(A/N): Yeah, I've had no time to sit down and just write recently, so the next BB chapter is a little behind schedule. So I decided to try my hand at another songdrabble to get back into the swing of things. Pushing the word limit again, but, um, yay future!fic?

Disclaimer: Still not mine.

Cat's in the Cradle - Harry Chapin

His father left for the first time when Lae was five. His Uncle Riku came to the house with a letter bearing a mouse-shaped seal, and his dad hugged him extra tight and gave him an extra kiss when he put Lae to bed that night. He was gone when Lae got up the next morning.

Lae thought it was a game at first, wandering through the house and randomly opening cabinet doors in a vain attempt to find where his daddy was hiding. His mother caught up to him in the kitchen when he began slamming cupboard doors open and shut in frustration; pulling her hair out of her reddened eyes with one hand, she caught his hand in her own with the other. "Lae? Sweetheart, what are you doing?"

His frustration abruptly dissipating, Lae's lower lip wobbled and his blue eyes filled with tears. "Wh-where's Dad?" He watched as she took a deep breath and closed her eyes, her fingers tightening around his for a moment before she scooped him up in her arms and sat on one of the breakfast stools. She kissed his forehead as she rearranged his limbs so that he rested comfortably in her lap, smoothing his hair and resting her cheek against the top of his head.

And she told him.

He was eight when noises from downstairs woke him in the middle of the night. He slipped out of bed immediately, bare feet whispering over the carpet as he ran for the stairs, already picturing the look on his dad's face when he burst into the room to welcome him back. He found his parents in the living room, hunched together on the couch, his father sitting with his head in his hands and his mother's arms locked desperately around his shoulders as she pressed her lips against his temple.

His dad glanced up when he heard Lae's step in the doorway. "Lae? Buddy? What are you still doing up?" he asked, voice thick. His mom gasped and turned to face him, eyes shimmering with tears. Lae took an uncertain step into the room, worrying at his lower lip with his teeth, but his dad managed a watery smile and beckoned him over. When he got close enough, his dad snatched him into a fierce hug, one hand cradling the back of Lae's head with a desperate sort of tenderness.

Confused and a little frightened, Lae snaked his thin arms around his dad's neck and tried to ignore the moisture seeping into the collar of his night shirt. "Dad? What's wrong?" He glanced at his mom's tear-streaked face. "Is it Uncle Riku?" His father's breath hitched over a sob, but he only clutched Lae closer.

Lae was thirteen when he got into his first fist-fight. His dad was actually home when he got back from school, uniform torn and dirty and his split lip rapidly swelling. Lae marched straight back to where he was swinging in a hammock in the back yard, hands laced behind his head and his eyes closed in a light doze. "Is it true?" he asked, startling his dad so that he almost fell out of the hammock. "Do you really do all those things you say you do?" His dad squinted up at him, raising a hand to try and shade his eyes, and Lae tried to picture him, with his graying hair and his encroaching crow's feet, riding around in a fantastical ship and saving worlds no one even suspected existed.

His dad looked at him for a long time. "Do you believe I do?" he finally asked.

Lae blinked, hands clenching and unclenching a few times as he opened his mouth only to shut it again, lifting a hand to press his fingers gingerly against his bruised flesh. "…Yeah."

His dad smiled and hoisted himself out of the hammock. "Okay, then. Let's go get some ice for that lip, kiddo."

The Keyblade chose him when he was fifteen. When the letter with the King's seal arrived, his mother stuffed a bag with his favorite foods and managed to smile through her tears when she gave it to him. His dad pulled him into a tight hug, muttering last-minute instructions into his hair. Lae left them standing silhouetted in the doorway, clutching one another's hands, and went to the beach to wait.

The Gummi ship touched down in the small hours of the morning. Lae stood and slung his bag over his shoulder as the wind washed over him, waiting for the gangplank to descend. Max came out to meet him, and Lae felt grateful that he looked just as nervous as he did. "Hey," Max said, lips pulling back into a grin that died almost immediately, shoulders slumped as he clutched an arm awkwardly against his body. "Um, my dad's on the ship. You ready?"

Lae took one last look around the beach before he nodded. "Yeah. Let's go."