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Habeas Corpus

Suzanne woke from her warm, comfortable doze with Simon reaching over her for his phone, which was vibrating on the nightstand. "Do you have to answer it?" she said drowsily.

"I just want to see who it is," he said, fumbling the phone around in his hands. "The hospital? What the hell?"

Suzanne blinked herself more awake as he flipped open the phone. She smiled vaguely, admiring the beauty of his hands.

"Hello?"

She could hear the buzz of the person's voice on the other end, but couldn't hear the words. Of course his volume would be turned wayyy down.

"Speaking," he said, frowning.

Suzanne twisted around to see his face more clearly.

"You have got to be shitting me," he said to the person on the phone.

Simon was silent for a long moment, then he sat up and swung his legs out of bed. He started to fumble one-handed for the buckles of the harness at his hips, and Suzanne leaned over to help. She caught the assembly, as well as the Great Blue Willy, as he stood up and shook it loose. "All right, all right, I see," he said, reaching down to the floor to grab a shirt, a pair of underwear, and his jeans. "All right, I said, we'll be there as soon as we can." He flipped the phone shut against his hip.

Suzanne was sitting up in bed now, fastidiously cleaning the toys and watching him start to pull his clothes on. "What's up?" she said.

"You will not fucking believe this," Simon said, jumping up and down to fit into his tight jeans. "I don't think I fucking believe this."

"I can't tell you one way or the other unless you tell me," she said, tucking the toys into the cabinet at the head of the futon.

Simon looked at her, a little wild-eyed. "They want me to come claim Brandon's body."

She blinked. "What?"

"Yeah, they want me to claim his white boy ass and all the rest of him," Simon said, pulling a muscle-hugging t-shirt on over his head. "Because they can't reach either of his parents, and there's some law -- have you ever heard of it? -- called the Gold Stars Act."

"Oh, yes," Suzanne said, rolling out of bed and going in search of her own clothes. There was a trail leading back to the couch in the front part of the apartment. "If a para's body isn't claimed within two weeks, it reverts to government property and goes to the National Institute of Paranormal Research for... whatever research they want to do with it."

"The morgue crew at Wonder City General apparently don't like to see that happen," Simon said, stepping into his blue hightops. "Which does make me feel better about them, I guess. But since no one can reach the deJongs and no one knows of any other relatives, someone has to claim his body and 'make arrangments' within the next 12 hours or it goes to the NIPR."

"I'm appalled that no one has repealed the Gold Stars Act," Suzanne said, sliding into her underwear and slacks. "I always thought it had been. Repealed, I mean."

"Ask Ira about it." Simon came up behind her to fasten her bra. "You don't have to come with me, you know," he said. "I'm going to call the others. I figure if I've gotta suffer, so do they."

"I wouldn't miss it for the world," Suzanne said, turning to kiss him hard. "I'm a journalist, and you, my fine, fine object of lust, are news."

"I love it when you talk dirty pool," Simon purred against her shoulder.

While Suzanne drove them to the hospital, Simon called or texted the others from the Wonderful House.

They met Jeshri and Lizzie in the main lobby. Tom was on a truck run in Illinois, but told Simon to keep him in the loop.

"I can't believe they called you," Jeshri said, hugging Simon.

"Oh, hi!" Lizzie said, staring at Suzanne. "Mrs. Feldstein, right?"

"Please call me Suzanne," she said, shaking first Lizzie's hand, then Jeshri's. Both the young women shot Simon looks with raised eyebrows.

"She's, um, my, uh..." Simon said, a blush creeping up his neck to his ears, then forward into his face.

"Girlfriend," Suzanne supplied cheerfully. "Also, I'm a professional noseyparker. Win-win for me."

"That's right, you were there that night because of the blog thing," Jeshri said. "I... we didn't know Simon was involved with you." She gave Simon a knowing smirk that only made him blush more deeply.

"All right!" he said, rubbing his face, "we're here on the world's stupidest mission."

"Yeah," Lizzie said. "Doesn't he have parents somewhere?"

"I called the producers," Jeshri said. "Betty, the admin, told me his mom is in... Cambodia or someplace. Shedding white on the people, I suppose."

"Oh, right," Simon said, memory dawning. "He mentioned that she was a missionary once."

"No wonder he was such an asshole," Lizzie said. "What about his dad?"

Jeshri shrugged. "She said she'd given all the home info to the police. Maybe his dad is anti-para or something."

Lizzie sighed. "We shouldn't even be here. We hated him, remember? Let his corpse go off for research."

"I've been thinking about that too," Simon said.

Jeshri looked at the floor. "You guys don't have to stay, but i'm going to go claim his body."

Lizzie gave her a look that clearly said she thought Jeshri was unhinged. "Why?"

Jeshri shrugged again and didn't look up. "I guess because I hope that someone would show up for me if I... you know."

Simon and Lizzie traded shamefaced glances.

"Well," Simon said after an awkward silence, "Let's go. This will be festive."

It was very festive, Suzanne thought, for meanings of festive equating to "depressing as hell."

There was paperwork, and Simon, Jeshri, and Lizzie had to produce identification. Then they had to identify the body.

Brandon's blue eyes were closed and his blond hair was limp and dark against his clay-pale brow. He looked much younger than he ever had on television. His bare shoulders were bonier than Suzanne thought they would be, his muscles lax on his frame, his skin bloodless and gray. There were a few dark marks on his chest, contusions and punctures on his arms, and there was something not quite right about his ribcage, something unusually flat but lumpy.

Simon's hand trembled in Suzanne's. He reached out and took Jeshri's hand. The three of them stood together. Suzanne glanced at Lizzie, who stood a little apart, her face composed and emotionless.

"Yes," Lizzie said after a long moment, her voice flat and unlovely and practical. "That's him."

Simon and Jeshri both nodded, and the morgue staffer let the sheet fall back over the body's face. "We need the name of a funeral home to send him to," the staffer said.

The three young people exchanged baffled looks. Suzanne raised a questioning eyebrow at Simon, and he nodded. "Weinstein Funeral Home," she told the staffer, who dutifully wrote it down on her clipboard while walking away toward the office. In response to Lizzie and Jeshri's blank looks, Suzanne said, "They did my husband's funeral."

"Funeral," Lizzie said, staring at Suzanne, then cocking her head at Jeshri. "Funeral? What the hell are we going to do about that?"

---

Note from the Author:

Poor ol' dependable Simon.

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Date: 2011-12-06 07:27 pm (UTC)
akycha: (Default)
From: [personal profile] akycha
I like the title. :)

Poor everyone. What a horrible job.

Date: 2011-12-06 07:49 pm (UTC)
heavenscalyx: (Default)
From: [personal profile] heavenscalyx
At least they can have someone else do the messy stuff.

For someon who preaches tolerance

Date: 2013-02-27 02:40 am (UTC)
From: (Anonymous)
"Shedding white on the people, I suppose."

"He mentioned that she was a missionary once."

"No wonder he was such an asshole,"

Wow, just, wow.

JN

Re: For someon who preaches tolerance

Date: 2013-02-28 04:08 pm (UTC)
akycha: (Default)
From: [personal profile] akycha
Wow, someone who is too inexperienced a reader to realize that characters do not equal author!

P.S. Speaking for myself -- and not the author -- missionarism is cultural colonialism with all the violence that implies.

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