Title: Caught in Amber
Rating: G, but has a few minor swear words
Disclaimers: Characters from eps of Wild Card do not belong to me and no infringement is intended. Original characters do. The lyrics to Butterfly Kisses do not belong to me and no infringement is intended.
Notes: Yes, lyrics are included in this story, but only a few lines and you can easily skip them if you wish -- they were just a way to get David thinking. Yes, this is another supporting/guest character story... because I like to use my fics to explore characters thoughts, emotions, etc. -- all characters, not just Dan, Zoe, and the kids. If you don't like reading about other characters... This isn't a fic for you. There are spoilers for season 1, ep 5 'Dearly Beloved' (at least David's part in the episode.) Also, this story has been spell checked and read through by me, but it is unbeta'd. Any errors (hopefully few or none at all) are mine.
Summary: Have you ever wondered just what made David Woodall take off without a word to Zoe in 'Dearly Beloved?' (season 1, episode 5)
David Woodall sat in the back of the taxi, completely silent as he stared at the nondescript building that the car was idling by. It was an extremely basic building, standing out in no physical way from buildings that peppered towns and cities across America; facsimiles that he'd passed athousand -- amillion -- times in his life without a single thought. Certainly, none of them had given him a moment's pause, let alone the very distinct sense of unease that was pervading his very being and sending shivers up his spine.
Beyond those simply painted doors lay his ex-sister-in-law, Zoe Busiek.
Beyond those doors lay a female doctor hired to help he and said ex-sister-in-law mold the tatters left of both of their families into a single one with minimum fuss and problems.
Beyond those doors lay his very future with his children, children that he'd abandoned close to a decade ago.
"Are you planning on getting out anytime soon?"
David's attention was somewhat drawn to the voice of the female cab driver, though his eyes never left the building that he was staring at. Another female. They were nothing but trouble when it came to his life, lately. "What?"
"Are you going to get out or did you just pay me to drive you all the way here so you can sit -- and pay for that, too? It doesn't matter much to me, buddy -- the meter's running either way."
"I know," he acknowledged with a small shrug, "I just... I want to sit for a few minutes," he finished, hoping that she wouldn't pry as a few cabbies were known to do.
The driver sighed and reached for the dial that controlled the radio to begin flipping through the stations in an effort to find something to listen to while her fare made up his mind about what he wanted to do -- on the clock. Station after station played for a few seconds before streaming past, each one bringing a different beat or snippet of voice before abruptly being replaced by another. Finally, it settled on a single one and the volume was raised, guitar and piano flooding the car with their wistful notes.
...after bedtime prayer;
Sticking little white flowers all up in her hair;
"Walk beside the pony, Daddy, it's my first ride."
"I know the cake looks funny, Daddy, but I sure tried."
Oh, with all that I've done wrong, I must have done something right
To deserve a hug every morning And butterfly kisses at night.
David grimaced and leant his head back on the cracked leather of the seat, closing his eyes briefly as the classic father-daughter song filled the car. Talk about a kick in the teeth. "Do you have to listen to this song? I'm sure there's something better on another station," he said to himself, barely lowering his voice and conveniently forgetting that the streaming music hadn't helped the headache that he'd been fighting since the night before.
"Hey, it's my cab, guy, and all you want to do is sit and stare at a brick building. Why shouldn't I play some music to help deal with the boredom?"
"It's not the music," he protested. "It's this music -- that song." Suddenly aware of her looking at him through the rearview mirror in disbelief, he shook his head. "Why do you have to listen to this song?"
"I like this song," was the almost defiant answer. "It's not something I normally listen to," she allowed with a nod, "but I like what it makes me remember."
"Sure," she laughed, "all memories are tied to your senses," she told him in a tone that said he ought to have known that. "It's been scientifically proven, there've been articles. Hasn't it ever happened to you?" When she saw her only response, a halfhearted shrug, she continued: "the smell of baking cookies bringing back a memory of your Mama, the sound of church bells bringing back a funeral or a wedding... Never had anything like that happen to you?"
David nodded in agreement and spoke to himself -- again, not too quietly. "Power of music; not something any musician worth their salt would write off too quickly," he chided.
"You're a musician?"
"On my good days," he answered, the quip falling short even as a small smile graced his features.
"No shit," he repeated before steering the conversation back to the prior topic: the song playing on the radio with either the best or the worst timing in the world -- David wasn't entirely sure which. "What does this song remind you of?" he asked, not particularly caring if he was prying. The irony of his prying when minutes ago he'd been hoping with all his being against the driver prying, while at the same time steeling himself just in case she did, was not lost on him.
"My wedding," was the prompt reply, the woman having little reticence in answering his questions, no doubt because of how rare it was that passengers took interest in the driver instead of their own lives. "My parents -- especially my father. How he was always there for us kids, whenever we needed him, how he tried his best to teach us and guide us. How much he loved us -- something he showed no hesitation of showing."
"It reminds you of father," was the quiet murmur. "I guess that makes sense, given the song."
"Yeah. What's wrong with being reminded of Daddy? It can be some of the best memories in a girls' life." Through the reflection in the rearview mirror, she could see the sad smile gracing her fare's face.
"What types of memories do you have?"
"Oh, tons," she laughed. "Barbecues and playing catch and father-daughter ice cream cones. Him coming home from work and sitting at the dining room table with me on his lap as he helped me with my homework."
"He give you lots of presents?"
"Some, yeah, but presents aren't the important thing. It's the fact that he was there for me."
David blinked at the simple truth, something he'd known but had done his best to ignore during the past few days. As he was watching, a vaguely familiar car pulled into the parking lot and zipped into an open space. Seconds later an even more familiar blonde was climbing out and crossing the baking pavement on high heels, her clothes a bright flash of color between gleaming metal. With a complete lack of hesitation and no outward sign of nervousness -- something he admired greatly -- she opened the door to the building and slipped inside.
The knot that had been present in his stomach since he'd first heard that his ex-wife had died, since he'd first thought about visiting his children, tightened painfully. This was it; the moment he'd been working towards. The minute he followed Zoe's footsteps and went inside ... his life would be over as he knew it.
He couldn't do it.
No matter how much he wanted to, he couldn't make that same journey that Zoe had just moments before. You can't go back to the past and he didn't want to hurt those kids in the future. It was a simple fact that he would, something he'd ignored until then but knew deep down; been afraid to face.
Zoe was right. Presents wouldn't make a difference to the children he'd fathered and then abandoned and it was her job to protect them from the bad guys. If one of the bad guys was him ... he'd asked for that label when he'd walked away without a backward glance.
And, a kernel of truth that he pushed deep down into his consciousness, refusing to acknowledge, it was the simple and undeniable fact that he didn't want his life to change. He didn't want to suddenly become a father in a way more than name. He didn't want the responsibility.
He didn't want any of it and he didn't want anybody to get hurt ... so why was he here? What was he trying to prove?
"Take me back to the hotel, please."
He was aware of the driver looking in the rearview mirror, dark eyes expressing surprise as she nonetheless did as she was told, winding her way through the parking lot and easing into the Chicago traffic.
He shook his head. "Just figured out that an extremely smart woman was right all along."
"Oh." The answer seemed to stump her and she shook her head. "Do you have any kids?"
David looked back at the building that Zoe had gone into as the knot in his stomach began to loosen. He shook his head without taking his eyes off it. "I used to," he answered quietly. "Once upon a time."
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