A/N I came up with this a little while ago. I don't know if there are any others like it, but the idea wouldn't leave so I decided to give it a shot. Let me know what you think and most of all; Enjoy!
A Simple Twist of Fate
1. Just Around the Corner
On a cold, rainy evening in late October, Gary walked into McGinty's. Shivering, he took off his coat and sat down at the bar. Marissa was sitting there, a mug of hot cocoa in front of her.
"So how'd it go?" She asked, expectantly. She took a sip of the steaming drink.
"Not so good," Gary answered tiredly, pouring himself some cocoa, "Instead of walking in front of a bicyclist and breaking his leg, the man walks right into a telephone pole and breaks his nose. I mean, what is so difficult about watching out for where you're going?"
Marissa grimaced, "Well, Gary, at least you helped him. A nose injury is much less severe than a leg injury. You did fine."
"Yeah, well, you know," Gary said, exasperated, "That's just it; everyday for the past fourteen years, I've done fine. I've done fine by pulling people out of burning buildings, throwing people out the way of giant fire trucks, and keeping kids from walking away with a stranger. But when will I get to settle down? Marissa, I'm 44-years-old now. Its getting kind of late now for kids, but you know; that's all I've ever wanted to do; have a family, someone to come home to at night. But what do I get? This; this Paper and, and a cat. When can I get a break?" He took a deep breath and let out a discouraged sigh.
Marissa put her hand on top of her friends. "Don't worry," She told him softly, "You're a family man, Gary. You're meant for kids. And besides; you never know what might be just around the corner."
Two weeks later, Gary was sitting in the office, pouring over his mail that he hadn't had time to read.
"Bill… junk… more bills…" He continued to mutter, "Even more bills… hey, wait; what's this?" He pulled out an important looking envelope addressed to him from the CCA; Chicago Children's Agency.
Curiously, he tore open the mysterious letter. What he read shocked him. This couldn't be true. It was impossible… wasn't it? Feeling faint, Gary grabbed the edge of the desk for support.
"Marissa! Marissa!" He called out franticly, "Marissa, get in here!"
Not a moment later, he could hear the CLICK-CLACK of his friends cane as she made her way to the office from the kitchen.
"Gary, Gary, what is it?" She asked, clearly confused, "What on earth are you shouting about?"
"This." Gary said quietly, forgetting for a moment that his friend couldn't see.
"This what?" Marissa shook her head.
"This; this letter," Gary replied more thoroughly, still staring at the letter in his hands, "It's a letter from the CCA. Marcia passed away a week ago."
"Oh, no," Marissa gasped, "I'm so sorry, Gary. But, what does that have to do with the CCA?"
"Did someone say CPD?" A voice said. Gary turned his head and noticed Patrick; his head sticking in the doorway. Patrick had come back to Chicago two years ago and had been working at McGinty's ever since.
"What?" Gary asked.
"Did you say CPD, Mr. Hobson?" Patrick asked, "Are you, like, a bad umbrae? 'Cause, I mean, if you are, then I might have to testify and I have an appointment tomorrow at two o'clock and I –"
"Patrick!" Gary interrupted, "No, I did not say CPD! Now, would you get back to work; please!"
"Yes, sir, Mr. Hobson." And with that, the younger man was gone.
Gary sighed and ran his hand through his hair. "Marissa, do you remember the other day when we were talking and you said that you never know what might be around the corner?"
Marissa nodded, "Yes."
"Well, you were right, Marissa," Gary told her, his voice a bit shaky, "It appears that when Marcia and I divorced, she was pregnant… with twins. Twins, Marissa! And she never told me! Do you understand what this means?"
"Gary, you're a father." Marissa stated, her own voice now shaky, "All this time… Gary, what are you going to do?"
"Well, this letter says that Marcia's will stated that at her death, if the children weren't of age, then they were to come live with me," Gary explained, "Marissa, these kids aren't of age. They'll be 15-years-old in June. They want to send them here in three days."
"Three days? Gary, that's on Friday. That doesn't give you much time to get ready."
"Yeah, well, I'm going to have to." And with that, Gary stood up, stuffed the letter in his pocket and walked out of the room.
Left alone in the room, Marissa sent up a silent prayer for Gary. He was going to need all the help he could possibly get.
The next day, Gary received, yet, another interesting letter; this one from Marcia herself. This one had been sent by her sister. Marcia had instructed her to send this to Gary if she passed away. Alone in the office, Gary opened it up and began reading;
Dear Gary, as I write this, I am in the hospital with a serious case of Pneumonia. I have been here a few weeks and I know that, soon, I will pass on. I am not as strong as I should like and do not have the strength to carry on much longer. I fear for the children, Gary; our children.
I am so sorry for what I did to you, Gary. And I have regretted it for fourteen years. It was only a little while after our divorce, when I learned that I was pregnant. And even though I knew you wanted children so badly, I did not have the heart to tell you; not after what I had done. So, I planned on having an abortion. But, the day came and I couldn't go through with it. And I believe that was, by far, the wisest decision I ever made. The twins are my life, Gary, and without them, I would be lost.
The children are; Garret Luke and Lohan Noelle. Luke is the older one and his name is meant as a heritage from you. And though I'm sure you are angry with me, I hope you are proud of your son. He is a good boy, Gary. He tries to please; he's smart and well-behaved. But he is growing up and he needs a father, Gary, for I never re-married.
Lohan is a wonderful girl. She has a keen interest in horses and I regret that I have never been able to give her one of her own. She, too, is smart and so well-behaved. But she needs a daddy. She has never known that fatherly love and as she enters into these rough and complicated teenage years, she will need that more than ever.
I've never wanted anything, but the best for these children, Gary. And in my passing, I am sure that the best is you. Please care for them and love them as if you have done so all their lives. They will need it so much. And, again, I am so sorry, Gary; for everything. Please forgive me and try to understand, for I am counting on you.
Sincerely yours, Marcia
Gary stopped reading and just stared at the page for a moment. Then he shook his head. He was still having a hard time grasping the fact that he was a father. It felt so strange. As his eyes skimmed the letter, he came to realize that he was not angry as Marcia had thought he would be; no, he wasn't. And he didn't understand that either. Shouldn't he be angry? After all, for the past fourteen years he had been a father and she had kept that from him. She had moved to Springfield and said nothing to him. But, yet, he felt at peace. It was a strange feeling. Realizing that it was time for him to make, yet, another save, Gary stuck the letter in his pocket, slipped on his leather jacket, and headed out the door.
Just a few hours later, Gary was re-reading the letter from Marcia when it occurred to him that after the hectic two days he had had, he hadn't even called his parents to let them know what had happened. He knew that his mother would be first shocked, and then completely overjoyed. And his father, well, he wasn't sure how he would react. Letter still in hand, Gary reached for the phone on the desk and dialed his parents number in Hickory, Indiana. After two rings, someone picked up.
Lois and Bernie Hobson were resting in the living room of their house in Hickory, Indiana. It had been a nice day for the both of them. Lois had gone out with some of her lady friends and they had had a nice lunch together laughing and talking. Bernie had gone out with "the guys" and they outdid one another at golfing. All in all, it had been a great day, but now after supper at 7 o'clock in the evening, the couple was tired.
Bernie finally broke the silence that had come over the room, "When the last time ya heard from Gary, hon?" He asked his wife.
Lois sat her coffee cup down thoughtfully, "Not in about two or three weeks," She replied with a frown, "It's been a long time. Do you think he's alright Bernie?"
"Ah, I'm sure he's fine," Bernie shoved away any worry, "You know Gary. He's got a lot on his mind. I mean, you and I have handled the Paper two or three times before. It's not easy. Gary does it everyday. I wouldn't worry about him, Lo."
"Yeah, maybe you're right," Lois shrugged. Suddenly the phone rang and Lois hurried to pick it up. "Hello? Hobsons residence," She spoke into the telephone.
"Hey, mom," Gary greeted her. Inside, he was wondering how he was going to break the news to his parents that they had twin grandchildren.
"Gary!" Lois exclaimed, "Bernie pick up the phone! It's Gary!"
Surprised, Bernie leapt from his chair and grabbed another telephone.
"Gare! Good to hear from ya!" Bernie greeted his son, "So how's it going, son?"
"Um, okay, I, I'm okay," Gary stammered. The up-coming topic was getting him really nervous, "I, I'm okay... I guess."
"What's the matter, Gary?" Lois asked, concerned for her son, "You sound like you've got something on your mind."
"Well," Gary cleared his throat, "I, I do, actually. There is something on my mind."
"Well, c'mon Gare! Spill the beans!" Bernie exclaimed, unable to handle the suspense anymore.
"Well, um, I – mom, dad; I'm a father." He got it out quickly before he could change his mind.
For a moment there was silence. No one said anything. Finally the shock eased up a bit and Bernie spoke up; "Way to go, son! Man, you don't do things half way, do ya?"
"Hush, Bernie," Lois interrupted, "Gary, what on earth are you talking about? How could you possibly be a father? I mean, we just talked to you a little while ago. You've never said anything about–-–"
"– –Whoa, mom!" Gary stopped his mother, "Hold on. It's nothing like that. Now listen carefully, alright, because it's going to be kinda hard to explain…"
Later that evening, Gary was sitting at the bar; his head in his hands. He was tired; tired, worried, and overwhelmed. He had been busy all day making saves, arrangements, and trying to get the loft ready to temporarily house three people. It wasn't easy.
He was suddenly aware of Marissa taking a seat beside him. She was quiet for a moment, and then she put her hand on Gary's shoulder. "It's not going to be easy, Gary," She told him, gently, "This is going to be a big change; not only for you, but for the children. Gary, everything they've ever known; their friends, their mother, their house - its all being ripped away from them. They're leaving the only place, the only life they've ever known to come to Chicago and live with a complete stranger. It's going to be rough."
"Yeah, I was just thinking that," Gary sighed, "And you know what else I was thinking, Marissa? I was thinking; I've got the Paper here, too. Not only am I supposed to care for these kids - and don't get me wrong; I want to very much - but I'm also supposed to take care of all of Chicago. Marissa, I don't know if I can do this."
Marissa rested her hand on Gary's, "You can, Gary. I know you can."
The next day passed by quickly and before Gary knew it, it was Friday and he was pacing back and forth in the bar. He was wearing a green flannel shirt, jeans, and a pair of Nikes. The Paper, which surprisingly had nothing for him that day, was sticking out of his back pocket. It was about two o'clock in the afternoon and he was waiting; waiting as he had been for the past half hour for the social worker to bring the children; his children. It still scared him a bit to think of that. He had always thought that he would have 9 months to get used to the idea of having such a responsibility... for one child; a baby. But, instead he had had three days to get used to having the responsibility of two teenagers. It was all very overwhelming.
Then, as the clock struck five-past-two, in walked a woman who looked like she was in her mid-sixties. Her thin, gray hair was pulled back tightly into a bun, yet she wore a smile that was sure to warm anybody's heart.
"Good day," She greeted Gary, "You're Gary Hobson, are you not?"
"Yes, ma'am," Gary replied, shaking her hand, "And you are...?"
"I'm Myrtle Landis," She introduced herself, shaking the hand he offered; "I'm the case worker for Garret Luke and Lohan Noelle. I am told that you are their father, is that true?"
Gary nodded, "Yes, ma'am, Ms. Landis. That's right."
The woman nodded her head, "Very well. I am so sorry I was late, but the traffic is unbelievable out there! But let us get down to business; I will bring in the children, we'll have a look about your place, and if all is well, then we will secure the matters officially," She stepped outside the door for a moment, "Children, you may come in now."
And at the next moment, Gary got his first look at the kids he always wanted.
In walked two scared and saddened teenagers. The first was tall. His dark hair was parted neatly to one side. The second was shorter than her brother by many inches. Her dark hair was pulled neatly into one braid down her back. And both children bore familiar looking mud-green eyes that showed sorrow and fear.
Then Ms. Landis broke the silence; "Mr. Hobson, this is Luke and Lohan. Children; this is your father - Gary Hobson."
The kids slowly lifted their eyes from the ground and for a moment met Gary's before they quickly darted back down to their tennis shoes.
"Well, um," Ms. Landis broke the silent, tense moment, "Let us have a look around, shall we?"
And with those words, Gary began to give the woman and children "the tour". This went on for about an hour and throughout this time span, the children said nothing to Gary, or him to them. Finally, after seeing everything in every room in the building, Ms. Landis was satisfied with what she saw.
"Well, Mr. Hobson," The social worker announced, "I do believe that what I have found in your home is satisfactory. And if you're ready," She glanced at the still quiet kids who were sitting silently at a table, "If you are ready, then you may sign these papers stating that you, the father of these children, have agreed to care, nurture, and protect them until they are of age. This will give you right to take these children out of state, bring them to the doctor, and let me add; legally change their name from to Hobson. Do you understand?"
Gary nodded, as he read the legal paper. And when he was through, he signed the necessary places. Then standing up from his chair, he handed the woman the papers, "Is that it?" He asked her, expectantly.
"That's it," She smiled, "I'll be back in about two weeks to check up on things. But, in the mean time, I must be going. I have an appointment in half an hour and heaven knows how long it will take me to get there with such traffic." She walked over to the twins who were still sitting silently at a table a few feet away. "Children," She got their attention, "I'm leaving you now. I want you to behave and do as Mr. Hobson tells you, do you understand?"
"Good," She smiled, "In that case, I will be back in two weeks to see how you're doing. And I hope that I will have a good report. Good day!" And with those final words she left through the McGinty's front door.
Gary sighed a little uneasily. All was up to him now and he knew it. Well, in that case, important matters first. He picked up the kids' bags from beside the front door. "Come on, you two," He nodded towards the office. Obediently, they got up from their table and followed the man upstairs.
When they got upstairs, Gary instructed the kids to sit down on the couch. They did as they were told as Gary sat their bags down by the door. Then he sat down across from them. He took a deep breath before he started.
"I'm sure you two understand all that went on down there, right?" He asked them.
They just nodded. This frustrated Gary. They hadn't said a word the entire time they'd been there.
"Well, tell me then what happened." Gary suggested.
Neither twin said a word. They just sat there, staring off into thin air. Gary sighed.
"Alright then," He nodded at Luke, "Luke, tell me what just happened down stairs."
"Ms. Landis has brought us here to live with you," Luke said, "Be-because they say t-that you're our real, um, father."
"Go on." Gary nodded.
"Now, that mom is, is gone we're to live with you until we're at least eighteen," Luke continued, "And our last name has been changed to… Hobson. We, we're yours now, I guess." He added quietly, again, staring at the ground.
"That's right," Gary nodded, "Now; I want to settle things between the three of us, okay?"
Again, the twins just nodded. Gary didn't let this bother him anymore. He just took it as a sign that they had heard him and he continued.
"Luke, Lohan," They looked up at him, "We're family. And I know it hasn't and probably still doesn't seem that way, but it's true. And I want you two to know... that I want you here," He told them gently, "I want you both to like it here and I know its all going to take some getting used to, but I would like it if you could eventually get around to calling me 'dad'."
The twins just fidgeted nervously; Luke flicked imaginary lint off his jeans while his sister suddenly found her bracelet very interesting.
"Now, I know this is kind of a lot, so in the meantime, you can just call me 'Gary'," Gary continued, "And also; if you ever need help with anything, if you have any questions, or just want to talk, I want you to feel that you can come to me, alright?"
Expecting two more nods of the head, Gary was surprised when Lohan spoke up for the first time. "I've got a question," She volunteered.
"What's that, Lohan?" Gary asked, still a bit surprised.
"If you're our father, than why is it that all our life, we've seen only one picture of you," She added; a harsh tone in her voice. This startled Gary at first, "We've seen a wedding photo of you and mother, but never have we heard from you; not once. All we knew about you was what we could tell from that picture and that your name is Gary Hobson," She gazed around the furnished loft, "And mom always said that you were a stockbroker. Not a, a..."
"Bar owner?" Gary asked; a slight smile on his face.
The nod came again.
"Well, part of what you say is true, Lohan," Gary finally said, "I've never contacted you, never visited you, heck; I've never even sent you a birthday card, have I?" The twins shook their heads, "But there's a reason for that." Gary added.
"Why?" Luke asked quietly. If someone asked him, he would have to admit, he liked his father. He seemed kind and caring. He, for one, thought it was kind of cool that his dad owned a bar. And judging by some of the photos sitting here-and-there, his father enjoyed sports. This made Luke smile. He liked sports, too.
Gary sighed, running his fingers through his hair, "You're mother and I had some complications, Luke; some misunderstandings. And in time, I'll explain it all to both of you, but right now I think we should just let the subject rest for a while. I think it would be better if we discussed it once we all knew and understood one another better, alright?"
"Yes, sir," Came the reply this time, which also startled Gary. He had been expecting, yet another nod.
Gary smiled, "Good," He stood up, motioning for them to do the same, "I've, um, these two couches here," he pointed to the couches they had been sitting on, "They're sofa-beds. They fold out to sleep on. It's all I have for you right now. This was all, um, well, kind of short notice. But there are two smaller rooms across the hall from here. They're not fit to live in right now, but I've, um, already started arranging for carpenters and such. Eventually, those rooms will be your bedrooms... and a bathroom. But, for now I'm afraid the only place I have for you is these couches. I'm really sorry."
"That's alright," Luke spoke up, "It'll be fine; I'm sure. We're, um, lucky to even have a home now, I guess." He absent-mindedly traced the design on a chair.
"Please understand that I've been waiting for you, Luke, Lohan." Gary told them. This confused the kids and they looked up at Gary, "You guys, I've always wanted kids; always. That's all I've ever wanted. And now that you're here, well, I think I'm probably the happiest man alive. You two are what I've always wanted, what I've been waiting for all my life."
This made both kids smile.
"Please don't feel as if you're lucky to be here," Gary finished, "I want you here. When you think of home, I want you to eventually be able to immediately think of this as your home. You're not lucky to be here; that's just not true. You're here because I want you here. That's not luck; that's purpose."
Luke grinned while Lohan frowned. But, Gary didn't seem to notice, "Well," He said, "I'll leave you two to unpack," He indicated a large, eight-drawer dresser, "I'll be downstairs if you need me." And with that he left the kids to their own devices.
"What do you think, Luke?" Lohan asked with a frown, as they were alone for the first time and could talk privately.
"About what?" Luke asked, stooping down to unzip his large suitcase.
"About Gary," Lohan explained, reluctantly bending down to start unpacking, "What do you think of him?"
"What do you want me to say?" Luke asked her suspiciously.
"I want you to say you hate him, you wish mother were here, and that you're going to leave as soon as you get the chance." She stated angrily, stamping her foot as if to prove her point.
If it hadn't been for the circumstances, Luke would have laughed out loud at his sister's actions, but he didn't. Instead, he said; "Well, I will agree with you about some of that," He said, lifting a stack of shirts from his bag and placing them into a drawer. Lohan watched him expectantly, "I do wish that mom was here. This all seems so unreal still," He bravely blinked away the tears that had threatened to spill over ever since his mother's death, "But I have to disagree with you too, Lohan." He added.
Lohan sighed, as socks and underwear went into a top drawer.
"I like Gary, Lohan," Luke looked her in the eye, "He's made us feel welcome and loved. He seems kind and caring, I know he likes sports," He proved his point by pointing to a photo of their father in a Cubs hat with a ball and glove in hand, "And I think owning a bar is cool. Why don't you give him a chance, Lohan?"
The girl shook her head, "I won't. I won't. I hate him, Luke. I hate him for signing those papers, for keeping us here! Did you here what he said; purpose is what he said. And I hate him for saying that. I don't want to be here!"
"Well, where do you want to go?" Luke asked, his patience running thin.
Lohan shrugged, blinking her tearful eyes, "I don't know. Away from here," She said, then closed her eyes, "I keep imagining what life would have been like if mom and Gary had stayed together."
Luke nodded. He had been doing that, too.
"I mean, if they had," Lohan wiped tears from her eyes, "Then, well, I guess I wouldn't hate Gary. I, I even suppose I would love him as much as I loved mother. I would have always known him as my father. I've never gotten to go shopping for a Father's Day card... Luke, why didn't he ever come see us?"
"I don't know, Lohan," Luke sighed, as he finished unpacking, "I don't know, but Gary said we would talk about that later. Don't jump to any conclusions just yet. You never know... maybe there's something we don't know, something we don't understand."
And after that, both took it that the conversation was over... for the time being, anyway.
As Gary trotted down the stairs, leaving the kids to unpack, he thought about all the changes that were to come. He'd have a family to spend Christmas with - finally, he'd give his kids a birthday party, they'd do all sorts of things together... once everyone was more comfortable. He sighed, running his fingers through his hair as he stepped into the office. The days, weeks, and perhaps months ahead were going to be rough on everybody.
When he stepped into the office, Marissa was sitting at the desk. "Well?" She asked him expectantly.
"They're here, Marissa," Gary stated, sitting down in his chair, "They're upstairs unpacking. Marissa, do you think I'm doing the right thing; making them come here to live with a stranger who claims to be the dad they never met? I mean, I'm sure Marcia had plenty of relatives they could've stayed with instead... someone they at least know. Is this the right thing to do?"
"Gary, you're doing the right thing. Remember," Marissa reminded him, "Marcia wanted them here with you. She believed that you were the best choice to take care of her children, whom she had thrown her entire self into loving and caring for 14 years. Gary, it's a big decision to choose who will take care of your children if something were to happen to you. You do not make mistakes."
"Yeah, maybe you're right." Gary mumbled.
"I know I'm right. If anything were to happen to Ben and I, I know that the person I'd choose to raise Mary, Chris, and Michael would definitely be you or my sister Tina; I'd have no one else," Marissa continued, "This is one of the most important decisions you can make, Gary, and I'm sure that when Marcia chose you to care for Luke and Lohan, she did not make a mistake. Now, she knew that, I know that, your parents know that, Chuck even knows that! Gary, you and those children are going to have to come to understand that. Because until you do, there's going to be a lot of heartache, hurt, and misunderstanding up there," She pointed upwards to the loft, "You three are going to have to come to realize that you're meant for one another. And even after you do, it still won't be easy."
"I thought that part was coming." Gary mumbled. He really wasn't feeling optimistic right now.
"Gary, those kids are teenagers. And teenagers come with their own problems; just wait," Marissa told him, "Soon enough, if not already, they're going to be battling all sorts of things; peer pressure, dating, everything that comes with teenagers, Gary. You know what I'm talking about."
"Yeah," Gary sighed. "I know. But this is going to be a lot to handle, Marissa. How can I handle it all?"
"You'll be fine, Gary," Marissa told him, "And if you ever need anything, Ben and I will be here for you; I promise."
"Thanks," Suddenly Gary looked up, "Did I tell you that my parents are coming for Christmas?"
"Yeah, they wanted to come right away and meet the kids, but I persuaded them to at least wait until Christmas," Gary explained, "I thought it would probably be better if we took everything slowly."
Marissa nodded, "That's a good idea."
Suddenly, footsteps could be heard coming down the steps from the loft. Gary stood up as the twins quietly entered the room.
"Oh, um, Marissa," Gary said, "These are the twins; Luke and Lohan. Kids, this is my good friend; Marissa Carder."
"It's nice to meet you." Marissa smiled.
Neither twin said anything until Lohan broke the silence; "She's blind." She said bluntly. Luke nodded in agreement.
Gary could feel himself turn red. He knew the remark hadn't bothered Marissa, but just the same, he wished they hadn't spoken that way."
"Don't worry, Gary," Marissa chuckled, as if she could read what Gary was thinking, "It's alright," then to the twins she said; "You're right; I am blind. Have you ever met a blind person?"
They shook their heads and Gary leaned over and whispered in their ear; "Remember; she's blind. She can't see you shake your head." They quickly spoke, letting her know that they had never met a blind person.
"Well, then I'm happy to be the first," She smiled.
"Are you finished unpacking?" Gary asked. Gain, they nodded.
"Alright then, good, because I thought we could go out for dinner tonight," Gary grinned, "How do you two like Chinese?"
Gary watched, stunned, as tears filled Lohan's eyes. She raced out of the room, closely followed by her brother.
Gary scratched his head in wonder. "That was clearly not the reaction I was hoping for." He grabbed his coat from the back of his desk chair and began to head for the door.
"Gary, where are you going?" Marissa asked him.
"I've got to find them. They ran outside, Lohan was crying, and I'm pretty sure these kids don't know their way round Chicago."
And with those words, he left.
A/N Well, that's it. So, what'd ya think? Any comments, questions, advice, ideas? I'd love to hear them! Thanks!