"He's a child molester... you don't need to do your job that well with him..." a voice whispered unheard as the lawyer drove to the police station.
"He's guilty as sin, just look at how he was found... no need to help him... just play the role..."
"Let justice take matters into her own hand."
"Listen, lady, I don't know who you think you are-" Eddie began angrily.
"My name is Emma Tate, and I'm here to help you Edward," the tall brunette told him. "I know your parents have left you extremely confused, but I'm going to help you straighten yourself out. First, we're going to place you with a good Christian family-"
"What do you mean, place me?" Eddie shouted. "I want my Dad and my Pop, now!"
"If you'd let me explain-" Ms. Tate tried to calm him.
"The only thing I want you to explain is how I can talk to my Dad and Pop!" Eddie interrupted, getting up out of his chair and slamming his hands into the table between them. "Ouch!" he complained, rubbing his wrists where slamming the handcuffs into the table had bruised them.
"Calm down, please," Ms. Tate asked with a small smile. "At least let me explain what's going on?"
"Explain, fast," Eddie agreed in a snarl.
Smiling, Mrs Tate began to explain in a calming voice. "We received an anonymous tip-"
"An anonymous tip?" Eddie snapped angrily.
"You were going to let me explain?" Mrs. Tate asked with a raised eyebrow. Eddie looked away and nodded, jerkily. "We received an anonymous tip that your father and Franklin Wallace were abusing you, and that the three of you could be found at the Seventh Day Inn." Mrs. Tate smiled again at the scowling Eddie as she brought her explanation to a close. "After some preliminary investigation, we confirmed our tip and intervened to rescue you."
"What a load of horse-crap," Eddie said after she finished.
"Language young man!" Mrs. Tate snapped, frowning.
"What a fucking crappy heap of bull_shit_," Eddie rephrased himself. "No, I gave you your say," he stopped her. "You guys never asked one question about us, you never even so much as interviewed us, and you decided on the basis of... of an anonymous tip that I was being abused? What other possible evidence could you have without doing an actual investigation?"
"Actually we gathered quite a bit," Mrs. Tate reasoned with Eddie. Glancing at the mirror on the wall for a moment, she opened a folder on the table in front of her. "Item one: the illegal marriage application between Timothy Terrance and Franklin Wallace, combined with the attempted adoption by Franklin Wallace of Edward Terrance. Sound familiar?"
Eddie detested her smug tone. "So my parents are married, big deal."
Mrs. Tate clicked her tongue angrily. "Their illegal attempt at mocking the institution of marriage not-withstanding, the only possible reason two gay men could be interested in holding custody over a child is for illegal sexual purposes."
Eddie blinked in confusion for a moment. "Did you just say that my parents are trying to molest me sexually, just because they're gay?"
"I know it's embarrassing, Edward, but we both know it's true. If they were actually interested in being parents why would they have chosen their immoral lifestyle?" Mrs. Tate pointed out calmly.
Eddie stared at her, speechless. "Are you insane?" he finally asked. "Just because they're gay does not mean they want to... to..." he broke down in disgust, unable to finish the sentence.
"Well, let's set aside the fact that they've been raping you," Mrs. Tate said, sounding almost cheerful. "We can move on to item number two. They reserved a room at the Seventh Day Inn, specifying a room with a single king sized bed. This despite bringing you along for the trip."
"Check your info, lady," Eddie almost laughed. "They'd reserved a room at the local Holiday Express and the airport upgraded us after..." Eddie stopped, remembering what had nearly happened with a sick feeling in his stomach. His anus twitched in memory of what had nearly happened, and he felt himself turning a little green at the thought.
"Something wrong, Eddie?" Mrs. Tate asked sweetly.
"There was a rather... unpleasant... excuse me," Eddie dashed for the trash can in the corner and threw up. At the time, pure incandescent rage had shielded him, but with the event past and dealt with that was no longer the case. And the thought of someone sticking anything, even a 'mere' finger, in there was disgusting. Sure, his parents... His stomach gave up its contents even faster as that thought crossed his mind. He may have 'known' about it, but like most teens he'd never really applied the idea of his parents having sex. Suddenly realizing it emotionally, while at the same time dealing with an event that just felt like being raped, was too much.
"What's wrong, tell me," Mrs. Tate asked soothingly, rubbing his back gently.
Eddie wiped his mouth with the back of his hand before standing up. "At the airport, some of the guards decided to search us. They took me... they..." Eddie felt tears rising and tried to stop them but couldn't. He was babbling, he knew that, but couldn't stop that either. He needed... he wanted to talk to his Dad, but they wouldn't let him!
As they walked him out the building his anger rose, slowly quenching his despairing tears. White hot rage began to build up towards a firestorm that would sweep aside the shattered remnants of his control, and he welcomed it. He called the anger forth from the corners of his being.
If they wanted to play fucking games, then lets play!
He was deciding how to go about 'playing' when he realized the room they were passing through wasn't empty.
"Eddie!" his dad shouted, breaking loose of his guards with a cross between a spin and a twist. Grabbing Eddie's shirt Tim brought his son close and kissed him on the forehead. "Let me and Frank deal with this, and keep yourself safe kiddo. We'll find a way, I prom-"
Tim's word were cut short as his guards, and other officers, reacted, grabbing him and pulling him away. "No!" Eddie screamed, helpless to do anything but watch as officers started beating his father. He struggled, but he'd hesitated for a fraction of a second too long and his own guards had him held too tight to break free. If he'd had his hands free he could have done something about that, but he was just too small to break loose by brute force.
Instead he watched as officers chose to restrain his father by first beating him half to death. Inside Eddie, the red-hot anger grew cold as ice as it continued to grow. He memorized faces and names as he watched. He was going to give his dad and his pop the time to deal with this that they'd just asked for. But he was making a list, oh yes. Officers Sanchez, Smithson, Black, Howard, Johnson, and Bell had better be careful. For now, they were at the top of the list with Mrs. Tate at the very, very head.
And if it no longer looked like his dad or pop could keep their promise, Eddie would take matters into his own hands.
His father 'restrained', Eddie's guards finally started pulling him out of the building again. He let them guide him towards a door in the rear of the building, where a grim-faced man stood waiting by a car. "Hello, young man," he said, deep voice held low. "Emma called me personally to take your case on. I'm Ricardo Cook."
Rather than take the politely proffered hand, Eddie simply raised his hands to show off the cuffs holding his wrists together. "Take those off," Cook ordered the guards. Eddie didn't resist as he was pulled around so the guards could do as they were ordered. "Now, let's try this again," Mr. Cook said. "I am Ricardo Cook, and Emma asked me to foster you for the duration."
Eddie looked down at the proffered hand a few moments before deciding. The man's grip was firm and even as they shook. "I am Edward Jason Terrance. Call me Eddie."
"Hello Edward," Mr. Cook answered him. "My wife and son are most anxious to meet you."
Eddie clenched his jaw for a moment before nodding and allowing the man to usher him into the passenger seat of the car. Using his full name was probably an effort on the man's part to be polite, even if it grated on Eddie's nerves. As Mr. Cook buckled himself into the driver's seat, Eddie spoke up. "I recognize that you were trying to be polite, but please call me Eddie, or at the very least Ed, not Edward."
"Edward is your name, boy," Mr. Cook said roughly, surprising Eddie. "Get used to it."
Eddie's jaw tightened again. So that was the way of it, huh? Oh well, could be worse. He'd heard thing about the foster system before, in whispered conversations at school and on the news his parents watched. Rape, abuse... being called Edward was annoying, but far from the trouble he could have had.
Eddie looked out the window and watched the scenery pass by as he roped in the ice cold anger he'd allowed to grow so strong. He'd need it if it came down to fighting, but Mr. Cook didn't look so terribly, terribly bad. At the very least, he deserved a chance to prove he wasn't one of the idiots doing this.
Soon they arrived at a house somewhere out in the countryside and Mr. Cook pulled in. Hitting a control on the remote clipped to the visor, Mr. Cook opened the garage as he ordered Eddie, "Get out of the car and head in through the front door."
Eddie complied silently, his opinion of Mr. Cook dropping rapidly.
"Hello Mr. Wallace," a suited man said as he sat down opposite Frank.
"The name is Terrance, has been ever since I married Tim," Frank answered, annoyed. "Who are you?"
"I understand you've been asking for me," came the smug reply.
"Oh really?" Frank asked, sarcasm heavy in his voice.
"Yes, I was called in to act as your lawyer," the lawyer answered.
"I have a lawyer already, his name is Peter-" Frank began.
"Your lawyer was Peter Wilson, attorney-at-law for Murphy, Wilson & Harris, limited," the lawyer rattled the info off with practiced ease. "He had a stroke last night. Prognosis is good, but he's hospitalized for the duration."
"What?" Frank gasped, flabbergasted. "Shit, poor Pete! How is his wife holding up?"
"As well as can be expected," the lawyer answered. "Now, might I suggest we return to your own case?"
"Alright, let's..." Frank paused. "I'm sorry, I didn't catch your name."
"Murphy, John Murphy," the lawyer introduced himself, reaching across the table to offer his hand. "Call me John," he added when Frank took his hand.
"Murphy? As in Murphy, Wilson, & Harris?"
"No," John said with a smile, "That would be my father, not me. Now, as far as the charges go..." the lawyer pulled out a folder and started sifting through it. "First charge we can't do anything about. Legally you are guilty as sin. Thankfully, an appeal is already working it's way through the court system so the law will probably get stricken before you come to trial."
"What charge?" Frank asked testily. "They didn't really bother to mention much past us abusing our son."
John shook his head and sighed, "I wish that surprised me more than it did. Alright then, from the top... the first charge is your marriage to a Timothy Terrance. The legislature passed a law a few weeks ago to strike down gay marriage, and went farther than they should have."
"I think I heard something about that," Frank agreed. "Some lawyers are throwing a fuss about it being illegal to prohibit gay marriage, right?"
"Well, yes, but that isn't the real problem," John told Frank. "The way the legislature wrote the motion made it illegal for gays to even claim to be married. The intended law was two-fold, one to restrict marriage to heterosexual couples, the other to forbid non-married individuals from claiming the status of marriage. Several churches perform gay marriage ceremonies, but the couples so wedded now must specify that they have a religious union, not civil, or are in violation of the law. The only problem is, the wording doesn't properly exclude full faith and credit events like marriage licenses from other states."
"So simply by being married in another state, we're in violation of the law here?" Frank asked, disgusted.
"Yeah, it's rather absurd, and completely non-constitutional. That's why I'm sure the law will be struck down once it hits the Supreme Court. Unfortunately, that's gonna take a while," John said sadly. "Still, no real discussion is needed on that charge, you just got caught up in a bad law. We'll argue that you were unaware of how the provisions of that local law effected you and you should be out the door."
"Somehow, I doubt it will be that easy," Frank commented wryly.
"Well, if it were the only charge you're facing it would be, the media is all over that particular law," John agreed. "Alas, the other charges are your real problem."
"From what the officers said, it's child abuse, right?" Frank asked disgustedly.
"Well, we've got multiple charges centering around child abuse, some minor, some... not," John said. "Alright, I had them turn the recorders off so we're completely private here, understand?"
"That sounds ominous, but yes," Frank answered.
"Yeah, it's very ominous. I am your lawyer, charged with serving your interests to the best of my ability..." John shook his head and laughed, "And I'm sure you're familiar with that entire spiel, right?" John asked.
"Pretty much. I don't think I like having a lawyer being so eager to remind me about confidentiality, though... how bad is it?" Frank was starting to get really worried.
"Well, they're basically accusing you you of raping Edward, repeatedly, and planning to do the same," John said.
Frank's jaw dropped. "I knew they were going to try some BS, but do they really think they can possibly get the rape charge to go anywhere without his testimony or physical evidence?"
John's face tightened. "However careful you may have been to avoid evidence, there is always some. And they have some very good child psychologists on staff, they'll be able to break any conditioning you may have applied very quickly."
Frank stared at John, shocked. "Are you implying... do you..." Frank spluttered for a few moments before regaining control of his voice. "I did not rape my son!" Frank bellowed out the last bit loud enough to shake the walls.
John shook his head angrily, "I'll remind you, sir," he sneered, "that confidentiality does apply even in this case, and that lying to me will only hinder my ability to help you."
Frank snarled wordlessly for a moment. "So I'm guilty before even being tried, and even my so-called lawyer doesn't support me?"
"I will serve you to the best of my ability, as my profession requires," John said icily, "but that ability is helped greatly when you tell me everything I need to know!"
"I. Did. Not. Do. It." Frank stated clearly. "Neither did Tim. Any 'evidence' to the contrary is a frame job!"
"Oh really," John said, "and you just happened to book a room at one of the fancier inns in town with a single bed because... the boy still sleeps with daddy at night?"
"No, we booked a pair of doubles at the Holiday Inn and got upgraded because of a mess at the airport," Frank said.
"What?" John flipped through his papers. "These don't say anything about a Holiday Inn room, and at the moment-"
"Call the airport security manager, he handled upgrading our rooms after the fracas there," Frank pointed out angrily.
"I'll be sure to do that," John answered, "but how about you explain the condition Edward was found in?"
"What condition?" Frank asked. "I haven't seen my son since I left the room to complain to the management about getting assigned a room with only one bed!"
"So you don't know anything about him being found naked and covered in filth?" John shook his head. "Won't fly."
"It's the truth, I don't have a fucking clue what you're talking about!" Frank insisted. "Listen, as long as you're my lawyer, could you at least try and find out something about Tim? They won't tell me squat!"
"I'll ask. Under the circumstances, I might as well take both your cases so I'll be his lawyer too. They'll probably give me the run around for as long as they can get away with..." John shook his head. "I will also look into the information you gave me, see what comes of it. If you've lied... well, it's going to hurt your case, big time."
"I'll think about ways to prove it's the truth while you're gone," Frank shook his head. "God, I wish I'd ignored that phone call!"
"Phone call?" John asked as he gathered up his papers.
"Yeah, I honestly thought it was a prank call but figured that... just to be safe... I should heed it." Frank paused a moment before adding, wryly, "Besides, Tim was going to the funeral anyway, and they were the boy's family, even if he hated their guts for what they did to Tim..."
"The phone call?" John probed.
"Sorry, we got a call a little while before we left. It was a crank call, at least that's what I thought..." Frank paused for a moment. "Now, I think it was a deliberate set up. It was a warning that leaving Eddie behind might be a bad idea, that something was being planned to target him at home and getting him out of town might be a good idea."
"I'll look into that as well," John said as he closed his briefcase. "I'll let you know what I can, but it may not be much."
"I understand," Frank said resignedly. "I'm sure you'll do what you can."
"Before I go..." John hesitated. "I still don't believe you. Not really. But... I will say I'm sorry I jumped to conclusions before hearing your side. It's... unprofessional, even if I can't help myself. And, hell, it's just not like me! Assuming at least a little of this bears out..." John shook his head.
"Believe it or not, I understand that too," Frank said. "Go, do what you can."
"Thanks," John said as he left the room.
"Help your father with his bags," Hector's mother ordered when they heard the garage door start. Sighing, Hector set his homework aside to do so. "What was that, young man?" his mother asked sharply.
Shit, she'd heard the sigh! "I was regretting the necessity of leaving my problem unfinished," Hector answered.
"So obeying your mother isn't important?" she asked.
"It is of paramount importance, I just regret the inefficiency of having to stop in the middle of a problem," Hector explained carefully.
"Go, hurry up," Mrs. Cook ordered. Hector, glad to avoid punishment from this end, moved as quickly as he could without running.
"Where were you?" his father complained as he pulled a bag out of the trunk. "I expected you out here quicker than that!"
Hector bowed his head and said, "Mother wished to discuss my actions with me."
"What's to discuss? I'll deal with this later," Mr. Cook shook his head and tossed the single duffel at Hector. "I need to talk to your mother. Close the trunk up when you're done."
Hector hated to interrupt, but... "Father, where am I supposed to take the bags?"
"Edward's room, of course!" Mr. Cook's tone added the 'you idiot' part quite nicely.
"Which room is that?" Hector asked calmly.
"Of all the..." his father muttered as he stalked out of the garage.
Sighing, Hector grabbed the bags and started carting them inside the house, dropping them off just inside the door. Slamming the the trunk closed, he took the last two bags inside just in time to be called into the other room.
"I'll show you to your room, dear," Mrs. Cook told Edward. "Hector will bring your bags up to you shortly. You've already eaten, right? I can whip something up..."
"I'm fine, just a little tired," Edward told her as he followed her out of the room.
"Hector, is your mind made of mush?" Mr. Cook asked angrily. "I checked, your mother most definitely did tell you which room Edward was going to be staying in!"
"Yes father," Hector said, bowing his head. The ringing slap he received was far from unexpected, but if he hadn't bowed his head he'd probably have received- Hector rubbed his cheek as he stared up at his father, ears ringing from the two blows.
"Next time your mother tells you something, listen to her!" Mr. Cook picked his son off the floor and dragged him to the back of the house, where the master bedroom lay. Hector did his best to follow, but being yanked around by the arms made it difficult at best to keep his feet on the ground.
"Why the hell did you ignore your mother?" Mr. Cook snarled as they went through the door.
"I wouldn't... I don't..." Hector babbled. "I don't even remember talking to her about this!"
"Oh really, so are you calling her a liar?" Mr. Cook asked angrily as he ripped Hector's pants down and threw him on the bed.
"No sir! I must have forgotten talking to her somehow! I just don't know how! I always pay attention, and given that she must have reprimanded me I'd almost have to remember it!" Hector babbled.
"What did you say?" Mr. Cook growled. "Did you just criticize your mother?"
"No sir, no no! I wouldn't... I know better!" Hector tried desperately to convince his father of his sincerity. "I only meant that I don't know how I could have forgotten a conversation with her!"
"Are you trying to imply that she didn't have that conversation? Are you calling your mother a liar?" Mr. Cook had moved past anger, and Hector held himself as limp as he could as he was roughly pulled across his father's lap.
"One!" Hector gasped out. "Two!" He would not cry, he would _not_- "Three!" he yelled as another searing line of fire branded itself into his rear. "Four!" Desperately he focused on the count, on keeping it right and not loosing place. That would be bad. "Twenty-eight!" How long was his father going to do this? He rarely went past twenty five, much less as high as "Forty-three!"
"Are you going to call your mother a liar again?" Mr. Cook asked softly, rage spent after fifty.
"No sir!" Hector yelped quickly, desperate to avoid number fifty-one.
"Are you going to ignore her again?"
"Get your pants on and get out of here!" Mr. Cook ordered angrily. "You're mother will show you where to carry the bags."
"Yes sir," Hector said, collecting his pants and hopping into them gingerly as his father put the switch back up on the wall.
"There you are, you lazy fool!" Mrs. Cook complained as Hector returned to the entryway. "Grab the bags, and follow me!"
Hector grabbed a pair of duffels and slung them over his shoulders before grabbing two of the suitcases. It took him a little bit, but if he hadn't he'd have gotten chewed out for not carrying enough. "Took you long enough!" his mother sniffed as he tottered to the staircase after her. Hurrying up the stairs to keep up with her, he prayed the bags wouldn't overbalance him and send him falling backwards.
"Thank you God," he whispered softly as he reached the top landing.
"What was that?" his mother snapped as she indicated a closed door.
"I was thanking God for the blessings of my life," Hector answered.
"You should do that more often," his mother said nastily. "It is thanks to Him that you live at all, and you should always render thanks unto Him for all the things in your life."
"Yes ma'am," Hector agreed.
"Very well, I trust that you know which room to take the bags to now?" she asked.
"Yes ma'am," he answered.
"Good. I'll go discuss things with your father. Don't disturb Edward."
Hector's polite response was ignored as his mother walked away, and he went to grab the last few bags. Strange that this Edward guy had packed so much stuff for what he had to have thought was a few days trip!
Beep. Beep. Beep.
Tim had always hated hospitals. He could still remember the first time he'd heard that annoying beep, when his mother had beaten the crap out of him after he'd come out to her. He hadn't really needed to stay, but hospital policies with concussions included a long, dreary stay just to 'make sure' the patient really was alright. The second stay had been after his father had shattered his jaw a week later.
The fact that he couldn't see anything probably wasn't a great sign, he reflected for a few moments. You should be able to see things once you're awake and open your-
Oh. That hurt, but now he could see things. Yeah, it really hurt. Ouch. OK, no more opening eyes for a while.
"I think he's coming around doctor," he heard a voice say.
"Good, increase the..." the voices were distant and unimportant to Tim as he tried to focus on what had put him here this time. He hated the hospital, but you only went there if you were seriously ill, so obviously he needed to be here. He hurt all over, so maybe it was a car accident... or an airplane? Yeah, they'd gone on a trip...
"Eddie!" he shouted, trying to sit upright as memory struck home. The clack of handcuffs explained very clearly that his memory was accurate.
"Sedate him before he hurts himself!" someone shouted, but Tim had already fallen back into the bed, unable to sit up thanks to his bindings. Which were rather absurd, you only needed one point of restraint to confine someone to a hospital bed, not six. Six was excessive unless they honestly thought he was going to try and hurt the doctors tending him. Given how bad the pain was, it seemed highly unlikely that he'd be a threat to a six year old child, much less an adult. Therefore, the restraints had to be a form of psychological warfare. Which... was annoying as hell, precisely as they were no doubt meant to be.
"I'm fine," Tim croaked out. "No need for sedation."
"Doctor?" a female voice asked.
"Keep it ready, just in case," another woman responded. "How are you feeling Mr. Terrance?"
"Like I got the crap beat out of me again," Tim answered ruefully.
"Again?" the doctor asked. Tim grinned, recognizing a probe when he saw one.
"I guess you still don't have my medical records, huh?" he asked.
"Unfortunately no," the doctor answered. "You aren't opening your eyes, is that the swelling?"
"No, too bright in here. At a guess, I've got another concussion."
"That's my estimate," the doctor agreed. "Now, how is it that you recognized that?"
"I don't have any known allergies, no serious pre-existing conditions that I know of, and call Mercy General in Seattle, they have a copy of my records on file." Tim told the woman.
"Not feeling very talkative?" she asked.
"I don't like people who don't give me their names, for starters," Tim began.
"Dorothy Hunter, M.D." she introduced herself.
"I also don't like being restrained for no good reason, and-" Tim tried to continue.
"You injured several officers resisting arrest," the doctor interrupted, "so there is plenty of reason."
"Dorothy, do me a favor and make sure those injuries are documented," Tim asked, "because if there are any, I'm not the one who did it."
"Oh really?" Dorothy asked.
"You said I 'injured' three men; bound or not if I'd been in the resisting mood there would be blood on the ground," Tim said, infusing certainty into his voice. "I've got a black belt in two separate schools, and brown belts in several more. And other than my husband, no one has been able to match me in open-style matches in years. I've taken second place at the national level three years running now."
"Husband?" Dorothy asked sharply. "You aren't married, and if you were... Nurse, schedule an MRI to check for brain damage," she ordered.
"Right away doctor," the nurse answered.
Someone leaned in on his bed, and Tim shifted to face them. "Listen to me very carefully, Mr. Terrance," Dorothy told him. "Your... orientation is not highly thought of in this area. Given the charges pending I have no doubt it'll come out soon enough, but..."
She paused, hesitating. "Discretion is the better part of valor? Don't rock the boat before I have to?" Tim offered.
"Precisely," Dorothy told him. "I hold myself to a high standard, but some of the doctors here..." again she paused, hesitating.
"Shit, accidents?" Tim asked.
"I can't prove a thing, yet, but yeah," she admitted. "Too many to be chance, but not enough to be really definitive."
"Contact the federal-" Tim began to suggest.
"I already contacted the feds, they are... appraising the situation. And if I vanish..." She didn't finish.
"Anything I can do to help?" Tim asked.
"Sorry, my job," she told him. "Just keep yourself safe."
"I'll try," Tim promised.
"Good. Now, there is a lawyer who is rather desperate to see you. Seeing as how the cops want to keep him as far away from you as possible..." Dorothy suggested.
"I wouldn't mind a visitor or two, if the doctor allows," Tim answered with a smile.
"Good. I'll see to it he's waiting when-" a door opened and Dorothy cut off. "Ah, nurse! Is the MRI scheduled?"
"As I'm sure you were already aware, it just happens to be available right now," a male voice responded.
"Good, so I take it he's going in?" she asked.
"Yes right now," the man responded. "Bit of a rush job to get him done before the next scheduled session, but Doctor Parrish doesn't mind."
"Good," Dorothy answered. "I'm coming with, though, I need to finish a few things, and a first hand look at the scans is always such fun!" She positively oozed enthusiasm at the idea.
"What, do MRIs turn you on or something?" Tim joked
"Well, sticking such a long object as the human body into the snug space of an MRI scanning bay does seem rather... sexual, doesn't it?" she answered with a forced laugh as the nurse left the room.
"What is it?" Tim asked.
"The good Doctor Parish is one of the ones who has a lot of accidents," she told him softly. "And I'm not sure what he's going to try, so stopping it..."
"Crap," Tim swore softly.
Eddie woke up bright and early the next morning, courtesy of a sharp knock on the door. "Breakfast!" Mr. Cook called out through the door. "Come and get it while it's hot!"
"Jus' a momen'" Eddie mumbled as he tried to shake the last dregs of sleep off.
Mr. Cook popped his head in and repeated herself, "Breakfast is ready boy! Come and get it while it's hot!"
"I'm comin'!" Eddie answered as he fell out of the bed. "Ow... I hate mornings!" Rubbing his eyes in an effort to clear them, he wandered over to the pile of bags that had made their way to the room last night. Digging through, he eventually found a set of clothes that would work for today and pulled it on after stripping out of his pajamas.
Trooping downstairs, he followed his nose to a table piled high with mush. "What is that?" he asked, wrinkling his nose.
"Grits," Mr. Cook answered. "Haven't you ever had a decent breakfast before?"
"Normally stuff like waffles, eggs, pancakes, not... grits, did you say?" Eddie explained.
"Yes, grits! No civilized man should go without eating them!"
"In case you forgot, honey," Mrs. Cook interrupted, "yanks don't eat grits, it's a southern dish."
"As I said, no civilized man!" Mr. Cook responded with a smile.
"You know that little black dress you love, honey? I think I'm getting a little to old to wear it..." Mrs. Cook countered suggestively as she handed Eddie a small bowl.
"Now lets not be hasty here," Mr. Cook responded quickly. Eddie snickered quietly at the byplay as he tried the mush. Making a face, he set the portion aside and reached for the toast.
"It's an acquired taste," Mrs. Cook told Eddie. "Here, I prepared this part without rinsing, see if you like it more," she said as she gave him another small bowl.
"Alright," Eddie said affably. The second bowl got placed aside as well, and he focused on the toast.
"I'm sure we can find a lunch more to your taste, my dear," Mrs. Cook told Eddie sweetly.
"Where's that other boy, um..." Eddie couldn't remember his name.
"Hector?" Mr. Cook answered. "Well, he's off doing some chores for us."
"During breakfast?" Eddie asked, shocked.
"He ate earlier, dear," Mrs. Cook reassured him.
"Alright," Eddie answered. "Mr. Cook, can you find out anything about where my parents are?"
"I can certainly try to find out about your father, but why?" Mr. Cook's voice was a little too even, and Eddie frowned.
"Well, a good two thirds of the bags you brought home are theirs, not mine," Eddie told him.
"Sort out the trash and we'll throw it away," Mr. Cook answered.
"Excuse me?" Eddie asked, shocked. Did that... that... that person just-
"Sort out anything you want to keep and we'll throw the rest away," Mr. Cook repeated.
"You want to throw away my parents' clothes?" Eddie asked in disbelief.
"Of course. And don't worry about keeping any of yours with bad associations," Mr. Cook added, "we'll be buying you a replacement wardrobe today. State expense, so don't worry about the money."
"Fuck the money, why the hell are you throwing away their clothes?" Eddie demanded.
"I don't know how you may have been raised, boy, but you will keep a civil tongue in your mouth! Do I make myself quite clear?" Mr. Cook asked icily.
"My apologies for the language," Eddie answered in an even colder voice. "But the basic question remains, why are you throwing out my parents' clothes?"
"Your father will be spending a very long time in jail for what he did to you," Mr. Cook answered, "so he will hardly be needing them anytime soon."
"Last I checked, neither Dad not Pop had been convicted!" Eddie answered.
"Wait, Dad and Pop, You make it sound like you have two fathers!" Mrs. Cook reacted with a gasp.
"I didn't want to distress you, my dear, but he's been raised by a gay couple," Mr. Cook told his wife.
"Oh, you poor thing!" she said softly. "Wait, Edward.... Is he the Riker's boy?"
"Yes, he is," Mr. Cook answered.
"Why didn't you tell me?" she asked sadly.
"Wait, you guys knew my great-grandparents?" Eddie asked, suddenly nervous.
"Of course, they attended church with us for years," Mr. Cook answered.
"Which Church?" Hector asked with a sudden thinking dwelling in his stomach. His grandparents used to attend Southern Baptist, but more recently they'd switched to another one. He didn't know which one, but given their prejudices...
"Reformed Evangelical Church of Christ, of course," Mr. Cook answered, surprised. "I know you didn't have much contact with them, but surely you knew that much about them!"
Eddie shook his head, and all he could think was, Crap, oooooooh crap!