Disclaimer: If I owned them they'd still be on the air for everyone to enjoy.
Notes: A sequel of sorts to Angry and Beautiful Child. Can be read on its own...I think.
Feedback: Is often the highlight of an otherwise dreary day...and I'm not above trying to make you feel bad enough for me to send a note. ;)
I had finally convinced Chris that if I went out for lunch Id come back again. I was only hoping that maybe a lunch break would be a convenient time to miss a certain visit hed been planning. Only, my timing has never been a thing to write home about, that is, if there were even a home to write to most days, and he was in the lobby when I got back. My first thought was that Chris had sent him there to wait for me, ambush me even. But he looked as surprised as I felt and when he held out his hand to greet me with an impersonal handshake, I took his hand and pretended that it didnt matter. I pretended that nothing of this was affecting me. We rode the elevator up together, and for once, the small space didnt bother me. But it wasnt because I was with daddy-dearest. It was because I was doing my best not to punch him in the face. I was doing my best to prove to him that I didnt care.
But I do.
Hes sitting in Chriss office, and theyve been laughing a bit, but mostly just chatting and watching me pretend not to watch them while I sit at my desk. Ive been watching because I keep thinking that something will come back to me. A memory from before I was even born. A sense of some recognition. I could see it in his face that he saw something he knew when he looked at me. But I didnt see anything in return. It wasnt like looking at Chris the first time and knowing that Id finally found the brother my soul had always been yearning for. It wasnt even like meeting the boys the first time and recognizing something kindred in them, recognizing that Id found a family when Id least expected it. It wasnt anything like that at all.
I looked at him in the lobby, and if I hadnt known he was coming, I would have walked by him and never gave it a second thought. And I think that hurts worse than anything else could have. What if I had walked by him before, in the past when I needed him? What if I could have had a normal childhood with a family but I didnt because there isnt anything in him that I recognize? So Im wearing my blank face. Because I cant let myself think about that without breaking down in the office. I cant let him know that I care about how this is affecting me, about what might happen now that hes walked into my life.
Twenty-seven years ago I was born to the most beautiful woman in the world. She was kind and caring and used to hold me and rock me and sing to me songs that I cant remember except that she sang them in a sweet high voice that still rings in my ears some days when I wake up. I had five wonderful years with her, during which I cant remember her ever saying anything about a father or an extended family. I can only remember that she loved me, and that was enough. She loved me so much that we didnt need anyone else to make us more of a family. We didnt need anyone at all, until the point when she had to leave and there wasnt anyone there to save a little boy from the horrors of twenty-odd years alone. I liked to think, during those years, that it was enough because I had had my mother with me for a little while, but now, with the boys around me, I know that I was lying to myself. I know that I never want to give up what I have now. I know that I never again want to be without a family.
So why is it, now that Im being confronted with a father and all the other people that means he may bring with him, that Im sitting at my desk trying to show that world that I dont need this? That I dont care?
Because its easier to be apathetic, to push everything away, than it is to admit to myself that I want this, and that letting myself want it means I might lose it.
I know that Chris and the others arent going anywhere, short of anywhere that a bullet might send them because those are the risks we take in this job. I know that I could lose them, but the only way Ill lose them is a way that means theyre not leaving me voluntarily. Were already a family, and not even death will tear that apart. Just like my mother. I miss her, but I know that she still loves me, and she still watches over me. But this? This man who shows up after years of not giving a damn? Whats to keep him from walking away again?
I can see it in Chriss eyes that hell never leave me, that I can live each day knowing that hell be there for me if I need him. I can call him or I can drive out to find him, and if I cant, hell find me. I know that if I go missing or something happens to me, Chris and the boys will do their best to find me and help me. I never asked them for that, its just something that family does for each other, and I know that they know theyll get the same from me. We will always look after each other. This man shows up with a smile on his face and says hes my father, but it wasnt until Chris did something about it that he showed up. He didnt look for my mother, and whether he knew I was out there or not, he didnt look for me. If he never cared in the first place, how can I trust him to care in the future?
So I just dont care. If he sticks around, then Im not about to chase him out of town or anything, but I surely dont see it as my responsibility to try and make sure he stays. Besides, if he does take off, then I know I got six brothers wholl be there for me.
But if I dont care, why do I keep staring at him through the glass of the window in Chriss office. Why do I brace myself when the door opens and they step out together?
Chriss eyes are trying to tell me that its going to be okay, that he thinks we can trust this man. I stand up and face them directly, and I can feel the other boys lending their support. Its only a few drinks I tell myself. Its only sitting down and trying to have a conversation with a man Ive never met before. Its only trying to learn if theres a future for me that includes more than six brothers, but a father as well. I look up, brace myself to really meet his eyes for the first time and tell myself that it doesnt matter if what I see there isnt love and the knowledge that hes going to stick around. I tell myself that I just dont care.
I meet his gaze, and something inside me cracks.
I never was good at lying to myself, so even if I didnt recognize the man himself, I recognize something now that I think we can work with. I recognize something that Im not going to be able to ignore, something that Im already starting to care about.