"Hey guys, I'm back!" Paul announced as he walked in the door. "I see you dealt with those... protestors..."
Jason couldn't see him, but he had no doubts his brother was staring at the clothes strewn everywhere. Half the clothes had gotten pulled off, and half had been ripped right off their bodies in their haste.
Ronan, as Jason should have predicted, was not one for half measures. He was one to dive, headfirst, right after he maybe remembered to check the depth.
Mmmm.... head first.... Nice thought, and fun memory. And for all that Jason could have sworn Ronan hadn't had an opportunity to practice, he was definitely quite skilled in that.
Jason realized he'd lost track of time when Paul peeked in the open bedroom door. "Hey," Jason said lightly.
"Fucking hell," Paul swore, pulling away from the door.
Laughing, Jason disentangled himself from Ronan, who mumbled discontentedly in his sleep at the loss. "Oh come on, like you didn't see this one coming!" Jason teased as he walked to his room.
"Put some clothes on!" Paul ordered, covering his face.
"That's the plan," Jason said playfully, "I just wanted to grab a shower... and some clean ones... first!"
"Jason!" Paul choked, "cover yourself!"
"Oh please, like I don't have anything you haven't seen!"
"Maybe so, but still!" Paul protested.
"Actually," Jason said thoughtfully, "my last statement isn't quite accurate... what I've got has definitely changed since the last time you saw it, and it's something we need to talk about."
"Excuse me?" Paul said, shocked. He sounded, as if that were possible, even more shocked than earlier.
"Remember that discussion we had the other day about regrowing missing body parts?" Jason asked.
"Yes, and what does that have to do with your... your... equipment?" Paul asked angrily.
"Depends on the missing parts," Jason said carefully. "As Ronan and I were having... fun... earlier, he played with a certain bit. A bit I realized mid-way through, that I didn't use to have."
"What the hell are you talking about?" Paul swore.
"Circumcision," Jason said carefully.
"Circumcision..." Paul stumbled, verbally, halfway through the word and finished it very hesitantly. "Oh hell. Oh hell oh hell oh hell."
"Yeah, pretty much my reaction," Jason laughed. "Really broke the mood for a few minutes!"
"I can imagine!" Paul laughed nervously, one hand inching downward.
"My powers cut in slightly different that yours did, but according to Ronan you should be seeing some noticeable changes already, and they'll become really obvious in a day or two," Jason informed his brother gleefully. "The healing process will take anywhere from one to two weeks to complete, at least that's the average. It can vary."
"Fuck," Paul swore. "that'll be... interesting to explain to-" Paul cut himself off and looked away.
"Oooh," Jason answered, "does little bwother have a thing with someone?"
"Shut up," Paul warned, "do not even go there!"
"You do!" Jason shouted, surprised despite himself. "Who?" he asked gleefully.
"None of your business," Paul told him sternly, "now forget it and-" a knocking at the door stopped him in mid sentence. "Ah shit, she's early! Go, get dressed, now!"
"She's early?" Jason grinned. Darting back, he closed Ronan's door before running to his room. Grabbing some clothes, he hesitated. He really did stink, and needed that shower badly... but he didn't want to miss the chance to see who 'she' was, or tease his brother over her... decisions, decisions...
Shower first, he decided. Sure, he wanted to tease his brother, but... he stank! And coming out there reeking of sex would probably cause all sorts of problems with his brother's relationship. Sticking his head out the door, he checked that the coast was clear and made the quick trip to the restroom.
Unfortunately, he forgot to check that the restroom was clear. "Mary!" he exclaimed, twisting away, "I'm sorry, I didn't know-" Jason backed out quickly and retreated towards his room.
"Mommy, how much longer-" a little kid asked from the end of the hallway. "You aren't Mommy!" he pointed out the obvious. Jason was frozen in shock for a moment and then resumed moving towards his room.
Which, naturally, mean straight toward the kid, so he moved the clothes in his arms to try and hide himself. "If you're after Mary, I just discovered she's in the restroom," Jason told the kid as he slipped in his door. Sticking his head back out, he added, "And sorry about that, I didn't know you guys... well, I knew you were here but I didn't realize she was in the restroom, or that you'd come looking for her."
"You're hairy," the kid commented, pointing in the general direction of Jason's crotch, despite the wall in the way. "Why?"
"It's something that happens when you grow up," Jason commented awkwardly.
"Because... because... because!" Jason spluttered. Laughter from behind him caused Jason to turn. Unfortunately, the twisting caused him to overbalanced and fall out into the hallway, revealing himself all over again with a loud "oomph".
"Just fricken' great," Jason mumbled.
"Danny, go back out to the living room and talk to Paul for a while," Mary laughed.
"Okay," Danny answered cheerfully.
"Don't worry about it, he's bound to be asking questions sooner or later," Mary told Jason, "and now I have the perfect person to saddle with them."
"No," Jason told her, shaking his head as he stood up. "Oh fuck no!"
"Oh yes," she told him with a grin. "Always finish what you start!"
"I cannot... you aren't... please!" Jason spluttered.
"Consider it payment for barging in on me like that," she told him.
"The alternative is much less pleasant, I assure you," she told him with steel in her voice.
"You owe me!" Jason tried.
"I owe Paul more," she reminded him. "You weren't even there the other night when he rescued me the first time!"
Jason almost answered that with the obvious retort, but stopped himself just in time. After all, he hadn't been there any more than Ronan hadn't been there. Not that she knew, or could know. Damned secrecy!
"Are you really sure you want me to handle that?" Jason asked. "Shouldn't someone more... more..."
"Well, if I catch a husband by then we can discuss it, but for the moment I'd say... 'tag, you're it!'" she said with a laugh.
"Why me?" Jason asked.
"Because, I think I can trust you. And more than that, I... I trust your brother, but he's completely uncomfortable with the idea. You... you're uncomfortable with the idea of doing it... I mean, talking about it with a kid," she laughed over her verbal faux pas. "Anyway, the idea of talking to a kid makes you uncomfortable, but you aren't actually uncomfortable with the subject. From what Paul's said, that might have something to do with this Ronan character?"
"Yes, it would, but... why me?"
"Why not you?" she said with a mysterious smile. "Why don't you go take that shower, you stink. And not in a good way."
She walked out to the living room, and Jason gathered up his clothes. He would go take his shower. Maybe things would even make sense after it. That entire conversation didn't make any sense. You'd ask a family member, the father, maybe a (much) older brother, an uncle to do something like that!
Jason froze, halfway into the shower.
The father's brother.
'Catch myself a husband'.
'I owe him.'
"Now is not the time to spaz out," Jason whispered to himself, turning the water on. But... fuck. Uncle. Fuck! Still... it wasn't like Paul was going to jump blindly into this. He'd make her take some time, get her over her blind attraction. If nothing else, Ronan would help Jasonin his efforts to make Paul do so.
The routine of showering was relaxing and gave him a chance to think; and, as a result, calm down a little. Showers were wonderful things, good for body, mind, and soul. As always, he felt just that little bit better after he'd gotten out of the shower. Pulling his clothes on, he walked out into the hallway and bumped into Ronan.
"Well hello handsome," Jason purred.
"You are a cruel and monstrous person," Ronan informed him.
"First you ravish me, and then you just walk off without so much as a goodbye kiss!" Ronan said, pretending to be hurt.
"Well," Jason played along, "I'll just have to... fix... that!" Jason leaned in and gave Ronan a quick peck on the cheek. "There, that better?" Jason asked.
"Do I look like your mother?" Ronan teased.
"Hrm, no, more like my dad," Jason agreed. "Ew, now there's a thought I don't want in my head!"
"Did it to yourself!" Ronan laughed. "Still, I know a cure for that!"
"Oh, really?" Jason asked, intrigued.
"Yeah, it goes something like this..." Ronan cut the conversation short, and for a few moments all Jason could think about was him. His lips on Jason's, his hands on Jason's back, his heat and his taste.
"Lord help me," Jason breathed, smiling, "you are way too good at that..."
"Practice..." Ronan whispered into Jason's ear, before brushing his lips across the side of Jason's neck in a long, sensuous slide. "Makes..." he added, talking into Jason's collarbone before lifting his lips up, this time letting the edges of his teeth nip at Jason's skin. "Perfect..." he whispered into Jason's second ear before taking the earlobe between his teeth and oh-so-slightly biting.
Eric had been fun, but he'd never played with Jason's body as skillfully as Ronan was doing. And Jason realized it as Ronan took possession of his lips again.
Long moments later Jason leaned against the wall, smiling as he looked down. "Guess I need to find another pair of pants," he commented wryly. "I've heard of killer kisses, but I had no idea!"
"Next time, we really have fun," Ronan smiled.
"I may not survive," Jason moaned as he slunk out of the restroom.
"Having fun?" Paul asked crossly.
"What, were you waiting outside the door for me?" Jason asked.
"Actually, yes!" Paul snapped. "We have company over, and your response is to-" Paul's mouth snapped shut as Ronan walked out.
"I was ambushed, and not given an opportunity to resist," Jason told him.
"Fucking hell," Paul swore. "Ronan!"
"That's my name, don't wear it out," Ronan smiled.
"Ronan, are you..." Paul shook his head. "You know, if this is the effect getting laid has on Ronan, you should have done this months ago!"
"What do you mean?" Ronan asked.
"Look at yourself!" Paul said incredulously. "You're... relaxed, comfortable, smiling for God's sake!"
"He's right," Jason murmured. Leaning forward, he whispered into Ronan's ear, "Of course, how much of that was 'getting laid' and how much was a simple good night's sleep..."
"Anyway, when there are kids around you two-" Paul began.
"Kids?!" Ronan squeaked, quickly pulling his bathrobe tighter.
"Mary, and her son Danny, are over. We wanted... she wanted some advice on something, and I thought you might be able to help." Paul flushed over his slip.
"What kind of advice?" Ronan asked.
"She didn't feel... comfortable at Ashley's house," Paul said, hesitating over the right words, "there were too many people there for her. And without a job, she can't go renting her own place. She wants... she needs a job, one where she can feel safe, and an apartment. She's worried that those... people... will track her down."
"That is a valid concern," Ronan admitted. "I've already... I've already made a few calls on the subject."
"Oh?" Paul asked.
"Ask me no questions, I'll tell you no lies," Ronan brushed it off. "For the short term, I'm not sure what jobs I can find her-"
"Give her mine," Jason broke in. "Eric left me plenty of money, and I can turn that time towards other things."
"That works, but housing... housing is a problem," Ronan mused. "She needs to be kept safe, and to my mind that means near a guardian. Better yet, under the same roof as one."
"I have been planning to move out," Paul agreed. "There isn't a lot of room in the new apartment, but it should work."
"No, I don't want her having to travel across town," Ronan sighed. "I'd put her in one of mine, but I just filled them and no one is ready to move out."
"No one is ready to move out except Paul, you mean," Jason pointed out. "No, that only gives the one... bedroom..." Jason and Ronan's gazes met, then jumped to Paul.
"I need-" Ronan began at the same time as Jason started to ask, "Paul, could you-"
"You first," Ronan said a moment after they both broke off.
"Paul, could I talk to Ronan for a few moments, please? Alone?" Jason asked.
"Sure," Paul agreed, smiling. "And for the record... I don't think he's a rebound, you two are just a little slow on acting on what everyone, including Eric, knew was coming."
The two of them gaped at Paul as he sauntered off. "Well," Ronan commented eventually, "I guess we didn't need to ask for a moment alone after all."
"So, what do you think of the idea?" Jason asked.
"Ignoring one night stands where we both fell asleep, and childhood sleepovers before... well, before, I don't think I've ever slept with someone else in my bed. But last night... Last night was the best night's sleep I've ever had, even if it was magically enforced," Ronan said thoughtfully.
"You spelled yourself not to dream," Jason said flatly.
Ronan flinched. "It was... an accident, I didn't know what I was doing to myself. But... yes, I did."
"Why?" Jason asked.
"To sleep, to sleep perchance to dream," Ronan recited.
"Ah, but there's the rub! In sleep what dreams may come?" Jason finished for him. "Nightmare problem, huh? I thought-"
"No," Ronan cut in, shaking his head. "Not a nightmare problem, I could manage nightmares of all kinds. Wake up in a cold sweat, wake up screaming, or never waking, just one long, continuous, horror filled vision. My problem was with regular dreams. I never had one. Everything was a nightmare. My nights were a horror of faces past and memories that-"
Ronan cut himself off, turning away. "No you don't," Jason hissed, yanking him back around. "You face me, you face your past, and that's an order! Hear me?"
"Fuck. You." Ronan swore. "And the high horse you rode in on!"
"Ronan, whatever the hell this is it's tearing you up from the inside out!" Jason snapped. "I'm not going to let you kill yourself!"
"You won't? Who are you, who are you to tell me anything!" Ronan sneered.
Jason knew what was coming. Ronan's temper was fraying... again... and he was going to lash out with the harshest possible words he could throw at Jason. "Don't," Jason warned, pressing a finger to Ronan's lips. "You know things that could hurt me, Ronan, but if you go there, if you bring up my past and throw it in my face, I'll retaliate."
"You?" Ronan sneered as he shook Jason's finger aside. "You'll retaliate?"
"Ronan Joyce, tempt not fate!" Jason snapped. Ronan's eyes widened as he abruptly remembered their earlier confrontation. "I would," Jason answered Ronan's question before he could ask it. Ronan closed his eyes and took a deep breath. "Yes, you are completely out of control," Jason agreed, again beating Ronan to the punch. "I healed you with a touch of the damage you did yourself, but you have to learn the control you've never had. I can help. I will help. If you let me... or not."
"I don't deserve you," Ronan whispered.
"Debatable." Jason side-stepped the loaded question. "But you have me. You rescued me, and now I'm going to return the favor."
Ronan's jaw ground for a second. "You get the couch," he said eventually.
"Huh?" Jason blinked at the non-sequitur.
"When we fight," Ronan told him, "you get the couch. It's my bed, and you... are a very welcome guest."
"Oh no, that's not how-" Jason began.
Jason mused for a few moments on the unfairness of Ronan's debate tactics... but he was enjoying them far too much to complain. Ronan was a very, very good kisser. "We'll discuss it-" Jason tried. "Well, maybe we could-" he started a minute later. "OK, just keep doing that and it's a deal!" Jason gasped when Ronan backed off that time.
"Let's go give Mary the good news," Ronan smiled.
"Lets," Jason agreed. "But we will continue where we left off, understood?"
"With... pleasure!" How Ronan could make that word sound so delightfully dirty, Jason had no clue. But it sure did sound... fun.
"It's... it's a good offer," Mary said slowly. "But, well, I wouldn't want to... inconvenience... you two. Or expose Danny to..." she looked helplessly over at the kid, currently engrossed in watching Dora the Explorer.
"You won't inconvenience us," Ronan assured her. "You'll get the middle bedroom, the one Paul is living in, and I've been meaning to install additional sound proofing for a while. You're... the perfect excuse, shall we say?"
"We'd need to talk money, exactly what rent and pay will be," Mary hedged, "but it sounds too good for me to refuse."
"Rent, including room, board, utilities, and like, will be half your paycheck after taxes," Ronan offered. "If it's higher, I'll eat the difference. And with a growing kid, I doubt I'll ever have to worry about paying you back if it's under."
"That's... very generous," Mary agreed. "And... I don't have to... sell... things?" she asked, glancing over at Danny.
Ronan's face darkened. "Your body is your own, and both you and your child are under my protection. If anyone tries to force you, they will regret it." Ronan almost snarled the statements.
"And he doesn't stand alone, they must go through me, as well," Jason added.
"Count me in on that," Paul agreed, "if anyone wants to harm you they will reap the whirlwind that they've sown for themselves."
"Alright," Mary smiled, "I guess it really is too good to turn down. Minimum wage isn't great, but half of it should be plenty for stuff like clothes and school supplies. And a doctor's visit if-"
"No," Ronan cut in. "One of the benefits I provide all employees is a health care plan, and I'm including your child in that."
"You are?" she asked, shocked.
"The only reason I haven't had both of you checked out by professional medical personnel is because I felt you needed at least a little time to adapt and adjust to your new situation. Some time to... rest and recover in heart and soul." Jason was impressed with how Ronan phrased that.
"Well, when do you plan to poke and prod us?" Mary asked.
"Soon," Ronan smiled. "I'm thinking that we can arrange a doctor's visit for next week, if that's alright?"
"Thank you," Mary smiled.
"And..." Ronan hesitated. "Mary, the doctor we use is very discrete, and familiar with my habit of... of what he calls 'taking in little lost pups' and helping them. He won't blink twice over something as simple as a full blood panel for STDs and drugs on both of you... or a rape kit for the child."
Mary paled. "A rape kit?" she whispered.
"A precautionary measure only," Ronan assured her, "but one we should take. Just in case."
"If those bastards... he promised me! But... if those bastards... I'll kill him!" Mary said softly, rage written in every line of her body.
"You won't have to," Ronan told her, "because he'll already be dead."
Jason shifted, wondering where Ronan was going with this. Simple, my... love... the thought hesitated midway through. Ronan still wasn't quite comfortable with the new situation, clearly. Some of those men aren't there of their own choice, but if they've allowed that kind of harm to befall a child... Scorched earth isn't pretty, but it sends the message most effectively.
I thought there were rules about Guardians going vigilante like that, Jason commented.
There are rules and then there are rules, Jason. And there won't be a single Guardian involved, Ronan replied. I've already told Paul to back off, in fact.
Oh? Jason asked, intrigued. Paul wouldn't back off readily.
Yes I did, so there won't be a single, solitary Guardian involved, Ronan assured him. Not even me, really. I have... resources, shall we say, who don't care for child-rape. And who feel my rules... overly restrictive. They have helped out on several other occasions, when I needed to deal with things overseas. And in return... Well, let's just say they really, really love it when I call in a 'favor', generally simply by pointing out when I'm in over my head. And when they hear about _you, well..._
Well what? Jason asked, conscious of the extended silence around them. Mary was staring at Ronan, frowning.
"Strangely enough, I believe you," she said at last, cutting the silent conversation short. "Alright, so when can we move in?"
"I want the sound proofing installed first, and that'll probably take a week or two," Ronan frowned. "I'll be hiring a local motel to put up those who have to be displaced to do the installation, so..." Ronan chewed his lip as he thought. "I'll have to get back to you on it, sorry."
"Alright, I guess I shouldn't expect to get everything handled all at once," Mary agreed. "Danny and I will head back to Ashley's for the time being." She clearly wasn't looking forward to the prospect.
"I'll call someone to drive you," Ronan told her, standing. "And I'll get back to you on the date as soon as I can. If I had to guess, you could move in as early as two weeks from now, just in time for school to start."
Mary smiled and shook her head. "Danny isn't old enough for kindergarten yet," she told Ronan as he walked her to the door. "And I don't need a ride, I have enough cash for the bus."
"As for the one, pre-school, as for the other, yes you do," Ronan insisted.
"There's no need, I don't want to inconvenience your grou- I mean, inconvenience you," Mary tried to demur.
Her verbal slip caused Ronan's eyes to narrow for a moment before he sighed. "The secret grows ever thinner," he said mournfully. "Alright, you've figured out I'm running a group that helps people. Think for a moment, Mary. Do you really think those bastards are going to leave you be? One of them went up against his own boss to let you go as a token of good faith. The group as a whole probably thinks you escaped on your own."
"Danny, we're leaving," Mary called her son.
"Ah, Mooooom!" came the unhappy response.
"Please, we're trying to protect you," Ronan told her. "Don't make the job any harder than-"
"Does Paul have a car?" Mary asked.
Ronan smiled. "He can use mine."
"Only if he wants to," Mary said softly, looking at him.
"Don't be an idiot," Ronan chided her. "Look in his eyes. For whatever reason, he has become totally besotted with you." Mary sighed as Paul started to blush. "And yes, you with him."
"I'd ask how you noticed, but he's already warned me about asking questions I really don't want the answer to anyway," she told Ronan.
"Wisdom? So soon? Normally it takes people months to figure that one out!" Ronan joked.
"I had a bit of help," she reminded him.
"I know, that's why I said months instead of years," Ronan quipped.
"We'll wait out back for our ride," Mary excused herself. "Whoever it is," she added, looking at Paul.
"There's a waiting area at the front of the gym, wait there instead," Ronan ordered. "There are... protections in place, but they're only marginally effective outside of the building."
"Alright," Mary smiled. "Thank you. And... farewell," she kissed Ronan's cheek before giving Paul a very clear look and leading Danny off.
"She's waiting for you," Ronan said playfully.
"Keys?" Paul asked, still blushing.
Ronan turned and started and walked away. "They were in his pockets... so what did you do with the clothes?" Jason asked with a grin.
"I shoved most of it into his room," Paul said. "And by most, I mean I missed some underwear and Danny found it."
"Oh... um..." it was Jason's turn to blush.
"I told her you weren't usually like this," Paul told Jason, "don't make a liar out of me."
"Sorry, it wasn't... well, once we finally, ah..." Jason couldn't figure out how to phrase it.
"Mary called it 'first time exuberance'; apparently she did much the same thing with her husband," Paul told him.
"Yes, the two of them had been dancing around, ignoring sexual tension for months. Finally they broke down, and according to her they were almost violent about it."
"Well, that fits," Jason laughed.
"The relationship lasted all of two weeks before they discovered that it had reshaped itself to be pure sex. When that faded, they had nothing left," Paul said softly, looking at Jason.
"I thought you said he was her husband?" Jason asked.
"The next month she was late. The marriage was a mistake, but they made it work, for Danny's sake. Until her husband died." Paul's grim tone killed the conversation, and left Jason to wonder if his brother was trying to make a point.
"Jason, Lara would like to talk to you," Ronan announced.
"Lara!" Jason jumped up, closing the book he was studying. "How are you? I haven't seen you since-"
"Jason," she cut him off, "this isn't a social call."
"Excuse me?" Jason asked, taken aback by her brisk tone.
"Sorry," she apologized, "I didn't mean to be so harsh, I just don't want to talk about it. I am here on business, though."
"Business?" Jason asked.
"You remember the other day, when you... rescued Scotty?" she asked.
"Yes, I do," Jason agreed.
"All actions have consequences," Lara said slowly. "You didn't mean to kill him, and beyond that you were acting in defense of yourself and a child. But you still killed him."
"Get to the point," Jason told her.
Lara tossed a small card onto the table. Jason looked at it and frowned. Flipping it over he saw a time, date, and room number written down. "OK, I bite. What does a funeral parlor have to do with..." Jason froze. "You can't be serious."
"You will offer comfort and advice to the bereaved, to help them cope with their loss," Lara said coldly. "You will make no reference to his being a child molester, and attempt to prevent -- not avoid it, but actively prevent -- any discussions on the subject. You will report to me or Ashley any conversation with regard to Scotty, especially if anyone seems likely to attempt to regain custody or otherwise cause problems."
"You aren't kidding," Jason complained.
"All actions have consequences. This is, all things considered, not a very bad one," Ashley told him.
"Fine, fine!" Jason gave in. "But one thing. Child molesters rarely act once or twice, it's a life-long thing. Should any previous victims show up, helping them will take priority!"
"No, it won't," Lara said icily. "You have brought the pain of death into these people's lives, and you will, by God, take responsibility for that!"
"I mean it Jason," Lara told him coldly. "I told you: all actions have consequences. This is one of those. Your first priority will be the bereaved. If escorting out and helping someone who is disturbing the occasion is the best way to help them then fine. But only insofar as it's the best way to help the family! You won't know them, but there will be watchers to make sure you behave. Do I make myself perfectly, crystal clear?"
"Completely," Jason snarled. "And no. Make me."
"Make you?" Lara blinked. "Don't be stupid, Jason." Lara waited a few moments before looking over at Ronan. "Well?" she asked him. Ronan shifted uncomfortably before looking away.
"Under the circumstances, I think that perhaps I should stay out of this," he said at last. "Given my deepening personal relationship, I can't act fairly."
"Deepening personal relationship?" Lara asked, confused.
Jason decided a picture -- or in this case, kiss - was worth a thousand words. "Oh," Lara said, surprised, after they broke apart. "Well, it sure took you two long enough!"
"Don't tell me you knew this was coming!" Ronan complained.
"Whose shoulder do you think Eric soaked when he figured out that he was just a placeholder... for you?" Lara asked.
"Hell, is there anyone who doesn't know?" Ronan complained.
"Jason's father," Lara told him. "Oh, and complete strangers probably don't, but if you restrict it to family and friends, Jason's father."
"Don't you mean my parent's, plural?" Jason asked.
Lara smiled and shook her head.
"Fuck!" Jason swore. "When did she... how did she...?" Jason couldn't believe it.
"She called me after the funeral," Lara said, spreading her hands. "I didn't see her there, but apparently she dropped by. She wanted to have some words with me... about how you'd handle the fact that you were now free to pursue Ronan. I asked, and she told me something about how she was your mother, and while you might have hidden the fact that you were gay from her you'd succeeded in no small part because she'd refused to see it."
"Oh God," Jason swore, dropping his head into his hands.
"She didn't want to be specific about when she'd figured it out, but-"
"How did she?" Jason asked. "Other than that one time, she's never visited!"
"Your father threw fits when she tried, but he couldn't argue her out of at least watching you, from concealment," Lara said gently.
"You've got to be fucking kidding me!" Jason cursed.
"No, I'm completely and utterly serious," Lara smiled.
"And I never even noticed?" Jason shouted, throwing his hands up in the air.
"You've always been... half blind," Ronan agreed with a smile.
"We're drifting a bit further afield than I intended to," Lara said at last. "Jason, you will go to the funeral service."
"And I said make me," Jason growled.
"Jason, what exactly is your problem here?" Lara snapped.
"I am not going to pretend I don't know what that bastard is..." Jason paused for a moment before correcting himself, "was, and that's that!'
"Jason, what he was or was not isn't the point. The point is you had no right to kill him," Lara repeated.
"And I said I'm not going!" Jason snapped.
"Stop acting like a little child, sulking because he can't get what he wants," Ronan growled at him. Both Lara and Jason glanced over at him, surprised.
"I thought you were going to stay out of this?" Lara asked.
"I was... until he started playing the part of a petulant child," Ronan growled, glaring at Jason.
"Ronan!" Jason said warningly.
"Oh no, not on this subject," Ronan told him. "You can hold that up over my head all you want, but you won't actually use it and we both know it. You used it to control me... you won't ruin the chance to save me from myself in a fit of childish temper. You're too smart for that."
Jason worked his jaw for a few moments, unable to respond. And then Ronan leaned over and took his hand. "Come on," he urged Jason softly, "be the man we both know you to be. The man I love."
"Son-of-a-bitch," Jason swore under his breath. How the hell did you fight that? "Fine," he said more loudly. Shaking his head he sighed, resigned to his fate. "Fine..."