About: Kevin, Scotty
Disclaimer: Written with love, not for money
Summary: Well, if I'd tell you, you wouldn't have to read it.... ;)
Trigger-warning: this chapter discusses abuse.
Still 3 days to Christmas
“What happened?” Scotty asks.
“It all started when a couple came to me. They wanted their grandson to come and live with them. They were convinced that the boy had a rough time at home and they said they wanted to protect him from further harm.
I warned them, that it would be a difficult case and that I needed good and solid proof. Also, I wasn’t sure I could win. It’s hard to get a judge to give custody to grandparents, when both parents are there. But they wanted to give it a try. They were worried about their grandson.”
“Did they have reasons to?” Scotty now asks. Kevin hesitates.
“I’m not sure. They clearly disliked their son-in-law. I didn’t doubt their worry, but I also felt like they were more than happy to be difficult with him. It was a difficult situation.”
“Why didn’t the mother say anything?”
Kevin doesn’t answer right away.
“I’m not sure. In hindsight, I didn’t really have the feeling that she was ‘beat into submission’. She did seem to have a mind of her own. I’ve seen battered women before in court. She didn’t fit the profile."
“Of course….” Scotty starts, but Kevin cuts him off.
“I know. Can’t judge by the cover, can’t say she’s not something, when she might have been just very good at covering it up… So, I kept an open mind. I tried to gather as much information as I could and I tried to find people willing to speak up…”
“It didn’t work?”
“The child had bruises, yes. He had often been to a doctor or hospital. Usually with bruises, cuts or a sprained ankle. He never had anything broken. But he was also into several sports that could explain those bruises. Soccer, football…
Plus, his teacher said that he had friends and they mock-fight amongst themselves. His teacher also stated that although he was often quiet, withdrawn and that he would wear long sleeves, even in summer, he didn’t seem more distracted or closed off than other children.
He had friends. Not many. Two or three and he didn't seem particularly happy, but neither did he seem unhappy. He was an average student. With his nine years he was more interested in sport than in numbers or geography. So,… in all, it was more circumstantial.
And something else…. You know, I’ve dealt with abusive people before, in court. And, in my experience, they usually tend to be physically or verbally abusive to lawyers as well, but this guy wasn’t. He was almost understanding towards me. Angry with his in-laws, yes, but not with me. Said that he could understand that I was just doing my job.
He was very polite and calm. All make-belief, the grandparents said. But … I don’t know… In retrospect, he made me doubt whether he was really a violent person. Or if it was just the grandparents making problems, because they didn’t like their daughter’s choice for a husband.
And the boy seemed to love his father… Even though that’s not uncommon in an abusive family either… If the kid doesn’t know better…”
“.. then he’d think that being hurt is just a way a father loves his son.” Scotty nods, knowing what Kevin means. “So, you lost the case?”
“Yes. And at first, I had mixed feelings about it. It was a dubious case. I didn’t like the father, but couldn’t dislike him either. I could see the concern of the grandparents, but also see that there could be ulterior motives.
And even if I could understand why the wife took her husband’s side, if she felt that her parents were wrong, I wasn’t 100% convinced she wanted to be on her husband’s side either. She was giving off mixed signals as well.” Kevin shakes his head, still trying to make sense of everything that had happened.
“So, you can’t blame the judge for not taking the son away from his father either?”
“No.” Kevin shakes his head. “But I do wonder if I did the best I could have, if I couldn’t have been convincing if I would have more faith.”
“Did you not give it your full attention. Not your usual 100%?”
“Of course I did. I thought of everything. The judge told me later on that he was convinced the parents were innocent until I showed the case from my point of view, and that of the grandparents.… But it wasn’t enough to have the kid taken away.”
“Then maybe you did all you could have done.” Scotty answers.
“I think I did…. No, I know I did. I just…” Kevin shakes his head. “Yet… When I got the news that the kid was dead… Broken neck from a fall… I … I wasn’t sure anymore…”
“I can understand that. I guess that’s where you start to wonder ‘what if…’ and ‘have I…?’ But those questions won’t get you any further. A choice had been made and you can’t change it. If you’ve done the best you could have done, then you did everything you could have done for that child…” Scotty feels like he just got lost in a strange sentence, and he can see the sad smile on Kevin’s face.
“It still feels like shit.” Kevin sighs.
“I’ll bet. What happened exactly with the child? Do you want to talk about it? Do you even know?”
“I’ve been informed that the parents got into a fight. At first only verbally, then the father struck the mother.
The kid jumped between them and the father pushed him away so hard, that he fell, hitting his head against the table. The mother tried to get to her son, but the father wasn’t done and when she pushed him, he hit her and didn’t stop until she stopped moving. Then he turned to his son and realized the kid hadn’t moved since he fell.
He thought the kid was unconscious. But …. turned out he made a bad fall and his neck was broken. When he realized that he had killed his child he was beside himself. But even after that, after all that had happened, he maintains that he had never lifted a hand against his wife or kid until that night.
He blames the constant pressure of his in-laws for his outburst. Said they wouldn’t get off his case and they were constantly making trouble in his marriage and spreading false rumors about him... Until he snapped.” Kevin explains and Scotty lets the words sink in. It’s obvious to him that Kevin somewhere believes the father.
“So the grandparents blame him for being abusive and he blames the grandparents for making him abusive?”
“And I don’t know what the truth is. What if he is indeed not a bad guy, but just ‘not good enough’ for the parents? How long does it take to snap?... And is what I did that made him snap?”
"Don't think like that. It wasn't your fault. I think you make a good case for not blindly believing what people tell you and for wanting more information. And for keeping an open mind. Didn't you try to get as much unbiased information?”
"I still presented the case as if I knew he was guilty."
"Didn't you believe that he was abusive?" Scotty asks. Kevin hesitates.
"I'm not sure. At first, I believed the grandparents blindly. They came across as very concerned."
"Which may have been exactly what they were. Just because they were maybe wrong, it doesn't mean that they weren't any less sincere in their worry."
“And it's the thing that could have gotten that boy killed.” Kevin replies. Scotty takes a deep breath. That’s Kevin’s problem. His annoying brain.
“You’re just a small part in a great machinery. If only the grandparents hadn’t done this, or the mother had done that, or the father wouldn’t have done this or the judge would have decided like that…. It’s not your fault…. And as hard as it is, don’t take responsibility for something that you’re not responsible for.”
Kevin knows that Scotty’s words make sense. On a good day, he knows all of this himself. But he can’t let go of the feeling that he had failed. Scotty puts an arm around him and Kevin lets his head rest on Scotty’s shoulder. Until he turns to Scotty altogether and wraps his arms around Scotty’s waist. Scotty holds him close.
“I’m sorry.” Kevin says again.
“Me too.” Scotty kisses Kevin’s head.
“Can we go back now? I’m freezing.” Kevin looks up at his husband.
“I was about to suggest the same thing.” Scotty smiles. “But there’s one more thing?”
“You collapsed in the courthouse? You ended up in hospital? And why didn’t I know about all that?” Scotty asks. He can see that Kevin is flabbergasted that Scotty knows. It had obviously been something he hadn’t told anyone.
“I’m fine now. I am. I just… I didn’t sleep all that well, with all that had happened. The case had really gotten to me. I ate at irregular times. I felt completely off. Not sick, but not good either. That day in the courtroom, it was hot, it had been a long day, I had barely eaten, didn’t have a bottle of water with me and my headache was killing me.
And one moment I was talking to the judge and the next I was in the hospital. The doctor told me that I was exhausted, showed signs of dehydration and that I should really look after myself. … I asked them specifically not to inform anybody. I was so embarrassed. I didn’t want you to see like me that.
I just took a cab back to the courthouse to get my car. I just wanted to pretend it hadn’t happened. But I also understood that I needed to talk to you.. or someone else… before I’d go crazy. What if I had passed out when driving the kids to school or something. No, I knew something had to be done…. And I’ve done it.” Kevin finishes sheepishly.
Scotty kisses Kevin’s lips. A warm kiss on a cold afternoon. Kevin replies to the kiss with an equal amount of tenderness. When they finally break their kiss they take time to look at each other, both feeling like they hadn’t actually seen each other in quite a while.
“I love you.” Scotty whispers before kissing Kevin again.
Kevin stirs up the fire while Scotty warms up the milk for some hot chocolate.
“Scotty?” Kevin yells towards the kitchen. “I’ve been thinking… Wouldn’t it be a good idea if we took our mattress a little closer to the fire. It’s freezing in that bedroom.”
Scotty enters with two full cups and a tray filled with cookies.
“I think we should do just that. Good idea. If we move the furniture around a bit…” Scotty hands Kevin his cup. “… perhaps we’ll be a little warmer in the morning.” They sit together in front of the fire, slowly warming themselves again after the bitter cold of the afternoon and their conversation higher up the mountain.
The cold and the long walk had done them good. It had cleared cobwebs in their minds and it had cleared the air between them. Though Kevin didn't have a solution and the doubts were still nagging at him, it had helped that he could talk to Scotty and that Scotty had listened.
They had held each other, they had kissed and they had even walked hand in hand for a bit, as unlikely as doing such thing was for Kevin, he had just needed to feel Scotty close to him.
Kevin enjoys the feel of the warm cup in his hands and he leans closer to Scotty. He feels better, knowing that Scotty knows what has happened, that he understands how much Kevin had been impacted and Kevin is grateful that Scotty took the trouble to travel all the way to the cabin.
Just to know that, for Scotty, he is just important, or maybe even more important than Café 429, makes such a difference to him. He no longer feels lost or like he has to be quiet. All he has to do is love the man he’s with. Everything will be alright.
“I love so very, very much.” Kevin says with a sudden smile.
END OF CHAPTER SIX