AN: I really hope people are still keen to read this. Welcome to the third (and probably final part) of the Father Figures series (trilogy? Maybe).


Hope you enjoy!

Padraig felt sick, like a small herd of jellyfish were trying to clamber up his throat, to escape into the bowl that Ms Jones, the school secretary, had placed in his lap. The thought of how many kids had sat in this spot with this bowl on their laps didn't help keep the jellyfish under control.

Of course, the three worms, found on the school field, that Jimmy Penny had dared him to eat probably hadn't helped either, but someone had to stand up for the family name, show the world that the Bradys weren't a bunch of soppy queers. And God knew Declan wasn't doing that; he was wondering around getting people to sign 'protect the turtle' petitions. Or was it bats this week? Padraig didn't really care. And now it was spreading around the school; their Dad was shacked up in England with some poof. Their Dad was gay, queer, a poof, and a hundred other words that the older boys liked to shout at Paddy whenever there were no adults around. Or sometimes when there were.

And Declan was no help. Some older brother; he wouldn't even beat them up for him, even when Paddy promised to help. He just spouted some nonsense about 'rising above the bigots.'

So Paddy had shown them. He'd accepted the dare, because Brady's were strong, whatever his father and brother seemed to be doing.

"Padraig," called the secretary, "I couldn't get through to your Mam, so I called the second number we had, and your grandma or granddad should be here soon, alright?" She smiled kindly (Paddy hadn't mentioned the worms to her) and went back into her office to do whatever it was school secretaries did. Answer phones? But why did enough people phone schools to require so many secretaries?

But that didn't matter. He was going to see Granddad.

He hadn't seen Granddad for moths, not since his Dad turned up so randomly and shouted and they'd had a fight over the queer. He and Declan had been banned from seeing the old man, even though he'd been shot, which was so cool! Paddy had a million questions about that. How long did it take to get the bullet out? What did it feel like? Could he put his finger through the hole? But his stupid Dad had said they weren't allowed to, and his stupid Mam had agreed, even though it was a stupid rule and no one would tell him why. Granddad had an x-box, and let them play as long as they wanted, and slipped them money, and didn't make a fuss about stupid things like eating broccoli. Stupid parents.

And Granddad had stabbed someone. It had been in the newspaper – Ben's Ma had read it and tutted away at it. How cool was that? It was self defence, the police had said, like the films.

Paddy was getting excited now. He hoped his Granddad didn't think he was a sissy for being sent home from school with a tummy problem. He'd have to explain about the worms. But Granddad was cool; he'd never told Paddy's Mam about the time he'd stolen a fiver from his Grandma's purse, or when he'd broken the neighbour's window and run away. He could trust Granddad.

Unlike Dad, who'd made Declan lock them in a hotel room and not ever told them why. Well, he might have told Declan. Declan seemed to know everything. He'd been to England to see Dad, and knew all about "Ste" the queer. And he got to meet Auntie Cheryl's friends who he said were 'well fit' while Paddy had to stay with Granny. And not even cool Granddad's Granny, his Mam's boring, religious Ma. It was so unfair.

The school administrators wandered by a few more times while he was still waiting, wondering if he could smell the bottom of the bucket. After about ten minutes, Ms Jones returned.

"How're you doing Padraig?"

How did she think he was doing? He'd eaten three worms? Oh, no, she didn't know that. She just thought he had a poorly tummy. But the glare must have said it all because she didn't seem to expect an answer. "Aw, you poor wee thing," she said instead, "well I've got good news for you young man; you're going home."

Paddy's heart sank a little. His Ma would make him go to bed and have bread and milk and fruit for dinner. Granddad would have let him watch telly all day. He gave the bowl back, face in full sulk mode, and stormed out of the admin area. Well, stormed as much as a small twelve year old with a poorly tummy could.

It didn't take long to reach the visitors entrance – the one reserved for parents, governors and sick children. It was a warm, friendly sort of room, with a clear glass retractable window to reception and fluffy blue chairs (dark blue, presumably to disguise the result of hundreds of sick children waiting here. Well maybe not hundreds. Tens. Tens of sick children.) In one of those blue chairs, a tall greying man sat, one arm in a sling. His face was firm and strong, his eyes watchful, and he was flirting with the young receptionist through the glass.

Padraig's heart lifted at the sight, but he managed not to behave like a soppy girl by running into his arms or something. Instead he just tried to look cool (putting his hands in his pockets like the teachers didn't like) and tried not to grin.

"Alright Granddad?" he greeted.

Mr Brady turned to his Grandson.

"Padraig," he greeted.

AN: Would love to hear what you think.