A/N: When starting this I don't think I appreciated how difficult it is to write modern fiction. I tried to pick a completely different scenario from all the brilliant modern Banna stories there are already out there. I hope this reads okay. I have tried to explain the entire background to the point in life in which we find the characters in this one chapter. I hope it's not too confusing.
Disclaimer: Downton Abbey and it's characters belong to Julian Fellowes and certainly not to me...
John Bates rolled out on his creeper from under the car he was repairing to see his son walk through the workshop and into John's office. Sitting up, he ran a hand through the lock of hair that had become lose above his left eye.
'Tom,' John called to his colleague, Tom Branson who was changing the tyres on the car next to the one John had been working on. ' Adam's in the office. I'm just taking ten.'
'No worries, Boss,' Tom called back, not removing his attentions from the car as John stood up.
Walking towards the office, John looked at his son who was busy texting on his phone. Opening the door, John stood in the doorway, arms folded staring at his son. Adam looked up, smirked slightly before returning his gaze to his phone.
'Well?' John asked enthusiastically. No response. John gently kicked his son in the foot. 'Did you get in?'
Adam put his phone in his pocket before standing up. 'Well father, you are now looking at St Thomas's Comprehensive School's new Year 9 star striker.'
'Yes,' John exclaimed, punching the air before throwing an arm around his son's neck. 'Get in my son.'
'I owe it all to you. I was gifted with the Bates right foot after all,' Adam replied, releasing himself from his father's hold.
'And don't you forget it,' John replied, wagging a finger in his son's direction. 'When's your first game?'
'Next Wednesday after school, home to King Georges.' Adam answered.
John walked to his desk and put on his glasses before he flicked through the diary. 'I've got an M.O.T and a service in the afternoon but I'm sure if I ask him nicely Tom won't mind doing those for me.'
'Great,' Adam said excitedly. 'What time will you be home?'
'About 6,' John replied, shutting the diary and looking at Adam. 'You'll have to show me your skills. Now Robert and Cora will be expecting you. I'll be around to get you as soon as I finish up here.'
'Thanks Dad,' Adam smiled, standing up before he walked towards the door.
'And Adam...' John called after his son as he took his glasses off.
'I'm so proud of you,' John replied with a smile. Adam nodded in acknowledgement before leaving the office.
Watching him leave the workshop, John's heart swelled with love for his son. It had been the two of them for so long now. Moments like these were what he lived for.
Adam was the one good thing to come from the mess that had been a relationship John had in his early thirties. John was a fire fighter at the time. Like he usually did, he fell head over heels. The woman in question, Sarah, liked the idea of dating a fire fighter rather than liking the idea of dating John. He was devastated to find out she had been cheating on him from the start. Breaking up after a few months, it was around this time that John acquired an injury that forced him to retire.
His best friend and fellow firefighter, Robert Crawley, was stuck in a house fire they had been called out to. After saving one of the children trapped by safely dropping them from one of the windows to his colleagues below, Robert found himself trapped on the landing as John was leaving the house. Hearing his colleagues calls, he put his own life in danger by clearing a safe path for Robert to leave the house. However, when following Robert out of the house, a falling beam caused John to lose his balance to avoid it and trapped his leg.
Quick thinking from his workmates meant he escaped with his life, although not without multiple fractures to his leg. The injury meant he couldn't fulfil his duties to the required level to remain in the fire service. Devastated by this and yet another break up, he returned to his native Ireland.
Upon his return to England however, he brought someone along with him. Whilst piecing his life back together, he had a chance meeting with his childhood sweetheart, Vera. They soon saw a lot of each other, picking up where they had left off before John left to join the Fire Service in England. Before he knew what was happening, he was standing in front of a registrar with her, saying their vows. It was a matter of weeks when back in Yorkshire that John realised the marriage was a mistake. However, the marriage lasted over a decade.
So much happened to John in those ten years. He indulged his knowledge and passion for cars by going back to college to get the qualifications needed to open his own car repair business. A loan from his mother meant he could do something he enjoyed. His love for his work meant he found it easy to ignore the cracks in his marriage. Being self employed and only being able to employ one other mechanic, working long hours was a necessity. Barely seeing Vera meant they barely had time for arguing.
However, eighteen months after they had rekindled their so called romance, John's world was completely turned upside down. Vera was out with some friends when John was paid a visit. It was Sarah. With a surprise for John. His eleven month old son. Coming to terms with the shock of becoming a father, before he promised any monies to Sarah he wanted proof the baby was his son. Test results came back and were in no doubt that the boy was John's.
As was expected, Vera was not happy about the situation. It was the beginning of the end for them when John accepted the baby, named Adam, into his life. She moved out of their home, and disappeared. John could not trace her to proceed with a divorce. So they remained married.
John had visitation rights and would spend every weekend with his son. Playing football and teaching him about cars. Life was spent this way for a few years until one day Sarah dropped the bombshell she was to leave England to take up a job in America. Adam was just five years old. Initially, Adam went with her. However, after a few months Sarah found that juggling her work life with looking after her son was too much. She returned with Adam, begging John to allow Adam to live with him. Adam was happy to see his Dad again and John jumped at the chance to have his son with him full time.
At the same time, out of the blue, John learnt Vera had gone back to Ireland. An old friend she had gone to college when training to be a hairdresser was opening a salon in Dublin and had asked Vera to work with her. Adam was eight years old. John hadn't heard from Vera since she had left, meaning they were to remain married with no way of John getting in contact with her. John wasn't really concerned, he had no intentions of marrying again. Adam was his main focus.
Now thirteen, for the past five years it had been just Adam and John. Adam was the spitting image of his father. Dark brown hair, brown eyes and he was showing signs that he would grow to be over six foot like his Dad aswell.
Sarah made the odd visit and phoned once a week, but Adam's upbringing was solely controlled by John. He did, however, have the support of his friend Robert and his family. They lived on the same street as John and he and his son were like part of their family.
Robert's American wife, Cora, owned a chain of American styled diners across Yorkshire. The diners she owned were reminiscent of the old style diners seen in 1960's American TV Shows. They were very successful, meaning after Robert's recent retirement from the fire service he could now afford to be a man of leisure. Robert's daughters, Mary, Edith and Sybil were always on hand to baby sit Adam. On days where John had to work late, Adam would go and wait for his Dad at their house where the girls would dote on him.
John's repair shop, imaginatively named 'Bates Motors' had taken off rather well and he earned a decent wage for him and his son. He was able to employ three fellow workers in recent years, meaning he was able to work just four days a week. Tom Branson, whom he took on as an apprentice was his deputy and took on a lot of the managerial duties meaning John could spend more time with his son as he entered his secondary education.
The two other mechanics, William Mason and Joseph Molesley worked alternate shifts, meaning the garage remained opened for twelve hour days. John was happy to have people working with him whom he trusted and liked, William the newest member of staff had worked there a respectable 6 years.
'Your boy looked happy, John,' Tom smiled as he approached John, still in the doorway to his office.
'Yeah, he got picked to play up front for his school team,' John replied. 'He's going to play for United one day.'
'Leeds?' Joseph asked, coming out of the warehouse with an exhaust in his hand.
'Please, give the lad some credit,' John scoffed. 'He's a little better than Leeds United. I meant Manchester.'
John knocked on Robert's door and waited patiently on the doorstep. He smiled as he heard voices from inside, the most prominent being Robert's.
'Mary, I don't care how cheap you can get the costumes, I am now going to your party dressed as one of the ugly sisters from Cinderella.' Robert opened the door. 'Hello John.'
'Alright mate?' John smirked.
'I don't know why you're looking so amused,' Robert said as he stepped aside to allow his friend into the house. 'You're the other sister in Mary's little idea.'
'I'm thought you were going as Jaws and I was going as James Bond?' John asked as he unzipped his coat.
Mary was to turn thirty and she was organising her party. It was to have a Hollywood theme, John quickly deciding as soon as he heard that he was to dress up as 007. Walking into the living room, he saw Mary sitting on the floor beside the coffee table, looking through her party folder as Adam watched television with Cora.
'Alright son,' John said on seeing Adam. Adam turned to look at him and nodded.
'What are you coming to the party as, Adam?' Mary asked as she turned the pages in her folder.
'Maverick from Top Gun,' Adam replied excitedly. 'Dad showed me the DVD. Those fighter jets are well cool.'
'Well cool indeed,' Mary replied standing up before looking at her mother. 'Oh, did I tell you I heard back from Anna?'
'Anna? Oh the singer.' Cora replied. 'I saw her on the news the other day. Her single was number one in America.'
'Yeah, well she's coming to the party,' Mary continued.
'College friend Anna?' Robert enquired as Mary approached him.
'Yes, Anna Smith.' Mary confirmed as she walked past her father to the dining room table where Edith was sitting. Edith had laid out some party decorations for Mary to peruse. 'She's been busy obviously, promoting the album and everything but she's desperate to come to the party.'
'I thought she looked familiar when I saw her,' John said. 'The two of you used to hang out quite a bit didn't you.'
'Yeah, in our early twenties, but then she got the job as a back up singer at a record company.' Mary sighed as she held up two different coloured ribbons to get a closer look. 'We talk over email all the time and meet up quite often. A record company executive wanted to give her the chance to step into the spotlight and she grabbed her opportunity with both hands.'
'I'll say, Will plays her album at work all the time. It's superb.'
'And she's quite easy on the eye as well,' Robert chuckled before digging John in the ribs. 'Wouldn't you say John?'
'Dad, please,' Edith squirmed from the other side of the dining room table opposite Mary. 'You're old enough to be her father.'
'Come on Adam,' John called to his son. 'Let's go home while it's still daylight. I want you to show me how you got into the team.'
Mary was busy straightening out tablecloths as all around her the waiters her mother and father had hired for her laid the food on the tables. Standing back, she ran a hand down her dress. She had decided on coming to the party as Baby from Dirty Dancing, Robert finding it highly amusing when she carried a watermelon into the kitchen.
Robert and Cora had decided to return to their youth and attend the party as Danny and Sandy from Grease, a sight which Mary had greeted with a cringe. If she had to hear their duet of Summer Nights one more time she felt she may scream. Robert had backed out on going as the Jaws to John's James Bond, claiming the teeth were too uncomfortable to spend the evening wearing.
Guests were arriving by the minute, all resplendent and representing an eclectic mix of what the film world had to offer. Mary smiled as she saw The Terminator chatting to Indiana Jones at the bar, and Maria Von Trapp involved in a heavy discussion with Bridget Jones as they filled up their plates with food.
Mary turned to see Anna Smith almost running towards her, arms outstretched. Mary grinned from ear to ear as she met her friend in a warm embrace. Anna was the only reason Mary got through college and their friendship had remained in tact all these years later. Despite the path Anna's life had taken, she still made sure she had time for Mary. She considered Mary the only person to truly 'get her' and their friendship was one of the most important things in Anna's life.
'Well well, Miss Number One Single,' Mary said in jest. 'I said all those years of singing into the hairbrush in front of the mirror would finally pay off.'
'Who knew?' Anna replied, holding Mary's hands in her own. 'And here we are, you turning thirty, me already there. Where has the time gone?'
'I'm so pleased you could make it,' Mary said. 'I know how busy you are and...'
'Sssh, You know I'll always make time for you.' Anna interrupted. 'I'm just sorry I didn't know it was fancy dress.'
Mary took a step back to consider what Anna was wearing. A knee length red dress, a small black cardigan and red heels.
'Just wing it. You could be anything you want to be in that outfit. You look beautiful.'
'As do you, Baby.' Anna smiled.
'Thank you. Although I'm regretting it. Dad has been following me around with a watermelon all evening.'
Laughter descended between them then as Robert and Cora approached the reunited friends.
'Hello, Mr and Mrs Crawley,' Anna said politely, kissing them both.
'Please Anna, it's Robert and Cora,' Cora replied, stroking her arm.
'Although tonight it's actually Danny and Sandy,' Robert corrected his wife before running his fingers through his quiff.
'Right,' Anna replied, throwing Mary a slightly concerned look.
'Come on,' Mary said, linking her arm with Anna's. 'Let's go find a drink and you can tell me about all the gorgeous pop stars you've met.'
Robert watched as his daughter led her friend away, followed by Cora before looking towards the door and seeing John and Adam arrive. He smiled to himself as he saw Adam in the Top Gun shades. John looked every inch the Bond type, Robert had often envied his friends classic 'tall, dark and handsome' looks. Although, he would never admit it to his old comrade.
'Well, well Maverick. Left your Tomcat outside, have you?' Robert said upon reaching the two of them.
'Something like that,' Adam said before looking around the room. 'I'm going to get something to eat.'
'You gave up being Jaws for this,' John replied, looking his friend up and down. 'Where's Mary?'
'Over there, chatting to Anna and Cora at the bar.' Robert replied, pointing in the direction of his daughter.
John looked in the direction Robert was indicating and the first thing he saw was Anna. She had paused to kindly pose for photographs with a couple of Mary's guests, clearly delighted to meet some fans. He knew she was pretty from seeing her on the television but he didn't account for how stunning she would be in real life. Blonde curls almost danced on her shoulders, her smile illuminating the whole room.
'Erm, John,' Robert said, trying to draw his friend from his trance like state. 'John.'
'Yes, sorry,' John said, shaking his head before turning his attentions to Robert. 'Would you like to speak to Mary?'
'Yeah,' John replied, his gaze back on Anna before he held up a gift bag. 'We got her a present.'
Robert nodded before narrowing his eyes at John. He began to walk and John followed. As they got nearer, Mary turned to greet her father's friend.
'Hello John,' Mary said, walking towards him. He reached down to peck on her on the cheek before handing her a gift bag. 'You look fantastic. A perfect Bond.'
'Happy birthday, Mary,' John said, smiling sweetly as she took the bag from him. 'This is from me and Adam. You know men. Useless at buying gifts so when you open it, try not to look too disheartened.'
'Way to sell it, John,' Robert whispered in his friends ear, patting him on the back as he walked past.
Anna was still chatting at the bar, Mary had noticed that John's gaze was upon her. Smiling, she stepped a little closer to him.
'Pretty, isn't she?' Mary said softly, trying to remain nonchalant.
'What?' John replied, looking Mary in the eye.
'Would you like me to introduce the two of you?' Mary asked. 'She always likes to meet a fan.'
'Oh, I don't think...'
'Anna, come here for a second.'
The words were out of Mary's mouth before John had a chance to protest. Anna turned around and the first thing she saw was the man standing beside her friend. She smiled as her gaze met his. Something about his eyes intrigued her and he seemed familiar. Moving closer to him, she held out an outstretched hand for him to take.
'Anna, this is John Bates. An old family friend,' Mary began. 'John, this is Anna Smith. We went to college together.' Mary left them to chat as she moved to greet some more guests arriving.
'I remember you,' Anna replied as she shook John's hand. 'You were outside fixing Robert's car one afternoon I called round to see Mary. Years ago. You nearly tripped me up when I was walking down the path the exact same time you rolled out from under the car on your skateboard thingy.'
'Really?' John laughed nervously. 'I don't remember that at all. Well, can I take this opportunity to apologise profusely.'
'It's okay,' Anna laughed. 'You did at the time.'
'Right,' John replied, nervousness evident in his tone.
'Can I buy you a drink, John?'
'No,' John shook his head. 'Allow me. What are you drinking?'
'Dad.' John turned on his heels to see his son walking towards him, his plate piled high with food. Adam stopped in his tracks as he recognised who his father was talking to. 'Wow. Anna Smith.'
'The same,' Anna smiled enthusiastically. 'You've grown up.'
'You remember Adam?' John asked, a surprise look on his face.
'Yeah, Mary used to talk about him all the time. I even helped baby-sit you one time.' Anna replied.
'Really?' Adam said excitedly, dumping his plate of food on the bar before turning away.
'Son, didn't you have something to say?'
'Until I heard Anna Smith used to baby-sit me, yeah.' Adam answered. 'Now I'm off to text my mates.'
With that, he was gone leaving an embarrassed John standing beside a giggling Anna. 'I'm sorry about that.'
'It's alright,' Anna said, stifling yet more laughter. 'How about that drink?'
John and Anna spent almost the whole evening in each other's company. No one had made her laugh so much in ages. He chatting to her about his business and life as a single father. She listened intently. There was something about him that made her want to know everything. He was so different to the men she usually spent time with. They were all only after one thing but Anna saw those men as an occupational hazard, a part of the line of work she was in. John was genuinely interested in her as a person, and that attracted her to him somewhat.
Initially, the fact he was older than her played on her mind, but after sharing the evening with him she had completely forgotten about the age gap. John was charming, funny and she found his nervousness around her endearing. He was most certainly handsome yet not the type of man Anna would normally go for. Her last boyfriend, an actor, was tall, blonde, had an arrogance about him and worked out. Although John was certainly not unhealthy, it was clear trips to the gym were not on his agenda. However, she got the impression from the way he spoke and conducted himself that he was a real gentleman, a real man. She liked that about him.
As the evening drew to a close, Anna had to excuse herself. She was to appear on television in London the following afternoon and had already stayed longer than she had initially intended. She wasn't expecting it to be as difficult to say goodbye to John as it was.
'It's been lovely chatting to you this evening,' Anna said, standing up and moving away from the table they had occupied for the duration of the evening.
'And you,' John replied standing up. 'Good luck in everything you do. You're an amazing singer.'
'Thank you,' Anna smiled. She had been told that a million times, yet it took on a new meaning when he said it that confused her somewhat. She took a step closer to him before reaching up to kiss him on the cheek. She lingered by his ear for longer than would be deemed normal, taking in his scent, enjoying the closeness between them. 'Take care of yourself.'
'You too, Anna.' John whispered as she moved away from him. Eye contact between them remained as Anna took a few steps backwards. With a last nod of the head, she turned to bid her friend goodbye.
'There you are,' Mary exclaimed, obviously a little under the influence. 'You've been chatting to John all night.'
'Yeah,' Anna replied. 'He's a lovely bloke.'
'And also as old as my Dad,' Mary pointed out.
'Be that as it may, I enjoyed his company,' Anna said, looking back over her shoulder. 'Very much.'
John sat alone at the table before Robert joined him. 'Alright Bond?'
'Yes thanks, Danny,' John said, smirking. 'Where's Sandy?'
'Erm,' Robert began before looking around. 'Last time I saw her she was discussing curtains with Jessica Rabbit.'
'Like you do,' John laughed before finishing his drink.
'So, how was Anna?' Robert asked. 'You both were getting on well.'
'Yes, we were. She's a very interesting person.'
'Who happens to be gorgeous in the process,' Robert replied.
'Dad, Anna just had her picture taken with me,' Adam said excitedly, thrusting his phone in his father's face. 'She's well pretty, isn't she Dad?'
'Indeed she is, son. Indeed she is.'