"August... Mr. Rush... these are who we believe to be your parents. Louis Connelly and Lyla Novacek. Would you like to meet them?"
FOR THE LOVE OF A MOTHER
Lyla and Evan walked a small ways away from the stage. They did not hold each others' hands, like Lyla wanted to; everything was most likely too new for Evan— August— at the moment.
"Are you really my mother?"
"Yes," Lyla said softly.
"Then... why did you— give me up?"
She sighed. He deserved a straight answer, after all these years of lies.
"After you were born, my— father, your grandfather, signed papers to give you up for adoption. I was ill and unconscious at the time, otherwise I would have refused. After I woke up— after the papers were already signed— my father told me that because you had been born prematurely, you had—" Her vocal cords tightened harshly.
August— Evan— came up to her, looking at her with those eyes that were so like Louis'. "What?" he asked softly.
"That— you had died."
"Why would he do that?"
She would not cry in front of him. "Your grandfather was furious when I found out I was carrying you. He kept telling me to a— abort you, but I couldn't, obviously. So he settled for the next best thing and had you put up for adoption."
"Then why didn't you come looking for me?"
"I thought you were dead, Evan— I mean, August—"
"Evan," he said with that quiet finality. "Now that I've found my parents, I want to be Evan."
She smiled and wiped away a wayward tear. "Evan, then."
"But you didn't answer my question."
"I thought you were dead. And even if I knew you were alive, there are thousands of orphanages in Chicago. And you didn't even go to an orphanage in Chicago. Mr. Jefferies said you were in New York City."
Evan nodded. "I just always thought— you'd be able to find me. Through the music."
"I— I did. Eventually, but I did. But... I always had this feeling that... maybe my father had been wrong, maybe you were still alive. Even when I didn't play my cello for years, I could still hear this— this music that I now know was a tie to you."
She balanced on her knees, uncaring about her dress, so that she was at eye level with Evan. "I— could I ask for your forgiveness, Evan? Maybe not right now. We still have to sort out a lot of things. And you still have to decide if you want to still see Louis or I at all. But... I'd like your forgiveness."
She held her breath.
Evan smiled, that endearing half-smile that made her want to cry. "I forgive you."
"Thank you, Evan, thank you." She smiled shakily. "And you can call me Miss Novacek or Lyla if you feel more comfortable that way."
It was a start, if nothing else.
FOR THE LOVE OF A FATHER
"What do you have to say?" Evan asked quietly.
Louis and Evan walked together through was used to be the "house" for the concert. The chairs had been taken away, but trash was scattered everywhere.
"I don't exactly know where to start," Louis said.
"The beginning's a good place," Evan said simply.
Louis smiled. "That it is. Well..." He sighed. "What do you want me to start out with?"
"How you met Lyla. Then go from there."
Louis had a feeling Lyla wouldn't be satisfied with her son calling her by her first name instead of mom, but then again, he hadn't exactly been expecting to be called dad, either.
"All right, well... we met at a party. We had both gone to the roof of the apartment building where the party was being held, separately, and... we met."
"We talked for a bit, and we found a common interest in music, and, we— fell in love. At least, I love Lyla, I don't know if she feels the same way for me."
"I think she does."
"Really? How do you know?" And why was he asking a eleven-year-old kid this, even if the kid in question happened to be his son?
"I just have a feeling. It's sort of like how I knew that music was going to lead me back to you."
"Thanks, Evan— do you want me to call Evan, or do you like August?"
"Since you're my dad—" Evan looked up at him. "Evan."
"All right, Evan." Louis grinned. "After your mum and I fell in love, we— weren't able to keep in contact after that night at the party. I'm sorry to say that I didn't even know you existed.
"I was a wreak after I lost contact with Lyla. I left me band, I stopped singing or playing me guitar— I tried to have nothing to do with music, because it reminded me of your mum."
"What did you do instead?"
"I worked in business, moved to San Francisco and got meself a girlfriend. It was the stupidest thing I've ever done."
"Oh." Evan was quiet for a moment. "Did you want to marry the girlfriend you had?"
Louis sighed. "She definitely wanted to marry me, until she met me family, that is. I think... before I turned me life around— I may have married her because I had lost all hope of reuniting with Lyla. Now... I'd marry Lyla in a heartbeat. If she'll have me."
"So you're not going to leave?"
Louis was taken aback. He stopped. "What?"
"You're not going to leave Lyla and me?"
"Not when I've just found you." He knelt down. "Listen, Evan. You don't have to worry about me running off and leaving you and your mum alone. I love you both too much to do that. All right?"
Evan suddenly wrapped his skinny arms around Louis' neck and buried his face in Louis' shoulder. Louis hugged Evan back.
This is what it felt like to have a son.
"I'm taking that as a yes. Come on. Let's go find your mum."
FOR THE LOVE OF A PARENT
"So what do you want to do?" Lyla asked quietly as she and Louis walked together, deliberately not looking at each other.
"Are you worried that we're going to lose contact again?"
"No. Well, a little. It's just—" She turned to him, her eyes searching. "We haven't seen each other in ten years. We only really met for one night, at the most. We don't know each other. I couldn't say if you would leave, because I don't know you well enough."
Louis impulsively grabbed her hand. "Then let's get to know each other. More than just on an—intimate— level." Lyla blushed. "More on a friendship level, or maybe a relationship level, if you'll allow it."
"Of course I will. Evan deserves more than two parents who are just acquaintances."
"But what about us, Lyla?" Louis asked softly. "What do you want us to look like? And you make the rules here; if you want me to disappear, I'll be gone tonight." His eyes, though, betrayed his true feelings.
Lyla kept her eyes on their entwined fingers, not daring herself to look at Louis fully. "I'd... like to get to a relationship level, eventually. Evan shouldn't have two parents who aren't married."
Louis grew still, realizing the implications of her words. After what seemed an eternity, he finally said, hoarsely, "Is that what you want? Eventually?"
She finally looked at him. "Eventually."
Louis grinned. Lyla couldn't help but smile as well. "It looks like I'll have to extend me stay in New York, then."
"Then so will I," she said lightly as they turned to head back to the stage.
"There— there's one more thing, Lyla," Louis said urgently. He put a hand on her arm to stop her.
"I— I just want to— tell you that—" Louis was growing more and more nervous with every second— "I'm not going to, ah— take advantage of you, in any way. I can stay on the opposite edge of New York City if you want me to."
It drew her back to the night they met. "There won't be any need to, Louis. Perhaps we shouldn't be—intimate— right now, but that doesn't mean we can't see each other."
"All right." He grinned again, and she felt like she was eighteen again, and they were sitting on the rooftop, talking to the moon.
She slid her hand into his, gently. "Let's go see our son."
Those words had never sounded so sweet.