Disclaimer/: Still not mine. -Sulks-
Author's Notes/: This idea came to me after falling in love with the song Lucy, by Skillet. At first it made me think of Jeff, but the longer I listened to it, the more I thought about Scott, and how it might feel to be a surrogate father at such a young age while his father was grieving. I'm not sure if I like this, particularly since I have an easier time writing Alan, but the idea has finally been set free, which is what counts. Let me know what you think?
He knelt down in the grass, carefully moving aside leaves and pulling the few weeds that had popped up in the time since he'd last been here. The site was well-cared for, but they still missed a few spots once in awhile. And to be fair, he kind of liked taking the time to do this himself.
His fingers reached out to trace the letters on the gravestone for a moment, touching her name reverently. His eyes misted, but the tears didn't fall. It had been a long time since he'd last been able to cry, and he didn't plan to start now.
A loud laugh made him look up sharply, eyes darting immediately to the source. After a moment his shoulders relaxed, and he went back to looking at the stone again. He swallowed hard. "Hi, Mom," he whispered. "Happy birthday."
He laid down the dozen pale pink roses he'd brought her carefully before sitting back on his heels to stare at her name once more. He didn't come here as often as he'd like, especially with his father avoiding this place like the plague, but finally getting his pilot's license had made it easier. Now he came when he could, but most especially on the anniversary of her death, and her birthday.
It was a ritual of sorts for him, to come and air his thoughts where no one could hear. He still wasn't sure if he really believed she watching over them the way he'd always assured his brothers she was, but it was enough that it brought them comfort. And even if she was around to listen to him, he didn't know if he'd really be looking for a response. He talked to her here because there was no one else to listen, and because he didn't dare speak his mind to anyone else. His brothers were too young, for all that John was the closest thing he had to a partner, and Dad was hard enough to find as it was. And somehow ... he was a little afraid of what his dad might say.
"Sometimes it seems like it's only been days," he began softly, his eyes distant. "And then sometimes it's like forever. It's the little things that really get to me, you know? When I can't remember the way you looked when you laughed. What song you'd sing when you were baking. The look you'd give me when I was in trouble. Sometimes ... sometimes I can't even remember what your voice sounded like anymore.
"Which is stupid, you know? I mean, it's only been two and a half years. I was fourteen, so it's not like I don't have memories. It's not like with ... with Alan, and even Gordon sometimes. I got to know you, and Alan never did. So why is it so hard to remember you?"
He sighed, reaching up to rub a hand over his face. "John says I demand too much of myself. He's really something, you know. He's ... he's so smart, and so good with the boys, and he works so hard to help out. It's not like they're a bad bunch or anything, but it's still hard to keep track of everything. He set up this system for chores, and now he's got a homework chart so I know who's got what due when, and when to check on them all to make sure it's done. And he never asks for anything back. He just ... pitches in like it's nothing. Like it's what he's supposed to do.
"And Virge ... God Mom, he's so talented. He's painting now, and the work he does ... I don't know if he's better at painting or music. He's even started composing, can you believe it? He's twelve, and he's writing his own songs. Not simple stuff, either. Some of it just blows me away. And then he's so smart, just like John. They can really talk over my head sometimes. Virgil always wants to know how things work, and John's so patient with all his questions. It's amazing to see what that kid can come up with."
He paused to lick his lips, a faint smile coming to his face. "Gordon's finally found his passion, and you won't believe it. He swims. Like a fish. It's all I can do to drag him out of the pool for dinner sometimes. He's still full of energy all the time, so it's been nice to see him find something to wear himself out." He stopped again, frowning. "He's been hanging around with some new friends though, and I'm not sure I like them. They're a little rowdy, and I'm worried they'll get him in trouble. John keeps telling me they're just kids, but I worry, you know? I don't want Gordon mixed up in anything he shouldn't be."
He stared at the ground in silence for several minutes, gathering his thoughts. "Alan just got out of school, and he's already looking forward to first grade," he said finally, smiling a little. "His teacher said he's a little rambunctious, but that he was a joy to have in class. I think she was a little more overjoyed to finally be rid of him though, to be honest," he added wryly. "There aren't many people who can keep Alan occupied long enough to keep him out of trouble."
His smile softened as he thought about his baby brother. "He's doing really well with his reading. We read together every night before bed, and he's gotten really good at sounding out words he doesn't know. Gordon's been trying to teach him to swim, but Alan can't sit still long enough to listen, and Gordon isn't patient enough to stick with it yet, so I'm thinking I may step in there before they end up drowning each other. He's a bright kid, but he just can't stay in one place long enough to learn too much at a time." He chuckled. "Johnny says he's just like I was at that age, but I think he's full of it."
His smile faded with a soft sigh as he turned to watch where Alan was running up and down the small hill nearby, a model jet waving in one hand. "Alan asked me if I was going to his parent's day," he said eventually, his voice soft. "He didn't even ask Dad. I asked him if he wanted Dad there too, and the look he gave me ... " He shook his head, swallowing hard. "He asked me why Dad would need to go. I ... I didn't even know what to say. And then when I tried to tell Dad about it, he just blew it off and ... " He swallowed again, shutting his eyes briefly as they burned. "You know how many sixteen year olds show up at a kindergarten parents' day? Don't get me wrong, I loved it," he added hastily. "I mean, it was great seeing everything Alan's been doing in class. But the looks everyone kept giving me were just ... " He shuddered.
"Do you think ... " He stopped, hesitating. For a moment he just stared at her name, at the words below written in her memory. 'Lucille Tracy: Loving mother, Beloved Friend.'
There were tears in his eyes as he reached out again to trace the word 'mother'. "I think Dad resents me," he whispered finally. "He never talks to me anymore. I know he's busy with work and all. It's just ... " He blinked hard. "Last week, Virgil was trying to ask him something. I was watching Johnny make dinner and trying to say anything, because Dad was finally there you know? Out of his office and actually talking. And Al came running in, right past Dad and straight to me. I don't really remember what it was now, something about fighting with Gordon I think. But Dad just ... walked out. Left Virgil standing there looking so hurt. I tried talking to Virge, and I ended up having to send him to Johnny. And it ... it wasn't the same, you know? It wasn't Dad. Virge wouldn't say anything, you know he wouldn't. But I could tell."
He hesitated again. "I think Dad knows," he said quietly. "I think he knows how ... how I feel about Alan and the boys now. And I think he hates me for it."
He fell silent, trying to picture his mother's face. He wanted to think of her smile, but all he could see was a disapproving frown.
"I'm sorry," he whispered guiltily, voice cracking. "I don't ... I'm not glad you're gone Mom, I swear. I miss you, and I love you so much. But it's just ... I love them, too. I love being needed. It's like ... they needed me before, but this is different. Especially with Allie - I mean, Alan," he corrected hastily. 'Allie' had been a nickname he'd coined; for his mother, it had always been Alan. "I know he's not ... you know. I mean, he's way too old, and I'm not old enough for us to be ... that. But it feels like it. And ... I like that."
He swallowed hard, blinking again.
Would you hate me, too? he wondered, unable to bring himself to actually say the words aloud. Would you resent me for taking Alan away from you, even if I didn't mean it? Would you believe me if I told you it was never on purpose?
He was brought out of his thoughts by the sound of shuffling feet. Glancing up, he saw Alan approaching him hesitantly, his toy jet clutched tightly in one hand as the little boy bit his lip. " ... Scotty?" he whispered shyly. He hesitated.
Scott smiled at him, holding out an arm in invitation, and Alan quickly scrambled over to him and into his lap. Scott wrapped his arms around his baby brother, brushing Alan's bangs out of his face and kissing his head. "You getting bored, Allie?" he asked softly.
Alan squirmed slightly. "No ... ?"
He chuckled, tickling his side. "You're the one who wanted to come with me," he reminded him teasingly. "I warned you you'd be bored."
Alan looked up with bright eyes and an earnest expression. "But you're here, Scotty! An' I like bein' with you!"
Scott swallowed. "I like being with you too, baby," he murmured, kissing Alan's upturned forehead. He tried to ignore the guilt he felt at using the private nickname, especially here.
"You done talkin' t' Mommy yet?" Alan asked, snuggling closer to him.
He reached up to stroke Alan's hair absently, his eyes on the gravestone. In the years since his mother had died, his father had retreated into himself, leaving Scott to watch his brothers with barely so much as a word. Scott had resented him for it at first, wanting his father, wanting his mother back, wanting the chance to actually grieve. But time had passed, and he found himself with an armful of Alan at night, and separating Virgil and Gordon's fights, and reminding John to stop studying long enough to eat. And he began to find that it wasn't so bad, looking after the others. After awhile, he even started to enjoy it. It was nice to be needed.
He'd helped his parents out with his brothers before. Babysitting was sort of a requirement of being the oldest of five, after all. But it was different now. Now it wasn't something he did for a while when his parents were out; it was a full-time job.
And he was finding, it was a full-time job he loved.
I'm sorry, Mom, he thought, heart aching. I didn't mean to take them away from either of you. It just ... happened.
But he couldn't say he really regretted it, and that was the worst part.
"Yeah, Allie. I'm done," he said finally. He kissed his brother's temple. "You ready to get out of here?"
Alan nodded eagerly, scrambling back to his feet. "Bye Mommy!" he called cheerfully, waving at the gravestone as if it weren't only a few feet in front of him. "We'll come see you 'gain real soon, 'kay?"
Scott stood more carefully, swallowing another lump in his throat. "Come on, Allie." He held out a hand. "Let's go get something to eat before we head back to the island. What do you think?"
Alan grabbed his hand without question, bright blue eyes meeting his hopefully. "Can we get ice cream?"
He tried not to smile. "Let's get a snack first, and then we'll see about ice cream."
Alan cheered. "You're the best, Scotty!"
As he led Alan back to the car, Scott couldn't help but wonder about that. But Alan was still talking, and he focused his attention on his little brother. Nothing was more important to him than Alan. Not anymore.
He just hoped that one day, his parents might forgive him.