Joe: Present – That night
Joe and Robbie sat on either side of the desk in Joe’s office. Robbie scratched furiously at the wood on the arm of the chair he sat in.
“We didn’t live near family at the time,” Joe said, “And Martin had a tendency to disappear a lot. He just popped up one day with you in his arms and asked if we could watch you for a while. During that year, we we’re phoning home much. We were sleep deprived between you and Jesse only being a year a part and Alison was only 3. It was a handful. So when we finally made the trip back home with three kids, everyone was surprised to see you, but we were able to play off that Katherine had you in the chaos of little ones. Her mom was the only one truly mad that we didn’t tell people she was pregnant. But even she got over it. You would just smile and giggle and melt everyone’s hearts. No one could stay mad for long.” Joe knew he was rambling, but he couldn’t seem to help it.
Robbie nodded, but didn’t look up. He kept scratching the arm of the chair.
“Robbie,” Joe said, then paused. “Robbie, please look at me.” He waited a couple more seconds. Finally, Robbie lifted his head. “You are my son. That doesn’t change.”
Robbie nodded, but didn’t say anything.
“I’m guessing you want to talk to him?”
“Not right now,” Robbie said, quietly.
“That’s your choice,” Joe said, nodding, his shoulders sagging in relief.
Joe nodded again.
* * *
After Robbie left, Joe scanned the new email Martin had sent. He was looking for a kidney. Joe knew there’d been a reason for why he suddenly appeared.
He wrote back agreeing to the terms of the new deal. Joe would donate a kidney if he was match, and Martin agreed he wouldn’t ask Robbie. Wherever she was, he hoped Katherine would approve. He’d finally stood up to Martin and protected his son.