said he wasn’t sleeping enough.”

“I’m sure he wasn’t.  The last time this happened, he’d been awake for twelve days straight before he went in for treatment.”  The doors of the infirmary swooshed open for them, and Miles walked straight back to a private room.

“Why did he stay awake for so long?”

“Because his brain was sick,” Miles said.  Then they were with Garrett and Miles put Cody down, and he ran over to the bed and stared.

The surface of the bed had retracted beneath Garrett’s body, submerging him in stasis gel.  He wore a small respirator, and his eyes were closed.  A thin film rested over the gel, white and opaque, so they couldn’t see any of his body except for his face and his hands, which were elevated out of the gel on little pads.  Numbers kept popping up on the surface of the film over his chest, too fast for Cody to make out.  BP?  HR?  He looked confusedly at Miles.

“They let the doctors know how Garrett’s doing,” Miles told him.  “He’s mostly fine, but he’s going to have to sleep for a while.”

“So his brain gets better?”

“Exactly.”  Miles sat in one of the chairs to the side of the bed and took one of Garrett’s hands.  “You can touch them,” he told Cody.  Cody nodded and took the other one, which was warm, not like it had been the last time Garrett had touched him.

“He feels better.”

“Good.”  Miles smiled at him, and it was like Cody could finally recognize him again.  “Then he’s improving already.”

Cody sat in the other chair and kept holding Garrett’s hand.  “How did his brain get sick?”

“He was just born that way.”

Cody hadn’t known that.  “Just like me.”

“Exactly,” Miles said.

“And you couldn’t fix it?”

“Oh, it used to be much worse.  We fixed a lot of it, but we always knew that Garrett would have to be careful for the rest of his life,” Miles told him.  “It was very hard for him for a while.  Eventually we got to the point where he was mostly better, and he stayed better after that for a long time.”

“Until he met me.”

“This isn’t your fault,” Miles said, so firmly that Cody couldn’t drop his eyes.  “Not at all.  Garrett’s been responsible for himself for a long time now, and he knew what he needed to do.  He either forgot to do it or deliberately put it off and didn’t tell anyone, but that isn’t your fault, or your daddy’s.”

“Is he gonna get in trouble?”

“No.”  Miles looked down at Garrett now, and Cody recognized that expression.  He’d seen his own daddy look like that when he was with Cody, and even Garrett had a few times.  It was somewhere between love and stubborn.  “He’s not going to get in trouble.  Not the kind we can’t handle, at least.  I’ve got plenty to say to him about taking proper care of himself, though.”

“Don’t yell at him though,” Cody begged, because he knew Garrett hated that.

“No yelling,” Miles swore.  “I wouldn’t yell at my boy, not even when he’s being dumb.”

Cody looked down as he tapped his toes lightly against the rounded base of the bed.  “Are you glad that he’s your boy?  Even though he was born like this?”

Miles reached across the bed and tilted Cody’s chin up.  His eyes were just like Garrett’s, bright and blue.  “I wouldn’t trade him for anything.”

A little of the knot in Cody’s tummy dissolved.  “Me neither.”

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Paradise Post #14-B


Notes: Extra long and slightly trippy, which fits the mood but may surprise you going in, so be ready for it.  To all my American friends, Happy Thanksgiving!  To those in other countries, fuck it, Happy Thanksgiving to you also!  I give thanks for every one of my awesome readers.

PS-no one's perfect, not even my darlings.  But I promise to work things out.

 

Title: Paradise

 

Part Fourteen, B: Garrett Interrupted

 

 

***

 

 

The first part of the day was…tolerable.  That was the best word Garrett could think of to apply to it, and it didn’t cover the soul-deep loathing that he held for Kilroy Dechiara, a man he’d met all of once and who probably didn’t deserve to be thought about the graphically destructive ways Garrett was thinking of him, but fuck it.  He was exhausted, he was hopped up on too much strong coffee and his brain felt like it was moments from going offline or exploding into bright black pieces.  His vision literally hazed over with color at times, and his stomach roiled with nausea.  It had been so long since Garrett had had acute symptoms, he’d forgotten what it was like.  Apparently, it was like being poisoned.  Fabulous.

He had to hold it together though, long enough to get through the day.  Then he could confess, and then he’d take whatever punishment his fianc√© decided to dish out and finally he’d go blissfully unconscious for a while as the autodoc reset his hormone levels and put his brain back in order.  But first…game face.  He and Jonah and Miles sat across from Kilroy and his daughter Charlotte, and Garrett dug the fingernails of his left hand into his palm and reminded himself to keep his breathing easy and his face calm.  Calm.  It was all fine.

Kilroy was, admittedly, both scared and skeptical when he was brought into the Mansion.  He stared hard at Jonah and said, “So this is the way of things then, eh?”

“Not the way you think,” Jonah replied.  The tension in his voice was like a live wire, quivering and sparking through the air.  Garrett wanted to grab it and wrap it around his hands, and then hit that arrogant asshole of a Drifter in the face until he was quivering too.  He could see it all in his mind, and it made him feel better to have a plan.

“Sit down,” Miles said.  You didn’t talk back to Miles when he used that voice, and Kilroy and his daughter sat down almost before they could think about it.  It was like they’d been hammered into place.  Hammer voice…that was an interesting concept, actually, a sonic hammer that you could level against people who needed to be put down mercifully, although honestly, who really merited that?  Someone had certainly invented a non-lethal sonic hammer at some point, Garrett could look those specs up and make one for himself, he was good at that.  Then he could hammer the shit out of people who bothered his family and they’d back off without having to be dead or disfigured.  It was another good plan; he was really on fire right now.

Words happened, they passed through the air from mouth to ear, reverberated for a while and then came out again all rearranged.  Garrett tried to be attentive but honestly, who could really listen when you had the shapes of all those words to consider?  Trade, it was built like an old style ladder, climbing across nothingness until the next person swallowed it down.  Ha, food for thought.  Or thought as food.  Or something…what?

Kilroy looked dumbfounded.  That was a great word, heavy and rubbery.  Garrett keyed into what he was saying for a moment.  “Why in the sky would you offer us all of that?”

“Because you need it and we need you,” Miles said simply.  “Paradise is in a very brittle state.  A third party would help to defuse those tensions and give the populace another choice, and at the same time your people would have the option of a home base, and a way to expand your livelihoods without having to worry about being displaced.  As long as you didn’t directly aid in any terrorist activities, of course,” he added, and now his voice was hard again, the hammer voice.  It kind of hurt to hear, it was too much like anger.   “This offer is contingent on you behaving like law-abiding citizens and being willing to let us perform sweeps of your ships to prove it.”

“It’s a good deal, Kilroy,” Jonah said, and his voice was soft and persuasive and Garrett just wanted to wrap it around his aching head and let it muffle all the harsh light and loud noises.  Jonah had the best voice, drawling and affectionate and delicious.  It was warm and insulating, and in his mind Garrett stuck his hands into that honey-warm voice and let it ease their chills, because they were so cold that his fingers were practically numb.  In reality, his hands twitched a little but didn’t move from his lap.

There were more words following, debate, but it wasn’t trading blow for blow like Garrett had thought it might be.  It was more like grav-ball, with players getting mowed down every so often but generally getting closer and closer to the enemy’s goal until you scored.  That was good, Garrett could get behind that.  He watched his father and Kilroy gain a few meters, get struck back, gain a few more, and then suddenly the goal was there and something was being signed.  When had that happened?  Garrett hoped that he had at least managed to look like he was paying attention, because.  Not.  Happening.

Kilroy looked over at Jonah once the deal was gone, and his voice was oddly sympathetic.  “Jack’s going to come at you hard for this.”

“He already knows we’re not playing his game,” Jonah said, and when had that happened?  “He and his lawyer are on their way here.”

“Good luck with him.  He’s worse than a feral snipe over your boy.”

What the hell was a feral snipe?  Garrett immediately pictured a skinny, patchy little creature with oversized claws and fangs, hissing at him.  Then he pictured himself blowing it away into a snipe-shaped cloud of bloody particles, and felt better.

Kilroy and his daughter left, and the room seemed to take a breath as everyone sighed at once.  “Good.  That’s the hard part done,” Miles said.  “I’ll get the Gunny in here, he can go over what he’s prepared as far as a defense of your sole right to Cody.  You’ve only got an hour before Jack gets here with his lawyer, who is unfortunately rather biased against me as a representative of the Federation, so use your time wisely.  This could get ugly.”  He stood up and left the room.

Jonah lay back in his chair and kicked his legs out.  “I can’t wait for this to be over.”

“Me neither,” Garrett agreed.  “I was supposed to be tasting cakes with Claudia today.”

“Oh, hell.  I’ve been so wrapped up in Jack and Kilroy that I almost forgot about the wedding.”  Jonah smiled apologetically at Garrett and didn’t notice when his words took root in Garrett’s lungs and turned them to ice.  The wedding was the whole reason they were here, wasn’t it?  Really?  They had come to get married, and everything else had just sort of gone to shit after that, but getting married was still the big goal.  Not brokering living deals between two cultures, although Garrett supposed that was kind of, maybe, marginally important.  But that sort of thing happened every day, while Garrett had never ever been married before.  It was kind of momentous, if he said so himself.

“You did divorce Jack, didn’t you?” he forced out through chilly lips.  His lungs felt so icy it was amazing his breath didn’t steam in the air.

Jonah smiled crookedly.  “We were never officially married.  Couldn’t get my mama’s approval.  I didn’t think it mattered, when things were good.  And then it was too late to matter in the end.”

“Oh.”  Too late to matter.  Not good words.  Not applicable to them, but still not good.  Garrett wanted nothing more than to drag Jonah to the nearest official and get their marriage license, then wrap his fingers around Jonah’s hand as he signed the paper so he could feel the reality of the words. 

Jonah sat up a little.  “You look so tired, darlin’.  Why don’t you go catch a nap?  I can handle things with the lawyer.  Then you’ll be fresh for when we’ve gotta deal with Jack.”

Are you getting rid of me too?  Why was he trying to get rid of Garrett?  Had Jonah tired of him already?  “You don’t want me here?” Garrett asked, trying not to tremble.

“Course I want you here, but you look like you need sleep more.”

Ah.  A polite excuse.  Jonah didn’t want him here for this.  Garrett wasn’t being useful, he was distracting, he was stupid, he was useless.  “I’ll go.”  He stood up to leave.  Jonah stood up too.

“Wait,” he said.  He took Garrett’s shoulders in his hands and pulled him in close for a kiss.  Garrett inhaled and felt the ice in his chest melt with the warmth of Jonah’s breath.  He could still breathe.  His heart could still beat.  It wasn’t too late.  “I love you.”

“I love you more,” Garrett told him honestly.  “I’ll try to sleep.”

“I’ll come and get you before things get started.”

“Okay.”  Garrett left the room, passing Gunnery Sergeant Fred Bowman in the hall.  The gunny raised an eyebrow. 

“You’re not staying for the briefing?”  He sounded displeased.  It was like a smothering blanket had been thrown over the tiny happy flame that had just sprung up in Garrett’s mind.

Well, Garrett didn’t care about his displeasure.  He shrugged the blanket off.  “I’ve been told I need to sleep if I’m going to be useful this afternoon.”

Gunny eyed him.  “You do look like you need it.  But try to plan more responsibly in the future, won’t you?  This isn’t the sort of thing that one half of a couple should go through alone.”

“I’ll try to keep that in mind,” you arrogant son of a bitch.  Garrett kind of wanted to smash his arrogant face into the wall, but this was their lawyer, they needed him.  He just left and walked down the hall toward the kitchen, because he was tired but he knew he wouldn’t sleep, not now.  He stopped a little ways outside of it when he heard the noise coming from the room.  He could hear Cody in there, and Wyl, and Claudia and the baby.  They sounded, well, happy.  Not at all worried like everyone else seemed to be.  Garrett peeked around the corner and took a look inside. 

They were all eating…cake.  Lots of tiny samples were spread across the kitchen counter and they were eating them and laughing, and they looked perfectly happy, and wasn’t that something he was supposed to do today?

Jonah doesn’t want me in the briefing and Claudia doesn’t need me for the wedding.  Great.  He could have gone in, but that would have felt like crashing a party.  Instead Garrett turned around and headed back to his suite, but even once he was on the bed, curled onto Jonah’s half, he couldn’t sleep.  He knew he wouldn’t, but he couldn’t even relax.  Garrett felt superfluous to his own existence.  Superfluous…a fluid word, thin and slippery, a word tossed off the top of a very high, very important building that oozed at great speed down the slick sides, dissipating more and more with every second, until it was nothing but a glaze sliding into a foggy, bogged down oblivion. 

There was an uncomfortable starkness to the whole thing that Garrett couldn’t tear his eyes away from.  He didn’t even move the first few times someone shook his shoulder.  “Garrett?”  Soft voice, sweet sounds.  “Gare?”  Her hand was too gentle.  “Honey, it’s time for the meeting.”

“What?”

“Gare?”  Claudia sat on the bed next to him and brushed his hair away from his forehead.  “Jack Vendam and his lawyer are here.  You need to come to the meeting.  Jonah and Mr. Bowman are waiting for you.”

“I’ll be right there.”  He smiled for her and it must have been convincing, because she left.  Garrett stopped in the bathroom and ran a freshening cloth over his face.  He looked at himself critically, then added some foundation beneath his eyes.  There.  Now he looked like he had rested.  He left his room and walked back into the belly of the beast, and found Jonah there with the gunny looking better than Garrett had expected. 

“Hey, darlin’.”  Jonah took his hand and pulled him down next to him on the couch.  “They’re coming in.”

“Showtime,” Garrett said.  The sergeant snorted.  Garrett refrained from kicking him in the head, just barely, before Jack and his lawyer were shown in.

Jack was not what Garrett had expected.  He was tall and broad, good looking but in a simple, hearty way.  His curly hair was a dark mirror of Cody’s, but beyond that the boy could have been all Jonah.  He was also angry.  He was seething, quietly, but Garrett could see it in the set of his shoulders and the shallowness of his breathing.  He was probably furious at being turned on by Kilroy, and now this.  His gaze fell on Garrett, dark and calculating, and it felt like two knives being driven through Garrett’s eye sockets.  Tiny, tiny, super sharp knives.  Monofilament blades, too thin to see but big enough to do damage.

Jack didn’t speak.  His lawyer, a thin, hatchet-faced woman, did.  “We’ll be suing for full custody of the child.”  Boy, she went on the offensive fast.  Jonah stiffened in shock.

“There’s no basis of law for that,” Sergeant Bowman said immediately.  “Your client has willfully ignored his parental rights for the past four years, no child support given, no efforts to reach out to the child taken.”

“My client was denied his parental rights when your client absconded with the boy.”

“Your client knew full well the intention and destination of his former spouse and could have reached out to stop them or become a part of the process at any time.  He didn’t.”

The words continued.  This was no game, nothing cooperative about it like the last one.  Each sentence was a salvo at the other side, and Jonah and Jack just stared at each other, neither of them willing to give an inch.  Garrett sat still and absorbed the energy of the words if not the words themselves; they were too rapid and to spiky for him to latch onto.

A file was displayed on the table.  “Medical records,” Jack’s lawyer said briskly.  “Concerning Cody’s health while in the sole custody of Jonah Helms.  Three incidences of broken bones, two incidences of illness requiring hospitalization.  These are hardly indicative of a caring and competent father.”

“Cody Helms is a natural, he’s genetically prone to incidents like this,” Bowman fired back.  “Most children can be treated for minor injuries in an hour; for Cody recovery takes weeks, even months.  His father took appropriate medical action at each incident.”

“But the circumstances surrounding the very incidents themselves are suspect,” she argued.  “Letting a child with special needs run rampant on a Drifter ship?  This is the definition of neglectful parenting.”

“I’ve never neglected my boy,” Jonah said, and his voice was hardly above a growl.  “And anything you’re getting’ from that particular source isn’t reliable.  My mother and I aren’t on the best of terms.”

“And yet you stayed on her ship and allowed her to watch your child?”  The lawyer sniffed derogatorily.  “Yet another example of poor decision making.”

“Either she’s a credible witness or a useless sack of a person, you can’t have it both ways,” Bowman said irritably.

“We have other witness statements on their way in right now.  This is just a preliminary meeting.”

“Good, then we’ll have plenty of time to compile our own statements concerning your client’s utter lack of parenting skills and inability to be a decent human being.”

“Mr. Vendam has never been convicted of a crime.”

“That hardly makes him a model citizen.”

The lawyers continued sparring for a while before things finally ran out of steam.  Garrett was seeing a rainbow of colors in his head, all of them dripping down into his mouth and making it taste bitter, but then Jack spoke up for the first time, and Garrett refocused on him with needle point scrutiny.

“I want to see Cody.”

“No,” Jonah said immediately.

“I want to see my son,” Jack repeated.  “I’m entitled to take a look at the boy you’ve kept from me for so long.  Does he even remember me?”

“Not fondly.”

“Because you’ve been lying to him about me,” Jack bit out.  “I want to see him.  Ain’t leavin’ here until I do, Jonah.”

Jonah glanced at his lawyer.  The sergeant shrugged his shoulders.  “It’s your call.  It won’t set any sort of precedent, you don’t have to worry about that.”

“Jonah.  Please.”

The incongruity of the word coming out of Jack’s mouth was like a punch in the gut to Garrett, but it seemed to pacify Jonah.  He sighed.  “Fine.  Wait here.”  He left the room, and the lawyers began talking again, and Jack seemed to feel Garrett staring at him, and he stared back.  After a moment, he sneered. 

“You hardly even look like a man.”

“Mind your words, Mr. Vendam,” Bowman warned.

“He like you for your pretty face or for your money?”

“Be quiet,” Jack’s own lawyer warned.  Garrett was hardly bothered by Jack lashing out at him; honestly it made him feel better when the guy was being the enormous dick Garrett knew him to be, not someone worthy of Jonah’s consideration.  He didn’t say anything, just kept staring, and Jack shifted uncomfortably and finally looked away.

Jonah and Cody came in a minute later.  Cody was leaning into Jonah’s side, and he didn’t look happy to be here.  Jack’s face immediately changed though, becoming soft and smiling.  “Hey, Cody,” he said.

“Hi,” Cody mumbled, glancing over at the lawyers, then at Garrett.

“Can you come over here for a minute?  I just want to talk to you a little.”

“I don’t think so,” Cody said, even though he moved with Jonah as Jonah came back to the couch.  Jack reached out an entreating hand to him.

“Just for a minute?  You don’t have to sit with me, we can just talk.”

Cody looked down at his feet and mumbled, “No.”

“Cody,” Jack said, sounding a little exasperated now.  “I’m not gonna hurt you.  I just want to get a better look at you.  Come here.”  His hand closed the last few inches between them and clasped around Cody’s wrist.  Cody reflexively pulled back with a sound of discontent, and Garrett saw pure red.

That was wrong.  Jack’s hand on Cody was wrong, and so Garrett had to remove his hand.  He had to keep Jack from touching Cody.  In one smooth, fast move, Garrett reached over and grabbed Jack’s ring and pinkie fingers, the ones that allowed him to make a fist and close his hand, and broke them.  He didn’t even hear Jack’s howl or the gasps of surprise and dismay.  He reset his leverage, then broke Jack’s wrist, twisting it sharply to the right with a crack and bringing Jack down in a sprawling mess over the table.  Then he broke Jack’s elbow against his knee, just to be sure he couldn’t use the arm.  He thought about moving on to his shoulder, but then he heard the whimper.  Not Jack’s, he didn’t care about that, but Cody’s. 

Garrett looked over at Cody and saw his eyes were wide with alarm, and his lips were trembling.  He looked scared.  Scared of Garrett, and that was wrong, that was even worse than Jack wrong.  Garrett dropped Jack’s arm just as Jonah’s hands turned him around.  They gripped him too tightly, bruising.

“What the hell?” Jonah demanded.  His anxious eyes searched Garrett’s face, and Garrett felt the judgmental weight of them.  “What’s wrong with you, Garrett?”  That was a good question, an angry question.  Everything was wrong with him, apparently.

“Clearly this is an unsafe environment for the child!” Jack’s lawyer shouted as she helped Jack to sit up.  “We’ll be filing criminal assault charges in addition to—”

“No.”  It was the hammer voice, Miles’ voice.  He was at the doorway, had probably come running when he heard Jack scream.  He was staring straight at Garrett.  “My son needs serious medical attention and your client needs a doctor.  One is already on the way.  You are staying here because this discussion is far from over.  Garrett,” he moved in close, pushed Jonah’s clenching, painful hands out of the way and cupped Garrett’s face with his own.  “Son, when’s the last time you took your medication?”

“What?”  Garrett’s mind was fuzzy with shock, the reality of what he’d just done slowly seeping in.  Oh…oh no.  “What?”

“Your medication.”  Miles’ voice was soothing and cool, talking him down like he had during the Year of Togetherness, learning to live again after being institutionalized.  “When did you last take it?”

“Weeks ago.”

“Oh, Gare.”  His father pulled him close and brought their foreheads together.  “We need to get you to the infirmary.  We’re going to go now, all right?”

“What’s happenin’?”  Jonah didn’t sound angry any more, just confused, but Garrett still couldn’t bring himself to look at him.  “What’s wrong?”

“I’ll tell you later.”  Miles gently pulled Garrett through the crowd of people now in the room, away from Jonah and Cody, away from Jack and his pitbull, away from Wyl and Robbie and Claudia who were looking at him with wide eyes.  He kept his gaze on his father, the only one holding him together right now.  They moved slowly, Miles stepping backwards the whole way to the infirmary, keeping Garrett’s eyes occupied.  If he looked away, he would die, splintered into a thousand pieces.  He was sure of it.

“Come on, son.”  Garrett followed the eyes and the voice and the gentle hands, until he was laid back on a spongy bed.  Miles put restraints on his wrists and ankles, looking apologetic, but Garrett didn’t mind.  You couldn’t let a crazy person just go running around unshackled.  A hologram leapt into the air and said things, and made Miles look like he was in pain.  Garrett had to do something to make it better.

“I’m sorry.”

“I know.”  His father kissed his forehead.  “You have to sleep for a while now, son.”

“No, I can’t!”  Garrett tried to sit up, suddenly remembering what he had to do, but the restraints were already in place.  “No!  I have to tell Jonah something, something important…”  But what was it?  “There was something, please,” he pleaded with his father.  “I have to tell him.  He’s going to leave me and he won’t even know what I did to deserve it.”

“He won’t leave you.  He loves you.  You can tell him when you wake up, baby boy.”

“No…” Garrett felt drowsy and hated it.  He knew it was the medication the autodoc had administered.  “No, Dad.  Dad…”

“It’s okay, Gare.”  Through the stars flying across his vision Garrett could make out Miles’ face, still comforting, still watching him.  Watching him…Miles was here, he would make it okay.  He had never lied to Garrett before, he took care of him when it was bad.  “Go to sleep.  You’ll have a chance to make things better when you’re healthy again.”

“M’not…not right.”

“But you will be, son,” Miles promised him.  Garrett let the heavy solemnity of that promise draw him down into the well of unconsciousness.  There, at least, there was no more pain.

 

Thursday, November 15, 2012

Upcoming and Incoming Fics

Well hi!

First things first--there are lions (one cougar) and bears (a mama and three cubs) around my house this year.  No tigers, but we do have one huge elk, some marmots, and the resident herd of deer.  Crazy, there's so much wild kingdom around here right now.  Craaazy.  But cool.

Second, thanks so much to the people who participated in the Hurricane Sandy Story Auction on the Babes In Boyland blog.  The winning bid for yours truly came from SL Armstrong, which means I'm going to be writing some very edgy vampire fic for her soon.  I also took on a second story for another excellent donation, and this time I was asked for more Ferran and Jason (of Changing Worlds) from Ferran's POV, which is going to be awesome.  Awesome!

And lastly, I wasn't planning on bidding on the auction, but then K Piet made a remark on twitter that made me want a very particular sort of story, and she prompted me to bid to get it.  So...I did.  Which means that soon, I'm going to be getting me some priest kink.  Don't judge me for my kinks, people:)  You know if you could have one of your favorite authors write you absolutely anything you wanted, you totally would. 

PS, this isn't our elk, but he's just about that big.

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Paradise Post #14-A


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.

 

Title: Paradise

 

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.

“Hey, guys.”

“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.”

“I’m sorry.”

“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 fianc√©.  “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.

“Daddy!  Garrett!”

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...