TANGLED UP IN BLUE
by Stephen Greenwood
Rating: PG for the odd curse word
Spoilers: Set after 2x12 so major ones for that as well as a 'blink and you'll miss it' one for 1x05
Disclaimer: I'm saving up to buy them off Tom Kapinos and Showtime. I don't own Bob Dylan, either, but I do have an album or two of his.
Written for memories-child at LiveJournal, who prompted me with Hank and Becca's father/daughter relationship, guitar, and emo. I hope this is adequate.
Summary: All alone in the City of Angels.
Left to his own devices in the City of Angels with his very own miracle by his side, Hank feels oddly at ease. There is a comfortable silence between father and daughter as they stroll along the boardwalk, and although he is grounded by her presence he allows his mind to wander to a plane heading for JFK. He thinks he is supposed to feel some sort of loss but his heart is full and the ever-present hangdog look is absent from his face. He feels lighter than he has in years, even with the love of his life flying to the East Coast for an unstipulated amount of time. Becca is still here and she is happy, and he doesn't give a shit about much else.
Life is good, he realises as the weak rays of evening sunlight fall upon his tanned skin. He never thought he would feel content amid those who inject themselves with poison for the freshly ironed look. He glances at Becca and thanks the Lord for her non-conformist attitude and ability to think for herself, which is more than he can say for most of the people he knows here in LA, the media's feeding ground. It would be so easy to fall victim to the self-centred subculture; having your ego stroked twenty-four seven is enough to make any man a king.
Becca slows and glances up at him. "Dad?"
She stops in front of a tourist trap selling flimsy t-shirts and baseball caps and looks at him with the same piercing gaze her mother possesses. "Are you okay?"
"Yes," he says honestly, remembering all the times he has replied in the negative to the same question. "Yes, I am."
* * * * *
The adrenaline high wears off. It is dark when they arrive back at his apartment and Becca disappears to her room once they're inside, shutting the door behind her. Hank gazes at the piece of wood for a long moment, keys still in his hand, before collapsing onto the couch and pressing the heels of his hands into his eyeballs until he sees spots on the blackened lid. A thousand different thoughts swim in his mind like lost fish, like Nemo, and he can't even begin to categorise them because they overlap and shoot off on tangents like never before.
How the hell can I possibly do this on my own?
The urge to call Karen and beg her to come back is so incredibly strong but Hank doesn't think her plane will have landed yet, and even if it has, it would be an utterly selfish thing to do and he's vowed not to be that guy anymore. He can't afford to be that guy anymore. Essentially, he's a single parent with a teenaged daughter under his wing he has to try not to corrupt more than he usually does. They're living in a city where temptation crowds every street corner, every school, every neighbourhood, and Hank knows he is a pretty strong magnet for all the weird shit. It would be funny if only it happened to someone else.
Lightning never strikes twice? Bullshit.
He's been alone with Becca for all of six hours, tops, and already he's at his wits' end. He has new admiration for Karen's parenting skills, looking after their daughter while he was off gallivanting, doing God knows what with God knows who when he should have been home with his family. Hank is aware of the years he has lost – the time spent with his nose buried in a manuscript covered with red ink, a butchered screenplay featuring someone else's words – and he knows more than anyone that a man can't live in the past and hope the present will stop until he is ready to play catch-up. One more thing he has wasted months doing.
Time to be proactive.
He strides purposefully to Becca's room, raises his fist to knock on the door, and just…listens. The faint strains of a song he once sang to her can be heard from inside and he is moved to silence, resting his forehead on the doorframe and closing his eyes in an attempt to absorb the moment. Proactive, he reminds himself, is not being lonely when you're only twenty-five feet apart. Taking a deep breath, he knocks once, twice, and slowly pushes the door open.
Her head shoots up from her guitar and her hands still upon noticing him, and she reaches for her iPod speakers to turn off the music but he cuts in hurriedly.
"Leave it on," he says in a voice that's not steady enough for his liking, "keep playing". He perches on the end of the bed, hands clasped between his knees, and looks at her expectantly. Slowly, her fingers begin to dance over the fretboard and the unmistakable melancholic notes of Bob Dylan fill the room. She reminds him of Karen when they first met, so graceful with the bass, manipulating it so easily, skilfully, beautifully. Their daughter has the same talent. He is quiet for the duration of the song and Becca plays it until the recording fades away and into the next. "Blood on the Tracks," he murmurs.
"Classic heartbreak album," his daughter replies, and flips it back to the previous song. At his look, she shrugs and says, "I like this one."
Hank smiles and listens to it again, the lyrics hitting close to home. Partway through, eyes a little watery, he asks, "Do you miss her yet?"
Becca carefully places her guitar to one side and moves to sit next to him. They both look at an unremarkable patch of floor. "Yes," she says simply, "and I know you do as well." He tries to smile but fails miserably. "And you know what, Dad?"
She looks at him with so much wisdom his breath is taken away. "What, honey?"
"I know she misses you, too."
Hank pulls her to him and holds her close.