I’ve tried out something new by editing in text messages. Let me know what you think?
Also this week has been… too much. I feel like I’ve either been sleeping or working. Earlier this week I had what could have been an allergic reaction wherein my entire body decided to become hives so I had to go to urgent care in the middle of the night. So that was fun. I think I’m still recovering! I’m completely run down and very low on patience atm… Good thing I had this scheduled already 😉
The heavens had opened outside and the rain was coming down as a flood, sending most of the students inside for their break. Law and Rhoan – trapped on the other side of school – ducked into a stairwell to wait for the worst to pass. They shook the rain off their hair and perched on the uncomfortable metal stairs, painted an ugly shade of green under muddy footprints.
“Do you think we could make some sort of weather changing device?” Rhoan grumbled, trying to get his hair to sit how he wanted it now that some of his gel had washed out. Law smirked at him.
“You mean global warming? Only long term, I’m afraid, and it’ll probably make us wetter.”
Rhoan muttered under his breath. Law heard his phone ding and glanced over as the screen lit up to show a text from his father.
Law made a face at his phone, getting the gist without opening up the rest of the message. Spending a day out with his father was lowest on his list of things he wanted to do on his Saturday, and even Jas – the lovely neutral territory that she was – couldn’t make it any better. He could barely bring himself to be civil with Kane at the moment, and didn’t think a screaming match would be a nice Saturday, even if it was against the backdrop of the riverside walk or wherever they went.
Law felt the figurative lightbulb moment and turned to Rhoan. “Are you free on Saturday?”
Rhoan made a show of looking at his phone’s calendar. “Wow, turns out all of my girlfriends and other friends haven’t made plans, so for a change I am.”
Law snorted at his friend. “Want to come round? Eilidh will be free too, I’m sure.”
Rhoan’s face lit up. “Yeah, last time was fun.”
“Maybe I’ll see if Chase is up to it too,” Law mused.
“Hey Law. What’s up?”
“Rhoan, Eilidh and I are going to spend the Saturday together, probably at the arcade back in Aelview. Fancy joining, if you’re not busy?”
Chase brightened up. “That sounds fun! Yeah, I just have football practice but I can pass it for a change.”
Law smiled at him and nodded at the laptop. “What are you working on?”
Law laughed at the disgusted expression, but it quickly melted back into his usual friendly smile. “Technology is definitely something I don’t get.”
Chase tilted his head to the side, scratching at the curve of his neck. “Really? I thought geniuses understood everything,” he teased.
“Genius is just mastering the subject at hand,” Law returned, eyes dancing. “And trust me, technology has never been my subject.”
Chase sat back and curled a finger at him, beckoning him over. Law obeyed and glanced at the screen.
Law raised an eyebrow. “Just looks like a bunch of letters to me.”
Chase nodded emphatically, gesturing at his screen as he stretched one of his legs out, pulling his foot towards him to loosen some of the sleepiness of the muscle. “It is. It’s a language. Once you learn what the new words mean, you’re laughin’.”
Law folded his arms over his chest. “I think I’ll just take you at your word,” he murmured. Chase looked up at grinned at him, eyes crinkling at the corners, and then turned back to his work. “I’ll leave you to it,” Law said. “See you on Saturday?”
“Catch you then,” Chase agreed.
“I wanted a nice day out together so we could talk about some things,” Kane sighed, rubbing the bridge of his nose to stave off a headache. He had expected Law to be much easier than other teenagers, since they seemed to cause their parents no end of complaining, but had to resign himself to his fate. Even his genius, mild-mannered, passive son had reason to argue.
“Talk about mum?” Law asked evenly, letting the fridge swing shut with a sigh. Kane’s answering silence told Law all he needed to know, so he shrugged. “What else is there to talk about?”
“Jas. The three of us. How things might change…”
“Do I get to still go to the school?”
“Then do whatever,” Law shrugged, feeling his phone buzz in his pocket. Soon his friends would be arriving.
“Oh, really?” Law muttered, resulting in his father sighing again. Their conversations always seemed to come back to this, Law mused. He was well attuned to his father’s sighs now – from the short, impatient one, to the I-don’t-know-what-to-say one, to the not this again sigh. This sigh was the latter; resigned, weary, and sad.
“We might be talking about buying a house somewhere soon. Other… relationship things. You know…”
Law screwed up his face. “Please don’t tell me I’ll have to deal with a screaming younger sibling.”
Kane bit down on his lip. “I don’t know. We haven’t talked about that much, but…”
Law rolled his eyes. “Well, you’ll be glad that you won’t have to avoid awkward conversations with that child about who their mother is. Unless you manage to muck this one up too.” He left as he said it, immediately regretting the words, feeling horrified at himself to even think of his father and Jasmine failing in case he somehow brought the scenario to fruition. Still, he was too stubborn to return and apologise, and he needed to meet Chase and Rhoan at the bus stop.
Kane scrubbed his hands over his face and told himself that Law was just angry and didn’t mean what he said, but it still stung. And he was right, of course, because if Kane and Jasmine had another child (a future that he wasn’t at all opposed to), then that child would always know who their mother was. How would that make Law feel? Kane didn’t want to ostracise him more than he already had.
Sighing once again, Kane pulled out his phone and sent a text off to Jas, asking if she could talk to Law for him. Jasmine and Law hadn’t had any alone time since the arguments had started, and she was Kane’s last hope to smooth the situation over.
“Do you think these machines are set to always lose?” Rhoan asked his friends, sounding dejected as his tank plushie slipped back to the pile of toys to win. Eilidh giggled, but it was Law who answered.
“Not always, but just enough to psychologically reward you just enough times that you keep playing.”
“You know, you spoil everything with your science,” Rhoan returned, causing both Eilidh and Chase to laugh.
“Science makes everything better,” Law said, listening to the claw machine’s obtrusive music as it went in for another swipe. Chase, meanwhile, was focusing on the skeeball machine and pitting his sporting prowess against it. Much like Rhoan, he was losing.
The arcade had been remodelled a few years ago, when the owner realised the family area was redundant since most of his customers were bored university students or teenagers. The bowling alley and skating rink was still downstairs, but the upstairs now offered much more for the patrons.
“Okay, lucky last ball,” Chase muttered, blowing through his hands and onto the ball to try and give it some luck. Law tried to fight the urge to laugh at Chase’s concentrating face; his brow was so furrowed he was almost cross-eyed.
“You can’t give your ball luck by blowing on it,” Law put in. Chase paused to flip his middle finger at Law.
“You know, you complain about Rhoan being difficult to deal with, but I think you’re just as bad as each other.”
“Ha!” Rhoan said, giving up on his claw endeavours. “I mean, you’ve still insulted me, but I’ll take it.”
“Let me show you how the queen of claws does it,” Eilidh said primly, swanning over to the claw machine. Rhoan’s eyes followed her hopelessly, and Law tried not to laugh at him.
“Ah, fuck,” Chase groaned as his ball missed completely. Law opened his mouth but Chase was already glaring at him. “Don’t you dare say I told you so… Maybe I should just stick to computers.”
Law raised his hands in surrender. “Shall we find something else to do that you can’t fail at?” he asked sweetly.
“A jukebox!” Chase said in glee, rushing over to the gaudy contraption. Law trailed after him with a faintly amused expression, watching as Chase flipped through each record. “Ooh, classics. Build me up buttercup, what about that?”
“I don’t think I’ve ever seen this thing used.”
Chase looked offended. “Jukeboxes are the pinnacle of human-bar-evolution.”
Law raised a single eyebrow. “Human-bar-evolution?” he repeated.
“Yes,” Chase nodded, offering nothing else to explain his phrase. “Oh, Bowie, nice. Oooh, and Volbeat!”
“Don’t let it swallow all your money,” Law shook his head. “I’ll be loading up Mario kart when you’re ready to lose.”
Chase paused and levelled Law with a disbelieving stare. “For a genius, you sure are horribly wrong.”
Eilidh and Rhoan watched as Law and Chase yelled at each other and pitted their driving skills against one another, Eilidh absently patting her stomach. “I think I ate too much,” she groaned. “I think I need to let a button go.”
Rhoan let out a surprised bark of laughter. “Let a button go?”
“Yeah, because my stomach is soooo big!” she groaned. “And uncomfortable.” She wriggled for a moment and then sighed, a pleased smile coming to her face. “Oh, that’s so much better.”
Rhoan stared at her and then burst out laughing, reaching up to flick a piece of hair out of his face.
“What?” Eilidh said defensively, though she was grinning.
“Just that you make me laugh,” Rhoan answered, turning to the screen to avoid looking at her face after his semi-brave announcement.
“Um, no. I don’t think I’ve ever played.”
“How have you not played!” she said, outraged. “How do you not do all these normal things and know these normal references?”
Rhoan shrugged. “I don’t think you make a lot of normal references.”
“It’s lord of the rings!” she protested, voice shrill. “That’s like… like…”
“So not my thing,” Rhoan grinned, and it only widened when Eilidh groaned in disgust.
“Alright, wheel of fortune?”
“They have wheel of fortune in this place? Just how behind are they?”
“Well I’m glad you know of that at least…”
“No!” Law screamed, seeing the finish line come into view. “NO!” The blue shell landed on his kart and blew him up, and he watched in dismay as several racers sped around him to finish before he had even started again.
“Boo!” Chase said, grinning maniacally, as he launched a red shell at the player in front – who happened to be Law, now that he had been ousted from first place by the blue shell – and drifted in front of him for a stylish finish. Law said nothing and instead crumpled forward, covering his face with his hands.
“Oh, how the mighty fall,” Chase said, patting his friend sympathetically on the back.
Law grumbled in response.
“Alright, spin me, baby,” Rhoan grinned, leaning on Eilidh who held the only controller for the game. She complied and they held their breath as Rhoan almost landed on bankruptcy, but luckily hit the $500 instead. “Booyah,” he said, and Eilidh giggled.
“Food and drink,” Eilidh said, reading the onscreen prompt.
“Give me a…. an S,” Rhoan suggested, throwing his hands up when there were no S’s to add to the word.
“Hah, my turn,” Eilidh grinned, spinning her wheel, and then squealing in annoyance when she landed on bankrupt. Rhoan cackled as she wiggled up and down in frustration at the game, pushing her bottom lip out.
“Finally, something you can’t fix in your favour,” he snorted.
“Oh, watch me!” she declared.
“I can’t believe you have a karaoke machine here too,” Chase said, doing a smooth spin to face Law. “Duet to ‘Summer lovin’’?” He snapped his fingers and swayed his body, beginning to croon, “Summer days, drifting away to, uh oh, the sum-uh-mer nights!” in a deep voice.
Law shoved his hands in his pockets and stood still, watching Chase dance. “You’re a music guy, huh?”
“Everyone’s a music guy!” Chase protested. “Who doesn’t like music? How about ‘Don’t stop believing’? Just a small town girl, living in a lonely wuh-o-orld, she took the midniiiight train goin’ aaan-ee-where!”
Law laughed and shook his head in embarrassment. “You can serenade me, that’s fine.”
“Nope, you’re singing with me. There’s no one here but us and the grumpy cashier and who knows, he might get cheered up to some karaoke.”
“Not with my singing.”
“Too bad. Two players, loading up!”
Chase tutted. “You need to learn to be quiet or we can’t be friends anymore.”
“Great, I’ll be quiet, that means I won’t have to sing – oi!” Law spluttered as Chase grabbed his ear and tugged him back to the stand. Law felt himself flush from head to toe and saw the grumpy cashier glare at them briefly before heading back downstairs now that his required half-hourly check had been completed.
“You’re going to sing, and you’re going to like it,” Chase told him.
“Bossy,” Law muttered.
“I just know what I want,” Chase grinned.
“I can’t believe we were in there for the entire day,” Law said, craning his neck to glance up to the darkening sky. His stomach grumbled, ready for dinner, as Chase held out his hands and wrinkled his nose as rain began to spatter them and the pavement.
Eilidh’s arms windmilled as she tried to balance on the thin curb. “So, let me get this straight, on top of your normal subject you all get three electives? Isn’t that too much work?”
“You work at the speed you work at,” Chase shrugged.
“And it’s fun,” Law added.
“Well, mine are fun,” Rhoan grinned. “I don’t think Mr. Science here really understands fun.”
“I do!” Law protested. “Anyway, you can take them in anything.”
Chase dropped his hand and shoved it instead in his roomy pockets. “Not anything,” Chase said. “I really wanted to do learn more about hacking but apparently they couldn’t morally or legally train me to do that. What squares,” he grinned.
“To hack? Like into the pentagon?” Eilidh breathed.
The three of them laughed at her. “No,” Chase assured her. “I mean I could, theoretically, but that’s not what any smart hacker would do. I just think it’s cool and fun to test yourself. I’d never do it for immoral reasons, but if I maybe change a few little things here and there to make life a little easier…”
“Can you change the lunch menu here?” Rhoan asked immediately. “Their sticky toffee puddings are disgusting. I vote for millionaire’s shortbread.”
“Ooh, speaking of food…”
Law rolled his eyes at Eilidh’s appetite. “Want to grab dinner before you guys head off?”
“Sure, sounds good.”
Law sighed when he heard the rap of knuckles at his door, knowing it was Jasmine from the pattern of knocks she used. He called for her to come in and put his phone down. It was a shame because he had been enjoying his Sunday morning lie in, with the sun streaming through his window and warming his room.
Jas leaned against his wall opposite him and smiled. “How’s my favourite teenager in the whole wide world?”
Law rolled his eyes up to the ceiling. “Dad’s put you up to this, hasn’t he?”
“Am I really that transparent?” Jasmine complained, screwing up her face in thought. Law snorted. At least she hadn’t denied it.
“You can tell him this: I’ll be happy when he tells me the story of my mum.” Law glared at the ceiling. “I assume you know?”
“Bits,” Jasmine admitted. “But-“
“Don’t worry, I wasn’t going to ask. It’s dad’s job to tell me. Not that he ever will,” he muttered, curling his toes around the soft quilt cover on his bed.
Jasmine wandered around to lean against his chest of drawers so she could see his face. Law half pushed himself up, feeling like some serious conversation was about to begin. He respected Jasmine, and he wasn’t about to yell at her, but he also didn’t want more excuses.
“I don’t want to be stuck between you both.” Jasmine fidgeted uncomfortably. “Honestly, I know why you’re mad. And I think I would be too. But I also know Kane and I know of the story and… he has his reasons. Not that I think he’s right or wrong… But he has his reasons.”
Law pressed his lips together in displeasure. This wasn’t the answer he wanted. He certainly didn’t want reasonable Jasmine to erode away his anger until he resigned himself to not knowing.
“I just don’t think this is fair,” Law said tensely. “If someone asks me what my mother’s name is, and I have to say I don’t know – do you know how they look at me after that? I just end up making up a name to avoid the hassle. I shouldn’t have to do that!”
“I know,” Jasmine said sadly.
“And, look, I’m happy that you and dad are together, but if you have other kids, where does that put me? They’re going to ask me the same question and…”
“I know,” Jasmine said again.
“And what if I have a bunch of relatives and cousins and grandparents I don’t know about? From either side of the family, jesus, dad doesn’t even talk about his own family! What if he’s like some criminal –“
“Don’t say that,” Jasmine said quickly. “He’s not a criminal, Law. He definitely wouldn’t like that comparison.”
Law narrowed his eyes. “Why not?”
“Oh, great, my name again. Because saying that solves everything.” He took a deep breath and closed his eyes briefly, using his martial arts focus to reign in some of the anger. He didn’t want to yell at Jasmine; she was just caught between them. “Is it so bad that I want to know more about my own father? And my own damn mum?”
“No, it’s not,” Jas said quietly.
Law shook his head and stared up at his ceiling. “I don’t think you’re going to be able to solve this for us, Jas.”
Jasmine’s shoulders slumped and she nodded. He thought she probably knew that before coming into his room, but he supposed he had to commend her for trying. She slipped out without saying goodbye and Law remained on his bed until he decided to get up and face the day.
Of course his father was in the kitchen, preparing food for a couple of his old friends who were coming around later (Alicia, Law knew, but the other girl had apparently babysat him when he was a baby but he had no recollection of Catherine). Law felt the bite of anger again but gamely tried to suppress it.
“You asked Jas to talk sense into me earlier?” Law asked, trying to keep his tone light though his accusation was anything but.
Kane rubbed the bridge of his nose and carefully put down the sharp knife he’d been using to cut herbs. The smell of basil was mouth-watering. “I just wanted her to help.”
“Well, she kind of did the opposite.”
Kane tutted. “Please don’t try to set us against each other.”
Kane looked at his son in disbelief. “You keep saying things as if you’re angry that Jas is becoming more… more permanent in our lives, and if that’s not what you’re trying to do –“
“UGH!” Law cried, flinging his hands up in exasperation. “No, I’m not. I just want to know about you. She does! She knows about you! Why can’t I? Your son? It feels like if I want to know anything about you I have to go through her! Why is that?”
“I’m not as worried about disappointing her,” Kane said firmly, his voice insistently sincere.
The sentiment should have been appreciated, but Law only felt his rage erupt. The only thing disappointing Law was that he didn’t know his dad well, that his dad wanted some secrets to be kept from him, that they weren’t as close as he thought they were, and-
Law’s hands bunched into fists, his face turning a deep read as he yelled. “You think you will disappoint me? What, because you really are a criminal or something? Is that why I can’t know who my mum is? Did you do something to her?”
Instantly, Law realised he’d stepped to far, had known it as soon as it had tumbled out of his mouth, because even the words he’d been using to lash out with over the past few weeks were nothing, nothing, compared with the horrible array of insinuations he’d just made about his father’s character when he knew – he knew – that his dad had only ever done his best, and tried his hardest for Law –
“GET TO YOUR ROOM, NOW!” Kane finally shouted, flinging his hand in the vague direction of Law’s room. Law felt his eyes prickle and quickly blinked the tears away, wondering what his father would think of him if he burst into tears in the middle of the argument.
“I’m sorry,” Law said in a small voice. “That was-“
“No, just get to your room,” Kane thundered. “How dare you – how dare-“
Law turned away, hands shaking, and did as he was told.
As soon as the door had clicked shut Kane turned away, staring blankly at the chopping board. His chest was heaving like he’d sprinted down the street to catch a bus, and he reached up to rub the bridge of his nose, struggling to calm himself down.
“Fuck,” he said quietly to himself, running a hand through his hair. “Shit.” What else was there to say? He knew they were just words, that his son was angry, but they still hurt. Kane had no kind words for Faye, but he would never dream of hurting or taking advantage of her – or anyone. Unlike his family. Unlike his biological father.
In his frustration Kane slapped his hand against the wall and then went back to his meal preparation, chopping the herbs and vegetables far harsher than necessary.
Law hugged his knees to his chest, hand pressed against his mouth as he began to sob. How could he keep ruining everything so much? How could he say those things to his father? What was wrong with him?!
But still, the point remained. Kane would not tell Law about his mother, no matter what. Or at least he seemed like he wouldn’t budge any time soon, and Law couldn’t stomach the anger anymore. He could not make his father’s eyes widen with shock or hurt anymore. He would find another way to get his answers, one that didn’t involve his father.
Law scrambled for his phone and peered through his blurring vision to open his messages with Chase. He smiled briefly at their conversation from yesterday, and then hurriedly typed out a question and sent it before he could convince himself otherwise, his heart pounding in his chest.
If Chase could hack, and if he was as good at it as Law assumed the computer whiz was, he must have some way of tracking down Law’s mother, whoever she was.
He would get his answers.
Originally Rhoan was going to help Law, but then I was like ?? what skills does Rhoan have that could actually help here? Hence, Chase. Whom I love greatly. I love the entire squad greatly, actually. Fight me.