- Discussion-Child Abuse
- Discussion-Domestic Abuse
- Discussion-Sexual Abuse
- Explicit Sex
- Permanent Injury
- Action Adventure
- First Time
Spencer slowly pulled into the driveway and shut off his car. He smiled at the interior and the fuzzy dice that were still hanging from the rearview mirror. The car had been Freddie’s, and he hadn’t wanted to drive it all the way across the country when he joined the Boston basketball team. He had packed a lot of his things, and even though it had been two years before Spencer could even get his permit and start to drive, Freddie had talked to Joe. So Freddie’s car was Spencer’s. He and Joe had spent years rebuilding everything inside of it. Joe was fascinated with engines, and it was one of the degrees that he had obtained while he was laid up while a SEAL years before. Rebuilding it had been a lot of fun.
Joe hadn’t hesitated at all about teaching Spencer to drive in it and in the Jeep. The secondary car that Joe had used for years had been sold off not long after Freddie had given Spencer the car. The Amazon that had been his mother’s car was in storage in California, and Spencer itched to pull it out next, and they work on it. There was room in the garage. Joe had picked the house that he had years before because of a three-car garage that usually only had two cars inside of it.
Spencer’s stomach growling pulled Spencer out of his thoughts, and he grabbed his bag from the passenger seat and climb out of the car. He hit the button for the garage door, and it started to go down as Spencer unlocked the door that led inside. It was something that Spencer appreciated about Joe, he never really left anything unlocked. Even the garage door that could only be accessed from inside of the garage.
“Hit the shower! Dinner’s a little late.” Joe called out from somewhere inside the house.
Spencer looked at the stove to see the counter on the oven still have half an hour. He turned to the left to head up the stairs that led up to the second floor and quickly got to his room to shower. It was nice to get out of his fatigues and into other clothes. Usually, Spencer didn’t mind them, but the showers at the school were broken that the ROTC kids were allowed to use, and Spencer hadn’t felt like trying to slip in somewhere else. So he was sweaty and stinky, and he didn’t like it all that much since he was home. If Spencer was doing a weekend thing or even a week-long summer excursion for ROTC, he didn’t mind staying in his fatigues all day for that. When he was home, or in his car and in them, he hated it. When it was maneuvers and things like that, everyone was in them. They all smelled the exact same, looked the exact same.
Fresh-faced and running a towel through his slightly curly hair, Spencer looked at himself in the mirror. Nearly all of the baby fat that had been clinging to him was gone. He had hit six foot one the year before and had added nearly another half of an inch since then. He was glad he had finally grown into his larger feet. It made running so much easier. Spencer ran his hand over the five o’clock shadow on his face and sighed before he ignored the razor. He would shave in the morning as he didn’t feel like adding that time to getting ready now. He wanted down there for food; even if the food wasn’t ready, he could grab a roll or a slice of bread to stop his stomach from yelling at him.
Joe wasn’t in the kitchen at all, and so Spencer grabbed a slice of bread that was buttered on the table and wolfed it down before finding something to drink in the fridge. He grabbed the gallon of milk and the glasses that lived beside the fridge to stop Spencer from drinking from the gallon. He filled up the glass and chugged half of it before filling it up again. He set that down by his spot at the kitchen table before he walked out of the kitchen to find Joe.
“Dad?” Spencer called out in the living room.
“Here!” Joe called from the back of the house. Spencer walked that way and found Joe buried in a box in the room that had been storage since they had moved in. The basement wasn’t a good option for that kind of stuff as Joe had issues with stairs and carrying anything. He wasn’t so full of pride that he did shit that could hurt him, which Spencer was thankful for.
“Whatcha doing?” Spencer asked.
“Getting through a few boxes that the boy down the street carried up for me from the basement. It’s all stuff we haven’t touched since we moved in, so I’m sorting through my things and getting rid of things I don’t need anymore and leaving your stuff for you.” Joe looked up from where he was sitting in a rolling chair. His cane was leaning beside him on the desk that had been lost to boxes for a long time. The room was organized into seasons it looked like. Halloween decorations were at the front of the room, ready to be put up when October first rolled around. Spencer was glad that Joe was still going to be doing that, even if Spencer was technically too old to do anything like that. He was a month away from turning eighteen.
“Well, I’ve mostly gone through everything in the basement in the past years so we can just pack all of my things up into a few boxes and store them down there. I’m still too sentimental to part with them. Though, I’ll gladly bring up things and take them back down when you need it. You don’t need to con the neighbor boy into doing it.”
“Conning isn’t what I am doing. He’s selling himself to buy some toy that’s coming out next month. His parents told him that he had to save up for it himself.”
“Jimmy, who breaks his toys two days after getting them?” Spencer asked.
“Yes. We are hoping that if he buys it himself, he won’t break it nearly as quick. He’s halfway there. I give him fifty cents for each box, he carried ten the other day. He is also pulling weeds in Miss Albright’s garden. He’s been a model little kid, so we all feel like helping him as much as we can. We have a standard rate, though, that everyone sticks to.”
“Well, when he stops, let me know.”
Spencer felt bad that he wasn’t home as much as he used to be before he had a car that he could drive. He was doing ROTC on campus, doing study sessions with kids at the college for money. While Joe would give him anything that he wanted, Spencer wanted to get a good present for him this Christmas that he bought with his own money. Joe had never asked why Spencer took a job at the college, and Spencer was pretty sure that he wasn’t going to ask.
“I will. I’ll even pay you more.” Joe winked at him and closed the box he had been throwing things into.
Spencer recognized that it was a lot of Joe’s SEAL team memorabilia. That box went to the side with another box that wasn’t marked. The other boxes were all marked.
“I think I’m going to redo the office.”
“Into what?” Spencer asked.
The timer went off in the kitchen, blaring loudly.
“What did you make?” Spencer asked. The smell was good, but he couldn’t place the smell of the food at all. His stomach was thankfully still ravenous and was letting him know.
“Some casserole like thing that Joyce down the street makes for her kids. It’s easy to make healthy enough if you cut down on the meat and potatoes and add more vegetables. Still, there are enough of both to fill us both up.”
“Sounds good to me.”
“You’ll eat anything I stick in front of you.” Joe held out his hand, and Spencer held to stabilize him as he got up. Joe’s leg was doing well, but it didn’t like to sit in that position like that for long, and given how stiff it looked when Joe started to walk, Spencer figured that he had been there like that longer than he should have been.
Spencer strolled behind him, making sure that he was there to catch Joe if needed.
“How is Freddie doing in Boston. You’ve not talked about him a lot lately.”
“Busy. I get letters about once a month from him. He’s dating someone who lives there, and it’s going a little rocky.”
“Yeah?” Joe walked to the oven as soon as he entered the kitchen. Shutting off the timer and then opening up the oven. The casserole that he pulled out looked like it was covered in cheese and under that shredded hash browns. Spencer’s stomach growled at that.
“She’s not happy with him traveling so much of the year, and even when he’s home, he’s not at home enough for her liking. I told him to dump her ass, but he’s in love.”
“Men in love do stupid things,” Joe said.
“I, at least, stopped him from asking her to move in with him. That just has all kinds of unhappy written all over it. He would have to deal with her griping all the time when he was home. He wouldn’t be able to escape her anger.”
“Sounds like he needs to learn that on his own.”
“Yeah, he said he wasn’t going to take advice from a seventeen-year-old boy who isn’t even interested in dating at all.”
Joe cut off when Spencer glared at him.
“Can we not? I have no interest in taking what little free time I have to attempt to find someone who will be upset when I go off to boot camp and BUD/S. You have no attachment to grandkids. You can’t even stand when the couple next door has their toddler outside, and it’s crying.”
“He,” Joe said.
Spencer just glared at him more.
“He, she, it. It doesn’t matter. It’s not like you care if I get into a relationship because I don’t exactly see you settling down with anyone. You still have years and years ahead of you, and your only tie is me, and I’m pretty much raised now. Why do I need to keep on repeating something over and over? My life won’t be my own at all until I’ve settled into a SEAL team. I’d rather wait until I’m there and find someone who knows exactly what it’s like for my life than to find some rosy-eyed girl who sees my brains and my degrees and tries to change me into something. That’s just going to hurt her feelings, and I’ll get the reputation of being an asshole.”
“Fine. I’ll drop it. For now.”
Spencer tucked into the food that Joe had dished up onto a plate and set down in front of him while he had been ranting. It wouldn’t be all that bad, but Joe was pushing it more and more. It was horseshit. Joe never wanted a wife while he was a SEAL team, and he had never grabbed one after he had been medically discharged. There had been a lot of time where he would have been able to do that. Spencer didn’t know if Joe was worried about Spencer after he was gone, but Joe had a long life in front of him. Joe took care of himself, he ate pretty well for someone who was alone most of the time with Spencer eating most meals on campus because of classes and ROTC.
“How is ROTC going?”
“Well, most of the guys who are still there know that I was doing it at the high school campus not nearly enough picking on me as there had been before. The freshman this year, just look at all of us with stars in their eyes.”
“New main instructor this year. How is that going?”
“Still too early to tell.”
Spencer didn’t mind when the talk turned to silence as they got more into stuffing their faces. Spencer was still a little sore on the whole pushing Spencer to date thing. Spencer was still underage and would be for nearly a month. It wasn’t like he wanted to start something with freshman or someone older. No one interested him at all. Even the few girls who were smart didn’t look at Spencer like he was weird when he showed up to advanced classes in his ROTC uniform just weren’t interesting to him.
Though there wasn’t a guy, who interested him either. That was something though that he had already decided that he was never going to act on. Spencer wanted to be a SEAL more than he wanted a person to spend his life with. He didn’t want that kind of burden on his mind, be it a woman or a man. There was no reason for him to push himself into something that he didn’t want to do for the sake of looking like an average person. He fit in well enough, given his intelligence. He checked out the girls on the volleyball team who were running for training just like the rest of the guys. Yeah, watching their breast bounce and their tight shorts made him horny, but he was still at the point where a stiff breeze that cupped his balls just right got him horny.
Joe had given him the sex talk the first time that he had caught him washing his sheets after a wet dream. It had horrified Spencer a great deal to have that happen, so he had listened and didn’t ask a single question until the end of it. Spencer had skipped most of those talks between schooling and Vegas and going to Caltech. Joe had been a little horrified when he realized it. Though, he had been more than shocked when Spencer laid out his own track through puberty and the points he had already hit when Joe had stopped and asked him if there was anything that he needed explained more.
Cleaning up after dinner wasn’t hard. Joe cleaned up after himself as he cooked, it was the way that it had always been. A sink of dishwater was waiting for Spencer, and he put the pan the casserole had been in into the water and then grabbed the rest of the dishes to rinse off before putting in the water. The leftovers were in the fridge, a meal for each of them or two for Joe if Spencer didn’t get to his quick enough.
Spencer was more than content with the life that he had, the life that he saw himself having. Spencer wasn’t all that gung-ho about having a kid. While the chances of him passing on the mental instability we lessened compared to his mother’s changes, it was just high enough that Spencer wasn’t sure he wanted to play that roulette. While Joe was a great father, Spencer had a decade of bad parenting that was dictating how he would probably raise a child. He really didn’t need to be part of that.
Joe would catch on one day that Spencer didn’t want that white picket fence and 1.86 kids in that house that was the average. He wanted to just live his life and have fun doing what he wanted. That might change one day, but it wasn’t like he couldn’t make a kid at any point that he wanted. There wasn’t really an age on men procreating like there were women.
“Doctor Reid,” Doctor Norman said as he stepped up to Spencer to shake his hand.
“That’s still taking some getting used to.”
“Is it just once over?”
“Yes. I went for taking things in tandem more than going for one degree after another. I have two undergrad degrees but only a single Doctorate so far.”
“Still, before eighteen. That’s great.”
“I know that Joe signed her here for her life, but I know that someone could fight that and win.”
“Yes. He was given legal custody, but if someone really wanted to fight it, though I have no clue why someone would want to, they could get her released. Why?”
“I’m eighteen today. Legal custody reverts to me. Joe’s already started the paperwork, but even if not, there was a clause in what he signed that gave me rights to her no matter what when I turned eighteen. He will still pay for her to stay here and anything else that she needs, but I’ll be the contact now.”
“Great. We can go to my office and start the paperwork and then you can have a visit with her. She’s been looking forward to calling you on your birthday.”
“Well, I have the evening, but then I fly back to Pasadena tonight.”
“Sure. I’m not trying to force you into anything.”
“No. I know that you are not. I just wanted to give you the option. There are a few delivery places that will drop food off out here for staff and the like. It’s not as remote as it used to be.”
The paperwork took two hours, and it was lunch by the time that Spencer was done. He made Doctor Norman promise not to tell Diana that he was there, and he would slip away to get lunch and bring it back. Joe had got a rental for Spencer for the trip so Spencer could easily get around. Spencer had been planning on just taking the bus around, but Joe had insisted.
Spencer was an adult. Finally, he could make up his own mind on things, but he knew that part of Joe’s issue was wanting to take care of him in the small ways that didn’t intrude on the fact that Spencer was an adult. It wasn’t nearly as hard for Joe to treat him like an adult as Spencer thought it would be. Joe had been treating him more like an adult than some of the parents of friends that Spencer had met while he worked with the basketball team. Years of helping had made the team better and better, and last year, they had gone all the way to win the highest championship for their division.
The lunch run was quick, and Spencer grabbed two sets of fries for himself, slipping one into the cup holder of the car and eating them while driving back. He finished them off just as he pulled into the Bennington parking lot. Diana was outside, sitting in a chair that was under a tree. There was a table in front of her. Spencer was glad that she had picked there.
“May I join you?” Spencer asked as he laid down the food on the table.
“I don’t feel-” Diana looked, and her face split into a smile. “Spencer. Happy birthday, my son.”
Spencer walked around the table to give her a hug and to press a kiss into her cheek.
“You are so muscly. You keep on adding more. I knew that working with that man was going to change you. You don’t need this to be an academic.”
“I like it. It helps to calm my mind so that I can think when things get too much. I’ve told you this before.” Spencer swallowed thickly and gave Diana a smile as he started to divide up the food, and he made sure that he gave her the correct burger.
“Tell me everything about your school year so far.”
Spencer launched into a tale that took an hour to tell. Diana’s eyes were shining through all of it.
“My instructor was not pleased at all. However, since it wasn’t something that I could help given that it wasn’t even my experiment, he just made me wear my hat all the time, and I worked on getting it washed out before line up the next day.”
“Instructor, hat?” Diana questioned.
“Yes, ROTC.” Spencer knew that he had told her about it in letters.
“You aren’t in that in college now, are you?” Diana asked.
“Yes.” Spencer grabbed his tea and finished it off before cleaning up all the debris from their shared lunch. Diana’s tea was still mostly full, so Spencer left it alone. He got up and walked over to throw away the trash in the can that was outside. He turned around and looked at his mother.
Diana looked pissed off. Spencer walked back over and sat down, ready to get up and leave if she got too bad.
“You joined ROTC in college? He couldn’t have made you. You are only in your first-“
“Second. Since I was a month away from seventeen, they let me join last year.”
“You are willingly joining that barbarian cult?” Diana hissed.
“Cult is not a word that I would use. No more than academics are. It’s a life choice and one that I willingly make. I can do something really good with my degrees as an officer in the Navy.” Spencer really didn’t want to get into the SEAL thing with her right now. She didn’t have the right to tell him that he was doing anything wrong with his life. If he had not pushed and had Joe help him, Spencer would have been so much worse off and probably not nearly as good as he was now. He would probably be timid and someone that didn’t do anything.
“You are going to go off and fight in a war over oil rights in a foreign country with no one to mourn you like you deserve. You should be at a desk, learning and growing and becoming the best you can be.”
“I will be becoming the best that I can be, mother. I’ll uphold the honor that is to be in a place where I can choose what I want to do with my life. Instead of being conscripted into something because I am male, or I have an IQ that I have no control over. My skin color gives me privilege that a lot of other people don’t have, but I’m not going to let that stop me from getting what I want from life.”
“How are you going to pay off your school working like that? You are going to get paid shit for that.”
“I very well might get paid shit, but Joe has already paid off all of my schoolings. I’ll have a clean slate when I join the Navy. We debated letting the GI bill pay for some, but we both decided that it should go to those who needed it. I don’t need it. Even if I decided not to join the Navy as soon as I get the final doctorate that I want, Joe would pay for more schooling for me if it was what I wanted.”
“How can that jackbooted thug pay for anything?”
“His parents were some of the biggest entrepreneurs in the country before they died. They left it all to him. He has no want to run a business of any size, so he found someone to take over as the CEO for him, and they run it, but he still gets a lot of profits. He could live the rest of his life just off his trust, though with the interest that it gains each month. My education was a drop in the water, and all he did was not donate as much to various charities. I could probably live the rest of my life off of my trust and not work as long as I don’t buy too many new cars.”
“Spencer, you can’t mean this. You want to go into something that makes you kill people.”
“Threats. I’ll take care of threats.” Spencer stood up, he looked at her, and he saw the fear in her eyes. He knew that she feared to lose him in the worst way, but her fear was not enough to keep him back from doing what he wanted. “You have to accept this because if we constantly rehash this, I’ll stop visiting you when I can. My life is going to be busy, and not jet setting around the country to see you would make my life easier.”
“Spencer, please, just think about what you are doing.”
“I have. I’ve thought of nothing else since the first time that I felt fear that you would hurt me in your delusions. As soon as Joe entered my life, I started to read, to research what I could find. I went into this with eyes wide open. I know what my chances of getting in are. I know what my chance of death is and you know what, I have just as much chance of dying in a car accident that is not even my fault. Of being killed from any other random accident. Life is full of chances, but I can’t say that I haven’t lived if I haven’t actually taken the chances that I want. Good day, Mother.”
Spencer turned around and ignored the sound of Diana screaming at him that she wasn’t going to mourn him when he died. Doctor Norman didn’t look upset where he was standing at the edge of the lawn, more resigned.
“I wondered what visit would set her off. I’ll call you at home when she’s settled. Are you going straight home?”
“I have no clue.” Spencer felt like shit.
“Well, let me know where you land.”
“I will.” Spencer knew that he had to head home, but he was hours early. He settled into his car and looked at the cell phone that was in the cupholder. It was something that Joe had pressed on him. It was a Nokia, and while it felt small in Spencer’s large hands, it allowed Joe to keep in good contact with him. He texted Joe that the visit had not gone well as Diana had found out about his want to join the Navy. Joe sent back a quick sorry and to call when he wanted to talk.
Spencer saw he had a text from Freddie. Boston was playing the Lakers that night, and Freddie had a ticket for him at the box office that would get him back to the locker room as early as he wanted.
Spencer played with the badge that he was wearing on a lanyard that got him access to the locker room. He was told that everyone should be dressed, and he was more than happy about that. He heard Freddie before he saw anyone on the team.
“No, I’m not kidding. He had played the best pranks on other kids who pissed him off.”
Spencer smiled like that because it could only be him that Freddie was talking about.
“Tall, lanky but built like a tank?” a man questioned. He was wearing a jersey, but Spencer wasn’t paying attention to his number. He was only looking at Freddie waiting on his friend to see him.
“Yeah. How did-” Freddie stopped and turned to look where his teammate was looking. “You made it!”
“Yeah. Dad and I made dinner last night out for a celebration. There was no reason to stay in Vegas for anything else after Diana made a spectacle about me joining the Navy. So at least watching this will allow me to get a little happy on my birthday.”
“You are eighteen today; of course, you need happy. So head out. Shae here will show you to where you are going to sit.”
“I have a seat listing here. I looked at the map.”
“Ah, well, see the Girls found out that it was your birthday, and so you are going to sit with them at the baseline.”
“I see.” Spencer looked at Shae and saw she was dressed in an LA Lakers outfit. “Lakers?”
“Eh, I’ll be happy for my little brother sitting with a group of hot women.” Freddie walked over and hugged Spencer tightly. “Happy birthday, now go and find a good seat. One of them might even sit on your lap if you asked nicely.”
“Fight over sitting in his lap, you mean.” Shae reached out and waited for Spencer to nod before she touched his arm. “He’s a wonderful specimen of a man. Beautiful and fit. He probably makes love like it’s his job.”
Spencer felt the blush creep up on his face, but he knew that what Shae said was all for show.
The game went by quickly, and Spencer knew that he was caught on camera a lot. Shae was the only Lakers Girl to sit in his lap and fought off the others to win his affection as it were. Spencer blushed nearly the entire time, and he knew that the guys and girls in ROTC were going to make fun of him a little at it. Still, even with being a little uncomfortable, Spencer knew that it was better than going home and thinking about his mother.
Spencer begged off the after-party as he didn’t want to drink, and Freddie just told him that it was fine.
“No, you’ve always been a straight shooter on that kind of stuff. Especially after that dance. I’m in town tomorrow. We can go to lunch before I ship out back to Boston. Maria does want to meet you, so let me know when you want to come to a game in Boston, and I’ll make it happen.”
“Sure.” Spencer hugged Freddie, smelling the same damned shampoo that he always used. The crush that he used to have tempered into a love like Spencer had for no one else, but it wasn’t romantic. Spencer could only categorize it as brotherly love like Freddie said it was. It was still something that he would cherish. Spencer kept the hug for longer than he probably should, feeling tears prickle his eyes.
“How did you get here?”
“Bus. I was going to take a taxi back home.”
“None sense. I have a car for you.” Freddie cupped the back of Spencer’s head to force his eyes onto him. “If this sets in and you can’t sleep, just call me. I’ll gladly stand in the corner at the party and listen to you babble until you go to sleep.”
“I haven’t had to do that in years,” Spencer said. It had happened a few times after Freddie had left. Spencer had been friendless at Caltech for a while, but sticking with the basketball had team had made it easy to make a few other friends. None were as close as Freddie, but then Spencer didn’t trust easily.
“Yeah, but you are still raw. I can see it in your eyes. If you aren’t going to call me, wake up Joe.”
“I will.” Spencer knew that he would probably have trouble sleeping, and he would talk to Joe if he was awake or Freddie if Joe wasn’t. Though Joe was probably waiting up on him. Spencer had texted him, so he had probably watched the game live, seeing Spencer sitting among the cheer squad and blushing the entire time. He was sure that Freddie was going to get a picture as well from the game cameras.
“Be safe,” Freddie said as he let Spencer go and waved him toward the car that was behind Spencer.
Spencer turned to look at it and saw that it was thankfully just a typical black sedan. The driver came around and opened up the front door for him. Spencer slipped inside with a muttered thanks. He looked at Freddie, who had already turned around and talking to one of the other guys on the team. Freddie turned to wave at Spencer just as the car was going. Not for the first time, Spencer wondered what it would have been like to have a sibling, younger or older growing up.
Spencer looked around the football field and saw that there was no one else around. It was just before five am and the field was lit up and ready for those who did run on it. It was open usually at sunrise, but Spencer had never got in trouble for starting his run at five am. It was an office weekend for ROTC, so he had the weekend to do what he wanted. Though what he wanted was a little different than what he was going to do. He had a little schoolwork to do and three new books to read. There was also a lecture that he was debating going to the next day. Profilers from the FBI’s Behavioral Analysis Unit were coming to do a recruitment seminar. Jason Gideon and a newer man to the unit named Aaron Hotchner. Spencer had looked into both of them, and Gideon was one of the founders of the BAU. That made it worth going to see along.
Spencer had butted into a few of there profiles and how they were formed while working on his thesis for his criminal justice leadership and management doctorate. There was also a spiral for his criminal psychology degree as well. It was fascinating, and if Spencer hadn’t had Joe, he could see himself heading toward the FBI. It was a subject that could keep Spencer’s mind engaged for years.
The FBI would be a good backup career if he were still young enough when he got out of the SEALs. Burnout was normal and even medical injury. Though there were only a few that would still allow him to be a field agent in the FBI, still, it was a good thing. Even if he couldn’t be a field agent, there were agents who consulted with other places from their office in Quantico. It was a good thing and would at least help Spencer feel like he was doing good for the world.
Grabbing his portable music player from his hoodie pocket and unwrapped the headphones from it and slipped them over his head. He found the playlist that he had loaded up for running. It was a hard rock one, not something he usually liked, but it helped him focus when his brain was scrambled a little. He kept up the pace to the thumb of the bass in the songs. There were also a few songs that were considered dance or electronic. All of them set to keep him going for his run. The second playlist was his studying one, and he had classical and some jazz on there. Joe loved jazz music, which was an odd choice for him, but Spencer never asked him why. Joe hadn’t offered, so Spencer assumed it was personal.
It was a light weekend, Spencer was going to enjoy what he was doing instead of pushing himself. He didn’t want to burn out. He knew what it felt like, and he needed the break from everything. He was going to run until he felt fine, or his battery gave out on his player.
It was an hour later that someone finally joined Spencer on the track. Spencer recognized him from a few classes. Spencer knew his name was Ethan, and he planned on joining the FBI when he graduated. Ethan had tried to talk to him a few times, but Spencer had been nice but uninterested as a whole. Ethan tried, though.
Spencer nodded at Ethan the one time that he passed him going the other direction. Ethan was going against the flow of what people usually ran, and the next time that Spencer passed him, Ethan was going the same direction as Spencer. Spencer ignored the shouted hello, using the cover of his earphones being the reason why. He kept on going, outpacing Ethan even with Spencer having run for an hour before Ethan had joined him.
When another hour was up, Spencer turned off of the track and followed the path to it out of the football stadium. He kept on going until he was near the house. Then he slowed down to start his cooling down. He stretches in the front yard, given a few of the older ladies on the street their early morning fun. Spencer has heard them talking to each other if he’s doing shopping in the store. It hadn’t started until after he had turned eighteen. He was grateful for that because he didn’t want to think back of the three old ladies who lived in the area.
Spencer wasn’t unaware of the way that people looked at him. He was a beautiful person on the outside, and he did look a little older than he was given the muscles that he had on his body. Most teenage boys didn’t look like that. Unless they were like him and going for military or were into sports, but Spencer didn’t have the build for most sportspeople. He was too small for that build wise, but he could do just as good as the rest of the guys who were in ROTC that were built like brick houses.
“Hungry?” Joe asked as he stepped onto the front door.
Spencer hadn’t even noticed the door opening. He looked at his dad and gave him a smile.
“Sure. I’m starved.”
“Good. Good. They are doing a breakfast buffet at the place across town. Get changed, and we will head out to get some breakfast.”
“Sure.” Spencer rushed into the house and up to his bedroom to shower. Showering was part of changing in his mind, so he knew that Joe wouldn’t say a damned thing about it.
By the time that Spencer was tugging on his long-sleeved shirt and walking down the stairs, Joe was in the Jeep. Spencer grabbed his wallet and slipped his ID into it. He didn’t run with anything on him except for his ID card slipped into the pocket of his running shorts. Spencer hopped into the Jeep and put on the harness to make sure he didn’t fall out. Joe preferred to drive, but days when his leg ached when there was a storm going, Spencer drove. Even though it wasn’t his driving leg, the pain sometimes distracted him just enough that he didn’t feel safe driving.
“How do you feel today?” Joe asked as he eased out of the driveway
“Doctor Norman called to let me know that Diana has forbidden you from visiting her as long as you still choose to join the jackbooted cult.”
“I see.” Spencer signed and looked out into the neighborhood as they drove out of there. He had tried again to see Diana just two weeks before, and it had not gone well at all. Diana had been put to the point that she had to be sedated just seeing Spencer. Spencer hated that he had done that to her. He had hoped the months away would settle her down. Spencer still wrote a letter to her during the week and mailed it on Monday mornings. He left out everything that was related to ROTC so that he didn’t set her off, and it seemed that she had thought that he was going to not go into the Navy anymore because of that.
“I let you hold your silence, but considering that it’s you and your mother, but now I need to know because she is trying to fight your ability to control her. I have the lawyers on it, and they are going to temporarily allow Doctor Norman the right to make decisions on her wellness, but it’s going before a judge. One of the nurses is a bleeding heart and believes that you are keeping her there when she could live in a better place, a less restricted place. She’s been fired, but the damage is done, and a lawyer has taken it up pro-bono. My lawyers are not going to fight anything that has to do with someone else taking over her care. Still, they agree that until this is resolved, Doctor Norman making the decisions is best.”
“She’s calling the military a cult, as you have probably figured out, but she refuses to believe that I can make the choice on my own on what I wanted to do. When I wanted to become a researcher on diseases and the like, she had no issue with what I wanted to do. That’s why I didn’t tell her about my degree changes. I just knew that she would say something. I didn’t tell her, so I didn’t have to try and justify it when I was a child. I kept everything ROTC from her until I was eighteen, so she didn’t have a single legal recourse to try and fight anything. She lost custody of me because she didn’t see what she was doing was hurting me. Even when she was lucid. She talked about how proud she was at how good I was doing taking care of her, but that was it. I have not been her child for a long time, and she can’t accept that.”
“Sounds like you have still been trying to be her parent instead of her child.”
“I can’t do it anymore, either. I need to do what I want to do. If I fail, I fail, it’s not like the Navy is going to throw me out. I’ll still do something in there. They will find what best fits me. If I get in, I’ll make sure that everyone understands how proud I am of being a SEAL. I can’t live my life the way that she wants anymore and call myself proud to be your son.”
“I’d be proud of you even if you just did six years for your ROTC commitment and then didn’t sign up again, Spencer. I don’t care what you do. I just want you happy.”
“And that’s why I love you. You aren’t trying to change me to fit this image you have in your head. You knew that being around you would change me, but you never forced me. She’s trying to force me by withholding her love or something like that. I don’t remember her being that manipulative when I was younger, but then I looked at everything with rose-colored glasses when it came to her. I can’t keep on living my life like that for her. I need to be able to do what I want as long as I know the consequences of what I am doing.”
“I know that you know the consequences. You were there when the last of my team all came for a visit. We all had enough parts broken or missing to make up a whole person. You know what you are getting into, and I knew that before you joined Junior ROTC. There is no reason to push you into something that you don’t want.”
“I know. I just…” Spencer thumped his head against the seat of the Jeep and sighed. “I don’t want to talk about this. I’ve talked it out in my head too many times. Too many times while taking it out on a heavy bag.”
“Then we don’t need to. I told you what you needed to know, and you told me what I needed to know. I’ll deal with the lawyers, and we will go from there.”
“Sure.” Spencer saw the parking lot for the restaurant coming up. It wasn’t a place that they ate a lot, but every once in a while, the place did a breakfast buffet. It wasn’t a standard buffet as everything was kind of made to order in small batches, so sometimes there were no eggs or something like that up there, but it was always damned good and worth the wait. It was a place that Spencer could carb load for the day before weekend things for ROTC or just to help him calm down his feelings with some good comfort food without breaking the bank.
Spencer hadn’t worried about money for a long time, only taking jobs here and there when he wanted to save up money to buy Joe something. It was something he didn’t worry about, but sometimes, he felt like it was stupid to spend as much money as they could on a meal that they could make for less at home. It would always be there in him, the want to save money. It was something he didn’t want to ever forget. Others would be near broke through most of boot camp and the like. Spencer was never going to have to worry about a place to stay. Joe would always make sure that Spencer had a place in his home and that after that, he was cared for.
It was what a father did when they had the means.