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Author's Note 2 - This is the first in a series of stories about an issue very near and dear to my heart- AUTISM. My son was diagnosed with this condition at two years old. He is now nine. This story will be written from a parent's perspective. The views are mine and mine alone. I realize that not everyone sees this issue in the same way. But, as a mother (and a dad since my husband has actually offered insight into this fic) that has been dealing with a special needs child for several years, this is actually a very hard story to tell. The series installments will be sporadic but the first story is written. I have chosen to open this story up by writing Will out for a reason. I have actually had a fellow mother that experienced the dissolution of her marriage because her partner could not handle parenting a special needs child. It does happen, my friends. Thanks.
From Where I'm Sitting
Swallowing painfully, Jennifer Jareau's eyes darted around the police precinct her team was based out of for their latest case. She tightened her fingers around the phone in her hand, pressing it tightly to her ear lest some of the vicious words being hurled at her be overhead by the officers milling around her.
Damn him, she silently cursed, clamping her lips together as another insulting comment about her parental skills echoed in her ear. Why did it have to happen every time? Every single case she'd been called away from DC for over the past six months, all four of them, he'd done this very thing. Called her, blamed her...accused her.
She was drawing attention, whether she wanted it or not. Shooting Emily an apologetic look and pointing at the phone she held in her hand, JJ saw the dark haired agent nod back at her sympathetically. Smiling tightly and lifting her free hand weakly in thanks, JJ turned toward the door, desperate to find someplace she could handle the call in private.
Shoving the door open and stumbling into the sunshine, JJ blinked rapidly, Will's wrath gaining steam as he lapsed back and forth between English and Cajun, a sure indicator of his level of rage.
"Did you hear me, JJ? Did you hear me, damn it? Answer me!" she heard him shout into the phone as she turned into an alley beside the building, her footsteps echoing against the asphalt beneath her feet.
"Oh, I heard you Will...I always hear you," JJ said softly into the phone, leaning tiredly against the brick wall of one of the buildings bracketing the alley.
"Then maybe you should start listenin' closer," he rebuked sharply. "Damn you, I can't do this anymore. Raisin' this kid...this messed up kid," he began angrily.
"Stop," JJ ground out, jerking her head up as she stiffened her shoulder. "Don't you dare talk about my son like that!"
"Whatdaya expect JJ? The kid never stops screamin'. It ain't normal!" Will shouted at her, his voice rising again, the vicious cycle once again in full swing.
Tamping down on the rage building in her, JJ asked as calmly as possible, "Where is Henry now, Will?" Lately things had escalated in her household, Henry's tantrums coming with greater and greater frequency. His pediatrician had labeled it the terrible twos with a tolerant chuckle and shake of his head. But she knew it was more than that. Her little boy's tantrums were unpredictable and violent...often ending with him banging his head against the floor or the wall, leaving JJ sometimes wanting to do the same but she couldn't since she was trying to protect her son. And sadly, there was nothing either parent had been able to do except to ride them out.
It had taken its toll on all three of them. But they were his parents, damn it. They didn't give up or give in, no matter what.
"He's at Penelope's," Will ground out, his words growing harder and colder with each passing moment. "I couldn't take it anymore."
"He's two, Will," JJ snapped, her fist clenching by her side. "From where I'm sitting, I think the toddler appears to be more mature than you do."
"You're one to talk, JJ. You're never here!" Will spat back, the connection crackling beneath his venom.
"Will," JJ said as patiently as she could, "this is my first time in the field in over a month. I have been there. I know what it's like. But he's a child...how do you think he feels? At least you can articulate your feelings. He can't...the only way he has to tell us how he feels is the tantrums."
"JJ," Will replied, forcing himself to lower his voice as he sank into a chair at the kitchen table, "this is more than just tantrums. The kid looks right through us. It ain't normal. I wasn't equipped to be a parent in the first place. I sure as hell wasn't prepared for a defective one."
Eyes widening as she heard his words, JJ felt a red haze descending before her eyes. "What the hell did you just call my baby?"
"NO!" JJ hissed sharply, interrupting whatever weak response that was sure to come. "How dare you! He's a baby, Will! He's our SON! He is NOT defective!"
"Open your eyes, chere...the kid's a dud," Will muttered.
JJ felt her face go hot and tears cloud her eyes. How? How could a father...a parent...so callously speak of their child like that? She knew Will had grown cold, but this...this wasn't acceptable. No matter what sacrifice she had to make, she'd never allow anyone, not even her child's father, to treat her baby like this. "I'll be on the first plane home," she whispered, nearly choking on the words as she attempted to control her fury.
"'Bout damned time," Will said with relief.
"No," JJ shook her head as she clenched the phone in her hand, "You don't understand, Will."
"I don't understand what exactly?" Will asked suspiciously.
"I am coming home, but you aren't going to be there. I want you out," JJ said her voice rising as she paced the alley, her footsteps growing faster as her train of thought took off with a vengeance. "We're done. We're BOTH done with you, you selfish, lazy son of a bitch! I'm calling Penny and telling her that she's to keep Henry until I get there to pick him up. YOU are to stay the hell away from MY son. Forget you ever had one!" she yelled.
"You know what?" Will hissed through the phone. "Not a fuckin' problem, JJ. You and that kid have been a noose around my neck since the day he was born anyway!"
Oh, she'd like to wrap a fucking noose around his neck and watch the life drain from his worthless body. He didn't deserve the privilege of having a child. Not HER child. "Consider yourself free, then. Do yourself a favor, Will," JJ ordered softly, her words filled with deadly force. "Be gone when I get there."