Just Hit 'Send' - The Interim Years

by Grasshopper

Ch. 12

Three cell phones....three friends.

"I think we've got ourselves a plan, guys."

"But, he might just decide that he can't fight anyone Jordan finds," Markie fretted.

"And that would be worse than it I now, how zactly?" Griff sighed from right next to her on the sofa. "At least we'll know that he isn't gonna try if this doesn't work."

"I think I can nudge him from this end if you two can do your thing over there," Easy smiled. "Believe me, Dan is antsy as all hell right now."

"And I start it, right?" Markie gulped. "I hate lying."

"You're not lying, you're omitting. There's a huge difference."

"Well, let's all agree from the get go that we don't lie."

"Don't think we'll have to. Dan has already decided that Jordan is seeing some guy named Nick and he is acting all bizarre," Easy whispered. "Gotta go, guys. The target approaches." His cell clicked off and he smiled as Danny moved painfully into the living room, his face set in a pout. He fell onto the sofa and sprawled.

"Who were ya talking to, Ez?"

"Marks and Griff."

Danny frowned. "What were ya talkin' about?"

"Stuff."

"Stuff?"

"Yeah."

"What stuff?"

Danny waited, but Easy didn't reply. "Ez?"

"Yeah?"

"What stuff?"

"Huh? Oh, just about the house and JD and the.......,"

"The what?"

Easy looked at Danny, weighing his words. "The plans for Jordy's birthday. You know it's next week, right?"

"Of course I know it's next week. Jordan Anderson Lawrence's birthday will be in approximately 7 days.........that's 168 hours..........or 10,080 minutes.......... or 604,8............................"

Easy cut him off, holding his hands up, wrists crossed. "Okay, okay! I get the point." He looked at Danny carefully, "Are you gonna go?"

"Go where?"

Easy snorted. "Dan, for the sweetest guy in the world, you can be the world's biggest asshole.........Are you goin' to Jordan's birthday?"

Danny looked up from under lowered eyebrows, "I wasn't invited."

Easy bit his lip to keep from laughing. "Well, that's your decision, I guess."

Danny sighed and then thought for a minute. "Wait, are you?"

"Damn straight. I wanna be there for his 25th. Markie is so excited for me to meet their new friends and see their house." He took a little pity on Danny. "You really think you have to be invited, Dan?"

"Well, no one called."

"And whose fault is that, Mr. Don't Call Me?"

"Maybe I could..........," Danny mumbled.

"Even if you're not with Jordan anymore, Markie and Griff haven't seen you in a really long time. It's not like you hate him or anything, right?"

"Not with him? So now I'm not even with him? Damn! Damn! Damn!," Danny struggled up off the sofa and stomped slowly out of the room, his voice muttering.

Easy smiled but it didn't reach his eyes. He only hoped they were doing the right thing. Jordan would never forgive them if they hurt Dan and this didn't work.


Danny looked at this CallerID. "Hey Markie."

"Hey, Danny. You sound good."

"I'm doing great. How 'bout yourself?"

"I'm fine. Married life is great."

"Griff's a great guy."

"Well, we've established that everything is darn great, huh Danny?" she laughed softly.

"Yeah," he shook his head.

"I wanted to tell you that we're having a party for Jordan at the new house and I want you to know you are welcome."

Danny heard the hesitation in her voice. "Thanks, Markie."

"It'll just be a few close friends and us. No big deal but I know Jordan would want you there. You know Easy's coming, right?"

"Yeah, he told me.......... Markie?"

"Uh huh?" She thought, 'Here we go.'

"Do you.........do you think Jordan wants me there?"

No lie here........"Of course he does, Danny. You're a very important part of his life. So, you'll come?"

"I'll think about it," was all she heard him answer.

"How's JD?"

Markie closed her eyes and took a deep breath. "He's good. He's out in the yard playing with Nic."

"Oh shi...........okay. Tell him Hi for me. And Griff and..........."

"I will, Danny. I'll tell Jordan you're great."

"Yeah, Markie. Tell him I'm doin' just great."


"I wish you guys wouldn't plan anything for my birthday," Jordan sighed. "I don't feel like celebrating much."

"Well, we do," Griff laughed, "And I don't think JD's gonna let a birthday party slip by, are ya big boy?"

"No way, Jose," JD grinned. "I looooooooooooooove birthdays."

"And I guess you think you're gonna get presents?"

"Me, yes. Daddddddy..........will you buy me a presssent?" his long eyelashes just a blinkin'.

"Are you sure he isn't really yours?" Griff laughed. "You did that same eyelash thingie when you were little."

"Did it work?"

"On your mom, yeah. Is that like a gay thing?" Griff asked innocently.

"Hell, yeah," Jordan growled, wiggling his eyebrows.

Griff looked over at JD, "Ya think?"

He got a pillow up the side of his head.


"Good morning, Dan."

"Uhuh."

"Not a good morning, I take it?"

"Oh, it's a fine and dandy morning. I'm just fine." Danny growled as he struggled up out of the wheelchair to stand leaning on the canes.

"Why do I sense a bit of sarcasm?" Dr. Meadows arched one eyebrow.

"There is no sarcasm in my voice. There is no nothing in my voice," Danny snapped.

"What's up with Jordan?"

Danny blinked. "Why is it always Jordan? Everything's not always about Jordan," he huffed.

"Is this?"

Danny felt his bottom lip begin to tremble and he bit it.......hard!!

"Kind of."

"Do you want to tell me what happened?"

"No!"

"Are you going to?"

"Yes!"

Dr. Meadows tried to keep his face solemn. Dan was in full antagonism mode and he hoped the young man was finally making a move.

"Okay......it's like this! JD, Jordan's son, called me on Griff's cell phone and he told me that Jordan was out somewhere like on a date with some jerk named Nick and Easy is going to go over there for Jordan's birthday and meet all his NEW friends and Markie called and invited me but then she told me that JD was outside running around with Nick ad I don't know who this NICK is and why is he there and how can I go to the party when I'm not calling him and what if he doesn't want me there and.................."

"Whoa. Slow down. One thing at a time. When is Jordan's birthday?"

"It's next week. Next Wednesday."

"And Easy's flying over for the party?"

"Yeah," Danny sighed, his eyes cloudy.

"Do you want to go?"

Danny looked up at the doctor with tear-stained eyes, "More than anything."

"What's stopping you? You know Jordan wants you there."

Sighing, Danny shrugged his shoulders.

"That's not an answer, Dan. Why are you uncomfortable going to Jordan's party?"

Rubbing his face with his fingers, Danny said softly, "I've tried my best to let him go, to let him have the life he deserves. I've tried to do what his father wanted, so Jordan could be happy. And now, now when it looks like he may finally be finding something.......someone, all I want is to go to him and hold on for dear life. God! I'm so screwed up!"

Dr. Meadows smiled, "You are not screwed up, Dan. You may just finally be thinking clearly for yourself. There's you and there's Jordan. Everyone else, his family, your family, friends.....they're all important but it's what YOU want.....what Jordan wants. That's all that matters. What do YOU want?"

Barely above a whisper, "Jordan."

"And what do you need to do?"

"Go home."

The doctor nodded his head.

"But," Danny mumbled, "What if it's too late?"

"Then you've learned a hard life lesson. I know Jordan loves you. YOU know Jordan loves you. Go home and find out if you've left it too late."

"What about this.........this Nick?"

"You've got 10 years of history.....10 years of love..........Are you going to just lie down and let someone have Jordan?"

"no," Danny's voice shook.

"What, Dan? I couldn't quite hear that."

Danny sat up, his blue eyes drawn and sharp. "NO! Hell No!! Jordan may be flirting around but I'm gonna go straighten out this mess. No one can have him but me! Nick ! What hell kinda name is that?"

Dr. Meadows walked over to the door, opening it wide. "Easy, someone here needs a plane ticket to North Carolina. Think you can help?"


"Don't tell anyone I'm coming, okay Ez?"

"Sure, Lil Dude. Wouldn't dream of it. Got two tickets for Tuesday afternoon. We'll get in at 7:00."

"K. Where are you staying? Should I get a room?"

Easy rolled his eyes. "Why are you making this so hard, Dan? You know he will freak when he sees you."

"He left it that I was lying to him. I still haven't told him about his daddy. He may still not trust me."

Easy sat down beside Danny on the sofa. "Dan, I want you to listen to me real clear here for a minute. Jord loves his dad but he would choose you. He would choose you and he would do it happily, freely. Believe me, I know."

"I wish I could be that sure," Danny sighed.

"Talk to Jord, Dan. He'll tell you the same thing. Trust me on this."

"Okay, I'll talk to him but Ez..................don't tell him I'm coming."


"Allrighty now..........he's comin' !!"

"You've got the tickets?"

"Yeah.........we're set. You make that last call, Marks and we're good to go."

"Still necessary?"

"Yeah, he's still a little shakey."


Danny leafed through all the birthday cards on the racks. Nothing was right. He wanted one that wasn't all mushy and lovey right now. That just didn't feel right; not til he knew where they stood. His fingers brushed across a picture of a really fat dinosaur springin' a handstand on a wild orange skateboard. His mind flew back 9 years to a beautiful 16 year old Jordan out on the boardwalk outside the aquarium in Daytona.

**"Jordy, show me that flip trick you do. Like in the picture."

Jordan grinned, pulled his kicker out of the back pocket of Danny's chair and rolled down about 500 yards. "For you" He pushed off, built up speed and about halfway, he urged the board up and as it left the ground, Jordan sprung into the air. He did a 180 straight up in the air, fingertips grazing the board. Curving into the flip, his feet landed back on the board and he rolled to a stop at Danny's feet. At that moment, laughing, eyes dancing, his tongue peeking out between his teeth, he was beautiful and Danny fell in love with Jordan Lawrence.**

'And I've never stopped,' Danny sobbed silently.

At home, Danny opened the card and wrote, his hand shakey:

Hiya Kicker J
Wish I could be there on the big 25. Have a great day!
I'll always love you
Dan

He addressed it to the apartment, his letters all loopy, making the funny special J that Jordy loved.

On the way to the center, he asked Ez to pull over to the mailbox and he dropped it in. He hoped it would get there by Monday.


Jordan sat out on the sand, his back up against the old driftwood log, his legs splayed out in front of him, sifting white sand through his fingers. His birthday tomorrow should have been one of the milestones in his life...25.... Dang! But all he felt was sorrow and loneliness. All he needed was Dan, his black curls shining, those crystal blue eyes twinkling, reaching in for a kiss, pulling Danny into his lap all warm and snuggly. He held the birthday card, ran his fingers over the words: 'I will always love you' and wished his one birthday wish again.

"Hi, Daddy."

"Hiya, Punkin. What ya doin' out here? I thought you were helpin' Mama with the party stuff."

"Mama told me to shooooo. She told me 'Shoooo fly, don't bodder me'. Me am not a fly," JD giggled and ran around Jordan's feet buzzing.

"Nah.........you look more like a skeeter to me."

"Ouchie......skeeters," JD laughed. He plopped down on Jordan's lap and loved his arms around his Daddy's neck. "Daddy? Tell me Prince Happiness."

"Not tonight, JD. K? Daddy's tired."

"Too tired for Prince Happiness? Daddy, is he for true?"

"What do you mean, sweetie?"

JD wrinkled his face, thinking hard. "Is he ScoobyDoo or like me?"

"Oh, you mean is he a real person?" JD nodded his head, happy that Daddy understood.

"He's real, JD. He's very real. His name is Daniel."

JD bounced, "Like me? I Joshua Daniel," he grinned proudly.

"Yes, you have his name. I call him Danny."

JD thought for a few minutes. "Where is he, Daddy?"

"He lives far away across the country........far from us."

JD looked at his Daddy's face and reached up with a little hand. Patting Jordan's cheek, he said, "No cry, Daddy. I love you."


Danny checked CallerID. "Hey, Griff."

All he heard was a strange whirring sound.

Shaking his head, Danny said, "JD?"

"Yep."

"Where are you? What's that noise?"

"Me...Im hidin'."

"Where?"

"In the bitty closet."

"What's that noise?"

"The big 'chine."

"JD....are you safe? Where are you?" Danny began to panic.

"Me Gigamanchu......defender of you."

**Danny had no clue. "EASY!! Get in here ! Ez poked his head through the door.

"Call Markie. Tell her JD is somewhere weird."

"What?"

"Just do it!" He watched Easy pull out his cell.

"JD....."

"You Danny?"

Danny blinked. "Um.......yes."

"Love Daddy."

"What?"

Danny heard a scuffling, JD shrieked and Markie's voice came on the line. "Danny?"

"What the hell, Markie??"

She laughed, "The mighty midget was in the air conditioner cabinet under the stairs. It can't hurt him but he knows it's forbidden. What was he doing?"

"I don't know. He just called. Markie, he knew it was me."

"He did? Hold on a sec," She held the phone away from her mouth. Danny heard her say sternly, "Nic, don't baby him...he's in trouble."

"Scuse me, Danny." "Go to your room, Mr. I'm In Big Trouble....Now!!"

Danny listened, wide-eyed. "Danny, I'm so sorry. He's just a pistol!"

"I can tell."

"Dan, have you thought anymore about coming?"

Danny knew he had the ticket. He knew he was going. He just didn't want to tell Markie. "Maybe," was all he'd say.

'Stinker,' Markie thought. "Well, okay, but you know we love you and want you here."

"Thanks, Marks. And don't be too rough on JD."

She laughed. "Danny, if there is one child in the whole of this world who KNOWS for absolute fact that he is loved and adored, it's that mighty mouth who is moaning upstairs right now. He will lay on the floor at his bedroom door, his head poking out until I let him escape. His daddy will talk to him about cell phones..........again, and he'll be fine. He inherited all his stubbornness from his daddy." She laughed at the absurdity of that and wished, for the 10 millionth time, that Jordan was JD's blood father. She loved Griff with all her heart but she wished that JD had Jordan's blood running through him.

'His daddy,' Danny murmured, wishing he could hear Jordy talk to JD.

"Maybe we'll see you tomorrow?"

"Maybe."

"Love you, Danny."

"You too, Markie."

Danny clicked off his phone and lay back against the cushions. His bag was packed, his ticket secured in the pocket. He had done all he could to make himself acceptable. He stared at the brace on his leg, at the two canes that let him walk. It was all he had. He wondered if this Nick was beautiful like Jordan. Was what Danny had enough? He'd done all he could. He thought about what JD had just said:

"You Danny?"
"Love Daddy."

How did he know? What was he saying? He'd find out tomorrow.


"I didn't have to make that last call. Joshua 'Cupid' Daniel seems to have made contact again," Markie laughed as she told Griff about JD's latest phone call.

Griff punched in Easy's number. "You guys all set?"

"Ohhhhh yeah. The Lil Dude is cruisin' to make a move. I don't know which one is gonna be more bent when this comes down tomorrow."

"I'll be there at baggage at 7:00. Should we go to the house or to Jord's?"

"I think we'll take Dan to Jord's and then run like hell."

Griff laughed. "I hear ya. See you tomorrow at 7."


Wednesday morning blazed, hot and bright. All three teachers had taken the day off. No one should have to work on their birthday. The day was gonna be filled with sunshine and surf and JD and laughter. No one deserved it as much as Jordan.

All day, Jordan's mind was flooded with Danny. He couldn't get past the feeling that something was wrong. He could usually feel Danny but today, for some reason, he was cut off. It was making him nervous.

"I think I'm gonna call Dan," he said to no one in particular. "I want to hear his voice. Damn this exile crap."

"NO!" Markie yelped. "I mean, No, you............he will be at work." She cast "help!!!!" eyes at Griff.

"Yeah, Jord. We'll give him a call tonight, you know, from the party...after 7."

Jordan sighed. "Yeah, you're right."

Nic watched Markie and Griff struggle to hide their secret. "Sam," he sighed, "Why is love so hard? I can't wait to meet the boy who has turned Jordan's life upside down. He must be something."


He was being "something" all right. He was being a twit. "I'm gonna haf to kill you, you don't calm down and shut up," Easy moaned, leaning his head back against the seat. His long legs were fairly comfortable as they scrunched into the bulkhead seats, a little extra room. Danny had had to take off his leg brace so he could sit comfortably.

"But, what if he's mad that I came?"
"What if he'd rather be with Nic?"
"What if he doesn't love me anymore?"

"What if I stuff this pillow in your mouth and heave you out this window?"

"But I............"

"Dan."

"I'm just so..........."

"Dan!"

"K."


The house looked beautiful, lights strung, flowers decorating every surface, music blaring. "What do you think, Nic? Would Sam like the way his house is being lived in?" Jordan asked the older man as he wheeled him onto the porch.

"I think, young Jordan, Sam would be mighty pleased.....except for one thing."

Jordan looked askance.

"Sam wants you here........you and Dan." He reached back and patted Jordan's hand on the handle. "It will happen, young Jordan. I can feel it happening now."

"What, Nic? What can you feel?"

"Something in the air. The house is opening, breathing easier. Just love him, Jordan. That's all it will take."

Jordan looked out over the water. The sun was setting and the sky was flashing in layers of orange and purple and blue. A lone seagull swooped down and dove into the sea. All of a sudden, he felt a jolt of Danny. 'What, baby?'


Griff made a run to the store for ice and "stuff". A long run that went by the airport. He watched Easy push Danny's chair out to the sidewalk and jumped out of the truck, pulling Ez into a bear hug and then leaning over to hug Danny tight.

"Glad you came, Dan. I know someone who's gonna be mighty happy."

Danny smiled slowly, "I hope so."

Griff started to help as Danny struggled to get up but Easy shook his head. He watched Danny shove the braced leg out and then balance himself up on the two canes. He pulled himself up and straightened his back. Griff found himself blinking back sudden tears. Grabbing the bags, he heaved them in back and between he and Easy, they hoisted Dan into the cab.

"Haha! I don't think a truck is exactly handicap friendly," Danny laughed. "I can't really look too cool being pulled in."

"Griff cleared his throat, "Dan, you've done good. I've never been so proud of anyone in my life as I am of you."

Danny felt a sniffle burn his nose. Easy knew this had to stop.....right now!! Dan could not let the tears fly right now.

"What's to eat? I'm starvin'."

Griff laughed, "Fried chicken, macaroni salad, molasses beans, double deviled eggs, bumpy potatoes, and for dessert, hummingbird cake, Jordan's favorite. She's got all the candles, those fake ones that won't blow out."

"Oh Lord................southern food. I've missed it," Easy grinned. "Take me to it."

"I'm gonna dump you guys at the apartment for a few while I run to the store. Give you time to clean up and all." He let them into the apartment and left with "I'll be right back" flying out behind him.

Danny dropped his bag and just stood. He could feel Jordan in the air, in the way the apartment smelled. He just knew which Jordan's room was and moved to go in. Easy knew how tired Danny was from struggling with the canes and followed him in.

"I'm just gonna lie down for a minute," Danny sighed. Easy smoothed back the black curls that had fallen into Danny's eyes and watched as he snuggled Jordan's pillow up to his face and breathed in deeply.

"You do that, Lil Dude. Ez'll be right here. You rest a minute."


Griff roared back to the house and found Jordan. "Jord, you gotta come with."

"What? Where?"

"No time. I need help with this. We'll be right back, Markie." He looked over at her and she crossed her fingers.

"What?" Jordan asked again as they turned down towards town.

"I left a thing I bought for Markie at the apartment. It's too heavy for me to lift. It'll just take a sec."

Jordan stared out the window. "K, but hurry. Supper was almost ready."

They drove up to the front of the apartment building door and Jordan climbed out. They took the stairs two at a time.

Jordan unlocked the door and stepped in. Easy turned and grinned. "Happy Birthday, Jord!!"

"OMG!! EZZZZZZZZ!!" Jordan flew across the room and smacked into his friend, hugging him tight. "I am soooooo glad to see you." He pushed back and looked into Easy's face. "I'm so glad you came."

"I wouldn't miss your big day, my man. Hmm, it isn't much, but I brought you a present."

"You didn't have to get me anything, Ez."

"Oh, I think you're gonna like this. It's somethin' you've been cravin' for awhile." He walked over to Jordan's bedroom door. "I stashed it in your room. Come here, Jord."

As Jordan began to walk across the floor, he knew. His eyes filled with tears and he just knew. By the time he reached the doorway, he was biting his bottom lip and blinking back the tears. He leaned on the doorsill and drank in his baby curled up asleep in the middle of his bed.

"We'll just go................we're going now...............um, we're gone..............."

Jordan never even heard them go. He walked quietly into the room, looked at the cruel brace laying on the floor, the canes propped against the chair. The tears ran unchecked down his cheeks. He flipped off the light switch, eased onto the bed and curled up behind Danny as if all those yesterdays had never been. He gathered him close and just lay, breathing in and out and knowing his birthday wish had come true. He reached for Danny's hand and ran his finger over the silver ring. "I'll always love you," he whispered.


Danny was having the most glorious dream. He and Jordan were in a soft cloud hammock with Jordan spooned up behind him. Jordan was hard, pressed up against him and Jordan giggled when Danny wiggled his hips just a little.

"You make me crazy," Jordan whispered.
"You don't like it?" Danny giggled.
"I love it," Jordan growled, nibbling on Danny's ear.

Danny drifted in and out of sleep, tasting Jordan, smelling Jordan, feeling Jordan. His eyes opened and shut and opened again. He could feel Jordan. Smell Jordan. His eyes popped open. He could see Jordan.

"Hi Dan," Jordan smiled, so much love in his eyes that Danny blinked.

"Oh........." Danny whispered.

"Oh is right. Are you my birthday present?" Danny could hear the laughter, the joy in Jordy's voice. He smiled.

"Yes, Jordy. Happy Birthday."

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