Three Couples, Six People, Many Songs(#1)
What would you do? - City High
Tiny grubby fingers latched onto the tattered brown coat that adorned a young blue haired teenager. The little boy that the fingers belonged to watched the world through wide green eyes, innocent replicas of their young father's worn, experienced green eyes.
"I'm hungry..." The child finally spoke, looking up at his father.
The teenager looked back down at the boy, and he smiled softly, doing his best to banish the pain in his eyes. "You'll eat soon, don't worry." He started to walk again, but he felt the boy lag a little behind him. Pitying the him, he stopped to pick up the little three year old, balancing his malnourished frame on his hip expertly. Noting his son's messy hair, he smoothed it back a little. "You need a haircut," he said, for the boy's curly cerulean blue hair had started to reach his shoulders.
Using one arm to hold the boy up, he continued walking. This would be his last delivery, and he would hopefully be paid enough to buy his son some food, something healthy, something to help the tiny, scrawny child grow right.
He made it to the house, and immediately started to wish he that had not brought the kid with him. He did no want his son to see what a druggie house looked like. For some reason, taking his son on his regular delivery route had not originally seemed like such a bad idea... Sighing, he rang the doorbell and waited.
The door cracked open a little. Sharp blue eyes peered out. "What do you want?" A female voice. Strange, he never remember any women living there. And why did her voice sound familiar?
"Just making a delivery." He said, pushing back some of his blue hair.
"Delivery?" For a moment she seemed confused, but then realization dawned on her. "Wait right here." She closed the door, not allowing him to see her.
A few minutes later a man in his thirties or so opened the door and accepted the brown paper bag he had in his coat.
"That's fifty dollars." He said. Fifty dollars that he would only get five or so dollars from...
"Fifty? That's robbery!" The man said, narrowing his eyes.
"And that," he pointed to the bag, "is very illegal. Give me the fifty dollars or give it back to me."
Muttering under his breath, the man paid up. "If you guys weren't the only dealers in town..."
"I don't deal, I only deliver." The teenager said, noting that his son looked rather drowsy. Pocketing the money, he turned and started to walk away from the house.
He stopped walking and turned around, wondering who had called him. He had not gone by the name 'James' since he'd been kicked out of home nearly four years ago...
A young woman exited the building. The blue-eyed young woman that had answered the door. The red-haired, blue-eyed young woman... The red-haired, blue-eyed young woman that he had once gone to school with...
"James!" She smiled and jogged over to him. Her red hair was in a long red ponytail as it always had been, and her blue eyes had that same sharp edge, only somewhat sharper, but so very much older. "Who's the kid?"
"Um..." James looked at the half asleep boy, then smiled ruefully. "This is my son, Martin."
Jessie blinked. "Your...son?"
James nodded. "Yeah, long story."
"Oh, well..." Jessie frowned slightly, but smoothed her features and smiled slightly. "Haven't seen you for years, seems you've been busy."
"Very. What the hell are you doing at a place like this?"
"Doing a favor for a friend and seeing if her brother's still alive."
"No. He died last week."
"Oh..." James shifted the child to his other hip, then decided to just hold him in both his arms. "So, where are you now?"
"Going to start my second year of college in a month..." Jessie frowned, looking at 'Martin' and then back at James. "So this is what happened when your parents kicked you out. Got some girl pregnant, have a kid to take care of, and delivering drugs to try and stay alive, though obviously you're not doing a good job at it."
James looked down at the ground, avoiding Jessie's scrutinizing gaze. "It was an accident... And then his mother died in childbirth. I've got no other way to feed him."
"Couldn't you have put him up for adoption?"
James looked up, horrified. "Never. He's my son."
"Well your son isn't looking very healthy." She sighed, looking James over again. "Why don't you come over to my friend’s place for the night? She won‘t be back till tomorrow night."
James blinked, then looked down at the scrawny boy in his arms. It would do Martin good to sleep in a cleaner surrounding even for just one night... "Sure." He replied, feeling slightly apprehensive about doing this. "How are we going?"
"By car." She pointed at a little, slightly broken-down but functional black car parked down the block. "I'll make us dinner, and then we can talk."
James nodded, somehow falling back into his old routine of obeying the older girl's every word.
"Daddy," the little boy said, tugging on his father's coat sleeve.
"Yes?" James looked at the boy.
Martin pointed at his plate. "Wha's thad?"
James blinked. "Um, that's chicken, and that stuff's cream sauce, and some rice. Just try it."
"Okay Daddy." The little boy sniffed the food suspiciously, then was about to reach for it with his hands when James stopped him.
"Remember what I said about using your hands?"
Martin blinked his little green eyes and then shook his head.
"Don't use your hands to eat unless I say you can. Use the spoon." James picked up the spoon and placed it gently in his son's hands. "You need help?"
The boy shook his head stubbornly. "Can do id." With fierce determination, he tightened his grip on the spoon and dug into the rice then aimed it for his mouth, dropping half of the food that was on the spoon back onto the plate, and the other half into his mouth. He chewed hungrily, delighted at finally having something to eat again, then looked proudly at his father. "I do id!"
James smiled, and patted the boy on the head. "Good boy."
Jessie looked over at the two, a look of amusement and wonder on her face. James noticed it, and looked at her quizzically.
"It's just... You have a son. And such a cute one too..." She stared at them for a little while longer before starting to eat.
"He takes after his mother..." James said, his eyes freezing over for a little while.
"I'd say he looks a lot like you though, especially his eyes." She eyed James sharply. "Now eat, I didn't cook it to grow cold waiting for you."
"Yes ma'am." James replied slyly, then quickly ducked the spoon she threw at him and started to eat.
After the meal, James helped Jessie clean-up a bit, then took Martin to get him ready for bed and put him to sleep. When the little boy had finally fallen asleep on Jessie's bed, he returned to the kitchen/social area, where Jessie ordered him to sit on the couch next to her. Music from her radio could be heard if one strained their ears a little, for she had turned the volume down. When James sat down, she patted her lap, their old sign for him to lie his head down on her thigh. James hesitated briefly, then lay down across the couch, his legs draping over the edge and his head on her right thigh. Warily, he looked up at her, and she smiled to calm his nerves.
"It's been a really long time..." She said, running her fingers gently through his tangled blue hair. "What happened James? Why did your parents kick you out? Where'd you go? I tried to find you, but I had no leads... No one would tell me anything."
James averted his eyes so that he did not have to look directly up at Jessie. "They never wanted me. We were a big enough family, four kids before me. They could have done without me. The fact that I was failing school and couldn't do anything for the family didn't make them want to keep me." He sighed, shutting his eyes for a little while. "It also didn't help that I got caught stealing... I just wanted to get a little money to help out, that was all." James paused, mentally kicking himself for having been such a stupid teenager. "But that decided it, and though I got released without having to pay any fines, they kicked me out."
"You never told me your family had any problems..." Jessie frowned, pausing in her playing with his hair.
"I didn't want you to know." He looked back up at her, inwardly wincing at the disapproval in her eyes. "When they kicked me out, I ended up hitchhiking places, and then I ended up stealing again. Got mixed up in the wrong circles which led to my current job. I met Alicia not too long after I'd been on my own, and we started dating. She was a runaway. She got pregnant, but she refused an abortion, we couldn't afford one anyway. When she was delivering, something went wrong, and we didn't exactly have a trained doctor to help us out, so here I am now... What would you have done?"
"Tried to find some better way to take care of Martin." Jessie shook her head. "James, this is no way to bring up a child. I saw the way he practically inhaled his meal. That boy's malnourished, he needs better care."
"It's not that simple Jessie..." James started to sit up, but she pushed him back down.
"Why? Why isn't it? There's no point in complicating things James, remember I told you that once? You need to get a real job, you need to at least finish your high school education. Martin's gonna become a screwed up crack addict or alcoholic if you bring him up like this."
"No he won't."
"I would've said the same thing if someone had told me this was how you would turn out."
James felt that remark. He felt it as it shattered his world and gave him a nice hard shake and then slapped him. Stunned, he didn't even move as Jessie got up and said good night, leaving him to sleep on the couch without a pillow or a blanket, not that it was any worse than how he usually slept. Sometime while he was busy being shocked, he managed to drift asleep, but he dreamt of a world where Jessie hated him, where Alicia's ghost haunted him, and where Martin did indeed grow up to become a screwed up crack addict...