Oh, The Places You'll Go

Fathers and Sons

Notes: I asked for year prompts for my My Two Gay Dads 'verse. laylee gave me 2011.

Casey drives Dan from the hotel to the funeral home. Charlie sits with him in back, holding his hand. Dan grips it tightly, leaning his cheek against the cool glass of the window, watching the world pass by so quickly. Time passed so quickly.

Dan remembers being Charlie's age, remembers how he'd given his heart away to the guy now driving silently along grey roads. Remembers how he'd thought he didn't have a heart left to give, that he had nothing left to break. He'd been so wrong.

He remembers sitting solemn at the dining table while his father had told him about how a boy becomes a man, about the weight of responsibility and faith, about promises and following the laws of Moses and, for some reason, about personal hygiene.

He remembers a hot summer and running to show off his ice cream. He had fallen and skinned his knee. Lost the ice cream too. Dan remembers the taste of salt mixed in with chocolate. He remembers David's sharp laughter and his father's rebuke. Being scooped up and set down on a table, cool cloth pressing on his knee, colder Popsicle pressed into his hand. He had known his father loved him then. He wonders why he can't think of another time.

He knows he failed his father. That he failed him long before Sam died. And he knows that he'll never understand why. He understands now that his father failed him too, that he had no right to give up on Dan the way he did, that being a father meant you didn't get to pick and choose. You loved your child just the way they were. He thinks about saying goodbye, about how his father had squeezed his hand but hadn't spoken, couldn't speak. He thinks he should have lied but he couldn't form the words.

Dan doesn't want to go to the service. He doesn't want to stand in the midst of clucking old relatives and neighbors, fussing over his hair and whether he's eating too much or too little. He doesn't want to see the mournful faces of his mother and his brother and sister and talk in soft tones about the dear departed. He doesn't want to feel on the outside unable to get in.

Mostly he doesn't want to disown his own family for the sake of peace. To introduce Casey and Charlie as less than they are, his partner (his husband) and his son. But he knows he will do it and he knows that each time he does it will hurt them as it hurts him. He is Peter and he has no choice.

His eyes sting and he lifts a hand to rub them. Charlie grips his hand harder.

"Dad," he says and Dan half-listens for Casey's response. There isn't one.

"Dad," says Charlie again, and this time Dan looks round to find Charlie looking at him, wide-eyed and solemn, a man and a child all at the same time. He sees Casey's eyes in the rear-view mirror and they're full but smiling.

"Dad," says Charlie a third time and the word explodes in Dan's heart like a fountain of stars. "You know I love you, right?"

Dan smiles and wraps his son in a tight embrace.

"I do. But I can always stand to hear it a little more. I love you too, Charlie boy."

He hugs him tight again and then releases him. The car is pulling to a stop.

"Thank you," he says. "Thank you, Charlie."

Dan takes a deep breath and opens the door and they walk up the path together, Casey and Charlie flanking Dan, keeping close. The door is open and they are about to walk in when they are greeted by a small, grey-haired man who is standing outside, smoking a pipe.

"Daniel? Is that you?"

"Mr. Cohen. Good to see you."

"Hamakom y'nachem etchem b'toch sh'ar availai tziyon ee yerushalayim, Daniel. And who are these fine, upstanding young men?"

Dan feels both Casey and Charlie take a small step away from him, almost in unison. His heart twists and his vision blurs, then everything clears. He reaches out and deliberately takes Casey's hand and puts an arm round Charlie's shoulder, pulling him close. He lifts his chin, defiant.

"This is my family, Mr. Cohen. Casey and Charlie McCall. My partner and my son."

Mr. Cohen raises his eyebrows and shrugs.

"Young people I do not understand. Go. Go. You will be late."

Dan feels Casey's thumb stroke down his palm and Charlie's arm going around his waist. He feels free.

They go inside.

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