basket in the reeds. [attn.: sam]
#1
It's very early on Thursday morning when Samantha Evans gets a phone call. The number is unfamiliar, but the caller identifies himself -- not just wearily, but bone-tired and dead on his feet -- as Hosea.

The conversation is a strange, brief one: they need to meet. Wherever. Her place, a coffee shop, whatever. Her choice.

When he gets there, he tells her about the attack on the sept. He has the baby with him, the nameless little boy who might not be so nameless anymore. Hosea looks like he hasn't slept, because he hasn't, which Sam learns soon enough.

Eventually, he gets to what she knows -- or maybe fears -- is coming. He looks at her and tells her: "We don't know, after this, what's going to happen to his mother. But if he's going to survive this, he can't stay with us at the hotels. It isn't safe, and... it's just not good for him. He needs something long-term. Something stable. Something away from rage and attacks and... probably something away from his mother."

Hosea wants to ask. But he doesn't. Not out loud, at least: his eyes do.
my whole life is thunder.
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#2
Sam chooses a place that's sort of halfway between them, or between her work and where she assumes Hosea is. Someplace quiet-ish, where they can talk about why he sounded so tired on the phone. She's Kinfolk, she's the daughter of an Ahroun and the elder sister of two other wolves; she's heard that weariness before.

She listens to the telling of the attack with obvious horror. She can see that building from her balcony. To say that it hit close to home isn't the same as it was for Hosea and those who take up residence in the building, but it was definitely too close for comfort.

There's not much left she can say for the mother. She tried, she pleaded her case, she knows she was lucky to get a say at all. But she can hope, still, that after this they will find mercy in the aftermath of carnage. Sam nods her sad understanding.

Then he gets to what she's wondered was going to happen ever since she said to him If he needs a place to come from, he can come from my family. He can be an Evans. Ever since she's wondered if someone would ask her to clarify, or tell her that she's volunteered, here's your baby good day to you.

She picks up where he's going before he gets to that silent question. It's one thing to wonder and think and plan and prepare in her head. It's another for it to actually be presented.

She looks down at the baby. She looks up at Hosea.

The thing about Samantha Evans is this. If her life were a game wherein she walked around with a bright green PlumBob floating over her head, her archetype designation would be "Family." Her own is large and scattered, but that doesn't change the fact that she grew up eldest and then pseudo-eldest of nearly a half a dozen children, people that she loves dearly and misses on a near daily basis. She's already been adopting Garou into a surrogate family since she arrived.

What Hosea is asking her, it's a lifetime commitment. She has to promise to raise and care for someone else's child at least until she knows if he will Change or if he'll be Kin like her. And not just anyone else's child, the offspring of Dancers, a baby born from and into corruption. Perhaps there is no hope for his nature.

That doesn't matter to Sam, though. She is going to nurture the hell out of that kid.

"I can take him." Her parents are going to freak out. "There'll be paperwork, I guess, he'll need a birth certificate." Reese isn't going to know what the fuck. "And adoption stuff, too." Her dad is going to shoot across the phone lines, she can already hear it happening. "I'll have to change some stuff around." Like her home. Like her cat. Like everything. "But I can do it."
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#3
A child is not a fun experiment to see how you and your lover's DNA will turn out when blended together in a chromosomal cocktail (shaken, not stirred, on the rocks with a twist). A child is not a toy to play with and wile away the wasted hours. A child is not a doll to dress up and paint and brush and move about and they are unlikely to sit still for tea parties. A child does not have to love you even when every fiber of your being and second of your day is bent to loving it. A child does not have to keep the name you give it, or the values, or the beliefs that you burn yourself out trying to instill.

A child will keep you up at night when they are small and wailing and hungry and miserable. And when they can walk and talk and get themselves all the way to your bedside to tell you that they feel bad right before they vomit on your bed. And when they don't come home and don't call and you have your phone in hand to call the police and the hospitals and everyone they know begging someone to tell you okay, they aren't dead, they don't know how to tell time or use phones and you're going to kill them. And when you are fifty or sixty or seventy and you wake suddenly in the night with a strange feeling in the back of your mind or your stomach telling you something's wrong, but you are older and calmer so you wait til morning to call them and just say you were thinking about them even when what you really want to ask is what happened, why did you wake up knowing that something was wrong with your child, who is thirty or forty or fifty and is up at night now, too, worrying about their own because

this is how it goes.

--

Samantha is... very young. Hosea isn't exactly an old buzzard himself, but he's older than she is and he wouldn't be asking if not for two reasons.

The first is that he's desperate.

The second is that he can see that she means it, and that somewhere written into her marrow is the code for protecting, nurturing, waiting, waking, worrying, and loving that you must really have in spades or develop very quickly because otherwise this whole 'parenting' thing is going to break you.

Hosea is frowning, holding that little person with the near-vegetable possibly dead-woman-walking mother and the beast-of-the-Apocalypse father. He's not a bad looking kid. He's fat and healthy and bright-eyed where his mother is dead-eyed and his father is horrific. He drools fitfully; he isn't sleeping well the last few nights, for obvious reasons. Hosea frowns at him and the baby just stares back up, fists tight. He is wearing a onesie and some booties but nothing else over his diaper; too hot out to dress him up too fancy.

The den father lifts his eyes and looks over at Sam again, still frowning, but with a tightness and poignancy that wasn't there before.

"The sept will take care of the papers. We have lawyers. And forgers."

Of course they do.

He exhales a sigh. "They've already been working it up, but no one knew where he was going to end up, so..."

--

Hosea is stalling. But he knows it. And in the end, he just shakes his head and does what he has done too many times already: he lets a kid go. Because the kid dies in their Rite of Passage. Because they run away. Because they get their name and grow up. Because their parent comes back from the umbra, whatever. Hosea gets attached, or else he couldn't do what he does. Hosea lets go, or else he couldn't do what he does.

"When you're ready," he says, "just give me a call."
my whole life is thunder.
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#4
He's stalling, and she knows it, too. Sam isn't unsympathetic to his plight. He's entrusting the life of a child to a woman he met only a few days ago, and a young one at that. Although twenty-six is hardly as young as most mothers in their world, she is just as uncertain about this as anyone else would be. Or anyone else should be. Adopting a child isn't like adopting a puppy, she can't just pass the baby on to someone else or take him to a shelter because she can't handle the responsibility.

Well, she can. There are people who do that. But she won't.

Luckily, despite not having even the prospect of a partner, she's not going to be doing this alone. She has a brother in the city. She has friends. She has parents who are only a phone call away, one of whom can take that phone call and be in her living room in a matter of seconds. She'll have help.

Though Hosea has done this countless times before, probably has a routine of how to deal with the pang of loss by now, Sam reaches out to him. She puts her hand on his wrist and she smiles at him reassuringly, though that reassurance is by no means without a little bit of trepidation. She's not unaware of the responsibility or the changes that she's taking on.

Giving his wrist a slight pressure before releasing him, she says, "It'll be soon, I promise."


=========
It's actually just a little later that afternoon. After calling off the rest of her afternoon ("Family emergency!"), she went shopping for the barest necessities. Car seat, crib, diapers, diaper bag, etc. etc. etc. She was right when she thought her family was going to freak out, but thankfully her mother was able to pull herself from her shock and surprise and ensuing excitement to start rattling off a list of things Samantha needed immediately. She stayed with her on the phone while she wandered through a Target, going over this or that thing that she needed.

Sometimes her dad would try to call, which Sam ignored until she couldn't ignore it anymore and had to say, "No, Dad, you can't, I'm at the store," and, "No, Dad, you can't, I'm driving." And so on and so forth.

Then a stop at home to move everything out of her second bedroom and start stashing art supplies wherever she could stash them. And cleaning, oh so much cleaning to be done.

So it's probably closer to early evening when Sam lets Hosea know that she's ready.

Or as ready as she'll ever be.
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#5
By the end of that afternoon, Samantha has diapers. Her mom asked, of course, how old/big the baby is; that's how you know what size diapers and clothing to buy. By the end of the afternoon she has formula and bottles and extra nipples and blankets and <i>furniture</i> and she doesn't look pregnant and she doesn't look like she just gave birth and so she must be buying up half or all of a friend's baby registry or something but by the end of the day, when the sun is setting and little babies everywhere are going to sleep, she's giving Hosea a call.

He says he'll be there in the morning. And so he is.

--

In the morning, Hosea arrives not just with an infant and a few things said infant has already: a blanket, for example, that already smells like him and Hosea and some semblance of continuity. Hosea also brings paperwork, some of which Sam needs to sign and date, a lot of which is forged in one fashion or another. They are doing illegal things that several hundred years ago would not have been an issue among their kind. Jake has been in Sam's arms before and to tell the truth, he actually is a somewhat easy-going baby who will suck contentedly on his own fingers for long periods, which Hosea tells her.

He also can cry very, very, very loudly when he gets worked up, which Sam already knows from the first time she met him.

They talk a bit, but not for long; Hosea has other kids, actually. Not his own, of course, but 'kids' to take care of -- cubs and kin-children who need wrangling and guidance, especially now. He tells Sam to call him if she ever needs help, but the truth is, they both know she probably won't. She has other people to help, people who won't look at that baby every time they see him and remember what happened on the 43rd floor, or running through a burning building trying to get everyone out alive, not knowing if it had something to do with that baby or if that baby was just an unfortunate piece of a much older puzzle.

The door closes behind him when he goes.

Samantha is left with Jake.

Her son.
my whole life is thunder.
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