Tuesday, July 19, 2011

With a Little Help from My Friends

Gunnar’s gone to go find Jack.

We talked about it and… okay, that’s not entirely right. I talked and Gunnar listened while I rambled and bitched and moaned about how I'd feel like a hypocrite for adopting a kid then giving my own kids up for adoption and how I was worried about how they would need to be protected and how putting them in foster care even if it wasn't abusive might just be putting a target on whoever adopted them and that's just the stuff I did talk about, I didn't even get around to talking about how I wanted to make sure they didn't get separated because if our sons couldn't grow up with their parents they should at least get to have each other. I mean, it works for the Winchesters.
But he seemed to agree with me. About Jack being strangely appropriate as far as guardian choices were concerned, not about the Winchester thing. I mean, I know Jack said he wasn't a friend. I kinda consider him one anyway and I really don't know who else to ask for help.
And I know he said he was done with the war, and that's part of the reason I think he's an awesome choice. It's not like he'll be looking for trouble. It will probably be looking for him, because that's what trouble does to scions, but I also think he'd be an awesome choice because he can handle trouble. And the Vance kids... Alex spoke really highly of "Uncle Jack." We figure if Jack could handle Hercules' twins, Jack can handle ours.

Anyway. After I'd spent some time talking about it, Gunnar just said, "Fine."
He made a phone call, packed some stuff, did the normal getting ready to go thing, and then after a couple of days he got quiet. Quieter.

It's hard to tell what's going on in his head sometimes. I wonder if it had to do with Guinnee and Sara. Like, he’s not a talkative guy and he drinks a lot - I would worry about his liver if he were mortal - but he started talking less and drinking more while he was getting ready to go find Jack. There were a couple of times when I kinda started talking to him to see what was up, except he seemed just fine when I was talking to him. He was focused and responsive and more or less normal. So instead I snuck up on him. Like a ninja.

Okay, no I didn’t. I don’t think it’s possible to sneak up on that guy. Not for me, anyway.

But I did kinda catch him in the act of sitting on the couch and being lost in thought with a glass of whiskey and a really, really far away look on his face. So I made like I was just wandering around the living room, cuz I do that often enough, and then doubled back to settle myself abruptly in his lap. I took the whiskey from his hand, leaned away to put it on the coffee table then turned back to focus on those extraordinary eyes of his.

“What is on your mind, love?”

I got a little bit of a smile out of him. Maybe it was more a smirk. Either way, it’s a look I like on him. "I've been thinking about my job. Or jobs, I guess. About my mundane job versus my responsibilities as a Scion. I mean, one of the things I am doing as a Scion is to protect people right? And that's what I did before too... but it really seems like I entirely succeed in one case and almost entirely fail in the other. I mean, the only way I've really managed to protect anyone as a Scion has been to see danger coming and warn them.
...Okay, except with that roller-snake Canopus. Throwing him off that building with Jack was pretty legit. But pretty much all of the other big scary monsters and things we've encountered I've been pretty useless against. I suppose I've soaked up a few hits that might have hit other teammates, but I'm not exactly the sturdiest of us either, so I dunno that me doing that is really a help."

I gotta give it to him, the guy keeps me on my toes. I'm not sure what I was expecting to hear, but it definitely wasn't that he didn't feel useful. I think I blinked a little before I decided what to say. "So is there something else you'd rather try doing? I mean, I know you saved my ass in Guinnee. I couldn't see shit, and if you hadn't been there that squid would have murdered me.” I figured maybe he just didn’t know just how much help he was on our undersea adventure, and if that was the case he needed to know. “That one hit I took knocked me silly,” I grimaced as I remembered all of those bruises. They didn't stop me but they fucking hurt, and I was just really godsdamned lucky I didn’t take a direct hit to the abdomen. “Not to mention I can't walk through walls,” I added. Neither Brigitte nor I would have been able to talk to Anaisa without him there. The whole trip, really, I don't think I could have done any of it without Gunnar's help.
“As for success and failure ... I learned a couple of things, both in the army and at the hospital. One, the army taught me, there is no such fucking thing as a resounding victory.” Mag Mell reinforced that lesson. Shit is always complicated. “Sometimes the best you get is being able to get back up and walk away after getting your feet knocked out from under you.” That’s assuming your feet are still attached, of course. I've seen it happen both ways.
“And the hospital taught me...” It finished the lesson my mom started. It taught me how to watch people die, and to fight it with all I've got, and when fighting wasn't enough, how to handle it with some measure of composure and grace. “No matter how good you are - and I know I am damn good at what I do - you can't help everyone. It was especially hard working with kids, learning that lesson." I'm not claiming I've mastered the lesson.

"You might do everything right. Right treatment, right medicine, right surgery.” I probably could have come up with a better, more Gunnar-centered metaphor but I went with what I knew. I knew hospitals and pain management and grief counseling and I’m sorry, we did everything we could… “And when you're done doing everything right you've still got this little corpse and devastated parents in front of you. Like Fate snapped that thread long ago and like a dumbass I'm just trying to tie the ends back together.” It was kind of a funny, if not a little sad, mental picture. It was accurate, though.
“But the name of the game isn't "I win, clearly and all the time," it's "fuck you, Fate, I tried anyway."” I meant the game of being a Scion, obviously. It’s a hard game to play, and it’s kinda heartbreaking if you go into it not knowing how much it’s going to hurt. I think that part is somewhere in the rules, that life just sorta gets to fuck you over (and doesn't even buy you dinner first). It’s the kind of game that can tear you apart if you’re not prepared for it. Sometimes it tears you apart anyway.

Maybe I should have said all the rest of that but I got that feeling I get like I’m just rambling at him and he has already gotten the point but he’s listening anyway … just because he likes to hear me talk? Ok, that theory’s a work in progress.

“You’re right,” he smirked a real smirk this time. “Thanks hun.”

And he seemed after that more or less like he was back to his same old loquacious self. I figure someday I'll figure out what that was about. I hope I really did help. By... I'm not really sure what I did there. Tell him to suck it up? Yep. I'm totally the supportive type.

Anyway, not long after that Nate called, asking for some help with the refugee situation in Wolfsheim. It seems they had evacuated two hundred people without having a plan, shelter, food or citizenship for anybody. I did some quick math and I could have taken a $250k hit to make sure the people all had food for a year. But...
I'm a terrible guardian of humankind. I decided to keep my money, get my house renovated and keep all of my traveling money, make them work for their food and made a deal with...
you're expecting me to say the devil, aren't you?
Nah, if I see Pan again I'm gonna do my damnedest to kick his pointy little ass.
I called on Dionysus, actually. It's nice to have friends in high places. Aside from being The Situation, he's really a nice guy.

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