Beta: That Girl Six
Chapter 2: Home Sweet Home
Author's Note: This takes place before Ridley's No More Blood To Bleed, and after In Victus. This is the snap shot of Joshua's recovery. Mentions of Dean, Sam and Caleb.
Joshua was sitting up in bed, legs stretched out with three pillows fluffed behind him, and he hadn't seen his cat Pru in three days. He wished she was curled up beside him as he read Cormac McCarthy’s book that Mackland had sent him. Joshua was tempted to look for the cat himself, but as soon as he got out of bed and began huffing around; either his mother, grandmother or girlfriend would come running.
Pru was smart. She was hiding, fending for herself, and would only reveal herself when she sensed things were back to normal.
He stretched, feeling the aches and pains that were still shadowing him after two months. He hated the general weakness and the inopportune moments of sleepiness that would overtake him. He tried to be patient, but he was not used to this much attention from all the women in his life. His mother had become an overprotective mother, drawing in the coven for support. He was very close to reminding them all that he had been a big boy for a long time now.
Then there were the men in his life. His father's lack of interest had increased to new levels. Joshua had asked Carolyn when he had first woken up in the hospital about his father. She could have lied and said he had visited while he was in coma, but she didn't. She said he had been told, and Joshua understood the ensuing silence. Joshua had disappointed Harland by helping Dean, Sam, and Caleb and then being injured.
He was considering Mackland the other male figure in his life. Mackland called twice a week, checked on his medical progress, and sent care packages. Once he was coherent and able to carry on a conversation for more than ten minutes, he asked about Dean. He felt guilty about not being about to help him.
Adam, who in his usual blunt fashion had explained to him what had happened at the hospital on the day he was admitted, had stayed nearby during his convalescence. Joshua appreciated the support, not only for himself but for his mother, grandmother, and Carolyn. However, Adam flatly refused to help bring Dean back because any methods would involve the dark arts.
He knew of Caleb and Sam, but only through Carolyn's network. He understood they were still grieving. Part of him was also scared to reach out to them, unsure of what he would find if he did. Carolyn had also informed him about The Brotherhood, how there was a pall over the organization. Adam had told him about Sam and Caleb and their acts of destruction. The stories he'd heard about Dean after John Winchester's death paled in comparison to what was coming through the grapevine now.
Joshua's cell phone vibrated. He quietly answered the call from a private number. It was considered contraband by his mother — a link to the outside world she wanted to protect him from.
"Joshua, how does it feel to be home?" Mackland greeted him, but this did not sound like The Scholar he knew.
"Good, and understanding the meaning behind a sight for sore eyes." He never wanted to spend any more significant time in a hospital. He liked his warm sand colored walls and bamboo floors.
"Your doctor sent me your release papers. You're going to be feeling tired for a while."
"My mother believes chelation therapy would be best to help things along," Joshua divulged. His mother had consulted with members of the coven over the worry of the poison Ruby had used. They were still unable to break it down into its elements; he and Adam had never finished the spell work.
Mackland sputtered, which was expected. "But chelation therapy is used to remove lead, arsenic, or mercury, and there was no evidence of that in your blood tests."
"I agreed." Joshua sighed as he wasn't looking forward to the treatment, although his mother promised she would find someone to do it at the house. "It is easier to go along with my mother's wishes."
"I'm trying," Mackland sighed."How is your mother?"
Joshua quietly hit his hand against his forehead. He had stayed clear of talking about his mother with Mackland, having been informed by Carolyn that they were no longer dating. "She's well." There was also a palatable undercurrent of sadness. "Would you like to talk to her?" He tried to cover up his error and possibly bring about a change in the current conditions.
"No, I wouldn’t want to disturb her time with you."
"Sorry, I didn't mean. . . My grandmother and Carolyn are on Team Mackland if that helps." His verbal diarrhea was frightening, and he could only blame it on the copious amounts of tea he was drinking.
"Team Mackland?" The doctor sounded amused.
"In the hospital they read these books about vampires and werewolves. . ." Joshua tried to explain. He was sounding ridiculous; however, an extended stay in the hospital had led to his constant visitors bringing reading materials during the times when he was sleeping.
"Was I likened to a vampire or a werewolf?"
"Vampire. Sorry, they're not like the real vampires. . .I can have Carolyn explain it." He was about to call out to Carolyn. She's the one who had told him about the series of books.
"No, that's quite all right." Mackland stopped his dry chuckle. "She's been sending me updates about her project with Riley."
Carolyn hadn't understood why he had been abandoned at the hospital by Sam, Caleb, Dean, and Mackland, especially knowing how they all felt about Harland. Nothing she knew about any of them had prepared her for the mass exodus. When she learned of Dean's death and admitted she had been less than kind, she felt guilty. "She wants to help."
"She is, son."
He had reviewed some of the research on Triad power, and although there was potential in the idea, there was unfortunately not enough information. Joshua cleared his throat. "I appreciate the calls and the care packages, but you are a busy man, and Sam and Caleb need you. . ."
"And you are an important member of The Brotherhood. I think I would be remiss in my duties if I didn't check in on you."
"I've been hearing things about Sam and Caleb." Even if he was afraid of what he'd find from them, as Advisor to the Triad, Joshua still had a responsibility to ask after them.
"Sam and Caleb are grieving." Mackland excused their behavior.
"Can you make assurances they won't go after witches, or at least check to make sure if they are aligned with a coven?" Joshua asked.
"The coven is worried?" Mackland sounded surprised.
"We're all worried." He didn't know what Sam and Caleb were doing, but it could lead to a fracture of The Brotherhood and them being hunted.
"The future without Dean." The doctor's voice was low.
There was that. Despite the difficulties in their relationship, he knew Dean was irreplaceable, and Joshua had watched him grow up to adulthood into a man with values and honor. It had been unexpected. "Without a Guardian."
"That's not going to happen. You'll have to trust me on that. Dean didn't abandon his post."
"I'm sorry." Joshua rubbed his mouth with the back of his hand. "I wasn't speaking ill of the dead."
Joshua slowly crossed his legs at his ankles, attempting to become more comfortable. "Does my father know? Does he know about me?"
"They've been told Dean has died and nothing else." Mackland paused before continuing, "He knows you are resting at home. He's been very busy. . ."
Joshua shifted, the bed squeaking beneath him. "I appreciate that you are making excuses for him, but they are unnecessary." He had held out a little hope that the reason why his father had not contacted was because of the presence of his mother and grandmother.
"I've kept you on the phone long enough." Mackland was ending the conversation. "Take care, Joshua, and we'll talk soon."
Joshua closed the phone and tossed it away from him but still on the bed. He liked his lifeline to the outside, even though it brought with it bad news. He wished Pru was nearby, and he had trained her to fetch things. He grasped the phone in his hand when there was a light knock on the door.
"Come in," he said to tell the woman on the other side he was awake.
It was his mother, her grin turning into a frown when she saw the phone in his hand. He hid it under the sheet. "That was Mackland, checking in on me."
"You should really rest." She set another cup of tea on his nightstand. It was replaced regularly.
"He sends his regards." Joshua waited for his mother to give some sort of cordial reply. "Mother?" He prompted. "You could talk to him since I am on my way on the road of recovery."
"Recovery, not completely well." She clasped her hands and twisted them. "I've stepped aside from The Brotherhood, knowing my place. My best friend lost her son. I almost lost you, and I can't. I just can't." She pursed her lips, took in a deep breath, and the glistening in her eyes did not spill over.
"I'm sorry." He shifted off the bed, placing his feet on the floor. "I’m right here."
His mother placed her hands on both sides of his face and kissed his forehead. "I know you are, and I am so thankful. You get some rest."
He remained seated for a while, caught up in his mother's emotions. He hadn't forgotten Gideon — his death was a precursor to the undoing of The Brotherhood. There was a soft knock before Carolyn peeked her head through the door. He gestured for her to come in.
"Your mother seems upset." Carolyn pulled her dark hair back off her face.
"That was my fault. I suggested she talk to Mackland." He stood up and went to sit in the striped chair in his room. "Do you think they'll get back together?"
Carolyn adjusted the ottoman so his legs were resting on it. "Don't ask me that, especially with my track record."
Joshua shook his head. Carolyn felt insecure about relationships, not believing herself worthy after Ian had used her. "What does Allison say?"
She sat on the edge of the ottoman and licked her lips. "Odds are 60/40."
"Above average." He was impressed. Allison was a pessimist, and yet she believed they had a chance to be a couple.
Carolyn looked down, saying softly, "Against them."
"Oh." Joshua rubbed his chest, a habit he had picked up recently. He immediately dropped his hand.
"Due to the state of current affairs with Dean —" Carolyn looked up at Joshua, her eyes shining with unshed tears that he didn't have to ask what they were for. They had commiserated over their shared guilt.
"Right." Joshua gave a curt nod. Dean's death had stopped the living.
Carolyn raised her fingers as if to bite her nails, then tucked them under legs. "But your grandmother and I have been talking. A three phase attack should work." She released her hands and began ticking off her points. "Phase one: you need to get better; phase two: old fashioned courtship with letter writing; phase three: in person meeting."
Joshua couldn't stifle the laugh. Carolyn was so earnest in her plans and research. It was what she took solace in. "Do you have a Power Point presentation to go along with this?"
Her face blushed. "Your grandmother agrees with me."
Joshua thought about the plan. He wanted his mother and Mackland back together. He had accepted them as a couple — or maybe he was not enjoying being his mother's sole focus. Either way, they needed to be brought back together, and Caleb's usual scheming help wasn't an option at this moment.
He moved over in his chair and tugged on Carolyn's arm for her to sit near him. She pulled her hand back.
"Your mother doesn't like it when I spend more than fifteen minutes alone with you. She thinks I am taking advantage of you." Carolyn blushed again, then glanced at the door.
Privacy — there was another reason why he needed to get his mother
to go home and be with Mackland.