[profile] 7s_prompts 11.4.2. Ten memories you have of your father or a father-figure.

Jun. 14th, 2010 11:03 pm
theirgoldenboy: (This weight on my shoulders)
[personal profile] theirgoldenboy
There wasn't much in his world, just then.

There was a pair of warm hands, holding him against a warm arm, wool of a sweater scratchy. Such big strong hands, like they could hold all the world; they could hold most of him, in fact.

His own little stubby fingers were wrapped tight into dark hair, straight and nice and smooth against his palm. He wasn't tugging much.

And there was that deep voice rumbling low and amused in the chest Caleb was pressed against, besides heartbeat.

There wasn't much in his world, just then, but everything was all right.

~~~

Caleb looked up when his mother suddenly went silent mid-word; she was staring up at his father and he couldn't see her expression very well.

He did see when she let go of his hand. Reached up, then held some of William's hair between finger and thumb. White was starkly contrasting with the soft night.

His father reached in turn, cupping her chin. Brushing a thumb over her cheek – Caleb thought he saw something glimmer there.

Then she clenched her chin, shook her head, and stepped back, turned away. Bent down determinedly to finish getting their son ready for pre-school.

~~~

It didn't matter how it started, any time. Didn't matter where they were, or what exactly they were playing at. But some of the times when the world seemed a perfect place to Caleb were the times when his father and godfather were both joining him and his friends or just him and Pogue in the game.

When the two men, sometimes in tuxes and bow-ties and gelled hair, would end up running around the hallway besides their sons, tenor and baritone mingling with the boys' voices in laughter of untarnished, inextinguishable joy.

They were all good at it, too!

~~~

September was maybe early to have a fire burning. And it wasn't that cold, either, not enough for his father to be hunched with a blanket in the armchair by the fireplace, but he did love how the wood smelled.

Besides, he was too excited to consider it too much. He was telling William of his first day at school, and his father was bright and smiling and asking questions about it, and later he got to curl up at his feet and be read to until he couldn't tell the cracking of the flames from that of the man.

~~~

Caleb had turned ten in September. It was Christmas Eve tonight. There was a tree, and decorations, and the presents are perfect.

What wasn't was watching, after the wide smile and warm words, his father slowly rise to his feet, and laboriously, step by step, make his way upstairs. His back was hunched, his skin was wrinkled, and his hair was white. And he creaked.

The boy knew what that meant.

When Evelyn retired, he climbed up to the roof and sat in the snow, all on his own for a long time. He was not watching out for Santa.

~~~

His godfather sat him down, in those confusing days. It couldn't have been easy for him, there was a strain to him almost worse than his mother's. Or maybe just not half-drowned in a decanter.

Caleb remembered the words he used, how William would still be there, but also, he wouldn't. That he couldn't tell anybody he was there, how there was funeral coming, and not ever after it, not outside the families and Gorman.

He remembered. Also the smell of Richard's jacket, the quiet voice, and the burning of his hand as he tugged him for a breathless hug.

~~~

He'd spend hours, sometimes. Sitting cross-legged in front of the fireplace, or, when that got uncomfortable, sprawled. Invariably eyes up, glued to William's face; invariably talking. Telling him about - life at school, or what he had read, or what he and the others had discovered or decided. What frightened him and what he was eager about and what left him indifferent.

It didn't get much of a response. The hiss of a respirator, rhythmic and unvaried. Very, very rarely, a look of the pale eyes in impossibly wrinkled skin.

It never matched when he was telling him something important.

~~~

The evening of Caleb's thirteenth birthday, Richard drove up to pick them both up, Caleb and his mom. His friends were already at the Parrys' house, ready and excited, the first very sleepless slumber party of four.

The hour came and went, with what it brought; he tried things and answered questions for a long time after.

The others fell asleep; he only got up and wandered the familiar mansion, shivering with the potential.

Richard called him from the library; they talked awhile. Somehow he ended up curled in his godfather's lap, too large and all. But that was alright.

~~~

Sophomore year at Spenser, they reached the state finals. Richard was there, cheering them both on alike; the worry-wrinkled eyes glowed unfeigned pride as the wet, excited youths descended on him, after, too happy for dignity.

He greeted them equally; for all purposes, Caleb was his son and he felt it.

Until Richard's unwaveringly certain words that William would have been proud of him.

It felt like a wringer drained away all the joy from Caleb, and he stood there, wet and shivering, until Pogue tugged him in the group hug again and he had to shake out of it.

~~~

He was beaten. Even if he wouldn't stop fighting.

Then the world steadied around his slipping grip; his lungs breathed deeply again, his fingers, also wrists, arms, and elbows tingled with more energy, sudden, exhilarating anew.

Chase's face twisted in angry surprise as his defensive motion actually caught the strike; he was too amped up to do likewise.

He called down lightning – or it came; he was pure Power personified and nothing could stop him.

But a small voice far, far back in his mind wished that he could have heard his voice one last time. Even those three words.
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Caleb Danvers

July 2011

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