Joanna looked up from her scratch paper and rubbed her eyes. This problem set was a killertrig was a killerbut she was determined not to be some "math is hard" Barbie doll, even if she was pretty sure she wasn't going to take another math class after, say, freshman year of college.
But to get through these arctangents she was going to need some popcorn. She wandered out to the kitchen and flung one of the mini-bags from Costco into the microwave, and it was then she noticed how quiet it was in the house. Weird, since Dad always had some kind of music on. She did, too, but the Vampire Weekend that was getting her through arctangents was currently paused. She was pretty sure that in the upcoming move the stereo would be the last thing packed and the first thing unpacked in the new house.
Curious, she wandered into her father's room, to see him staring at the computer, headphones on. When he noticed her he slid them off. "What's up?"
"Nothing," she said. "Just taking a break. Is that the new Bibi Besch script?"
"Oh," he said, "no. No, I was just, uh, I was just making a mix. You know, for Jim. I realized I hadn't yet."
"I thought you guys weren't doing presents," she said. "Because of the new house."
Dad smiled a little, and it was funny how goofy he still got over Jim and the whole moving in thing. "Well, it's not really a present," he said. "Shoulda done this a while ago. Save me from some of that stuff he listens to."
"What?" he asked. "Dodo you think it's a bad idea?'
"Not at all," she said, shaking her head. "It'll be a good welcome to the family, to get a music lecture from you."
Her father chuckled. "That bad, am I?"
"I didn't say that," she replied.
jowriter: Hey Jim
tiberiusK: Hey Jo, what's up?
How'd that history test go?
jowriter: It was okay.
Thanks for your help!
tiberiusK: Any time.
I love European history
especially when you get to all those French kings.
jowriter: Dad said that's because you want to be a king.
tiberiusK: I like to think I would have made an excellent king, thank you very much.
Wise and fair and loved by his subjects.
jowriter: If you say so.
tiberiusK: You're not supposed to be dubious like your father.
You're supposed to be won over by my charm.
jowriter: I do accept bribes.
tiberiusK: No chance :p but nice try.
Anyway I wanted to warn you.
I know you and Dad said you weren't going to exchange presents this year
with the house and all
but he's making you a playlist.
tiberiusK: A playlist? Like, a mix CD?
He actually makes them a lot.
I dunno why he hasn't subjected you to them yet.
He puts them on a pin drive with the liner notes.
tiberiusK: Liner notes? Seriously?
They're like, five pages long and full of who's in what band and when the song was written and important lyrics and what mood you should be in when you listen to it and a bunch of other junk.
He works really hard on them.
tiberiusK: That's actually kind of sweet.
jowriter: That's Dad, pretty much.
tiberiusK: Yeah, pretty much.
Does he make a cover for them?
jowriter: No, he thinks that you should have the original cover art and the album and track and all that stuff.
He just gives you the liner notes.
tiberiusK: So I guess I'd better get cracking on a mix for him, huh?
and I'm so making a cover.
Say, can I run it past you, maybe, when I'm done?
You've had a lot more indoctrination into what music he likes than I have.
jowriter: I will happily use that knowledge for good.
"Hey kiddo, you got a sec?"
Joanna looked up from The Sound and the Fury, where Quentin Compson was growing increasingly tiresomeand Dad had said the night before that he was only going to get worse. "Sure Dad. What is it?"
"Well," he said, sitting down in her other chair, "you know I've been making this mix for Jim."
"So I uh, I wondered if you'd just look at it, keep me from doing anything, you know, dorky." He stared down at the paper in his hand.
Joanna smiled, reminded how shy Dad could be sometimes, in spite of all the bluster. "Sure."
"Great," he said, and handed her a list of songs. "Um, it's on the shared thing." He pointed at her iTunes.
"Where are the liner notes?" she asked as she pulled the playlist up.
"That'sthose are personal, Jo."
Joanna looked up at him, and he was actually blushing a little. She smiled and hit play.
"What?" he asked.
"Nothing," she said. She glanced at the songs she knew. "Wow, this is pretty schmoopy."
"Yeah, you know, lovey-dovey."
"Oh. Well, yeah, I guess."
"Lovey-dovey is good when you're making a mix tape for your boyfriend you bought a house with."
Dad cocked his head. "You really think so?" he asked. "I know we've talked about it, but you really are okay? With the move and everything?"
She shrugged. "It's not like I have friends next door. And there's not enough room for Jim in this house, even without David. Besides, my room will be bigger and we'll have a pool."
"Okay." Joanna put her hand over her father's, sitting on the desk. "It makes me feel better if I stay really late at school or go out with my friends on a weeknight to know that you aren't home by yourself. And I'll be leaving for college."
"In two and a half years!" he said.
Joanna shook her head. "That's not really that long, Dad. Not in parent-time."
"Anyway I like him," she said, "and since you're giving him liner notes I can't read, so do you."
"I do," he said, smiling a little. "So how's the mix?"
"I think it's sweet. I think he'll like it just fine. It's very you."
"Well, Jim likes classic rock, right?"
"Unfortunately," her father said, scowling.
"So he's direct. Uncomplicated emotions."
"He'll love this mix because you gave it to him, but if you want to make him a mix he'll actually listen to because he likes the music ..."
"Pop," they said in unison.
"You can look through my library for songs," Joanna said. "And there is pop you actually like."
"I know," he said. "You're right. Don't mind me."
"You can just give him this one," she said. "He'll be really touched."
"No, I'll do another mix," he said. "I'll just think of it as a challenge."
Joanna smiled. "So how's Bibi Besch?"
"Your friend Carol had a lot of notes," he said, rolling his eyes. "How's Quentin?"
She wrinkled her nose. "Don't ask."
tiberiusK: Hey did you get the email?
tiberiusK: With the link and the notes?
What did you think?
jowriter: It's fun.
I haven't heard most of these songs before.
tiberiusK: I'm not surprised given how your dad is about classic rock.
jowriter: Yeah, about that
You know how he feels about teenagers listening to music older than they are.
tiberiusK: You think I should do something different?
jowriter: You don't have to.
He'll be pleased with this one.
I mean, he isn't even expecting anything at all.
tiberiusK: He never does.
You know, I think I will make him another one.
And I know just what to put on it: the music on the radio when we were teenagers.
jowriter: Eighties songs? Cool, he'll be all over that.
I hope you give him this one too.
tiberiusK: You think?
But if you write any liner notes
don't include that lyric about dreaming you're a tree and Dad's a river or something
tiberiusK: But Jo!
He kept me alive with his sweet flowing love!
Also, remember how Dad's a writer?
tiberiusK: He does like a clever lyric.
Well, I can give him that.
Whatcha working on tonight?
jowriter: A project for French class.
I'm translating this album by The Prototypes.
They're a French indie band.
tiberiusK: Let me guess
You got it from your father.
Sometimes he comes in handy.
Especially since the teacher said we couldn't use Edith Piaf.
jowriter: Tell me about it.
Of course when the mixes were exchanged Joanna wasn't there, though she heard about it latermostly from Jim.
Their little family of fourLeonard, Joanna, Jim and Davidhad their holiday celebration at the McCoy house on the 23rd. Leonard and Jim dropped the kids off with their respective mothers the next day, after which they planned to drive east to the mountains to spend a week in a cabin stocked with all the essentials and plenty of inessentials.
Leonard arrived at Jim's house to find him throwing a few last things into his bag. "So, about this car trip"
"Bones, I know that you're nervous about the snow up there," Jim said, "but honestly I grew up driving in the stuff, and I've driven in the San Bernadinos plenty of times, and it's all main roads until pretty much the driveway, and we have a Jeep, and you know I'll be careful."
"Oh," Leonard said, blinking, "no, that isn't what I meant." He pulled an envelope out of his pocket. "I was gonna give you this at the cabin," he said, "but you might want it now."
Jim grinned as he took the little packet. Inside, as he expected, was a pin drive. "Wow, this isyou made two?" he asked as he flipped through the accompanying booklet.
"Yeah," Leonard said. "The first one is all indie music, but Jo wasn't sure about whether you'd like it, so I made a second mix that's got a lot of pop. But it's the same sentiment, or at least I like to think so."
"Oh, so she said that to you, too."
"Me too? Did she"
"Yeah," Jim replied, pulling out his own gift for Leonard.
"Well," Leonard said, smiling a little as he opened the box. "I wasn't expecting this."
"I know," Jim said, smiling back. "My first one is classic rock, but after I talked to Jo I made a second one that's like, the mix tape I would have made for you if we'd met in 1988. Because I've seen pictures of you from then and I would so totally have had a crush on you. Though you were a lot older, so you probably would have just found me annoying."
"I doubt that," he said. "Why 1988?"
"Because that summer's when Pike gave me the camera and you decided to be a writer," Jim replied.
"Quite a coincidence," Leonard said.
"Right? And I know you love eighties music. But my liner notes aren't as extensive as yours."
Leonard waved his hand. "I get carried away," he said.
"Oh, we both do, just about different things," Jim said. "I mean, I've been flinging swatches and furniture ideas at you for three months now."
"Yes, I remember your feelings about foyers," Leonard replied, raising his eyebrows.
Jim wagged a finger. "Foyers are wasteful, ostentatious, and the opposite of welcoming," he said. "The huge empty entrance with the grand staircase is a horrible trend, Bones. Maybe a little hallway with a coat rack and a table for mail but that's it. Your front door should open into your actual house."
"Good thing ours does, then," he replied, looking down at the list of songs for Jim's mixes. "Huh, how about that."
"We used the same song. Only I have a cover and you have the original."
"That's kind of awesome," Jim replied. "So, you're gonna read the liner notes to me while we drive up there, right?"
"You want me to do that?" Leonard asked.
"'Course," Jim said. "I mean, you talk about the music in the car anyway, so how is this different?"
"Okay," Leonard said, chuckling. He was blushing a little, with that pleased smile he got only rarely, and Jim felt like he'd won the jackpot.
"Hey, remember after we spent last Christmas with your ex, watching Clay be an ass, I said this year we'd find something better to do?"
"Yeah, I remember," Leonard said. "We sure did, didn't we?"
"And it's only just started," Jim said. "Thanks for the present, Bones. Merry Christmas."
"Merry Christmas, darlin'," Leonard replied, and leaned in for a kiss.
Joanna had been mostly right. Jim listened to the pop mix a lot more often; it quickly became his general psych-up music, for when he needed to flood himself with positive thoughts. But the indie mix was pulled out whenever Dad was away for a few days and Jim felt lonely. Dad did shudder a little at the classic rock, though several of the songs really grew on him, and they were Jim all over. On the other hand the eighties mix got so much play in the car that Joanna eventually protested.
Jo's reward for her Christmas gift guidance was that the mixes kept Dad and Jim cheerful through the move and the whole merging of households bit, which could have been a lot more stressful than it ended up being. Her room was bigger (she got a cool love seat to go under one of the windows) and there was a pool, but the biggest difference was seeing her father's stuff and Jim's stuff intermingled in the living room, and everything padded and child-proofed because David was getting ready to walk any day now. And with the big rec room and the huge movie collection she could have friends over much more often. Even though Dad grumbled about feeding "hoards of hungry teenagers" she could tell he was pleased to have the hangout house.
The bonus reward, if you could call it that, came early in February, when her French study group got a ride back to her new house from another parent with a mini-van. They'd been assigned to watch a French new wave movie, and she was pretty sure Jim owned at least one of those. Jo didn't bother to call ahead, though she'd texted about getting a ride home, because Tuesday nights David was around which meant Dad and Jim were home anyway. She could hear Rihanna playing in the living room through front door as she opened it. Then she stopped short.
When Jo was little, she'd seen her parents dancing on occasion, usually slow dancing, though sometimes they'd salsa while waiting for the babysitter to come. She didn't remember there being anything embarrassing about it, but then, she'd been pretty young.
But now her father and Jim were dancing to "Umbrella" as though they were in a club, hips and chests pressed against each other and legs entwined. David was nearby in his bouncy chair, laughing and jumping and clapping along to the song. The music wasn't that loud, but Dad and Jim still didn't immediately notice that Joanna was standing in the doorway with five of her friends watching them.
When Jim looked up he just smiled. "Hey, Jo," he said, and stepped back from Dad to turn the music down. He walked up to the door and invited them all in, guiding them past Joanna, shaking hands with the kids he knew and introducing himself to the ones he didn't as though nothing was out of the ordinary at all. Jo realized that Dad was completely right: Jim Kirk was never embarrassed by anything.
Dad, at least, had the good sense to stand still and stare right back at her. He was blushing and stammering a bit before he finally said, "You didn't say you were bringing anyone home."
"Well, from now on I will!"
"Good!" She crossed her arms. "Because seriously, Dad!"
Jim came up behind her, putting an arm around her, and it was then she noticed that her friends had all gone downstairs ahead of her. "Laugh it off," he said, "and your friends won't even care."
Jo glared at him, because even though he was probably right she was still annoyed. "This is your fault, too," she said.
"Absolutely," Jim replied, and she recognized the mild tone he used when he was trying to calm down her father.
"Fine," she said, "but you guys are so making us falafel for dinner!"
"Okay," Dad said.
"Okay," she said, and headed downstairs.
Behind her she heard Dad say, "Damnit, Jim!"
Jim was chuckling. "C'mon, Bones, it wasn't so bad. And David loves falafel, don't you, champ?"
Downstairs, Joanna said, "Sorry, guys. They're like newlyweds or something." She rolled her eyes.
"S'ok," said Marc, the guy Joanna maybe sorta kinda had a crush on though she hadn't admitted that to anyone yet. "At least you know Jim. He's not like, girlfriend-of-the-week."
"Yeah, that's true," Joanna said. "Anyway, they're making us falafel."
"Awesome," Marc said, smiling. "I love falafel."
"Me too," Jo said, and thought that maybe Dad and Jim dancing in the living room wasn't so bad, after all.