Title: A Little Frohike –
Summary: Frohike's daughter gets to know the Gunmen
Disclaimer: They're not mine no matter how much nor how many times I wish it. CC, et al own then but don't deserve them.
Once the lawyer read the will it turned out that it would be Frohike who would go home with Emma. He originally thought it would be the other way around. Michelle had said that she had a nice little house. That fact had slipped his mind. Not only did she have a house but it was paid for. It was a great relief to him to find out that he would not have to worry making mortgage payments.
Shoot, he and the guys were barely making the rent on the warehouse. Frohike had been serious when he told Langly that he would move out and he knew he would have to get another job to afford it.
He also figured that he would not be able to work a 9 to 5 job, do everything that needed to be done at the paper and still have time to be a decent parent. He would have to give up something and, unfortunately, it would have been his life's work.
An account had been set up to cover property taxes, insurance, and maintenance on the house and the yard. Michelle had left a sizable estate above and beyond this. Emma would receive an 'allowance' each month to cover household expenses, her education, health insurance, clothing, entertainment, etc. It would be automatically deposited in a checking account in both her name and Frohike's.
He didn't really want to tie himself in anyway to Emma's money but he could see the necessity of having an adult on the account. There was more money allowed for each month than he felt was necessary so he planned to set up a savings account into which the excess would be deposited at the end of each month. This money could be for emergencies or for whatever Emma needed or wanted within reason.
There had also been a big chunk of money left to Frohike himself. This he flat out refused. Although the money would have solved many of the problems they were still having at the paper, he just couldn't justify accepting it. The money was Emma's not his. He had done nothing to deserve it. He asked Mr. Brown to do what would need to be done to put the money into the trust that had been set up for Emma. She would inherit the bulk of her mother's estate when she turned 21.
There was one thing he accepted though.
When Mr. Brown handed him the papers to transfer the title for Michelle's car to him, he gladly signed them. He would need another car.
He'd always had a soft spot for the VW bus. He had bought it used and at first it was only transportation. Over the years more and more equipment had been permanently installed in it. It was now officially 'The Mobile Command Unit' and was needed for stakeouts, surveillance, or just to transport more than the two people that could fit comfortably in Jimmy's car. He couldn't afford another car so Michelle's '98 Honda Accord would fit the bill. It was not his style but it was comfortable, had leather interior (he had to love that), air conditioning, and automatic everything. It was better suited as a family car.
For the first time he thought of Emma and himself that way: a family.
They drove back to Emma's house in the VW bus. Emma had been a little unsure of the elderly vehicle at first but after Frohike helped her into the front seat and she got a chance to look around she was full of questions. Why did the van have so much equipment? What did this button do? Was that a camera? Did it have two-way mirrored windows? What were all the monitors for? What kind of job did Frohike have that required such a set up?
He started to talk about himself and what he did until he noticed that she was dozing off. Poor kid, so much had happened to her in the last few days. She must be exhausted. Soon she was sound asleep with her head leaning on the passenger side window.
He was able to find the house on his own without too much difficulty. It was a two-story home with a neatly kept front yard. Frohike was kind of surprised that there was no white picket fence. He stopped the car at the curb in front of the house. He wasn't sure how to wake Emma but turning off the engine did the trick.
"Oh, we're here. I didn't mean to do that."
"Don't worry about it. Have you gotten much sleep recently?" Frohike asked.
"No, not really." Emma admitted. She slid off the seat and out the door. "Would you like a tour of the house?"
He said that he would. Mr. Brown had given him a set of keys to Michelle's car and the house but Emma already had her keys in her hand. She unlocked the door and let them in. Emma gave Frohike a quick tour. It was comfortable, two story home: very tidy and more than big enough for two people. There were a living room, dining room, kitchen and an office downstairs. In the backyard there was a climbing structure that Emma swore she had not used 'since she was a kid'. Upstairs there were four bedrooms and a laundry room.
Michelle must have used the master suite but it was strangely stripped of all personal touches. There was a bed, a nightstand with a lamp, an over stuffed chair, and a dresser but not much else. Emma noticed his puzzled expression. "My mom had most of her stuff taken out of the room before she died. She said it would make it easier for the next occupant."
Frohike was a little shocked by this statement. How frank had Michelle been with Emma about everything that was going on?
When he said nothing she tried to explain, "My mom believed it was important to tell me the truth as much as possible. She said that she only ever lied to me once."
"And that was?"
"About how she got pregnant with me."
Okay, he wasn't ready to go there just yet so he looked back at the large room. "I can use one of the guest rooms," he offered.
"No, this one is for you," Emma insisted indicating the master suite. He just nodded. He would need to go back to the warehouse and get some clothes and other essentials. He didn't feel that he should take her with him, not yet. He didn't want to throw too much at her at one time. Let her get used to him before she met the other guys.
Besides the dark mood that Langly had been in when Frohike left that morning was one that was bound to last for a couple of days. So the problem now was: could he leave her home alone, even if it was only for an hour or two?
"I'm going to go get out of this ridiculous outfit," Emma informed him indicating the blue and yellow ruffled dress her 'Auntie' Cordelia had bought for her. She went into her room and carefully closed the door.
Frohike went to wander around the house a little. He found the garage and checked out the car. He popped the hood. Six cylinders, that was good. The two-car garage held little other than the car. It was way too clean and it seriously lacked tools.
He went into kitchen and checked out the pantry and the refrigerator. Everything was well stocked with all the basic food groups. He and the guys occasionally made attempts to eat healthy but salads and vegetables were often passed over for chips and other junk. If he made one of his special dinners they were more likely to eat a balanced meal but too often they ate on the run or as an after thought. So fast food, cold cereal, and sandwiches made up more meals than he cared to admit.
Emma found him in the kitchen. "Would you like me to make you something to eat?" she asked him. She was now wearing a pair of jeans and a striped green and blue t-shirt. She had redone her hair. It was once again French-braided on both sides of her head with the two braids meeting in one at the back"No, I was just checking to see if I needed to go grocery shopping."
"Cordelia went shopping the day before yesterday."
"How about you? Are you hungry?" It was nearly 2:00 PM. The meeting at the lawyer's office had taken quite awhile.
"Not really, just a little tired."
Frohike looked closely at her. She did have dark circles under her eyes. "Why don't you go rest?"
"Oh, I couldn't just leave you on your first day here."
"Don't worry about me. I can take care of myself." Frohike assured her. "To tell you the truth, there is something I need to do. The coworkers I told you about will need the van. Why don't you try to get some sleep and I'll go take it to them."
"How will you get back?" Emma was concerned.
"I'll get one of my friends to bring me back." She seemed satisfied with that. "Will you be all right here by yourself?"
Emma favored him with a little half smile, "Dad, I am almost 12. I can stay home by myself without being afraid of boogiemen. Besides, the family next door is really nice and if I have any problems I can go over there."
Frohike liked this idea but wanted to meet the neighbors. He might as well get to know them if he was going to be living here.
The neighbor, Patty Craemer, was the young mother of a very energetic three year old. Emma introduced her father to the woman who shook his hand warmly. Patty's little boy, Louie, squealed with delight when he saw Emma. He insisted on a hug before running off proclaiming that he could not be caught. Emma excused herself and ran off after him leaving the two adults to get to know each other.
"Would you like some coffee?" Patty asked him.
"That would be great."
They moved into the kitchen. They exchanged pleasantries for a few minutes and Frohike told her a few things about himself. Patty was pleased to meet Emma's father so soon because she genuinely liked Emma and had been very worried about her. Cordelia and Emma had not been a good match and although this man was not at all what she expected she had a good feeling about him.
"Emma tells me that when she is home alone she can come to you if she needs help with anything."
"Yes, Emma is always welcome here. When her mother had to go out of town for a couple of days, Emma would often stay here with us. When Louie was first born and my husband was on business trips, Emma would return the favor by helping out around the house or entertaining the baby so that I could get things done." Frohike was pleased to hear this. He was learning more about his daughter as a person and here was a solution to what he would do if he needed to leave town with little notice.
They talked for a short time longer when Frohike rose to leave saying he had errands he had to run but that Emma was going to stay at home. Patty said that she would be around for the rest of the day and that he was not to worry.
Louie and Emma were out in the backyard playing in a large sandbox. She had laid out a series of roads for the toddler to drive his trucks around on. When she rose to go, Louie complained loudly. Emma promised to come back and play with him soon but Patty had to pick him up and hold him so that they could leave.
With further assurances from Emma that she would be okay, Frohike took the VW bus back to Takoma Park.
He parked the van in its usual place in the alley, went down the stairs, rang the buzzer, and waited for someone to come and let him in. He had noticed that the Trans Am was gone. Good, he wouldn't have to explain to Jimmy why Emma was not with him. Surprisingly, it was Jimmy who answered the door. Frohike walked in and pulled Jimmy back inside with him, "She's not here."
"What! Why not? You didn't just ditch her did you?"
"No, Jimmy, she's at home."
"At home?" Jimmy was confused. "But this is home."
"No, this is our home. She has her own home and that's where she is. I just came back to get some stuff and leave you guys the van. I'm going to need a ride back and, by the way, where is your car?"
"Langly borrowed it but he said he'd be back hours ago."
Byers chimed in at this point. "He said there was a new game he'd read about on the internet that he had to have. That was before lunch." Frohike looked at his watch. It was almost 4:30.
"So the boy went off to have a little pout." Frohike observed. He knew that Langly didn't deal well with change unless it was some sort of new technology. He tended to be incredibly possessive and very resistant to anything that messed with his creature comforts. Unfortunately, Frohike didn't have time to worry about Langly right now. He'd have to make peace with him later.
Jimmy volunteered to drive Frohike back. Frohike appreciated the offer but also knew that Jimmy would want to meet Emma. Jimmy agreed to keep the visit short.
Frohike grabbed a duffle bag and a few pieces of camera equipment from the work area. He then went upstairs to his room. Jimmy and Byers followed. They wanted to hear about Emma and the meeting with the lawyer. Frohike gave them the short version as he threw clothes and other personal items in the bag.
Byers was pleased to hear about the house. He wasn't happy that Frohike was moving out but he would still be able to work with them on the paper. Jimmy was excited to hear about the car. He couldn't believe that these three men had gotten along with only one car all these years. Another one would help but four would be even better.
Frohike was anxious to get back to Emma. He thought he had detected just a hint of fear in her voice when he mentioned that he had to leave. Jimmy was just as anxious to be off. Frohike took one last look around the living quarters. He knew he would be back nearly everyday but it was still a big step.
They all had lived and worked together in this place for more than 10 years. The first real change in their lives had been when Jimmy came to stay with them. Jimmy added to the group. He was taking away from it.
He turned to Byers and held out his hand. "I'll see you around, Byers, but I probably won't be in for a couple of days."
Byers took Frohike's offered hand and squeezed it. "Just let us know."
Jimmy watched this exchange, went up to them and wrapped his arms around both of them. He hugged them both, thereby forcing them to hug each other. Frohike grumbled a bit about the rough treatment but Jimmy said it first, "Yeah, I know. We don't hug. Maybe it's time to start."
Frohike let Jimmy in telling him to keep his voice down in case Emma was asleep. They didn't see her on the couch at first. Jimmy finally noticed her curled up at one end, her arms wrapped around a small pillow off the couch. Frohike had gone upstairs to check her room. Feeling slightly panicked when he did not find her there, he made his way downstairs. Jimmy called to him in a loud stage whisper. "She's in here."
They both stood there looking at her for a couple of seconds. "She's going to have a stiff neck when she wakes up." Jimmy said concerned.
"But if I try to move her, she'll wake up and she really needs the rest."
"Do you think she's cold?"
"I don't know. Maybe."
"There's a quilt on that chair."
"That would be too warm."
"What should we do?"
"Let me go see if I can find something that's not as heavy." Frohike went back up the stairs. Jimmy sat down on the coffee table facing her. He didn't see much of Frohike in her but asleep like that, it was hard to tell.
Man, he wished she'd wake up but he wasn't stupid enough to do something to piss off Frohike like giving the couch a little shove with his foot. Fortunately, Frohike came back before this idea started to seem reasonable to Jimmy.
"I found an afghan."
"Right," thought Jimmy, "the blanket, not the dog."
Frohike carefully covered her with the afghan. She stirred a little and they both held their breath but, much to Jimmy's disappointment, she didn't wake up.
"You'd better go," Frohike informed Jimmy.
"Yeah, I guess so."
Frohike showed him to the door. "Don't worry, Jimmy, she's not going anywhere."