There was something wrong with this picture.

It took a moment to understand why.

Adam surveyed his surroundings. The kitchen, the living room. Everything was in tact. Shifting the heavy bag on his back, he realized what was missing.

Michael.

For as long as he could remember, he had never waken up without his father already long awake. Whether Michael had an internal alarm inside him or he just never slept, Adam didn't know. What he did, however, was seeing that his father was not here.

Looking out the window, he saw the car still parked in the driveway.

Adam, as a child, could never be one of those kids who slept in on Christmas. At four in the morning, he'd be bounding out of bed. But he never had to go to his father's room. Instead, he'd go down to the room with the tree, where Michael would already be sitting.

It was terribly obvious that there was something wrong that Michael was not here, in his usual place, ready to take Adam to school.

He rarely went in to the bedroom. His father was hardly ever there. But he made his way back up the stairs and knocked on the door.

"Dad?"

No answer.

Opening the door, he did find his father, a mass twisted in the covers, clutching the piece of paper in his hand. The paper that was on the daily calander - he had ripped off today's date, staring at it with great intensity.

"Dad, you okay?" Adam asked again, slowly coming forward.

He knew what today was. It was the day that all those years ago his father had taken him on the train to go to their first home. It was after mom had died, and not long after he had found out that not both of his parents were exactly dead.

But this day meant something entirely different to the man who clutched the crinkled paper for dear life.

He had left a woman behind, that much Adam remembered. Someone who he couldn't bear to part with, someone whom he loved with as much intensity as the grip he had on that calander date.

She was now the woman of who's memory grounded his father to bed, not able to find the strength to get up.

Adam understood what his father needed. He had always known what would happen as he became more independant.

Michael took care of the child he loved. He made sure that his child grew up properly, with love and care and anything he could offer him. But he also bore a love for a woman that transcended through time. Just the hope of her there, still waiting for him, was enough to keep him going through most days. But days like this, it made him crumble.

Instead of further disrupting his father's memories, Adam went down stairs to call his friend. He'd get a ride from someone else, granting Michael a day alone with his thoughts of his love, all he had left until the day he could manage to allow Adam to go forth in this world without him.

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-K.S