Just Hit 'Send' - The Interim Years

by Grasshopper

Ch. 1

Jordan sat on the edge of the bed, his hand gently stroking Josh's cheek as he told the story his little boy always asked for. "Prince Happiness loves Prince Sadness with all his heart. That's why he went away."

"Why, Dadda?"

"So Prince Sadness could be happy."

Josh held out his little hands and Jordan moved closer. They had done this so many times. Josh's fingers touching his father's face, he whispered, "But Dadda not happy." And, just like all the times before, Jordan leaned in and kissed the tip of Josh's nose.

"Dadda?" the sleepy little voice questioned .

"Yes, Joshie?"

" Prince Sad can find him?"

Jordan sighed. Josh begged for this story and Jordan always told it. And it always hurt. He just said the same answer he always did. "I don't have to look for him, Joshie. I know where Prince Happiness is."

"Go get him, Dadda."

"Shhhh, Sweet Josh. Sleep now." Jordan rubbed the little boy's tummy in soothing little circles, humming softly.

"No cry, Dadda," he whispered as his eyelashes fluttered and his little hand loosened from Jordan's.

Jordan sat quietly watching his son's chest rise and fall as he fell deeper into his dreams. Easing off the bed, he stood and turned toward the door.

Markie clicked on the glowing Tigger nightlight, stepped over to make sure Josh was tucked in, then pulled Jordan out the door to leave it open so the light from the hall would shine softly across her baby's face.

Taking Jordan's hand, she led them through the house and out onto the steps. Tugging Jordan down, she said softly, " You okay?"

"Yeah," he answered. "I guess it's the birthday blues or something."

Markie laughed. "You've still got 3 days. Besides, how much can it hurt to be 25?"

"Marks, I," he whispered, "I got a card from Dan today."

"Oh, Jordy." She slid her arm around his shoulders. "Any news?"

"No. Same old 'I'll always love you'. I want him here with me, Marks."

"Then go get him," she replied, thinking of Josh's question earlier.


"I know. I know," she soothed.

The car headlights blinded them for a second and they both stood up as the car door slammed.

"How are my two favorite people this beautiful night?" he said, a smile on his face. Sliding his arm around Markie, he dipped his head for a soft kiss. "Jord, you still on for some waves Saturday? Think you can still ride a wave at your age?"

"Shove it," Jordan laughed. "I've always been better than you. Always was, always will be." He started walking toward his jeep. "Night, guys. I'll be here for Josh tomorrow same time." Swinging up into the seat, Jordan headed toward his apartment.......

Danny huddled in the seat, his eyes unfocused out the airplane window. Easy glanced at him every few minutes. He had tried to talk to Dan but he just wouldn't. He was locked up tight, pain reading across every move he made, every sigh that easy could hear.

"Dan, you gotta talk, dude. I gotta know what happened so I can help."

"I left him."

"I know that, sweetie. Can you tell Easy why?" He knew that Danny had been about to explode this morning but he had been so excited, so sure before they came to Tallahassee. It wasn't any different. He was in the wheelchair when they came. What had happened to make Danny break?

"You'll think about it and call him tonight, right?"

No answer.

"Dan? You're hurting him."

"I know," came the muffled reply, "But it's for the best."

"Whose best, Dan?"


God, what had happened?

Markie tapped lightly on Jordan's bedroom door. "Hon? Can I come in?" She didn't get an answer and eased the door open just a crack. Jordan was sitting on the floor in the corner of the room, his knees drawn up.

"Oh Jordy." Kneeling down beside him, she held out her arms and he fell into her.

"I didn't do anything different, Markie," he sobbed. "I promise."

"I know, baby. Shhhh. It'll be all right. Shhh," she crooned softly.

"No. It won't. Not this time. All I wanted to do was love him. He just couldn't let me. He wouldn't let me, Marks."

"Hon, shhhh. Think hard, Jordan. Would you want someone to have to wash you and help you go to the bathroom and move you like a piece of furniture? Would you want to not be able to carry Josh or go for walks with him and all the millions of other things you do because you can walk?"

"No," his voice wavered.

"You can't be angry with Danny for making this choice."

"I'm not, Marks. I'm not angry with him for making the choice. I understand the choice."

"Then what?"

"I'm angry that he is making the choice for ME! I've never once said I wouldn't or couldn't help. I love him, Marks. I love Danny. Why can't he understand that? I show him I love him when I help him. Doesn't he know that?"

"He knows, Jordy. He knows all too well. He wants to spare you the life of always helping him. You know he loves you."

"Yes. I've never doubted that..........I never will."

"Then, KNOW that somehow, he will come back. You can't force him. When he's ready, walking or trapped in that wheelchair, he WILL come back."

"But it's a waste........of our lives, of our time together, of our love. I want him here now."

"Jordan," she said tenderly, her hand on his cheek, "We don't always get what we want. Sometimes we have to wait. Wait for Danny....if you love him, wait for him." She tapped gently on the silver ring on Jordan's finger.

Easy dropped Danny off at the rehab center. "Call me if you need me," he said as he settled Danny into his chair. "And Dan.............I got your back." He ruffled Danny's soft curls and stood quietly watching him wheel himself toward the ramps. Pulling out his cell phone, he punched in #3. #1 was Jordan; #2 was Danny and he'd just entered Markie as #3 figuring he was gonna need to know what Jordy was feeling.

"I got him to rehab. He's not talking. Yeah...I'll stay close. How's our Man?" He listened, a frown creasing his forehead. "Damn! Yeah, I can understand both sides too. Call me tonight....take care."

Terry saw Danny the minute he wheeled in the automatic doors. He'd been waiting, knowing Dan would show up this morning. He walked toward him, a huge smile on his face that began to fade when he saw the dark circles smudged under Danny's puffy eyes.

"Hey Dan."


"Have a great time with Jordan?" he asked.

He watched Danny close his eyes for a second and then a single tear trickled down his cheek. "Aw, Dan." He grabbed the handles and steered the chair into one of the small exercise rooms. Closing the door, he pulled a stool over and sat down. "What happened?" He thumbed away the tear and patted Danny's shoulder gently.

"I told Jordy goodbye."

"What?" Terry had expected an argument, but not this. "Why sweetie?"

"I saw our lives, Terry. I saw how it would always be for Jordy, having to do the things you do for me, bathing me, carrying me, always waiting for me. I can't do that to him."

"But, it had been like that before, right?"

"Yes," Danny sighed, "But before the accident I could get around on my braces. We went places. I could do for myself. Now, I couldn't even..........." His breaths were coming in short gasps.

"Terry's voice softened. "You couldn't what, Dan?" God, his heart hurt just listening.

"We...........I...........I can't even make love with him." The answer came out in just the sigh of a whisper. Then, his voice changed, almost angrily, he groaned, "I can't even do THAT right."

Terry had seen patients get to this point before. He didn't want Danny to go down this road. He had been so happy, so full of life and full of his love for Jordan before he left.

"But Dan? You already knew all this. Did Jordan say something to hurt you?" Terry could feel his anger build toward this unknown guy who had apparently hurt Danny.

Danny's eyes widened. "Oh No! It wasn't Jordy." He realized what he'd said and he clapped his hand over his mouth.

"Who, Dan? Who hurt you?"

Danny shook his head. "It doesn't matter. He was right. I had to leave Jordy."

Terry saw the pain and knew he had to leave it for now. Some prick had hurt Danny. Easing back, he smiled gently. "He wasn't right. Whoever he was. Let's get you cleaned up and onto the exercise mats. If you ever want to see Jordan again, we better get crackin'."

"But I just told you........"

"Yep, and I listened. But, you, my trusting friend, got fed a load of bullshit and I'm about to sweat it out of you." Terry shook his head as he wheeled Danny toward the mats. Somebody had done quite a number on this beautiful boy and if it wasn't Jordan....? He sighed. Two steps forward, ten steps back. He hoped the plan he was forming would work.


Markie looked up to see Jordan standing in the doorway. By the look on his face, she could already tell she wasn't going to enjoy this conversation. Cuddling Josh in her lap, she patted the sofa beside her.

"Markie, I can't go to the job interview in Daytona."


"Hear me out.....please." She quieted and waited for him to go on.

"I need to go away from here. Away from where Danny is in everything I see, everything I touch. If we go to Daytona, we'll see his parents all the time. They love Josh. I can't do this. I have too many memories."

Markie brushed her hand against his cheek. "You aren't giving up on him are you?"

Jordan sighed. "I'll never do that. I'll always hope, but Marks........this is what he wants. I have to break from it and give him the room he needs. I'll take you down for your interview and help you move."

"What? Why would I go there without you?"

"You need to get on with your life too. We all do." He tried to be brave, knowing that he would be so lost without Markie, without Josh. But they didn't belong to him..........no one belonged to him, not anymore.

"Jordan Lawrence! We've come this far. I'm going where you go, you big stupid !!"

Jordan laughed, in spite of himself. "Big stupid?? Is that best you can do?"

"Well, you are," she muttered, sticking her tongue out at him.

Jordan looked at her angry green eyes and then down at the matching set in the baby's face. He didn't want to leave them. They were his family, but.... "Marks, I want you to be happy. Josh needs a father."

"Jordy, I am happy and Josh has a father."

"You know what I mean," he smiled.

"Yeah, and I hope I do find someone I can love............who loves me back," she blushed, "But for now I'm so content to be with you. Jordan, Josh will be yours forever. It isn't who created him that he will love but who loves him back."

Jordan's face clouded. "My daddy created me, Marks. Why can't he love me?"

"I think he does, Jordy but the way he was raised, the way he was taught have a vice grip on his mind, on his heart. At least, he didn't do anything to hurt you while he was here this time. Maybe he's beginning to accept."

"I hope so, Marks. All I've ever wanted was for him to just try to understand, try to feel what I feel. But with Danny doing this, if I go home to work, Daddy will think it's over. I can't go there."

"So, where will we go?" she laughed. "There's a big wide world out there."

"San Diego?" Jordan snuffled, his bottom lip pouting.

"Not an option right now, cutie," she smiled gently, knowing how hard he was working to keep from crying.

They punched up a map of the US and zeroed in on the southeast. Might as well keep the accents and upbringing in line. Teasing and throwing out one place after another, Jordan finally said, "Close your eyes."

He took her hand and aimed it toward the screen. Making sure her eyes were shut, he said, "This is it. Wherever you pick, we go."

Her finger hovered over the screen and then landed. Wilmington, North Carolina.

"Ever been there?"

"Nope. You?"


"As good a place as any to start life." They looked at each other, friends that could have been lovers except that one of them would wait forever for a certain blue-eyed boy.

"We're moving." Markie whispered into the phone.

"Yeah, Daytona," Easy answered.

"Nope. Wilmington, North Carolina."

"Huh? I thought the interview gigs were all set."

"We're making a fresh start to quote Jordan. How's Danny?"

"A lump of pitiful."

"Get him goin', Ez. My boy at this end is gonna try to keep it all inside. I don't know if I can take a fake happy Jordy for too long."

"I got ya. I'm on my man out here. I'm gonna get him on those feet if I have to beg and bribe."

Easy? What about Terry?"

Easy sighed. "I wanna hate him, Marks. But he cares a lot about Danny. I'll watch it."

"K. Night."

"Night, pretty lady."

Jordan finished loading all their stuff into the U-Haul and settled Josh into his carseat. "Take one last look around, Marks."

"We had some good times here, Jordy," she smiled as they stared up at the old apartment building, knowing Jordan's mind was with his memories of Danny.

Jordan could hear Danny's laughter. He could see Danny's shining face in every corner, every turn of the rooms. This was where he had loved Danny and he was saying goodbye. "Not to you, Dan. Never to you........just to the memories." He helped Markie in, climbed behind the wheel, turned to check on Josh and, with a deep breath, pulled away from the curb, from everything he'd ever known.

"Did you call your parents?" Markie asked.

"I called Mama. She said she understood and wanted to come see us when we were all settled."

"And your Dad?"

"Maybe he'll come with her. Maybe this is a way back."

"David, Jordan called last night."

David looked up from his newspaper. "Yes?"

"He said he and Markie decided to go out of state to work."


"North Carolina. Maybe we can go see them when they get settled."

"Are they getting married?"

"I didn't ask, David. That's their business now."

"At least, he's not gonna have that boy around anymore," he muttered. "Maybe he'll come to his senses now and marry that girl and give that poor baby a name."

"That baby has a name, David. Joshua Daniel Lawrence. You know that."

David snorted. "Yes, but legally, he's still illegitimate. I don't like that he's using my last name to protect that child."

"It's Jordan's last name too."

"With that Trainor boy out of the picture, we will pray that Jordan does the right thing."

Claire sighed. "David, you can't control their lives."

He looked at her quietly and raised one eyebrow.

"Wait, Easy, don't go. I want to talk to Danny AND you for a minute," Terry called.

Easy held onto the handles of Danny's chair and kicked on the brake. Stepping around the side, he stood waiting. "What's up?"

"I want to propose something," Terry said, his eyes on Danny.

"Man, I don't know you that well," Easy laughed without a smile in his eyes. What the hell was this?

"Hear me out," Terry grinned. "Dan, you know I'm done here. I've got my diploma and I'm leaving."

"Yeah," Danny said sadly. Terry had been a good friend, listening and never bad mouthing Jordan. "I'm gonna miss you."

"Well, that's the thing. I want you to come with me." He watched Danny's eyes. His eyes always gave him away. They raised up quickly and then looked away.

"With you where?"

"I'm going to Portland to work at the Brightman Clinic. It's the best facility on the west coast. I want you to come. I can keep helping you. Get you on those feet sooner."


"And I figure, where you go, Easy goes, so I wanted to ask you both to consider transferring to the University of Oregon, Portland and working with me at the clinic."

Easy listened to them talk. This was sooooo not good. "Man, we can't cause of funds. We live free here at Danny's aunt's house. We got no money to rent a place."

"That's okay, really. I've got a house rented and there's plenty of room. I just really want you to come so we can keep your routine going, Dan."

Easy rolled his eyes. Yeah, right. Can Dan not see this dude? Blow him off, Lil guy.

"I want to walk, Terry," Danny said quietly.

"I know, sugar. I'm your best bet."

"Easy?" Danny turned his innocent eyes up towards his friend.

God damn.....Jordan's gonna kill me. "Your call, Lil Bro. I go where you go."



"Will Jordan........," he trailed off.

Yeah, Danny. Jordan will care. Jordan will die a little more. "You do what you gotta do, Dan. Concentrate on Jordan. That's all I ask."

"Okay Terry. If you really want us there, we'll go."

Easy saw the lights flare in Terry's eyes. Not in my lifetime, dude.

Off to new lives, old lives just memories. In the world we live in today, is there really such a thing as true love? Are people destined for each other? What happens when things, evil things intervene? One sad boy, the loss of his brother tore his family apart; the loss of his father's love tearing his soul to shreds. Another sad boy, unknowing, crippled, loving with all his heart, not realizing the love he seeks is right there.

Two friends......cell phones apart. A fragile link between two boys caught in misconceptions, bigotry and lies.

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