Chapter 60 - JamianDiscuss
Fathers, be good to your daughters
Daughters will love like you do
Girls become lovers who turn into mothers
So mothers, be good to your daughters too
Shiva had given a few pointed words of advice, slipped in between conversation about the babies, the Village, the matrilineal custom of the Law, and Ty. “Be firm with him, and don’t back down, or you’ll never get anywhere. He wants to be in control, sure, but neither of you will be happy if you go all doormat on him.”
He tried to keep that in mind now, hours later, as they lay on Ty’s bed, watching TV. “So, your kids,” he began cautiously. He’d been so quiet after his time with Niki and Siriana, a much more reserved person than Jamian was used to.
“Yeah?” Ty was pointedly still paying attention to the TV, or at least pretending to. Jamian plowed ahead, not letting himself get daunted yet.
“You have one by each of your former Kept?”
“I didn’t Keep Anise. Well, much.”
“Still. Three years, three people you dated, three kids.”
“Yeah?” This time, he muted the TV, looking not altogether thrilled. Jamian gulped and plowed on.
“And you never go visit them.”
“I went to see them today, didn’t I?”
“First time in, what, three weeks?
“Four,” he muttered.
“So you hadn’t seen your newborn daughter since before school started.”
“D.J. is taking good care of her! It’s really good with the kids, and it likes having grandkids around!”
“Is that why you keep having kids?”
“Stop!” Ty glared. “I don’t need lectures on parenting or condom use or any of that! You’re starting to sound like Niki!”
Jamian pondered the command and found that it held no weight. “I’m not trying to lecture you,” he soothed. “I’m trying to understand. Why keep having kids, when you don’t really seem to even like them?”
His shoulders slouched forwards, and a long curl of blond hair flopped in his face; his blue eyes looked up uncertainly, as if afraid he’d get yelled at. His son had worn the same expression for a moment earlier today; it looked equally silly on the putative adult. “The first two were the requirement,” he mumbled, “I had to. And with Niki, well, I wanted to prove I was woman enough for him. I mean…” he trailed off, shrugging. “And it’s not like it was an accident, Jame’!”
“No,” he said slowly, “I didn’t really think it was. Not one after another like that.” The first two were the requirement. “But Anise and Shiva only have one kid each?”
“Shiva’s waiting, I guess. I dunno what for, but she has time. Another year after this, at least.” Ty still sounded sulky, not really paying attention to what he was saying; Jamian stored all the answers to sort out later. “And Anise’s other baby, the dad really liked. Absalom. And Gwenfrewi.” He pulled a curl of hair into his mouth and chewed it, probably unaware of how clear his discomfort was. “So ‘Lom took the baby. Anise was going to take Mies and join him, but I dunno. She hasn’t yet, but it’s only been a couple weeks, right?”
“Right.” He tried to look like he knew what he was agreeing to. “So, a baby a year, and then you just leave them with your parent?”
“Yeah,” he mumbled defensively, repeating, like a shield, “D.J. likes having the kids around.”
Jamian shook his head slowly. “It doesn’t seem fair to the kids, Ty. They’re growing up with what, a grandparent, a part-time Mommy – except Mies has Anise full-time, right? – and no Daddy. Except Siriana, who has two deadbeat Daddies and no Mommy at all.”
“Jame’! That’s not fair!”
“Isn’t it?” He shook his head, struggling past the twisted-knife-in-gut feeling that he was somehow letting down his Keeper; the bond was trying to make him shut up and play nice. “Kids should have two parents, Ty. Two present parents.”
“I didn’t. No-one ever stuck with D.J. and me for very long.”
“And that was a good thing, was it?” He remembered the way Charlie had looked at him. He wondered what sort of person would be able to deal with a hermaphroditic parent and child, and for how long.
“I turned out fine.” He thrust his lower lip out, increasing the resemblance to his year-old son.
“Right.” Jamian brushed that away. “Me, too, with a stepfather who hated me, who thought I was a monster. That’s not what I’m trying to get at, though, Ty. If you want to be that way with your first three kids, fine.” He plowed through that phrase, first three kids¸as fast as he could, even though he was going to have to get to what that implied pretty soon.
“Then what are you getting at?” He sounded so petulant; had he gone his whole life without anyone ever calling him on anything?
He took a deep breath. “Your patterns are pretty obvious. New girlfriend/boyfriend every year. New baby every year.” He held up a hand to forestall the obvious arguments. “I don’t want to hear about next year. You graduate in June anyway, and I’m perfectly content living ‘till then pretending that we’re going to be together forever, okay?”
“Okay?” She blinked up at him, cute and feminine and very vulnerable. He bit his tongue hard and struggled against a renewed push from the bond: he should just shut up and hold her. He shouldn’t be making her cry. What kind of bad boyfriend was he, to make her cry?
The kind who was trying not to get pregnant.
He compromised with the urge, scooted closer to her, and ran his hands through her curls as soothingly as he could. “You’ve already said you want to get me pregnant. I think this is a pretty horrible idea, but as horrible ideas go, it’s not the worst one I could think of.”
“No.” He shook his head. “Siri’s yours, right, because you carried her? Like Eryk is Shiva’s?”
“So when you leave here, if you wanted, the Law says you can do what you want with her. I mean, you can take her away from Niki. Get married. Whatever.”
“And Shiva and Anise can do the same with Eryk and Mies.”
He plowed on before she could tack a command on after her name. “And we’re both hermaphrodites. Either of us could carry a baby.”
“We both could, yeah.” The way she was blinking, Jamian couldn’t help but wonder if she’d ever had this conversation before. Had she just presented all of her former partners with the accomplished fact: Hey, look you’re pregnant? Hey, look, I’m pregnant? Well, normal teenagers probably weren’t as hard to get in bed as Jamian was, not as body-shy, not as twitchy. Normal teenagers had never had to deal with two sets of gonads - well, until they got in bed with Tya, at least.
He ruthlessly suppressed his sudden curiosity about what was actually in her pants. “I still think it’s a horrible idea. I like being a boy. I like being – well, hell, Tya, I don’t think I’m old enough to be a parent, whichever side of the coin I’m gonna be. I’m still trying to figure out – well, everything. Who I am. What I am. That doesn’t seem like a good way to start parenting. And my parent isn’t going to be as accommodating as yours.”
“D.J. wouldn’t mind,” Tya muttered yet again.
Jamian shook his head. “Not the point.”
“Do you have one?” she flared, and he quailed, flinching backwards. Bad boyfriend, bad Kept. He needed to be calming her down, not making her angrier. He needed to be submitting, not pushing her.
She hadn’t told him to stop yet. She could, at any moment. It wouldn’t even be hard for her to stop him. It must be okay for him to keep going.
“Yes. Yes, I do have a point.” She was still glaring, so he made himself as small as possible, bending forward until his forehead touched her knee.
It wasn’t comfortable, but it seemed to soothe her; when she asked, “Well, what is it, then?” she seemed more at ease.
“I don’t want a kid. I don’t think I have a lot of choice.” He couldn’t abase himself much lower, but, as she hissed softly, he tried, his tail curled between his feet. He pressed on; he didn’t know if he’d have the guts to start over again if he stopped now, or if she’d let him try. “I don’t know if this is something the school is doing, or just something that happens around you, but there has to be a reason half the people I know have kids and half the rest are pregnant. If-” It was getting harder to keep going. His mouth kept trying to force itself shut over his audacity. “If this turns out to be just your thing, Ty, if you get me pregnant or get yourself pregnant-” and never mind that they’d need to sleep together for that, they’d get there eventually “-then I’ll never forgive you.” Even if he couldn’t stand to be away from her. “But if this is a school thing, if for some reason this is really a requirement…”
“Yes?” she whispered. Her hand had settled on his back, but it was very, very still.
“My kid…” The first two were the requirement. “My kids will have two parents present in their lives, and I will be one of them.” He gulped hard, and looked up at her. “If you want to be the other one, that would be phenomenal. If not, well, there will be a second parent.” All of his defiance spent, he dropped his forehead back to her knee and fell quiet.
Ty’s silence was not the most comforting of replies, but Jamian had pushed as far as he was willing.
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