Beautiful Child

by Flaw

Disclaimer: If I owned them they'd still be on the air for everyone to enjoy.

Notes: Sequel of sorts to Angry.

Feedback: Is probably better than chocolate chip cookies right out of the oven...probably :)

He wasn’t what I had been expecting.

When I first learned he was out there, I immediately went out and had myself a drink. But after the whiskey left my system I was already done with denial and straight into picturing how much like his mother he must look. She’d had the most beautiful blue eyes and long blond hair that I had loved to run my fingers through. But we hadn’t been together long; it was just one fateful summer in Texas before I was shipped out. We had agreed not to do long distance, as it would be just too hard, and after a few months of letters, we had stopped talking to each other all together. It wasn’t that I didn’t love her. Not at all. And if I had known she was pregnant I would have married her and got out of the service and found myself a steady job where we could have raised a family. But she never told me, and I never thought to ask. Our last days together were bittersweet. We were both young, and didn’t think we were ready to settle down. But I did love her, and if I had known then what I know as an older, wiser man, I would have snatched up true love when I had it at my finger tips. I would have been out of the service so fast, because if I were an older, wiser, man, I would have already known that love was more important than everything else.

But I wasn’t an older, wiser man, and so I never thought to look. I never even knew she’d died. And I certainly didn’t know she had left a son behind. I wasn’t suspicious until I got a phone call from a private investigator on behalf of one Christopher Larabee. I didn’t really know until I had a conversation with the man himself.

After I finally left the service, I moved back to Texas and found myself work as a police officer. Eventually, I found myself a decent woman and had a few children. Looking back on it now, I know that what I felt with his mother isn’t at all what I feel with my wife. I love them both, and my wife is a wonderful companion and partner, but Emily Tanner? That was the stuff poems are written about, that was the stuff people all over the world yearn for, and I had given it up. But now, now I was dreaming about the beautiful child of our love, and I knew already that I loved him too. How could I not love anything that came from her and what we shared together? But I was also scared.

Chris didn’t tell me much on the phone. Not that there weren’t a million things to say, but Chris is a smart man who knew that certain things could only come from my son. My son! I have three daughters with Rosaline, and I love them, but I won’t lie and say I didn’t want a boy. A son I could teach how to play baseball, and change a tire. But he probably already knows those things, and from what Chris said on the phone, he probably knows a lot about the things any father would give his life to protect his boy from. I’ve already cried tears for stories I don’t even know, for the missed chance to be with my son and shelter him from all the evil in this world.

Rosaline was surprised to hear about Emily, but only because it wasn’t something that came up before specifically. We both knew we had had other lovers, but I suppose the difference was that Rosaline knew for sure she didn’t have any other children out there waiting to be discovered. She was supportive of me going to meet the boy, or the man rather. She even went so far as to mention meeting him herself in Denver if I couldn’t convince him to come home to Texas and meet the whole family that was waiting for him there. My parents were thrilled, even more so than I had been. I was raised in a loving household, and my friends were welcomed with arms held as wide open as they were for me. They welcomed the opportunity for another grandchild and had already contacted their travel agent about trips to Denver before I told them that I thought I should make first contact on my own. When I left the house to get on an airplane, my youngest daughter was kind enough to point out that I’d better not screw it up for the rest of them. My youngest was a smart girl who was already in love with an older brother she could brag about to her middle school classmates.

And so I flew up to Denver with an image of a beautiful child, already well loved and smiling. Sure, he was grown up now, but still. I had an image of Emily Tanner, pleased to see me and ready to become a part of my life. And so, he wasn’t what I had expected.

To say he was angry would be a lie. He wasn’t angry, at least not that I could tell. I met him by accident in the lobby of the building where he worked and recognized him immediately. I didn’t need pictures of him or anything. One look into baby blue eyes and I knew he could only be Emily’s boy. My boy. He was coming back from his lunch break with a McDonald’s coffee in one hand and he shook my hand with other, but otherwise didn’t give much of a response to my name, to why a stranger might be in his building. I guessed then that Chris Larabee must not have told him the details. But when we got up to the office I knew I was wrong. It wasn’t that he was angry with me, it was more that he just didn’t really care.

He went to his desk without giving me a second glance, but then Chris was there with his hand out and we went into his office where we could chat a little, and where I suppose Vin could get used to me being there enough to come and say hello or whatever he wanted to say to me. I already knew he was my son, and he could have told me anything at all in the world and I would have still loved him.

“He’s not angry with you,” Chris said, looking me over, and I felt that I was there for an interview instead of a reunion with the child I didn’t know I’d lost. “He’s not angry any more, at least.”

And I looked at Chris for a while before saying, “Already threw everything in the office that couldn’t be tied down, then, eh?”

Chris stared at me a while longer before throwing his head back and laughing. We laughed together. It was nervous, but it went a long way.

“How’d you know?” he asked, and he was suddenly a lot more friendly than the gruff man I’d talked to on the phone or the distant one that had shook my hand.

“Emily,” I said, “his mother. I can’t imagine any child of hers wouldn’t feel everything as deeply as she did.”

And Chris nodded, and looked out into the office. I followed his glance only to see my boy, Vin, duck his head and pretend he wasn’t watching us both with those piercing hawk eyes.

“He’s not angry,” Chris said again, “but he’s not okay with you yet either, Karl.”

I nodded this time, and kept watching the bent head, the hair falling in soft curls he must have gotten from me because his mother’s hair had been straighter than straight. I didn’t know if my hair would curl, though, because it had been buzzed ever since football practice, which was well before I was required to keep it short for the service. The service I was now wishing more than ever I had left to be with Emily, to be with Vin. Because even though I couldn’t see his face, I knew he was beautiful, knew he was filling up a hole in my life just by being 20 feet away from me and not making eye contact. I knew I wished I could have know him since he came into this world, and I knew I wanted to spend the rest of the time we had getting to know him, getting to love him more than I already did.

“That’ll take time,” I said, looking back at Chris. “But it’s time I’m more than willing to give.”

The End