Story: The Visit
Ch. 1: The Phone Call
Zach smiled and stretched as he left his seat. His Concept and Form class had gotten out half an hour early. Since he didn't have to work this afternoon, he could go straight home now.
Home. Cody. Shaun.
With that thought, he burst into a quick jog abandoning his sluggish pace. He reached his car, pausing to catch his breath in the early September heat. He quickly opened the car, turned on the AC, and began the drive home.
He would admit to being hesitant to use the word at first, fearing the worst at any moment. But now, three months later, he knew it was the truth.
He and Cody were home, there was no other place for them. He contemplated everything that had happened since they had left San Pedro. He scowled as he realized that Jeanne hadn't called once.
Mother of the Year, he thought bitterly.
Thinking of Jeanne distracted him so much that he missed their driveway. He snorted at himself, hating that she affected him even from so far away.
He pulled into the driveway and unlocked their front door. Shaun was reading a book on the couch in the living room and didn't notice him come in. Zach crept in quietly.
"Shouldn't you be working on your next bestseller?"
Shaun tensed slightly.
"Whoa, Zach! You startled me. I wasn't expected you for another…" He glanced at his watch.
"Hour at least."
Zach grinned at him. But before he could say anything, he felt his phone buzz in his pocket.
He almost dropped the phone in shock when he saw the flashing number.
He saw Shaun's eyes narrow. He held up a finger and walked into the kitchen for a little privacy.
Jeanne's voice was tentative on the phone. She was out of her element here.
"Zach….I…I just wanted to apologize first of all. I should never have treated you and Shaun the way I did. I should have called sooner too but…."
Jeanne's voice broke, she sounded like she was crying.
"Jeanne, I don't know what you want from me. I love you, you're my sister but I can't just forget everything that's happened."
"No, no I don't want you to, but I want to make it up to you. I've got to see Cody too. I finally have some money saved up and I'd, well I'd like to come visit. Please?"
She sounded sincere but Zach was suspicious. His sister was selfish and manipulative. She rarely did anything out of the kindness of her heart. But maybe he should give her a chance. He'd have to talk to Shaun and especially Cody about it.
He took a deep breath before responding.
"I need to think about it and talk to Shaun and Cody about it first," he said firmly.
"Okay, yeah of course. Call me back, okay?"
"Oh and Zach? I love you and Cody. Tell him that, okay?"
Her voice broke but before he could say anything, she hung up.
Shaking his head, he walked into the living room. Shaun hadn't picked his book back up. He was rubbing his eyes but stopped and stared at Zach when he reentered the room.
Zach sat down next to him and put his head on his shoulder, trying to think of nothing but Shaun, and his smell, and the way he just kissed his forehead and was stroking his hair gently.
Shaun didn't press Zach about the phone call; he knew he would tell him eventually.
Sure enough after about ten minutes, Zach raised his head to look Shaun in the eye.
"She wants to visit."
Shaun looked at him carefully.
"Are you okay with that?"
Zach shrugged. Shaun put a hand on his cheek.
"I just don't know what to do, she said she wants to make up how she treated us, and she should see Cody but…"
He trailed off, it was hard to admit not trusting your family members but it was the truth. Shaun sensed his discomfort and hesitance to say how he felt, although he was pretty sure Zach didn't trust Jeanne 100 percent. Instead, he seized on another key piece of the puzzle.
"You should talk to Cody about it."
"I was going to but…I mean this is your place…are you okay with her coming?"
Shaun frowned and Zach knew why even before he started speaking.
"First off, this is not MY place, it's OURS. You know that, and of course, I'm okay with Jeanne coming to visit; ONLY to visit, if that's what you and Cody want. I want you both to be happy."
Zach looked up at him. He was always amazed at Shaun; his compassion, his honesty, his lovefor Zach. Maybe if Jeanne saw that, she'd truly realize how well off Cody was. He kissed him gently for a few minutes before Shaun pulled away.
"You know I could let you do that all day but we do need to pick the kid up in about ten minutes."
He smiled regretfully.
Zach feigned annoyance. He got up and pouted. Shaun laughed and pulled him back to the couch tenderly kissing all over his face. This time it was Zach who reminded him of Cody.
They walked out to Shaun's car; a surprisingly modest used Honda and drove to Cody's school. They waited a few minutes and soon his blonde head appeared with an enormous smile attached. The smile only grew bigger when he saw the car.
"Uncle Zach!" he shouted.
Zach got out of the car, picked up Zach and gave him a big hug. He quickly put him in the seat behind him and put on his seat belt.
Shaun gave him a high five from the front seat, which Cody enthusiastically returned.
Deciding to ease into it casually, Zach turned to face Cody.
"I talked to your mom today, Codes."
"Mom?" He sounded confused.
Poor kid, Zach thought. "Yeah, she told me she loved you. She might be coming to visit us sometime. Would that be okay with you buddy?"
Cody shrugged. "I guess."
Shaun couldn't resist saying something.
"She wouldn't be here very long, just a short visit, and you'd still be staying with us. Do you understand that?"
He glanced at him in the rearview mirror.
His tone was questioning. Zach glanced at Shaun and saw his own concern in his eyes. They'd have to talk to Cody about it later.
Shaun deftly changed the subject.
"What does everyone want for dinner?"
Zach was biting his lip in concentration or worry, an expression Shaun loved but hated to see. Cody however was worry free and immediately started shouting out ideas.
"Pizza! Grilled Cheese! Hot Dogs!"
"Whoa, buddy, slow down. How about grilled cheese and a little soup?"
Cody agreed after a little bit of whining, but Zach hadn't said a word. As Shaun pulled into the driveway, he gave Cody the keys and told him to go upstairs and change while he talked to his uncle. Shaun got out of the car and went to Zach's side. He opened it and looked down at him. Zach continued to stare listlessly ahead.
"I shouldn't have told him."
"You did the right thing," Shaun assured him. "You want to go talk to him again? Together? We'll explain it so we know he gets it."
"You're welcome…now get up, lazy. We've got a 6 year old to take care of."
As it turned out, it took very little re-explaining for Cody to understand the situation. After about fifteen minutes, including questions, Cody seemed to get it.
Shaun rubbed both of his 'boys' on the shoulder and left to start dinner. Zach squeezed Cody onto his lap and told him that he was going to call his mom now. He wasn't sure about this but he knew with Shaun by his side, he could handle almost anything. Even Jeanne's absolute worst.
Her voice was stronger than before.
"We've all uh talked about it and we think it would be great if you came to visit. We're all looking forward to it." He forced his voice to sound cheery despite the anxiety he felt.
Jeannie couldn't contain herself; she was so relieved. She really needed to see her little boy. She hated that she had the thought but she knew she was worried about him being around Shaun and Zach being….that way. She felt guilty but she couldn't control it. She hoped seeing their home and Cody would reassure her and maybe she could repair the broken bridges with her brother and even Shaun maybe.
"Oh Zach, thank you so much, I really appreciate it." She allowed herself to gush. Her tone softened slightly.
"Is Cody there, is he uh with you?"
"Yeah he's right here."
"Do you think I could speak to him please?"
Her voice had a slight edge to it that Zach really didn't like. She had almost seemed like a decent human being there for a second, he would really have to stay on his guard while she stayed with them. He handed the phone to Cody, covered the receiver and asked if he wanted to talk to his mom. He nodded but seemed nervous. He kept Cody in his lap so he could pretty much hear both sides of the conversation.
"Cody? How are you?"
"I'm good, Mom. How are you?"
Zack stifled a nervous laugh; Cody was clearly trying to imitate some of the phone conversations he had overheard.
The conversation did reassure Jeanne slightly; he certainly seemed happy and healthy. Still, the sooner she got to California, the better she would feel. She asked to speak to Zach again so they could pick out a date.
"I know this is sort of soon but would this weekend be okay? I really want to see my son and you as soon as possible."
"Jeanne, before you get here, you have to know some things. You can't take Cody. I know it's hard to see him for only a few days but we both know he's better here."
There was a long pause and a sigh.
"I do know that, Zach, and I had no intention of taking him."
The edge was back in her voice and Zach didn't know whether to believe her or not. Before he could think of something to say, Jeannie had added to her statement.
"I just want to see him, and smell him, and touch him and just…"
She couldn't explain it, at least not without revealing her worry.
He had walked into the kitchen where Shaun had finished several grilled cheese sandwiches and had a small pot of tomato soup nearly ready. While covering the speaker, he informed Shaun of Jeannie's plans. He nodded and mouthed 'ok' while stirring the soup.
"This weekend is fine, Jeanne." He grimaced slightly.
"Zach, can you stay on while I get the flight booked and everything? It's kind of confusing," she whined.
"Jeanne, we're about to eat dinner, can it wait half an hour?"
"Zach! No! I need to get a good deal on this!"
"Fine!" He growled.
After 40 minutes, and Shaun and Cody already eating for ten minutes, Zach hung up exasperated. Shaun robbed his back gently as he sat down.
"You mom will be here on Friday evening, Codes."
He let out a deep sign and rubbed his face before starting dinner.