The Danning Beginnings – Chapter Six

*Calcifer’s POV*

“What kind of lunatic operates on someone in a bedroom, anyway? She’s insane! So he is. They’re both whacko. And it’s my dad’s life on the line in there! One little thing, one teeeeeeensy thing could go wrong and that–that cold-hearted bimbo–if she–what–“

“Please calm down.”

I whirled around and glared at Penny who was hovering nearby. Her cloth fingers were twitching a bit, fumbling as she nervously fidgeted. “Calm down?” I asked. “My father is on a bed being sliced open for some sort of psycho mad scientist who put him in this freaky situation in the first place! If she never–“

“We have talked about this before,” she interrupted me, still sounding calm. “Because of–“

Now I interrupted her. “Just don’t,” I grumbled. It was something she unfortunately like to remind me more than I wanted her to. She didn’t understand. Nobody did. Everyone seemed to think I should be just soooo happy that my father was dying because of me. How could I be happy? How could I be grateful that someone was living a painful life because of me? How could anyone be happy?

“Calcifer, it will be all right,” Penny whispered. “Do you really think that she would have come all this way if it was a hopeless operation? She seemed as though she has a busy life.”

I folded my arms and glowered at the bedroom door. “She seems like she’s a jerk. She said I should practically worship her! Psychotic bi–“

“Fuming about it will not do any good.” Penny stood up and came over to me, putting a soft hand on my shoulder. I just kept glaring. I really was supposed to feel fine with my father’s life in the hands of some woman who demanded I worship her and who ran over someone and just had them dumped in a tub! I turned to glare at the bathroom door. Was there really a dead body in there? Sheesh, we should have called the police. I should call the police.

“But if I call them they’d just show up and haul her away leaving Dad is a very bad place!” I snarled out loud.

“Call who?” Penny asked, her button eyes staring at me.

“The police.” I went over to the bathroom door and put my ear against it. “Do you think she really is dead? That woman, if she could run over someone and not care, how can I trust her to take care of Dad? She didn’t in the first place. Otherwise he’d be okay.”

“He will be okay. You have to have faith.”

“Faith in Frankenstein,” I snorted, leaning back against the door and staring at Penny. Her familiar face looked back into mine. I wanted to reach over and touch the cloth but I kept my hands down. Sometimes I felt weird about her. She was not a real girl, just cloth and buttons and thread. But sometimes I wanted her… which what did that say about my state of mental health? Jeez, wanting a doll. Of course, then again, I was well aware of the fact that there were a different sort of doll specifically for the, ah, lonely purpose of… yes. But this was different. Blow-up dolls didn’t have a soul inside. At least, Reaper, I hope they didn’t.

“What are you thinking, Calcifer?”

I nearly fell over, shaken out of my thoughts. I felt my face going red. “NOTHING!” I shrieked. “Why?!” She just shrugged and I tried to catch my breath. Dangerous territory. Bad thoughts. I needed to seriously stop. But I didn’t want to think about my father, vulnerable, unconscious as some psycho thrust a knife into him. So I immediately focused my attention on the other thing close by: the dead body.

I put my ear against the door again and then very lightly tapped. There was no response so I opened the door. The room was dark and I could see a bundle in the tub. I could smell blood. Penny was behind me, trying to see. I was never sure if she could see better in the dark than me. After all, buttons didn’t have, er, coronas or whatever it was that filtered light. She often preferred having the light on, but was that because I preferred having the light on? I really wasn’t sure.

There was a soft moan as soon as I flipped on the light. I couldn’t remember exactly what happened after that, other than the fact I was by the couch. Penny–who had turned off the lights and shut the door–insisted I screamed and ran, but I didn’t believe her.

“She’s alive!” I gasped out, my fingers pressed into the fabric of the couch. “That was a moan, that was the sound of a living person!”

“I am sorry you were frightened.”

“I wasn’t scared!” I snapped.

“Oh, I misunderstood your tone then. I am still not good at that.”

I tiptoed over to the bathroom door and listened in. No sound. “Did you hear a moan, too?” I asked, wondering if it had been my imagination.

“Yes. Whoever is in there is alive,” Penny replied. “Do you want me to go see?”

“No!” I stood up straight and puffed out my chest. “It might be too horrific for you to see. I will go in. You stay out here.” I opened the door very slowly and shut it behind me. It was really dark, since there wasn’t a window. My eyes slowly focused as I stared at the tub. Despite Penny backing up my hearing a moan, I suspected it had been my imagination. I thought about turning the light on again but I kinda didn’t want to move. Finally I reached over.

“Don’t turn the lights on again.”

I froze, my hand still in the air, my eyes stuck on the bundle in the tub. There was the sound of someone moving. She was alive. “Um. Are you… okay…?” I asked, knowing how stupid that was if she was okay enough to talk.

There was another moan. And then suddenly, two spots of light. “Is he okay?” she asked, the glowing spots facing me. They almost–looked like–eyes. I felt my legs begin to tremble.

“Uhhhhh who?” I gulped.

“I bit someone. I didn’t kill him, did I?”

Now my legs were shaking. This was some sort of nightmare. This was NOT a conversation I’d be having with someone who had been hit by a car. Or with anyone, period. Or maybe her head was hit so badly it messed up her brains. “Nobody is dead,” I said, taking a step back towards the door. “Unless you are,” I joked, trying to ease up the tension.

The two little glowing eyes were still facing me. “Who is bleeding?” she asked.

“Huh?”

“There is blood. A lot of it. Someone is bleeding.”

I shifted my weight and felt rather sick at that. This was not normal. This was definitely not normal. “I don’t really smell anything other than–other than yours–“

“You wouldn’t, would you.” It wasn’t a question, more of a statement. “You need to leave. Right now.”

“What–“

Now!” she snarled, sounding rather inhuman. I yelped and flung open the door, leaving as fast as I could. I shut the door and backed away from it, clutching my chest. My heart was racing, I completely felt fear now about what–about what was going on. Then I screamed and jumped as something touched my shoulder.

“Calcifer, are you all right?” Penny asked.

“D-d-d-don’t do that!” I panted, clutching my chest even more.

“I am sorry.”

I just stared at her. A being made of fabric holding a soul inside. That was the stuff of sci-fi. So–was she–were there really–could that girl possibly be…? I sank down onto the couch and rubbed my forehead. This was way over my head. All of it. Every single damn thing! What the HELL kind of life was I living? Born of a man, who was currently being sliced into by a psychotic woman demanding I worship her, being comforted by a cloth doll, and possibly just yelled at by a–a vampire? This wouldn’t fly even on the ‘Twilight Zone’!

I licked my lips and looked at the kitchen. I pushed myself to my feet and went in, searching through the cupboards. Penny stayed with me but said nothing as I banged and clanked my way, trying to find it. There had to be some. Just a little bit. And then I found it.

“Calcifer,” Penny whimpered as I held up a bottle of nectar. “I don’t think you are old enough for that.”

“Nope,” I replied, getting a glass and pouring some of the liquid into the glass. I filled it up as much as I could and then set the bottle down. I had tasted nectar before, a small sip. But I had never really… drunk before. I was supposed to. Before all this shit happened. I had a huge party planned for when my dad was out of town on that damn vacation, and I was going to get drunk for the first time but that was robbed from me, so now was a good a time as any.

“Please–I do not think–” Penny said but then I put the glass against my lips and tipped it back. The alcohol swirled in my mouth and then down into my stomach as I swallowed. Another sip followed and then a rather large gulp. “Calcifer, I don’t like this.”

“There’s a lot I don’t like,” I grumbled, filling the glass again and drinking it down rather quickly. I felt a bit warm after that. My cheeks were tingling very slightly. I downed a third, and then fourth. I wasn’t even savoring it, I was just trying to get it into my system as quickly as I could.

“Calcifer! Stop!” She grabbed the bottle but didn’t pick it up, she just pushed it away from me. We both knew how clumsy her hands were. “This is not helping anything. I do not think your father will be happy to know you were drinking.”

I wanted to complain that my father didn’t care about me but I couldn’t. So I just finished my glass and reached for the bottle again. Penny’s hand came down, holding carefully onto my wrist. The glazed plastic, or whatever buttons were made of, were staring hard at me. “Stop it.”

“Let go of me!” I tried to get my arm free. “My father’s getting his womb fixed and there’s a vampire wallowing in the bathtub. I deserve a drink.” I managed to get the bottle with my other hand and pour another drink for myself.

Before I could take a drink, she seized my wrist. “I do not think alcohol is something you should be drinking when things are not going so nice. I have seen drunk people on TV. I do not want you to be drunk.”

I relaxed my hand and sighed. She let go, and I took that opportunity to grab the bottle. Instead of pouring it into my glass I staggered away from Penny and drank directly from the bottle. Penny started to reach towards me and then her hands fell down against her body. I could feel her disappointment rolling off of her in waves and the nectar… it didn’t exactly taste great… but I knew it would get me drunk, and I wanted to be drunk.

As the minutes ticked by, the level of liquid in the bottle went lower and lower until it was gone. I slumped on the table, my head in my arms. I felt very tingly and weird at this point, and kinda sick. That–was too fast. Ugh. Then again, I hadn’t eaten much that day. Oops. Maybe this was a bad idea.

Penny rubbed my back, not saying anything although she was still upset with me. I was glad she was there, though. And that I wasn’t dealing with this on my own. I reached back and tried to clutch at her hand. “Oh Penny,” I sighed, pulling her close and leaning my head against her. “What would I do without you?”

She stroked my hair gently and I closed my eyes. “Do not worry, Calcifer. I will not leave you, so you won’t know.”

Things became all nice and dreamy for a while and then things got very silly. I couldn’t help but giggling as I tried to walk and failed. I decided, for some reason, it would be fun to try to stand on a chair and yeah, no broken bones at the very least. Penny pushed me over to the couch and had me sit down. I began hiccuping and laughing as she got the TV on. Her hands were so clumsy! I snickered and then rolled off the couch laughing.

“Calcifer, you don’t seem well,” Penny said, peering down at me.

I grinned up at her. “Nooope! Waazapected.” I pointed a  finger at her and then tipped over on the couch. The TV was on, images flicking by at a thousand miles per hour, making my head throb with trying to focus. I just lay sideways on the couch with Penny sitting near me, rubbing my back again. “D”you think my Dadsokay?” I mumbled.

“I am sure he is fine, Calcifer.”

“He’sbin there fer a looong time…”

“It’s only been forty minutes. How long does an operation usually take?”

I shrugged and closed my eyes. “He better be’kay…” What if he wasn’t? My mind started wheeling around, remembering all the horrible things I said to him. I even said ‘I hate you’. When was that? I squinted, trying to rememb–oh… that was just today… “I’m a bad son.”

“You are not a bad son, Calcifer.”

“I am. I told my fathur I hate him a’fore he goes inta surgery…” I began feeling more and more guilty, remembering all I had been putting him through recently. Running off at all hours, getting into trouble, getting into fights… “If he makesit I promish… promise… I will be better… mhm… yeah…”

Penny chuckled. “I am sure your father will be fine. Though I cannot imagine you not getting into some sort of trouble.”

“I won’t anymore!” I cried out. “I won’t.” I was very determined not to, if my father made it through this safely. I’d be a good son for him. Yep.

*

“C-C-Calcifer…?”

I opened my eyes, peering over at the door. There was a very blurry Kay standing in the living room, something bloody in one hand. I sat up and felt ready to throw up. He was going to tell me my dad had… no…. I opened my mouth to answer but… well… it wasn’t pleasant. Thankfully I was over the wooden floor and not the rug, so my vomit was hopefully going to be easier to clean up.

“He is drunk,” Penny said. She still often forgot only I could hear her.

“I am not,” I complained, wiping off my mouth. “I’m–just–sick.”

“You are drunk. I don’t like it.”

“Are y-y-y-you okay?” Both of them spoke at once which made me dizzy.

“I’m fine,” I said, straightening up and looking over at Kay. “Wh… blood…” I stared at his hands. Now that I was more focused,I could see they were long rubber gloves. “Blood,” I said again and then clutched my stomach. “Is she a vampire?”

Kay arched his eyebrows and nervously looked at the door. “Y-yes,” he whispered. “You d-d-didn’t go in, d-did you?”

I gulped and considered lying. But then I nodded. “For a moment. She said she smelled blood–“

Kay was in front of me in the blink of an eye and was examining me. “Did sh-she bite you?”

“No!” I tried to get free since he had blood on him and though the vampire may enjoy that smell, I didn’t. “Leggo! Ow! She said she could smell blood and then told me to get out, so I got out. She didn’t bite me.”

“Stay out of th-there,” Kay said firmly, looking deep into my eyes. As I stared back, so close to his face, I felt a flicker of familiarity. Like I had seen him before. I mean, before he came back into my dad’s life. There was something… almost… very… familiar? “C-Calcifer, p-promise me. W-we don’t know m-much about v-v-vampires but if sh-she is w-w-wounded and has b-blood loss then sh-she n-n-needs to replenish.”

“She bit you,” I said, flickering my gaze to his wrist. There was a bandage there. “Will you become–“

“No,” he said. “Sh-she bit my wrist. But it was p-p-pure luck I d-didn’t get s-sucked dry. So st-stay away from her r-right now. You’re d-drunk.” He sniffed and gave me a look.

“I’m nooot!” I whined, flailing back and forth.

Kay just sighed. “W-we will t-talk about it l-later. I n-need to go b-back in. I j-just wanted to tell y-you that the m-major part is over. We have isolated th-the problem, at l-least part of it, and m-my sister is working on f-fixing it.”

“Wazza problem?” I asked.

“I th-think it would b-be better to talk to you wh-when you’re, ah, more sober. Go wash y-your mouth in the kitchen and l-lay down. And avoid th-the bathroom. All right?”

I nodded miserably and staggered to the kitchen, rinsing out my mouth as best I could. Kay returned to the bedroom, and I started to go to my bedroom then went into my dad’s room. I sat down on the bed and then curled up. Penny was near the bed, just standing there. She knelt down and put her hand on my side.

“Is there anything I can do for you?” she asked and I shook my head. “Do you trust him? He said they have found the problem.”

“I don’t have a choice,” I mumbled. My mouth still tasted like vomit and I wished I could go in and get some toothpaste or something. Then I had a thought. Penny wasn’t real. Could she creep into the bathroom and get me my toothbrush and toothpaste? Would the vampire do anything? Her fingers pressed against my side, no warmth coming from them. No blood. But I didn’t want to risk it. I’d rather deal with a gross mouth than anything happening to her.

“If I fall asleep, wake me up when they’re done,” I yawned.

“I cannot, Calcifer, I am sorry,” she said. “When you go to sleep I become a doll. Remember?”

“Oh… yes… sorry…”

“No, I’m sorry–“

“Iz okay.” I was mostly asleep now. The nectar felt so warm and nice inside of me, I could barely keep my eyes open. “Just don’t go into the… bathroom…” I couldn’t see much but she was gone. I shifted my arm and let it swing down. I felt her, a tiny doll on the floor. And then I fell asleep.

~*~

Author’s Note:

The vampire was made by TheUsernameFound, and the mini-partial-story with the vampires is also thanks to her. Also, sorry I could not get Penny looking how she originally does. I tried eleven times, five different ways, and did not get the green IF. Sorry. 😦

The Danning Beginnings – Chapter Five

I wasn’t sure what to do or what I could do. I was a bit afraid to move but when I realized it had been a couple minutes since Kay went out, I managed to convince my feet to move. I took a few, lurching steps towards the front door and then over to the car. Kay was leaning against car, the back door open. He wasn’t moving. I gulped and took a couple more steps closer, worried that whoever his sister hit was now dead.

But as I approached, Kay finally moved. He turned slightly and I saw a strange look on his face. “Could you g-get me a blanket or t-two? I n-need to cover her.”

“Is she… dead?” I whispered, trying to see the figure in the car but Kay was blocking the way.

He shook his head. “Alive. B-but I need b-blankets.”

I turned and headed back into the house. Blankets. I went straight for my room and stripped my bed down, wondering if sheets counted or if I needed to get another blanket. Worried that sheets just wouldn’t help, I went into Kay’s room and took his blanket. By the time I got outside, Cal had come home. He was standing on the front walk, staring at the car. He turned to stare at me as I came out with the blankets.

“Dad, what’s going on?” he asked.

“Nothing, please go inside,” I said, hurrying past him and handing Kay the blankets. He mumbled a thanks and bent into the car. Cal came up next to me and I turned, grabbing his arm and pushing him towards the house. “Go on, go inside.”

“What’s going on?!” he demanded angrily. “There’s blood and–Grim Reaper!” he gasped as Kay backed away from the car, a wrapped bundle in his arms. He still had a rather strange look on his face. “Is that a dead body?!” my son squeaked as he saw blood dripping down from the blankets. No, not from the blankets. I squinted and saw there was a fresh wound on Kay’s wrist.

“No, sh-she’s not dead,” Kay said and shifted a bit, trying to keep a good hold on the body. “Calcifer, p-p-please close the car d-door for me? Th-thank you.” Kay headed into the house and Cal did as he was asked. I followed Kay inside, desperate to know what was going on. But Kay just went towards the smaller bathroom–the bathroom Cal and I shared–and put the bundle in the bathtub. Cal was right on my heels, trying to see what was going on but Kay stepped towards us, pushing us out. A bit of blood smeared on my shirt.

“Are you all right?” I asked, reaching for his wrist.

He quickly snatched his arm back, holding it against his chest. “F-fine,” he mumbled and got us out of the bathroom, shutting the door. “Sh-she’ll be all r-right.”

“We should call the hospital!” I said, glaring at Kay. “Forget what your sister said–“

“Sister?” Cal said, seizing onto my words. “She’s here? Is she going to fix Dad? Was that her in there?”

“N-no,” Kay said, looking very disoriented. “No. I mean y-yes. I mean, sh-she is here and she w-will f-fix Jacob b-but that was n-not her. Th-that was…” His eyes went bigger and he carefully curled his fingers around his wounded wrist. “That w-was someone else.”

“Why was there blood?” Cal asked, staring hard at the closed door. “Why was she wrapped up?”

Kay swayed and then slumped down. I quickly reached out for him and tried to pull him back to his feet but I was too weak and pain went through my body. “Cal, just go to your room,” I said, still trying to get Kay up. “Please.”

“Someone was hit by a car?” Cal ignored me completely and was watching Kay. “Penny says your sister hit someone with a car. Dad–Dad’s right, why aren’t we calling the hospital?”

“Go to your room!” I snapped.

“NO!” he yelled back. “I deserve to know what the hell is going on around here! YOU’RE NOT MY BOSS!”

“I am your FATHER!” I shouted. “GO TO YOUR ROOM!”

“I HATE YOU!” he screamed right back and then spun around, running to his room and after a moment of leaving it open for Penny I figured, he slammed the door shut as hard as he could. I winced but went back to trying to get Kay to his feet. There was something wrong with him but I wasn’t sure what. I finally gave up on trying to get him up and wound up half-dragging him to the couch.

“No…” Kay whimpered. “I’m all r-right. D-don’t overexert y-yourself… Oh…” He looked up as Jay emerged from his room. She was twisting her hair up into a bun and was wearing what looked like the same clothes only… clean. Did she wash them somehow or just have an identical outfit? She looked at me for a second then directed a slightly questioning gaze at her brother, who gulped. “Sh-she’s in the b-bathroom.” Kay shifted up onto the couch and frowned. “Sister, why…?”

“I desire to examine her,” Jay said coolly. “Now, Jacob, sit down. Where are you in pain?”

“What, are you an IDIOT?” Cal had come out of his room again and was glaring at Jay. “You cut into his belly and put a WOMB there so uhhhh let’s think about it a moment, HUH?”

“Calcifer Danevbie, I told you to go to your room!” I snapped.

“I am in my room!” he complained, taking a step back so he was still technically in his room. “I wanted to meet the jerk who did this to you. So this is her?” Cal glowered at Jay who rolled her eyes at Kay. Kay just bowed his head and was silent. “You better fix my Dad or else.”

“Or else what?” she asked, adjusting her glasses. “I am the only person who can help his current problem. If you do any harm to me then he will be like this for whatever remains of his life.” Cal opened and closed his mouth, then flipped Jay off before retreating farther back into his room. The door slammed again and Jay looked at me now. “Did you not teach that child any manners?”

“Don’t you insult my child!” I pointed an accusing finger at her. “He’s had a lot to deal with and feels guilty because of my physical problems, which is because of you. So just don’t.”

“C-Cal is a good b-boy just a bit… l-loud…” Kay muttered.

“You are far too lenient with–” Jay stopped and then frowned, looking at the blood on her brother. “What is that?”

“N-nothing!” She was in front of him in an instant, grabbing his wrist and inspecting it. Kay made unhappy noises, trying to get his arm free. “It’s n-n-nothing! Ow! L-let go of me.”

“Did–“

“It’s n-nothing,” he said again, finally getting his arm free from her grasp. “I th-think she’s asleep r-right now. She w-was asleep when I went to g-get her.”

Okay, that kinda confused me. Someone was hit by a car and then fell asleep? “Isn’t that dangerous?” I asked, finally piping in. Both Reddings looked at me as if I was crazy. “I mean doesn’t that mean they’re going to go into a coma or something?”

“She will be fine,” Jay said and then approached me. “I think we should get things set up for the surgery to be done tonight. I want to get this over with. We can set it up in my brother’s room. You do not mind if we use your bed, do you? Good.” She didn’t even wait for his reply and Kay looked a bit annoyed.

“Why can’t we use my room and my bed?” I asked then bit my lip, remembering it was technically Kay’s stuff as well. “I mean, that way… it’s not… Kay can still have his bed.”

“My brother can sleep on the couch tonight,” Jay said. “In any case, I know his room is the biggest room. Yours will probably be too small. I have a tarp, we can put that down on the bed and then place sheets over it so the blood will not soak through too much. I will need more light. My tools are in my car–Kay you can go get those–and Jacob you will need to strip.”

She looked at me now as if expecting me to just get naked right there and then. I went red. “Ahh–isn’t this happening a bit too fast? I don’t want you to do a rush job!”

She folded her arms and glared. “A rush job? I do not think so! I am careful with my work, Jacob. Brother, I said go get my tools. Now. If that wound is ‘nothing’ as you insist it is…”

“I’m g-going!” Kay got to his feet and scurried out the door. I watched him go, feeling rather worried. Jay seemed pretty ticked off about something even though her face was all calm. Plus I hated the way she was bossing Kay around. He didn’t deserve that. I was about to say so, but when I looked back I saw she was disappearing into his room! I tried to get up but my back hurt too much. I knew if I forced it, I’d just fall. So I stayed where I was, figuring maybe it was better to just get it over with.

“Dad…? Can I come out now?” Cal peered out from the door and I turned a bit to look at him. “I want to talk to you.”

“Come on, then,” I said and he quickly came over, plopping onto the sofa beside me. “I’m sorry I yelled at you earlier, Cal. I was just really tense.”

I hoped he’d apologize for yelling (and the ‘I hate you’ comment) but he just looked down at his lap and said, “Penny overheard you. And, uh, that woman. Are you really getting that surgery done tonight? Here? Not at a hospital?”

“Well we can’t exactly go to a hospital,” I said, reaching over to put a hand on his arm but he sidled away so I let my hand fall onto the cushion. “Doctor Redding isn’t attached to any hospital. I mean, she doesn’t exactly have the medical facilities–“

“I have three labs.” Jay came out of the bedroom and went into mine. I scowled, annoyed at her walking around like she owned the place. Well, her brother does, I reminded myself. Jay came out a moment later with my two lamps in her arms.

“If you own three labs why can’t you take my dad to one of them?” Cal whined.

Jay looked down her nose at him. “Because, little child, it would cause more trouble than anything. My labs are a bit farther than next door. I have already traveled all the way here, I am not going to go traveling back. It will prolong the procedure, in any case, which I have no intention of doing. Ah, good. Put them in your room.”

Kay came in with a suitcase and a satchel. His forehead was wrinkled a bit as he went towards his room. He was really seeming just… strange. Maybe because his sister was around? Maybe seeing the person she had hit had just upset him more than I thought it did. The door to the bedroom shut and soon I heard raised voices. Cal looked at me and I shook my head. I thought about telling him to go to his room again but I didn’t want him to say he hated me. Again.

“Should I check on the girl?” he whispered, jerking his thumb at the bathroom door. I wasn’t sure what to reply since part of me was worried she was dead. I didn’t want Cal going in and finding a corpse. But before I could tell him no, the shouting inside the bedroom got worse.

“–NOT G-GOING TO!” Kay was saying. “TH-THIS IS B-B-B-BLACKMAIL!” Whatever Jay said, I didn’t quite hear. Then there was a thudding sound which worried me. I tried to get up again but quickly sank back down. I was in too much pain. “YOU C-CAN’T DO THIS!”

“I CAN DO WHAT I WISH!” Jay’s voice was quite a bit shriller than usual. I heard her say something else and then there was another thudding sound–no, more like thumping. “—GO!” It was Jay who said that, and Jay who flung the bedroom door open. “Goodbye Jacob. Calcifer.”

“N-n-n-no! Nonono!” Kay stumbled out and grabbed her shoulder. “S-sister, no. P-please… it’s j-just not f-fair when you already s-said…” His eyes darted to me and then he turned red. “I w-will do it, J-J-Jay… I will. Just p-please k-keep your puh-pr–promise…”

She whirled around and folded her arms. “You will?”

“Yes!” Kay wailed. “Y-yes. I w-w-will. But don’t exp-pect me to g-g-go back to Riverview w-with you. I’m… I… I…” He glanced at me then went redder. Jay turned to look at me as well, an eyebrow raised up. I felt myself going red as well for no reason. Things just suddenly felt very uncomfortable all of a sudden. But then Kay began speaking again. “I–I’m j-just n-not… I d-don’t… I w-will… I-….” He whimpered and began tugging at the hair on the back of his head. “J-just give it to me, all right?!”

“It is in the large suitcase,” Jay said and Kay stomped into the bedroom, reminding me a bit of Cal. Jay then came over to me and began tapping her foot. I looked up and waited for her to say something. Finally, she cleared her throat. “I need you to strip down. Go into the bedroom and lay down. I need to examine you, and then we will put you to sleep.”

“That doesn’t sound safe,” Cal said before Jay could say anything else. “I really think it’d be better in a hospital. This isn’t a sterile environment.”

Jay frowned. “It is not as sterile as a hospital. However, it is the most sterile environment we can obtain at this time. As I said, I am not going back to one of my labs with him. I want this over and done with. I have… other things to attend to.” She glanced at the bathroom door. “This will happen tonight. Jacob, remove your clothing and go into the bedroom.”

“That just didn’t sound right,” I grumbled.

“EW! DAD!” Cal wailed.

Jay blinked at me. “Why did it not sound right? It is–“

“Yeah, yeah, yeah. Well, uh, I need some help standing up because I think I’ll fall if I try to stand up on my own right now.” Jay started to reach down but Cal got up and pulled me to my feet, an arm around me so I wouldn’t fall.

“I can help my own dad!” he snarled. “I don’t trust you. I don’t trust any of this. I don’t think it’s safe. Dad…” He leaned in, his mouth near my ear. “Please don’t do this. Not right now. Somewhere better. This–this is a house. Not a hospital. It’s not sterile. It’s not safe.”

This totally made up for his ‘I hate you’ comment. I squeezed my arm that was around him. “It will be okay, Cal. Doctor Redding is a good doctor.”

“If she’s so good why did this happen in the first place?” Cal shot a dark look at Jay who was looking pretty impassive about the accusation. “Dad…”

“It will be okay,” I promised.

“YOU NEVER LISTEN TO ME!” Since his mouth was still near my ear, this hurt. I flinched back and nearly fell since he had partially let go. I stumbled and he grabbed onto me again, visibly distressed now. “Does it ever matter what I want?!”

“You do not want your father to be healthy?” Jay inquired.

Cal let go and spun to face her. My legs gave out and I slumped down to the floor, but neither of them noticed. “You BITCH! Of course I do! More than you probably do, you probably don’t care! If you did care you’d want to fix him up in a safer place! You’re nothing but a jerk! I hate you!”

She was in front of him in the blink of an eye. Her fingers twisted into his shirt and she yanked him partially up off his feet. Yeesh. She was strong. “If it wasn’t for me, you ungrateful little brat, you would not even be alive. You should be thanking me! And it is hard to believe you are being honest about caring about his health, as he is on the floor.”

She pushed him back and Cal nearly joined me on the floor. He let out a moan (of pain? anger?) and then helped me back to my feet. He was ready to explode, or cry, or both. “Do you need help with your clothes?” he asked through clenched teeth. I shook my head and he helped me into the bedroom. Kay was not in there but the bed was now set up for my operation. I saw a tarp under the sheets. Calcifer was right. This… did not… feel safe at all.

“Dad…” He helped me over to the dresser and I leaned on it, wondering if I would need help getting some of my clothes off. I didn’t want to ask Cal, though. He was definitely trying not to cry. “Dad, you’ll be all right. Right?”

“Of course I will,” I said. “You trust Professor Redding at least, don’t you?”

He slowly nodded and then sniffled. “Just not her. Will she be the one operating on you?”

“Yes, she has more medical knowledge than Kay does,” I said, running my fingers through my hair and trying not to show how scared I was beginning to feel. “Why don’t you go and… go to the movies or something. With Penny.”

His chin lifted at that. “You don’t believe Penny is real,” he stated.

“I believe you, Cal.”

He sniffled and then pouted. “You don’t act it, sometimes! And I’m not going anywhere! How can you think I’d just leave you right now? I may not be able to be in this room but I’ll be in the other room! I’m not abandoning you, Dad! Thanks for thinking I would!” He stormed out of the room and I just closed my eyes. Please let me be okay. For him.

I struggled with my shirt and then had no way of getting my pants off. I stared down at my legs wondering if I should just give it a try, but then the bathroom door opened. I stared in complete disbelief at a young-looking Kay coming towards me. He didn’t look too happy for a split-second but smiled when he saw I was in the room. “Are you r-ready?” he asked.

“I can’t get my pants off,” I muttered, going red. He went red as well and then slowly offered his hand. I took it, and he helped me to the bed. I lay back and felt myself going redder and redder as Kay bent over the bed, undoing the button on my jeans. His hands were shaking a bit but he finally got the button undone and then, after a bit of a hesitation, he slid my pants off. He’s seen you naked before, stop feeling so embarassed, I tried telling myself but it wasn’t working.

“I th-think J-J-J-J-…. J-Jay n-n-n-n-needs t-t-to ch-check y-y-you th-then y-y-you w-will…” He then whimpered and gulped. “You w-will b-b-be p-put under…”

“All right… And I think I’m okay now. I can get–um, yeah.” I reached down but then yelped as pain shot through my body.

“It’s okay… I c-c-c-c-can…” Kay trailed off and then looked away. “If… y-y-y-you c-c-can’t…”

“I can,” I said and tried reaching down again but I knew I wouldn’t be able to push my underwear down very far. Hunching my shoulders or moving my back to get them pushed down farther was out of the question. I guess it’s good this is happening now if I can barely even undress myself, I thought and gave Kay a look.

He gave me a twitching smile and I could tell he was even shakier now as he moved his hands to remove my underwear. I felt so humiliated, I wanted to just hide but I couldn’t move very well so running off was a bit out of the question. Then I jumped and my skin itself felt like it was contracting as his fingers brushed along my lower belly, hooking into the top of my tighty-whities. His hands were definitely shaky and I felt goosebumps rise up along my skin–

“Is he ready?” Jay came in and stared at the scene before her. Kay yanked away as fast as he could and I wanted to bury myself into a hole. As if it was something bad that had been going on. “I assumed he would be ready by now, you have been in here long enough. For pete’s sake.” She came over, grabbed the top of my underwear and just yanked them off of me.

I felt horribly exposed and wished they had put me under before all this. Especially since Jay was now putting gloves on. “Do I need to be awake for this?” I asked a bit hoarsely.

“Yes. Obviously. I need to know where it hurts.”

“And I needed to be naked for that?” I complained. Kay coughed and turned his back to me so he could get a coat on and some gloves. Jay did not reply so I just settled back and closed my eyes, reminding myself over and over that this was for the best. That tomorrow I would be all better. That– “OWWWWW!” I shrieked as Jay kneaded her fist against my belly. “YES that HURTS! Ow!! So does that!”

After much prodding she finally pulled out a vial of some kind of liquid. “Th-th-th-this w-w-w-will p-p-put you into s-s-sleep,” Kay explained as Jay stuck a syringe into the liquid to suck it up. “I’m s-s-s-sorry w-we d-d-don’t have a p-p-proper anesth-sthetic…”

I just nodded and stared at the needle as Jay loomed above me. “You will fix me, won’t you?” I asked, looking back to Kay.

I felt his hand on mine and he smiled. “We w-w-will fix you.”

The needle was inserted into my body, and it wasn’t long before I was sound asleep.

The Danning Beginnings – Chapter Four

Even if Cal seemed to get annoyed whenever he and I tried to talk, I was relieved to see that he and Kay sometimes talked. I was glad he had an adult he could confide in. I wasn’t jealous. Not really. A little bit, sometimes, but I was more happy than anything else. I did let Kay know he didn’t need to talk to Cal so much if he had other stuff to do, but Kay insisted he didn’t mind.

“I l-l-like Calcifer, and b-besides I d-don’t have m-much else to do,” he informed me. “B-but if you d-don’t feel comfortable w-with me talking t-to him then I won’t anym-more.”

“No, I don’t mind at all,” I assured him. “I’m grateful he has someone to talk to. I wish…” I winced, not meaning to say that but now Kay was looking at me, waiting. I couldn’t just change the subject. “I, ah, sometimes feel like I’m not the best person for him to talk to. I think I’m too indulgent or something. I–just want to make him happy. I know I need to be more firm with him but… now I am just babbling. Sorry.”

“It’s all r-right. I underst-stand your feelings.” His fingers slid through his hair and then he began rubbing the back of his head. “Wh-when you have someone you c-care about, it c-can be h-hard t-to do something or act, or r-r-react in a w-way you worry might upset them. Especially as a s-single p-parent.” He quickly looked away now, going over to the window and messing with the curtains. “It m-must be difficult. I m-mean, I’m sorry, I j-just… I g-guess I don’t know f-for sure if you’ve b-been… a… s-s-s-single p-p-puh-puh… p-parent.”

I shrugged at that. “It’s only me and Cal here, isn’t it?”

He began tugging harder at the curtains. It worried me they might rip off the rod. “It’s b-b-been f-fourteen… y-years…”

“No, it’s just been him and me.”

“I…” He turned around, looking at the floor intently. “I d-don’t know if t-t-t-to say s-s-sorry, I know s-some p-p-p-people enjoy b-being… single… I am j-j-just digging a hole now, I’m s-sorry!”

I couldn’t help but grin at that. “It’s fine, really. I would have liked if there had been someone but as I’ve told Cal yesterday, actually, it just didn’t work out that way.” Asking him the same question was on the tip of my tongue but I didn’t want to be prying. Then again, he did ask me so I supposed it’d be all right. “Has there… ah… been… anyone in yours? Your life?”

His head jerked up. “No,” he said flatly. Firmly. Very dismissively. It was obviously a ‘this-ends-the-conversation’ tone. I was going to apologize, but he was in the kitchen before I could even blink. Lovely, Jacob, tick off your host why don’t you, I thought as I crept to my room, feeling horribly guilty. He was the one to start the conversation about that, though. Perhaps he just wasn’t thinking.

I lay back on my bed and stared at the ceiling. Kay was a great guy, it was very feasible to think he had someone in his life, at least at some point. Or maybe he sort of had someone… back in Sunset Valley. Maybe the scandal ended their relationship. That would explain why he seemed so tense about it. My mind began drifting to Nicky. I hadn’t seen her or heard anything about her in ages. Twenty-four, twenty-five years? Quarter of a century. That was a very long time to be alone.

 After Nicky had left all I really focused on was getting through the days. It was never so much about the fact she was gone, but that she had taken away my children without even informing me about it. I knew… it couldn’t be my decision. I couldn’t have done anything, by law, about it anyway.

In love with love, my mind switched gears again as I rolled over and hugged my pillow. That was the best way to put it. It was true. I wanted to love someone for the sake of having someone to love. I knew that wasn’t a reason to get into a relationship, and I would not enter any relationship that I wasn’t serious about. I wasn’t just going to go throwing myself at someone. But if I did happen to meet anyone… Ugh, how difficult it will be to explain being 20 with a 14 year old! I began banging my head into the pillow. Crap. DOUBLE crap.

Maybe this whole being-young-again wasn’t as easy as I initially thought.

*

It seemed, over the next couple of days, that Kay forgave me for the question I asked him. He acted very pleasant around me and not any different. It was like that little question had never been asked. Thankfully. I just hoped he wasn’t still upset underneath his smiling exterior.

I spent most my time earning my keep by keeping things clean, cooking meals, and doing laundry. Cal even occasionally helped out but when I tried to thank him he’d just glare at me and say something like ‘What, you expect me to just be lazy’ and then stomp off to brood. He was still keeping up the invisible-Penny thing. He was even more open about it, probably since Kay reacted as nicely about it as I knew I should. It was just difficult being calm about an invisible friend at his age! How could I not worry about my son’s sanity?

I wondered how happy he would be in his new school. Hopefully he wouldn’t skip classes all the time. Would he make friends? I wanted him to go out to, say, the swimming pool or something like that to start meeting other kids his age but he pretty much stayed in the house all day. Talking to Kay, talking to Penny, surfing the web. I mentioned the pool a couple times and all Cal replied was that there was ‘no way’ he was going out.

“Don’t you want to meet other kids?” I asked as he stared intently at the computer.

“Like I care about them?” he grumbled. “They’ll all hate me anyway. I’m not normal, you know. I’m a monster. It’d be like them befriending Frankenstein or something.”

“Frankenstein was the creator, not the monster,” I said, not even thinking.

Cal slammed his hands against the desk and then stood up. “Yeah Dad, thanks, sorry I’m so STUPID!”

“I–I didn’t mean that!” I gasped as he took off for his room. “Cal–Cal! I’m sorry, that’s not–get back here!” I winced as the door slammed and then began going red as Kay emerged from his room, pushing on his glasses and looking between me and Cal’s closed door.

“Is everyth-thing okay?” he asked, coming towards me.

“Yes… sorry… I just said something stupid again.” I pushed back my hair and went to close down the browser, but I stopped myself before I hit the ‘x’ button. Cal would probably just be mad I closed down the video game stuff he was looking up.Maybe I can get him a video game system or something, I thought. If I got a good job, that’s what I’d do. Buy him a system and some games or something.

Kay was close behind me. “I’m sure it w-wasn’t stupid,” he said softly. “It l-looks to me like C-Cal just likes running and s-s-slamming things.”

I couldn’t help but chuckle at that. “Yeah, it seems to be his favorite thing to do besides skipping classes and arguing with me. Oh! Speaking of skipping class–well, no not really, I mean…” I began laughing at how jumbled I was being. “Hopefully not speaking of skipping classes, when should I contact the school?”

“Anyt-time, I think,” he answered. “W-we could c-c-call the school l-later today and set up a m-m-meeting.”

“Sounds like a plan to me,” I said with a smile. Kay got online and found the information, and I made the phone call to the administration office, explaining we had just moved into town and I needed to get my son transferred into Twinbrook High. A meeting was set up for later in that week, so I could meet the principal and get a tour of the school. I asked Cal if he wanted to go but he just complained loudly about having to go to a new school.

“A tour would be nice,” I tried to point out. “That way you won’t get lost when you start.”

“I don’t want to go!” he complained. “Do I have to? Are you gonna make me?”

“N-no! I wouldn’t make you do anything…” I fidgeted a bit, trying not to look anxious. “If you don’t want to go, you don’t need to.” I waited for some sort of response but he just kept glaring at me. “Okay. Well. I’ll just… um… anything in particular you want for dinner?”

“I don’t care.” He turned back to the book he was reading and I knew I wouldn’t get anything else from him, so I left his room, quietly shutting his door and then just leaning against it. It’s like pulling teeth! Why was it so difficult for us to have a decent conversation?

*

As the meeting with the principal came closer, I became worried. I really didn’t want to go into this by myself but there was no way I was going to drag Cal there against his will. I guess my nervousness was more obvious than I intended it to be, since Kay inquired what was wrong. When I explained to him what was going on, he told me if I wanted to that he’d go along to. I felt terrible for asking him to go out of his way (even though he was the one to offer) but he cheerfully agreed.

I knew he was having some problems but I didn’t ask him what they were. I had overheard him arguing on the phone one evening. I had just left my room to go to the bathroom when I heard his slightly raised voice from his room. The door was cracked a bit and when I looked towards it, I could see him pacing with a cell phone pressed against the side of his face. Judging from what was being said, he was arguing with his sister. About me.

Kay said something about ‘needing you to get here’ and that he didn’t care about her time constraints. “Th-this is m-more important,” he hissed out. “I’ve t-taken r-r-responsibility and it’s t-time you do too!” At that point I turned to go to the bathroom because I knew I was eavesdropping, but then he said something that made me pause. “W-we need to t-t-take ruh-responsibility for her death. F-for her life. B-bring the stuff, I’ll make the formula.”

After that, his voice dropped to a whisper and I couldn’t hear anything anymore, so I headed into the bathroom. There were so many ways I could take what he said that I didn’t even know where to begin, except the nagging worry about responsibility for death. I shouldn’t pry, it’s none of my business what those two have done, I just need to get fixed up and out of here, I thought, lurching towards the sink so I could splash cold water on my face.

*

Whatever the problems Kay was having with his sister, he was ready to go when it was time to leave for the meeting. I dressed as nicely as I could without seeming too overdressed (I hoped), and kept wringing my hands the entire way to the school.

“You don’t n-need t-to be so nervous,” Kay said, glancing sideways at me. “Everyth-thing will be f-fine. It is a p-public school and n-not a p-p-private one. Th-though if you w-wanted a p-private school th-there are some around h-here.”

“Even if I find a great job, I could never afford such a thing,” I said, licking my lips and running my fingers through my hair. “Kay, what do I say if they ask about Cal’s mother?” I turned in my seat to look at him.

“The t-truth,” Kay answered. “Y-you have his b-birth certificate. You are l-listed as his m-m-m-mother.”

I looked down at the folder in my lap. That birth certificate had been hell to get. A lot of hoops to jump through. If the pregnancy thing hadn’t been exposed and the whole scandal occur, it would have been even harder to get a real birth certificate. “Hey, at least I have one of the doctors who was there when he was born in case they–“

“Jacob.” We were at a stoplight so Kay reached over and put his hand on my arm. “Th-they won’t b-be prying into th-that part of your life. The m-most they w-will do is probably ask ab-bout his mother and wh-when you explain and sh-show the certificate, then th-that will be that.” I nodded and clutched the folder. Kay pat my arm and then put his hand back on the steering wheel.

Enrolling Cal into the schools at Sunset had been difficult but once he was officially enrolled, I figured things would get better. Then the bullying came. Please Watcher, I thought, closing my eyes. Don’t let him get bullied at this school.

We arrived at THS and were met by two people near the doors. The woman introduced herself as Amanda Meade, the principal, and the man was Carlton Wheaten, the ‘administrative assistant’. I wasn’t sure if that meant some sort of secretary or not, so I didn’t ask. I just shook hands and introduced myself, and Kay introduced himself directly as Kay, which added fuel to the fire of curiosity of what his real name was.

“Why don’t we start off with a quick tour?” Ms. Meade said and took us inside. We didn’t go over the entire place but just a general tour, seeing most of the classrooms, the gym, the cafeteria, and those sorts of thing. Through a window she pointed out the football field and told us that the other outdoor sports fields were a couple blocks away. Then we were taken to her office for the meeting part of the meeting.

As soon as everyone sat down, Ms. Meade started off the conversation with, “Mr. Danevbie, Mr. Redding, I wanted to say welcome to Twinbrook and that Twinbrook has a very open community, and we are a very open school.” I lifted my eyebrows, not a hundred percent sure what she was meaning by that. I glanced at Kay who seemed as baffled as me. But Ms. Meade was continuing. “In fact, Mr. Miller, who teaches some of the advanced mathematics classes, is out… and we have a lesbian couple, both are very active in our PTA. Their daughter is a cheerleader and has not experienced any sort of harassment. I’m sure they would be very happy to hear from you.”

I knew I was brilliantly red and could only imagine the look on Kay’s face. I was too embarrassed to even look at him. “Uh, Ms. M-Meade, we… we’re not…” I lifted a hand to indicate Kay and then myself. But I couldn’t say the words.

“You’re not… together?” she asked, sitting up a bit straighter.

“N-n-n-n-no,” Kay managed to stammer out. I just blushed even more.

“You’re not Calcifer’s parents?” she asked, looking even more confused.

Kay opened his mouth and then quickly shut it, looking down at his lap. “I am,” I said. “I’m his parent. Single parent. Um, Professor R-Redding here is just a… friend. He’s helping me and my son to get situated here in Twinbrook.”

“I am so sorry!” Ms. Meade said. “When you both showed up, I thought–well, I am very sorry. I hope I have not insulted either of you, I just wanted…” She trailed off and gulped. “I am sorry.”

“It’s fine!” I said quickly. “I appreciate it. I am, uh, glad to know the school and, uh, community is open to that sort of thing.” Out of the corner of my eye I saw Kay looking at me with a furrowed brow. “My home life is not exactly the most typical. I don’t know if you’re aware of what happened in Sunset Valley about fourteen years ago, with Landgraab Facilities and the male pregnancy thing…”

“Oh,” she said and then covered her mouth. “Oh! Are you…?”

“Yes ma’am, that was me,” I said, squaring my shoulders. “Calcifer is the baby that was born. So I am… technically his mother, I suppose. No father.” I could still see Kay out of the corner of my eye and at that his head dropped down and he became focused on his hands. “I hope that this situation won’t be a problem.”

“No! No, of course it won’t,” Meade said very quickly. “We will do all we can to make his school life comfortable. Now then, why don’t we discuss what sort of things your son is interested in, and what kind of classes he will be taking…”

*

The rest of the meeting went by smoothly after that strange start, and we were able to get everything sorted out. The trip back to Kay’s house was very quiet. Neither of us said anything and in fact, Kay had not spoken since that ‘no’. It was my fault for him being in that rather embarrassing spot but I just couldn’t apologize. It was too much. It really was.

I’m so glad Cal was not there for that. I ran my finger along the leg of my jeans, just above my knee. He would have totally flipped out and things would not have gone so smoothly. At least she seemed okay with the fact I was the one who gave birth to him. I could tell it made her a bit uncomfortable but she was more than nice, so I had the feeling that things might go okay here, for Cal at least.

We got to the house and went in; the first thing I saw was a chair with a note on it. At first I felt a stab of fear that Cal ran away or something but when I calmed down enough to read it, I saw he had just gone down to the store to get some food. I put the chair back in the dining room then sat down in the living room. I considered going to my room to hide from the humiliation but didn’t want to just run away from things. Kay was walking around, sliding his fingers along the top of the TV and things like that.

“Thanks for being there,” I finally said.

Kay looked at me and smiled. “Anyt-time.”

“Sorry about the… uh… you know…” I rolled my eyes down to the ground as he grew pink.

“It’s all r-right, it w-was an under… s-s-standable… m-m-m-mistake on her b-b-behalf.” I saw his feet as he came closer but then he stopped, and stepped back.

I looked over towards the door. No wonder Cal ran all the time. This just felt so awkward I wanted to take off. I wasn’t sure why, since–well, it was just a mistake. It wasn’t as if she–as if anything–as if what she said could ever… so why were things so awkward? Just because of the suggestion that we were… together? That we were gay?It was a mistake, just a mistake, easy to let it roll off, I told myself, but for some reason it wasn’t just rolling off. It was sticking to me, and I finally realized why.

My father.

He had accused me on many occasions throughout my high school years as being gay, since I never really had a girlfriend and never really went on dates. I always told him I wasn’t but he never believed me. It was just another reason for him to be so disappointed in me…

He would’ve exploded with anger at me being pregnant, I thought, wondering if the news had reached Bridgeport and if he had found out about it. Course, I had a girlfriend for a couple years… It wasn’t much of an argument since Nicky was rather… masculine. It never bothered me during our relationship though her short hair, man clothes, and muscles sometimes got comments when we were out. Apparently one of her friends told Nicky that she always thought Nicky was a lesbian. And apparently Nicky had punched her friend.

Just because my girlfriend, my only girlfriend, was masculine doesn’t mean anything, I thought. Or… does it? How many… straight guys… would be so willing to be pregnant? I’ve never felt much lust towards women… My palms began getting very, very sweaty. That doesn’t mean anything, though. I stood up as I heard someone coming towards the front door. I figured it was Cal. Does it…? Could I… possibly… be… Before the word entered my mind, the door flung open. Literally, flung open.

And it wasn’t Cal, it was Doctor Jay Redding. Looking very bored despite the bursting-of-the-door. And frighteningly enough, she looked bored despite the blood covering her arms and body. She began marching through the house, shooting me a quick glare before looking at Kay. “Brother, I need your bathroom to clean up. Bring in my suitcase, I have clean clothes in there and I will need to change after my shower.”

“Y-y-y-you’re c-c-covered in b-b-blood!” Kay squeaked as his twin headed towards his room.

She paused and then turned, looking even more bored. “Yes. That reminds me. I was in such a rush to get over here because you seemed so adamant about ‘fixing’ Jacob that my trip didn’t go as expected. I ran over someone. After bringing in my suitcase, bring it in as well; it’s in my back seat. And don’t call the police or hospital, I will look over it after my shower.”

With that, Jay went into Kay’s room while Kay sprinted out of the house. I just stood still, in complete shock.

Another note

~Same note as Danevbies~

I apologize,though if there is gonna be some time between chapters I want to let y’all know ❤

Hopefully this break won’t last too long, only a couple days maybe but probably until the 10th or 11th. Have some schoolwork to finish up and a ton of cleaning to do. But luckily this is the end of my semester! Tuesday the 8th is the last day of class then I am FREE! And hopefully will be updating a TON more often than I am now.

I do apologize for being so… erratic with updates lately. Thanks so much for your patience ❤

~sErin

The Danning Beginnings – Chapter Three

When I woke up, the first thing I noticed was I was under the covers which I hadn’t been when I went to sleep. Had Cal covered me? Or Kay? For some reason, the thought of Kay coming in and tucking me into bed made me feel very embarrassed–especially since I was almost naked. But he had probably seen my entire naked body before, both him and his sister.

I slowly got out of bed and carefully stretched. Only a few aches, not bad. I went over to one of the boxes that one of the guys must have brought in, one of the ones marked ‘Jacob’s clothes’. I opened it and pulled out some pants and my usual short-sleeved sweatshirt, then headed into the main room. It was still dark outside and I was sure everyone else was asleep, so I felt a bit awkward. I considered just going back to bed but my stomach was complaining too much for that to be an option.

I quietly went into the kitchen and opened the fridge, feeling a bit like a burglar. But I was way too hungry to wait till morning. Ah, I thought, seeing a pizza box. They must have ordered it like promised. When I opened I saw two different kinds inside. A plain pepperoni, and the kind that Cal liked–spinach and feta cheese. I took a couple slices of pepperoni, plonked them on some paper towels and then returned to my room.

It is quite girly, I thought as I sat on the bed and ate. I wondered why Kay had bought a house with three bedrooms when he lived alone. It was rather convenient on my behalf, him having these two extra rooms. He probably has a girlfriend, I realized with a start. That must be it. A girlfriend and plans to start a family. If it was space he wanted, he would have gotten rid of all this stuff ages ago.

My fingers ran over the dark turquoise bedspread. All those times around the twins during my pregnancy and I knew so little of them. What did they want from life, other than to meet aliens? Was that even Kay’s true dream? There was always something about him that seemed like he was being led by his sister. Did Kay want his own family, like I did? Children, grandchildren, someone to love…

I smoothed out a wrinkle in the bedspread then looked at the boxes of my stuff. Not much. Some clothes, some books, really that was about it. I never wanted much for myself, especially after Cal was born. I wanted to give him as much as I could. And look at what’s happened. He was skipping school. Fighting. Talking to the air. I will do better, I promised myself. I will be a better father after–after I start feeling better.

*

I remained in my room until after I heard Kay moving around out in the other room. Only then did I emerge, trying to act like I had just gotten up but as soon as Kay saw me he smiled and asked if the pizza was good.

“Er, yes, sorry,” I mumbled.

“F-for what?” he asked, adjusting his glasses a bit. “You d-didn’t eat last night.”

“I just don’t want to… you know, cause any strangeness. If there’s anything I can do,” I added swiftly, “let me know! I can cook, tidy up–“

“Jacob.” Kay’s hand moved to my arm and his green eyes were filled with earnestness. “All I w-want you to do is f-feel better. Don’t f-feel obligated to d-do stuff around the house. J-just rest, and my s-sister sh-should be here soon and we will f-fix you up!”

“Did Cal give you any trouble last night?” I asked, suddenly feeling paranoid that he might have done something.

“He was f-fine,” Kay assured me. “W-we ate pizza and watched a m-movie, and t-talked a bit. He is a g-good boy.” His lips pressed together very slightly and color crept up into his cheeks as he quickly turned his face away. I had caught a flash of something in his eyes. Almost as if he were reminiscing about something.

“He didn’t do or say anything weird, did he?” I asked, hoping he hadn’t put a whoopie cushion anywhere or tried anything with the sinks.

Kay just stared at me. “N-no, he was f-fine. We talked about sch-school, and Penny.”

“His, um, imaginary friend?” I asked, partially worried Kay would think Calcifer wasn’t quite right in the head but also partially curious, as Kay had talked about it as if it were a normal occurrence. “What did he say?”

“Oh, he t-told me what a w-wonderful friend sh-she’s been and how he f-feels happy he c-can confide in her,” he answered, moving into the kitchen and getting some cereal out of the cupboard. “I th-think he’s old enough to b-be able to have her b-become real.”

“Real…?” I sat down at the table even though I wasn’t going to eat. “What do you mean ‘real’? She’s just a doll, just his imagination.”

Kay sat down beside me, pouring milk into his bowl. “I understand wh-why you would think that way. B-believe me, it is something v-very confusing and… well, unb-believable. But I assure y-you I can help w-with this matter. Trust me.” He gave me a rather wavering smile at that.

“I trust you,” I said and he made a little sound that sorta sounded like a surprised sound but could also be just a sudden intake of breath.

And now he was studiously looking into his cereal bowl. Had I said something to upset him? How could me trusting him upset him when he told me to trust him? And why did it look like he was blushing? I was a bit confused, but decided to just forget about it for now.

The more important thing was the fact he seemed so… calm about the doll thing. As he munched on his cereal, I did my best not to watch him. Maybe he was just humoring Cal but if that were the case, he wouldn’t be humoring me as well. It was on the tip of my tongue to say something but Cal walked in just then, so I kept my mouth shut.

My son looked a bit lost and very vulnerable. Very unlike his usual self. It was all I could do not to hug him. He would be very ticked off if I did that, and start yelling at me not to humiliate him. Kay, however, stood up and offered to get him breakfast.

“Cereal is okay,” Cal mumbled, sitting next to me. “So, uhhhh, when will Dad get, y’know, fixed up?”

“W-well my s-sister won’t be able to c-come in for a few days but sh-she should be in fairly soon,” Kay answered, getting a bowl and two different kinds of cereal out. Cal started to point at one but then stood up and took the box himself, thanking Kay. Wow, I thought. When did he get so polite? Maybe this move would be better for him than I previously thought.

“She’ll be able to, um, heal him. Right?” Cal’s eyebrows went so high they threatened to disappear into his wild hairdo. I still wasn’t sure why he wore his hair like that, but he liked it so that’s the important thing.

“It sh-should be a simple operation.” Kay handed the milk over to Cal and then sat down. “I don’t know wh-what taking your w-womb out completely will do to your h-health so I think we’re j-just going to do some moving around and th-then see how you f-feel after that so you w-will…” He stirred his cereal and then gulped, mumbling in a low voice now. “It m-might b-b-be b-b-b-better if yu-y-y-you s-stay h-here f-fuh-f-f… f-for a wh-while…”

“I wouldn’t want to impose,” I replied right away. “Besides, I was going to find a job in town and a little place for me and Cal. I don’t want to be a bother.”

“N-n-n-not a b-b-buh-b-bother.” I had never heard him stammer this much, even when he was crying about Landgraab Facilities running them out of town.

“Dad, you can’t get a job if you’re in pain anyway,” Calcifer said, waving his spoon around. Milk dripped down against his arm but he didn’t notice. “I think we should take Mr.–Um, mister… er…”

“You c-can c-c-call me Kuh… kuh… k… Kay…” Kay forced out.

“Okay. Kay.” Cal then giggled and snapped his fingers, pointing at him. “Okay, Kay!” he said again then began laughing. Kay chuckled and I grinned, pleased at the sight of Cal being so nicely sociable.

“If you really don’t mind us being here maybe we can stay a while,” I said and Kay turned his smile to me. “BUT!” I added quickly. “Only if you let me help out around the house. I’m good at cleaning. And I can cook pretty darn good. I need something to do other than sit around and be lazy.”

Kay bobbed his head up and down. “Ok-kay,” he said.

“Kay!” Cal added and then snorted with laughter again. “So is that seriously your name? Kay?”

“It’s… a n-nickname,” Kay said with a shrug. “M-my sister l-likes to r-remain… somewhat anonymous f-for some reason. She uses… aliases in some t-towns mostly b-because we’re w-worried the name Redding will g-give off a bad vibe. In f-fact since you m-met us, Jacob, my s-sister and I p-pretty much g-go by Jay and Kay. It’s easier.”

“Not many people call me Calcifer,” Cal said, noticing how soggy his cereal was getting. He lifted the bowl and I winced, knowing he was just gonna slurp it down. But then he thought better of it and set the bowl back down, picking his spoon up again. “Dad does when he’s mad at me. So does Penny, she calls me Calcifer a lot. Then again I call her Penny even though technically her name is Pendragon. Sometimes I call her Pens. But she likes Penny. Right?”

Oh right at the table, I thought, closing my eyes. “Well P-Penny is a v-very n-nice name,” Kay said and I opened one eye. He was talking to the air too. Either they were both crazy, or I was crazy. Both were pretty viable options, really, at this point. I had this strange thought that everyone else could really see her and I was just completely insane and all this time everyone else was just humoring me.

“You all right, Dad?” Cal asked, seeing me shuddering.

“Fine,” I said, quickly getting up. “Just a bit tired really.”

“Y-you should g-go rest,” Kay suggested, standing as well.

“No, it’s okay. I’d rather keep myself busy with something like the dishes or something.” I went over to the sink, plugging up one side and adding hot water. I was beginning to feel very strange. Almost like an out-of-body experience, all floaty and strange. As if I were living someone else’s life or… or something. Just calm down, I thought as I added soap into the water. As I watched the bubbles froth up I kept thinking over and over that there was–what? Something not right. Just because you’ve moved from Sunset Valley and… you’re young again, I added quickly. You’re bound to feel different.

Luckily there were a few dishes already in the sink so I began scrubbing those. That feeling. In the back of my mind. As if there were some sort of impending doom hanging over my head. Like I had escaped some sort of terrible fate and now fate was–Oh jeez, no, that was just the movie Cal was talking about the other day. I forced a smile as I washed. That was it. Cal had been talking about that horror movie… now I was being paranoid. And there is no Penny, which was mostly to soothe myself even though Kay and Cal were both talking about her again.

*

There wasn’t much to do in Kay’s house. It was remarkably clean. Maybe he doesn’t spend much time here, I thought after giving up vacuuming the already-clean rugs in the main room. I plopped down onto the couch then regretted it as the pain soon followed. Just because I was young–argh! I had to stop overdoing it.

I glanced over as Cal took the seat on the other end of the couch. “D’you think they’ll help you?” he whispered.

“I have to trust them,” I replied. “Professor–I mean, Kay seems like a trustworthy guy and his sister… well, Jay isn’t so bad really. Just a bit obsessed.”

“Obsessed with what?” Cal stared at me with wide eyes, wanting answers.

He didn’t know the full story. About why the Reddings had been experimenting with male pregnancy. If I told him now it was because of aliens I knew he’d just mark both of them off as nutcases. “Her… dream,” I finally said. “A lot of people are focused on what they want out of life.”

“What do you want out of life?” Cal asked, tipping his head to one side.

“Aw Cal, I already have it.” I reached over and rubbed the side of his head. He had a lot of hairspray in so I pretty much made no impact on that ‘do.

“Daaaaaad!” Cal slid out of my reach and scowled, patting the hair that hadn’t even moved half an inch. “Stop being such a dork! It was a serious question! If you never had me, what would you be doing? Besides not being in pain and dying and stuff.”

I leaned back against the couch, adjusting my body so the pillow behind me was hitting the right spot and diminishing the pain a bit. “I was being serious. I love kids. I’ve always wanted kids. You being brought into my life was pretty much the best thing that’s ever happened to me.”

“Did you ever have a girlfriend?” he asked suddenly, then went red.

“I had a girlfriend,” I whispered. “A long time ago. She is long gone now.”

Cal looked around, narrowing his eyes. I knew Kay was out doing something so we were alone but Cal seemed as though he was making sure nobody was around. “Do you ever… get… ….” He pulled a face and then turned completely away from me. “Youknowlonelyandstuff.”

I covered my mouth, very glad I wasn’t drinking something just then! Is he asking–oh–my–Watcher! How the hell was I supposed to answer THAT one without totally freaking him out? “Remember that version of ‘Simnderella’ we saw a few years ago, the musical one? The one that you said was stupid but then kept watching over and over at night?”

“PENNY WAS WATCHING IT NOT ME!” he yelled, going beet red. “I was NOT watching a stupid princess movie and what does that even have to do with anything?”

I was trying not to laugh. “Remember the song the step-mother sang? About how falling in love with love was all imaginary or whatever?”

“Falling in love with love is falling for make-believe,” he said and then went even redder and sank down on the couch. “Penny. Sings it. All the time. She sings a lot of those songs. Not me. I know nothing of that stupid girly song anyway so don’t… just don’t. And what does it have to do with youmaybebeinglonely?”

I ran my fingers through my hair and shrugged. “I’m the type of person who’s fallen in love with love. So not having someone to love can be difficult. Does that answer your question?”

“Then how come you never found another girlfriend?” he asked without any sort of hesitation.

“I guess it just wasn’t to be,” I mumbled. How long had it been? Twenty years? With nobody?

“You’re young again and you can find some hot babe,” Cal said with a determined nod. “I’m sure there’s someone around this town for you. But um, that wasn’t the only reason I was asking about–about that sorta thing. Sex and stuff. Cause. Well. It’s… complicated.”

“We haven’t even been in Twinbrook for a full day and someone’s caught your eye?” I asked.

He went all red again. “No! I’m just asking about sex in general, what would you rather me be looking it up online and finding nasty sites? Jeeeeez, Dad.”

“I’m sorry, I’m sorry!” I put up my hands, trying not to laugh again. “What is your question?”

“If you love someone… like, you know, mushy stuff love someone… their body… what they look like… doesn’t matter… right?” He was chewing so hard on his bottom lip I thought blood was gonna start pouring out at any minute. “It’s what’s on the inside, right? Like, personality. If they’re there for you. If they make you laugh, make you feel happy, and even if you’re sad it doesn’t seem as, y’know… hopeless if they’re there.”

I just stared at my son, shocked at what he just said. It wasn’t the sort of thing I ever expected him to say. For a split-second he seemed so much older than his fourteen years, but then of course he had to ruin it by saying, “Besides if you love the person, you’d love to screw them no matter what they looked like!”

I put my head in my hands. “Could you put it a little more delicately than that, Cal?” I asked, though my body was shaking from suppressing the laughter.

“You know what I mean and it’s true, right? Even if–someone–” He struggled to speak and then gave up.

“Cal, it shouldn’t matter what someone looks like,” I assured him. “What the person is on the outside doesn’t make up someone’s life, though some people do believe it does.”

Cal sank low into the couch again and pressed his fingers against his lips. “Even if someone doesn’t have all the right body parts?” he whimpered.

“Body…?” I looked at him and he sniffled, looking down at his hands. “You mean like their sex or gender?”

“No!” he snapped. “I mean if a girl isn’t completely a girl! If she’s not… like… a working… girl.”

“Working? I am so lost right now, Cal.” I had no clue what he was trying to say. All I could think of was working girl, prostitute? Was my son talking about hookers?

“Just never mind!” He got up and tried to walk off but I was able to snag his shirt and yank him back onto the couch. “No! Dad! Leggo you jerk! I don’t want to talk anymore, leave me alone!” He began flailing and one fist smacked against my chest. I let go of him and he fell to the floor. “Ow! That HURT!”

I rubbed my chest, slowly getting to my feet. “I would like it if you stopped acting like this! You were so nice at breakfast.”

“What, you saying I’m a bad kid?!” he snarled, glaring up at me from the floor. “Thanks Dad!”

“I’m not saying you’re bad!” I exclaimed. “I just–you were so pleasant at breakfast!”

“That’s because Kay LISTENS to me!” He got to his feet and glared even more. “You never listen!” And then he turned and ran to the room he was staying in, slamming the door shut.

I watched silently. I guess some things won’t change, I thought then sat back down on the couch. I shouldn’t let him yell at me like that. I wasn’t meaning he was bad. He’s a good kid. I rubbed my chest again and sighed. Once things started settling down here I was sure our relationship would get better.