Baby Steps

Disclaimer: I own the idea, and some secondary characters, that is all.


Deep breath.

Realizing, rather quickly, that he'd also have to exhale as well for this process to work correctly, he did, and then sighed.

If he couldn't even remember how to breathe properly, this did not bode well for things to come.

"He cut it too short…"

He still hated the hair.

The barber had been lucky to escape with his life once he saw just how scissor friendly the man had been.

Tugging on one shortened strand of hair colored as if kissed by sun rays, he frowned unhappily.

Assured that it would grow back out by the one responsible for the travesty in the first place, he knew it wouldn't be in time.

Here he was—about to face the most daunting task of his life yet, and he'd be forced to do so looking like the most preppy, dorky, punk-assed kid on the planet.

Lips and eyes rolled as he made a face at his reflection and dropped his hand down.

At least he wasn't dressed too horribly.

Having learned that compromising was quite the functional tool to use when clothes shopping with someone as old as the dinosaurs, he'd been able to sneak in articles that actually seemed dated in the current century and not the sixteen hundreds.

Shirt was acceptable, nothing too fancy, and pants were of the faded jean variety; and though his outfit didn't appear to be anything special enough to make note of, trousers, pleated and boxy, and a pinpoint oxford dress shirt with included sweater vest had been offered to him as an option to wear instead.

The consequential tantrum like melt-down that had occurred as soon as he laid eyes on the offenses to good fashion sense earned him the right to not be able to sit down comfortably for a few days, but still proved to have been worth it in the end when he managed to get his way, as usual, and wear what he wanted to.

As he had successfully managed to argue, sore bottom aside, no one under forty wore trousers unless they were going to—

A- a funeral.

B- a wedding.

Or C- all of the above.

At least uniforms hadn't been brought up in the conversation at any time, or the kind of school that would require him to have to wear one.

He'd seen those poor, sad children, forced into wearing bland and unimaginable outfits ranging in primary colors of nothing but tans, browns, and grays.

But at least he, lucky lucky he, had escaped the droning, monochromatic atmosphere that was private school and would now get to attempt a chance at normalcy, for once.

Whether or not that would end up being in his favor, however, remained to be seen.


"Where's the...?"

"Behind you."

Sitting on a stool with a bowl full of puffed corn cereal, he munched away on his current mouthful while using his, now, empty spoon to direct the other person to where a small jar sat on the kitchen counter behind him.

"Oh—thanks."

Turning around and picking it up, he unscrewed the top first and then dug around inside of a drawer he opened to find a butter knife.

"You know—there's this new fangled thing out nowadays. It's called—'giving your kid some money and letting them buy their own lunch.'"

Spreading one, thick slice of bread with a glop of mayo that he dug out of the container, a faint smirk could be seen passing across his lips.

"It—this is the more economical way of doing things."

Downing the last bite of the delicious mixture of cold milk and crunchy cereal, the man hopped up from his seat and grinned around the curved piece of metal still in his mouth.

"Putting in a juice box and puddin' cup for him next?"

"He's not five."

"Could have fooled me."

"Shut up…"


Checking his backpack, for what had to be the thousandth time since last night, he made sure all of the new supplies that had been bought him were still in the same places they had been since he first put them in all of the designated pockets and slots and so on.

He was obsessing about this, but he felt he had good reason to.

Going from the crude, simplistic home school like environment that he'd known for so many years, to a more tutor friendly atmosphere provided him for over two and a half and now, finally, to the world of the typical, earth child's scholarly existence, it was a big step to take.

He'd also heard that it could be the best and worst experience of a person's life; something they regretted forever or treasured for always.

And though he had seen, felt, heard, and lived through a lot of scary, unpredictable moments already, the recollections of how it'd been for those around him had ended up somewhat terrifying and exciting him.

Shouldering his book-bag as he caught sight of the time, he picked up and put on the hat he'd been dead set on getting until his locks of precious hair reached their appropriate length once more, and giving it a slight twist to one side he declared himself dressed and ready.

Sort of.


"Who's more nervous you think?"

Having to go up on her very tippy toes to just be able to gaze over his shoulder, face brightened by the smile her mouth wore, she watched the man pacing back and forth as he muttered to himself.

"Well don't you look all spiffy?"

Adjusting the one, wide strap of the heavy bag to keep it from digging down into his bony shoulder, he ducked his head as a rush of color hit his cheeks.

"You're driving me, right?"

"Unless you prefer walking."

Grinning, he kissed the woman beside him just as she was beginning to let him go.

"So—scared?"

"No."

Speaking with only half of the confidence he sought to fake in full, he straddled an arm of one, sturdy chair.

"You sure?"

"No…"

Admitting the truth finally, he couldn't help a weak smile as she walked over and patted a cheek.

"You'll do just fine. Just remember, you won't be the only nervous one there, everybody feels funny about their first day."

"Thanks, mom."

Hitting him then, she chuckled as he rocked to one side and feigned being hurt.

"Okay—okay…"

Coming out of the kitchen with head down and lips moving as he mumbled his words in a hushed tone, he held on to the packed to near bursting lunch bag.

"Okay."

Repeating himself once more, he smiled brightly as the child stood and faced him once he was but a mere two feet away.

"Here."

Holding it out with a stiff arm, it was taken by the boy with a bemused eyebrow raised while he inspected the package with suspicion.

"I packed all your favorites."

"Thanks…"

Placing it down on the chair beside him for a moment, along with his overstuffed bag, the teen fought to keep from giggling at the look on the man's face.

"Ummm—Dad? You know they probably have like—cafes, and restaurants, and even a cafeteria there?"

"Yeah I know I—well—I guess…"

He was more than aware that most seventeen and a half year olds were not sent off on their first day of college with a packed lunch from Poppa, but—he'd never had the chance to do it when it was socially acceptable, and so he was cashing in now, unapologetically so.

"It's your first day of school."

Shaking his head as he saw the telltale signs that he was going to be late getting there just because he'd have to sit on the man's lap and call him 'Daddy' a couple of times before being allowed to leave, he crossed the short distance between them and hugged him tightly.

"Dad—it'll be okay."

Resting his chin on top of his son's head, he gave the small, thin figure a firm squeeze.

"You're leaving me."

"You'll make it."

"I'll miss you."

"I know."

Pulling back, he beamed.

"I think I'll miss you too."

"Think...?"

Releasing him, he sniffled in play.

"Well—at least I'll have my special lunch to remember you by."

Joking as usual, with eyes shinning, his facial expression spoke clearly of his real feelings.

"Got your cell phone?"

"Always."

"Wallet?"

"Never leave home without it."

"Pager?"

"Still don't know why you got me that but—yes."

Checking the child all over, with his hands batted away at each and every turn, he chuckled.

"Brushed your teeth? Combed your hair?"

"Of course—I even put on clean underwear for this momentous occasion."

Finally shoving the man's right arm away from him for good, he huffed and pulled his hat down on his head further.

"The hair looks good."

"It looks like yours…"

"And your point is?"

"That's all."

"Brat…"

Making as if he was going to cuff his son's head, he instead yanked him back into the crook of one arm.

"You know if you need me just call here and let me know, or if I'm not here, just call my phone and I'll be right there."

"Dad, I'm not three you know..."

Hiding his face in the man's shirt as he spoke, he still clung to him in a way that might have seemed a little odd for a child his age, if you didn't know his, and especially their, history.

"Yeah—I know…"

Pressing his lips against one temple for a few seconds, he sighed quietly to himself.

"You sure you want to do this?"

"Haven't you always told me that getting a good education is important?"

"Perhaps—but now you suddenly want to start listening to what I tell you, huh?"

Interrupting the cute moment just then, he clinked his keys against the glass table top he stood next to and nodded at them both.

"Not to rush you kid but if you want to get there on time, we need to get going."

Finding himself with backpack back on and lunch bag clutched, he was then turned towards the front doors.

"Be good."

"Aren't I always?"

Craning his neck backwards as his father took hold of his head and encouraged the act, he beamed

"Be good."

"Love you too."

Getting a mild swat to the keister, he stuck out his tongue.

"Come on boy genius, lets roll."

Holding open one of the two wide doors with his body, the man jerked his left thumb backwards.

"Your carriage awaits."

Eyes following him up the stairs and out into the sunny outdoors, he swallowed hard and cleared his throat.

"It's only for a few hours."

Taking hold of one, large hand, she smiled up at him.


"You'll be back before you know it."

Giving him a pat to the back, he walked around the teenager as he climbed up into the bed of his truck.


"Yeah—"

Standing close enough to the clear glass to look out while remaining safely shrouded in shadows, the man nodded halfheartedly.


"I know…"

Propped up against his car window, he answered back while he blinked eyes filled with uncertainty.

Deep breath.


tbc...