This is my first Heartland FanFic, and I just got the idea when I saw the episode 'True Calling' for the first time. Watching this little scene, I just couldn't help but wonder what Tim was thinking, and I decided that it would make a good fiction. So I guess there isn't too much else to say here except enjoy and please, by all means, read and review!

Tim walked out as quietly as he could. But he was an old cowboy, and silence had never been his strength. Still, he managed as best he could to make it out of the Dude Ranch cabin without waking Miranda, thanking the powers that be when he made it out successfully.

The frigid air bit at him, and he gave a small shiver . Tim cupped his hands, breathing into them in an attempt for warmth. Why it got so damn cold in Canada was still beyond him. It would be perfect, if it wasn't for the weather, and this nasty business with Miranda and Shane, a business that he, in his own way, had brought about. The lawyers and the custody battle- it was all getting a little out of hand. And apparently, so was something else.

Tim reached into his coat pocket for the flask of alcohol he'd kept there for weeks now. He'd never thought he would have needed it only a few months ago, before he knew Shane was his son. His son…he had a son. Tim still hadn't gotten used to the idea yet, any more than he had gotten used to the fact that he was fast on the road to missing as much of Shane's life as he had of Amy's.

Uncapping the liquor, he held it up to take a nice swig out of it, then stopped, thinking of Miranda. It had been so nice, last night. Talking to her, just talking, not arguing, not fighting, but talking about their son. Almost like a family. And Jack, that stubborn old mule, it was because of him that they'd gotten that chance. It would seem that no matter what Tim did, the old badger wouldn't let him rest until he did what was right. Tim considered taking the drink anyways, even though he ought to try and get out of the bottle. But going cold turkey wouldn't help anyways, now would it?

The sound of Jack's truck made the decision for him. Who knew who was driving the rust bucket? It could be Jack, it could be Lou or Amy, it could be heaven only knows who else in Hudson. It wasn't worth the risk. Hurriedly, Tim capped the bottle and stuck it back in his coat just as Amy climbed out of the cab.

Tim waved a hello as Amy walked up, looking concerned, though for what reason was beyond him. "Hey," she said softly. She was mostly soft. Lou was the crazy one of his two daughters, Amy the more quiet, horse loving one. The two were such polar opposites it was hard to believe they were sisters.

"Amy," he said. Amy smiled slightly, then sighed and gave him a fierce hug. Tim was momentarily confused. What was this all about? After less than a second's hesitation, he hugged her back, kissing her lightly on the head and running his hand over her hair in a soothing gesture. Tim was concerned- it wasn't that often that either of his daughters did this kind of thing, after all- but boy, did it feel good. Screw being concerned- he could worry about that after Amy pulled away. But his fatherly instinct did kick in after a moment.

"Is everything alright?" he asked, his unease evident in his voice as he kept hugging her.

"Yeah," she responded. "I just wanted to see you." Tim felt a small bolt of shock at her words. I just wanted to see you. That was even rarer. The last person who had said that to him was Marion, back when they were together before he trashed his life for the first time. There weren't too many people who still wanted to see him just for the sake of doing so. "I love you, Dad," Amy said.

Tim kept looking out forlornly as he hugged her tight. I love you, Dad. Her words were echoing in his soul for some reason, and he became uncomfortably aware of the bottle of alcohol pressed against his chest by his daughter, his beautiful, beautiful Amy.

"I love you too, honey," he said. They stayed like that for a while. "You know everything's going to be just fine, right?" he asked. The statement still felt somehow foreign. He loved his daughters, but sometimes, he still wasn't used to being a father. He still had a spark of rodeo Tim, and the Tim that Marion knew, and the Tim Jack kicked out, and even the Tim that Miranda met up at Fort Saint John all those years ago, all held up in him. And all those different pieces of Tim, they made up the full set, and that full set still harbored the smallest sliver of doubt that he could be good enough father to those girls after the failures of the past.

"I believe you," Amy said, still holding him. Inwardly, Tim smiled. She believed him. Moreover, she believed in him. Whatever had provoked her to come see him, she believed it would all turn out all right. He couldn't have been given a greater gift. They stayed like that for a time before Amy finally broke it off. "I should go," she said. Tim nodded, giving her one last squeeze before letting her go. "Okay, all right, " he said quietly.

"See you," she said, heading towards the truck.

"Okay, bye," he called after her, as the cab door opened and she climbed in, closing it behind her. She pulled out, pointing the truck towards the ranch as he headed back towards the cabin where Miranda was. Pausing, he reached into his jacket to pull out the alcohol again, starting to uncap it. Then he hesitated again. No. He didn't need the liquor to live life. Resolving himself to this, Tim threw the bottle to the side, pressing his hand to his forehead in stress.

Okay, I'm not doing the cold turkey method, Tim thought, grumbling, getting down on his hands and knees to pick up the discarded bottle from under the porch, uncapping it and going to take a swig. And then he stopped again, looking at the bottle. It was so tempting, to press the bottle to his lips and drink away the memories, to let it take control. But it was far too easy to lose control and far too hard to get it back. Tim remembered the nights with Marion, when he was too drugged and drunk to do anything worth remembering, to do anything besides hurt her and his two daughters. Did he really want to do that over again with Shane? What was it that Jack had said- 'I've seen this movie before'?

It was a movie Tim couldn't afford to star in twice. He'd lost his daughters once, and he'd just found his son. It had been hard enough getting back into their lives, and there might not be another chance. Miranda wouldn't risk Shane, and heaven knew Jack had his limits, and his granddaughters were one thing he wouldn't risk.

Tim hesitated, one last time. And then he upturned the bottle and let the contents fall onto the snow, shaking out the last drops of the poison. Then, just for good measure, he pitched the empty bottle into the snow, turning away from it. He was done with that part of the past. He was done with life in the bottle.

Tim looked up, taking in a deep breath. He had done this before. He could do it again. He would do it again, for Miranda and Shane, Amy and Lou. He would do it for family. He took in another deep breath. The once stinging cold air that tasted bitter now felt sharp and clear, and it opened his mind.

Today was a new day. It was a clean slate. The future was always open for debate, and it was always open to change. That change started now. Tim enjoyed the frosty morning, and the cold chill, hardly noticing the missing weight of the bottle in his pocket. He wouldn't think about that, ever again. That part of his life was over. The air was clean, and the slate was wiped. It was a day for new beginnings. As Tim walked into the cabin to see if Miranda was up, he relished the feeling of the cold, and the knowledge of a fact he now knew for certain.

It was never too late to start again.

Okay, so that's it. I hope you liked the story. Thanks for reading this, and please review if you have the time. Danke (Thank you),

Bookworm