Eureka is still not mine just trying to fill the hiatus doldrums.
Tanner sat on the stage and looked over the large crowd filling the auditorium. It was fairly easy to spot the rather large group he was looking for.
He spotted his mom and dad, his brother and sisters. His Uncle Tony, Aunt Jenny and his cousins Joseph and Isabella. His Uncle Nick and Aunt Diane were there too. And then there was his Eureka family. Uncle Jack, Aunt Allison, Zoë and Lucas and their kids Asher and Janet, Kevin, Jenna and Tommy. Uncle Henry and Aunt Grace, Uncle Doug and Aunt Holly along with their kids Grayston and Persephone all came as well. A few other Eurekans had made the trip too; Vincent and Deputy Andy. The latter of which was carrying a small box that Tanner was sure contained a download of SARAH.
For a moment he wondered who was going to keep the mad scientists from blowing themselves up in the absence of its core group of residents. Honestly they group left the town in mass like this very rarely. Only for graduations or events that involved on of the kids, like his swimming competitions. There was an old saying that it took a village to raise a child and Eureka was his village. He swallowed the lump in his throat and blinked back a tear from his eye.
Someone on the opposite side of the crowd caught his eye. It was the face of a man that he knew but seldom ever saw. His Uncle/bio dad waved at him a broad smile plastered on his face. Tanner raised a hand and meekly waved back. Wonder what he's doing here, Tanner thought to himself.
The emcee's voice brought him back to reality.
"And now I am proud to introduce to valedictorian for the College of Sciences of Stanford University, Class of 2032, Mr. Tanner Donovan." The crowd erupted in applause, the loudest cheers coming from Tanner's family.
The young man stood and took the podium. A wide grin growing on his face as he waited for the crowd to calm down. "When I was nine months old I went to live with my aunt and and her then boyfriend." He began catching both his parents eyes. "And they took care of me as if I was their own. Loving me as if I was their own."
"When I was three they finalized my adoption. Officially making me a member of their immediate family. Oh my dad will tell you that I was always a member of the family. And that's certainly true. But that was the day, my adoption day was when I became a Donovan."
"Don't get me wrong. I am proud amd honored to be a Lupo. That side of my family has a fine upstanding military history. My grandfather and my mom and Uncles all proudly served this country in the Special Forces. There is nothing to be ashamed of in being a Lupo."
"But you see my dad and I have a special bond. And on that fateful day when I was three he welcomed me into his family and made me a Donovan, like my sister Emma, my brother Neil already were. I was no longer different from everyone else in my family. I belonged."
"My Mom and Dad are probably the most supportive and amazing people I have ever known. They encouraged me everyday to do what I loved, not what anyone else expected. But to be my best no matter what I chose to do."
And I did exactly that. I didn't follow my Mom to West Point or my Dad to MIT. I didn't want to pursue criminal justice or become a world renowned physicist." He met his dad's eyes and then his mom's.
"I became an athlete. An Olympic swimmer and I strove to be the fastest. Sometimes I was and sometimes I wasn't. My family is just as proud of my bronze medals as they are of my gold…." His voice trailed off thick with emotion. "In fact my dad hung up my first medal, the bronze one in his office. Next to one of his Nobel Prizes. A reminder that greatness is not always first place, he always says. I remind him that it's hanging next to the most prestigious award in science. He always quips back that that particular Nobel he had to share with my Uncle Doug and my Uncle Henry so technically he was only in the top three that contest too."
"So my message to all of you, follow your dreams. Shoot for the moon so at least you'll land among the stars. Never let anyone stop you. And know that the people who love you the most only want the best for you." He closed his notebook.
"Oh and if you choose a career that has you retiring before the age of 30… It's nice to have a back up plan… Thanks Mom." He winked in his mom's direction. The crowd laughed and then broke out in applause as Tanner took his seat.
Jo had noticed her brother much earlier. He had tried to hide in the crowd but she had spotted him. After Tanner had walked the stage and received his diploma, she quietly excused herself. Quickly making her way over to where Ricco had been.
"I thought that was you." Jo said as she came up behind him.
Ricco jumped at least a foot in the air. "Damn Jo, you are still way too good at sneaking up on people. I'm getting old and you could give a man a heart attack."
Jo crossed her arms over her chest. "Then you shouldn't be skulking around by yourself. We had plenty of room with our crew." She gestured in the general direction of the family.
He snorted. "I'm sure I'd be greeted with open arms after everything that I did." He looked down at his feet unable to meet Jo's eyes. "I'm really sorry for everything I put your family through. I know there's nothing I can do about it now but I really am sorry."
Shaking her head Jo said "Water under the bridge… He's an amazing young man. You should get to know him." She nodded toward the young man on stage.
"It's not my place." Ricco sighed. "You and Zane did a pretty fantastic job raising him. I mean valedictorian with a degree in Mechanical Engineering and an Olympic gold medalist, Impressive. All your kids seem to be doing really well. I actually read the emails now."
"Thank you, but you really should get to know Tanner and the other four. You are still their Uncle and my brother. We are still your family." She reached out and tried to touch his arm. He flinched back.
"I don't deserve your forgiveness Jo. You are much more forgiving then I ever could be. If someone dropped a kid in my lap, threatening to break up my relationship, let me adopt him and then drag you guys through the mud stupidly trying to get him back… I'm an ass."
"Zane was never going anywhere so you didn't threaten my relationship. Tanner had him wrapped around his little finger from the beginning. And yes, you were an ass, that's certainly true. But you don't seem that way anymore. Plus Tanner's an adult; you can't exactly sue for custody anymore." Jo smiled to soften her words.
"True," a small smile escaped his lips too. "But I'm not sure everyone in your family could be so forgiving."
"You mean Zane?" Jo chortled "He's the king of second chances. And after raising five kids, the man had the patience of Job. Come on come celebrate with us." Jo pulled his arm.
Ricco acquiesced letting his sister lead him back to the large group gathered to watch Tanner. Surprisingly Zane was the first to shake his hand, followed by both his brothers and their wives.
It wasn't going to be an easy journey back into his family's good graces. Ricco knew that. But a journey of a thousand miles begins with one step. And in the future, he would join the family at Tanner's Olympic races, family weddings and Christmas'. At first he would feel awkward but in the end he would be grateful to have such a caring understanding family. A family that loved him no matter what he had done wrong. The same way they had treated the son he had abandoned.
After all the years that had past he barely knew his sister or her husband but deep down he knew that they were the best people to raise Tanner. And formed the foundation of the best family anyone could possibly have.
Wow thanks for taking this journey with me. Never expect this one to go thirty thousand words. But I really wanted to tell Tanner's story. Here's a little sneak peek on what I'm working on next. It's about next generation Eureka because well for the time being I am Jo and Zane'd out. Let me know what you think and if you guys would be interested in a this story.
Her heels clicked as she crossed the rotunda. She smiled brightly at people she recognized, so glad to finally be home. Her pace quickened trying to reach her mother's office before she was caught by someone who would demand an explanation as to why she was here.
It had been over a year since she left Eureka, over a year since she had set foot in Global Dynamics. A year spent backpacking around the world, a year of self discovery. It's wasn't like she hadn't talked to her family since then. There had been phone calls, emails, holo-skyping, and even real letters. But her reason for her walkabout had still yet to be explained.
Her destination was within a few mere feet when a voice stopped her in her tracks. "Emma… Emma Donovan?" Crap she thought as she turned around slowly, plastering a smile on her face.
"Uncle Jack. It's good to see you." Emma stepped over to hug her surrogate uncle.
He gripped her tightly and she felt the love he poured into that hug. It made her happy and sad at the same time. "When did you get back? You parents didn't say that you'd be home. I want to know everything about your trip." He pulled back from the hug but still held onto her shoulders.
"Mom and Dad don't know I'm here yet. I was kinda hooping to surprise them. And I will tell you about all, well most of my travels. A girl has to have her secrets right?" Emma flashed him a grin.
"Fair enough. But make sure to stop by and see SARAH or you know how she'll get. Oh and Jena and Tommy are back in town and they would love to see you."
If he noticed her flinch at the name of his youngest son, Uncle Jack pretended to ignore it. "How about I meet everyone you can round up for lunch at Café Diem. I have been in Vinspresso withdraw for far too long… Now if you'll excuse me I have a couple people I would like to surprise."
"It's good to see you Em… I hope you'll be sticking around this time." Jack said as he let go of her.