Joshua's First Year (CC, Teen) Part 17, 6-25-09 [WIP]

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TaffyCat
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Re: Joshua's First Year (CC, Teen) Part 13, PG2 5-2-09

Post by TaffyCat » Sat May 02, 2009 11:17 am

Part 11

Joshua twisted and turned on the stool at the counter and took sips of his soda in between.

“Okay, short stuff, so whatcha gonna be for Halloween?” Maria asked as she slid the chocolate cake over to him. Isabel had come in with him this morning. Alex was supposed to meet her here and together go to Las Cruces to the art exhibit. She’d agreed to keep an eye on Joshua until Max got off work. Unfortunately Max was working a double shift.

“Pirate,” Joshua said as he plowed into his now Tabasco-smothered cake.

“Really. Got your costume yet?” Maria asked as her eyes swept across the semi-crowded diner to see if anyone needed anything.

“Yep. Mom made it,” Joshua loved spending time at the Crashdown. They made the bestest desserts.

“What about a sword? And a hook for a hand?” Maria asked as she headed over for the coffee pot for a round of refills.

“I gotsa sword but no hook. That ways I have two hands to carry my booty,” Joshua informed her.

“Hmm, booty, eh? Somehow I think you’ve been spending too much time around Kyle,” she announced and then headed over to do her rounds.

Liz came over and topped off his cherry coke. She had to smile at his chocolate-smeared mouth. “Here ya go kiddo.”

“Hey Liz. This is good,” he proclaimed and took another big bite.

“I can see that. Got enough Tabasco?” she asked.

“Uh huh. Whatcha gonna be for Halloween, Liz?” he asked and took another big fork full.

“Oh, um, I don’t think I’m going to go trick-or-treating. I’m a little too old for that, don’t you think?” Liz told him.

“Nuh uh, you can go with me,” Joshua told her.

“Go trick-or-treating with you? Now that’s a tempting invitation. What would I go as?” she asked, playing along with him. He was so cute.

“You can be a girl pirate,” Joshua suggested earnestly.

“Hmm, a girl pirate.” She spotted Maria coming back by. “What do you think, Maria, me as a girl pirate?”

“Hmm, maybe one of those peasant tops tucked into some tight slacks and boots, and big dangling earrings. Yeah, I can see it.” She smiled as she pictured her prim and proper friend all decked out as a badass pirate. “Yeah, I can totally see it.” She could just picture Max’s reaction to seeing Liz in skintight pants and all bad looking. Yeah, she could so see it.

Liz was starting to think along similar lines. “So Joshua, who’s taking you around trick-or-treating?”

“Dad, I think. Unless you do it…please?” he asked. Dad was okay but Liz was better.

“Dad, huh? Not Max?” Liz asked.

“Nope, he said he’s gotz plans.” He made a point of looking dejected. “Guess they’s more important than me.”

Maria snorted. The kid was laying it on nice and thick. “Come on Liz, how could you let that look go?”

Liz bit her lip. Max hadn’t said anything to her about any Halloween plans, and besides, Joshua did ask first. “Okay Joshua, I’ll take you trick-or-treating.”

“Cool!” Joshua beamed a chocolate-covered grin at her.

Max picked that time to walk in. “Hey, sorry for having to work late. Everything okay?” he asked as he took a seat. He figured he had time for a quick soda.

“Yeah, me and Liz have a date for Halloween. We’re going trick-or-treating as pirates,” Joshua proudly announced.

Max head shot up. “You and Liz…but…but…”

“Yeah, I mean how could I resist an invitation like that?” Liz asked him and then spun around to address her friend, “Maria, what did you envision that girl pirate costume looking like again?”

Maria knew the game Liz was playing and knew how to play it as well. “Little peasant blouse, off-the-shoulder of course, tucked into tight pants. You know, the kind that is like a second set of skin? And those will be tucked into some over-the-calf leather boots. Let’s see, oh, hair worn loose and wild, after all, a pirate is for raiding and ravishing, oh and large dangling earrings…”

Max was sporting a major hard-on. And she was dressing like that for Joshua? That just wasn’t fair.

“Ooh, I like it. And a sword,” Liz added in and then bit her lip to keep from grinning like an idiot. Max looked so cute with his jaw hanging down like that.

“No, Joshua already has one. You’ll need a whip,” Maria added and bit her lip to keep from laughing.

“But…” Max had a raging hard-on now.

“You sound like a broken record.” Maria walked around and slapped him hard on the back. “There, you unstuck now?”

“Umph.” He glowered briefly at her. “Thanks,” he said dryly.

“No problem. Anytime, girlfriend,” Maria quipped in reply and went to go check on her customers.

~

“Stop fidgeting!” Isabel said once again. “You want to screw this up?”

“No,” Joshua pouted as he did his best to hold still as she put some more goop on his face. Why’d pirates wear makeup anyhow? He didn’t remember seeing any on Captain Hook.

Isabel held his little face steady in one hand as she applied the charcoal eyeliner under his eyes. “There, that’s it.” She glanced around and spotted her brother. “Max, come take a look at our pirate.”

“ACK!” Max jumped back in mock terror. “Oh no, a pirate! Here, take it. Take it! Just leave me a lifeboat!” He made a show of handing over his watch.

Joshua giggled, but took the watch.

Isabel whispered in his ear.

Joshua’s smile widened as he snatched his sword and raised it to Max. “Take me to your treasure, matey!” he demanded.

“Oh no,” Max looked around and spotted the towel bar. A quick wave of the hand and instant play sword. “Never!” He carefully tapped Joshua’s sword with his. And Joshua tapped back with all his might. “Ah, so that’s how it’s gonna be.” Max brought the sword around and made a mock stabbing motion. Joshua jabbed back…

Diane had just answered the back door when she heard the commotion and stepped into the hall to see what it was and had to bite her lip to keep from laughing at the mock sword fight. Liz was right next to her.

Philip came around the corner to see what was going on. “What in the world…”

“Shhh, hush. Look,” Diane told him quietly.

Philip grinned as Joshua made a final jab and Max pretended to be mortally wounded and fell to the floor.

Cough. Sputter. Gasp. “I’m dying. I’m dying,” Max proclaimed. Cough. Cough.

Joshua put one foot on his defeated captive and grinned triumphantly. And then grinned even bigger at all the clapping. His eyes widened when he turned and saw Liz. “I won, Liz!”

“My hero!” She told him as he came over for his welcome hug.

Max saw Liz standing there in her girl pirate costume and forgot to breathe.

~

Joshua had the innocent look that got him the most candy down pat. Liz wrung the doorbell. Bag out in front. Eyes big. Smile. Door opens. “Trick or treat.”

“Oh my, what an adorable little pirate,” Mrs. Olsen proclaimed and grabbed an extra large handful of candy to drop into the bag. “There you go, sweetie.” She grabbed another handful for the pretty young girl with him, such cute kids.

“Thank you,” Liz said politely. Okay, so technically she was too old for this but that didn’t mean she was going to pass on the candy payoff. And having a five-year-old with her just increased her payment. She examined her almost full bag as they walked away. “Hmm, Snickers. What’d you get?”

Joshua checked. “Same. When can I have some?” They’d been at it for over an hour and it was just too hard carrying around an ever expanding supply of candy and not getting to eat any of it.

“Not a piece until we get you home.” She checked her watch. “Hmm, we got a half an hour yet.”

“Then we go home and eat candy.” He looked up at Liz for a moment. “Whatcha gonna do after with Max?”

Liz smiled. She’d never seen Max stammer before. At least not like that. He’d been so cute in asking her out after trick-or-treating. He was being very elusive over what they were going to do though. Plans, he’d said. “No idea. Do you know?” she asked. So sue her. She wasn’t above pumping a little brother for information.

“Nuh uh, other than I saw him take a white sheet out of the closet,” he supplied.

“Hmm, a sheet, eh?” What was Max up to? Was he going to try and scare her by being a ghost? That was the only thing she could think of for a white sheet. They headed up the walk to the next house. “Okay, you ready?”

“Uh huh,” he nodded. Innocent look. Bag out in front. Eyes big. Ding-dong. Door opens. “Trick or treat.” Worked every time.

~

Diane sat back down on the sofa. It was Philip’s turn to get the door next. She turned her attention back to the TV set and wondered for the hundredth time what was missing as she flipped through the channels. “Philip, maybe we should just play a tape,” she finally suggested in defeat after flipping through all the channels.

“Can’t. Max has the VCR.” Philip rose to answer the doorbell. The table with the candy was right next to it. After handing out candy to Dracula and Wolfman, he grabbed a couple of Butterfingers and rejoined Diane.

“What’s Max doing with the VCR?” Diane asked as she tore open the Butterfinger Philip had handed her.

“Didn’t say exactly. Just that he needed it for tonight.” Philip finally found an old, black and white Frankenstein movie.

~

Max grinned when he saw a couple of pirates heading up the driveway. He’d been sorely tempted to go with them but he had too much to do to get ready for tonight. “Hey,” he greeted them and grinned devilishly at Liz. Damn, she looked good as a pirate.

“Hey,” she answered. And her hips swayed ever so tantalizingly as she passed by him.

Oh man, Max was sure he wouldn’t survive tonight. And maybe he didn’t want to.

Joshua burst into the house. “Mom! Mom, look what I got!” He held out his full bag of candy. “Can I have some now? Huh? Huh? Please!”

Diane had come in to see what the commotion was and had to smile when she found it. Joshua was just adorable in his costume and she had no doubt he had played it to the hilt. “After we make sure nothing is open or tampered with, then you can have some.” She looked over at Liz and her pretty full bag as well. “Thank you for taking him. You both look like you got a pretty good haul.”

“Yep, definite advantage to going with a five-year-old pirate,” Liz smiled at her and pretended not to notice how Max scrunched his brow at that.

“Come on Mom, hurry up and check the candy.” He dumped the whole bag on the dinner table and headed to the fridge for the Tabasco. He was totally ready for this.

Liz had to laugh. She had no doubt that unless stopped, Joshua was going to eat candy until he puked tonight.

“You ready?” Max asked and took her hand.

“Um, I guess so. Don’t I need to change though?” She noticed that Max wasn’t dressed up.

“Nope. You look great,” he assured her. In fact, he thought she looked damn hot as he guided her toward the jeep.

~

Liz kept glancing back to the backseat and the cooler sitting there. She wasn’t at all sure what to make of the sleeping bag and pillows sitting next to it. “Max, where are we going?”

Max grinned. “Drive-in.”

“Drive-in? Max, the drive-in closed down years ago,” Liz pointed out to him.

“Not this one.” He pulled the jeep off the highway and onto an unpaved road. “It’s private.”

Liz had to hold on for dear life as the jeep bumped along. “A private drive-in? Who has a private drive-in?”

“We do,” he told her as he brought the jeep to a stop. He reached for her hand. “Come on, I’ll show you.”

“Max,” she whispered in awe. They were at the edge of a cliff that had an incredible view of the city lights, but was still secluded by a grove of trees that partially circled around a small clearing on three sides. She noticed that between two trees a white sheet was strung up. “Max?”

Max just continued to smile as he pulled out the cooler with the small deli tray and sparkling cider, and a blow-up mattress, which he inflated with a wave of the hand, and then positioned just right for the best view of the sheet. He spread out the sleeping bag on top of it, along with his bed pillows and a few he borrowed from Isabel’s bed as well. He then set up the projector that he’d borrowed from Milton and the VCR from home, and with a wave of the hand the devices came to life. “Miss, if you’ll allow me, I’ll show you to your seat,” Max said as he held out his arm for her to take.

“Max, this is incredible,” Liz said as she sat on the sleeping bag and let him set out a small feast in front of her.

“Thank you.” His eyes were gleaming with pleasure. “And for tonight’s viewing we have Bride of Frankenstein .” He smiled at her surprised reaction. “I figured a classic for tonight was best,” he said with a shrug.

It was a classic, totally corny and absolutely perfect. She snuggled up next to him as the main feature began while they dined on the dinner he’d brought them. They’d moved on to snacking on some of the Halloween candy when a cool wind blew down on them, causing a shiver to run down her spine.

“You cold?” Max asked and grabbed the corner of the sleeping bag and wrapped them up in it.

Liz smiled. Perfect. Everything was perfect. A beautiful star-filled night sky, city lights twinkling in a distance, and a classic horror movie to watch while snuggled up with a beautiful man that could touch her soul like no other. She breathed deeply of his scent and sighed.

“Hmm?” he asked at the sigh and gazed at her.

Liz met his gaze and sighed again. Her hand reached up along his cheek as their lips drew near. Their kiss was tentative at first but soon grew bolder as the need to explore took over. She felt an incredible warm and gentle hand slide up her tummy and underneath her breasts, along the contours of her bra. There was a very tentative brush across the bra cup and she felt her nipples harden.

Max froze for a second as his hand had somehow wandered underneath her top and ran across her bra. Had she just shivered? And her nip… Oh man, he so could not think like this or he was going to be in some major agony here real soon, either that or he was going to be totally embarrassed. “Liz… I… We…”

“I know,” she gasped out. He was right. They had to stop. Her thigh brushed along his thigh, then higher up along his… Oh man, did that feel incredible. She wondered what he would look like laying there all naked and…oh God, did they ever need to stop.

‘Mud,’ his mind muttered to itself. ‘Mud.’ Damn, it wasn’t working. It didn’t help that he could feel her leg rubbing up against him through his jeans.

She could feel a low growl reverberate in his throat and her body shuddered, begging to answer it.

It was almost his undoing. “Liz,” he croaked out. “We have to…have to…”

“S-s-stop,” she finally sputtered and pulled away.

He shook as he tried to get his body under control. It took some effort but he pulled his hands away and sat on them. He figured that was the safest place for them at the moment. He hadn’t planned on it going this far; translation, he hadn’t gotten around to picking up any protection and he loved Liz too much to do something so dumb. At least that’s what his mind was saying. His body was on a whole other line of thought, like how incredibly smooth and warm her skin was and how she shuddered under his touch, and how sweet her lips tasted and the silkiness of her hair, and how…oh man, wrong track. Protection, teen parenthood, facing his dad, facing her dad…he shuddered, that did it. He reached for a can of Coke. “I could use something cold to drink. Want one?”

“Yeah,” Liz acknowledged and was grateful to concentrate on how good a cold drink felt going down her throat and giving her time to cool some other fires burning within her.

They were very mindful of their hands and other body parts as they reclined next to each other and watched the rest of the movie while munching on Halloween candy underneath the stars. Happy Halloween!

~

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Re: Joshua's First Year (CC, Teen) Part 13, PG2 5-2-09

Post by TaffyCat » Sat May 02, 2009 11:18 am

Part 12

Philip walked in the door early, put his satchel down on the entrance table, and dumped his keys and wallet there, as per normal. He looked into the den and spotted two little pairs of dirty socks sticking up above the back of the sofa. One dingy white, no doubt Joshua’s, you just couldn’t keep that kid clean, and one…pink? Was that a giggle? Okay this was new, he thought as he walked over to the sofa. “Joshua?”

Joshua was showing off and tossed an M&M up and caught it in his mouth. He was being careful since that last one he caught went all the way down his throat. He grinned when he heard the giggle and then looked up when he heard his dad. “Hi Dad.”

Philip peered down at his youngest sitting upside down on the sofa with some dark-haired little girl, who was also upside down. “Hello. And whom do we have here?” he asked as he looked again at the little girl with dark hair, big dark eyes, slightly olive skin, and who was cute as a button.

“Oh, um, this is Anna, Dad,” Joshua told him. Wasn’t it obvious? Who else could she be?

“Ah, it’s very nice to meet you, Anna. I’m Mr. Evans.” Philip got a shy ‘hi’ and a smile in reply. He looked over and noticed some cartoon on the TV. “Well, I’ll let you kids get back to your cartoon,” he announced before heading into the kitchen to look for his wife. “Hello, dear.”

“Oh, Philip, you’re home early.” She gave him a quick peck on the cheek before returning to adding vegetables to the crock pot.

“Um, yeah, this afternoon’s court date got rescheduled until after Thanksgiving,” he explained. He looked back into the den at Joshua laughing and joking with little Anna. “So that’s Anna Sanchez, the girl Joshua’s supposedly sweet on?”

“What supposedly? He gives up his swing to her, his turn at the slide, wants to partner with her on every project, and half the time forgets how to talk around her, though today seems to be one of his better days,” she commented as she dumped the beans into the soup.

“Hmm...” He looked into the den again. “Do they always watch cartoons upside down?”

Diane shrugged. “Apparently.”

“What’s she doing here?” Philip was curious. He wanted his kids to feel free to have other kids over but he also liked to know their parents.

“Her mother had an emergency. Anna’s older brother cut his hand open at school and she had to take him to the ER for stitches. I’d met Connie a few times and told her I’d watch her for a few hours after school so she wouldn’t have to take Anna out of class as well. She called not too long ago and it sounds like the ER is really backed up so Anna will probably be having dinner with us as well.” She wiped her hands on a dishtowel and looked back in at her son, who was smiling and sharing some of his remaining Halloween candy with Anna. “Aren’t they cute together?”

“Yeah,” he agreed, but at the same time couldn’t help but wonder what it was about long brown hair and brown-eyed girls that seemed to attract his sons. He shrugged. It didn’t matter, and he had to admit that Max hadn’t done too badly. Liz was a sweet girl that did seem to be pushing his son in the right direction…Harvard. He grinned. Yeah, he liked the sound of that.

~

“So, Anna. What are you doing for Thanksgiving?” Philip asked in between bites of Diane’s homemade soup and bread for dinner.

“Momma and Nana are making tamales and turkey enchiladas like they do every year,” Anna answered politely. The soup was good, though not quite as spicy as she was used to. She was glad to see Joshua, and even his brother and sister, dump a bunch of Tabasco in their soup. That way she didn’t feel too weird in doing it as well. It really was good soup once it was spiced enough.

“How come you don’t do a turkey and stuffing like the Pilgrims?” Joshua asked. They’d learned about the Pilgrims at school.

“Joshua, not everyone has the same traditions. Tamales are traditionally served for celebrations in many Hispanic homes.” Diane switched her attention to Anna. “That sounds wonderful. I bet those tamales melt in your mouth.”

“Uh-huh, Nana makes the best tamales with lots of different peppers and spices mixed in, so they’re kinda hot,” Anna informed them.

“Yeah? Sounds good,” Max contributed then smirked. He was getting a kick out of this. His little brother had a girlfriend.

Isabel kicked her brother’s shin and then whispered. “Don’t smirk. You’ve had that same goofy look on your face for eight years.”

Max shot her a dirty look.

Philip had no idea what was going on between his older two and decided he’d rather keep it that way. “So Max, have you met with your guidance counselor?”

“Um, yeah, he, uh, he suggested I try out for the debate team and maybe take a stab at student council. But, um…”

“Debate team?” Philip grinned as the memories came back to him. “I was on the debate team in college. That’s a great idea.”

“Yeah, but um, the tryouts are next Monday and I’m not at all prepared and with the holidays this week, and… I mean, I don’t even have a list of the subjects that they’re…”

“Oh, here. I just happened to spot one of the flyers and went by the office to pick up the forms and the list of debate topics for you,” Isabel so helpfully supplied.

Philip took the forms and the list and studied them intently for a moment. “Diane, don’t we still have some of my old college textbooks and papers somewhere? If I remember right, I think I had a book that we might use to prepare.”

“I think some of your old college stuff is in that old green trunk in the garage,” Diane answered.

Max wondered if he could set that trunk on fire with his powers from here without causing too much damage to the garage. The debate team was for geeks. “I, uh, that’d…I mean I don’t think I’d be ready in time.”

Philip read through the form again. “Oh sure you will. I’ll help you. You do want a shot at Harvard, don’t you?”

“Um, yeah,” Max sighed. If Liz got in, he wanted to go too.

“Good, good. After dinner we’ll go check out that trunk. That debate manual that I’m thinking is there is going to be a great resource in getting us started.” Philip showed Diane the form. “Says here that the tryouts are open to coaches. Maybe I can rearrange my calendar a little. It’s pretty light that day anyhow, since it’s just coming off a long holiday, so it shouldn’t be a problem. I can be there to cheer him on. What about you, honey?” he asked his wife.

Diane nodded enthusiastically. “Absolutely. Isabel, you’re free then too, aren’t you? I can drop Joshua off with one of the kids for a few hours and then be there as well. Won’t that be great, Max?”

“Great. Just…great!” Max had a smile plastered across his face as he contemplated how to exact revenge upon his sister. That’s the last time he confides anything to her that could come back to bite him in the ass. The debate team. Crap. Now he’s going to wind up spending the free time over the holidays with his dad instead of snuggling up with Liz, which had been his original plan this coming long weekend. Crap. Crap. Crap. Oh well, maybe he’ll get a break when the grandparents come and he can slip away with Liz for a little bit. He could only hope.

~

“So Spaceboy, what’re your plans for Thanksgiving?” Maria asked as she waited for her order.

Michael shrugged as he flipped the greasy burger. “Me and Swanson’s have a date in front of the tube.”

“No, no, no, no. Mom has this big thing planned. The sheriff and Kyle, and even Tess…” She tried her best not to blanch. Tess had come a long way but spending a day with her was not high on Maria’s list of favorite pastimes. “Are coming over. Mom has this huge turkey with all the fixings and wants you there too.”

Michael paused and looked up at her. “Your mom wants me…in the same house with you. Why? So she can hit me over the head with a thicker, holiday newspaper?”

“Don’t be ridiculous. Mom likes you. She got Valenti to release you from jail, didn’t she?” Maria countered.

“Hmph,” Michael retorted and handed over her order.

“2 o’clock sharp, and don’t be late,” she commanded before leaving to serve the greasy fare to her customer.

“Bet she doesn’t let us watch the game. Damn. I shoulda taken Max and Isabel up on their earlier Thanksgiving offer. At least I know his dad will have the game on,” he grumbled and then began preparing his next order.

~

“So Isabel, when are your grandparents getting in?” Alex asked as they strolled along in the park. It was a clear and cool evening. They’d just had dinner at Señor Chows and he was walking her home. That’s all they had time for since it was a school night and Mr. Evans had made it clear to him that 10 o’clock was late enough on a school night.

Isabel smiled. Alex had taken it well when her dad had insisted on talking to him before they went out. Of course it was totally arcane and she couldn’t believe that he’d embarrassed her that way. She was seventeen for God’s sakes and not some child with curfews and such nonsense. Nonetheless, she had no doubt that Alex would make sure she was home not one second after 10 tonight. “They get here tomorrow afternoon sometime. They’re pretty cool.”

“Yeah? Do they…you know, know?” Alex asked as they strolled.

“No. We talked. Mom thought it would be okay since they weren’t staying with us. That way Joshua can still have his ‘downtime’ and use his powers. Besides, they’re booked into the new motel, the one with the enclosed swimming pool, and you know Joshua and pools…so…” She smiled at his smile and raised brow.

“Pool party?” Alex asked, clearly delighted at the prospect.

“Yep. I’m pretty sure I can get my grandparents to play along, especially if I sic Joshua on them.” She grinned delightedly. The little rugrat was good at pulling on the heartstrings when he needed to. Too bad Max was stuck studying with Dad all weekend, well, they’d probably take a break for turkey and football. “I’ll let you know,” she told him as they continued their stroll. “So what are you guys doing for Thanksgiving?”

“Disney World,” he told her.

“Wait, you’re going to Disney World for Thanksgiving?” Isabel asked incredulously.

“Yep, no lines that day and we have a big turkey dinner at the hotel, so it’s all good.” Alex was a veteran of Disney World over the holidays. Maybe one day he could invite Isabel along.

Isabel thought about it. It might not be too bad to have Thanksgiving there once or twice. “Sounds fun,” she finally decided.

Alex beamed. Yep, he was definitely going to invite her, maybe next year…when she’s eighteen.

~

“Umph, Joshua, don’t you have something to do…elsewhere?” Diane asked as she swerved from running into her youngest while she moved the large mixing bowl to the cleared spot on the counter where she could roll the dough out and work it.

“No,” he answered and continued to follow Mom around the kitchen.

She just didn’t have time for this. Tomorrow was Thanksgiving and she had too much to do to have a little one following her around the kitchen. “What about Max? What’s he doing? Maybe you could play with him?”

“Nope, he’s stuck doing boring stuff with Dad.” Joshua had already checked that option.

“What about your toys or cars, or something? Go play with those,” she suggested.

“I did that already,” he sighed. “Mom, I’m bored,” he whined.

“I wish I had time to be bored,” she mumbled. She plopped the sticky dough onto the flour-covered board and then looked at her son. It was sticky and messy, and no doubt he’d love it. “Okay, fine. Go get the step stool and wash your hands. You’re going to knead some dough.”

Joshua’s mood brightened quickly. He had something to do. He did as he was told and was delighted as he got to play in the flour and then punch and pull and generally play with the dough.

Diane briefly wondered what kind of rolls they’d end up with but she wasn’t overly concerned. There wasn’t too much he could do to totally screw it up. She then went on to chopping the onions and celery for the dressing while keeping an eye on Joshua, just in case.

“Mom, where’s Isabel?” he asked as he gave a big glob of dough a good punch, only to have it stick to his hand. Mom gave him more flour.

“She ran to the store for more potatoes and stuff for tomorrow,” Diane answered as she returned to dicing. It took a lot of stuffing to fill a twenty-six-pound bird.

“When will Grandma and Grandpa get here?” he asked.

“Anytime now,” she answered.

“But they aren’t staying here like my other Grandma and Grandpa, huh?” Joshua asked.

“Nope, they like a bit more privacy and always get a motel room,” Diane replied.

“That new place…with an indoor pool?” he continued his questioning.

“Yes, I believe it has a…” she paused as she saw where this was going. “Maybe later this weekend we can go over and you can swim.”

“What about Max and Isabel? Can they go swimming too?” he asked.

“Of course, if they want to,” Diane answered as she chopped.

“And Liz and Alex, too?” Joshua wanted to know.

Diane’s eyes narrowed in suspicion. “Maybe, we’ll have to see.” She was certain someone had been coaching him.

“It’d be cool if they could come and play too,” Joshua continued.

“We’ll see, I said,” she said in a slightly harsher tone that told him to drop it.

The back door popped open. “Ugh,” Isabel groaned as she toted a ten-pound bag of spuds in. “Now I know why you didn’t want to go to the grocery store,” she told her mom as she tossed the sack in the sink.

Diane grinned. “Yep. Did you get everything else?”

“Yep, it’s in the trunk,” Isabel answered. “I didn’t know those little old ladies could be so vicious over the last turkey cooking bag.”

“Did you get it?” Diane had used cooking bags for the last ten years with perfect results, and to hell with what Martha Stewart said. Who needs hours of basting? Let the bird baste itself.

“Yeah, but I would steer clear of Mrs. Winters for a while,” she suggested as she went back outside for the rest of the groceries.

Diane watched as her daughter brought in the groceries and even put them away without being told, but she stopped her as she was about to leave with a new fashion magazine. “Isabel, where are you going?”

“What? To read. This has some awesome new makeup tips.” She held up the section of the magazine to show her.

“That’s nice, but those potatoes need peeling, as well as the sweet potatoes for Mom’s pie, and the yams,” Diane reminded her.

“You’re joking,” Isabel said incredulously. Mom didn’t smile. “You’re not joking.”

Diane handed her a paring knife.

Isabel looked at the mound of potatoes sitting in the sink. “How many?”

“All of them,” Diane answered.

“We can’t possibly eat ten pounds of potatoes,” Isabel assuredly proclaimed.

“You’re right. There’s another five-pound bag in the bottom of the refrigerator. Start with those,” Diane told her.

Isabel moaned and groaned as she started pulling the rest of the potatoes out of the bin. “This is so…so sexist! Why isn’t Max in here helping?”

“He’s working on his debate tryouts with your dad. You know that,” Diane reminded her daughter.

“This is so unfair,” Isabel protested as she picked up the first potato to peel. “Hey, does it matter how I do it?”

Diane shook her head. “So long as it gets done.”

She waved her hand and instantly peeled the potato. She tried doing a sink full but found only the top, exposed parts were peeled, and she had to turn them over, power wave, turn again, power wave, and so on. Eventually she got the first batch done and started with the second batch.

“Don’t forget to cube them and put them in a pot of water so they won’t turn brown,” Diane reminded her.

Huff. “Right,” Isabel acknowledged as she continued to wave-peel the next batch.

Diane glanced back over at Joshua and noted that not only was he covered in flour but somehow he managed to get sticky dough in his hair too. She chanced a peek at the dough, it was a mess but she couldn’t detect any dark hairs in it. She heard a car pull up and looked out the window and smiled.

“Grandma Martha and Grandpa Max are here,” Isabel announced as she looked out as well.

Joshua’s ears perked up at that as he waited to meet yet another new set of grandparents. He hoped they were like the last ones and would take him to the park and Baskin Robbins everyday, plus go swimming.

“Mom, Dad,” Diane greeted them at the door. “It’s so good to see you,” she told them as they hugged.

“Oh Diane, it’s good to be here,” Martha proclaimed as she hugged her daughter but she had already caught sight of her newest grandson standing there on a stool next to the counter with those big eyes, and from the looks of it, covered in flour. She had to smile as tears started to pool in the corners of her eyes. She already adored him. She spotted her granddaughter there next to the sink and went to her for a hug. “Isabel, sweetie,” she said as they embraced and then stood back to get a good look. “My, aren’t you a beauty. I bet you keep all the boys on their toes.”

Isabel blushed. “Well, maybe one.”

“One, is it? This I’ll need to hear about,” Martha informed her granddaughter and then looked over at the little angel standing there. He looked so innocent but somehow she bet he could be a little devil when he wanted to. “And whom do we have here?” she asked as she approached.

“Joshua,” he answered.

“You are?” She smiled. “You know, I have a new grandson by that name. Do you know him?”

“That’s me!” Joshua proclaimed.

“It is? Well, now then, that requires a lot of hugs for this to be a proper introduction,” she informed him with a broad grin and her arms held wide, just waiting to wrap around him. To hell with all the flour he got on her. This was more important. He was just precious. She felt her husband come up beside her, no doubt anxious to get his hugs as well. She released him from their hug and then turned to her husband. “Well Max, it seems this here is our new grandson. What do you think?”

Grandpa Max smiled. “Oh, I think he’ll do just fine,” he said as he gave him a good hug.

“Oh Mom, Dad, you’re covered in flour now,” Diane pointed out.

“Phhht, it’s all washable. Now where is that other grandson of ours?” she asked. “And Philip?”

“Here Grandma,” Max announced from the doorway, his dad standing next to him. And another round of hugs ensued.

~

Freshly cleaned up, Joshua was busily showing his grandpa his room. “And Michael painted it.”

Grandpa Max looked around and was duly impressed. “He did a great job.”

“Uh huh,” he agreed as he started to pull his toys out of his closet. Mom had made him pick them all up and put them away because company was coming, which made no sense to him since he was just going to have to pull them all out again to show Grandpa. “And see, this is my Hot Wheels set with the double loop.” He looked up and smiled. “You wanna try it, Grandpa?”

Grandpa Max chuckled. It’d been a long time since he’d had one so young. “Oh, sure. Now which cars are your favorites?” he asked, hoping to get an idea for Christmas.

“The Porsche! Oh, and the new Ford truck one. Oh, and the new GTO. Max says that one’s awesome.” He paused and looked at his Grandpa again. “How come you got the same name as my brother?” he asked as they were busy taking the track set out of the box and began setting it up.

“I don’t have the same name as him. He has the same name as me!” He chuckled to himself at the funny look Joshua had as he tried to figure that one out. “He was named after me, just like you had a great-grandpa Joshua that you were named after. It’s tradition and a way to keep family names alive and special within a family.”

“I’m special,” Joshua announced.

“Yes, you certainly are,” Grandpa Max agreed. “Now, let’s see how we put this all together here.”

~

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Re: Joshua's First Year (CC, Teen) Part 13, PG2 5-2-09

Post by TaffyCat » Sat May 02, 2009 11:18 am

Part 13

Joshua sniffed the air. Mom was already cooking? But that didn’t smell like breakfast. He sniffed again. Still not sure, he decided to throw the covers off and climb out of bed. He headed downstairs to the hall bath to take care of morning business, and he figured he’d better brush his teeth. Grandma was a kisser and he thought she’d appreciate the gesture. Is that what a turkey smells like?

“Diane, dear, that was wonderful of Isabel to peel all of these potatoes and yams,” Martha commented as they busily worked in the kitchen. The turkey was in the oven. The pumpkin and sweet potato pies were already cooling and she was just getting ready to prepare their breakfast. “Is she going to be… uh, helping us some more today?”

It took all the effort Diane had not to snort and laugh at the very idea. “Um, no, Mom. By mutual agreement the kitchen, specifically cooking, has been deemed off limits to Isabel. Trust me on that one.”

With practice ease Martha expertly mixed the pancake batter for breakfast. “But dear, how will she ever learn? She’s almost ready to be on her own. She’ll have to cook for herself, and hopefully a family someday.”

“Believe me Mom. It’s to all our benefit if she doesn’t. As for later on, until she’s successful enough to afford a cook, I recommend a lot of take out,” Diane assured her.

“What about Max? Can he cook?” Martha asked as the bacon started sizzling in the frying pan.

“He’s handy with a microwave. That’s about the extent of his culinary skills.” And he didn’t even really need a microwave at all, she silently added. “Don’t worry, Mom, both kids will survive somehow.”

With freshly brushed teeth, hair sticking up every which way, and still in his Power Rangers flannel pajamas Joshua strolled into the den, where he’d heard his dad and brother and grandpa, along with the tv. “Hi,” he announced and scooted between them.

“Good morning, Joshua, finally decided to get up, eh?” Grandpa Max asked.

“Uh huh.” He watched the game for a bit with them. Watching was okay but he also liked to play football. He liked baseball too. Dad said he would sign him up for peewee Little League this spring. He couldn’t wait. And in the meantime he played with his brother and Kyle. He liked playing sports with Kyle the best though. Kyle taught him things that he said his brother was too hung up to teach him, but it had to be their secret or they’d get busted. He was getting better at keeping secrets.

Diane peeked into the den and saw three, no, make it four couch potatoes. She shook her head and went upstairs to collect some clean clothes then headed to the master bath. “Joshua, come up here,” she called down.

“Third and two on the five yardline. The Cowboys are driving,” the tv announced.

Diane waited but didn’t hear anything. “Joshua!” she’d used her ‘Mom’ tone that time.

“And the quarterback steps back from the pocket and throws…”

“JOSHUA EVANS GET UP HERE THIS MINUTE!” Diane yelled as she marched downstairs to collect her son.

“Ah Mom…” he wined as he was dragged upstairs.

The three remaining men came out of their seats. “Intercepted. Eighty-five yard runback. Score! The Saints scored! Man, what a play!” Philip announced in excitement as he high-fived his oldest son and father-in-law.

“Oh rats!” Joshua crossed his arms stubbornly and scowled as he heard his dad downstairs, while his mom tried to dress him.

“Joshua, the faster you get dressed, the faster you can get back to the game. Now uncross your arms,” Diane ordered as she was trying to slip a sweater over his head.

“I don’ wanna wear that,” he protested.

“Joshua, you’re going to look nice. We have company and this is a holiday. You’re going to dress for it. Now arms up young man!” She meant it this time. Over a series of moans and groans and a lot of whining, she managed to get him appropriately dressed, face washed, and hair combed. She was more than ready to be done with it all when she finally set him free to go rejoin the male club on the sofa. “And leave that sweater on!” she shouted after him.

Mom was just taking the bacon off and letting it drain on paper towels when Diane returned to help. “I swear men and football. And they start so young. If I didn’t know better, I’d swear it was genetic.”

Martha grinned. “It is dear. I’m sure on some rock wall there is a picture of a caveman in a leather helmet throwing a ball to someone before being ran over by a bunch of other oversized helmet-heads.”

Diane laughed and glanced in at the group sitting on the couch all engrossed in the tv with Joshua smack dab in the middle. She shook her head and went back to helping with breakfast.

Isabel walked into the den, saw the men, rolled her eyes, shook her head, and went to see what else was going on. “Hi, Mom. Grandma.”

“Oh hi, Honey,” Diane greeted her as she sat the pancakes next to the bacon. By unspoken agreement it was deemed best if breakfast was served buffet style so the guys could take their plates back to the tv set. With everything set she called them in. Mom, Isabel, and she sat at the kitchen table like civilized adults while the men took theirs back to the sofa to eat in front of the tv. She noted that it didn’t take Joshua long to tip his plate just enough to be wearing most of the syrup on his sweater.

After breakfast Joshua dutifully brought his plate to the kitchen and put it in the sink. He looked down at his sweater and was about to wave his hand over the syrup…

Diane grabbed his hand. “That’s okay Joshua. Let’s get this off of you before you get syrup everywhere.”

He looked up startled then glanced around Mom at Grandma before he remembered. “U’kay. Sorry, Mom.”

“No problem, Sweetie. It’s washable.” She expertly stripped the sweater off of him. He was probably too hot with it anyhow. “Now try not to spill anything else on your dress shirt.”

“Okay, I’ll try, but I won’t promise.” Mom gave him a ‘look’.

“Oh you come here. I haven’t gotten my morning hugs and kisses,” Martha announced.

Joshua was right, Grandma was a smoocher.

~

“Mom, I want more punkin’ pie, please,” Joshua announced, empty plate in hand.

Diane cut another small slice and put it on his plate along with a dollop of Cool Whip and spackling of Tabasco. “Last piece, Joshua.”

“Twank oo,” he answered with a mouth full as he retreated to the den and the ESPN after game show.

Martha chuckled as she watched her youngest grandson with a Cool Whipped covered mouth walk away. “He is such a little boy.”

Diane rolled her eyes. “You have no idea. I actually found a lizard in his jeans pocket the other day while doing the laundry.” She shook her head as her mother laughed. “Don’t ask. Philip made him set it free in the backyard.”

Martha laughed, “At least he seems to be adjusting well.”

~

Friday night after Thanksgiving found Martha and Max watching in fascination as a horde of teenagers in swimsuits commandeered the hotel’s indoor heated swimming pool. And right in the middle was one five-year-old. “They’re amazing,” Martha told her daughter and son-in-law as they sipped their margaritas.

“Yes, they are,” Philip agreed as the kids basically used Joshua as a beach ball and tossed him to each other. Joshua was laughing his head off.

“Max seems really happy,” Martha observed. “And if I’m not mistaken, he’s pretty taken with that young lady, Liz isn’t it?”

“Yes, and you’re not mistaken,” Diane replied with a smile. She liked Liz and the smile she brought to her son’s face. Joshua practically squealed with delight as he made one great big splash. She liked how both her sons’ smiled a lot lately. She noticed Alex chasing her daughter through the water, trying to splash her and was delighted with the apparent happiness of all her children, finally.

“Um, so is he serious about her?” Martha prompted.

She looked at her mom, “Serious enough that Philip had to have a talk with him the other day about being responsible. Both Max and Liz want to try for Harvard and an accident would majorly derail that.”

“Harvard? Really?” She looked back at her grandchildren. “Is that possible? I mean with three now and you have such a long ways to go with Joshua.”

Philip studied his son with Liz and wonder if Max had ever bought some condoms as he’d suggested. Not that Philip was anxious for any of his children to become sexually active. He glanced at Isabel who was standing very near Alex and laughing. “He’s got a shot at it. And Liz is trying for a scholarship. If she gets it, I have no doubt Max will follow, one way or another.” He checked his watched and noted the time. “Okay kids. Its 10:00PM, pool’s closing, everybody out!” He announced and grinned as his youngest came scampering over dripping wet and groaning about the unfairness of it.

Martha and Max shared a meaningful look. “What about Isabel? What are her plans?” she asked as she grinned at Joshua and held out a nice big fluffy towel to wrap him in and maybe get some more hugs and kisses. That she just happened to have a sucker all ready for him as a bribe was beside the point.

“USC or Stanford of course,” Philip answered and grinned as Martha now had a wet Joshua wrapped in a towel and sitting on her lap and wondered where he’d gotten that sucker from so fast?

Max whistled. “Not cheap and only four thousand or so miles apart.”

“Tell me about it,” Philip commiserated.

At a nod from Martha, Max made the offer. “Ever since you called us about this little one, we’d wanted to do something and well, we can’t pay for it all but we can certainly help with their education.” He saw the surprised looks, “besides, what better investment in the future than to be able to brag about my grandson the Harvard graduate and granddaughter, likewise from Stanford?” He watched as Joshua continued to suck on his sucker but his eyelids were starting to close as he snuggled into Martha’s embrace. “However this one is probably going to be mostly on the both of you, though we’ll do what we can.”

“Mom, Dad, that’s very generous but that’s your retirement. You need that to live on and enjoy yourselves,” Diane told them as she carefully removed the sucker from Joshua’s mouth. She’d already had the joy of prying a stuck sucker from his hair the other morning and had to call on Isabel so as not to have to cut it out of his hair. She didn’t care for a repeat of the experience.

“We’re okay. We cashed out at the right and are pretty well set. We might not be taking any around the world cruises but we’re doing fine,” her dad assured her.

~

Max peered out from the stage nervously. He hated this and did not want to do it. He saw his mom and dad sitting in the front row, along with his grandparents. This was so embarrassing. But he was committed. And Dad had worked awfully long and hard with him getting him prepared for the debate team tryouts. And then his grandparents offering to help pay for Harvard and Stanford, or any other college that they might get accepted at, he had to do whatever it took to get in. His heart did a hard thud and his stomach flip-flopped as Liz walked in to join his family in cheering him on. He had to do this for her and what he hoped was to be their future together. He heard his name called and walked on stage to the podium to face his debate opponent and everyone else and hopefully not disappoint his dad.

“Oh Max, I’m so proud of you!” Diane gushed and hugged him again as they stood in the hallway outside the gymnasium where the tryouts had been held.

Max smiled and inwardly groaned. Did they have to have football workouts at the same time and have the jocks coming in to go to the locker just now? He felt like such a dork. “Thanks Mom.”

Philip didn’t miss the jocks walking past and giving his son a smart-alecky look. He clamped a firm hand on his son’s shoulder. “You did good son.”

“Thanks Dad.” This still sucked. And now once every two weeks for the next three months he was stuck debating a bunch of nerds at different schools. He had to smile slightly as Liz gently took his hand in hers. He could do this for her. But it still sucked.

~

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Re: Joshua's First Year (CC, Teen) Part 13, PG2 5-2-09

Post by TaffyCat » Mon May 04, 2009 12:29 pm

Part 14

“Mom, when are we getting our Christmas tree,” Joshua asked again for the fourth time in less than an hour.

“Sunday,” Diane replied as she pulled the laundry out of the dryer. “And quit asking. The answers the same,” she scolded as she put the laundry basket on the table and began to fold. “You want to help?”

Joshua scrunched up his nose. “Not really.”

She threw a sock at him. “Finish your snack and go upstairs to play. And remember what we talked about. You leave Isabel alone tonight. She has company.”

“Who?” he asked between bites of his peanut butter and jelly and Tabasco sandwich.

“Tess. She’s staying the night,” Diane informed him once again.

“Nah. She’s not company. She’s just Tess.” He told her as he finished up.

“Well company or no, don’t pester them,” she warned once more as she finished folding the laundry and decided to go ahead and just put them away since they were having company instead of just leaving it on the correct bed for the owner to deal with. She started with Isabel’s stuff and then on to Max’s. She was just finishing putting his t-shirts away when she spotted something in the bottom of the drawer and had to look again. ‘Trojans’ it read and the box was open. “Oh God,” she said to herself as she tried to collect her wits about her. This was her little boy. He…he was just too young, only seventeen. She and Philip had talked about it of course. She’d even encouraged Philip to talk to him about being careful and to use condoms but…but…she couldn’t wrap her mind around the thought that he actually WAS using them. She quickly closed the drawer and headed upstairs to finish her laundry rounds. She needed something to distract her; fortunately she didn’t have to look too far. Her mouth dropped open as she entered her youngest son’s room. “Joshua, how did you get that to do…that?”

As the formerly hard plastic T-Rex roared, chomped its jaws menacingly and stomped around, Joshua looked up at his mom and smiled. “Cool, huh?” he was quite pleased with himself. His dinosaurs had been totally boring as they just stood there doing nothing until his brother had shown him how to make them work right. “Look what I got the…the pterodactyl to do!” He showed her how with a glow of a small hand it realistically flapped its wings and then took flight around the room. That one had taken him quite a long time to get right. He couldn’t wait to show Max.

“That’s amazing, Sweetheart,” Diane honestly exclaimed and began to put his socks and stuff away as the pterodactyl leisurely glided around the room with the T-Rex snapping at it. At least she was thoroughly distracted now.
A little later that day, Diane pulled out her old trusty Crockpot and began to fill it with the meat and aromatics when Isabel and Tess arrived. “Oh hi, Honey. Tess. How was school?”

“Okay, Tess and I were going to check out these new hair styles,” Isabel said as she held out the magazine for her mom to look at.

“Those are cute. Where’s your brother?” she asked while chopping the onions.

Isabel shrugged. “I caught a ride with Tess.” She smiled vindictively. “I think the debate team was having their first meeting after school. He should be home shortly, I’m sure. ”

“Oh, okay. Well, let me see what those styles look like on,” Diane asked and watched as she and Tess disappeared into the hall.

Isabel pounded on the bathroom door. “Come on, hurry up!”

“I can’t! I’m busy!” Joshua answered back.

“What do you mean you can’t? What are you doing in there?” Isabel yelled.

“It’s a bathroom. What do you think I’m doing?” he retorted as he watched his toy shark sail through the bathtub water silently, all on its own. He was about to have his pirate ship attack it when Isabel started shouting again.

“Mom! Joshua won’t come out of the bathroom!” Isabel yelled.

Diane heard the yelling and sighed. It was going to be a long afternoon. “Use the one upstairs, Isabel.”

Around four o’clock Max came home and started on his homework at the kitchen table. He was having a hard time concentrating. He could feel her eyes on him. He turned around and almost caught her doing it. “Something the matter?” he asked.

“No. No Honey. Nothing’s wrong,” she quickly replied. Was he or wasn’t he? He didn’t seem any different. “So how’s Liz?” she tried.

“Fine,” he answered.

“Fine, that’s good, right?” she tried again. He was gentle with her, wasn’t he? Of course he was. He did use the condoms, didn’t he? Where would they have done it, here at home? What if Joshua had come in? Surely not, but then at her house would mean the possibility of Jeff or Nancy catching them and…she looked at her son who was looking her. “I’m sorry, what Honey?”

“You okay Mom?’ he asked slightly concerned. She seemed awfully distracted.

“Fine. I’m fine,” she answered and added the pasta to the Crockpot. She had to stop doing this. There was just no way Max would ever tell her anything and she wasn’t entirely sure she’d want to know. So why was she obsessing over it? “Are you in for the night?” she asked.

“No. Liz gets off at eight. We were thinking of catching a movie,” he told her and wondered why she looked slightly alarmed at the idea. Mom liked Liz, didn’t she?

“Oh…uh, that sounds like fun,” Diane told him with a weak smile as she wondered what else they might be doing afterwards. “Will you be home early?”

Max shrugged. “I don’t know, doubt it. We’ll probably get a late bite to eat or something after the movie.” What the hell was going on with his mom?

“JOSHUA!” Isabel shouted. “YOU LITTLE BRAT!”

“YOU BROKE HIM! YOU BROKE HIM!” he yelled back and burst into tears and ran out of the room. “MOM! SHE BROKE HIM!” he cried as he came running into the kitchen, followed closely by an irate sister.

“Mom, he had this…this thing attack me!” Isabel proclaimed as the pterodactyl lay lamely in her palm, wing bent at an odd angel.

“Mommy, it’s mine and I wanted to show Max and…and…” he sobbed.

Isabel gave him a glare. She knew exactly what he was doing. He was playing the baby card. She only hoped that Mom would see right through it. “Mom, he had that thing come into my room and pick at my hair, just as I’d finally gotten it right. He planned this,” she accused.

“Joshua is that true?” she asked sternly, though it was hard to do with that little tear streak face.

He solemnly shook his head “no” as the waterworks continued. “It…it just got away from me. I didn’t do it on purpose.”

Diane wasn’t sure she believed that but he was rather upset and she recalled how proud he’d been of being able to make it fly. “Okay fine, but leave the girls alone for tonight. And you should apologize to your sister. Even if it was an accident, you shouldn’t have let it get away from you like that.”

He wiped his eyes and gave her a sorrowful look. “Sowree.”

Isabel sighed and dumped the pitiful pterodactyl on the kitchen counter. She knew that was as good as it was going to get. “Okay, fine, you little rugrat,” but she said it with just a hint of a grin as she turned to her friend. “Hey, let’s see if we can get this style done faster a second time,” she suggested to Tess.

“Sure,” Tess said and gave Joshua a little smile and a wink. He was awfully cute.

Diane looked over at her other son. “Max can you fix that for him. He showed it to me earlier today and he really had done a terrific job with it.” She gave her little one a gentle squeeze and saw him immediately perk up and amazingly he wasn’t crying any more.

“Yeah, let me take a look at that,” Max offered and picked it up. It feebly waddled in his hand. He covered it with his other hand which glowed brightly for a moment. The prehistoric bird came back to life and was eager to take off. He gave his brother a knowing look. “Let’s take this to your room before letting it go.”

Joshua followed his big brother.

When Mom was out of earshot, Max whispered to his little brother, “have you ever thought that maybe it might breathe fire, like a dragon?”

Joshua beamed.

A little before six Philip came home to a strangely quite house. He could hear music coming from down the hall, and some strange roaring coming from upstairs, and dishes clanging in the kitchen. He decided the safest bet was the kitchen then he’d check out that roaring sound. “Hello dear. Sounds like a quiet evening so far,” he commented as he grabbed a soda from the refrigerator.

“Humpf. No, you just missed it,” she told him as she set the table.

He lifted the lid on the Crockpot. It smelled good. “Anything I should know about?”

“Oh, not much. Tess is staying the night. Joshua had his pterodactyl attack Isabel. Oh, and Max is having sex,” she told him in a peeved voice.

Philip had to ponder how to respond to these announcements. He supposed he should start with the most relevant one. “Max is having sex, now? Um, is he with somebody…Liz? In his room?”

“No, he’s upstairs keeping Joshua out of Isabel’s hair. I found an opened box of condoms in his t-shirt drawer. Philip, he’s too young. He’s just a boy.” Diane tried to convince him.

“No, he’s a healthy seventeen-year- old, who like most teenage boys has one thing on his mind.” He saw how hard his wife was taking this. “Diane, we talked about this. We knew it was inevitable, at least he listened and is using protection,” he tried to reassure her.

Diane sagged a little. “He has a date with Liz tonight. It didn’t sound like he was planning on being home too early either.”

“It is Friday night. He’s a good kid, Diane. We raised him well. You’re going to have to start letting him go.” He told her kindly and then decided to change the subject. “So when did Joshua get a pterodactyl?”

“Oh, it was one of those cheap plastic ones. He used his powers on it and made it fly. He says that it just got away from him, but…”

“You don’t buy that,” Philip finished for her. He was slightly intrigued to see what his sons had gotten into and maybe a brief chat with his oldest boy before his date tonight might not be such a bad thing. “I’m going to change and will check in on the boys.”

He watched in amazement as Max coached Joshua on how to get the brontosaurus to ‘honk’ just right. The T-Rex looked rather irritable and hungry as it chased the Power Ranger across the bed. The Power Ranger eventually dove underneath the pillows for safety, causing the T-Rex to roar in frustration. However he was slightly concerned that the Pterodactyl was breathing little spouts of fire as it flew. There was a scorch mark on the lampshade and the T-Rex’s tail looked like it’s been on fire once or twice. “Boys,” he greeted them as he entered the room. “Interesting toys you’ve got going.” The T-Rex stomped over to roar at him. “Very life like.” The pterodactyl set a small fire to some coloring books and melted some crayons, “Though I don’t think pterodactyls breathed fire.”

“Mine does.” Joshua told him with a big grin.

“Hmm, yes, so I see,” he looked over his older son who immediately put the small fire out. “Perhaps we can tweak the little flame thrower down a bit?” He suggested and was glad to see Max immediately took the hint. The fire was out and the pterodactyl was now only hissing smoke at everyone, including the T-Rex. The Power Ranger was shimming down the sheet to the floor and jumped into the closet for safety. “Max, can I speak with you for a moment?”

“Sure Dad,” he rose to follow him out. He looked back at the magic playland he was creating with his brother and wondered if he still had any old GI Joes and how they’d do up against a T-Rex. “Yeah?” he asked as they stepped into his parent’s room.

“First off, no more fire breathing anything. Too dangerous,” he told his oldest point blank. “And second, find another place to keep your condoms. Some things parents would really rather not have confirmed.”

Max’s cheeks flushed hotly and his jaw dropped. “But…but…DAD!”

Philip dropped into full Dad mode. “Your mother was putting away laundry and found them. While I’m…sort of relieved to see that you’re being responsible, I’m also concerned. You are rather young, and Liz is even a bit younger so…”

“We’re not…” Max butt in.

“We’re not…using the condoms?” Philip asked growing more concerned.

“No…I mean, we haven’t had sex…yet,” he explained. He saw look his dad was giving him. “I…er…I bought them...just in case.”

“In case?” Philip coaxed.

“Yeah, in case, we…um…in case I get tired of sitting on my hands when things get…um, intense. I, um, I put a couple in my wallet, like you suggested, just in case,” Max finally stammered out. Could he just go somewhere and die now?

“That’s good, I guess. Your mother will be relieved.” Philip nodded and gave his son a pat on his back. “Well, let’s go see what else Joshua has animated in our absence.”

Joshua looked up as his dad and brother entered his room. “Can I get a dragon?”

“Uh, no, not right now,” Philip told him as the Batmobile ran around them a couple of times and drove off downstairs somewhere. It was being driven by Darth Vader.

~

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Re: Joshua's First Year (CC, Teen) Part 14, PG3 5-4-09

Post by TaffyCat » Thu May 07, 2009 2:03 pm

Part 15

Philip heard the backdoor softly open and close and turned over to check his watch, 3:12AM.

“Philip, do you know what time it is?” Diane whispered.

“Yeah, it’s after three,” he told his wife.

“Max should have been home hours ago,” she told him.

“Yeah, probably,” he agreed.

“Philip, you should go talk to him,” she suggested.

“And tell him what exactly?” he asked.

“I don’t want him…what if they’re not careful? What if nine months from now we’re holding our grandchild? He’s not ready for that…I’m not ready for that,” she said softly.

Philip sighed. His wife was right but then she didn’t quite know everything about Max and Liz. He’d never told her what Max had told him about the White Room and his escape. How he’d been so weak that Michael had to carry him out. How Liz drove the getaway car during the escape. How’d they’d been shot at, jumped off a bridge, swam and then how Liz had pulled Max along to safety for the night. How she’d took care of him when he needed her. He had no doubt that Liz loved his son as much as Max loved her. And Max wasn’t stupid. He’d never do anything to screw up their future together. Philip was sure of it. He heard the shower turn on downstairs and listened very carefully. The slight yelp he heard caused him to grin slightly. “I don’t think you have anything to worry about. I’m pretty certain those condoms in his wallet are still unused,” he told his wife as he turned towards her to hold her.

“And how do you know that?” she wanted to know.

“Because I don’t think there’s a drop of hot water running to that shower at the moment,” he informed her with a chuckle. “Don’t worry. You’ve still got him for a couple more years. And isn’t it nice to know that he chose such a bright young lady for his future?” he told her with a kiss. He could tell that she still wasn’t exactly ready to accept it all. “I tell you what, in the morning I talk to him about coming home at a more reasonable hour, say 2:00AM on the weekend and say 11:00 on a school night? Better me than Jeff Parker.”

“Yes, please,” Diane agreed and tried to relax and fall asleep.

~

The next morning Joshua was all set. Mixing bowl full of Coco Puffs, milk, Tabasco, orange juice, and the tv remote. He loved early Saturday mornings.

“Hey Joshua,” Tess greeted him as she came in to sit next to him. “Looks like you’re all ready for the morning.”

“Uh huh,” he said between mouthfuls. “You wanna watch cartoons with me?”

“Sure, but maybe I could get a cup of coffee first?” she asked.

“Dad’s not up yet to make the coffee,” he told her.

“Oh well, I can make it if you show me where the coffee is,” she told him. He nodded and she followed him into the kitchen. Fifteen minutes later they were perched on the sofa, her sipping coffee, him with his cereal and juice, watching some sort of cartoon called Ben10. That was a new one on her. “You know Joshua, that pterodactyl was really cool yesterday. You really did a good job with it.”

He beamed at her, “Thanks! I wanna a dragon but Dad said no.”

“Yeah, parents say no a lot, huh,” Tess agreed.

“Yeah, but Max said not to worry. He’s got something better,” he told her quite innocently.

She bit her tongue and was glad she wasn’t staying tonight as well. She somehow didn’t think Isabel was going to be too happy with her brothers by morning. “That’s awesome,” she told him and debated about tipping off the probably victim of tonight’s plans.

“So you can do it all on your own?” she asked.

He shrugged. “Some of it but Max helps a lot. He showed me how to with the T-Rex but I kept him going, and I did the pterodactyl all by myself,” he proudly told her.

She gave him a smile. ”Impressive,” she told him and turned her attention back to the tv, “so what’s happening here?”

~

With coffee cup in hand Philip watched from the hallway as his oldest son dug in his closet. “What are you looking for?” he asked.

Startled; Max jumped and tried to hide the rubber snake behind his back but didn’t quite make it.

Philip’s eyes narrowed. “She’ll clobber you. You do know that, right?”

“What?” he tried to look innocent.

“Okay, but be warned. You do it and it’s on your own head. I will not bail you or your brother out, understand?” he warned.

Max nodded in understanding. He figured worst case he could heal any damage she did in retaliation.

Philip decided to change the subject. If he was dumb enough to do it, he deserved to deal with the consequences and he had no doubt that it wasn’t going to be pretty. “So, you had a good time last night?” he asked casually.

“Yeah, we went to the movies and dinner,” Max said a bit cautiously. As a typical teen, it was second nature to be cautious when a parent asks about a date.

Philip sipped his coffee. “You were out kind of late, or more precisely, rather early this morning.”

“Um, yeah, we went for a drive after dinner,” he replied and figured that his dad didn’t really need to know that they actually hadn’t driven too far and really spent most of the evening in the backseat of the jeep, and that they’d gotten as far as both of their shirts off and his jeans undone when they’d forced themselves to stopped. He’d thought he was going to die of pent up desire and it was all he could do not to embarrass himself as he drove her home.

Philip knew there was a lot more to it than what he was being told but held his peace. “Well, I think after 3:00 AM is a little too late. 2:00AM when there’s no school and 11:00PM when there is, seems a bit more appropriate.”

Max’s jaw dropped. A curfew? His dad was giving him a curfew? His parents had always been strict in some ways but lenient in others like curfews and bed times as they got older. He hadn’t actually had a curfew for over a year, almost two years. “But…”

“What time does Jeff want Liz back by?” Philip asked.

“I…I’m not sure,” Max admitted honestly. Nobody had ever told him and he’d rather not find out.

“Well, you better keep those times in mind or Jeff is likely to come up with something a bit more restrictive,” he knowingly informed his son.

“Does this go for Isabel too?” he asked. Fair was fair after all.

Philip was actually thinking a bit earlier for his daughter, because she was his daughter, but she probably wouldn’t take it too well, if she knew Max could stay out an hour later than he’d told her and Alex. “I suppose so,” he conceded. He glanced once more at the rubber shake and pitied his son for what he was about to do.

~

“AHHHHHHH!” Came a scream from downstairs, as the parents had retired for the evening, or as that had been the plan.

Diane almost jumped a foot in the air. “Philip! Philip, aren’t you going to go down there?”

Philip casually flipped the page in the magazine. “Nope, I warned him.”

CRASH! BANG! “YIPES!” a male voice was heard from downstairs this time.

“Philip…” Diane was distracted as their bedroom door burst open. Little feet came scampering in and hoped right into bed with them, and was grinning from ear to ear as he sat between them.

Philip looked at his youngest and how absolutely delighted he was. “He put it in her bed, didn’t he?”

“Uh huh,” Joshua nodded and was quite happy to be in the safety of his parents’ bed and their protection at the moment and let his brother deal with their sister, every man for himself.

WHAM.

“MAX EVANS, YOU’RE NOT GETTING AWAY THAT EASY!” came a female voice bellowing up from downstairs.

“Philip…?” Diane asked again.

“Nope. Not going to do it,” he held firm. After another fifteen minutes the mysterious crashes and bangs finally ceased and the house became quiet once again.

~

In church the next morning, Isabel still glared at her brothers as they sat on the opposite side of their parents from her. She knew it was for their protection. She was still steamed about last night. They rose and sang and then later prayed at the appropriate times as a family. “Someone should be going to confessional,” she hissed under her breath.

Philip patted her hand and whispered back, “Sunday is all about forgiveness and charity, Izzy.”

“Sure. Forgiveness and charity,” she snapped back.

Philip sighed. He watched his son this morning and as near as he could tell Max was fine. But then Max could heal injuries and could probably do a good job on himself as well. He and Diane had both looked but could not find any of the sources of those crashes and bangs from last night and Joshua was staying absolutely silent on the matter. He shook his head and decided stay out of it. “Well, that was a nice service. Now it’s time to go find our tree.”

“Oh, I’m all ready,” Isabel said in a decidedly brighter mood and pulled out a picture of exactly what she wanted the tree to look like and she planned on taking her sweet time about it.

Max rolled his eyes as he followed along with his family. It was the same every year. “Can’t we just buy one from a lot somewhere and be home in time for the game?”

Isabel smiled. “Why no dear brother, this is Joshua’s first Christmas and he deserves the very best tree.”

“Do I….”

“Yes, you do have to come. Family before football,” his mom told him in that special tone only moms have.

~

Five hours. How in the hell could it take five hours to find a tree? And then you had to get it in the stand and make sure it’s straight and the fluffy side out, bare spot in the back, that took another hour. Philip kept glancing at the recap on ESPN as he held the tree firmly while Max screwed in the stand’s three prongs into the trunk. He glanced over at his other son who was still bouncing off the walls with excitement and wanted to decorate it right then and there. “Not yet,” he told him. He was too tired and he wanted to catch the scores.

“Max, it’s crooked,” Isabel informed him.

“That’s what happens when you pick a tree with a crooked trunk,” he retorted as he finished with the screws and stood up.

“No. Not right. Do it again,” she demanded.

“No. You picked it. You wanted a straight one, you should have picked a straight one,” he snapped back.

Philip sighed and closed his eyes for a moment. They’d been going at it most of the day. “Okay, that’s enough. Isabel, you already got him back last night and made sure today was hell for him.” He turned to his son. “Max, quit sulking, you knew what you were doing when you did it, so knock it off and see if you can do something about the trunk?” he asked.

Max nodded and held out his hand, the tree was instantly standing straight up.

Isabel smiled, “perfect.” Her dad was right, she’d nailed him in the ass a few times last night and if he hadn’t been able to heal himself would’ve been sitting gingerly for most of the day. It was time to forgive, but not forget. She pulled out her day planner. “You know the youth center needs helpers for the field trips to Christmas in the Park and Santa’s Village, oh and some hockey games,” she looked directly at her brother. “And they need elves for Santa too.”

“I’m no elf,” her brother mumbled.

“Fine,” she made a note in her planner. “I’ll give Gloria at the center your cell number and have her call you about the field trips and games.”

“But…”

“Oh Honey, how sweet of you. You really should get more involved in community service,” Diane told him as she came in with a tray of warm spiced cider for everyone.

Philip patted him on the back, “Looks good on a college resume too, son.”

~

This past few days had been some of the best in Joshua’s short life. On Monday Dad and Max had to drag all of the Christmas decorations out and check the bulbs. Max had to fix a couple of those. Then on Tuesday when he and Mom got home they started to decorate the house. He absolutely loved it! All the colors and different things to look at, and lights everywhere! On the mantel, around the archways, down the banister, and this weekend he was going to help Dad and Max put them on the outside! He couldn’t wait! But first they were going to trim the tree. “Mom, when can we start putting the tinsel on?” he asked as Max was helping Dad string the lights on.

“We do that last, Sweetheart,” Diane told him once again.

Isabel looked around the room. Mom must have used every single decoration they had this year. It was bordering on garish. “Mom, do we have to have all those corny 101 Dalmatians decorations out? Didn’t we get those from like McDonalds?”

“Yes, we ate many a Happy Meal for those, and yes we do have to have them out. This is Joshua’s first Christmas and I want him to see it all,” Diane pointedly reminded her daughter. She knew that Isabel was having a hard time not having much input in the decorating. It was something that they both usually did together as mother and daughter and while they didn’t always totally agree, it was usually very tasteful. But this year had been different. While Isabel had helped, she and Joshua had done a good part of it together after school and it had a bit more of a childish flair to it with lots of bright colors and more childhood Christmas characters about than normal. Some of the items hadn’t been out of their boxes in the garage in over five years. The kids had outgrown them. She thought the house looked more fun this season, and on few occasions had caught Joshua at night just sitting in the living room and looking around at all of the lights and how they reflected off of things. She had no doubt that he would be mesmerized once the tree was up. “Are we ready to plug them in?”

Philip stood back to look. “Go ahead, Max,” he ordered and viewed the now twinkling lights critically. “We’re a little bare down towards the bottom.”

Max backed up to his dad. “Oh, okay, I see it,” and bent to make the correct adjustments.

Joshua’s eyes were huge as the tree just sort of seemed to come to life with lights. “Ornaments now?” he asked excited.

“No quite yet. Isabel, you want to grab the garland?” Philip asked. The house was Diane’s domain with the exception of the tree lights which were his and once those were on, it was all Diane’s to finish the project. He was out of town on business tomorrow night but he figured he’d have time on the plane to layout this year’s outside lights and Santa display that they were putting up this weekend. He was considering getting some of those animated deer for the lawn.

Joshua was in awe as first his dad and Max did the lights, but then Isabel helped Mom with the garland, and finally the ornaments. He got to do the lower ones, and then the tinsel, though Isabel kept trying to tell him where to put it on and how much, one strand at a time. Ridicules, it needed gobs of tinsel all over.

“Okay, all that’s left is the star,” Diane announced. She had to smile at their tree. It certainly bore signs of a little one helping. There amongst the carefully draped tinsel and ornaments spaced just so, were handfuls of tinsel and several clusters of bulbs and ornaments, mostly on the lower part of the tree. Perfect. She looked at the wonder in Joshua’s eyes as he stared at his first Christmas tree. She’d seen that look eleven years ago from a face very much similar. “So I think Joshua should do the honors, don’t you dear?” she asked her husband.

Philip grinned. Joshua’s mouth was literally hanging open and he could see the incredible delight in his eyes. “Absolutely!” he agreed and hefted his young son up. “Okay, you need to put it right on the top there. Cord in the back.” He gave him a hand draping the cord and adjusted it a bit.

Diane flipped the living room lights off and they all stood back in awe. The tree was a mixture of adult sophistication that they’d come to expect as their oldest two matured, and a good spackling of a five year old mixed in. It reflected their family and it was perfect.

~

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TaffyCat
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Re: Joshua's First Year (CC, Teen) AN, PG4 5-11-09

Post by TaffyCat » Fri May 22, 2009 2:14 pm

Part 16

“Dad, do you have to go?” Joshua whined as he ate his morning cereal.

“Yes. I have a business meeting in Houston this afternoon, which is too far to drive and I can’t catch a return flight until the morning,” Philip patiently explained to his youngest son. For some reason Joshua was being extra clingy towards him this morning. He supposed it had something to do with this being his first night away from home since Joshua’s been with them.

Max watched without saying anything as he poured more milk on his cereal. He kind of had a similar feeling. He didn’t really want Dad to leave either. He didn’t understand it. Dad had had lots of out of town meetings and business trips over the years, some that lasted a week or more. It never bothered him. He was used to them. It was no big deal. So why didn’t he want his dad to go? It was like a part of him was afraid that he was going to need Dad and he wasn’t going to be there. He looked at his little brother. Maybe he was just picking up on Joshua’s unease.

“You sure you don’t need a ride to the airport?” Diane asked.

“No. I’ll just leave the car there. It’s only one night. No big deal.” Philip advised. He bent over to kiss his wife and then picked up his youngest for a hug and a kiss. “You be good for Mommy.”

“Okay,” he replied with a pout.

Philip turned to his oldest two. “And that goes for the both of you too.” He chuckled as he gave his daughter a kiss on the cheek and his son a good squeeze on the shoulder.

“Have a good flight, Dad,” Isabel told him.

“Yeah Dad, have a good flight. See ya tomorrow,” Max concurred but the feeling of unease at the thought of his dad leaving them grew as he watched his dad walk out the door.

~

“So, do you know what you want to ask Santa for in your letter?” Diane asked her youngest after school, as she peeled potatoes for dinner and Joshua colored at the table.

“Uh huh, a puppy!” Joshua told her enthusiastically.

“A…a puppy?” Diane hadn’t been expecting that. Max had had a variety of small pets throughout his childhood, and Isabel had her cat Tiger for some time before it finally died two years ago, but somehow they’d never gotten a dog. A dog meant having to take it for walks, clean up after it, shots, vet bills, toys, and pet food. She looked at her youngest. He was not at all ready for that much responsibility. “Um, no, I’m sorry Sweetheart but Santa doesn’t bring puppies.”

He was crestfallen. He wanted a puppy like Billy down the street had, “How come?”

“Because…” because why, she asked herself. She sighed in relief as her other son walked in, serving as a distraction. “How was school today? Did you do well on the debate?”

He shrugged. Debate team was for geeks, but he thought that maybe it would get him used to speaking in front of people, and arguing. He glanced at his little brother and knew that Joshua was already one-upping on him in the arguing department. “It was fine. Our team won.”

“Oh that’s wonderful, honey. Congratulations. How did you do?” she asked, glad to be off on a new subject. Maybe if they stayed away from the puppy question, he’d forget at least for a little while.

“Fine. I think,” Max hedged. It was still for geeks and he didn’t want to get too into.

“Max, you gonna write a letter to Santa tonight too?” Joshua asked.

Max gave his mom a ‘look’ and rolled his eyes. “Umm, probably not.”

“How come?” He asked.

“I’m a bit too old for Santa. I’ll just wait for Grandma and Grandpa. They usually bring in a good haul,” he informed his brother and mentally added, the real present I want is from Liz. Maybe she and I could use one or two of those condoms…oh man. He felt the tightening in his loins at the thought and his mother’s eyes burning on his back. This just wasn’t a good situation to be in. Why’d he do this to himself?

“Max Evans! You had better not be giving him any ideas,” she admonished and then wondered why his face was so red.

‘MUD’, he needed to think of mud right now and not…she’d look so cute today in that top with the spaghetti straps and that fell just above her navel. And the way her hair fell loose around her face as they spent a good twenty minutes in the eraser room at lunch, and how she moaned his name, unzipped his pants and reached for his pulsing… ‘MUD! MUD! MUD!’

“So what time do you have to work tonight?” Diane asked.

He jerked his mind back to the present. “What?” his voice cracked. “Oh, uh, from six to nine.”

Diane looked at him critically. “Honey, are you coming down with something? You seem awfully flushed.”

He cleared his throat. “No…um, no. Aliens don’t get sick, remember?”

“Oh, right,” she nodded in agreement. But then why was he so flushed?

“I…uh, I think I’ll take a shower and get ready for work,” he told her and was very careful to face away so that Mom wouldn’t see his front as he rose to head to his bedroom for a change of clothes and then onto the bathroom. Once in the shower, he gritted his teeth as he adjusted the showerhead so that the ice cold water hit him where he was the hottest.

~

Weeknights in the winter at the UFO Center were dead. Nobody around except him and Milton, who was in the office snoring, and the fake alien he was restuffing once again. Why did little brats have to disembowel them all the time? It was close to nine, almost time to go home. He glanced around and realized how quiet it was. He spotted the framed newspaper article. He’d seen a million times but never gave it a second thought. This time it caught his eye and he walked over to it. It had been part of his rescue last summer, the emblem at Eagle Rock. He didn’t recall how he knew to give Isabel that particular image when she dreamwalked him in the White Room. It must have registered in his subconscious and somehow he knew that Isabel would understand. He looked around again at the quiet, so quiet. He was alone, all alone. A shiver ran down his spine and he gave himself a mental shake. He cleared his throat just so there’d be some sort of noise and checked his watch. “Milton!” he called out. “It’s nine! I’m going to lock up.”

“Huh? What?” Milton jerked awake. “Oh, okay. Go ahead,” he called back as his eyes were already getting heavy again. ‘Max is a good kid. Good to see he’s over whatever was bothering him this summer,’ he thought as he dozed back again and was soon snoring as the doors were locked, alarms set, and the main lights shut off.

Max paused at the closed Crashdown and wondered if Liz was still up. This was family night for the Parkers and if he went over, it meant a night of board games and chitchat with her folks. Not exactly what he was looking for. Besides, he had that at home.

~

Max found his home dark and quiet as he entered and was careful to close the backdoor softly so as not to wake anyone. He made his way to his bedroom and stripped off his clothes and just climbed into bed. He wasn’t really tired. He didn’t have anything to be tired about. School had been going well. Joshua was a blast to play with and doing well, Isabel had been having fun dating Alex. He smirked at that one. Suddenly the Queen of West Roswell High was dating someone form the AV squad and computer nerd. It’d been the talk of the campus. He was happy for them. Michael and Maria were running hot and cold, depending on when and where you caught them, and he and Liz were getting closer, much, much closer. He closed his eyes and could almost feel her with him, laying there beside him. She was with him in body and soul. He wasn’t alone as his mind began to drift to sweet dreams of them together… just them, alone together, holding each other, kissing, cuddling, exploring, touching…alone together…together…alone….he was alone….

His body shook from fear. They’d left him alone, all alone. They’d stripped his clothes off of him and never said a word. He was just a thing to be poked and prodded and then later…Pierce, and then the torture began…

“Tell me!” Pierce demand.

‘Tell him what? What did he know? No one ever told him anything,’ he thought in his drug-induced semi-consciousness.

Then the ice bathes where he thought he was going to drown. Time and time again he was pushed under and held until the spots swam before his eyes and his lungs begged for air. Only then, right on the verge of passing out did they let him up for a quick breath or two and then back under, over and over again. It went on for what seemed like an eternity. And they were only getting started.

That sound, that piercing sound. He covered his ears with his hands in agony, trying to block the sound. They’d varied the pitch higher and higher as he writhed on the floor in excruciating pain. He felt the blood start to trickle down his fingers right before he passed out.

He sat numb in a corner and drew himself into a ball. He thought he might be deaf but he wasn’t sure. There was no one there to talk to him, so how would he know? It was absolutely quiet. No background noise, nothing. He was nothing. He was alone, so very alone. He closed his eyes and prayed that he’d wake up somewhere safe and it’d all been a dream, a horrible, terrifying dream. He was going to wake up. He had to wake up. He had to…



His eyes popped open in surprise. Where was he? He carefully looked around the room. Home, he was home. He gulped a breath and tried to sit up. He only made it up to his elbows and glanced at the clock, 11:15PM. How long had he been a sleep, an hour, maybe? His body shook as he finally was able to sit on the side of his bed. He felt cold, which surprised him. He rarely felt too hot or too cold. Why was he so cold? He looked around the room. It was so quiet. Not like in…in the White Room, though. He heard the hum of his LED alarm clock; the creak of the house settling at night, the wind hitting his window, a dog barked in the distance, a wind chime sang its song. He concentrated on those sounds. Soft little things that told him he wasn’t alone. He rubbed his hands over his arms, trying to warm himself and decided to put on some pajamas. It seemed to take forever to make it over to his dresser and pull on his night clothes. He was alone. He didn’t want to be alone. He looked up, picturing the second floor. Usually Dad would wake him from his nightmare, or if he woke himself, he’d go upstairs and quietly wake Dad and they’d talk in the kitchen. But Dad wasn’t there tonight. He was alone. He turned towards his sister’s room. He could probably talk a little to her, he thought, but then she’d just tell Liz and Liz would fuss and worry. He didn’t want her to worry. He knew what his problem was and what needed to do. He didn’t want to worry anyone. He looked up again at the ceiling. Maybe if he went to his brother’s room and just lay down next to him for a little bit. His brother would understand. He’d been alone too. He looked at his hands, they’d stopped shaking but he still didn’t want to be alone. He wanted someone to talk to, someone to lean on. He knew he could go to Michael’s but he wasn’t entirely certain he was in any shape to drive. He looked up again and headed into the hall and up the stairs. He tentatively knocked on the closed door. “Mom?” he called out softly.

Diane flicked on the bedside lamp. “Max, honey, what is it?” she asked as the door creaked open.

“I…” now that he was here he didn’t know what to say. Dad was away. He was supposed to be the man of the house when Dad was away. Wasn’t that supposed to be how it worked? He couldn’t go crying to Mommy. He was seventeen, a man or almost. “I’m sorry. I shouldn’t have woken you. Go back to sleep Mom,” he told her as he started to leave her bedside.

“Max, honey, don’t be ridicules,” she told him as she grabbed his arm, holding on to him. She saw the signs, the haunted look in his eyes, the cold and clammy palms, and the sheen of sweat on his brow. “How bad was it?” she asked as she threw the covers off and reached for him.

“Nothing…it was nothing,” he didn’t want to admit the truth to her. He was supposed to be strong and take care of her and everyone in Dad’s absence, right?

“Honey?” she coaxed gently.

“I…I just don’t want to be alone right now,” he finally admitted.

“Come on. Let’s get a nice cup of tea,” she suggested as she slipped on a robe and lead her son downstairs to the den.

Max’s eyes burned from tears that he was trying to hold back as he sat on the sofa and heard the tea kettle start to whistle. He rubbed his hands along his arms as the memory of the ice baths clouded his vision for a moment and chilled him to the bone.

Diane poured the hot water over the tea bags and a spoon of sugar to each cup. As she carried the hot mugs to the den, she saw the shiver that went through her son. “Here Honey, this should warm you up.”

He gratefully took the cup. “Thanks Mom.” Why was he so cold? It was like he would never be warm again. He felt the light blanket from the back of the sofa being draped over his shoulders and comforting arms go around him.

“Is that better, Honey?” she asked gently.

Not really, maybe? He wasn’t sure. “Yeah,” he told her anyway and sipped his tea. The tea was good and it somehow did seem to help warm him some. He felt her hand rubbing his back as they just sat in quiet for a bit.

Diane watched as her son waged a silent battle inside himself to remain in control. As he sipped the last dregs of his tea she pulled him close to her. “It’s okay, Max. It’s okay. You can let go. I’m here. Just let go,” she told him softly and he melted into her arms as he couldn’t quite hold back the sob any longer. His tears dampened her robe as she held him close.

~

Isabel was just not a morning person. She needed coffee and grumbled because she was the first one up, and hence, she needed to make the coffee. While the coffee brewed she decided to go wake her brother. If she was going to suffer a morning with late coffee, he was going to get up early. She froze as she came upon the site in the den. Mom was asleep on the sofa and her brother was curled up with his head in her lap, also sound asleep. Oh this was not good, not good at all, she thought as she quietly crept into the den. She gently touched her mom’s shoulder, shaking her lightly, “Mom. Mom?”

Diane woke with a start and looked up at her daughter and then around the room. It was already getting light out. She then looked down at her son. He was still asleep but she knew that he would awaken as soon as she moved. “Oh, Isabel.”

“Mom, is…is everything okay?” she asked tentatively.

She gently stroked her son’s hair. “Yeah, just a bad night but he’ll be okay,” she whispered. “Go ahead and get ready for school. I think I’ll have Max go back to bed.”

“Okay,” she answered and cast another look at her brother. His eyes were red and puffy with dark circles underneath. She hated Agent Pierce and what he’d done to her brother.

Diane waited until Isabel was in her bedroom and they were alone before gently shaking her son to awaken him. “Max. Max, honey, wake up. It’s morning.”

He slowly opened his sore eyes. They felt raw and painful. “Umm,” he looked around. ‘Oh crap,’ he thought as he realized that the morning sun was shining through the drapes. “Mom,” he croaked out, his throat dry and raspy.

“It’s okay, honey,” Diane soothed as he sat up. “I want you to go to bed and get some proper rest.”

He shook his head, which was a mistake as he realized that he had a headache from last night. “No, that’s okay. I can…”

“Absolutely not, you stay home today and rest. I’ll have Isabel pick up your school work and anything else that you need. Your health is more important than anything else. Now, go!” she order in that no nonsense Mom tone.

“Yes, Ma’am,” he reluctantly obeyed. However as soon as his head hit his pillow, he realized that his mom had been right. He was much more tired than he’d thought and within minutes his eyes were closing again.

~

“Mom, how come Max is staying home?” Joshua asked when Mom got off the phone with his brother’s school.

“Because he’s not feeling well, he’s sick,” Diane answered and took a seat next to her youngest and finished her own breakfast, which was now cold.

“But aliens don’t get sick,” Joshua replied. Isn’t that what he’d heard from his brother?

“Well, there are all kinds of ways someone might be sick and he just needs to rest today.” She looked at the clock on the wall. “Now hurry up or we’re going to be late to school ourselves.”

“But doesn’t someone have to stay home with Max?” he asked. He didn’t like the idea of leaving his brother alone.

“It’s only for an hour or two. Your dad will be here shortly,” she advised. “Now hurry up!”

~

“Max?” Philip called out upon entering his house.

“Yeah, Dad?” Max answered from his bed. He’d been up for an hour or so but hadn’t bothered getting dressed yet.

Philip was untying his tie and had already slipped his suit jacket off when he entered his son’s room. “How ya doing? I heard you had a rough night.”

“I’m okay,” he answered dejectedly.

“Really? You don’t sound it.” Philip took a seat on his son’s bed.

“I…I don’t get it. I thought I was past all of this, that I was all better. Why are they starting up again?” Max asked.

“Max, there’s no time table for recovering from…from being tortured. You very well may have problems off and on for years, but that…that’s nothing to be ashamed of,” he told him kindly. “What was this one about?”

Max sighed. “The usual, Pierce, the White Room,” he paused for a moment as he recalled the dream, “How…how alone, isolated I was in there.”

“I’m sure that’s what he wanted you to feel, but you’re not alone. You have us and some pretty incredible friends, and certain young lady that risked everything, even her life to save you,” he reminded his son.

“I know and that…that was what I hung on to while…while I was there. I knew that Michael and everyone would do anything to get me out…and Liz,” Max told him. “I just…I’m supposed to be the man of the house when you’re gone and I acted that a five year old that needed his mommy last night,” he finally admitted.

“Max, you’re seventeen. You’re not an adult yet. While you may have one foot in adulthood, you still have a good toehold in childhood, and that’s okay. That’s exactly where you should be. Enjoy it. Adulthood will come along soon enough and then you’ll be looking back fondly at what you had to let go of to get there. And as for needing “your mommy”, she’s not any more ready to let you go than you are her. If anything she’s probably a bit relieved that you would still come to her like that.” He padded his knee, “So, I’m going to go change and you get some warm clothes on. We’ve got some lights in the garage that we should start going through checking for this weekend, and it would best to do it when we don’t have a five year old hovering around wanting to help.” He pulled out the sheet of paper from the plane ride and handed it to his son to review, “Here’s what I was thinking of for the yard. We’ll need to inventory and see what more we need. Maybe stop by the store tonight or tomorrow. What do you think?”

Max grinned. Isabel was going to hate the giant blow up Santa thing stuck in the middle of the yard. “It looks perfect, Dad.”

~

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TaffyCat
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Re: Joshua's First Year (CC, Teen) Part AN, PG6, 6-17-09

Post by TaffyCat » Wed Jun 24, 2009 11:54 pm

Very strange to be writing a Christmas part in almost July, but here it is.

Part 17

Philip consulted his list. Three hours. He was under strict instructions from Diane to keep Joshua out of the house for three hours so she could get some Christmas wrapping done. This meant taking Joshua with him and Max as they looked for new outdoor Christmas decorations on Friday evening and they had to take their time. “Grab a basket Max,” he instructed as they started at Costco.

“I wanna see the toys,” Joshua announced right before he took off towards the special holiday toy section that Costco has every year.

Philip sighed as his youngest ran down the aisle, away from him. “Go lasso him,” he told his oldest boy.

“Joshua!” Max yelled as he found him amongst the Hot Wheels sets. “You can’t take off like that.”

He pointed at the new triple loop set. “You think Santa will bring me that?”

“Not if you don’t listen to Dad. Santa might find out and then you’ll be in trouble,” Max warned.

“Oh…” Joshua frowned. He didn’t mean to run off, he just wanted to see the toys.

Max hoisted him up on his back. “Come on. We’ve got some lights and stuff to buy.”

“Yeah,” he grinned again as his brother gave him a piggyback ride. Lights were cool too.

“Where you want him?” Max asked as he caught back up with his dad.

“Basket,” Philip nodded and then scowled at his youngest as he was dumped in the basket cart, “No more running off or I’ll take you back home and Mom will put you right to bed young man,” he threatened, that it was an empty threat Joshua didn’t need to know.

“Sorry,” Joshua said with a forlorn look.

Philip sighed and then pushed the cart along the decoration aisle. “What do you think? I kind of like the penguin Merry Christmas display.”

“Yeah, but where’d we put it?” Max asked and then he and Dad consulted the drawing of the yard.

“We could move this to the side and then this in front with some lighted reindeer,” Philip suggested.

“Yeah,” Max concurred but wasn’t too convinced. It would look nice but Isabel would love it and that wasn’t what he was after. He looked back up at the various displays and grinned, “Hey Joshua, what about that?” He coaxed and pointed.

“YEAH!” Joshua proclaimed. It had Mickey and Minnie and Goofy and it was big and colorful.

Philip studied it for a moment and then looked at his two sons and shook his head. Iz was so not going to like this. “Okay you two. Mickey and Minnie it is and you’ll be ones explaining.”

Three hours and five stores later they were pulling into the drive with Joshua sound asleep in his car seat and the back of the Dodge was loaded with every brightly colored gaudy display and blowup thing for Christmas that they could lay their hands on. Even the icicle lights that Isabel insisted on were of the multicolor variety. He seriously doubted that was what she had in mind but Joshua had been in heaven selecting not only the lights and Mickey and Minnie, but they got a new Santa to go on the roof, and another blow up one of Winnie the Pooh and Tigger, not to mention the new outdoor audio system with themed Christmas music, and he still wasn’t sure where he was going to put the lighted moose but he’d figure it out. He turned to his oldest son, “Okay, here’s the plan. We need to be up and already working at the crack of dawn…well before your sister gets up,” he glanced at the car seat occupant, “and before Joshua can help too much. So, say six?”

Max wanted to groan but he knew what his dad was saying. Iz was going to have a fit and insist that they take much of it back if she spotted them before they got it all out of the boxes and laid out. “Okay, deal.”

“Good. We can just leave it in the back of the Dodge for tonight. I’ll just take Joshua in,” he told him.

~

Isabel yawned and stretched as she sat up in bed and looked at the clock, just a little after eleven. She’d needed her beauty sleep and this was a lazy winter Saturday morning. No reason to be up early. She stretched once more before getting up and starting her morning routine.

“Good morning, dear,” Diane greeted her daughter as she sat at the kitchen table perusing the sales ads.

“Morning, Mom,” she yawned and poured herself a cup of coffee.

THUD

“What was that?” Isabel looked around in alarm.

“Your dad and brothers are putting up the decorations today, remember?” Diane reminded her.

“Oh right,” Isabel acknowledge as she sipped her coffee. “Maybe I’ll take a peek at what they’ve got going on.”

Diane almost cringed as her daughter grabbed a jacket and slipped outside. Diane had already seen the decoration selection this morning all spread out on the lawn waiting to be assembled or blown up. Joshua had wanted to help, which she figured probably slowed things down a great deal but he was thankfully out of her hair for most of the day. Maybe she could get her nails done while out shopping this afternoon.

~

“OH MY GOD!” Isabel yelled as she took in the sight before her.

“Crap, she’s up,” Philip mumbled from his perch on the roof.

“Heil Hitler,” Max commented from the top of the ladder where he had the staple gun in one hand and a string of lights in the other. He was almost done with the multicolored icicles.

“What happened to a few reindeer and Santa display? This….this is a…a Griswald house on a bad acid trip!” she exclaimed.

“Cool, huh?” Joshua asked as he showed her the new lighted Grinch and sleigh that was destined for in front of the porch.

She looked at her dad and Max as if they’d lost their minds. “It was supposed to be a few lights, some reindeer….” She looked, was that a moose? What the hell did Bullwinkle have to do with Christmas? Oh God, how could they’ve bungled it up so badly? Max, she could understand, he’d think it funny to screw with her like this but her dad, how could he do this to her? The whole town was going to see it. “MOM! Have you seen what they’ve done?” She shouted as she ran back inside.

“She’s not taking it too well,” Philip noted.

“Nope, can’t wait to see her reaction to the dancing-singing Elvis polar bear display,” Max positively beamed as he finished off the icicles.

By seven that night the displays were set and inflated, lights were on, Christmas music blared from the audio system, the Elvis polar bear was shimming to Blue Hawaii, and Isabel prayed no one from school drove past their house until after New Years.

Joshua, on the other hand, was in awe of his dad and brother and would only come in when Mom forced him to.

~

“Joshua. Joshua,” Diane shook him a little harder. “You need to get up sweetheart.”

“Nu-uh,” he protested and tried to roll out of her reach.

“Joshua. You need to look outside. Come on, get up,” she told him and yanked the blanket off of him.

Joshua rubbed his bleary eyes. It couldn’t be time to get up yet. It just couldn’t, and church wasn’t until a little later. “What Mom?” he asked as he continued to rub at his eyes as Mom opened up his blinds. His eyes grew large at the sight before him.

”Mom?” He asked as climbed up to the window sill and watched in awe as the sky continued to lay a beautiful blanket of white on everything.

“It’s snowing,” Diane told him as she enjoyed his reaction to it. She had a good idea to what was going to come next and smoothly grabbed his arm before he could tear out of there and run outside. “Jacket, scarf, hat, and goulashes first,” she informed him, “and go wake your brother,” she thought for a moment longer, “and your sister.”

~

SPLAT

“Isabel got him dead on,” Philip observed with a grin as he watched through the front window while sipping his morning coffee. He was no dummy. He was staying in where it was nice and warm but got to watch his kids play anyhow.


“Mmm, only temporary. Check out that snowball Joshua’s working on,” Diane countered as she was already working on her second cup of coffee.

SMATT

“He missed,” Diane observed.

“Nope. Only a distraction, check out Max,” Philip advised.

ARRRRRGGHHHHHH!

“Yep, down the back of the shirt.” Philip smirked. “She’s not taking it too well.”

THUMP

THUD

Max went sprawling in the snow as he was hit in the back by something unseen. Philip looked at his loving daughter, whose hand had a faint glow to it. “That’s our Izzy.”

“Oh look. Here comes Michael. I invited him over for breakfast,” Diane advised.

Philip chuckled. Michael didn’t stand a chance as several snowballs flew in his direction.

“Are we going to church today?” Diane asked as Michael ducked behind some shrubs, scooped up handfuls of snow, and started retaliating in earnest.

“Can’t. Roads are going to be closing if this keeps up,” he wasn’t too upset about it, he’d at least be able watch the games today, even the pregame reports, and he’d have plenty of company too with the boys.

Diane eyed her husband and that silly little grin he was sporting. She just knew it was only partly because Isabel had been able to sneak around behind Michael and blasted him with several snowballs. She sighed and decided to make a large pot roast today. Pot roast went well with football. “Well, I better start a nice hot breakfast. They’ll need something to warm themselves up with when they come in. Don’t let them stay out there too long.”

“Yes, dear,” Philip commented and gave his wife a quick peck on the cheek before turning back to the window. It looked like Michael and Joshua had teamed up against Isabel and Max and several hands glowed as a couple of snow forts were quickly being built. Now this was getting interesting, he thought as he sipped his coffee.

After a massive barrage of snowballs flying everywhere at amazing speed, certainly something faster than humanly possible, a truce was called when they ran out of ready nearby snow. Plus Mom called them in for a hot breakfast.

~

“Oh mom, do you think I could have the girls over this Friday night to start to get ready for the Christmas Dance on Saturday? We want to do pedicures and manicures and maybe try out some new hair styles with our dresses,” Isabel explained over her omelet.

“Sure honey,” Diane replied and looked over at their breakfast guest, “more potatoes, Michael?”

“M’kay,” he answered and held out his plate for another helping. They’d all worked up an appetite this morning.

“Mom…” Max started.

“No,” Philip cut him off.

“But that’s not fair. If Isabel can have friends over why can’t I?” Max complained.

“I am not having eight teenagers under the same roof for the night,” Philip informed him.

“But…”

“Let me rephrase that, I will not have four under-aged teenage couples staying the night all at once…you don’t have enough condoms left in that box in your dresser to cover the night and I’d rather not take the chance on becoming a grandfather, nor would the other parents,” Philip pointedly told his son. “You can have them over some other night when there’s not so much temptation around.”

“But….” Max’s face was bright red and his mom was studiously ignoring him and his sister was biting her lip trying not to laugh. He thought he heard Michael snort. This wasn’t fair, he never asked for friends to stay over, true Michael just usually showed up, but that was beside the point. “You let us all go camping this summer and nothing happened,” he reasonably pointed out.

Philip looked at the chair that now held his youngest who was silently eating his breakfast and was all ears, taking it all in. Pointing at him, “I wouldn’t say that, look what you brought home. No more, this house is full enough.”

Diane glanced around the table as everyone resumed digging in hungrily to their meal. She took the potato skillet back to the stove and happened to look at the kitchen calendar on her way back to the table. “Isabel, you mean this coming Friday?”

“Yeah, why?” Isabel asked back.

“I thought the dance was in two weeks, not next weekend,” Diane explained.

“No, why?” Isabel asked again.

Diane sat down with a sigh. “Philip the Christmas Ball is next Saturday as well, and with the kids both at the dance…” she looked over at Joshua.

Philip paused and looked over at his wife, “we need a babysitter.”

“No way, I’ve already bought my dress, besides I always get stuck babysitting,” Isabel whined to her parents and saw Michael about to say something, “and you wouldn’t survive skipping out on Maria. She’d so kill you.”

“I’m pretty sure Liz already has as dress too,” Max announced and glanced at his parents and innocently added, “and this is my first school dance.” It was hard not to smirk, ‘top that Iz,’ he mentally challenged.

Isabel seethed at her brother.

“Well, your mother and I have to go to the ball. I do too much business with the other members of the country club not to go. We’ll have to figure something out this week,” Philip concluded and wondered if they could get Joshua to bed early enough, hence less likely chance of an ‘oops’ happening, if a regular babysitter might work. He doubted it.

“Dad?” Joshua finally piped up.

“Yeah?” Philip replied.

“What’s a condom?”

Michael almost hurt himself he laughed so hard.

~

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