The Sins of the Father

by Amanda Rohrssen

Kody sat down on the avenue
He tapped his feet, to the humming of the highway
He watched the light shine down on the broken glass, and thought
I donít got no reasons, yet
There it is and there it was
It was clear to all of us
We kept this hat of broken dreams
And we pulled them out, when we needed them around


So please hand me the bottle, I think Iím lonely now,
And please give me direction, I think the hurt set in
And I donít feel nothing


Thereís a squeak hinge down on the back gate
It lets us know if he comes around
I donít sleep that good anyway
If youíve never heard that silence, itís a God awful sound


So please hand me the bottle, I think Iím lonely now,
And please give me direction, I think the hurt set in
And I donít feel nothing


I donít feel nothing, no I donít feel nothing
Thereís nothing to feel good about here


Donít much get down to the avenue
I could drive, but it takes so much to get there
Donít get off on all the broken glass, the Cadillac scene,
Well
Iíve seen a lot of good things die and Iím
In an over emotional way


So please hand me the bottle, I think Iím lonely now,
And please give me direction, I think the hurt set in
And I donít feel nothing
~Matchboxy Twenty, "Kody"


Chapter One

"What the...?" he muttered, pouring over a mound of paperwork that sat precariously on the edge of his desk in the laboratory. "How am I supposed to know THAT? Stupid paperwork..." He tossed his pencil carelessly at the tabletop, watching it bounce twice then roll over the edge and onto the floor. With a frustrated grunt he rolled his eyes, folded his arms, and leaned back in the stiff wooden chair with a knitted brow.

Rapidly losing any motivation he'd had to finish his work, Jacob Mallard looked around the laboratory for anything interesting to do. When he saw nothing he heaved a heavy sigh and picked up the next piece of paperwork and stared at it, all of the words beginning to run together. He shook his head rapidly, trying to re-focus, but he soon forwent that idea and ended up making a paper airplane out of it instead of filling it out.

Just as he'd been about to bomb an enemy base (a pile of rubber bands) with paperclips, someone knocked on the laboratory door. Quickly Jacob shoved his makeshift battle scene into a nearby garbage can and scrambled for his pencil, trying desperately to look like he'd been working diligently on his paperwork.

The door opened.

"I thought you were in here, Jacob."

He sighed in relief and turned in his chair, leaning an arm on the back of it. "Oh good, John, it's you. I thought maybe it was Agent Puke-for-Brains."

"Oh? Is he riding your back again?"

"Like a monkey," Jacob rolled his eyes. "So what's up?" He propped his feet up on the desk.

"Well, for one thing, we're late for training."

"Whaddaya mean?" The mallard looked at his watch. "It's only - GAH!" Like a gunshot Jacob was out of his chair and running down the hall with John at his heels. "He'd better not make us do doubles!" he shouted back.

"I wouldn't put it past him," John gasped back. He had never been a very good runner.

"Come on, John! At this rate he'll be making you do The Wall for twenty minutes after drill!" Jacob stopped to grab his friend by the wrist and make him hurry up so that their punishment might somehow be less severe the fewer minutes they were late.

The Wall was a giant fifty foot wall with miniscule footholds littering its face. There was no rope, no safety net. If a trainee fell, it was into a sandpit. It was this part of the obstacle course that terrified John Gander Hooter the most.

With a thunderous clang Jacob barrelled into the gigantic gymnasium that was half outside and half inside. J. Gander wasn't too far behind. "So," barked the drill sergeant, Agent Pondrains, "finally decided to join us, eh boys? That's ten demerits on each of your records." He clicked his tongue disapprovingly and shook his head in mock-disappointment. "And don't think you're not going to be doing extra laps after today's work-out, either!"

Jacob groaned and rolled his eyes. He hated staying after drill, he liked being on a tight schedule! This was going to throw off the rest of his plans for the day! Even if he had yet to make any.

Both avians got into line, straightening their backs, puffing out their chests, and staring straight ahead, then waited for instructions. A burly canine next to Jacob leaned over slightly and whispered out of the corner of his mouth, "Late again?"

"I was busy," Jacob shrugged.

"At this rate you're going to be the most in-shape agent at SHUSH!" the bulldog replied with a quiet chuckle.

"What do you mean?" he shot back with the flash of an impish smile. "I AM the most in-shape agent at SHUSH!"

"Nelson! Mallard! Shut your traps or I'll have you doing janitorial work so fast you won't even know the difference!" Agent Pondrains shouted in an unnecessarily loud voice.

Jacob smirked and retorted lowly, "Oh no, anything but that! It's so terrible to do for a few hours what hundreds of people have to do every day!"

"That's it, Mallard! You just bought yourself clean-up duty after those laps you owe me!" Agent Pondrains' snout was just inches away from Jacob's beak, his hot, putrid breath invading the trainee's nostrils. It was all Jacob could do to keep from gagging.

"Yes, sir," he replied through gritted teeth.

An hour and a half later, Jacob was on his last lap before he was supposed to begin custodial work. He had lapped J. Gander at least five times. As he approached him from behind yet again, he slowed his pace to match that of his short-legged friend.

"How many you got left, John?" Jacob asked, still far from running short of breath.

J. Gander, however, was heaving and gasping, droplets of sweat pouring down his drenched face. He managed to hold up three fingers, a hopelessly exhausted expression on his face.

"Come on, ladies! Pick up the pace!" boomed Agent Pondrains, whose curly pig tail went straight each time he shouted.

"Don't bend your arms so much," Jacob instructed, beginning to run backwards so he could better converse with J. Gander. "Just relax everything except your legs and concentrate on your breathing."

The goose looked at him, confused. Jacob grinned.

"Come on, only three more! Didn't think I'd leave you here to have fun without me, did you?"

J. Gander tried to reply, but he had no breath to speak.

"Hey John, you don't look so good," Jacob remarked, concern flickering across his face.

J. Gander began gasping for air, almost choking on it each time he inhaled because he did it so fast, and his face was white as a sheet.

"Hey! Look at me! Look at me!" the mallard demanded insistently until J. Gander complied. "Breathe. Slowly...slowly...find a pattern. You'll get your second wind soon, just pay attention to what I say."

The goose did as he was told, eyeing Jacob the whole time. It was obvious that he was no athlete, especially when he was running next to the mallard who had been the top track star at his university. Soon J. Gander reclaimed his breath, his color returned, and they finished off his last lap around the course.

Almost instantly J. Gander doubled over, resting his hands on his knees and breathing deeply. Jacob went over to him and put a hand on his back.

"Well, look at it this way. At least you only had to climb The Wall once today, right?"

Somehow J. Gander didn't feel very consoled.

After a few minutes he stood back up and walked with his friend out of the gym.

"Didn't you have somewhere to be at eight?" J. Gander asked through gulps of air.

"Yeah," Jacob replied unenthusiastically. "'Clean-up duty.' Bah..."

"No, I mean-"

"GAIL!" Jacob's eyes went wide as he remembered the plans he'd made earlier in the week. Frantically he looked down at his friend and gripped his shoulders. "John, my paper-"

"Done," J. Gander replied simply, putting a hand between him and Jacob.

"Oh, you're the BEST, John!" Jacob grinned at his friend then took off down the hallway.

"I know," J. Gander smirked as he watched him go. "I know."

~*~

"Sorry I'm late; I had to stay after," Jacob explained apologetically as he sat down across the table from her.

"Oooo, in trouble with the drill sergeant again?" Gail Patonia inquired, resting her elbows on the table and neatly folding her hands underneath her chin.

"You could say that," he replied. "Have you ordered yet?"

"No." She sat back in her seat with a small smile. "I waited for you."

"Well, considerate and beautiful, there's something you don't see every day."

Jacob was well known at SHUSH for making trouble, but he was also well known as a smooth talker, especially when it came to the opposite sex. He had already dated over half of the female trainees. Some of them he was still dating. But not a one of them knew about the other. At least not yet.

Gail blushed. She was not particularly stunning as far as looks went, not particularly popular, and wasn't particularly a ready conversationalist unless she had known the person for a long while. That was why she could not believe that out of all the men to have asked her out it was Jacob Mallard she was sitting across from now.

While she was not a recruit at SHUSH, many of her friends were, and she had heard all kinds of stories about this man's bravado, his charm, and his alluring physical appearance. None of the stories had done him justice.

When Jacob popped the cork off of the wine he'd ordered and poured them both a glass, Gail watched him curiously. She couldn't help but wonder why someone like him would ask someone like her out on a date, unless...

But she pushed the "unless" thought from her mind. She was judging him based on what she'd heard instead of what she was experiencing and that was unfair.

"What should we toast to?" he asked, raising his wine glass into the air, pinky extended.

"How about...to possibilities?" she suggested in a tiny voice. Her wine glass shook slightly as she raised hers.

"All right. To possibilities," he agreed.

They clinked their glasses together and drank. Jacob watched Gail over the top of his glass, his eyes seeming to look straight through her. She shivered.

He had asked her out in the book store located a few blocks away from SHUSH. She had been out with a couple of her friends looking for nothing in particular when he had come up to say hi. Not long after they'd been introduced Jacob had pulled her aside to set up the date, making it a point to tell her not to say anything to her friends about it because he had recently broken up with one of them and it might upset her to know - at least right now. Against her better judgment, she had agreed to keep their date a secret. She didn't like keeping things from anybody, but since it was for (what she felt was) a greater good, she went along with it.

It had begun to rain. They were standing on the sidewalk just outside of the restaurant, and Jacob was anxiously anticipating their next step. He'd never been with a schoolteacher before.

"I-I had a good time tonight," Gail said softly, looking up at him with her large hazel eyes.

"Me too," he replied, slowly wrapping his arms around her waist and leaning in to kiss her. Almost immediately he could feel her tense up, and she turned her head to the side so that his lips brushed her cheek. "What's wrong?" He pulled back in confusion. He had thought the evening was going well.

"Nothing," she said guiltily. "I'm sorry, it's just...I hardly know you."

"Oh." Jacob stepped away from her, trying unsuccessfully not to look disappointed. He flashed her a smile and forced himself to chuckle slightly. "Heh, well, I understand." He wasn't used to his advances being rejected, but he hadn't totally given up hope in his pursuit of her. In fact, part of him found her hesitance endearing. "There's always next time."

"Next time?" she repeated in surprise.

"Sure. You will have dinner with me again, won't you? Maybe I'll give you a tour of my apartment, just for kicks. You can see firsthand how bad I am at housekeeping." He smiled his characteristic smile and winked.

Like most women he graced with that smile, Gail blushed and giggled. "O-okay," she nodded enthusiastically.

"Great. I'll see you at seven, then - let's say...Saturday?"

She nodded again, her cheeks still bright pink. With a sweeping bow, Jacob took one of her dainty hands and kissed it chivalrously.

"Good night, fair lady," he crooned playfully.

"Good night," she replied happily. Then she turned, hailed a cab, and disappeared into the misty rain.

Jacob frowned slightly. His plans had to be changed, but perhaps not all that drastically. The only thing he was in need of now was a woman. Quickly he ran through all of his options before one he wanted came to mind. He grinned in a self-satisfied way and took off down Feather Avenue with a little bounce in his step, humming as he went.

Five or six blocks later, now drenched from head to toe with rainwater, Jacob made his way up a flight of stone steps and pushed one of the doorbells of a swanky apartment building.

"Yes?" a sultry woman's voice purred over the intercom.

He pressed the white button beneath the speaker as he spoke. "It's me."

"Oh! My, what a nice surprise! You must be freezing out there; come inside and I'll warm you up..."

Jacob congratulated himself on always having back-ups. The night hadn't been a total waste after all.

~*~