Caring Christopher

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#65 What do you think he did?

Christopher

Edward and I are sitting in the garden, sipping our beers. Freddie and Davy are already fast asleep, I just read Yoah his last bedtime story, and Jagger and Celeste are on the couch, snuggling while they watch tv. She bursts into tears every ten minutes or so, but Jagger remains calm through it all. Abby is in the kitchen, making lasagna to warm up tomorrow, making sure she’s close enough to be there in a heartbeat when the kids need her, while giving them space at the same time.

“This is so fucked up,” Edward grumbles, finishing off his beer and grabbing another one from the ground where Abby put two more for us a few minutes ago.

“You don’t have to take her in if it’s too much,” I tell him for the millionth time. “She can live with us. Abby and I have talked it over already, and we can turn Abby’s old room into Celeste’s, and we’ve got another small room for the baby when it comes, so they can all have their own space.”

“It’s not about space,” Eddy says with a sigh. “Jagger and Celeste are getting along right now, but we all saw and heard their fight a few hours ago. She wants an abortion, and he doesn’t. She needs a place that’s just hers, where she can get some distance from him. Staying here isn’t good for her, no offence.”

“None taken,” I assure him. I agree with him, but I don’t want to pressure my friend into dealing what feels like a mess I helped create, somehow. Maybe I shouldn’t have allowed Celeste to stay here so often. Then again… she got pregnant in early December, when Jagger had only just met her. Before she pretty much moved in here and we got Jagger a shitload of condoms. Too little, too late, I guess.

“Can she even get an abortion at this point?” Edward asks quietly. “She’s 23 weeks pregnant… I thought the cut-off was 20 weeks or something?”

“It’s possible, but it’s huge,” I explain, shuddering. Terminating a pregnancy when a baby has already been growing for 23 weeks… it’s not something anyone will ever do without it hurting them mentally. It’s usually only done when there is a medical reason for it, since women usually find out way sooner that they’re expecting. I’m pro-choice, but I don’t think Celeste should make the choice lightly. They’re no going back after getting an abortion and it will be traumatic for her. If that’s truly what’s best for her for whatever reason, I will stand by her, but it’s not what I want for her. None of this is. “She can’t have it done at the hospital. We’ll need to go to a different state, most likely, and pay a few thousand dollars to get it done. It’s not something doctors usually do, you know, terminate a pregnancy that’s already this far along without a medical reason for it.”

“Has she said anything about why she doesn’t want the baby?”

I shake my head. “Abby and Dr. Gio explained all her options to her, but she keeps saying she can’t have this baby, and that she wants it out of her.”

Eddy grunts. “And we’re sure it’s Jagger’s?”

I hadn’t even considered that it might not be, to be honest. He keeps saying our baby, and Celeste is leaning on him so much… Surely it’s his, right? Then I recall that Celeste didn’t panic until she found out how far along she was, and how she told Jagger that he knew what that meant.

“Oh God,” I breathe. “It’s not his.”

“I know,” Abby’s soft voice says as she steps into the garden, closing the door to the kitchen behind her. “I just overheard Jagger tell Celeste that he will take care of her and the baby no matter whose it is. That’s why she’s so upset. They’re not sure whose it is.” She sinks down into the chair opposite mine and reaches out to grab a beer before remembering she can’t have alcohol and putting it back down. We haven’t talked about what we’re going to do about having a baby ourselves now that we’ve suddenly got Celeste’s pregnancy to deal with, but it’s nice to see that Abby is already taking into account that she might be pregnant soon. I still want a baby with her, even in the midst of all this chaos.

“It’s probably her ex-boyfriend’s baby,” Edward reasons. “What’s his name… Wyatt?”

Abby nods. “I think so too. That’s fucked up though. The guy hit her, and Jagger seems to think he might hurt her again if he ever gets her alone.” Her eyes find mine. “She’s lucky to have Jagger. Can you believe how sweet he’s being to her, even though his girlfriend is obviously pregnant with another man’s kid?”

I agree with her, but I have to admit there are a lot of different emotions raging within me right now. I’m also… well, to be honest I’m wondering if he’s doing the right thing. Obviously we all support her, and him, and them together, but… I mean, if it’s not his kid… He seems ready to put his life on hold for them, even though he’s only been with her for six months and he’s not even 17 yet.

“Chris,” Abby says sharply. “Don’t even go there. I get it, but if you say that to him, he won’t open up to us ever again. It seems he’s made his decision, and we can’t do anything but support him.”

“Right,” I agree, knowing she’s right. This is just not what I want for my son. I hate that this is happening to him. And to Celeste, obviously, because in the past week, I’ve started to care for her in a way I didn’t before she told us the truth about her life. She’s just a kid. A scared, pregnant kid with a drunk for a father and an abusive ex-boyfriend. She needs us as much as Jagger does.

“What do we do now?” Edward asks, rubbing his eyes. “Do I take her home with me? Or does she stay here? Do we tell Mary? Do we pretend the kid is Jagger’s, or should we somehow try to talk to the father? Should we tell Celeste’s deadbeat dad?”

Abby and I remain silent, both not knowing what the hell the correct answer is. I’ve never felt quite this lost. How are we supposed to help Celeste and Jagger through this when we don’t know what the hell we’re doing?

“There’s no way Jagger is letting Celeste out of his sight tonight, and it’s not like she can get more pregnant than she already is, so she should stay here tonight,” Abby says, deciding for all of us. “Besides, Freddie is asleep on the extra matrass in Davy’s room, so he’s staying too. You can take the night off, Eddy, go home, get some sleep, and we will take care of all the kids. Tomorrow, you will take Freddie and Celeste home with you, so she can get settled in. We’ll call Mary and ask her what the fuck to do with all of this, and have her make the decisions when it comes to who to inform. We’re too close to this. We need someone who isn’t either Jagger’s or Celeste’s parent to give us some perspective.” She gets up and claps her hands together. “I’m beat. I know it’s early, but I’m going to bed.”

“I’ll be up in a minute as well,” I tell her when she leans down to give me a peck on the lips.

When the door closes behind her, Edward lets out a soft laugh. “That woman is something else. We never got to talk about last night with everything that has been going on today. That proposal…” He holds up his beer in a silent toast. “That was…”

“I know,” I reply with a smile, looking down at the golden ring on the hand that has been empty for so long now. I barely even remember ever wearing a wedding ring, even though I know I had one on for five years after marrying Gianna. “I never thought anyone would ever propose to me.”

“If it was anyone else, I’d make a joke about her emasculating you, but it’s not like that with you and Abby.” He sighs, sounding almost envious. “You’re lucky to have found her. She’s amazing and you and her are so alike in all the ways that matter, and different in enough ways to complement each other.”

“Did you ask out Mary yet?” I ask, hoping they will hit it off. Edward deserves someone to be all in for him, just like Abby is for me.

“Not yet.” He gets up and finishes his beer. “I’ve been a little busy, haven’t I? Soon, though.”

I say goodbye to Edward and watch him drive off, and then I tell Celeste and Jagger goodnight, who are still on the couch together. He’s got a hand on her stomach and even though she looks like she wants to puke, she’s allowing him to rub her belly while they watch tv. I hope they figure things out, and that the kid is his, because if it’s Wyatt’s… I don’t know what that would mean exactly, since I don’t know the guy, but it can’t be good.

Abby is already out cold when I slip into bed beside her. I wrap my body around hers and press my lips against her neck, causing her to stir and mumble something in her sleep. She snuggles against me without waking up, and I love how she responds to my closeness even when she’s dead to the world.

Even though everything is fucked up right now, at least this right here makes sense. Abby and me, engaged, trying to have a baby, raising our three boys together. As long as we have each other, it’ll all work out somehow. I know it will.

***

I wake up in the middle of the night, rolling onto my back and trying to figure out what that sound is I’m hearing. Is that Yoah’s voice? I get up and slip out quietly, making sure not to wake up Abby.

“Jagger!” I hear Yoah hissing loudly when I’m in the hallway. His voice sounds like it’s coming from the stairs. “You can’t sneak out! Mom and Dad will kill you!”

“Go back to bed,” Jagger’s gruff voice replies. “You’ve got nothing to do with this.” He looks up right when I reach the top of the stairs, looking down at Yoah who’s standing a few steps down, and Jagger standing with his hand on the front door, the other holding a baseball bat.

“Ah fuck,” he curses, dropping his hand from the doorknob.

“Dad,” Yoah says, sounding relieved. “I was trying to stop him.”

“I know,” I assure him, ruffling his hair. “Go back to bed, honey. Let me talk to Jagger.”

“Okay,” he agrees with a yawn, giving me a hug before heading back to his own room, shutting the door behind him a little too loudly.

Jagger and I both freeze, listening to hear if anyone else woke up, but it seems we’re good. I descend the stairs and grab his arm, pulling him into the living room where we can talk above a whisper. He sinks down into the loveseat and puts the bat on top of the coffee table, staring at it.

“Wyatt?” I ask, sitting down on the edge of the couch.

He nods. “You know?”

“Bits and pieces,” I admit. “It’s not yours, is it?”

He shrugs. “Could be, but we always use a condom and I even pull out most of the time. Chances are it’s his.” He pulls his hands through his hair, pulling at it so hard that it’s got to hurt. He winces when he hurts his hand with the gesture, and he looks down at the stitches with a frown. “I hate this whole fucking day. Yesterday was so goddamn good, and then…”

“It all went to hell,” I agree, nodding. “I know. Still, Abby and I are really proud of you for being so good to Celeste, Jag.”

He looks surprised to hear that. “Thanks, Dad.”

“Now tell me where you’re going in the middle of the night with a baseball bat.”

“Wyatt’s place,” he explains, looking at me with fire in his eyes. “That jerk deserves to die.”

“Jagger!” I say, appalled. “I get that you don’t like him, but you can’t head over there and beat him up.”

“Oh, trust me, I can,” he says, looking very dangerous right now. I’m getting a glimpse at the guy he was before he moved in here, and I can imagine this version of him robbing a store, setting curtains on fire, getting into fistfights… This is not the Jagger I’ve come to know to past few months. This is the old Jagger, coming out to play.

“You can’t be there for Celeste if you’re in juvie for assaulting Wyatt,” I try to reason with him.

“I plan to do more than just assault him,” Jagger says in the darkest tone I’ve ever heard. “You have no idea what he did, Dad.”

“Then tell me,” I plead. “Help me understand.”

His gaze burns into mine when he replies. “What do you think he did, Chris? He fucking raped my girl.”

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