Lance nodded. “He’s huge Justin. The poor thing is suffering badly with his back and his feet swell if he stands up for more than half an hour.”
Justin banged his head against the door repeatedly, the frustration that he had been feeling for the past six months bubbling to the surface.
Lance came up behind him and pulled him away. “You can’t get a discharge for concussion JT.”
Justin rolled his eyes and rubbed the bump forming on his head. “I wasn’t …” Justin paused as Lance gave him a knowing look. “Ok I was angling for a few days pass. He needs me with him.”
Lance shook his head. “Actually what they need is supplies. They are hanging on by the skin of their teeth out there. Trystum made light of it and the other two don’t know how desperate they are.”
“Shit!” Justin swore. “I didn’t think of that. I’ll get some supplies out to them right away. I’ll drive them up there myself.”
“Already done JT, they went this morning before I reported in.”
Justin's face dropped, he had lost his chance to see his husband one last time before the big push. “But I wanted …”
Lance placed a caring hand on his shoulder. “I know you did but it’s better like this. Take it from someone who knows. Every time I have to leave Joe it hurts me but it hurts him much more knowing that he can’t help me or come with me. Joshua doesn’t need that added stress right now. He is coping. Anyway what with Ben pregnant too they have plenty to think about.”
“Ben is pregnant! Does Chris know?” Justin almost bounced on the spot with excitement for his friend.
“I mentioned it, just before I was arrested.” Lance grinned evilly. “I Left him hanging. He’s not going to be able to stay out of here much longer. I can practically feel him hovering outside waiting for his chance to ask me.”
“Justin smirked. “Oh that is cruel.”
Lance held up his hands in defence. “He started it, told the MP’s that he had never seen me before and suggested a body cavity search.”
“So you drop a bombshell on him then insist that you will only talk to me or the commander.”
Lance grinned even wider. “That’s about the size of it …yeah.”
“You’re a cruel, cruel man Lance. I like you.”
Two hours later the commander had finished debriefing Lance and he was allowed to leave the detention building or more precisely what was left standing of it. As he predicted Chris Kirkpatrick was hovering outside waiting to corner him.
Lance strode past him pretending not to see him.”
“Lance,” Chris called. When Lance still ignored him he called again. “It was a joke Lance, I’m sorry ok.”
Lance spun around. “Jokes like that can get a man killed Chris. Especially a southern man,” he hissed.
“I wouldn’t have let anything happen to you Lance. They saw your papers and they know me. They knew that I was kidding.” Chris gave Lance his most pathetic look. “I know you have been to the house. How’s Ben?”
Lance’s face softened and he heaved a soft sigh. “Ben is pregnant.”
“Shit Lance, how? I mean we only fucked a couple of times.”
“It happens Chris. Besides Ben is an established breeder, it would only have taken once.”
Chris brushed away a tear that escaped from the corner of his eye. “I need to see him.”
“It’s not possible,” Lance explained sympathetically. “Things are going to happen, wheels are turning that cannot be stopped. If we fail Ben Joshua and Trystum are doomed anyway because the south will sweep through here like a tidal wave and the breeders with be incarcerated and their children confiscated.”
Chris listened, his face betraying no emotion. Lance was right, he knew he was. The two pregnant men stood no chance if the invasion detailed in the documents, that Lance had risked his life for, was successful.
“You and JT are still on alert aren’t you?”
Chris nodded. “And young Giggsy.”
“Well I will see you in 1 hour at the briefing then. Don’t be late.” Lance strode off in the general direction of his house leaving Chris to contemplate his words.
This time it was Ben that came running into the kitchen panicking at the sight of a blue uniform marching up the drive. Trystum had both pregnant men take Caleb and hide in the basement until he could be sure the two young breeders would be safe.
The older breeder stood on the porch step struggling to stop from hyperventilating. He held his rifle in full view and drew himself up to his full height as the soldier approached him.
“Do I have the pleasure of addressing Trystum Bohannan?” the union soldier removed his hat and stood at a respectful distance as he spoke.
Trystum regarded the young man. His uniform had seen better days and his boots were worn but there was honesty in his eyes that Trystum couldn’t ignore.
“I am Trystum Bohannon. What can I do for you sir?”
The soldier smiled. “It’s more what we can do for you sir. I am Private Johnson sir, Lieutenant Bass sent me to dispatch supplies for you and your party.” He indicated the truck that had just turned into the drive having been summoned on the conformation that the soldiers were in the right place. “Lieutenant Bass regrets that he was unable to come himself but he and Lieutenant Timberlake and Sergeant Kirkpatrick are unavoidably detained.”
Two more soldiers came up to the door their hands full with boxes of provisions. “Where do you want these Mr Bohannan?”
Trystum stood aside. “Just drop them in the kitchen, thank you.”
“Are Mr. Beauchamp and Mr. Chasez-Timberlake available to speak with me sir? I have letters for them both.”
Trystum nodded and stood aside so that Private Johnson could enter the house. “Go straight through to the drawing room Private, I will call my son and Ben.”
Private Johnson wandered around the drawing room waiting for the two breeders to show themselves. He wasn’t in favour of the plan that his commanding officer had come up with, using a pregnant breeder as bait was going too far in his eyes but it had been Okayed by the president and if the plan worked would deliver one of the south’s highest officers into the union’s eager grasp. His men were waiting with the truck so not to raise suspicions and he forced himself to breath slowly so that he portrayed an air of calm.
“Private Johnson may I present my son Joshua Chasez-Timberlake and Benjamin Beauchamp.”
The Private held out his hand waiting for the two pregnant men to take it, frowning when they didn’t.
“You have to forgive them Private. Southern breeders are unused to physical contact and avoid it if they can.”
Johnson watched as Joshua warily sat on a small leather couch. The boy was heavily pregnant, much more so than he had been lead to believe. “How long until your child is born Mr. Timberlake?”
“I have around about ten more weeks to wait sir.”
“My I get you and your men a drink Private?” Trystum asked he inclined his head towards the kitchen, indicating to Ben to see to it and the younger breeder nodded and padded barefooted to arrange drinks.
“You said you had letters for myself and Ben?” Joshua said impatiently.
Johnson reached into his pocket. “I do indeed sir.” He held out the small rectangular packet and Joshua got awkwardly to his feet to collect it. As he reached out Private Johnson grabbed his wrist with his free hand and Joshua gave a small cry of surprise and fear.
His cry was echoed by Ben in the kitchen and Trystum jumped to his feet intent on protecting his son.
“Mr. Bohannan please sit back down, Mr. Beauchamp will be joining us in just a moment.” As he spoke Ben was ushered in and guided gently into a chair by three more union soldiers. “Mr. Chasez-Timberlake if you would be so kind as to open and read your letter, this will all be explained.”
Johnson released his grip so that Joshua could undo the dispatch he held in his hands. The youngest breeder read the letter silently his face paling.
“Do I have a choice?” he whispered.
“No sir I’m afraid you do not. Provisions have been made to ensure your comfort.”
Trystum tried to stand but was gently pushed back into his seat by his shoulders. “I demand to know what this is all about. Joshua what does the letter say?”
Joshua lifted his head and looked at his father with frightened eyes. “They are making me go nearer the fighting. I’m being used as bait to catch my father.”
“You can’t do that!” Trystum screamed angrily! “He is a pregnant breeder. Has this been discussed with his husband?”
“This is government business. Lieutenant Timberlake has no say regardless of his relationship with Joshua.” Private Johnson explained patiently. He turned to Joshua. “Sir if you would be so kind as to come with me now.”
“Daddy!” Joshua cried as his arm was taken and he was steered towards the door.
“Please don’t interfere Mr. Bohannan.” Johnson said as Trystum again attempted to reach his panicking son. “I have orders to take Joshua by force if necessary, but I would rather not have to do that. I have distaste for killing breeders, especially pregnant ones or ones with small infants.”
“Please,” Trystum begged. “Don’t take my son.”
“I’m sorry, really I am,” Private Johnson said as he guided Joshua out of the door.