PLEASE SEE INDEX PAGE FOR DISCLAIMERS & OTHER CHAPTERS
Chapter Notes: Written for the schmoop_bingo prompt "Wild card - Memories - scrapbook/photo album".
Chapter 12 :: Father's Day
By A. Magiluna Stormwriter
++ Dana ++
"Hey, baby," Monica's voice comes sleepily from the bedroom door. "It's pretty late. Are you coming to bed?"
Shaking my head, I continue placing and removing pictures on the pages. Nothing is turning out right, nothing looks good at all, and to say I'm getting frustrated is a gross understatement. Pulling all of the pictures off the page again, I fight back a growl. "Why are you being so damned difficult?"
"Are you still looking through those pictures your brother sent you?" Monica asks, pulling out the chair next to me as she sits down.
"They're not going together like I wanted them to," is my complaint. Even I can hear the exhaustion and tears threatening to explode in my voice. Sighing, I drop my head into my hands in defeat. "I just want to get one damned page to look right. Is that so much to ask for?"
She rests a hand on my shoulder for a moment before easing it over to curl around the back of my neck. Those long, strong fingers begin to gently massage at the base of my skull. Almost immediately, a sense of lassitude steals over me, and my head feels heavier in my palms.
"Not too much to ask at all," she says softly, not letting up on her impromptu massage. "But, Dana, it's after midnight and you look totally worn out. You really should get some sleep. Who knows? Maybe once you've gotten a little shuteye, you'll have a whole new perspective on how this should look."
"But tomor -- today is Father's Day. I wanted this done for William for today." Do I seriously sound that damned petulant right now? This must be the voice that my mother always hated coming out of my mouth when I was younger.
Snapping up to stare at her, my eyes narrow. "What do you mean 'why'?"
"I mean, why does it need to be done today? Just because it's Father's Day? Or is there some other reason?"
"Because…" I pause for a moment, considering her question. Images of my father race through my mind, all trying to take center stage, but none lasting long enough to do more than offer a quick glimpse at a single memory within a lifetime of them. "…because I want William to know his grandfather, even if he's never going to be able to meet him."
"And that can only happen on Father's Day?"
Her voice is still soft and gentle, slightly riddled with sleepiness, and she returns to massaging the base of my skull and neck again. The sensation is beginning to do its job as exhaustion floods my system. Without thought, I shift to lean closer to her, head unerringly finding her shoulder. Her lips press against my temple, and I can feel tears stinging behind my closed eyelids.
"But nothing, baby; you have a whole lifetime to help William get to know his grandfather. And there are other people that can help you with that, right? I bet your mother and your brothers and sister would love to share stories with William."
"I know, but…"
"But you want to do it yourself, right?" I scowl at her pointed question, but nod anyway. "And I'm sure that he'll love seeing the pictures and hearing the stories, but he's only two years old, and barely that. How much do you think he's going to remember from today in another year?" She leans back to tilt my chin up until I meet her gaze. "I'm not saying that you shouldn’t tell him about his grandfather as much as you possibly can. That would just be stupid. But I am saying that you have time to get this scrapbook done for him. Memories are not a onetime thing, baby, and you know that as well as I do. So why don't we go to bed, get some sleep, and start in on this again later in the morning?"
"I suppose you're right," I finally concede.
"Besides, it's your turn to get up with William, and I'll be damned if you're going to use this scrapbook as an excuse to get out of it." The twinkle of amusement in her eyes, combined with the corner of her mouth twitching as she fights a knowing smirk, is enough to make me chuckle softly.
"You're a pain in my ass, Monica Reyes." I lean in to press a gentle kiss to her lips. "But I love you anyway."
"Hey, Mom, it's Dana."
"Dana, dear, how are you doing? And how are my grandson and Monica doing?"
Just the sound of her voice wraps me in instant comfort, and I wish she was here today. "We're doing just fine. Listen, I was thinking this morning and I had a question for you. Um, Bill sent me some pictures of Dad last week, said he found them going through an old box of mine that got mixed up in his stuff. I was thinking of making a scrapbook for William, and I need some help."
The conversation continues as I lay out my plans for the scrapbook. By the end of the call, not only has my mother agreed to help me with the project, but it's suddenly expanded to be a gift for all of her grandchildren. I'm not quite sure how I got roped into being the project manager, so to speak, other than it was my project idea to start with, but I'm thrilled with the idea nonetheless. We make plans for another call later in the week to discuss further plans, and hopefully they'll include a trip to Vegas for my family. It's not like they couldn't all use a vacation anyway.
Happily humming to myself, I set my cell phone aside and look at the notepad filled with scribbles and sketches based on our phone call. This could really work out nicely, and it'll be a fantastic tribute to my dad.
"Did your call end already?" Monica asks, coming out of the bathroom with a towel-clad William in her arms.
"Yeah, sorry about that. Mom had made plans for lunch with Charlie and his new girlfriend, so she had to go. But she said to send her love to you and William, and promised that she'll make sure she has time to say hello when we talk later this week."
"So the call was a good one?" she asks, dropping onto the couch to start drying William off a little more.
Smiling broadly, I move to join them on the couch and offer both of them a light kiss. "Definitely; Mom ended up talking me into expanding my scrapbook idea for all of her grandkids. A full Scully family tree kind of thing. That way, all of the grandkids get the same stories and pictures, and nothing hopefully gets left out from the family history."
Monica chuckles knowingly and winks at me. "See? I told you that some sleep would let you tackle your problems in a fresh new way that would be more beneficial. I don't know why you don't trust me more often when I tell you these things."
"Oh shush, you!" I retort, poking her cheek lightly. "Or you don't get to have any ice cream with me and William."
"Ice cream?" he asks, squirming to get to me.
"Clothes first, Billy Bear," Monica says, tightening her hold on him slightly. "Then again, maybe we shouldn't put clothes on him. He's just going to get them all dirty and need another bath."
"You just don't want to do laundry."
"There is that," she admits with a grin.
Working in tandem, we get William dressed quickly and stand up to head toward the Great Room and the main kitchen. Opening the door, I'm not surprised at all to see everyone gathered for lunch. Obviously, Kerry decided that she'd cook for the whole great clan of us yet again. William whines a bit that he has to eat real food before his ice cream, but stops that as soon as he sees the macaroni that he adores more than anything in the world. Besides ice cream, of course.
If I didn't know any better, I'd think that Kerry was spoiling my son rotten with his favorite foods. But I do know better, because she does it with all of the kids, and none of them have any idea just how nutritious their favorite foods really are. In the end, does it really matter if they know or not? She can get them to eat just about anything, and that includes several of the adults living at the Ranch.
"That was fun," I admit as we step back into the apartment, following Monica into William's bedroom so she can put him down for a nap. He always wears himself out the hardest when the rest of his extended family of siblings is around to play with him, particularly Jimmy and Michel. "I keep forgetting just how tiring all of those children can be when they're wound up and hyper."
Monica chuckles and gets William settled relatively easily. Pocketing the monitor, she reaches for my hand and leads me back into the main room. Stopping at the table, she waits until I sit down before going to grab two glasses and a bottle of merlot from the wine cooler. She opens the bottle with practiced ease, and I can't help but stare at her hands as she goes through the steps of uncorking and pouring the wine for us.
"You're staring, babe," she teases softly, setting one glass in front of me.
I can feel the blush heating my cheeks just the slightest bit. "I can't help myself. I love watching you do anything and everything. You know that."
Broad smile lighting up her face, Monica leans over to trace my cheek with a fingertip. "I do know it, very well in fact, but I also happen to love hearing you say it." She leans in closer, lips following the same path her finger had just taken, ending with a tender kiss that tastes of mocha ice cream and Monica. "So…"
"I have a question for you," she says, straightening in her chair and reaching for a picture of my family when I was thirteen years old. "I know you wanted to name William after your father, but why didn't you make him William Scully III?"
Tracing the image of my dad's face, I shake my head. "That was Bill's job to continue the name, which he finally did when he and Tara had Billy five years ago. And before you ask it, I wouldn't have made William a fourth either. That's not my option. Besides, I like to think that Ahab would have liked Gabe and would approve of William's name."
"Ahab?" she asks and takes a sip of her wine.
"Yes, Ahab. I've told you this before, Mon, or have you forgotten? I called Dad Ahab and he called me Starbuck."
"Like the character from Battlestar Galactica? The hotshot, womanizing pilot?"
"No, smartass!" I reply, slapping at her shoulder when she laughs. "Like the character from Moby Dick. Like my favorite book when I was growing up. Did you not read any of the classics?"
"They bored me."
Sighing, I drink my own wine and study the picture again. "You're so much like Melissa, it's scary."
"Maybe that's why your family likes me so much," she offers, attempting -- and failing -- to offer an innocent smile.
"You hang around Dace far too much for your own good, Monica."
Monica just grins and picks up another picture. "Tell me about this picture. Dana."
Taking a glance at it, I smile at the memory. "This one is of me and my father with that stupid bb gun that Bill and Charlie got me for my birthday. They thought they were being smart to buy it for me, because they didn't think I'd ever use it, and just let them have it. But I proved them wrong. Ahab taught us all how to shoot, but the boys were being boys and disobeyed his rules. He tanned their hides but good, and then he took me out for some extra lessons. It was one of the best days in my life, just me and Ahab shooting at targets and soda cans. We kept pretending the targets were that great white whale. I never missed a single shot."
Pride suffuses me at the memory, and I can almost hear him praising me for my marksmanship. Damn, but I miss him.
"It sounds like it was a great memory," Monica says gently, breaking into my thoughts. "You should tell William about that when we buy him his first bb gun."
Smiling broadly at Monica, I nod. "I think that's a great idea, Mon. Thank you."