Shadows were lengthening as a mellow Sunday afternoon began to fade into dusk. A rich aroma of beef stew filled the Jones family's kitchen, along with the fragrance of a cherry pie, cooling on the counter, and the scent of brewing coffee.
Two grubby, stubbly, and hungry Jones men dumped their camping gear in the mudroom by the kitchen, sniffed the air, and made noises of appreciation. Their wife and mother, holding towels and two robes, barred their way into the house. "And just where do you boys think you're going?"
"Aaaack", Marion said, waving her hand in front of her nose "You two smell like goats. No, I take it back, I've fed goats that smelled better. Down to your skivs, gentlemen, and leave the dirty clothes right here. You've got time for a shower before we eat."
"You go first, kid," said Indy. "I washed up in the lake this morning."
Mutt looked up from tying his robe and grinned.
"At least one of us is smart enough to avoid the water snakes, Daddy-O"
"Real BIGG water snakes. Just huuge. And circling, definitely circling, just waiting for a chance to strike..."
On that note, he tossed his towel over one shoulder and headed upstairs in search of soap and hot water. The sounds of splashing, and a husky tenor singing 'Little bitty pretty one, come talk to me-eee, little bitty pretty one, come sit on my knee-eee'wafted into the kitchen.
Well, Indy reflected, someday Mutt would encounter the concept of 'pitch'. Preferably sooner rather than later. It wasn't a bad idea, though. He sat on a kitchen stool, cocked an eyebrow at the love of his life, and patted his lap invitingly.
She settled in, and he sighed happily. It was so good to hold her...
"Mutt must have had a good time," said Marion once she was comfortable.
"Mmmmm?" replied the man nuzzling the nape of her neck.
"He's a lot like you-when you're in a good mood, you whistle while you shave. When he's in a good mood, he sings in the shower."
"I'm glad he enjoyed himself."
Someone less sensitive to his moods would have missed the slight edge in Indy's voice.
"Mutt enjoyed himself, but something's troubling you."
"He'll be right down; can we talk about it later?"
She twisted around to look at him.
"Sure. But...promise me we really will?"
Both of the Jones boys ate a hearty supper- Mutt polished off three helpings of stew- and both asked for seconds on pie. Afterwards, Indy went upstairs to shower, grousing good naturedly about kids who used up all the hot water and made their elders wait.
While Mutt and Marion were clearing the dishes, the phone rang. Mutt bounded into the living room to answer it.
Marion kept on drying as snatches of conversation floated in.
"Yeah?..…..went camping with my dad…. hiked in, fished, target shooting,.. ..Oh, we had a time….What? …Sure I can…What time?"
Mutt was wearing his leather jacket when he came back to the kitchen.
"Hey Mom? That was Cindy. I'm going to go to the movies with her and Greg and some other people. Cindy, um, has a friend she wants me to meet."
"Sounds like fun. I'm sure she'll be nice."
"And, Mom?" Mutt pointed his thumb at the ceiling and jerked his head meaningfully "Hey, you know, the world's biggest badass?"
"Or the man who tries to be? What about him?"
"We talked…about some things up at the lake. And it was good, I mean, but not easy, either. I think he's still a little shook up, but he's trying like hell not to show it."
"Well, men are idiots."
Mutt cleared his throat.
Marion smiled and stood on tiptoe to kiss her son's cheek. "Thanks for telling me. Have a good time, Mutt."
The shower was still running when Marion switched off the kitchen light and headed upstairs. On her way, she stopped the dining room for a bottle of brandy and two snifters.
Long ago, a young archaeologist told Marion how good it made him feel that she came to bed fresh and pretty, just for him. And since the same archaeologist was sharing her bed, again, she took a little time to get ready. Indy was inclined to buy her perfume and lingerie-"Just because I can, now" -so she had a variety to choose from.
She slipped on a deep burgundy nightgown with a lacy v-neck and a little L'Heure Bleu perfume. The she went to find her man.
Her man was sitting up in bed, hair spiky and damp, wearing his pajama bottoms and a worn white T shirt. Indy was looking at a book, but his fresh shave and the warm expression in his eyes suggested that reading was not his first choice for the evening's activities.
"You're up here early."
"So are you."
"Mutt's at the movies with some friends, I thought we could have some quiet time together. There's brandy if you'd like."
"Yes, I'd like some." He patted the spot beside him. "But only if you come sit here."
She poured him a snifter, and sat next to him on the bed.
He smiled at her, a soft, lopsided, loving smile, and swirled his brandy to release its' heady fumes.
"It fascinates me" Indy said as he sipped his drink, "that someone as basically self-sufficient as you are can be such a, a, geisha when it suits her. I remember you used to sneak me wine from Abner's mess tent because I said -just once -that I liked a nightcap."
"Do you mind?"
"It's a rare man who doesn't enjoy getting a little tender loving care from his woman."
She smiled back at him. "Guess I must have a soft spot for you, Jones."
He ran a finger over the lace edging at her décolletage. "Do you, now? Mmmm… maybe several. "
Then he leaned in to kiss her neck.
"Miss me, baby?"
"Oh, maybe. Just a little."
She rested a hand on his back.
"You're pretty tight here. Want a back rub?"
"No sane man would turn down one of your back rubs, doll."
"Maybe a sane man wouldn't, but I'm talking to you, mister. Yes or no?"
For answer, Indy put down his glass, stripped off his T shirt, and planted himself face down on the sheets.
She kissed the top of his head. "Looks like yes to me."
Marion warmed some lotion in her hands and started kneading his shoulders. They let their actions speak at these times, just as they let their bodies speak when they made love.
Tender loving care-it's a different kind of intimacy than sex, she thought, but Indy craves it nearly as much. Takes a lot for him to admit that, though. God knows I'm far from the only woman he's slept with-but I may be the only one he's trusted this way.
By her second pass over his back, Indy's drum-tight muscles had begun to unwind. After the third, he rolled over, smiling.
"Thanks, babe. So much better."
Then he pulled her down on top of him and kissed her deeply, drinking her in.
"Yes, Dr. Jones?"
"I have some muscles on this side that need your attention…"
She reached over him and turned down the bedside lamp.
"Do you now, Indy…"
Usually, after a loving interlude, , Marion's husband liked to wrap himself around her and go to sleep. Tonight he lay next to her wide awake, flat on his back with one hand over his eyes.
That man needs to get something off his chest, and badly. Whatever it is hit some sore places, I think. Indy needed to feel very, very connected to me before he could open up, and even now he can barely manage…
She rolled on her side toward him, and reached out to touch his cheek. "Something on your mind?"
"Is it that obvious?"
"To me, yes."
"I suppose it would be. Well, Mutt showed me his gun and told me a story. Several stories, in fact."
Indy took a deep breath, and turned to face his wife. "So tell me, Bright Eyes, why did you give him the Webley? Was it justice or mercy?"
"Why did you leave it with me?" she countered. "Was it love or fear?"
He hated to speak of the time when he'd left her. "Damned if I know- a little of both I guess. Look, do we have to-"
To his immense relief, Indy was kissed tenderly and drawn close by someone who loved him. "No, we don't. But it was a little of both for me, too."
"Certainly," Marion continued after a moment, "it was justice for Mutt. I may not have been ready to tell him the whole story, but I owed it to him to see that he had something from you. The gun was what I could do at the time."
Marion paused, and considered her next words carefully.
"Indy, I'm not saying this to hurt you, but it's hard work for a woman to raise a boy by herself. You have to teach him to be tough but not cruel, and brave but not a cocky show-off. And it's not like I learned much from Abner. So the examples I had to work with were you, Ox, and Colin. I thought that Mutt could do far worse than to take after the strong, brave young man who taught me to shoot."
Then Marion cupped her Indy's face between her hands and looked into his eyes.
"For that matter, she said softly "he could do far worse than to take after the strong, brave grown man who rescued Ox, and me, and brought us all safe home."
"So the mercy was for me?"
"If you want to call it that. You are a born teacher, and you taught me well. But when you said a little bit of you would always be with me, I don't think you quite meant Mutt."
Gentle fingers began to stroke Indy's hair.
"You know, Indy, Ox used to hear about you from time to time- archeology is a small world. Sometimes he'd mention something. When he and Mutt read your book, I even snuck a look at the back cover."
"Really?" he asked, pleased in spite of himself.
"Mmm...hmmm. I waited till they were out of the house, though- I didn't want Mutt to see me get upset. I didn't know if I was going to throw it in the fireplace or cry when I saw your face."
Dear God. "What did you do?"
"It wasn't my book so I pulled it out before it got burned. But then I looked at your picture and…" she couldn't finish.
Indy wrapped his arms around her tight and crushed her against his chest. "Oh, sweetheart..."
"You always were a fine-looking man, Henry Jones," said Marion said after a moment, "and your picture was very handsome-but oh, your eyes were so lonely, Indy..."
"That's because I was very lonely. When that picture was taken, Dad was gone, Marcus was dying...I didn't think it showed, though."
"Maybe just to someone who cared. Anyway, I was half expecting to read a blurb like 'Professor Jones resides in Bedford, Connecticut with his wife and three children'. But there was never anything that said you had a real home to come back to, or a family, or a life with someone who loved you."
"Not until now."
"But don't you see? Somehow, on your way out of my door, you managed to give me those things. No matter what, I always had my boy. Mutt was the little part of you that I could love forever. I could take care of him, the way nobody took care of you. Yeah, I had to take on a lot-but that's what happens when you grow up, Jones."
"He's a good kid. I told him a couple of stories about Colin, myself. I want him to know that he's someone who would make both his fathers proud. I was in my 30s before Dad told me he was proud of me-Mutt shouldn't have to wait that long."
"There are days when I wonder why I married you, Indy. This is not one of 'em."
"I thought you married me because I'm so good looking and such a great kisser?"
She smiled at him lovingly and ruffled his grey hair.
"Partly. It's really because of the man I fell in love with all those years ago. The man you were-who protected me, and then gave me one of his prize possessions so that I could protect myself."
She sighed. "You came back to me in '36, Indy. But in a lot of ways, he didn't."
"He wanted to." Indy answered softly. "Desperately. But I think he lost his way."
"Perhaps he did. But nothing you've really loved is ever really lost. And out in the jungle, when you asked me to marry you, he looked at me again out of your eyes."
"But you didn't say 'yes' then.."
"No I didn't, but that's when I knew I was going to. That was the man I've loved all my life and I'm here because he is. Because you are."
"I love you, Marion. And I do love my son. In spite of what a pain in the ass he can be."
"Indy, honey, Mutt's a 19 year old male- a 19 year old Jones male, come to that. Being a pain is his job. Besides, in spite of what a pain in the ass you are, we love you, too."
"I thought you loved me because of what a pain in the ass I am."
"Go to sleep, Indy."
"I love you so," he said softly "我爱你, Je t'aime, te amo, ti amo, Σ' αγαπώ, Ich liebe dich, Я тебя люблю"…
Marion's young lover knew many languages, and sometimes he would lull them both to sleep by telling her he loved her in each of them; "Because saying it just one way isn't good enough for you, honey". It melted her heart to hear those words again, as she lay safe and cherished in her husband's arms. Before Indy got to Arabic, he was fast asleep and snoring gently.
Marion settled him against her and pulled the covers over them both. The faint light from the window gleamed on the big pistol her husband laid on the nightstand.
"Oh you, you…Jones" she whispered tenderly.