A Bold Choice
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"…and I say this, in the name of Jesus Christ, amen."

"Amen," said the congregation. Cal looked down at his program and saw that Sister Batalon was speaking next. She stepped up to the pulpit. "Brothers and sisters, it is an honor to speak to you today…"

Cal listened intently. Her messages were always the kindest and most heartfelt. She loved talking about her friends, both members and non-members, and how proud she was of them.

A motion caught his eye. Cal turned his head to look and… well, well, well. A young man, with a beard and sunglasses, was waving at him. When he saw he'd caught Cal's eye, he motioned for him to come to the door he was at. Cal turned briefly to Sister Batalon, who was now speaking about her son and his trials in the Air Force. Cal turned back and mouthed "later". The man kept motioning that he come talk, but Cal shook his head. Eventually the man rolled his eyes and mouthed "fine".

Cal turned his eyes back to the pulpit. Sister Batalon kept speaking for several minutes, but by this point, his heart just wasn't in it. He would have loved the talk, but with David on his mind now, he just couldn't focus. What did he want so badly?

Cal's hands began shaking. The more he thought about David, the more stressed and anxious he felt. He pulled out a sheet of paper from his notebook and began folding it. The order and rhythm helped him, but his nerves were still frayed. He started giggling quietly, not because anything was funny, but because of how absurd it all was.

Eventually, the talk was over. Bishop Gayle gave a brief message, followed by the ward singing the closing song, Battle Hymn of the Republic, one of Cal's favorites. Brother Tailor walked to the pulpit to give a closing prayer, and after it was over, Cal stood up and left the meeting room. He spotted David sitting on one of the couches and walked over. He tried to carry himself naturally, confidently, but he felt sick to his stomach, fear taking hold of him.

Cal tried to keep himself calm. Whatever differences they had, David had made it clear that he and Cal were still brothers. Cal loved David, and David loved him back. But if David was here, something serious was going on.

Cal stopped next to David, who turned to face him. "I thought you weren't coming back," said Cal, a hint of curiosity in his voice.

David smirked. "Don't get your hopes up, I'm only here because it's important. Besides," he patted the upholstery, "Say what you will about the Church, they have the most comfortable couches."

"You couldn't even afford a couch, Davey?" Cal sat down next to him. If David was making jokes, it couldn't be all that bad. He felt the tension inside of him release slightly.

David scowled. "I can now. Don't push your luck with me, Cal. You're the only member of this family I tolerate, which is the only reason I'm here now." The knot of tension remanifested in Cal's stomach.

"Something big," said Cal, wringing his hands nervously.

"I got a job."

Cal snickered. "So now you can afford your fantasy couch?" David glared at him. "Fine, I'm just messing with you. But what's the job have to do with me?"

David pulled back his left sleeve and looked longingly at the stump where a hand used to be. After a few moments, he pulled his sleeve over it and sighed.

"I walked out of the hospital with nothing. Money wasted on endless hospital bills. And even after most of me was fixed-"

"You're one hand down."

David nodded solemnly.

"Mom and Dad wanted to help," said Cal.

"Don't guilt me, Cal. Don't turn this into my mistake. I made my choice, I don't need them in my life anymore." David noticed Cal's mournful expression and stopped. "Sorry. I'm not here to talk about that." A brief silence passed between them.

"Now you have a job," said Cal.

David sighed. "Right. I got an email one day. Nothing much to it, but I was desperate, so I took the gamble. And it paid off."

"What kind of job?"

"I can't tell you that yet. But the guy who took me on, he asked about you. He'd seen how smart you were, what you'd done in school, at the lab you work at, and was interested in you as well."

Cal raised his eyebrows. "What did you say?"

"Considering the job? I told them it was out of the question. You'd never feel good doing something like that."

"But what is it?"

"It's big, Cal. As in, worldwide big. Bunch of crazy, secret stuff. It's all for the greater good and whatnot, but you have your own standards." David chuckled. "You'd never take up something like this."

"Then why are you trying to persuade me to?" asked Cal, "You know my standards, you know how I feel about things, even if you don't agree. But while you're saying I won't want any part in this, you're also trying to convince me to join you. What's the point?"

David sighed. "Sister Batalon's talk-"

"You were listening?"

"She had some interesting stories. But she was talking about her son. He's killed people, Cal, and you know it. Do you think that makes him any worse of a person? Would you be willing to tell his mother that he's evil?"

"Because he's doing it for the right reasons. He's not a warmonger."

"Exactly. But I say, he kills a guy, no context, it always sounds bad." David popped his knuckles - a habit which he and Cal shared. "You sometimes hear things, stuff that people do, and you think that it's wrong, just at a glance. People say the same thing about you, what you believe, right?"

Cal nodded. "But are you saying that this will conflict with my faith? My standards?"

"No, Cal. Because you're a man of faith, not just in God, but in people. That's why I'm here. Because you trust me, you have faith in me."

For a few moments, they sat in silence. By this point, the rest of the ward was in their meetings or lessons. The only disturbance to Cal's thoughts was a man carrying a baby down the hall, softly singing to her as she slept. For a few moments, Cal prayed silently, asking for guidance.



"You can't tell me anything else about this, right?"


Cal put his hand on his brother's arm. "I need you to be honest with me. You know me, you know where I stand. If I took this offer, would I regret it?"

David sighed. "If I told you exactly what goes on there? You wouldn't go for it. But if you saw it for yourself, if you knew what you were doing, you wouldn't regret it."



Cal nodded. "Tell them I'm interested."

David nodded and stood up. Before he could leave, Cal said to him, "Davey."

He turned around. "Yeah?"

Cal hesitated. He wanted to say something, to make it better. David was right there, about to leave. Now was his last chance for who knew how long.

"Nothing, sorry," said Cal. "Here's to hoping I get the job."

David smiled. "I hope so." He walked out the door.

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