ASN 2.5 Well-Heeled

by Matt P.

Reverend Morrison caught up with them by the drink table, after Walter had taken Morgan’s arm again and both of them occupied their other hands with a glass of wine. Walter had also carefully supervised Siobhan and Antigone getting cans of Coke, remembering what happened the last time one of his twins drank at a party.

“I’m sorry, Detective Richards. Franks is…well, he’s a horse’s ass sometimes,” Naomi began, before amending it quickly, “Most of the time. Probably all of the time.” She sighed a little bit.

Walter took a long sip of wine and considered the garden, slowly filling with people from the community and local students in a clash of business casual and just plain casual, before he ventured a response. “And yet you put up with him.”

“He owns the land the garden is built on. The terms of his lease are very generous, but it does allow him to…” She paused to chose her words delicately. “Involve himself in things that he thinks he should be involved in, because of his generosity.”

Walter and Morgan shared a raised eyebrow for a moment before he turned back to Morrison. “I think it’s fascinating he gets so much influence in the garden of Gethsemane for what turns out to be an amount of silver, Reverend Morrison.” His voice was gentler than it could have been, softening the barb into more of a playful jab.

Naomi gave a little bit of a smile, reaching up to push back some of her graying auburn hair. “Now you’re teasing me. Franklin Franks is not Judas Iscariot, if only because no one would ever fail to see the betrayal coming.”

Morgan had been quiet, letting the two of them speak, but at that she let out a soft laugh and shook her head, sending her curls of red hair tumbling. “I rather thought the point was that Christ did see it coming, Reverend. ‘Verily I say unto you, that one of you shall betray me’ and all that, from Matthew.”

Morrison considered Morgan for a long moment with searching gray eyes, considering the words more carefully then Walter would have thought an off-hand comment deserved; although knowing Morgan, and that she had quoted chapter and verse, it was probably not that off-hand. “You aren’t wrong, Doctor. If I can do so without offering further offense to Detective Richards, what is your religious background?”

Now it was Morgan’s turn to return a considering look, although she spared a quick glance for Walter. Walter offered a small shrug, disclaiming his place in the conversation—although he couldn’t keep a little bit of curiosity off of his face a well. “I was raised Catholic,” Morgan explained after a moment, apparently having debated how much she wanted to discuss it. “But like Walter the specifics of my job took some of the specifics of my faith from me. I would now broadly call myself Deist.”

Morrison processed this for a moment before she nodded, as if something had passed her internal intellectual muster. It struck Walter a very natural look for the woman, inquisitive and intellectual—she looked like she would have made a good teacher or professor. “You’re a doctor and the coroner, that’s right—I think I must have seen you around before. Having you been doing that for very long?” She asked curiously, looking at Morgan as if trying to truly weigh or get a sense of the doctor. Morgan raised a red eyebrow.

“Long enough, it seems like,” Morgan offered in response, a polite smile on her lips before she took Walter’s arm. “If you’ll excuse us, I think Walter and I will take a little walk in the garden before the discussion starts.” Morrison gave a gracious smile and nod, and Walter let himself be lead away by his date.

“Did you mean your job as Doctor, or Queen of Winter?” Walter asked as the headed in to the twinkling gardens. “Also, I suppose it shouldn’t be a surprise you were Catholic,” he added as an afterthought as their footsteps took them on to a low and winding path that led meanderingly to the fountain in the sunken gardens.

“Both, to be honest. My mother was an apothecary and midwife—before she died I’d help her bring life in to the world. There’s a lot of miracle there, but also a whole lot of biology,” Morgan offered, crinkling her nose. “And no, the fact that an Irish girl born in the 14th Century would be raised Catholic, even if she is the daughter of the King of all Faeries, isn’t surprising; I predate Protestantism. I can still say all my prayers in Latin if you want. Pater noster qui es in coelis, sanctificetur nomen tuum…”

Walter snorted. “Please stop, I don’t want to have visions of nuns if we decide to head back to try to steal some time before the kids get home. Not that we actually saw nuns, not being Catholic,” he offered with a shrug. “But the pop culture gets to you.”

Morgan laughed merrily as they made it down to the garden. She stepped out of her sandals to walk on the grass to the fountain. “Ah, my mother would be so disappointed, I’m dating a Protestant. I mean, she’d be disappointed after I explained to her what one was.” She motioned for the seat next to her on the edge of the fountain, and Walter went to join her. The fountain had a long rectangular pool around it, stretching the length of the most sunken part of the garden and built out of solid red stone that still retained some heat from the day.

“My father would be somewhat disconcerted to learn I was dating a Faerie Queen, after I explained to him what it was,” Walter allowed with a smile. “Given what those words can mean to the rest of the world he would be very surprised until I clarified.”

Morgan laughed again, shaking her head. “Sidhe might be better to lead off with, rather than Faerie.” She considered him for a moment, meeting his eyes—hers were shockingly green, although he know they could have also been any other color possible she wanted them to be. But they were her real eyes, like a central casting call for ‘Irish woman’, and they watched him intently for a few seconds. “You don’t talk to them much, do you. Or Rhiannon’s parents.”

Walter sighed, resting his hands on the fountain and leaning back slightly. He looked up at the deepening night beyond the muted lights of the garden, and finally shook his head. “No.” He looked down, kicking his shoes for a moment, which he knew was a habit he knew Siobhan had picked up from him—looking down and considering his own shoe laces when considering something unpleasant. “You know, there’s nothing quite so unpleasant as realizing your own father doesn’t like your choices.” He could see the question in her eyes, along with the concern, so he continued. “My dad was a Colorado farm boy. Well…ranch boy. He knew how to shoot a gun, but for hunting or for when coyotes showed up. Never wanted to use it for anything but that. So of course, his draft number was going to be called for Vietnam—so he enlisted rather then being drafted. He was always angry about that, and apparently his time over there was not pleasant. So when I joined the Army…” Walter let it trail off, giving it a non-caring shrug that had taken years to be truthful.

Morgan nodded slowly, reaching to squeeze his hand. “I’m well acquainted with disappointed fathers, Walter. You killed mine, if you recall,” she offered wryly. When Walter smiled, she did as well. “I hope I won’t have to return the favor.”

Walter shook his head, smiling and leaning down to kiss her hand. “No, but you might get dragged to a supremely awkward Christmas. We’re due. You can meet my sister, which will be similarly…’fun’.” He looked out to consider the gardens, and its occupants. Frank Franks was giving them a very wide berth, and he grimaced. “He’s going to be annoying tonight,” Walter offered.

Morgan nodded, her expression matching his. “God help us, the man is trying to set himself up for a run for the State House next year. Normally I’d say anyone who wants to willingly go work with the Governor in Topeka is welcome to the unpleasantness. But fortunately there is a group of well-heeled investors who have no desire to see his brand of bullshit morality in the capital.”

Now it was Walter’s turn to raise an eyebrow, directing it at the woman at his side—who happened to be one of the wealthiest women in town. “Would that be you and Tania?”

Morgan grinned wickedly, and kicked a leg out. “Am I not well-heeled?” She asked, wiggling her toes. With a snort, Walter stood and held his hand out to her to help her up. Taking it and rising gracefully, she looked over to the open area where the talk was going to be and nodded. Sliding her arm through his once more and stepping back in to her sandals, they went to join the growing group.