The Ghost of Christmas Present: Part IV
December 22, 7:30 pm CST
Sam was just settling down on the couch once more when Jack returned with his toolkit. He waved absently at her as he hurried through the living room and back into the kitchen. "Don't get up. I know where everything is."
Her response was equally inattentive as she powered up her computer and opened two of the most frequently used files on her hard drive: Hamdi v. Rumsfeld and Hamdan v. Rumsfeld. Every lawyer working on her case, herself included, had pored over both decisions and the hundreds of reviews and legal opinions that had been written about them, but where others were focusing on the differences between whether or not the petitioner was a U.S. Citizen, Sam was more interested in how the designation of "enemy combatants" compared to the way the Anti-Ecto code classified "Ecto-entities." The media was taking the classification issue even further, going all the way back to the Dred Scott decision and who gets standing as a "person," but while that was helping their grass roots effort, it wasn't going to be a factor in the courts. The key, Sam believed, was making the argument that if enemy combatants had habeas rights—
The phone ringing jarred her, and she almost knocked the laptop over as she reached for the receiver from the end table beside her. She did a quick check of the Caller I.D. before hitting the TALK button. "Hey, Jazz."
"Hi, Sam. So, how'd the checkup go?"
"Really good, actually. Other than the little bugger deciding to do his disappearing act right when Dr. Mihashi was trying to find his heartbeat—"
"Hey, Sammy!" Jack poked his head in from the kitchen. "You got a power drill? Maddie must've taken mine out of my toolbox."
"Is that my dad?" Jazz grunted in annoyance. "Do not tell me he's messing with the security system again."
"Okay, I won't, but—"
"GAH! Put him on the phone!"
"Hold on." Sam held the phone out. "Hey, Jack. Jazz wants to talk to you."
"I'm kinda busy. Can you put it on speaker? And how about that drill?"
"In the utility closet out back. But talk to Jazz first." Putting the phone back to her ear, she said, "I'm gonna put you on speaker, Jazz." She set the receiver down, then pushed the speaker button. "Okay, you're on."
"Dad? Are you there?"
"Hey, Jazzerincess! How's my little Charley-horse? She all ready for a visit from Santa?"
"Never mind Charley. What are you doing over there? You'd better not be messing with the security system again!"
"Just making a few updates, princess."
"Dad, no! Nick just fixed it yesterday!"
Jack mumbled something Sam couldn't quite make out, then called back, "I gotta go out back and look for a power drill. I'll talk to you later, Jazzy-pants."
Sam snickered at the aggravated scream that came from the phone, glad it was on speaker and not next to her ear. "Jazz! Stop! He's gone." When she was sure Jazz was finished shouting, she picked up the receiver and took it off speaker.
Although she'd stopped shouting, Jazz was hardly finished complaining about her father. "Why does he have to keep messing with that? Now I'm gonna have to send Nick over there to fix whatever he does."
"Jazz, really. I'm sure it'll be fine."
"Please. I lived in that man's house for eighteen years. Those 'updates' of his are as likely to shoot you in your sleep as protect you." There was a sort of scraping sound, like she was cupping her hand over the phone, then Sam heard a muffled cry. "Nick! Dad's over at Sam's again! You're gonna have to get over there and stop him before he gets her killed!"
She heard Jazz's husband in the background, and Jazz said something else she couldn't quite catch.
Then Jazz was back on the line. "Okay, he'll be over as soon as he puts Charley to bed. He was just finishing up giving her a bath."
"Jazz, he does not need to come over here. If he really wants to check on it, he can do it in the morning."
"I don't think so. I'm not trusting my nephew's well-being to my father's crazy inventions."
"Uh… like the Fenton Phaser and the Porta-Portal?"
"That's different. He's stopped trying to 'fix' those, so consequently, they work."
Sam snorted. "Point. But I really don't want Nick to go to so much trouble."
"He's coming, and that's final. So tell me about the checkup."
"Not much to tell. Like I said, the baby went intangible when they tried to find a heartbeat and scared us half to death, but your mom's human-ghost-shield shots seem to be doing their job. Other than that, it was a perfect twenty-eight-week checkup."
"Oh, good! Now Mom just needs to come up with something to keep him from disappearing on you after he's born."
"No doubt. I think your dad's working on making the Spectral Energy Neutralizer into something a baby can safely wear." She grunted. "At least Danny was fourteen before he got his powers. I don't know how I'm gonna manage an infant with them. Or a toddler. Can you imagine the terrible twos?"
"Don't remind me. I've got less than a year before Charley's two. I'm scared enough even without her having ghost powers."
"How's she doing? Is she excited about Christmas?"
"Well, we tried taking her to see Santa at the mall, but she cried the whole time she was on his lap. I think my mom saw it as vindication of the whole Santa argument." Jazz exhaled in annoyance at that. "Actually, she's still too young to really get any of it. I think next year she'll be more excited. And she'll have a little cousin to play with."
"Well, it's just… sometimes it hits me how real this is. I'm gonna be a mom. By next Christmas."
Jazz laughed. "By next Easter."
"Right. He'll be about a month old at Passover. That's just freaky. I still feel like I'm fifteen and just playing at being an adult. How can I have a kid?"
"You're gonna be a great mom, Sam."
"Yes, because I'm just so nurturing," she deadpanned.
Jazz snorted. "Not in the traditional sense, maybe. But you are like a mother bear. You'll protect him, and stand up for him, and you'll encourage him to be an individual and the best person he can be. You'll be an awesome mom."
This time, her reply was devoid of sarcasm. "Thanks, Jazz."
"And I… I hope that Charley and her cousin will be really close."
"Why wouldn't they be? I see you practically every day."
Jazz took a breath. "If you have to go to Frostbite…"
"Don't." Sam clenched her teeth, letting her determination to keep fighting push back everything else. "It'll be fine. We'll be fine."
"Sam. It's okay to be scared."
She growled in annoyance. "Skip the psychobabble, Jazz. I don't need to be analyzed."
"I'm not analyzing you, Sam. I'm just saying. You've had to deal with so much in the last few months. It's okay for you to take time to feel the loss."
"I'm not 'not feeling the loss,' okay? I just would rather spend my time concentrating on the things I can change, and on fixing the future, instead of crying over the past."
"They're not mutually exclusive."
Sam let out a strangled cry of frustration. "Jazz, I need a sister-in-law and a friend, not a therapist, okay?"
"All right, all right. I just… I'm here for you. And I worry about you. The way things are these days, with everything so polarized, I can't help but worry about you and the baby. And Danielle, too."
"I know." Sam sighed. "Your mom mentioned Dani today, too. She's really hurt that she won't talk to her."
"She won't talk to any of us. I've tried calling her a few times, but Valerie can't even convince her to get on the phone with me just to say 'hi.' She's absolutely convinced that things would've gone differently if it hadn't been for her."
"Or if it hadn't been for me." Sam chewed on her lip. "But your mom's the one I feel bad for. Why should she suffer because Dani's upset with herself and with me?"
"You sound mad. Are you sure you don't blame her?"
"What? Of course I don't blame her! Danny and I decided together how best to handle the fallout from him going public. Everything he did was so that we could make a real difference for the future."
"For Danielle, yes. But for everyone, too. And for the son he didn't even know he was gonna have."
"That's just it, Sam. If you would've known you were pregnant—if he would've known—do you think he would have done anything differently? Would you have?"
"Like what? Let a fifteen-year-old kid get hit by a train?"
"I'm not talking about that, and you know it. I wanna know if you think he would've fought back, if he'd have known."
"I don't know, Jazz!"
"So maybe you resent Danielle a little, because if not for her—"
"I don't resent her, Jazz. I love her. She's a part of Danny, and that makes her a part of me. So no. I don't think I'd have him do anything differently, even if I'd have known I was pregnant. I don't want to spend my life living in the Ghost Zone, and I don't want my son to grow up there because this world—his world—won't accept him. And that's what we're fighting for here. It's what Danny was fighting for that night. But… I do reserve the right to be angry with Danielle for the way she's acting now. He gave up everything so she could live, and she's not living. I get why she took a year off of school—med school is hard enough when you're not grieving. But the rest of it? How do you think Danny would feel if he saw how she's cut us all off? How she's cut your mom off? I'm just… I'm frustrated with her. But that's not the same as blaming her. I mean, if I were gonna go throwing around inappropriate blame, I'd start with the kid who decided walking across a railroad trestle was a good idea. But look at what he's doing now. He realizes what Danny did for him that night, and what it cost him, and he's using that to do something positive, to speak out against the laws that are the real reason everything went to hell!"
"Is that what you want Dani to do? To go on The Today Show like David? The whole point is to not draw attention to her."
Sam let out a huff of air. "I know, Jazz. That's not what I'm saying. I just don't want her to waste the sacrifice Danny made for her. I want her to be with her family, and I want her to go back to med school next fall, and maybe volunteer an hour or two with the Human-Ecto Alliance stuffing envelopes or something. I don't think that's a lot to ask, so stop doing the therapist thing again and trying to get me to 'dig down deep' and look for all that 'hidden hostility,' because it's not hidden. My hostility is pretty much all out in the open. You know damn well who I blame, and it isn't Dani."
"All right, Sam. I just—" She stopped abruptly, then sighed. "Oh, shoot. Charley's crying. She's had an ear infection the past couple of days, poor thing. I'm gonna have to go check on her."
"That's okay. I have a ton of work to do anyway. I hope Charley's ear's not hurting too badly. Give her a kiss for me."
"I will. Don't work too hard, okay? And… I love you. Not just because you married my brother, either. You know that, right?"
"Yeah, I know. Me, too, Jazz. Even if you make me crazy with the psychobabble."
"It's called cognitive theory. And of course I make you crazy. We're family."