Ch. 6 Bug

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Juice stared at the programming code on his work computer without really seeing it. Rubbing at his tired eyes, he focused on the pictures he had pinned to his cubicle wall instead. Pictures of Kenny in his football uniform, Evie in her princess dress, Angela in her little black dress from their last work party, a picture of the four of them together on their vacation to Disney World. He'd worked his whole life to be a part of a family like the one he had now, and it hurt like hell to be away from them. It didn't help that he hadn't heard from his wife once that day. He checked his phone again, typing out a quick text to her and making sure to add just enough emojiis to make her smile. Tapping his fingers on his desk, he watched the screen waiting to see the little bubble that told him she was typing back. So far, nothing. "C'mon, baby," he muttered, a bad feeling sinking into his gut. Sighing, he picked up his phone and went to his favorite contacts, pressing Kenny's number and hoping his son would give him some insight as to why she wasn't answering.

"Hey Dad," Kenny's voice was tired as he answered. It made sense since he'd just had one long ass flight and it was still early over there. "Was just about to call ya. What's up?"

"Nothin' just...wanted make sure you guys got in all right," he replied, feeling the ache of loneliness ease a bit at the sound of his son's voice. "Everything good over there?"

He yawned into the phone. " 's far as I know. Haven't seen Mama yet. Skeet said she was hanging out at the cemetery earlier, but I think she went to see Lena already."

"Must be why she's not answering," Juice muttered more to himself then to Kenny. "You staying at the Alvarez place?"

"Nah. I'm at the funeral home. Jazz is only here for a week 'fore she's got orientation, so once she's gone, I'ma help out here. Get a refresher on all the dead people stuff 'fore I start goin' to legit school for it."

Juice bobbed his head, proud of his son's worth ethic. "Good plan, Kendo. Always good to get a head start," he encouraged, playing with the stress ball on his desk. "You heard from your Ma at all today? She said she caught some bug on the plane that's fuckin' with her stomach. 's makin' me a little worried. Think she's avoidin' me 'cause she doesn't want to go to the doctors."

"I talked to her earlier just to see when to head over to Lena's. She didn't say anything about being sick though. I'll keep an eye out for it. Let you know when you really need to start pushin'," he assured him. "How are you?"

He sighed, raking his hands through his thick hair. "Fine, I guess. Wish I could be there with you guys."

"But you're dead here, so you can't," Kenny reminded him. "Which sucks because we all need you here... 'specially Mama. But you can't come so...don't stress her out anymore by like...surprising her, okay?"

For a moment, Juice felt a strange sort of happiness when he heard Kenny say he was needed. They'd been a strong family unit for a couple of years now, yet he still couldn't believe he had a real family that wanted and need him around. It blew his mind sometimes. "Okay."

" 's gonna be bad enough keepin' Eves quiet about you. Dunno how Ma's gonna explain that to her 'fore they meet up with Chibs."

"They're not meeting up with Chibs," Juice stated hoping to God that was the case. Angela knew how strongly he felt about keeping the Scot away from his daughter; she'd never go behind his back and meet up with him. "She promised."

Kenny was quiet for a moment before he cleared his throat. "Chibs' got this kinda obsession with...the Dead Dad club. Like...he always checks in on El and the Teller boys 'n' when I was here for El's graduation, he was like insistent that we get lunch together. He asked about Eves and Mom and...I wouldn't be surprised if he found a way to meet Evie whether Mama had a say in it or not."

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