Author's note: This story is a sequel to Helen's story 'Only Human'.
Thank You very much, Helen, for giving me permission to write this.
The story takes place after Mark's return home from hospital, where his left arm had to be amputated after a car accident. It will only tell how father and son deal with the new situation. Helen's characters will not appear in this.
This is my first fan fiction, and I hope You enjoy reading it.
Thank You, AOK2, jj, and he he eh, for taking the time to give me at least a little feedback.
- Super Human -
Steve parked his tall Crown Vic in the yard of their Malibu beach home, and rushed through the gate house and up the flight of stairs to the front door, eager to get home.
It has been the first day his dad had spent alone at home.
All day Steve had to actively refrain from picking up the phone and make sure how his dad got along, and maybe offer to come home early.
He was still amazed by Mark's speedy recovery, and the ease with which he had accepted his disability.
Steve himself had way more of a hard time with it, and in the privacy of his own mind admitted that the sight of ... the new shape of his dad's arm - Goodness, not even in his mind he was comfortable with the word 'stump'!
He swallowed the lump he now felt so often in his throat, and opened the door.
"I'm home Dad." he announced, his voice carefully neutral, and maybe even a bit merry, and ascended the stairs to the living room with two strides. "Dad?"
"Here Son, in the kitchen." Mark's voice came from said direction, followed by a mighty clutter of silverware on the floor.
Steve darted into the kitchen. "Are you alright?"
He found his dad standing amidst all cutlery they owned, with the drawer hanging from his prosthetic arm, and a sheepish smile on his face. "Hoo, you won't believe how powerful this hook is." he said, and shook his arm to get rid of the drawer.
Steve rolled his eyes, and stepped carefully between the cutlery on the floor, taking hold of the drawer. "Now, move your shoulder." he instructed, and laid his hand there to support the motion.
The hook opened, and released the drawer from its iron grip.
Steve laid it on the counter, and led his father out of the pile of silverware with a steadying hand.
"Steve." Mark burred gently. "I lost my arm. But I can still walk just fine."
Steve wouldn't let go, and seated Mark on a stool by the island. "Dad, what are you doing in the kitchen anyway? I told you to call Bob's when you are hungry. They gonna deliver whatever you need and..."
He bit his tongue in time, before he said that his employees would also help him cut up his meals.
He grabbed the drawer, and began to pick up the scattered contents.
"And I really appreciate that, Son. But there is no reason why I shouldn't prepare dinner for us. You don't want to live on pizza or Chinese from now, or would you? I just have to get a bit more used to this."
Steve looked around the messy kitchen. There were squeezed up vegetables on the counter and the floor, a broken egg, and spills everywhere.
A hot sizzle startled them, and Mark jumped up to lift the lid of a pot, and stir the contents vigorously.
Steve heaved another sigh, but this time more indulgent. He knew of course that he couldn't wrap his dad up in cotton wool, and set him on his couch for the rest of his life.
And he really admired his dad's grit and determination.
"You know," Mark said cheerfully, "it takes the brain some time to get used to using the opposing shoulder to move the hand, especially after having it done for seventy years. But," he added brightly, and lifted the lid from another pot, "this thing sure has its advantages."
And with the air of a magician who is about to perform a miracle, he reached into the boiling water. After some tries he caught a potato, and lifted it triumphantly out, smushing the arable crop to pulp by the motion.
Mark bit his lower lip, trying to appear rueful, but the amused chuckle came out anyway.
"I tell you. This thing is powerful. You be glad that I didn't have it yet when you were little." He shook his arm, clicking the hook on the countertop to make the mush come off. "If I had tweaked your ears with this..."
He trailed off merrily, ant turned to the sink to wash the hook.
Steve was listening politely while he cleaned up the floor, but he still wouldn't say anything.
Mark breathed a little sigh, and deemed it wise to not put any more on his son's shoulders right now, and stop the mischief. He knew Steve was having the hardest time accepting his disability, especially because it was an amputation. Had his arm been saved, and just been paralyzed and useless, it would have been a lot easier for Steve to cope with it, because he would still have been whole.
But a stump is a scary sight, that needs some time to getting used to.
Even for himself. He certainly was grateful that he didn't have to bother with a useless appendage, and had a working tool instead. But the sight of the stump was still strange.
"So, how was work today, Son?" he asked in an upbeat way. "Any new leads in your case?"
"I... er... no. Not really." Steve muttered.
"Why is that? Didn't anything come from the DNA you said you wanted to have checked?"
"No... yes... possibly."
Mark looked up. "Out with it, Son. What is it?"
"Er, listen Dad," Steve didn't dare look up from his task of wiping the egg from the floor. "it's not my case anymore. I handed it over to Kincaid."
"Why would you do that?" Mark asked exasperated, although he had a pretty good idea why.
Steve tossed the paper towel in the trash, and rose to his feet. "I felt I was too emotionally involved. Burnside and I have become quite good friends over the years." He wetted a cleaning rag, and wiped the sticky spot on the floor. "Gives me time to catch up with my paper work too. - I talked to the Chief. Captain Johnson of the Malibu precinct is going to retire next month, and I think it is about time that I accept a promotion."
Mark sighed. He knew that Steve was doing all that for him. The position of a captain would be more administrative, and meant a more regular schedule of normal work hours from eight to five.
Plus the new position would be closer to home, making it possible to be here quick in a case of emergency.
The progress of Steve's career would have made Mark incredibly proud.
Had he not known that his son had avoided a promotion for so long, because he didn't want to be tied to a desk.
The kitchen timer went off, and saved him an answer right now.
"Steve, you wanna set the table?"
Steve nodded, and washed his hands in the sink.
"Soup plates please, and spoons."
When his son had left the kitchen, he removed the lid from a pot, and simply reached in with his hook, to get the plastic bowl out of the hot water, and smiled about how easy that was now.
He turned the bowl over single-handedly, and reached for the long knife.
"Hmm," Steve came back into the kitchen, taking in the scent with a pleased expression. "we gonna have soup?"
"With egg cubes, just like you love it." Mark confirmed.
Steve sniffed into the tall pot, and then picked up the pot cloths, to pour the soup into the tureen.
It was thick with noodles, various vegetables, and big chunks of beef.
"This smells delicious."
Mark smiled. It wasn't often that he got praise for his cooking from his son.
He scooped up the first cubes he had cut on the flat side of the knife, and dropped them into the tureen.
"Here, let me do this." Steve said, and took the knife from Mark's hand. "You go and have a seat."
Mark heaved an inward sigh, but didn't want to argue now.
And he indeed was glad to sit down now.
He had to admit that a whole day of therapy, shopping, and cooking, had let him reach his limits.
Breathing was still hard, after the pleurisy he had developed in hospital, and more often than not he had actually felt his age those last couple of weeks.
He opened the deck door, and sat down at the set dining table.
The fresh sea breeze felt good in his lungs.
He leaned back, and took in pleasantly deep breaths.
"You look tired, Dad." Steve said, setting the tureen down on the table. "You really shouldn't have done the cooking."
"I'm fine, Son." Mark assured him gently. He rested his artificial arm in his lap, and laid the napkin over it. "But you see, I have to start with something. Lying around on the couch all day won't get me any fitter."
Steve filled their plates. "Yeah, so what? You don't have to worry over your chores at all. Let me hire a full time house help. I already ..."
"Steve," Mark cut him gently short. "we already talked about that. All that your Mom could agree to, was to have somebody help with the laundry. She never liked strangers in the house."
"No Son. I would feel like I'm betraying her."
Steve sighed, and for some moments they ate in silence.
"Steve," Mark pointed his spoon at the set, "there is the salt."
"No need, Dad. This is excellent."
Mark breathed an inaudible sigh, and rolled his eyes when his son didn't look.
The amount of salt in their food had been a constant source for quips and banters before.
"So, how was your day, Dad?"
"Fine Son. Not a single problem I ran into."
"When will the .." Steve involuntarily cleared his throat, ".. permanent prosthesis be ready?"
"A couple more weeks." Mark replied. "There still is some swelling. - By the way." He put his spoon down, and dug into his pocket. "Can you please get these compression socks from the shop tomorrow?"
Steve took the yellow slip of paper. "Sure."
He put it in his wallet, and stuck that back in his back pocket.
"Say Dad, when you get that new prosthetic arm, will you get ... uh, something more advanced? I read about these computerized hands that get connected to your nerves and..." He trailed off before he mentioned how realistic they look, and felt a slight hue of red on his ears.
"I don't think so, Son." Mark replied gently. "These computerized hands are still in development, and unless you are a wounded soldier it's very hard to get into these programs. And also they are very difficult to operate. It needs months and months of full time training. I really think I should stick to the hook. It's simple to use, very versatile, and durable. It really is the best solution."
Steve nodded, looking down on his plate.
Mark wanted to pat his son's hand, and comfort him, tell him that he would get used to it.
But Steve was sitting by his left side, and he sure wouldn't stress him by patting his hand with his hook.
And if he addressed his son's discomfort, he knew he would only embarrass him.
Again they ate in silence, until the front door banged, announcing the arrival of a visitor.
Mark inwardly put his money on Dr. Amanda Bentley, because the fourth leaf of the clover, Dr. Jesse Travis seemed to be the only one who could accept that Mark was fine, and able to look after himself.
And he was right of course. Amanda came around the kitchen into the dining area, a bright smile on her beautiful dark face. "Hello-o, how is everybody?"
Mark received her with a light hug of his good arm. "Everybody is just fine."
Steve stood up to get a plate and a glass for their friend, and Amanda plopped down on a vacant chair. "Ah. Soup. Just what I need after that rotten day. That idiot Kincaid is going to drive me nuts. - Mark, don't tell me you cooked dinner yourself."
"Amanda," he said gently, "I won't learn to use this arm, if I don't use it."
"Well yes, I figure you are right there. But you won't overdo, would you?"
"Honey, I can walk, and I can breathe. I'm fine."
Amanda breathed a little sigh, and then gave his hand a light squeeze. "Okay."
Mark gave her a warm smile, and patted and rubbed her hand.
"Want to tell me how C.J. is doing at his piano lessons?"
Well, Amanda sure would, but not without prompting.
Actually the plan had been that Mark would see to the musical education of Amanda's boy. His godson.
Just like he had used to with his own children.
And Mark honestly enjoyed hearing about C.J's efforts. He had no hard feelings, or felt sadness at his new inability. Things were as they were. And he managed to transport his ease so well, that the atmosphere stayed relaxed all through dinner.
Until the door bell rang, and his home care nurse arrived.
Amanda said good bye, needing to hurry home now, and Steve excused himself to have to check his answering machine.
Mark watched them both flee, and breathed a little sigh.
"They will get used to it." his nurse, Philippa, told him softly with an encouraging smile.
"Yes I know."
Together they went to Mark's bedroom, where Philippa helped him undress, taking the prosthesis off first.
"You've been wearing it all day again?" she asked, tugging the stump sock carefully down.
"Well, Steve just isn't comfortable with the stump."
"Steve was at work all day." she pointed out.
"I expected him to drop by and check on me."
"He better get used to it." Philippa said curtly, inspecting the red tissue around the scar. "The skin will start to break down in another few days, if you don't start being easy on it. Well, just think how quick your son will get used to the sight, if you can't put the arm on at all for a couple of weeks."
"Do I have to take your arm along, or can I rely on you that it will stay off until tomorrow?"
"Okay." Mark gave in. He held up two fingers to make it a word of honor, and made it obvious that he had no fingers for any secret signs.
Philippa nodded satisfied, and took off his slacks.
Undressed down to his boxer shorts Mark went into the bathroom, and sat down on a stool in front of the vanity, so that Philippa could wash him easily.
Done with that she prepared Mark's toothbrush, and left him alone to finish with what he could do by himself.
Meanwhile she put the dirty clothes in the laundry, and then went to help Mark put on his pajama and dressing gown, fastening the belt with a loop that could be undone with just one tug.
Downstairs Steve was standing in his own shower, and banged his head against the wall a couple three times.
Chrissake! Why couldn't he just relax around his Dad?
And whom did he think could he fool by his evasive behavior?
He groaned, and turned off the warm water, leaving only the cold running.
He should be up there with his Dad now. Not some stranger. It had been the reason for him to move back in with his Dad, to be there for him and take care. And now that he did need care, Steve found himself acting like a total klutz.
But he felt so incredibly sorry for his Dad. He knew how much his work had meant to him, and he feared that once he finally realized that it was gone forever, it would come down really hard on him.
He really had to get a grip on himself, and be sure to be there for his Dad, once reality would set in.
He shut the water off with a decisive flick of his hand, and toweled himself briskly down.
Dressed in fresh Blue Jeans and a shirt he went back upstairs. "Dad?"
Steve headed there, silently chiding himself for not having thought of cleaning the kitchen before going downstairs.
He found Mark putting the dishes one by one in the washer.
"Dad, you don't have to..."
He trailed off when he saw the secret little sigh his Dad heaved, and let out his breath.
"Come here Dad, let me give you a..."
This time he froze, when he realized what he was about to say, and to make matters worse, he found himself staring at the empty sleeve, tucked into the pocket of the dressing gown.
His ears started glowing brightly red.
Mark pretended to not notice, and cast his son a grateful smile instead. "That would be nice. Thank you Son." He washed his hand and kneaded it dry on the towel. "It's been a long day. I think I'll go to bed now."
He patted Steve's shoulder, and headed straight for his room.
"Good night Dad." Steve managed in a mixture of surprise and dismay, and felt like kicking his own butt for his incredible stupidity.
He cleaned up, then grabbed a Bud from the fridge, and went out to sit on the deck in the cool air of the falling night.