Frohike's First Father's Day
Summary: The title says it all
Disclaimer: Well, you know, Chris Carter and all them guys – used without permission
Other notes: This is an Emma story.
The Green Room' is by Wayne Gratz – I don't have his permission either.
He knew they were planning something. Every time he walked into the room conversations would stop or there would be a lot of shushing. Okay, not every time, it just seemed like it. Jimmy had developed an irritating habit (yes, another one) of grinning like a Cheshire cat when he thought Frohike wasn't looking.
Emma would also leave the room when one of the guys called her at home.
"It's for you."
"Who is it?"
"I'll get it upstairs." And she would run out of the room. When she got upstairs she would wait for him to hang up before talking. "Dad, I can still hear you breathing. You can hang up now. Tapping the receiver on the counter does not sound the same as hanging up. Just hang up!"
That kid was too smart for her own good.
It took him a while to figure out the reason for all the secretiveness. It finally hit him when he saw a commercial for Father's Day on TV. Some poor schmuck was standing on a crowded bus carrying an enormous teddy bear and grinning apologetically to everyone around him. The narrator asks, "Doesn't Dad deserve something special for Father's Day?" or something to that effect.
Byers came by a couple of times on mysterious missions taking Frohike's daughter away for a few hours at a time. No explanations were ever asked and none were given.
So, they were plotting against him. He wasn't a big fan of surprises. He'd had enough of those in the last few months. He considered putting an end to it but Emma, in particular, was having too much fun. She was much more excited about this than the impending end of the school year and he didn't want to be eternally labeled a grouch.
They had made some general plans involving everyone coming for dinner on Sunday evening but he knew there was more to it than that. He asked Emma about it a couple of times and she would get all innocent and wide-eyed. "I'm just planning on having everyone over for dinner. Did you want to do something else?"
Activity in this area slacked off the week before the dubious holiday. He figured they had it all worked out by then.
On the Saturday before Father's Day, Emma went off on yet another mysterious mission but with Jimmy this time. They came back with an enormous and obviously heavy gift-wrapped box. Emma tried to distract Frohike so that Jimmy could take it upstairs to Emma's room but he managed to give them a really hard time before finally allowing her to draw him into the kitchen out of sight of the stairway.
That evening she went to bed earlier than usual for a Saturday night. Frohike didn't say anything about it but did go check that she was actually in bed and not up to something. She was asleep. He had gotten used to the sounds she made while sleeping and always knew when she was faking it.
He woke early the next morning to the smell of cooking. He wasn't sure what it was but it smelled excellent. He got up, put on a robe and headed quietly down the stairs. Emma was in the kitchen with Yves.
Yves? What on earth?
The two of them were up to their elbows in whatever was making the wonderful aroma. By the looks of the mess they had been at it for a while. The two of them were talking and laughing softly while wrapping things up. Yves was washing dishes and Emma was drying, putting away and generally tidying. Since he wasn't a breakfast in bed kind of guy he decided to make his presence known.
"Good morning, ladies."
"Good morning, Melvin." Yves was cool as always. Emma's reaction was quite the opposite.
"Dad! You're not supposed to be up yet! It's only 7:30!"
"How did you expect me to sleep with the smell of good cooking wafting up the stairs?"
"But I wanted to make you breakfast in bed. Go back to bed!" Emma put her hands on his chest and tried to push him toward the stairs.
"I would rather eat here at the table with you two lovely ladies than get crumbs in my bed." He remained unaffected my Emma's insistence that he go back up stairs.
Though this was not what Emma had carefully planned, it was what happened.
"You two must have spent hours preparing this," Frohike complimented the cooks when breakfast was done. "The homemade pastries alone were amazing."
"It only took 3 hours to put together." Yves thought nothing of keeping unusual hours.
Frohike scowled at Emma. "What time did you get up?"
"About 4:15, but I went to bed early," Emma explained in a rush.
"You went to bed a half hour early and got up more than 3 hours earlier than usual?"
"It would only be 2 hours early if today was a week day."
Yves decided to weigh in on Emma's side of the argument. "Now, Melvin, the child just wanted to surprise you. It only happens once a year."
Frohike decided to drop it for the time being. He figured 'natural consequences' would enable him to say, "I told you so," later on.
Yves left once the meal was cleaned up.
"Happy Father's Day, Melvin." She kissed his cheek as she was leaving. "I'm afraid I will not be able to return this evening."
Emma was disappointed by this news but thanked Yves for coming so early and helping her with the elaborate meal.
Later that day, Emma found that getting up at o'dark thirty was not going to be something that she could do often. Whenever she sat down she would start yawning and have to fight to keep alert. Frohike watched her struggle in amused silence.
She would either have to give in and take a nap or risk not being able to stay awake into the late evening when they had company. Since she seemed to be determined to fight sleep, he chose to be sneaky about it. He didn't need her getting exhausted and sick again so soon after the last bout of asthma.
"Emma, we have lots of time before everyone gets here. Why don't we watch a DVD?"
"I don't know, Dad, I should think about getting things ready for dinner."
"It's only 11:30. No one is due until 5:00. We have lots of time. Come on, its Father's Day and I should get to do what I want."
"Well then, what is it you want?" She wanted his first Father's Day to be memorable.
"I want to watch a DVD with my favorite daughter."
"But, Dad, I'm your only…"
He cut her off to avoid a possibly uncomfortable conversation. After all, until a short time ago, he didn't think he had any kids. He wouldn't take that for granted any more. "Okay, okay. How about 'Galaxy Quest'?" He had to be careful. It needed to be a movie they both enjoyed. She would get suspicious if it was one of her favorites and not his.
He put the movie into the machine and sat back on the couch with the remote in his hand. Emma sat down also. She didn't make it past the opening credits. Frohike had intended to let the DVD run for only a short time, until she was well and truly asleep. He watched for about 20 minutes but then he too dozed off.
Emma began to dream. She knew she was asleep; she knew she was dreaming. She even knew that she was asleep on the couch in the living room. She could still hear the TV. This fact did not affect the usual sequence of the dream. It was one she had experienced several times since her mother's death. There was a line. What was it? Oh, yeah, "The dream was always the same." Well, maybe not 'always' but close.
Her mother was there. Michelle looked the way she did before she got ill: tall, beautiful and confident, completely in control of every situation. Michelle smiled at her daughter. She held her hand out to Emma. Emma took it, rising off the couch to go with her mom. Emma looked back at the couch and could see her father sleeping there. That was different. He had never been in the dream before.
Michelle led Emma to the piano. They both sat down on the bench: Michelle at the lower register, Emma by the higher keys. Without the aid of sheet music, they played together, four hands playing the same song in perfect harmony and with flawless timing. While awake, Emma had never played this well but what the heck; this was a dream after all.
Emma was always happy during the dream but when she woke it was just another reminder of what she had lost. And she still couldn't get herself to play the damn piano while awake.
She let herself enjoy the dream. She had always loved playing with her mother. Michelle never judged Emma's playing. She would patiently go over any measure that Emma was unsure of, often suggesting alternate fingering to make tricky sections work.
In the dream Emma closed her eyes, letting the music fill her ears, feeling the vibration of the piano strings throughout her body, the flow of her hands and fingers over the keys. She was very aware of her mother sitting next to her. All she had to do was lean slightly to the left and her shoulder would touch her mother's arm.
But then Emma sensed a change. Something was different, not bad or scary, just different. She knew that someone was standing by the piano on the right side. She opened her eyes and looked up. It was Michelle. Confused, Emma stopped playing. Her mother lightly touched her hands saying, "Don't stop, sweetheart, you're doing so well."
Emma began playing again but continued to watch her mother. Michelle kissed Emma and walked away. The music had not stopped, four hands still in perfect timing and harmony. Emma looked down at the keys. The other set of hands on the keyboard where not her mother's. This set of hands was wearing gloves with the fingertips cut off. Emma turned and smiled at her father. "I didn't know you could play," she told him.
"I don't," he replied. "But this is your dream."
Emma woke up. The ending credits of the movie were rolling up the screen. Her dad was still asleep on the couch. Funny, in her dream he had been sitting just that way with his head resting on his right arm, the remote still in his left hand.
She got up and turned off the TV and the DVD player. With the soundtrack of the movie no longer playing, Emma could still hear the piano music from the dream in her head. Her dad had not stirred when the TV had shut off. Maybe he would stay asleep.
She really wanted to do this now before the music faded. She went over to the piano and sat down. She tentatively depressed a couple of keys. She looked back at Frohike on the couch. He hadn't moved. She began to play a simple melody that she had memorized. She wished that she could do the song from the dream but that one was extremely complicated and really did require two people playing together to do it justice.
As she warmed to it, she played with more confidence forgetting everything else but the emotion of the music. She finished with a flourish and sat smiling to herself. She began to wonder why she had thought this would be so difficult. A noise from the couch reminded her that she was not alone in the room.
"Was that you or did I dream of piano music?"
Turning around on the bench, she smiled at her groggy father.
"It was me."
"It was? You play very well."
Frohike got up and stretched. He didn't want to make too big a deal of this but he was delighted that Emma had finally come far enough to play the instrument. "What do you call that song?"
"It's called 'The Green Room'."
"Very pretty. What about the first song?"
"I only played one song."
"I thought I heard two. Play it again." He encouraged her.
Emma played the song again, really enjoying it this time. It had always been one of her favorite pieces to perform and now she had an appreciative audience.
"That was the second piece you played. The first one was more dramatic and a lot longer."
"Dad, I only played the one piece." She frowned, then asked, "What did the other one sound like?"
Frohike hummed the melody line. Emma echoed it on the piano. "Was that what you heard?" she asked him.
"Yeah, that was it."
Emma just stared at him.
"Dad, I didn't play that but I did dream about playing it with you. You and I were sitting right here playing together."
"But I can't play."
"I know. You told me."
"When did I tell you?'
"In the dream."
Frohike started whistling the theme song from 'The Twilight Zone'. "Okay, that's weird but I believe you. Just don't tell Mulder about this."
"That's a long story. Let's go start dinner and I'll give you the highlights."