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6190FIC: Thy Straying Youth (A Time for Every Purpose 9/10)

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  • Mo
    May 5, 2005
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      �I don�t want to talk to you.� Jake Patterson stood
      in the doorway, looking like he was trying to decide
      whether to shut the door in Adam�s face.

      �I know. I figured that out from how you hung up on
      me every time I called. They taught me to deduce
      motivation from people�s actions in journalism

      Jake looked like he might laugh in spite of himself,
      but got the twitch at the corners of his mouth under
      control and resumed scowling. They stood there for a
      moment looking at each other, and then Jake opened the
      door wider and gestured Adam in. The door opened into
      the living room of Jake�s apartment. �Sit down,� Jake
      said, managing to make the offer sound hostile rather
      than hospitable. Adam looked around at the options,
      and settled for one end of the couch. Jake sat down
      at the other end of it, turning to face Adam, his bare
      feet crossed under him. �What do you want?� he said.

      �I want to apologize to you.�

      �Yeah, right.�

      �Jake, I mean it. I flew all the way across the
      country to see you when you wouldn�t talk to me on the
      phone. Could you at least hear me out?�

      �What? Did your boyfriend give you a super-fast ride

      �I came by plane. I arranged for my friend Anjuli to
      take care of my son, and got the first flight I could
      get a ticket for.�

      �Your son. Ezra, right?�


      �Cute kid. I�ve seen pictures of him. Of course, I
      didn�t know he was yours at the time.�

      �I know.� He hesitated before continuing. �Jean-Paul
      and I are separated, at least for now. He moved out a
      few days ago.�

      �Am I supposed to feel sorry for you?�

      �No.� Neither of them said anything for a moment.
      Adam continued, �I didn�t know he was here. I still
      don�t know what happened between you and him, at least
      not all of it. I had no idea he�d even spoken to you
      until you called me. Jean-Paul told me nothing. I
      want to convince you that I wasn�t party to this,
      whatever it was.�

      �Then what are you apologizing for?�

      �I treated you shabbily. A year ago, and again when
      you started calling me recently. I�m sorry. I was
      all wrapped up in my own drama - my worries about my
      relationship with Jean-Paul, my regret about betraying
      him. I didn�t think about what I�d done to you. I
      owe you an apology.�

      �You didn�t do anything to me. It was a one-night
      stand. Don�t make a big deal out of it. You don�t owe
      me anything.�

      �I don�t want to make a big deal of a one-night stand.
      I�m not making a big deal of it, I don�t think. I�m
      recognizing that my behavior was... unethical and I
      want to apologize for that and try to make amends.
      Ethics is something that matters to me. Not just
      professional ethics,� he added. �Personal ethics
      counts with me, too. You were right to say so, to
      point out that I hadn�t treated you ethically, even if
      you were incorrect in the particulars of what

      �I do owe you something. I owed you something when we
      met. Yes, even when it�s just a one-night stand you
      owe something. I owed you kindness and honesty and
      respect. You gave me all of those. I didn�t give you
      any of them.�

      �I didn�t. Well, not respect, at least not all the
      time. I didn�t show respect for what you did and
      didn�t want to do. I was an asshole to you that
      night. A chemically enhanced asshole.� Jake looked
      away. �I haven�t taken any of that stuff since.�
      Then looking back at Adam, �I don�t know why I�m
      telling you that. I�m not deluded enough to think
      you�d care.�

      �I do care. I�m very happy to hear it. Jake, please,
      listen to me. We both got carried away. We both made
      mistakes. I focused afterwards on what I perceived as
      you having wronged me. I should have looked at my own
      role in all this.

      �After, when I called you to find out your... status
      and more about what happened that night, you still
      treated me with kindness and honesty and respect. You
      answered all my questions. You apologized sincerely
      for what you saw as your error. And I never did. I
      never thought about what I�d done wrong to you. I
      never even thought about having lied to you when we
      met. I never thought about the fact that you were
      willing to disclose your sexual history to me and I
      didn�t reciprocate. I never even asked you how you
      were. That�s not how I usually behave towards
      people.� He stopped for a minute, not sure how to go
      on. �I was an asshole to you. I�ve known that for a
      year, really, but I haven�t thought about it. I�ve
      taken the coward�s way out, just put the whole thing �
      and you � out of my mind. I don�t want to be like
      that anymore.� Adam lifted both hands, palms up, in a
      gesture of resignation. �I don�t know what Jean-Paul
      did to you, and I�m not apologizing for his behavior.
      I�m not responsible for his behavior. I am
      responsible for mine. And I don�t much like myself
      when I think how I behaved towards you. Even less
      when I contrast that with how you behaved towards me.
      You�re a better man than I am, Jake Patterson.�

      �It sounds better with �Gunga Din�.�

      �I won�t ask you to carry my water for me.� They
      smiled at each other briefly. Adam stood up. �Thank
      you. Thanks for letting me say that, for listening to
      me. I�ll be going now.�

      �Are you flying back tonight? Seven hours each way in
      less than a day?�

      Adam shook his head. �I would have, but I couldn�t
      get a flight until tomorrow morning. I�m going to go
      look for somewhere to stay. And find a toothbrush, at
      least, I guess,� he added. �I didn�t think to pack

      �I�m pretty sure I�ve got an extra toothbrush. Why
      don�t you stay? I can take you to the airport in the

      �Adam Joseph Greenfield! *What* is going on?�

      �Hi, Mom. So nice to hear from you. I�m fine,
      thanks. And how are you?�

      �Oh stop it. I don�t have time for pleasantries.
      What is going on? What do you think you�re doing?
      And where were you for the last two days? I called
      you at home and Anjuli wouldn�t tell me anything. I
      have to track you down at work? And I don�t even hear
      from you that Jean-Paul has moved out?�

      �I�m not going to talk to you about this. And
      Jean-Paul shouldn�t have either.�

      �Well, he didn�t, Mr. Know It All. He won�t tell me
      anything. And, believe me, I tried. I saw him in
      Westchester, when I was there about the Foundation.
      They want me to be a trustee.�

      �Yes, I know. Do you want to do it? I think you�d be
      great for that.�

      �Don�t change the subject. Jean-Paul would barely
      talk to me, won�t tell me anything about what�s
      happening with you two. And neither will Anjuli.�

      �So what makes you think anything is happening?�

      �I heard it from Charles Xavier. Who looks like death
      warmed over, by the way. What�s wrong with him?�

      �He has cancer.�

      �Oh! I�m sorry. I had no idea.�

      �He�s pretty sick.�

      �Is he going to be okay?�

      �I don�t know. And, since he�s sick, I�ll overlook
      the fact that he�s talking about my personal life, but
      he really shouldn�t have said anything to you.�

      �It wasn�t his fault. He had no way of knowing your
      own mother didn�t know that you�re separated from your
      partner. He didn�t know he was giving me new
      information. What is going on? What do you two think
      you�re doing? You�re not kids, you know. You�ve got
      responsibilities. You have a *child*!�

      �I�ve noticed, Mom. Look, this is between Jean-Paul
      and me. I *have* a child; I�m *not* a child. So stop
      treating me like one. When we have things worked out,
      I�ll let you know. We don�t know how we�re handling
      things with Ezra yet.�

      �Do you want me to take him for a while? I could come
      down there, take care of Ezra. Or bring him back here
      for a few days. Give the two of you time alone
      together. Maybe that�s what you need.�

      �No, Mom. Thanks. That�s nice of you to offer, but
      Ezra�s fine. I�m fine, too. Jean-Paul is fine.
      We�ll work something out. We�re both committed to
      parenting together. We are both committed to Ezra�s
      welfare. We have a temporary arrangement for custody
      and we�re talking.�

      �But what happened?�

      �I really don�t want to talk about that.�

      �What did you do? It must have been something awful.
      He loves you so much.�

      �Mom! I didn�t *do* anything. This is really none of
      your business.�

      �Then what did *he* do?�

      �None of your business. None of your business. How
      many times do I have to say that? This is none of
      your business. I�m not going to talk to you about

      �Did he do something with somebody else? Some other
      man? On one of his missions?�

      �I�m going to hang up on you, Mom.�

      �Look, he can�t help it. He�s so good-looking. I�m
      sure men � and women � are all over him all the time.
      Men are like that � they�re weak. Yes, yes, I know �
      you�re a man, too. But you�re different, Adam. Adam,
      even your father, may he rest in peace - �

      �Mom, I really don�t want to hear this.� <click>


      �Who was that?� Adam handed Hank, wrapped in a towel,
      to Anjuli, when she came back to the bathroom. He
      reached into the tub to get Ezra as well.


      Turning around with his son, Adam noticed her worried
      expression. �Is something wrong?�

      �They�re moving the wedding up.�


      �This Sunday instead of next month.� She paused, and
      added. �They�re worried Charles won�t make it if they

      �Can they do that?�

      �Well, they�re managing. At least there�s no hall to
      rent. They�ll just have it at Xavier�s, as planned.
      A smaller group, since not everyone will be able to
      make it. The minister had another commitment, but
      Jean�s mother came up with somebody else to perform
      the ceremony. The caterer couldn�t make it this
      weekend, either, but �Ro is organizing staff and kids
      at the school to cook.� She shrugged. �They�ll

      �It�s so sad.� Diapering Ezra, he added, �Is there no
      hope for him? Not even with the new stuff � MGC,

      She nodded. �I don�t know yet. He�s trying it. It
      might work; it might not. It might *have* worked if
      we tried it earlier. But we didn�t, because we didn�t
      have it earlier. We wouldn�t have it now if Scott
      hadn�t figured it out. I�ve been just kicking myself
      � why didn�t I ever think of this?�

      �Don�t, Anjuli. Just don�t. You can�t second guess
      yourself like that.�

      �If only...�

      �You can�t spend your life thinking �if only.� Maybe
      there�s a chance now. Maybe not. But driving
      yourself crazy over what might have been isn�t going
      to help anything.�

      They moved into the other room and continued getting
      their children ready for bed. �I told Sasha we�d all
      be there this weekend,� she said, after a while. �All
      five of us.� She brushed Hank�s fine hair. �Do you
      want to call Jean-Paul, or should I?�


      Sitting on the living room couch with his laptop, Adam
      was so absorbed in what he was writing that he hadn�t
      heard the door open. He paused as he finished a
      paragraph and looked up. Jean-Paul was standing
      there. Adam turned to Anjuli, seated across from him
      reading a journal. She gave him an �I had nothing to
      do with this� look, excused herself and walked out.

      �What are you doing here?� he said, as soon as she�d
      left the living room.

      Jean-Paul wasn�t sure what Adam�s tone meant. It
      wasn�t outright hostile. Maybe wary. He wasn�t sure
      how to proceed. �I miss Ezra,� he said.

      �He�s asleep. Please don�t go in there now. He�ll be
      up half the night if you do. You�re picking him up
      from daycare tomorrow. You�ll see him then.�

      �I miss you,� he added. Adam didn�t say anything. �I
      want to come home.� Adam shook his head but still
      didn�t speak. �Adam, I�m sorry. I know I was wrong.
      But I can�t believe you�d throw away what we had over

      �I don�t think this is the time or place to talk about

      �S�il te plait, listen to me.� Adam didn�t say
      anything. Jean-Paul sat down next to him and they
      looked at each other for a minute. �I love you. I
      want to be with you. Adam, I didn�t even do anything
      with him. Please believe me.�

      �I know you didn�t have sex with him.� Jean-Paul
      looked surprised. �Jake told me.�

      �You didn�t believe me, but you believe him?�

      �That�s right. He hasn�t lied to me.� Jean-Paul
      opened his mouth to say something, then thought better
      of it. Adam continued, �It doesn�t make any
      difference to me what you did or didn�t do with him.
      You lied to me, betrayed me. You went there to fuck
      him. I don�t know what changed your mind. Jake
      thinks you were playing some sadistic game or
      something. I don�t know. I have no idea what you
      were doing and I don�t even think I care. I know if
      you could do this after all we�ve been through this
      past year � after all you put me through for one lousy
      mistake � I just can�t be with you anymore. I can�t
      trust you anymore. What I did was wrong, I know it.
      But I told you, Jean-Paul. I didn�t lie to you.�

      �I know you did. I wish I�d told you. But I was too
      ashamed. And too confused.�

      �Well, I�m still confused. I don�t know what the fuck
      you think you were doing. I don�t know what you
      expected to happen.�

      �Did you call Jake to find out what happened between
      him and me?�

      �No, I called him to apologize for how I treated him.
      How I treated him on your behalf, Jean-Paul. I was so
      fucking scared that you�d think I was having an affair
      with him if I even *talked* to the man, that I treated
      him like shit. Now that I�m not living my life
      according to what Jean-Paul Beaubier thinks I should
      do, I realize how awful I was to him. I felt like a
      heel and I wanted to apologize for that. So I called
      him, and he wouldn�t even talk to me. He thought I
      was in on whatever your scheme was. I had to go there
      and plead with him to listen to me.�

      �You saw Jake?�

      �Yes, I did.� He said it defiantly, adding, �I don�t
      know that it�s the last time I�ll see him, either.�

      �Did you...? Are you...?�

      �I don�t feel like I need to answer questions from you
      anymore. Even if you decide how to finish them,� he
      added, ironic smile on his lips. Then, after a
      minute, Adam added, �I like him. You and I were both
      awful to him. He has every reason to hate me, but he
      doesn�t. He was willing to listen, to give me another
      chance. He�s willing to get to know me.�

      �He likes you a lot. I know it. He talked about you,
      before... When I met with him, for the interview, he
      said a lot about you. He said he wished something
      more had happened, that it hadn�t just been a
      one-night stand. He sounded very sincere. His
      interest is genuine, I�m sure. He seems like a good
      person.� After a pause, he added, �And he�s not a

      �Don�t give me that shit, Jean-Paul! That has *never*
      been an issue for me and you know it.�

      �I�m sorry. I guess it�s an issue for me.� Neither
      said anything for a while. �He�s from your world,�
      Jean-Paul added, finally.

      �What world is that?�

      �The Ivy League education and big city newspaper
      world. He�s smarter than I am, better educated than I
      am. He�s a journalist. He�s probably better in bed,
      too.� Jean-Paul shrugged and looked at the floor.
      �But I love you. I have loved you since before we
      even met. I�ve built my life around you for four
      years. I�ve taken your family as mine, your people as
      mine. We have a child together. All of that has to
      be worth something.� Adam began to speak but Jean-Paul
      stopped him. �S�il te plait, Adam, listen to me. I
      did a shitty thing, I know. I called him behind your
      back. I went to see him under false pretenses. I
      lied to you about where I was going.�

      �Why? Why did you do that?�

      �Because I didn�t believe you.� Adam started to
      protest but Jean-Paul continued. �I�m not saying I
      had any reason to doubt you. I just did. It was my
      own insecurity. I just couldn�t get the idea out of
      my head, the idea that something was going on still.�

      �It was a one-night stand! I don�t even remember most
      of it! I told you everything I know. I�ve given
      everything I can, done everything I can to make up for

      �Je sais. I don�t know why I couldn�t let it go. I
      just... I kept thinking if he�s calling you up all
      this time later something has to be going on.�

      �Yeah, something was going on. He was working on a
      story and he wanted me to give him Sasha�s number.�

      �I know that now.�

      �I wish I�d just called him back and found out that�s
      what he wanted and none of this would have happened.�

      �And it�s my fault you didn�t. You didn�t call him
      back because I insisted you have no contact with him.
      I�m sorry.�

      �What were you doing there?� Adam realized he was
      practically yelling. He looked towards Anjuli�s
      bedroom and then continued more softly. �Why did you
      go see him?�

      Jean-Paul shrugged. �I don�t know, really. I just
      wanted to know what he was like, who was this man
      who�d come between us.� Seeing Adam�s expression, he
      added, �Come between us because I let that happen,
      because I couldn�t just let the past be past. I know
      that. I knew it when I went to see him, too. I
      thought it would help or something. I thought it
      would give me closure when nothing else was working.
      I wanted to get over this, vraiment. I thought this
      would help me get over it.� He moved closer to Adam
      on the couch, touched his leg. �Adam, I�m not
      excusing what I did. I�m trying to explain, c�est
      tout.� Adam gestured for him to continue. �And then
      I met him. I wanted to hate him, but I didn�t. I
      liked him. I was jealous, bien sur, when he talked
      about you. But I liked him.�

      �And you wanted to fuck him?�

      �Oui. I was attracted to him. I don�t know why.�

      �I thought you�re never attracted to other men when
      you�re in love.�

      �It rarely happens. It took me by surprise. I was
      confused � so many different feelings. I was
      attracted to him, yes. I also was... hostile, still.
      To the idea of him, to the Jake Patterson I�d
      imagined, if not the real one in front of me.
      Jealous, angry. All these emotions at once. And when
      he talked about you, about how wonderful you are,
      about wishing he�d had a chance with you... It scared
      me. It made me think you�d want him more than you
      want me, if only you knew he was still interested. I
      just wanted to make that stop. I don�t know why I
      came on to him. I guess I wanted to see what he�d

      �And he said �yes�?� Jean-Paul nodded. �And then what

      �We went to his place. I kissed him � that�s all. I
      realized I was making a mistake and I stopped. I
      tried to explain to him, but I didn�t know what I was
      explaining because I didn�t know what I was doing!�

      �You told him about you and me?�

      �Yes. I told him that. That I love you. That we are
      a couple, a family. That we are committed to each
      other. I said I realized I was making a mistake. I
      told him Ezra is ours, that you and I have been
      together for years.� Jean-Paul took Adam�s hand. �I
      tried to tell him you had nothing to do with me going
      there. He wouldn�t believe me. I don�t blame him. I
      told so many lies. How would he know when I was
      telling the truth?� He looked down. �And I don�t
      blame you for not believing that I didn�t fuck him. I
      wasn�t honest with you. I�ve been acting like an
      imbecile and a lout.�

      �Yes, you have.�

      �But people are more than just one bad thing they do,

      �I�ve been trying to tell you that for a year now.�

      �I know. I wish I�d learned it. I know it now. Do
      you know it?� Adam didn�t answer. �I did an awful
      thing, but I�m not an awful person. I�m a pretty nice
      guy, hein?� He smiled at Adam, tentatively.

      Adam smiled back, in spite of himself. Jean-Paul felt
      encouraged, continued. �A pretty nice guy who loves
      you. I�m a better person in every way for loving you.
      Don�t take that away from me. Don�t throw away what
      we have. I�ll find some way to make it up to you.�

      Mofic Website: www.angelfire.com/comics/mo

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