The union HQ rocked as above it bombs continued to fall.
“Any news of how the hell this is happening yet Timberlake,” the blue uniformed general barked.
“Not yet sir,” Justin replied instinctively ducking as another explosion reverberated through the shelter sending a shower of dust down over him. “There’s been no word from our operative.”
Have you at least been able to determine where the attacks are originating from?” the older officer was beginning to get frustrated, his city was being brought down around him and he was powerless to do anything about it.
Kirkpatrick ripped a sheet from out of a printer and pushing past other soldiers that were bustling about, handed it to his CO.
“Looks like them damn Rebels are inside our borders general.”
The map Chris had handed him clearly showed the position of twenty or more rocket launchers nestled inside Wisconsin. “How the hell did they get there and why the hell are we only just finding this out now?” the general threw the crumpled up map back at Chris. “I want three volunteers in my office now.”
Justin closed his eyes and took a deep breath before standing up. “Sir I’ll go,” he said.
Chris groaned and shook his head at his friend. “Justin,” he hissed. “You’re about to become a daddy. You shouldn’t be doing this.”
“It’s because I want to be with Joshua that I have to do this. I want him back here with me, not tucked away somewhere where I can’t see him.”
Chris rolled his eyes and held up his hand. “I’ll go,” he said cheerfully as he tried to sound enthusiastic. “You owe me for this JT,” he hissed under his breath.
“Add it to my bill,” Justin snapped back in mirth.
“Don’t think I won’t. What is it with you? You are determined to get me killed.”
“When you two have finished bickering, my office now.” Justin and Chris both snapped to attention. “Sir; Yes sir,” they barked in unison and hurried to obey.
The briefing lasted two hours by the end of it Chris and Justin were under no illusions that they had volunteered for a very dangerous mission. Justin grinned reassuringly at the young private that had volunteered along side of them and was now regretting his rash decision.
“Don’t worry Giggsy, we will look after you,” Chris said as he dropped his arm around his shoulder.
The teenage soldier forced a smile back but his eyes mirrored the worry that he was feeling. His only consolation was that the two officers standing along side of him were experienced.
“I’ll be alright sir,” he said bravely. “I won’t let you down.”
“No one ever thought you would Private Giggs,” the general stated. “You dispatch in 24 hours, don’t discuss this with anyone, it’s strictly ‘need to know basis.’ Good luck gentlemen.”
“We are going to need it,” Justin murmured to Chris as they were dismissed.
“What are you writing?” Chris asked twenty minutes later as he sat on his bunk checking his pack and making sure he hadn’t forgotten anything important, like ammunition.
“I’m writing a letter to Joshua.”
“Oh,” Chris said. Justin’s voice implied it was one of those letters.
“Aren’t you going to write to Ben?”
Chris went to his locker and took out an envelope; he stared at it for along moment before he spoke again. “It was the hardest letter I ever had to write. How do you tell someone you are sorry that you didn’t come back?”
“You’re going to come back Chris, all of us are. The letters, they are just in case that’s all.”
Chris tucked the letter back into his locker and shut the door, locking it. “Promise me that if something happens to me you will look after Ben. Don’t let him be alone.”
Justin had to take a deep calming breath as his own worries surfaced. “I promise. Chris … Joshua, he couldn’t cope if …”
“I’ll look after him and the baby.”
The two men embraced and held each other tightly giving each other the strength they needed to get through what was to come. They broke apart and Justin folded his letter, sealing it into an envelope and placing it safely in his locker.
“Let’s go and get Giggsy,” Justin said.
“What are you writing?” Ben asked as he slipped onto the porch swing, lifting Joshua's bare feet onto his lap. He unconsciously began massaging making Joshua sigh softly.
“That feels so good,” he breathed. “Sorry you asked me a question,” Joshua said as he realised the relaxing foot massage had distracted him.
“I asked what you were writing.”
Joshua chewed his bottom lip. “My daddy suggested that I try to write a novel.”
“Really!” Ben exclaimed. “What’s it about?”
Joshua blushed. “It’s a romance.”
“Can I read it?”
Joshua closed his notebook. “Maybe when it’s finished.”
Ben smiled and patted Joshua's big belly. “Not long to wait now honey, what is it ten weeks?”
Joshua nodded. “You won’t be long after.”
Ben rested his hands on his own swollen belly. “I wish I could let Chris know. We only spent a couple of nights together.”
“Do you think … you know … they are ok?” it was a question that had been torturing Joshua for the past five months.
“Someone would have told us, I’m sure of it. Even if it was only so they could claim us.”
Joshua paled. “What do you mean?”
“Joshua we are breeders. You don’t really think that they would let us stay unmarried for long do you?”
“But they wouldn’t … they couldn’t force us, could they? They have left my daddy alone.”
“Your daddy is old for having babies; they could be born deformed or mentally retarded. I’ve seen it happen in the camps. The wardens got so mad with the breeder; they just kicked him till he died. After that I was so scared. With every baby I birthed the fear grew.” He covered his belly protectively, his eyes wide with fear. “What if this child is the one that is my undoing?”
Joshua grabbed his hands squeezing them tightly until Ben looked him in the eye. “Chris would never hurt you.”
“I’m scared Josh.”
Joshua pulled the pregnant older man to him, kissing his cheek. The older man trembled in his arms and buried his face into Joshua's neck.
“Well isn’t that a pretty sight,” Trystum's said as he came out of the kitchen, a tray of homemade lemonade in his hands. “What’s wrong boys?” he asked as it dawned on him that the boys were both upset.
“Nothing it’s just our emotions getting out of hand.” Joshua lied. “Where is Caleb daddy?”
Trystum handed out the glasses then sat in an old wicker chair. “He’s in his crib sweetie.”
“You want me to go get him?” Ben asked rubbing his eyes so that Trystum wouldn’t see that he had been crying.
“No thank you Ben. He has only just gone down. I had no idea how hard bringing up a baby was.”
Joshua grinned. “Well I guess we’ll both find out for ourselves soon.”