I've been working on that crossover. Honest I have. I seem to be stuck. Grrrr. It is going, sloooooowly. In the mean time, here's another little snippit. For some reason this one came to me. I'm not really satisfied with it, but if I don't send it, it will be rewritten a hundred times, and I still won't be satisfied with it. Ah, well.
Maybe just one more read-through. BTW, the usual disclaimers apply. I don't own them, I make no money. If you sue me you have a choice, my fifteen year old dingo/whippit lurcher (Raffles) or my wolfish/huskyish pound puppy, seven months old. Steals books, shoes, dirty laundry...His name is Sheffield (when he's bad. Sheffie most times, and Chief when he's good). You want him? I could probably part with him. I can't find half of our remotes. :( Never mind. He just came over and went through all his obedience stuff. He's working with hand signals, now. Watch out Raffi, he's finagling for your spot! R.I.Eaton
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Saturday. What a lovely thought. No need to get up early. No plans that required getting out of bed until he felt good and ready. No responsibilities to interfere with his rest. Finally. He snuggled deeper under the covers, sinking back into the warm darkness.
The soft opening of his bedroom door caused his eyes to snap open. He warily raised his head to see the intruder. Recognizing the form in the doorway, he sighed.
"What's up, Mom?" He glanced at his alarm clock. Six a.m. He couldn't repress the groan of frustration.
"Good morning, Daryl. I need to go in to the office this morning. I won't be back until late. Will you be OK?"
The teen threw back the covers. As he climbed out of bed he asked: "Can you give me a few minutes and drop me off at Dad's, please?" Pausing to await the tirade he felt sure was coming. He glanced at his mother. Sure enough, her mouth was tightening into that bitter expression he had come to hate.
"It's not his weekend."
He looked at her, perplexed. "So? It's not like you and I are going to be doing anything." Not like you ever have any time for me, anyway. Dad always makes time for me. His chin came up in an unconscious parody of one of his dad's detectives: jaw clenched, defiant expression, challenging. The glare was not lost on his mother.
"It's not his weekend. Maybe he has plans." Too preoccupied, really, to care. She looked at her watch. "What the hell. You have ten minutes, or I'm leaving without you." It was just so much easier to give in, than to argue.
Daryl scrambled for the shower. He was showered, dressed and ready in eight minutes. His mother was waiting impatiently for him in the car.
He used his key to quietly open the door to his dad's house, slipping in silently. Closing and locking the door behind him. He listened carefully for any signs of his dad being awake. Hearing none, he made his way to his bedroom, undressed and crawled between the sheets. Sighing, sadly.
Saturday. No reason to get up. Nothing pending at work; at least not anything that couldn't wait until Monday. The feeling of absolute decadence, being able to stay in bed until he good and well felt like getting up. No responsibilities to anyone. He heaved a great sigh, snuggling down beneath the covers. Ready for some more sleep.....
....The sun was peeking through the curtains. It was daylight, and he was still in bed. He had no need to get up. The sun was shining. His mind started running through the things he needed to do around the house. The poker game was going to be here, tonight. He needed to go to the store. Damn. He sighed, then grunted in annoyance as he got up. It was no use. If the sun was up, so should he be.
He padded into the kitchen to put on the coffee. Then back to shower and dress. He had slept in quite late, it was after eight. Dressed casually in jeans and a sweater, he sat at the kitchen table, drinking coffee and reading the newspaper.
It was only a slight sound. He set down his cup and his paper and went to investigate. When he got to the room his son stayed in when he visited, he stopped outside the partially closed door. He hadn't seen fit to get his gun, now he wasn't so sure. He carefully pushed the door open. Startled to see the figure sleeping in the bed.
"What the...Daryl?" He entered the room, crossing to the bed and its occupant. "Daryl?" He reached out and touched the shoulder of the sleeping young man.
"Wha?!.Oh, Dad. Sorry. Mom dropped me off." Coming fully awake, he looked up at his father. "You don't mind, do you?" Suddenly wondering if this had been such a good idea. His mom was already mad at him for wanting to come here. Would his dad be mad at him, as well? After all, it wasn't his day to have him. He hated the feeling of being a tennis ball, being shunted back and forth. Wondering if his dad really wanted him. Feeling that his mom considered him a burden, most of the time, but too possessive to allow him to live with his dad. Frequently feeling lost and unloved.
"No problem. I was just surprised to find you here. I have some errands to run, and some housework to catch up on. You want to go back to sleep, or come along?" Happy to see his son at any time, he didn't ever want to make him feel as though he were a burden.
"I'll come along. Maybe I can help?" Make himself useful so his dad wouldn't consider him a burden. His dad smiled. The big happy one that always made him feel so warm and loved.
"Sounds like a plan." Turning to go, "What would you like for breakfast?"
He stopped and turned to look at his son, growing up so fast that he was afraid, sometimes, that his influence would be inadequate. "Since when did you start drinking coffee?" Surprised, not angry, much to his son's relief.
"I drink it at school all the time." But never at home. His mom wouldn't let him, yet.
"What does your mother say to that?" Noticing the telltale signs of distress, "Or haven't you told her?" The quick glance of shock gave him his answer. "You're fifteen. I think you're old enough to decide for yourself if you want to drink coffee. Anything else? You know, like food?" Knowing that the kid should be eating his weight in groceries every week.
"Uh, toast?" Keep it simple. Don't make yourself any more trouble than you already are.
"OK. See you in a few." Turning to go back to the kitchen to fix his son a meal. Not showing his delight at the young man's presence.
Daryl scrambled quickly into his clothes, not wanting to make his dad wait for him, remembering all too clearly his mother's attitude earlier that morning. By the time he reached the kitchen, the toast was just coming up in the toaster. He hurried to take care of it himself. His dad had poured him a cup of coffee, setting a spoon, milk and sugar beside it. He hurried through the food, knowing that it wasn't really enough to satisfy him, but not wanting to delay his father's plans any further.
Their first stop was the hardware store. He needed a few supplies for a couple of projects he was working on around the house. It was nearing the time for working on the garden, and there was a sale on the supplies he needed, so he stocked up. The next stop was the grocery store. Daryl pushed the cart, while his dad selected the items for purchase. He noticed that his son seemed rather quieter than normal.
"Is something troubling you, Daryl?" He asked, as he stacked the two cases of beer on the bottom of the cart. "You're awfully quiet." His son cast a concerned gaze at his father.
"I'm OK. I just...Are you mad at me for coming over? I know it's not your week to be stuck with me, but...."
"Hold on, there. I am never `stuck' with you. You're my son. I love you. I like spending time with you. Any time I can get." He moved close to his son, putting his arms around him, hugging him close. "If it were up to me, you'd be living with me." But it's not.
Daryl looked closely into his father's eyes, reading the truth of his words. He broke out in a smile like sunshine on a cloudy day. "Me, too." He didn't want to play his parents one against the other, he loved them both. But lately, his mom hadn't had any time for him. It was all her work. He felt neglected and unloved. His father had just reassured him that at least one of his parents still cared. He returned the hug. "Thanks. I needed that." Then he giggled at the clich,. His dad joined him in the laughter, releasing him.
"Look. The guys are coming over to play poker tonight. What time is your mom supposed to pick you up?"
Daryl looked uncomfortable. "I don't know. She said she would be working late, again." He looked hopefully up at his father. "Could I call her and see if it's OK for me to spend the night?" Do you really want me around? Enough for me to be around for your friends to see? Simon thought for only the briefest of moments. It wasn't as though his son hadn't been around for the poker games before. "Sure. Go ahead." Pulling out his cell phone and handing it to the teen.
The phone call didn't go at all well. It was obvious that Joan did not appreciate being interrupted. She insisted on talking to Simon. When he came on the line, she proceeded to berate him. He listened patiently for several minutes. "Look. I have no problem with him staying. He asked if he could stay. I told him he had to get your permission. Does he have it or not?" She ranted at him a bit more. Finally acquiescing. He hung up, not letting Daryl talk to her again. He put the phone in his pocket, looking at his son, ruefully. "It's OK. But she wants to trade this weekend for another at a later date." Daryl looked crestfallen.
"She'll choose one when we have plans to really do something fun." He complained, bitterly. His dad put an arm around his shoulders, giving a quick hug.
"Don't worry about it. We'll worry about that when it happens." Releasing his son. "OK. What shall we make for dinner?" Wanting to include his son on decisions, to help take the sting out of his mother's attitude.
They finished their shopping and returned home. After everything was put away, they joined forces in the house cleaning. After nearly two hours of hard work, the house sparkled. They had even washed all the windows. By the time they were finished, Daryl was feeling rather weak from hunger. His dad offered to order in pizza. The teen jumped at the offer. After lunch, they both settled down in the living room to watch some TV. Both dozing off for a couple of hours. Waking in time to finish their preparations for the party.
Daryl's ideas for dinner worked to perfection. Of course, it would have been better if they had started the day before, giving it time for the flavours to seep in better. His dad made the best barbecue sauce on the planet. They set the ribs to cook in the oven, smothered it that famous concoction. Daryl took over preparing the salad, while his dad concentrated on the meat.
The first arrivals were discussing the tantalizing odours coming from the house. Both arrivals expressed surprise and delight at the presence of Daryl, who let them in.
"Hey, Daryl! What are you doing here?" Blair Sandburg asked as he and his partner entered, sloughing off their coats as they came into the living room. Blair's larger partner taking both jackets and hanging them in the closet.
"Good to see you Daryl." Jim Ellison added, when he had finished hanging the garments.
Daryl explained that he was spending the weekend with his dad, since his mom was busy with work. He almost managed to hide the hurt this caused him. Almost. But not from these two. They knew him as well as, and in the case of Blair better than, his dad did. Blair put his arm around the teen.
"Good. Stick with me" Blair told him,." I'll teach you all you need to know about poker." Putting much more into the hug than his words. Jim smirked.
"Listen to him. He practically makes his living from these little games." He exchanged smiles with his friend. Daryl laughed. Next to his dad, these were his two favourite people. They accepted him for himself; didn't expect more from him than he was capable of . Were freely giving of slaps on the back and hugs. Willing to joke with him as well as tell him off when he got out of line. On top of all that, Blair was his closest confidante. The one person he could trust with his deepest feelings of inferiority, insecurity, and fear; because he knew that Blair had the same feelings, the same fears. Even if he was older than Daryl, he was still closer in age to the teen than to Jim, or Simon, and he was certainly closer in philosophy and language.
Brown, Ryf and Taggart arrived almost simultaneously, and the party really got underway. Daryl kept himself busy serving. When a beer was emptied, he quickly replaced it with a fresh one. Fortunately, the group was conservative in its drinking, no one overindulging. The meal was consumed with loud praises from the participants, and Simon credited Daryl with the idea. The men all heaped profuse praise on the young man, who flushed in pleasure at all the attention from these men who looked to his father for leadership, and friendship.
He wasn't allowed to participate in the game itself, but was allowed to watch and kibitz. Hanging over Blair's shoulder, he learned much about the long-haired anthropologist's methods of play, concentrating on his ability to bluff. As usual, Blair was the big winner of the evening.
When everyone had been sufficiently fleeced, they called it a night. Everyone thanked Simon for a great evening, and told Daryl to feel free to join them, any time. Jim and Blair were the last to leave. Jim and Simon were discussing a case, so Blair drew Daryl aside.
"You want to tell me about it?" Daryl met his concerned gaze with a sad little smile.
"It's nothing anyone can do anything about, Blair. But thanks for asking." He started to turn away.
"Huh-uh. Talk. Maybe I can help. I can at least listen. Let you hear yourself. Find your own answer." Arm draped around the teenager's shoulders. Comforting, supportive. He led him over to the couch, sitting closely, side by side. Keeping his arm around the boy's shoulders, putting into touch what wouldn't be said aloud.
Daryl sighed, gathering his tumbled thoughts. "It's my parents." No big surprise there. "Sometimes," he looked up into the concerned blue eyes, "Sometimes I get the feeling that neither of them really want me. Mom seems to want to keep me from Dad, and he seems to only want to take me away from Mom." He shook his head in worried confusion. "Mom really doesn't have any time for me, she's so busy with work, you know?" At Blair's nod, he continued. "I really miss my dad, you know? But he's so busy, too. I sometimes wonder if he really wants me around. For me, you know?"
"Have you told them any of this?"
Daryl looked at him in surprise. "Heck, no! I'd be afraid of really making them mad." Shaking his head in denial.
Blair considered how to address this problem. He tightened his grip on Daryl's shoulder; finally: "You need to tell at least one of them of your concerns. Which one do you think is most likely to actually listen to you?" Thinking he already knew the answer.
"Dad." No hesitation.
"So, tell him."
"I can't." The warm brown eyes were filled with fear, the fear of how his father might react, fear of rejection. What if he didn't really care? It was better to think and wonder, than to know for sure.
"One thing Jim's been teaching me?" Daryl looked up at him. "You have to face your problems. If you don't? They'll overrun you, and end up ten times worse than you ever imagined they would be. Trust me. Knowing stuff like this is better in the long run. I think you'll be surprised by how your dad feels." He glanced over at the two older men. "And I think you'll like it. Just from what I've heard him say." He hugged harder for a moment, then released the teen.
"Would you talk to him for me?" At Blair's dubious expression, "Please? I...I'm afraid to." The last in a whisper, head hung down. Blair sighed.
"You should really do this yourself." At Daryl's stricken look. "I'll see what I can do. You're still going to have to talk to him about it. Maybe I can pave the way for you, though. If I do, that means that he's going to initiate the conversation, which means that you won't be in control. He might come on a little strong, but don't worry. I know how much he cares about you. He's a lot like Jim, that way. Strong emotions, but not very good at expressing them. You have to make allowances for that. They can't help it. It's how they were raised." He admonished. He looked up as the older men approached, "Time to go. I'll see if I can talk to him on Monday. In the meantime, let me know if you decide to talk to him on your own. If you need anything, just give me a call, OK?"
"OK. Thanks, Blair. I'll try." He stood with Blair as the others stopped by the couch.
"You ready to go, Chief?" Jim had gathered their jackets and was holding Blair's out to him.
"Sure. Thanks for the great dinner and the game, Simon, Daryl." Slipping his arms into the sleeves of his coat, sliding it on.
"Good night, Simon, Daryl. See you Monday, Simon."
"Yeah, me too." Blair added as they left father and son alone.
With a sigh, Simon started for the kitchen to clean up after the party, not looking forward to the late night cleanup, but not willing to let it wait until morning. He stopped in the doorway in shock. All the dinner dishes had been washed and put away. The only things left to wash were the coffee cups from the end of the game. Even all the beer bottles had been placed in the recycling bin. He turned in shock to his son.
"When did you do all this. You even scrubbed the pans. I know how hard that sauce is to clean up after."
Daryl hung his head, "I figured," `One way or another you're going to have to talk to him.' Blair was right. He raised his head and looked his father in the eye. "I figured that if I made myself useful, you wouldn't mind me being around." There. He'd said it. Sort of. Would his dad understand? Simon was confused. Mind? "Why would I mind if you were around? If I had my choice, you'd be living here full time." Trying to get a handle on what his son was trying to convey.
Taking a deep, steadying breath, "I thought you only wanted me to make Mom mad. That's why she wants me." The hurt apparent in his face.
Shock. Horror. How could his son be so mistaken? He reached out for him, pulling him in close to his chest, hugging his son for all he was worth. "Oh, no, Daryl. Never think that. I love you. You're my son. I want you because I miss you. I want you around because I love you. I also respect your feelings and ideas. I actually enjoy just being with you. Please, never, ever think otherwise. The only reason I haven't fought harder to have custody, is that I'm afraid for your safety. If you were living here, you could become a target and I might not be able to protect you. You've been a hostage. You know how helpless that makes both of us." Daryl was hugging his dad with all the power in his body. Crying. Understanding. "Son, if it were up to me, you could spend all your spare time with me and it still wouldn't be enough. I..." He ran out of words. He held onto his son, nearly crushing him in his need to communicate his feelings for his child. "I do love you. I always have. I always will. No matter what." They glommed onto one another for a while longer. Finally breaking apart.
"Of course, if you turn into a hood, or join a gang, or do drugs, or anything else illegal, I'll still have to bust you. But even if that happens, I would still love you. I might not like you, but I would still love you." He smiled his trust and reassurance that none of those things would happen. "If you have a problem, please, please talk to me about it. If you don't feel that you can, talk to Jim or Blair. They'd be more than willing to help. You do know that, don't you?"
Daryl sighed, happily. "Yeah. But could you remind me of all that once in a while? I may know it with my head, but I don't always know it with my heart, you know?"
His father laughed and pulled him in for another hug. "Any time you need to hear it, let me know. I have to admit that I'm not always the most sensitive of men."
Daryl snorted with laughter. "According to Mom, that's the understatement of the century." Seeing the pain that flashed across his father's face he hurried on. "She should look in the mirror. She hasn't listened to anything I've said in months." Failing to keep the bitterness out of his voice and body language. He sighed. "I'm sorry. It's just that sometimes..."
"I know. It still hurts." He released his son, then reached up and ruffled his hair. "Since you were so kind as to do all the dishes, we don't have to stay up cleaning. What say we hit the rack and get some sleep? Your mother isn't expecting you until late tomorrow. Maybe we could do something, just the two of us?" Changing the subject. He didn't try to stifle the yawn he felt coming on. Daryl copied the yawn and agreed that bed was an excellent idea.
"Sleep as late as you like, son. There's no hurry in the morning." He called out as he entered his bedroom, receiving a mumbled reply.
Sunday. What a lovely thought. No need to get up early. No plans that required getting out of bed until he felt good and ready. No responsibilities to interfere with his rest. Finally. He snuggled deeper under the covers, sinking back into the warm darkness.
It was after nine by the time they were both up and moving around. Father and son in rare sync. Both waking at the same time. Both coming out to sneak a peek at the other simultaneously. Both laughing at their unusual synchronicity. Slowly waking up, just enjoying each other's company. Father asking son advice on his garden plans; listening to his son's ideas, discussing options. Coming to joint decisions. Happy and content in each other's presence.
It was after one, when the phone rang. Simon reluctantly answered the annoying device.
"Banks." Just like when he was at work, his son thought with a grin.
"What?" Casting a dubious look toward his son.
"Hold on, I'll ask." Covering the mouthpiece of the phone with one hand. Addressing his son. "You interested in going to play miniature golf with Jim and Blair?" Uncertain of the wisdom of the plan. Changing his mind instantly upon seeing the expression of joy on his son's face. "I'll take that as a yes?" Daryl nodded.
"Yes." He listened some more. "OK. See you then." Hanging up the phone, shaking his head in bemusement.
At four p.m., they met at the local miniature golf/arcade. Jim had to be careful while they made their way through the arcade, the sounds and lights could easily send his senses into overdrive. Not to mention, the smells.
"OK. Teams. Cops against kids, or father and son versus partners?" Blair challenged. Either way, they'd have fun. Simon and Daryl exchanged glances, the look of hope on the younger Banks' face deciding the question.
"I'd just as soon have my son on my side, if you don't mind."
Blair exchanged a long look with the teen. Bursting out in an enormous smile. Knowing that they had had the talk that they had needed so desperately.
The game was close. Jim's abilities notwithstanding. It all came down to the last hole. Blair and Daryl. Daryl made a hole in one. Jim groaned. Unless Blair could match that feat, they would lose. Blair set his ball at the tee. Carefully adjusting angles, deciding wind direction, just like on TV.
"Come on, Sandburg. Hit the ball." The captain urged. Blair just ignored him, taking his time. Slowly stepping up to address the ball. Taking careful aim at the final hole. They all watched as the ball headed for the windmill. Jim and Blair cheering when he, too made a hole in one. Leaving the game tied.
Laughing and joking as they picked up their two free passes for making holes in one on the final hole. Passing through the arcade again. Daryl slowed down at one of the games. A sharpshooter game. He gave Blair a look, gesturing to the two older men. Blair gave him an answering grin.
"Hey, Jim, Simon, come here a minute." The two men turned back to see what the kids wanted. "Show us how good a shot you are." Grinning in challenge. Daryl stifling a laugh. Jim and Simon exchanged looks, shrugging. Each took up one of the laser pistols that went with the game. Blair explained the rules, inserted the quarters and watched as the two men started racking up the points.
It took them one game to get the rhythm down. The second game was going quickly into extra innings. Both men were excellent marksmen. Even without being able to use his enhanced senses, Jim was a slightly better shot than his friend. It wasn't long before they had drawn a crowd. They had been playing for nearly forty-five minutes, still showing no sign of tiring. The points accruing at an alarming pace. Suddenly, the game went dark. Surprising everyone. A message appeared on the now darkened screen.
They had maxed out the points. The poor machine was incapable of counting any higher. Jim and Simon exchanged stunned expressions. Then burst into laughter. Jim had been the one to actually tilt the poor machine, having been the first one over 100,000,000. Simon was only 20 points behind. The crowd that had gathered to watch the two men burst into applause. The manager came over to see what the commotion was all about. Seeing the machine, he stopped, looking at the two players in awe.
"What are you, some kind of military sharpshooters, or something?" He was going to have to call the manufacturer to find out how to reset the machine. No one had ever gotten that high before. In fact the next closest score was a mere 750,000.
"No." Simon answered. "Ex-military." Exchanging grins with Jim.
The manager shook his head. "I need your names. For when we can reset the machine. Put them on the winner's list." He wrote their names on a scrap of paper and stuffed it in his pocket. Still shaking his head when he left.
Blair and Daryl were still giggling over the arcade episode when they stopped at WonderBurger for dinner. Blair didn't even complain about the unhealthy cuisine. They all cracked jokes and told stories through dinner. No one seeming to want the day to end. They finally parted after dinner.
"See you tomorrow, Simon. Later, Daryl." Blair called out as he got in the passenger side of the truck.
Jim echoed his sentiments, adding: "We're going to have to take the children out for something like this more often." An odd, hopeful look in his eyes. Not quite willing to admit how much fun he'd had, how much he had enjoyed the company, the camaraderie.
Simon had to agree. It had been fun. There had been only friendly competition, nothing like Jim's normal attitude had made any appearance. It had been pleasantly relaxing, in spite of the competitiveness of the participants. And Daryl had been wonderful. Male bonding at it's best. He smiled, wrapping an arm fondly around his son's shoulders.
"OK by me. How about you, son?" Remembering his son's need to feel important to him. He was rewarded by Daryl's blazing smile.
"Sure. Any time."
They finished their good-byes, each vehicle going their own way.
It was after nine p.m., when he pulled up in front of his ex-wife's apartment to let his son out. He exited the car and escorted his son to the door.
"I had a great time this weekend, son. I'm glad you came over." Arm laid comfortably across his son's shoulders.
"Me too." he looked up at his father with the proud gaze of a happy child, secure in the knowledge of his place in his father's life. "Can we really do it again, sometime?" Soon? Did you really enjoy it? "I think so. Maybe once every couple of months?" He was rewarded with his son's brilliant smile, once again.
Even Joan was unable to dim their spirits. Both father and son were too full of good cheer to allow her sour mood to affect them. Simon put his arms around his son, giving him a bear hug, kissing his forehead, in farewell. "I'll see you next week, OK?" At Daryl's nod, he added "I'll call you a couple of times this week, too. Just to see how you're doing? Or you can call me." Smiling into each other's eyes. Content in their newfound relationship.
Monday morning. The alarm telling him that his week was starting again. Somehow, though, this one promised to be a good one. There was something warm and fuzzy deep inside. The knowledge that he and his son had worked out a problem. One that neither had been able to express, before. The knowledge of the love they shared for one another, expressed. The spending of time with friends who cared. Experiences combined to make them and their relationship stronger. Better.
He stretched and threw back the covers, ready to start another day.
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