As promised, here's the second part of the chapter.
"We need to talk Neil."
Sighing Neil looked down. He should have known his father wouldn't let go of this.
"Look Dad, I really don't think that …"
"No Neil, we postponed this long enough. I know what … I know this will be hard, for both of us. But we need to talk about it. And the longer we wait, the harder this will be."
"This is none of your business anymore, Dad. I'm old enough to …"
"You're still my son. That makes it my business." Chuck interrupted him again.
"It's a bit too late for that, don't you think?" Neil said coldly.
Sighing Chuck looked at this son. For a second he considered to just give up. He had tried to reach Neil several times during the past few days and it had all been for nothing. Neil still refused to talk to him. But then he saw something in his son's eyes that he had never seen before - for the first time he could see through the hard shell that Neil had build around him. Behind his son's anger he could see his despair, his fear … He saw a small boy who wanted nothing more than to hide from the monsters in the dark.
"You can try to push me away as often as you want, but I won't let go." Chuck said determinedly. He wanted Neil to understand that this time things would be different. He would be there for his sons, he would be the father he should have been a long time ago. By now he had realized that he had become exactly like his own father. Everything he had always despised about him, he had done to his own children. But this was about to change now.
"Okay, fine. Then talk." Neil crossed his arm before his chest and leaned back in his chair, waiting for his father to start.
Chuck was taken aback for a second at this sudden change, but he regained his composure quickly. "I was hoping more for you to do the talking. Why don't you tell me what really happened?"
Neil wanted to reply with a smug remark, but instead he found himself yearning to tell his father the truth. If he just let it all out, then it might be over. He wouldn't have nightmares any longer, he wouldn't have flashbacks of HIM every time he was intimate with Kelly. He could just leave it all behind him. But the words wouldn't leave his mouth. As much as he wanted to, he couldn't talk about it. It had been hard enough to tell Kelly and Kurt. He didn't think he could do it all over again even though he knew that talking about it with his father would probably be the most important conversation.
With despair in his eyes he looked at his father. "I … I can't. Dad … Can we just leave it? You know what happened, why do you need me to tell you? I …" He swallowed. "Maybe I'll tell you one day, maybe I never will. But if I do … it needs to be on my terms." Hesitatingly he looked at his father. "Okay?"
Letting out a deep breath, Chuck watched his son for a long moment. What was he supposed to do now? Just let it go? His son had been abused for seven years, right under the eyes of his parents. And now that he could finally do something to help him, Neil turned him away. He probably deserved nothing better. But this wasn't about him, it was about Neil. If he kept it all to himself, what would it do to him? Even if he thought he was fine now, what would be in five years? Or ten? What if this was coming back to haunt him someday like it had now? And then he realized what he had to do. He simply needed to show Neil that he was there for him … always. And that whenever he was ready to talk about it, his father would be there to listen to him.
"Okay." He gave his son a warm smile. "But whenever you're ready …"
"I'll come to you." Neil finished for him with a grateful smile. "Thanks, Dad."
When Neil was back in his room, he felt like a huge weight had been lifted from his shoulders. There were no secrets anymore. His father knew about what happened in the cottage and he didn't judge him for it. He hadn't spoken any accusations, he hadn't called him a liar. He had simply accepted the truth.
And Mark knew about the time travel and everything connected to it. He would still need some time to accept it all, but Neil was sure he would come around eventually. His mother had and she had always been a bigger skeptic than Mark ever would be.
He didn't need to lie to Holly anymore about having a relationship with her. He was with Kelly now and everyone knew it. After seeing Kelly in the hospital at his side, the twins had probably told the whole school by now that he had a new girlfriend. So there was no need to keep it hidden anymore. They still needed to tell her parents, but as they had never really liked him in the future, it didn't matter how they would react.
With a relieved sigh Neil let himself fall on the bed and for the first time in weeks he wasn't afraid to fall asleep.
Two months later everyone met in the diner for their weekly meeting. Kurt, Sarah and Angela were the first ones to arrive. As usually they ordered food and drinks for everyone and talked while they waited for the others.
"He's actually attending a baseball team. I would have never thought I'd see the day for Corey to play baseball. He loves it." Sarah told them with joy. "And I don't need to worry about him exhausting himself too much. It doesn't matter. All traces of the cancer have left his body and he's fully recovered."
"This is so wonderful, Sarah. We're so happy for you." Angela replied with a wide smile. She had always admired Sarah for her strength to fight for her son. Deep inside she had always doubted that her friend would be able to safe her son, but she did it. Corey had beaten his disease and was a normal, healthy young boy now.
"Hey guys." Neil and Kelly approached them, each taking a seat at the table. Their hands were tightly entwined, like most of the times they were together. Each of them had a small ring on their ring fingers. They had both turned 18 this month and had made their engagement official last week. Kelly's parents had nearly suffered a stroke when they had told them, but Kelly had made it clear to them that Neil was the man she loved and they wouldn't be able to change that. Neither of them doubted that her parents wouldn't do anything in their power to bring the two apart before the wedding. But Neil and Kelly didn't worry about that. They knew how much they loved each other and nothing in the world would ever get between them.
A few minutes later Chuck and Mark sat down at the table and they began discussing the latest information they had collected about the Sentients.
Mark had joined their little group when he had finally realized that everything his father had told him was true. It had taken a little while, but eventually he had to admit that this story was so crazy, it simply had to be true. And so, instead of just sitting around and wondering what to do with his life, he had decided to join their fight against the Sentients. He'd get to spend some time with his family and he would do something good … right now he couldn't ask for more.
Like every week Chuck, Neil, Mark, Kelly, Kurt, Angela and Sarah sat in the Diner to safe the world. And no matter what the world would threw at them, they wouldn't stop. As long as they all had each other, they knew that they would win in the end.
A.N.: Thanks to everyone who stuck with this story, despite the long delays between chapters. I hope you all enjoyed the story. IritIlan, thank you for all your reviews. I'm really grateful for them. And thanks to everyone one else who has reviewed this story. I appreciate all the feedback you gave me :-)
I'm not 100 percent satisfied with the ending. But writer's block just kicked in again and I figured I better end it this way than never. Maybe I'll rewrite it again some day, I really can't say. For now, that's the end of this story.