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Joel Marshall

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#1 Joel Marshall

Joel Marshall

Posted 10 September 2016 - 06:33 PM

Ambitious? Was Joel ambitious?

Or was he simply restless in every way a man can be restless? Always looking for something else to do, something else to keep himself occupied, another way to feel useful in a world that was filled with numbness. Letting the scenery pass him by always made him feel sick. Reading news article after news article about the state of the world made him feel tired. Yet to most he appeared uncaring, detached from it all; perhaps that was because he was so damn used to it by now that it was his default to turn it off.

So when another custody case ran by his desk, he read it with furrowed brows and a sort of restlessness that nearly led him to refusing it. Sometimes those cases were satisfying if he knew the kid ended up with a brighter future, but sometimes it didn't feel like enough. Yet the moment he read the note attached-- no one else was willing to take the case-- he found himself intrigued. That interest only grew as he dug through the case, accepting it before he even reached the end of the summary. No shit he would take an opportunity to take Nicholas Laslow down a couple of pegs; that guy represented precisely what was wrong with the world. How some men stood as gods when-- 


Maybe he wasn't used to it. It certainly never stopped his dialogue, be it external or internal, when he was furious with the way things were. It took him no time to call up his new client, though meeting at his office was a no-go; he was a damn good lawyer, mind you, but his office needed a little... work. Being an income-based attorney, he didn't make a whole lot of money, which was all fine and good when he was meeting clients who didn't expect much. But taking down Laslow? This woman needed a little more confidence than water damage and an air conditioner that only worked when it wanted to.


So he ventured into the diner and took a seat at the back corner booth like he'd arranged, glasses perched on the end of his nose as he gave the case another look. Every time the door opened he glanced up in search for his client, desperately hoping suddenly that he'd marked down the right time. He had a tendency to get a little... ah, hazy on the details.

#2 Petra Alison

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Posted 11 September 2016 - 01:16 AM

It seemed odd to meet a lawyer anywhere but their office, but at this point Petra had no room to be picky. She had tried everyone. Dozens of lawyers had reviewed her case, and dozens of lawyers had scoffed at her, and that left her scraping at the bottom of the barrel and desperate, even more so than she had been when she started the venture. She might have even been passed the point of backing out had she seen his office, as hazardous and dilapidated as it was, though that's not to say that she wouldn't nitpick. Loudly and to the point of seemingly complaining at that. It was simply in her nature. But he'd avoided that route and having to hear her squawking altogether, directing them to a diner she'd never been to as a decently brilliant redirect.


She was in no mind to pay much attention to anything anyway. This entire mess had unraveled her mind to the point of upset. It took very little to nothing to push her into teary territory anyway, though this stress was certainly a new level of heavy, involving a child with deep personal ties and a hell of a lot of memories. Was her concern for the child in question genuine? Definitely, in a roundabout way, though she'd be lying (and would lie) if she had to admit that most of her compassion for him mostly stemmed from lingering compassion for Lily. This was definitely less about a child in trouble and more about attaching herself to a continuation of someone she loved, dependent and needy woman that she was. 


It was just hard to live without some kind of purpose, and while she would have preferred motivation from someone older, wiser, someone that could lead and direct her when she found her mental footing slipping and leaving her directionless and lost, she figured being a stand in guardian might be just as good. What she didn't realize beforehand was the trouble and struggles that would come with what she had assumed would be an easy shift. His aunt couldn't care for him, his mother was out of the picture, and the father (asshole that he was) wasn't around; she assumed it would just be a simple shift. But he was trouble and troubled and had dug his grave too deep. 


And nothing was ever simple these days.


She was a fidgety mess by the time she finally made it to the diner, her body locked tense and her posture horrifyingly straight. Impressions mattered here. This lawyer was her last chance, the only person that had taken into consideration the difficulty of the challenge, and she couldn't afford to fuck this up. Not now. This was her only option. As she spotted him and made her way over, she had to note that he looked a little less like lawyer-material and a little more like something... well, not nearly as involved or brilliant. That was ridiculously judgmental, of course, though hardly surprising given her uppity nature. Still, she attempted to smile as she slid into the booth though the expression came out almost hilariously pained instead, her anxiety all too obvious.


"I hope you weren't waiting too long, I thought I was making good time but I've never been here and I wasn't sure at first if I had the right place pulled up and traffic was a little messy and..." Too much. Rambling was off-putting. "Sorry, sorry."


#3 Joel Marshall

Joel Marshall

Posted 11 September 2016 - 02:07 AM

Most of his colleagues had at least some sense of decency with their clients, but Joel never claimed to be the most professional man in the business. He noticed her long before she noticed him for two reasons: one, he was looking for his client to start with, and two, she was a gorgeous woman entering his general vicinity. Either way this was a loss, as he couldn't hit on a client and neither could he escape a commitment to a client to hit on a woman, but he couldn't find it in himself to be disappointed. He especially couldn't feel disappointed as she wandered over and settled into the seat across from him.


"Hi," was all he said in response to her at first, neither acknowledging her excuses nor her apology. Truth be told, he wasn't even sure if she was right on time or late, given how long it'd been since he glanced at a clock. It was another way in which he was less than professional; oftentimes he was late to his own appointments or procrastinated his work a little too much. That isn't to say he was anything but good at his job, he just did it in a way that was a bit... unconventional.


So he didn't have a problem with her timing. Already he was trying to evaluate her, to place her in one of his pre-made categories that he set up for people that came in and out of his life. Thus far he wasn't getting much of a read on her aside from her appearance, however, so he reached across the booth to offer his hand in greeting. 


"Joel Marshall," he told her, though she likely already knew his name from looking him up. "Nice to meet you in person. Always good to put a face with a name." He smiled in a way that he hoped was professional, but the way his eyes scanned her face gave away his attraction to her. But he didn't mention it, fortunately interrupted by the waitress as she placed a plate of greasy onion rings between them.


He nodded to them to indicate that she was welcome to dive in, already grabbing one for himself. "So you're telling me you want to take Nicholas La--" He winced, drawing the onion ring back out of his mouth. "Shit, these are hot. Jesus christ, you'd think they wouldn't take 'em straight out of the fryer to the table. Lawsuit waiting to happen." He set the food down on a napkin to cool, shaking his head as he returned his attention to her. "You wanna take Nicholas Laslow to court?"

#4 Petra Alison

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Posted 11 September 2016 - 03:18 AM

She took his hand despite herself and despite how very, very germaphobic and touch-phobic she was, noting both his casual nature and his slightly scrutinizing stare (though she wasn't sure if that was real or some sort of anxious mind side effect). 


She was trying very hard not to focus too much on him -- what he looked like, how he presented himself, his slightly ridiculous random outburst over the onion rings, but it was a little difficult. She was sanctimonious by nature, a perfectionist; she picked apart details in ways that most people couldn't be bothered to. It was difficult to sit across from him and remain optimistic, even detached from the mess of this all, but she couldn't help but wrinkle her nose a little at the greasy onion rings, having never been the type to care for fried foods to start with. "Uh, no thanks, I'm..." Disgusted, but she managed to keep that little tidbit to herself, instead shifting further into the booth and adjusting her purse beside her. "I'm Petra but you... already knew that, I guess."


Having never had any reason for a lawyer before, she wasn't really in tune with the details of who he was or what he had done. If she judged him by appearances, well, her personal review of his practices would be a little lacking. He looked a bit disheveled and thus far had showcased an apparent lack of concentration, having already flipped through subjects once despite their short conversation. These were all details that she was noting to remember later, but they wouldn't do any good in the long run. Again, this was a last resort, and pissing him off or turning herself away from him altogether would just be shooting her own self in the foot.


There was absolutely no keeping the look of irritation and outright thinly veiled hatred from flickering onto her expression at the name, though, one eyebrow piqued as her proper little facade dropped. "To court will suffice, sure." She'd really like to take him to jail, or hell, or somewhere even worse, having hated the asshole for a good portion of her life. For various reasons, too, though most of them could honestly just be traced back to interfering with what she thought was a secure relationship. That's where the kid came in, after all, though Nicholas had never really known about him beforehand. 


"Which is precisely why no one wanted to pick my case up before, so color me a little curious, why did you decide to? I mean, I don't mind, obviously, you're a life savor at this point, but I still have to ask, it seems like a bit of a swan song for most people and you took it so excitedly." She wasn't suspicious of it or anything as again, she really didn't have any room to be picky or even bothered by it, but she was a little hopeful at the prospect that Nicholas had his fair share of enemies. She hated him and she did so vividly and well enough to count for several people, but she was always well aware that he had... a way with people. 


She'd seen that firsthand, after all. And she thought herself well and far above it.


#5 Joel Marshall

Joel Marshall

Posted 11 September 2016 - 04:25 AM

Already he was picking her apart as well, not exactly the judgmental sort so much as well-practiced in mannerisms. Not that he was discreet or secretive about it; a brow twitched as he watched her wrinkle her nose, and he smirked as he cocked his head at her. "What? Didn't your mom tell you to eat your vegetables?" It would've been smooth if he'd been able to take a crude bite of onion ring, but, well... it was still hot and it wasn't worth burning his mouth over.


So instead he just barreled right on through into what was relevant, pushing his glasses higher on his nose with one hand as he relaxed back into the booth, arm slung over the back of it in a somewhat lazy manner. Again, he wasn't the best with professional appearances, but truth be told he was very intrigued by this case. He was taking it seriously, no matter how moronic he might have appeared at the time. "Well, it's Laslow," he explained first, always happy to highlight his selfishness instead of the actual, legitimate part of him that was good, that did these things because he knew it was the right thing to do.


He took a sip of his soda and shrugged. "No one else is willing to take the case because he fights dirty and knows how to win at any cost. It's an automatic loss. You're lucky you called the craziest lawyer in town." He poked the onion ring in front of him as he spoke, which appeared to feel a little less flaming hot than before. Tentatively he took a bite, the crunch both satisfying and just the right temperature. "Much better," he muttered to himself, though he nodded at her as if she gave a damn, too.


"Anyway, I can't exactly live with myself if I subject some poor kid to that guy as a father, either," he half-joked. "But honestly-- why? You never had any custody of the kid yourself, did you?"

#6 Petra Alison

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Posted 11 September 2016 - 05:25 AM

Ugh. Could something battered and fried even fall into a vegetable category? She imagined any and all nutritional benefits were voided completely by all the grease and appalling breading. Just looking at the sizzling pile of carbs and fats made her stomach flip, though she imagined that was both disgust and anxiety combined. Still, she couldn't help but slip him a bit of a look, eyebrows raised as she attempted and failed to keep her comments to herself. "I'm afraid she directed me towards vegetables that aren't dripping with grease." 


Thankfully she didn't have to dwell too long and could instead direct her attention to the subject matter at hand, though the lingering smell of the onion rings wasn't exactly easy to ignore. Perhaps she should have suggested somewhere a little more high class at the mention of the diner but she hadn't exactly been thinking clearly at the time. She'd been far too excited and far too anxious to really consider what the diner would entail. She hadn't seen a menu though she couldn't exactly imagine it varied too far from the usual greasy slob all diner's sold.


His reasoning for taking the case against Nicholas seemed a little personal at first, something she could relate to, though it also just seemed to be because they were both lawyers. She wanted more details, having always been the type to desire company for her saltiness, though he didn't seem like he really wanted to elaborate too much. She wasn't exactly the type to let things go, either, though for the moment her curiosity was put aside in the light of discussing the actual case.


Because it did seem a little odd from the outside, certainly. Even she knew that.


"Craz...iest?" That sounded a little unnerving. A lawyer that declared himself crazy didn't exactly seem like good business practice, nor did it really make her feel anymore secure about the whole arrangement, but it wasn't like she could really do anything about it. He was, again, the only person brave enough (or crazy enough, apparently) to even bother giving her case more than a one-time look over. That didn't stop her from looking a little hesitant, though, always one to wear her every emotion on both her sleeve and face.


She blinked it away regardless, fidgeting with the hem of her skirt and refocusing on his question. "I haven't, no. I've actually only seen him a few times." And even then it was briefly. "His mom, ah... died during childbirth, and we were together for a long time, but his aunt took custody of him instead." It had a lot to do with their relationship in general, though she wasn't exactly in a great place after, either, so she really couldn't blame anyone for thinking she wasn't stable enough to keep a child. Hell, she still wasn't, probably, but that wasn't something she acknowledged or even realized. Just talking about the entire mess was upsetting in ways she had assumed she'd moved passed, though more on the loss of life than anything. "Regardless, it appears that she bit off more than she could chew, and since Nicholas never had anything to do with the child before, and there were no other family members available, I offered my services."


Services sounded so professional, so cold when considering that this was a child she would eventually come to care for. It was hard not to be a little bitter about everything, though at the same time she already loved the kid in a way that also probably wasn't healthy. And she was more maternal than most people ever were, to be fair. 


#7 Joel Marshall

Joel Marshall

Posted 11 September 2016 - 05:50 AM

Her echo of his self-descriptor-- craziest-- had him merely raising his eyebrows at her, as if letting her draw her own conclusions as to what that meant. It wasn't a descriptor only he used, either; he couldn't count the amount of times someone had yelled that word at him simply because he pissed them off. He was unpredictable, always flipping from one emotion to the other, always entertaining himself in one way or another that often involved manipulating those around him. Naturally he tried not to let that leak into his business practice, but the fact that he'd take this case at all spoke volumes about his actual character.


Because yes, this was absolutely batshit insane. The more she spoke, the more that solidified in him. Hell, she barely even had a case to start with. He'd read through it a couple of times, to be sure, but hearing it confirmed in person-- she barely knew the kid-- had his head spinning. He sighed, shaking his head and shrugging his shoulders as he tried to approach how in the world he was supposed to continue with this.


"Well, I'd have to be a little nutty to take this case," he clarified once she was finished explaining. "Dontcha think? Laslow's the highest paid lawyer in town for a reason-- 'cause he knows what he's doing. I do too, but I--" But he wasn't that kind of private lawyer, the kind that stooped so low as to sacrifice his own moral values. Certainly there were private lawyers who didn't do that sort of thing, who were moral and good, but Joel took that to self-righteous levels. He was income-based, a cheap hire-- it meant he stood up for the underdog again and again and he preferred it that way. He and Laslow were opposite sides of the spectrum for a reason.


He waved off what he was about to say, instead leaning forward and biting into another onion ring. "Neither of you have ever had custody of the child. It'd be default for him to go to his birth father, given that whole blood relation thing, but he hasn't seen him in eleven years, so you might actually have something on your hands. I'm crazy for trying, but hey-- I don't pick a battle unless I think there's a chance." He raised an eyebrow at her, considering how he could possibly approach such a thing. Giving custody of a child to someone who barely knew him? Taking it away from a man who was well off and well known in the community?


"Since you've hired me, I'm assuming he wants to fight back. There's this thing called a non-parental custody petition that you'll have to file for. I'll help you write it and review it and we'll send it to the court. Then-- well, we'll have to either settle with some kind of shared custody agreement out of court or we'll have to let a judge decide. You prepared for all of that?"

#8 Petra Alison

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Posted 11 September 2016 - 02:07 PM

They were probably both crazy, she for thinking she had any rights to a child that she barely knew and he for... well, whatever reasons it was that he bore the title so proudly. She had no idea what it was that made him the craziest lawyer in toen, but she could fathom a few guesses at the details. He certainly didn't seem entirely normal, that was certain. Then again, was fighting for custody of a child solely to be close to the last remainder of an ex lover slash best friend normal either? In her mind it made perfect sense and to be fair, she had been asked, but it wasn't exactly commonplace.

It was almost hilarious how quickly her polite little facade had dropped and continued to plummett everytime Nicholas' name was brought up. The crinkle across her nose and furrow of her brows conveyed far more hatred for the guy than was absolutely necessary. She wouldn't ever admit it aloud (because even she was self aware enough to realize that was a Bad Idea) but her reasonings for all but going to war over a custody case were definitely more than a little vengeful. She hated the man and sure, maybe she was a little justified in the long run, but a lot of her disdain for him was simply petty. Bitter. She had never been too good at keeping salt out of her diet, after all.

But with that deeprooted pettiness came some kind of absurd determination that had her thinking anything could be possible. She was the (sort of, almost) widow of the mother of the child and had offered to take custody of him beforehand; it was a tragic sort of story that painted her as nothing less than a grieving, adoring mother figure. Compare that to Nicholas, an absent father with a reputation in the town for being more than a little underhanded and of course the results spelled out victory. Those details alone had left her entirely confused as to why no one else had taken her case before.

"Of course, though the preferable outcome would be keeping that man as far away from Christian as possible, I'm well aware of the possible outcomes. As far as I'm concerned, he won't stick around much after losing anyway. He doesn't actually care, he just hates losing."

Then again, she wasn't aware just how possessive he could be. She had seen glimpses of it but not to the extent that would come to light eventually.

"And you are certain we have a fighting chance?" She certainly wasn't looking to get so heavily involved with something if the outcome wasn't at least halfway assured to be victorious. That level of disappointment wasn't something she had ever been well equipped to handle, having her own fair share of possessive and somewhat controlling tendencies.


#9 Joel Marshall

Joel Marshall

Posted 11 September 2016 - 06:33 PM

Joel watched her as she spoke, narrowing his eyes as if that would give him a clearer view of her character and what she really wanted. Seeing as he'd accepted the case, he was obligated to see this through as far as he could, but it went without saying that it concerned him. If she didn't know the kid at all either, who was to say she was the better potential guardian? Nicholas was debatably a sociopath, but he didn't know better from her quite yet, either. In fact he was deeply hoping this wasn't due to something like vengeance, as playing a child as a pawn in a game like that was never healthy for any party involved. He'd seen it happen more times than he could fathom. A cheating man whose wife left and demanded custody of the kids just to punish him, even if he'd never screwed up as a father. That sort of anger was understandable, but unfair to the child.


Not that it was worth addressing in the early stages. He buzzed his lips together and shrugged, aware that the chances were slim-to-none of getting out of there with sole custody. Certainly he could fight for primary custody for her, but if Nich wanted to be involved, likely the courts wouldn't rule against him. "You're probably right," he volunteered as far as the guy not giving a damn, "but he hasn't done anything so criminal as to grant sole custody to you by default. I mean-- well--"


He pulled out a beat up notebook and pen, clearly taken from a local doctor's office judging from the name and address on the side that wasn't his. "Alright, I'm gonna have to take a couple of notes. Has Laslow met the child? Has he ever given a penny of child support to the child? That especially makes a huge difference on this case." Her question as to whether or not they'd have a fighting chance was entirely ignored at first, if only because he felt like it was self explanatory. Neither could he completely dismiss it, however, so he looked over his glasses at her in a way that he hoped would ensure this would be the last time she asked.


"Are you? Are you more concerned with the child or this fighting chance? If you really wanna be this kid's mom, it shouldn't matter how slim the chance is. Right?" He watched her carefully, still evaluating her, still trying to determine what her real reasoning was.

#10 Petra Alison

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Posted 11 September 2016 - 06:59 PM

She didn't like being under some sort of broad microscope and he seemed entirely intent on picking her apart. Granted, he did have reason to be suspicious, didn't he? This was a child's wellbeing and inevitable raising up for question and even she could see that. She cared, too, though she thought that may have went without saying. She had always cared, maybe not for the child in question particularly (Because she really did not know him well enough to know who he was at all) but because he deserved a life free from a shitty influence or a guardian that didn't care at all. If there was one thing true to be said about Petra, it was that she was swamped by caring, obsessive with it, even, from caring about her appearances and actions to caring about the few people she migrated into her life.

And her worries about losing wasn't all selfish, though certainly there was a fair share of it involved. She hated the idea of introducing herself and Nicholas both to someone so young, giving him the prospect of not one potential parents but two, allowing him to get attached or even hopeful and having it ripped away.

"He only found out recently when Christian started, ah... getting into trouble. The guardian now, the aunt, she contacted him I guess in the hopes that maybe he would step up, but he didn't really seem interested at the time. Sometime between then and now, I suppose he suddenly found some empathy." She sighed, shaking her head. It really was hard not to be bitter about this all. Had things not gone down the way they had, he may have never cared at all. The fact that he did now was infuriating. "No money, no, though I don't believe he was ever asked. It wasn't something anyone really wanted him knowing prior." That was a last request, actually.

"I'm worried because the chance is so slim. I don't think you understand just how little Nicholas needs to influence someone." The realization that he probably knew his fair share made her give pause, though it didn't stop her from going further. "Personal feelings about him aside, it's easy to see how quickly he could ruin a child's life, and how easily he would be bored by or even out off by fatherhood that he certainly never wanted. I don't want that for Christian."


#11 Joel Marshall

Joel Marshall

Posted 11 September 2016 - 07:13 PM

Getting into trouble? Joel's head bobbed back in interest as he pushed his glasses further up his nose. That was something he hadn't heard of quite yet that could do them some good if they played their cards right. The strange thing about being a lawyer was that he could fight for what was right, but sometimes that fighting had to be dirty and unfair. Sometimes it entailed manipulating others, spinning the story in one's favor, digging up skeletons and demons that people wanted to keep covered. That level of chaos was precisely what made Joel love his job, however, so it wasn't unlike him to go about it this way.


"Trouble, hm? So the aunt is having difficulties dealing with him now that he's into some sort of trouble?" Already his mind was ticking, drawing a million conclusions that could work in their favor if they had to go to court with this. Joel had been in that child's place at some point in his life; deprived of parents, he acted out in some desperate effort to be loved and recognized. The very absence of a father was likely the kid's problem, so why place him in a home with a father who would continue to be absent? Wealth aside, this woman seemed to give a damn about the actual welfare of the child.


"I'm gonna need the aunt's phone number if you don't mind," he told her, already jotting down this information. "Name and address, too. Not sure how willing she is to be involved in this mess, but I'd like to speak with someone who has dealt with him when he's had difficulties. Social worker, maybe? Can you elaborate on what kind of trouble he's been in, at least?"


He barely glanced up at her from his notepad as she continued on about Nicholas rather than Christian. While her sentiments came from a good place, they weren't necessarily what the child needed. Simply stepping in to prevent Nicholas from being the child's father wasn't fair; giving a damn about the actual kid in question was the right way of going about this. But Joel was a lawyer, not a therapist, and thus far he could see that Petra was the better option for a parent between the two. Past that and it wasn't his business, was it?


That was the trouble with Joel-- he preferred to stay detached and unemotional when in fact he was quite the opposite. Empathy was his lifeblood, too, especially for youth in bad situations. Being a lawyer he had to keep himself emotionally distant from a case he could lose, but being so determined to see the right thing happen was precisely what made him a good lawyer. It was precisely what drove him to think more and more and more until there was no option but winning. Washing his hands of it afterward was always difficult but he did his best-- he did his part as a good citizen in the only way he knew how. 


"I don't want it for him either," he said honestly, though otherwise he didn't want to question her motivations any further. "The chance is slim, but it's there. We'll fight for it."

#12 Petra Alison

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Posted 11 September 2016 - 08:06 PM

It was hard not to worry incessantly about the situation. It was even harder not to get mad that it was even happening in the first place. Had things went the way she had planned, she would have adopted Christian eleven years ago
She had wanted to, almost outright needed to, but that had been completely tossed aside from the get go. She hadn't ever really let go of the idea of taking care of him or raising him on her own, either, though there hadn't been much she had been allowed to do outside of calling as often as she could. She wasn't sure what went sideways with the entire arrangement, nor did she know when the trouble started happening, but she had been sure to get every detail she could about it.

Obsessiveness was finally working in her favor for once.

"It started three years ago and it was really minor things then. An attitude towards teachers, despondency, no desire to cooperate or learn. Acting out in class came next, but recently I was told he's starting fights and has been caught stealing once. I don't think Sharla - that's her name, Sharla Black - I don't think she really took it seriously enough and it just escalated." And a lot of it was feeling unwanted. He had no father, he had never met his mother, and she knew without even asking that Sharla was more suited for... lower maintenance things. A goldfish, maybe, would have been more up her alley, and even then...

"She lives in town, 815 Home Avenue in one of those smaller apartments? Her phone number is 674-253-6435." Again, attention to details paid off, though it helped that she had dialed that number consistently for several years. "She's aware of all of the details of the case."

How much was too much in this situation? She was naturally inclined to dramatics of the theatrical proportion, she had already started tearing up on the way over, but she didn't want to come across as too much. Then again, coming across as cold or vengeful wasn't good either. The truth of the matter was that she had an entire black hole worth of emotions about the entire ordeal. Bitterness, sadness, hope, concern. There wasn't any pinpointing just how she really felt, how she was supposed to feel. Christian was a child in need; that naturally endeared her to him, having always been the overly maternal helicopter parent type, even to friends and family. He was also the sole remainder of someone she cared for deeply, and someone that she had promised to watch out for to that very person.

The fact of the matter was that this was extremely important to her and fighting for it was something she was willing to do to her death if need be.

But things seemed to be okay for now. Crazy comment aside, he was willing to help, and beggers certainly held no room to be choosers. "Thank you, genuibely. You really have no idea how much just trying means to me."


#13 Joel Marshall

Joel Marshall

Posted 11 September 2016 - 09:06 PM

Joel found himself mildly surprised by the amount of detail she knew offhand. It reassured him that she actually did give a damn about the kid, even if there was a hell of a lot of bitterness towards Nicholas thrown in the mixture as well. Regardless, it wasn't his job to be a social worker so much as defend her specifically, and seeing she knew a lot helped him in that matter. It meant he'd not only have resources to fight with, but motivation to fight harder. Already he was jotting down notes, nodding as she spoke, resolving to call this aunt just as soon as he was finished with this appointment.


Fighting and stealing-- those were relatively minor stages that a lot of kids went through when acting out against their guardians. He remembered how that felt; he could only imagine what it was for this poor kid who was getting kicked out of his aunt's, only to be placed into the care of someone he didn't know, no matter the outcome. Either he ended up with Petra here, who at least appeared to care, or Nicholas fucking Laslow who for sure didn't give a damn. Already he resolved to do everything he could to make sure this kid got what he needed.


"Sharla Black, got it," he said with a nod, already hoping he could persuade her to write up a statement herself on preferring Petra over Nicholas. That'd be a tricky animal to approach, however; if for any reason she thought the birth father was more capable and she made a statement of that, their entire case was squandered. He clicked his tongue against the roof of his mouth as he considered that, tapping his pen against the notepad a few times before setting all of it aside.


He was about to delve into more personal questions when suddenly-- suddenly there it was, the part he was uncomfortable with, the part he never knew how to embrace without feeling strange and defensive. Thank you. How much this means. He looked out of the window next to him, brow furrowed as he folded his hands in front of him on the table. "Yeah," was all he said at first, clearing his throat twice before finally finding more to say. "It's my job."


Perhaps that was dismissive enough of the goodness in what he was about to do. Despite being so goddamn self-righteous, he didn't like praise like this. Thanks wasn't needed. He was getting paid, after all.


"You're gonna have to tell me more details, you know," he said, finally turning his attention away from the window and back to her. "To be able to make a solid case, I'm gonna need to know as much about-- this." He had a feeling it was a sensitive topic, but there was no room for sensitivities when he was trying to make sure she got what she wanted. "What exactly happened? With Laslow-- with Christian's mother, the whole thing. How'd this whole mess go down to start with?"

#14 Petra Alison

Petra Alison

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Posted 12 September 2016 - 12:13 AM

Huh. Awkward. He certainly responded to praise of his profession, of his character more strangely than most. It was enough to give her flushed swarm of praises pause, her eyes widening slightly as she cocked her head. The response was so dismissive, so distant, and she was normally the type of person to be persistent with praise and the like. She doled it out so little that having it rebuffed was almost offensive and likely she would have found it so had he not changed the subject so suddenly. He was smart to redirect the conversation, then; she was only two seconds away from continuing, from insistent, her personality so strong in that manner that she likely wouldn't have backed down until she fueled him up with compliments. She needed that commitment to reassurances herself, the well of her own self-worth bone-dry, so she almost naturally assumed everyone else did as well. To see the opposite in the flesh and so casual about it was odd.


But she was sufficiently distracted by the mention of details for the time being. 


"Right, well. To start." The hard part was not remembering it all as she already did as much on a daily basis but instead relaying the gory details. Giving words to painful memories only seemed to make them all the more painful. She hurt, and she hurt deeply, but she could at the very least keep a lot of that hurt quiet for the most part, marinating it inwardly until later when it eventually caught up. Of course, no one was claiming that she was any good at all at repressing her emotions, she was nearly always ready to spill about something at all hours of the day, but this was so ridiculously personal and so much that she always opted to keep it to herself. But he'd asked. He'd asked and she needed to, had to start from the beginning, not for her own sake or his but for Christian's. 


There were a lot of details that even she was in denial to, too, personal details like how Christian only came about because of infidelity, and how her love for Lily was less romantic love and more the idealization of the concept altogether. Or how Lily's love for her was exactly like her love for everyone, never-ending but shared, always overflowing and too much, so much so that she sought other outlets for it at all times. It left their relationship damaging on both ends. Petra with her jealousy and adoration and Lily with her free love and wandering mind, neither one of them were suited for each other, but she couldn't see that, nor was she even willing to give herself a chance to.


"Lily and I were together for five years, up til she passed, though obviously Christian didn't come from me, so..." That was a little painful to admit, too, though it did explain a good deal of her outright bitterness towards Nicholas. Never once had she blamed Lily, far too stuck on her to ever admit she had flaws. "Nicholas was a... short sort of thing, some passing phase, and from what she saw of him in that little time, she admitted that she wasn't sure he was cut out to be a parent." And that was saying it nicely, though Lily always did have a way of looking people without really looking at them. Saying that much was almost too much for her, really. "Mm, what else... Oh, right. There were some... complications. I'm not sure the details of them but she... didn't make it, obviously." 


It was getting a little harder to trudge through this. Certainly she'd dwelled on the loss of Lily for years, and certainly she'd dealt with a fair share of emotions relating to the ordeal, but she had never actually finished grieving, permanently stuck in some sort of heartbroken limbo. She couldn't help it, though; Lily had been someone she essentially attached herself to. She encouraged her to be herself, love herself, and while she had never really made it full circle on that, she still appreciated and missed the constant reassurance. She was needy like that, almost pathetic when it came to finding worth in other people. Already she was fidgeting even more than she had been before, bunching and unbunching the hem of her skirt inbetween each individual finger. "I thought, and I think Lily thought too, that should anything ever happen it would be obvious that Christian would go to me, but we weren't married. Her sister wasn't... a fan of us together, so she took him, and while I kept up with him the best I could, I wasn't ever really allowed to close."


She felt heavy and her eyes were blurry, though she wasn't looking at him anymore so it was probably harder to tell. Crying in front of a stranger sounded pathetic, weak, and she wasn't about to reveal those cards so soon. Hopefully she never would, honestly. 


#15 Joel Marshall

Joel Marshall

Posted 12 September 2016 - 04:39 AM

Joel didn't have to see her tearing up to know this was an incredibly difficult thing to talk about. To some extent he regretted the question as soon as he'd asked, as while this information could certainly help the case, it also evoked a sense of empathy out of him that he didn't like feeling if he could help it. It was easier to stay detached from his clients, even if he hoped to do good for them. It was easier that way because he could be objective, he could separate himself from the end result. But hearing her story laid out for him like this made him more committed to this case than he'd been before. Undoubtedly life hadn't worked out the way she'd wanted. Considering her desire to take this child in, despite him being a product of infidelity, she had a good heart and wanted to share it. He understood how that felt.


So he didn't say anything at first, just rubbing the back of his neck as she spoke, not looking at her if only so she wouldn't feel nervous or pressured. He never liked being stared at when he was vulnerable. But he was listening, which might have been clear from the way his brows furrowed in something like concern as he rubbed a hand over the scruff of his jaw. He had to help her-- he'd already agreed to, of course, but now it was a moral obligation, something that went past a typical exchange between himself and a client. Now it was something he'd see to the end.


"You have a good chance," he told her as he thought over how in the world he was supposed to bring down Nicholas. It had to be done, however; he'd dig as deep as he could and make the best case possible if he had to. There would be some shit on the guy if he looked hard enough. There was no way that guy was completely clean; it was a wonder he hadn't already looked into it out of curiosity, really.


"I'd say you have a great chance, especially if you were with her when she had the child. It's clear you were her partner, Laslow aside." He finally looked over at her, eyeing her a little too thoughtfully. "We'll figure it out." As much as he hated that we slipping out, it was right there on the table between them, making him wish he'd said "I." That made sense as a lawyer. This exposed his empathy and he hated it, though he supposed it wasn't difficult to see that he was empathetic to start with. There was a reason he was a poor lawyer.


He sighed deeply as he gave his notes another once over. "I'll be working on it for the next few days. You'll hear from me by the end of the week with something." So much for his case load. He had a tendency to procrastinate some cases in favor of others, and this was one he already knew he'd dive headfirst into. 

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