How The Hell Do I Do This?


graeme_icon.gif jared_icon.gif

Scene Title How the Hell Do I Do This?
Synopsis Graeme has had a shock and comes looking for support.
Date May 27, 2013

Kansas Bunker

The coming of dark is when Graeme typically arrives. The fighting is still widespread, and there's a lot of work to be done out there. But even with work to be done, there's books to be delivered, and a bit of a respite to be taken from living with little sleep and the need to constantly watch one's back. It is a little bit after he's arrived that he's cleaned up and re-emerges into the dining area.

The laughter of small children in the other room brings a smile to Graeme's face… and a pause, and Graeme takes a slight involuntary breath in, shakes it off and goes to get himself a glass of water. —

Jared must have cooking detail tonight — he’s the one in the kitchen while Harmony plays with the twins on the floor in the other room. At just under 18 months old, they require constant supervision, of course. With a towel thrown over one shoulder, the older man seems quite at home in the kitchen. There’s a mixing bowl in his hands that he’s just putting into the sink when Graeme arrives in the kitchen, and he grins. “Feel better?” That shower after being on the road a while is always nice. There’s a minimum amount of water in use for washing dishes. It’s amazing, but the well is still running, so they actually have running water and things, though the electricity can be a bit spotty at times.

Returning to the pan where biscuits appear to be ready to throw into the oven, Jared picks it up and puts it in, then leans on the counter. “Nothing fancy tonight, but it’ll be hot,” he offers, drying his hands on the towel from his shoulder. “How was the trip in?” He always asks. Every time.

Graeme takes a few sips of water before it gets set on the counter with a nod. "Nothing too bad," Graeme says. It's an honest answer, but it's tellingly lacking in the details that sometimes happen, small bits and pieces like seeing wildlife that the former teacher often finds important enough to share. The lack thereof means that there was likely some amount of violence in which Graeme found himself forced to participate. Not that he shows physically any worse for the wear. "There's still a lot of fighting going on." There's a distant look for a moment.

"Wars never end quickly," is the next observation, "or quietly."

The mood, such as it is, is shaken off, and he says. "But Minnesota's been quiet." There's a quirk of expression for a moment. "Not sure I have as much hope for when I get to my place down in New Mexico," Graeme continues, and then his teeth catch on his lower lip. "What the fuck was I thinking," is murmured under his breath. But it's not so much under his breath that the older man can't hear.

"Actually," he says, "I didn't stay long up in Minnesota this time." He lets out the breath, and shakes his head distractedly for a moment, and changes the subject back to food. "It looks good," Graeme says, watching the oven for a moment. Though really, he's notoriously easy to please with food.

A brow quirks up at the corner of his eye when Jared catches the castigation, but it’s more his mstyle to let silence draw out whatever the younger men of his acquaintance are het up over. Setting the towel on the counter, he moves to grab plates. “Set the table,” he instructs. Invariably something to occupy the hands gets their mouths running eventually. “Dinner is chicken and dumplings, with extra biscuits. The old hen bit it.” So they’re gonna eat her.

Graeme goes to the cabinet, getting down a pile of dishes to take over to the table, including the less breakable sorts for the twins. He'll return the extra ones after he's done, but setting the table is a chore that he can manage. Next comes silverware, and it's as he's grabbing this that he speaks again.

"It's still a hell of a load of crap out there," is what he says first. Then a question. "When did you find out you were going to be a father?" Which at least halfway explains that. Followed by another question, quieter. "Were you scared?"

"Because… I'm terrified." And for Graeme to admit that at all, let alone out loud. Well. The extra dishes are put back into the cabinet, and Graeme falls silent, watching Jared. —

The older man continues with the last of the preparations for dinner as Graeme sets the table, and when the questions come, he doesn't seem surprised. Or if he is, he keeps it to himself. Stirring the pot one more time, he calmly sets the spoon down and moves to lean on his hands on the counter.

“Terrified did not quite cover it, I think,” Jared admits. His blue eyes are thoughtful and he thinks back. They were happy times, if the small smile is anything to go by. “Carina and I weren't planning on that quite then. But…” He shrugs. “It happens when it happens, you know. She told me one night after we went to bed; she said she didn't want to see my face if I was mad. She was pretty afraid, too. I think we both probably spent the first half of her pregnancy waffling between abject terror and a wary kind of excitement. The last half there was also a sense of minor dread… who the hell did we think we were, to think we had any business being anyone’s parents? We didn't know anything about kids!”

He laughs at the memory. “Liz’s mother was a crack-up. She told me in the delivery room, ‘don't worry so much — if we break it, we can make another one!’” He snorts his amusement and meets Graeme’s eyes. “And then they handed me this tiny morsel of a human, and she was … impossibly small. And she yawned and opened her eyes. And I knew we'd be okay. You will be too.”

Graeme lets out a slow breath, and listens with quiet nods interspersed. "Remi's so independent," Graeme says, the mention of the former ballerina answering the probably not difficult to answer question of who is the other party in this having a kid thing, "it's hard to tell how much I should be there. And should aside, it's just hard." He lets out a breath. "And there's…" Shakes his head. "We're friends," he explains, "that's it. Nothing more, but now there's this and."

"And shit." Not that the younger man sounds upset by the concept of fatherhood, just overwhelmed.

The water is picked up again and Graeme takes a sip, and looks at Jared. "There's a war out there. How'm I supposed to bring up a kid in all that? Shield them from it. Have…" It trails off once again, and then Graeme sets the water back down. "We certainly weren't planning on it. Hell, ninety-eight percent of the time I'm not even into women." And yet, it still happened.

Jared chuckles. “You got any idea how many babies there are born during and at the end of wars, boy? Because shit just happens?” He shakes his head. If he has an opinion on all the friends in this place who have babies together, he keeps it behind his teeth. The part about not being attracted to women most of the time is not exactly a shock; he had wondered. But not his business either. “All a kid needs is unconditional love, reasonable boundaries, and consistent expectations, Graeme. You raise them the same way people have raised kids since humans existed — you teach them what you can, and you hope you taught them enough to survive on their own. It’s… the hardest thing you’ll ever do. But you won’t really understand that it’s also the easiest thing you’ll ever do til you get there.”

He looks at Graeme, his shoulders a little hunched in as he leans forward on the countertop a little, and he confides, “Elisabeth? I’d like to tell you she’s my greatest accomplishment. But that’s really not accurate. Because although I taught her a lot of things, the things all of you are drawn to? The things that are important? They were already in her. I just helped her hone them, tried to nurture what was already there. I… can’t take credit for any of that, Graeme. You’ll understand what I mean the first time you look at your child. They are already in there… they just need help from someone who loves them so they can become whoever they were meant to be. And I’m pretty sure you’ll do fine at that part.”

There's a hint of a smile, and Graeme says, "She always gave you a lot of credit, in any case."

And he sees why. Graeme values these occasional conversations he gets to have with Jared; there's a thoughtful nod as he considers what the older man has said and quietly adds, "Thanks. I hope so… I didn't exactly have the typical childhood or anything. I was adopted when I was ten. So… I don't really know much about kids, aside from what I've learned these past years as friends have them." He lets out the breath that he'd been unconsciously holding for a long moment, and turns the water glass in his hands a little, setting it down to move over to a cabinet to get glasses to put to the table.

"It's another reason to fight to make shit less fucked up, if absolutely nothing else." Graeme purses his lips a minute. "I'm evo, and so is Remi, odds are any kid of ours will be as well, and I'll be damned if the way things are…" It trails off. "It's no world for children," he says, "but. Maybe. Maybe it will be."

That’s what they’re all fighting for. Even Jared, who stays off the battlefield. But Graeme may be one of the few people who has actually seen exactly how many legal arguments and information Jared has amassed. “The day’ll come,” the older man says with confidence. “It always does. It’s one of those constants of the universe. At some point, the pendulum swings the other way. And in the meantime… we build what we can.”

"Thanks," Graeme repeats again. It's almost perfunctory this time, as the former teacher's attention veers back to the stove and the food that's cooking. The table is set, now, and all that stands between them and dinner is time for it to finish being made. "I'm going to…" He pauses, and trails off.

"War or no war, I'm going to try to be there when my child is born," he says. It's something that's been weighing on him, that much is clear. "Be there for Remi. Own what I did." There's a glance about, and then he lifts his shoulders in a shrug. "Alright, what else can I do to help with dinner?"

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