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Sixteen Hours

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Jeanne stared out of the truck window, Alan’s voice fading to background noise as he continued to complain about her fag brother, his fag boyfriend and how they were dicks that needed to be taught a lesson. She tuned him out; it was easier to let him rant until there was nothing left. Besides she didn’t really know what to say - Zach had attacked him.

Eyes closed, she leant her head against the window frame, the wind blowing in her face and her son’s broken hearted expression running through her mind.

She didn’t think it would hurt like this. It wasn’t supposed to hurt like this. It was what she had to do. Alan was a good man, she didn’t love him - at least not yet - but he was good to her. Even if he didn’t like kids - well, at least he didn’t like Cody.

That didn’t mean he was a bad guy though. If this worked out, maybe if they had their own kid he might warm up to Cody. But he was better off with Zach, with…Shaun. She flinched at the thought, but Cody had talked about him endlessly after she’d come back from Portland.

Shaun this, and Shaun that… so much so that Alan had told him to shut up. She’d wanted to tell him that too but for different reasons. Her brother’s life was falling into place and he seemed to be getting everything he ever wanted. It always worked out for him like that no matter what he thought.

Jealousy weaved a jagged path through her. She loved Zach, but how was it fair he had someone who loved him, even if it was another man, and still got to have his dreams of Art School come true? How was that fair?

When was it her turn? She deserved a turn at happiness.

As the sign for Stockton whizzed by, her stomach curled in on its self. She’d given Cody everything she’d been able to for five years. She needed this; she needed something that was hers. She deserved this, and maybe, this was her turn. Maybe she’d finally be happy in Portland.

This was a fresh start in a place where nobody knew her name or anything about her other than what she told them. People who didn’t know her, or her family.

Staying in San Pedro after Roy died had been hell. When he’d been there it was different, he’d been different. He’d made everything brighter, better, more alive. He’d made her into…well, she missed being that person.

Everything had changed after he died; it had become an ever downward spiral of events, a race to hit rock bottom. Mom got sick and died so quickly; all the while she was pregnant, and then raising Cody…she needed a break. The last six years had been nothing but a constant fight, and she was tired. So damn tired.

Cody didn’t make it easy either; he looked so much like his father. His smile, his little laugh; they were all sad echoes and constant reminders of what she’d lost and how briefly she’d had it.

Cody’s his father’s son. A bright shining light and sometimes she worries he’ll burn out just as fast, just because she loves him. She carried him under her heart, felt the first flutter of movement with awe and despair. She wasn’t supposed to have to raise him alone, she hadn’t even wanted kids. Roy had though, he’d wanted a big family and she’d wanted it because he did. Roy was supposed to have been there, holding her hand through it all. But he was gone.

She missed Roy every day, Alan wasn’t him and never would be but he wanted her when no-one else did. She needed that, to be wanted, to feel like a woman. She needed to be more than Roy’s widow, more than Cody’s mother and more than Zach’s older sister. It was something she couldn’t feel around Cody.

He needed so much more than she could give him these days, or really wanted to give him.
She was always broke, and the jobs she wanted required her to work hours she couldn’t with him. In Portland the job she had lined up would have her bringing in at least a hundred a night in tips, more if she wore a short skirt and low cut top, which she would. No one would mess with her while she was with Alan, he would keep her safe and she could play games to get the tips.

Traffic was getting heavier, the sky slightly darker. Sacramento wasn’t far off and she was getting tired. She stifled a yawn, sometimes she wished Alan were chattier then she wouldn’t have to think about this so much. But he wasn’t. Their first drive he’d barely spoken other than to let her know he was stopping or to have her check the map. This time was the same so she was alone in her head with guilt, and it wasn’t fair.

Cody hadn’t really wanted to come anyway. He would never willingly leave Zach. He loved his uncle more than he did her; she’d known that for years. Whenever he was hurt/sad/lonely/hungry/anything it was always Zach he’d run to. He wouldn’t miss her, not really and in time, even if Alan didn’t warm up to him, well…he’d be used to not having her around.

Zach was a better father figure than she was a mother. She knew that, she’d heard enough people whispering it even if she didn’t know it. It didn’t matter anyway.

In the secret part of her heart, the part she didn’t like to examine she knew she was too selfish to be a good mother. When it came right down to it she’d only kept Cody because he was all she had left of their love. Except it wasn’t enough and she regretted it some days. It didn’t mean she didn’t love him; she did…she loved him enough to let him go.

“Jeanne?” Alan turned the radio down, and she hadn’t even heard him turn it on. “I’m getting off at the next exit, we need gas and I’m starving.”

“Okay.” He nodded at her and she went back to watching the world slip by.