Friday, 15 January 2016

#whimword - Citizen

Everyone in the Commonwealth wants to be a citizen. It means you're civilized, accepted; you have rights. Only a tiny fraction of the Commonwealth's inhabitants ever acquire citizenship, and most of them are wealthy. For those born without means the only way to obtain citizenship is through service.

Joining the army is the fastest route to becoming a citizen, but it's also an excellent way to get killed. Jace chose to serve in planetary security; it takes about twice as long to earn citizenship that way, but it's much safer. Which had been fine with Jace's husband in the beginning, but he's starting to get a little frustrated with how long it's taking.

Tom wants kids, they both do, but the only way they were ever going to get permission to adopt is if one of them obtains citizenship. And Tom had been barred from serving in most professions that led to citizenship after he'd lost his leg in the hovercar accident. Over the last few years Jace has come to realise that the man he loves isn't going to wait forever to start a family.

Jace needs to get his citizenship, and soon.

Which is why he was using his security clearance to break into the Commonwealth Citizenship offices in the dead of night. All it will take is a few changes in a database and he will become a citizen. And then his husband will stay with him and they can start the family they'd always dreamed of.

His mission is interrupted by the blare of alarms. Jace's heart is in his mouth as the security barriers come crashing down around him. There's no point in running; his heart is already broken. Without his citizenship there is no doubt that Tom will leave him and it'll all be for nothing. He lies on the ground with his hands on his head and submits meekly.

The trial is smooth and justice is swift; Jace had been caught red-handed abusing security privileges and trespassing on Commonwealth government property. He doesn't bother protesting his innocence. The judge sentences him to twenty years in prison and he's permanently barred from obtaining citizenship.

Prison isn't too bad; he gets fed and is kept busy but he misses Tom. Family aren't allowed to visit until after the first year of the sentence; Jace doesn't expect to see Tom even then. Surely he will have moved on; taken up with someone who can provide the children he so desperately wants.

After a year and a day in prison, Jace receives a visitor. When he sees his husband on the other side of the security glass he almost breaks down in tears he's so glad to see him.

"I thought I'd never see you again," he says crying.

"Oh you dolt," Tom says affectionately. "I love you."

Maybe they do still have a future together, despite prison and the ruined chances of having a family. Maybe Jace is enough after all, even without being a citizen.

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