Don't Think Twice, It's Alright
Yes, another fic! One of my resolutions for 2012 is to write every day, and while not every day is yielding Sean/Holden, be prepared for quite a lot more output from me.
"Dad, do you want a blanket? It's getting pretty chilly outside."
"No thanks, Isabelle." He replied, adjusting himself in the rocking chair. The chair, sitting on a neatly built white porch that overlooked a manicured lawn, was his home away from the home he had long ago lost.
He watched as several kids played in the yard, dressed for the coming winter. He had heard it was going to be a cold one, and he contemplated whether or not he would make it through. Is that what old people did? Contemplate which day would be their last?
"Grandpa, look at my drawing!"
He turned to the young girl, just shy of nine, waving a picture from beside his chair. A toothy smile and brunette curls reminded him too much of the past, and maybe that was why he favored her more than he should. That, and she just sort of seemed a bit smarter than the other grandchildren.
"What is it, honey?" He asked with all the enthusiasm he could muster, taking the picture from her.
"It's you and Papa! I know you miss him and stuff, but I want you to know that I miss him too. I mean, not as much as you, but you know, I loved him and stuff, and…"
"It's beautiful, sweetheart." He replied, studying the misshapen array of colors that resembled two stick figures. She leaned against the arm of the rocking chair, and he looked back over at her. "Do you want to sit with me for a little bit?"
She nodded, smile gracing her face instantly as he patted his knee. She managed to hoist herself onto it, leaning back against him as he tucked the drawing beneath his back pocket. He wrapped an arm loosely around her and bobbed his knee slightly.
"How's elementary school treating you?" He asked as they both watched the other grandchildren playing in the yard.
"Grandpa, can you tell me what love feels like?"
"Well sweetheart, that has nothing to do with school." He said in bemusement.
"Yeah it does! There's this boy…he's in my class, and sometimes we swing together at recess. He's really good at math; he almost beat me when we were do multiplication on the board. My friend Kenzie, she says she heard boys have diseases, but I don't care. He's cute and I think he likes me."
"Well, that's great that you're looking at the right reasons. A boy should definitely be cute and smart if you're going to date him. Your friend Kenzie is wrong; boys don't have any diseases, except for maybe when they get older, but that's a long story."
"What did it feel like when you met Papa?" She asked.
"Well, when I first met him was at a football game."
"Yeah, Mama said you used to be the best football player in the world!"
He laughed. "Yeah, something like that. Anyway, we sort of bumped into each other, and he didn't know who I was. So when I told him he was in shock. I thought he was really cute, and I liked that he didn't know who I was. So I asked him out on a date."
"And?" She urged.
"Well, the rest is history. We got married five years later, and then we had a first kid, your aunt Isabelle, a few years after that. When she was three, we had your dad, Kyle, and then when your dad was one, we had your aunt Sophia."
"When I told Kenzie I had two grandpas, she said I was wrong. She said two boys can't have kids."
"It sounds like you need to get a new friend. Two boys can have kids, but it's just sort of more complicated. Your dad went through a little bullying in school because not everyone understands."
"People can be really stupid."
"You're really smart for your age, you know that?"
"You tell me that all the time, Grandpa. But you never told me how you knew you loved Papa."
Sean rocked her back and forth for a minute, getting lost in his head.
"Well, when I first met him I felt something different. But it was one night, when we had taken a bottle of…apple juice, to the roof of my house, when I really knew. I was really stressed about some stuff, and we were supposed to go on another date that night, but your Papa could tell how I was, so it was his idea to just stay at my house. Anyway, we sat on the roof, and I talked about what I was feeling, and he said something I still remember. He looked at me, really serious, and he said, 'look at the stars.' I did, and he pointed at one that was really bright. He said, 'that star is going to die soon. But it's going to go out with a blaze of glory. Nothing lasts forever, but people can talk for eternity. You just gotta know where to leave your footprint.'"
"I don't get it."
"You know what, sweetheart? I still don't really, either. But I had drunk a lot of apple juice, and so when he said it, it changed my life, especially the way he smiled at me afterwards. That's how I knew I loved him."
"You just knew?"
"Grandpa, I don't think I'm in love."
"Probably not, sweetheart. Love is a really big deal, so you have to grow up so that you can really understand how to feel it."
"Did you ever love anyone besides Papa?"
"No. I thought I did a few times, but I've never felt what I felt for your Papa with anyone else."
That night, Sean took a seat on his bed, the moon casting a spotlight onto the floorboards. He sighed, looking at the picture on his nightstand. It was taken twenty years ago, at his son's birthday party. He was standing with Holden, arm around his waist, both of them holding glasses of red wine with big smiles. His mind flew back to those moments often, brief photographs of times when he was happy, happier than he could possibly imagine.
He lay down in bed, more of an effort every night. He looked at the ceiling, watching the fan rotate over and over. He thought about everything, of the past year, of two years ago. Then five years ago, ten and even twenty. It ran through his mind like the speed of sound, faster than he could analyze. But Holden's face was always there, grinning before he kissed him good morning; buried against his chest as they drifted to sleep; studious as he read a novel while Sean just watched him rather than paying attention to television.
He should have cherished those moments more. He should have cherished Holden more. But he couldn't. There was no way he could give any more than he had given, or loved Holden any more than he had. Than he still did. So he let himself drift to sleep alone, a little colder than he liked, with more room than he wanted. But it was okay. Somehow, someday, it would be okay.