Actions

Work Header

Finally a Daddy's Girl

Chapter Text

I don’t believe my father would have ever told us about his cancer diagnosis if I hadn’t pushed him to the limit with questioning concern, knowing him far better than he had ever given me credit for. He was becoming thinner and paler, there was no real way to hide it. I don’t think he wanted us to worry about him, understandably. My mother, who had a terrible divorce from him a decade and a half prior, became his secondary caregiver next to his current wife. Even my Maman helped where she could. It was, completely, a joint effort.

We saw to it that he was never alone while he was in hospital. The last time he was admitted, his breathing wasn’t at its full potential and he wasn’t able to stand without assistance, if at all. Marcus Dunn had always been spry, acting younger than his years ever since I could remember. He would exorcise, eat healthily. He became a vegan when I was a teenager, but he’d occasionally eat some sort of meat. So, I suppose not technically a vegan. Either way, it was incredibly difficult to see him so ashen gray.

I saw to it that my children knew of his predicament and how sick he actually was even though he was still unwilling to truly come to terms with anything. Losing their father a little over a year prior didn’t help any, especially with my son, Lane. He idolized my husband, then my brother and father. He always looked up to them and asked for advice when he required it. Never about anything substantial, but I think he was just lonely most of the time. My father and brother would fit that masculine role that he so desperately craved.

Charlotte folds her arms, edged up against the bay window in the hospice room. At this point, it was a waiting game and they all knew it. The sky is a steel gray, rain pattering against the portion of hospital roofing in front of the room window, giving off a calming sound. She smiles, running a hand through her hair and tucking it behind her ear.

“Char.”

Turning her head, she hears her father speaking to her, “you should see this rain, Dad.”

“I can hear it.” Marcus would spend most of his days in and out of consciousness, too intoxicated with pain medications to care. “Where’d Sian and Bern go?”

“To get coffee...and a fag, but don’t tell Serena.” Charlotte huffs a soft chuckle, moving closer to his bed, “are you thirsty or...is there something you need?” She lowers the side rail of the bed, taking a seat next to him as she takes hold of his hand.

“Good.” He coughs a little before taking a deep breath from the nasal cannula at his nose. “There’s something I need to get off of my chest and I wasn’t about to with either of them in here.” Marcus gives an exhausted smile, “you know I love the hell out of you and your brother, right?”

“Of course.”

“And the kids...they’re all gorgeous and brilliant...every last one of them.”

“I know.” Char smiles to herself.

“I’m...I’m sorry for mucking things up before Cole was born. That was...I should have fought for you and...and I didn’t.” Marcus has tears in his eyes, having become more and more emotional as his treatment went on, “and I haven’t forgiven myself since it all happened. You deserved better.”

“Probably, but...I’ve made my peace with it.” Charlotte shrugs, “I have a therapist I speak to about those things.” She’s teasing him a little, reaching up to adjust his hair, “I should have had a barber come in to trim you up. Hell, I’d bet one of my boys could have...I’m thinking Owen.”

“Yeah.” Marcus can tell what this is, this is the same reflex Bernie always has about sensitive subjects. The shared reflex of lightening the mood of the room. “Char, I need you to know how sorry I am...and I wish our relationship could have been stronger. Regardless of what my mother would have wanted.” He squeezes her hand, “you were supposed to be a Daddy’s Girl.”

“Not really my style.”

“I know, but that doesn’t mean I didn’t want you to be.” He swallows, his eyes remaining on her, “and I’m thankful for everyone taking their turns here. There’s...there’s no reason any one of you need to do that. I’d have much rather you put me here and the rest of you went on about your lives.” Marcus absently strokes the back of her hand with his thumb.

“We’d rather be here to bother you.” Char smirks, feeling her own eyes brimming with tears as she tries to remain positive for him.

“Oh, none of that.” Marcus shakes his head before motioning her up to lay next to him, “this isn’t a sad occasion. This is just moving on...the next step.” He shrugs, falling quiet a moment before continuing, “I’ve done confession, I’ve taken communion...I go to heaven with a clear conscience, but I need you to know that I think about you and...and what I did to you every single day. I need you to know how truly and utterly sorry I am.”

Charlotte carefully climbs up into the hospital bed with her father, feeling as he securely puts his arm around her back as she lays beside him, her head resting against his side. “I forgive you, Dad. We’ve...we’ve got much more to look forward to.”

“No, Char, I don’t think we do.” Marcus turns his head, pressing a kiss on top of her hair. “I’m tired.”

Feeling her chin wobble, Charlotte is glad he’s unable to see her face as she whispers, “I know.” A tear falls down Charlotte’s cheek, onto Marcus’ hospital gown. “It’s okay if you want to sleep, Dad. Everything’s fine...and we’re all safe and...and well off. We’re secure.” Something about this feels final though, she can feel it in her chest, “I love you.”

“I love you too, Char.”

Soon enough, his heart monitor would gradually slow before he finally flat lined. Marcus had signed a Do-Not-Resuscitate order when he first moved into this place weeks prior without the knowledge of his family, knowing that it would be the end of things and didn’t want to leave it up to Sian because he knew she would stop at nothing to bring him back.

Sian Dunn and Bernie Wolfe would return from coffee and a cigarette to a dead body and a little girl quietly sobbing against her father’s corpse, wishing she was really the Daddy’s Girl they both wished she could have been.

Chapter Text

Charlotte stares at her reflection in the full length mirror just outside of her walk-in closet. She’s thinner, tired. Her navy, lace body contouring dress hits just below her knee, paired with a matching blazer. Her curled hair, falling just past her shoulders, could use a dye job. “It’s been a while since I’ve been in a church.” She mumbles, sighing softly.

 

“Well, you look beautiful.” Kait stands next to her, black designer pantsuit and heels. “Though I feel like I should wear something blue to match you.”

 

“No, you look great.” Char shakes her head, her mind preoccupied with everything else occurring, “I just...I don’t want to wear black. Dad’s favorite color was blue, so I’ll wear blue.” She swallows, “nude pumps. Uh...I should check on the boys, see if they need help with their ties...and Lavinia-”

 

“You’re getting side tracked. Only Cole and Lane are going with us and you bought them new suits and ties especially for this. Gwen, Evie, and Greta are taking care of the little ones and Owen.” Kait points out, “relax. The car will be round in a bit, but it can wait. No rush.”

 

“Who got a car?” Char’s brow furrows, confusion painting her face.

 

“I did. For you and Cam with Sian. Well, there’s a few cars, but the three of you should ride together...at least to the church.” Kait shrugs, being all too familiar with funeral pomp and circumstance, “I realized no one else ordered for them, so I thought I would.” She nods, “also, it’s raining out. Might want to ditch the blazer and just go for that trench coat that matches with that.” 

 

“I was planning to. I can hear it against the window.” Charlotte smiles toward her partner, carefully removing the navy blazer from her shoulders, “thanks, Kaitie.”

 

Kait winks to her girlfriend before taking her leave to the hall, hearing a sniffling coming from one of the bedrooms. She follows it, knocking gently before pushing open the cracked door, “Laney, do you need some help?” When he doesn’t answer, she steps in more, closing the door behind herself as she takes in the sight in front of her, “Hey.”

 

Lane stares in front of himself, not toward anything in particular, eyes pooling with tears, “I don’t want to go...but I need to go so that Grandad knows that I loved him.” The loss of his grandfather has been monumental for Lane in particular. He was the only one to phone his Grandad regularly even when the man was living in Italy for treatment. Granted, no one really knew his reason for being in the country at the time.

 

“Not true.” Kait takes a seat next to the pre-teen on the bed, “it’s okay if you think it’s going to be too much. You can stay with Gwen and Evie and everyone.” She folds her hands in her lap, “and your grandfather knew you loved him. Think about Vinnie’s birthday, how excited he was to see everything you were into. Even the garden you were helping your Gran with. Remember?”

 

Giving a weak nod, Lane’s chin trembles, “why did he have to die so soon after Dad?” He swallows, “and why wouldn’t Mum let us see him before he died?”

 

“Because he got to be really, really sick. If any one of you had a cold, it would have meant he went quicker.” It wasn’t completely a lie, Kait sighs, “also, he didn’t even look like himself at the end. Looked like some other bloke entirely. I’m sure your Mum would rather you remember your Grandad when he was healthier...and looking like himself.”

 

“Doesn’t make it easier.”

 

“Not going to. Death isn’t easy, man. In fact, they’re always hard to deal with, except for your own.” Kait exhales with a tender smile, noticing his amused smirk. “Now, if you don’t want to go, no one is going to be angry with you. At all. Especially your Grandad because he’s already dead and doesn’t really know or care who shows up to church.” When the boy leans against her, she wraps an instinctive arm around his back after a moment of consideration, “I can have the car pick you up for the brunch after, if you’d like.”

 

Lane licks his lips, “and Mum won’t be cross?”

 

“Hell no. I don’t want to go either, no one wants to go to a funeral, but I’m going just to keep an eye on your Mum...you know how wild she can get at church.” It elicits another laugh from the boy, “just promise you’ll wear this fantastic suit when you come to brunch.”

 

Nodding, Lane smiles to himself, his anxiety beginning to subside, “I’ll paint my nails blue since that was Grandad’s favorite color.” 

 

“I’m sure he’d have loved that.” Kait nods, feeling him sit up again, “I’ll go and let your Mum know after I check in on Cole-”

 

“He went to the Grands last night. Auntie Sian is staying there too.”

 

“Oh.” Kait shrugs, “easier for me then.” She offers him a smile as she stands, “I’ll go let your Mum know, but you need to keep your mobile on you, okay?” Seeing his nod, Kait takes her leave, returning to her girlfriend, who had moved to the first floor since their parting. She explains the situation, “he’s a mature twelve-year-old. He’ll be fine.”

 

Charlotte sighs, carefully putting on her nude pumps, “Not if he falls or-”

 

“It’s just for a couple hours, tops. Then he’ll attend brunch.” Kait offers, noticing her girlfriend’s hesitation, “I’ll even go with the car to retrieve him.”

 

“While I go with Sian and Cam to the gravesite?”

 

“Or after. I’d prefer after.” Kait watches Charlotte, not wanting to leave her side during the more depressing aspects of the day.

 

Turning her head when she hears her son’s tapping of his cane as he slowly makes his way down the stairs, Charlotte glances up to him, offering a smile, “hey, did you change your mind?”

 

Lane shakes his head, “I don’t want to go.” He carries his small case of nail varnish down the stairs, “Grandad isn’t alive anymore and I didn’t see him for a long time before that.”

 

“A few weeks.” Char watches him.

 

“I told him that I loved him when I saw him last. I can cry about him being gone from here at home.” Lane answers nonchalantly, reaching the bottom of the stairs, “going to church isn’t going to bring him back. Just like looking at Dad’s ashes doesn’t bring him back. It doesn’t make either of them any less dead.”

 

Charlotte swallows, watching as he takes a seat on the sofa in the lounge. “That’s...a tad harsh, don’t you think?”

 

Lane falls silent for a moment as he fingers through his nail varnish collection, “you look really nice, Mum. I’m glad you didn’t choose black.” He pauses, “it’s overrated for funerals.” Lane reaches an arm over when Alfie climbs onto the sofa, plopping his head on the boy’s lap. “That’s why I chose gray and violet.”

 

“You look great too.” Char nods, just watching him a moment before speaking again, “if you need me, don’t hesitate to phone.”

 

“You’re going to be late.” Lane mumbles to no one in particular, gently stroking Alfie’s head, keeping himself calm, “Love you, Mum.”

 

“Ditto, darling.” Letting Kait help her with her lightweight navy trench, Charlotte takes the woman’s hand after.

 

Kait gently guides her girlfriend from the house, closing the door behind them. Making their way to the home next door, belonging to her girlfriend’s parents. She opens the door, seeing that her girlfriend gets inside. She looks empty , Kait thinks. “Charlie, how about you take a seat in the lounge and I’ll get you a glass of water.”

 

“No, I’m fine.” Char shakes her head, “Mum?” She calls out.

 

“In the kitchen.” Bernie calls out, hearing her daughter moving closer. “I made coffee.”

 

“I’m fine, thanks.” Charlotte nods, “Kaitie got us a fleet of cars apparently.” She notices her son sitting at the kitchen table, eating toast while typing something on his laptop. “Morning, sweet boy. Sleep well?”

 

Cole shrugs a little, “Gran and I bunked together while Nan and Auntie Sian bunked together.” He nods, smirking, “Gran was talking about the time she and Grandad had taken you and Uncle Cam to a Fun-Fair when you were small and you argued that you wanted to go on a big dipper even though you were like...four.”

 

“Aren’t there pictures of that?” Char starts to smile, knowing it’s one of her mother’s favorite stories, “your Grandad wasn’t a fan of heights or speed, so Gran had to take me on and I sat on her lap. Safety restrictions weren’t what they are now, that’s for certain.” She laughs to herself, “Grandad was so cross with worry and, of course, I wouldn’t shut up about it.”

 

“Do you truly remember?” Bernie takes a sip of her tea.

 

“Of course. I remember every time...you came home.” Char clears her throat, looking away and finally speaking after a moment of silence, “Laney isn’t coming.”

 

“He wouldn’t be able to handle it.” Cole replies quietly, knowing his brother well, “I don’t know how Auntie Sian is going to handle it either.” He licks his lips, leaning back in the chair as his eyes continue to focus on the laptop in front of him, “she and Nan had a lot of wine...and she cried a lot, but they laughed a lot too.”

 

Char tilts her head up, furring her brow with interest, “Were you spying on them?”

 

“I prefer to call it recognizance.” Cole leans forward again, typing a few other things before closing the lid. He flashes his Gran a smile when the woman gives him an amused glance.

 

“Cars are here.” Kait calls out for everyone within, watching through the window of the lounge. She steps into the vestibule, her heeled boots tapping against the hardwood floor. She glances up when she sees Serena and Sian descending the staircase, “Good morning.”

 

“What’s so good about it?” Sian mumbles from behind Serena, heavily hungover from the night previous, “let’s just get this over with, please.”

 

Serena widens her eyes to her stepdaugher’s girlfriend, indicating that it’s definitely going to be a long day.

Chapter Text

My father was raised Catholic and set it on the back burner for most of his life, only to pick it back up not long after he and Mum’s divorce. My brother and I were raised mostly atheist like my mother, but Cameron has always had an agnostic sense to him. However, there was no denying just how beautiful a Catholic church could be. Especially one that had stood the test of time for hundreds of years.

 

The vestibule and seats were decorated with autumn flowers and the air was thick with incense. My family and I followed behind the casket, seeing a church filled to the brim with friends and extended family. A sea of black garments and red eyes. My brother and I walked alongside my stepmother with our partners directly behind us and my parents behind them. Many of the people who cut off contact with Mum during the divorce seemed shocked to see she was there, a lesbian in a Catholic church. Really, several lesbians in a Catholic church. I’m surprised we weren’t struck down before entry.

 

Things were somber and Cameron gave a reading, nearly losing his wits toward the end. I couldn’t bring myself to say anything. Everything I could have said to my father, I already did before he died. I just stared at the steel box, containing the embalmed corpse of my father, and did my best to hold it together. A battle I lost valiantly.

 

Dad wanted a full mass. Of course he did. Sian was the only one amongst us to take the eucharist, having brushed up on such things during her time with Dad. I was glad one of us could and we weren’t all godless heathens. Luckily, aside from a few other short speeches by Dad’s old friends and colleagues, the service didn’t last very long and we were quickly ushered to the gravesite, not far from the church.

 

The undertakers didn’t lower the casket until we had all left, thankfully. I kept thinking about how Dad was alone now. Truly alone. First time in months, I reckon. Though Kait was originally going to be the one to retrieve Lane from home, I decided to take on the task myself, without much objection from anyone else. I needed a few moments to myself and everyone else just figured out who could ride with who.

 

I stared through the window next to me, listening to the soft patter of rain begin to tap against the roof of the black executive car. The soft murmurs of old Elvis songs stream through the speakers, Dad’s favorite.

 

“Of course it begins to rain.” Charlotte shakes her head, swallowing. She gives it a moment before she punches her fist into the back of the seat next to her. “Damn it.” She tries to take a deep breath, her eyes filling with tears, “you weren’t supposed to do this, Dad. You were supposed to stay...and be a father figure to my boys, you said you would and now you can’t.” She reaches into her pocket, to one of the few unused tissues within, lifting it to dab under her eyes without smearing her makeup. “You lied.”

 

Luckily, the ride wasn’t terribly long, just long enough for me to talk to myself and whatever imaginary spirits might be present with me in that car. Luckily, the driver was kind enough to ignore me.

 

Bernie holds Serena’s hand as they carefully climb from their executive car in front of the restaurant where brunch would be served. “Marcus’ favorite restaurant. It’s been here...forever.” She smiles a little to herself, “I bet he’d be jealous right now.”

 

“He set aside enough to buy it out for a few hours.” Sian follows behind them as they get out of the car, “it’s what he wanted. One last hurrah.” She nods a little, walking ahead of everyone as she notices them standing still.

 

Serena sighs softly watching as the woman walks away, “you know, Sian always went through men like...pants. They were never a big deal to her. Maybe the occasional man managed to take her breath away, but they came far and few between. Marcus...made a whole impact. She’s angry that he waited so long to tell her about the cancer...that’s what the crying was about last night.”

 

“That’s why he had taken her to Italy. Sure, he was obtaining treatment, but they were on the beaches every single day. He knew she loved it and wanted to see her happy.” Bernie shakes her head, “I’m looking forward to this even less than I was the whole church experience.”

 

Cole moves around from the passenger seat of the executive car, having just been watching everyone. “I didn’t realize that Catholics had so many statues.”

 

Bernie shrugs a little, “I was married to your Grandad in a Catholic church. It’s lovely in the springtime...and Christmas, but yes, many statues.”

 

“Do you think it would be okay if I asked people for their favorite stories of Grandad...or how they knew Grandad?” Cole stands with his Grands, having shot up several inches in a few months' time, he was the same height as the other women now.

 

“I don’t know if you’re going to like some of the answers you’re given.” Bernie answers quietly, laughing a little when he takes his place between them, wrapping one arm around her and the other around Serena as they make their way inside.

 

“So you’d advise against it.” Cole nods a little, “point taken.” 

 

“It isn’t that I don’t want you to know who your grandfather was when I wasn’t involved, I just...I know how these things play out, I suppose.” Bernie licks her lips, finding their seat with the rest of their family names on tags.

 

“Well, fuck ‘em.” Serena shakes her head, “not worthy to know then and certainly not worthy to know now.”

 

“That’s what I’m saying.” Cole laughs a little at his Nan, pulling her chair out for her to take a seat. He lifts his head, noticing his grandfather’s wife idling near their reserved table, “Auntie Sian, is there anything I-”

 

“No, Cole. You’ve done more than enough.” Sian grins broadly toward him, “I think this is going to be our time to relax, let off a little steam.” She reaches forward, placing a hand on his cheek, “your grandfather thought the world of you. His first grandson, there were always...so many pictures of you in the house. You and your brothers. Lavinia as well. Marc was a big softie when it came to his grandchildren.”

 

Cole smiles warmly, “We always thought the world of him too, Auntie Sian.”

 

Sian nods, “I may not have had much time with your grandfather, but the experiences made it feel like forever.” She exhales, lowering her hand, “and I’m glad I had that time with him. I’m honored, in fact.”

 

“It doesn’t change anything.” Cole shakes his head, “Grandad just...won’t be with you anymore.” He bites his lip at the sad expression on her face, knowing his thoughts didn’t come out the way he imagined, “sorry.”

 

“No, you mean well. Thank you.” Sian offers him a gentle smile as she exhales, “well, Cole, I could use a drink. What about you?”

 

“I’m...I’m fourteen.” Cole raises an eyebrow.

 

“Don’t let that stop you.”

 

“Sian.” Serena warns, having been listening to their conversation.

 

“It was just a joke, ‘Rena.” Sian pats her arm as she walks past her, making her way to the bar area of the restaurant.

 

“I wouldn’t have taken it.” Cole looks at his Nan, “my first drink is some of your wine on my eighteenth birthday. That’s the agreement, remember?” He folds his arms casually, offering her a smile. “I mean...I just decided that, but I think it sounds pretty good.”

 

“Setting the bar low considering we’re taking Guinevere to France for hers.” Serena offers, smiling to herself, “but you have a few years still. No need to make a final decision now and no need to grow up before you need to.”

 

“Is there assigned seating?” Morven steps over to the group, Cameron having broken away quickly to head to the bar.

 

“This is our table, sit where you please.” Bernie answers absently, watching her son at the bar. She makes a mental note that she needs to keep an eye on him for the day, knowing he’s an emotional drinker. “I thought Kait was with you.”

 

“She said she wants to wait outside for Charlotte...needed a fag as well.” Morven takes a seat where she sees her name, even though she was told the nameplates are irrelevant. “I phoned Guinevere and Greta, everything is going well. They were at the park. Evie and Owen were there as well.”

 

“Good then.” Serena glances around, only noticing after a moment that there are easels with picture collages set against them. She slowly stands from her seat, walking over to view them. Various pictures of Marcus Dunn with his friends and only a few of his family. Serena sighs a little, only really noticing the drop off of family when the children grew older.

 

Walking up to stand next to his Nan, Cole leans over to her, “I don’t really recognize any of these people, do you?”

 

“Well.” Serena tilts her head to the side, placing her index finger on one taken at a pub. A group of men with pints of beer in front of them, all smiles, “This one here is your father...y-your biological father.”

 

Cole nods a little, never having seen many pictures of the man. Only a few from his paternal grandmother from when his father was a boy. “I forgot he and Grandad were friends.” He pauses, “that had to be odd right?”

 

“I don’t know. I’m only aware of what I saw and what your mother was brave enough to tell us.” Serena licks her lips, looking a bit more at other photographs, “here’s one of Marcus with Bernie, Charlotte, and Cameron.” She laughs softly to herself. “Your Gran, in a dress, with her hair tied up. Around the same age that your mother is now. Positively breathtaking.”

 

Beginning to smirk, mostly at the reaction from his Nan, Cole leans in, taking a closer look at the picture pointed out to him. “Who made these anyway?”

 

“Marcus did.” Sian takes a sip from her cosmo, moving to stand next to them, “wasn’t until he started that he realized he didn’t have as many pictures of his family as he thought he did.” She takes another sip, “depressed him a tad, but...what he could find, he used. Had me set them aside.”

 

“They look nice, Auntie Sian.” Cole nods, “is there one from your wedding?”

 

“Of course, darling.” Sian motions to the other side of the room, noticing only then that the space is beginning to fill up with friends and old associates of Marcus. She exhales, “if you’ll excuse me, I must shmooze. Please, continue looking at the photos. Lord knows Marcus spent quite some time on them.” Sian takes a deep breath, and another sip of her drink before finally stepping away.

 

The room felt thick with animosity and angry glances toward one Berenice Wolfe, first wife of Marcus Dunn and betrayer of his heart. However, by the time of his death, she was at his bedside almost every single day and considered a friend by the man. It was no secret that Marcus would always have feelings for his first wife, even after his second marriage, though he knew the feeling wasn’t mutual.

 

I found it difficult to build the courage to get back in the car after retrieving my youngest son. I didn’t want to go back. I didn’t want to hear sentiments of condolence and I certainly didn’t feel like I knew those people, even if they’ve known me ever since I was born. I considered taking Alfie with me or even retrieving Lavinia from my sister-in-law and niece for the distraction, but decided against it. Lane was easy to wake from a nap and I was glad he would be accompanying me back to the restaurant. 

 

Kait inhales deeply, blowing a ring of smoke above her after a moment as she balances a cigarette between her fingers. She sits on the outdoor stairs leading up into the restaurant for her girlfriend, feeling a hand on her shoulder after a moment.

 

“Mind if I bum one?” Bernie lowers herself next to the other woman, smiling softly when a pack of cigarettes is held out to her. She takes a fag, but reaches into her pocket for her own antique lighter before Kait is able to offer her own. “Appreciate it.”

 

“I don’t think she’s coming back.” Kait breathily laughs to herself, her leg bouncing against the concrete stairs, “not that I blame her. The vibe here isn’t really the best.” She pauses, giving a quick glance to the woman next to her, “no offense.”

 

“None taken.” Bernie shakes her head, studying the unlit cigarette as she holds it in front of herself, “she might surprise you.”

 

“Might.” Kait reaches into her pocket, retrieving her antique lighter. A gift given to her by her old superior officer upon his retirement and her promotion within the department. She flicks the large, metal device to live, offering it to the woman. Kait watches as Bernie leans in, lighting the cigarette hanging from her lips.

 

Bernie leans back on the stairs a little, “It’s been...quite a while since I’ve had one of these.” She bites her lip, “started back up after Marcus and I decided to separate. Which...was an eternity ago.” She swallows, “he tried to get me to quit and would ruin each pack on me. Then I was shipped off and I had taken a pack with me with one fag left inside. Promised myself I’d...that I wouldn’t have it unless it was absolutely necessary.”

 

“You’re a bigger person than myself.” Kait smiles to herself, “how did it work out for you?”

 

“Ended up giving it away to...to someone who needed it much more than I did,” Bernie replies softly, “Marcus and I were trying to work things out.”

 

“Well, though it may seem harsh now, I’m glad you weren’t able to.” Kait glances over to the other woman, “I couldn’t imagine you without your missus. It’s like you complete one another.” She flicks her ashes onto the ground before taking another drag, “though my only direct interaction with him has been while he was poorly...and before that, through Charlie’s words in her books.” Kait licks her lips absently, “I just hope she doesn’t take a hit.”

 

“We’ll keep an eye. Her and Cam...we’ll keep an eye on both of them.” Bernie mumbles a little as she takes a long drag of her cigarette, knowing her wife wouldn’t appreciate her partaking in the habit again. Bernie moves down a few stairs, shoving half of the remaining cigarette into the cigarette disposal tube not far from the stairs. “Maybe give her a ring...or even one to Laney.”

 

“I’ll give her a bit more time...maybe get a drink.” Kait shrugs, offering her girlfriend’s mother a quick smile as she passes, venturing back inside. This funeral was like all the others she’s been to, people pretending to care about the deceased person without taking the time to visit or contact in the months they’ve been sick. Fake people giving fake condolences, something she’s seen time and time again. Some things would never change.

Chapter Text

Charlotte allows the driver to open her door for her as she and Lane pull up in front of the restaurant. The car park is filled with expensive vehicles and sports cars. She hates everything about this. As her son uses his cane to go ahead of her inside the building without a word, having been told there was a table saved for their family. She takes a moment, just standing in front of the stairs, glad to find her girlfriend there. “You should be inside. There’s an open bar.”

 

“Pointless without you.” Kait shakes her head, “chained three fags instead.” She stands from the step, walking over to her girlfriend, and wraps her arms around her waist as she faces her. “You okay?”

 

Humming with a nod, Charlotte leans in, capturing Kait’s lips before separating to look into her eyes. “Church was already too crowded and this is just going to be even worse.” She shrugs, “so...I figure, if I get too sloshed to care, that would be my best bet.”

 

“I...” Kait sighs softly, able to taste the whiskey on her partner’s lips, “I don’t think that’s the best course of action.”

 

“Why not?”

 

“Because most arseholes like that are just going to tell stories of you for years to come...and, with your writing career, I’m betting someone knows someone else and could make a single phone call to pull the rug out from under you.” Kait kisses the corner of Char’s mouth, “so, have a few, but...don’t get pissed.”

 

“Yes, Ma’am.” Char smirks, having already consumed a couple of glasses at home while retrieving Lane. She holds Kait’s hand as she makes her way back up to the restaurant, feeling like all eyes are on her from the moment she steps through the door, and quite a few were. Charlotte offers everyone a cordial nod before being guided by Kait to the table in the corner of the room where the rest of her family is sitting, “of course this was Dad’s favorite place.”

 

Cameron takes a sip of his rum and coke, loudly setting it back onto the table, “where the hell have you been?”

 

Char tilts her head to the side, raising an eyebrow, “I had shit to do.” She lets Kait help her remove her jacket as she pulls a chair out for her.

 

He continues to scowl, taking a bite of his watermelon and feta salad in front of him. “You’re nearly an hour late. People have been asking for you.”

 

“Notice how no one asks for you.” Charlotte responds instinctively, “and with the way you’re guzzling that drink, I’m betting the only thing they’ll be asking of you is for you to leave.”

 

“That’s enough.” Bernie warns, glancing between the siblings, “this is neither the place nor the time.” She keeps her voice hushed so that only the table can hear her. “Act like civilized adults instead of teenagers, please. Think about where you are.”

 

“I was perfectly civilized the entire time.” Charlotte responds sweetly, smiling when a waiter brings over a plate of salad for her and Kait, Lane already eating his as if he had been sitting at the table from the very beginning. “This looks fantastic. Thank you so much.” She offers the nervous young man a smile before he walks away.

 

“Nothing about you is civilized.” Cam mutters, then feels a swat to the back of his head, “ow.”

 

“Shut up.” Morven glares at her husband, then sighs as she looks around the table, “Lane, you’re a connoisseur of the culinary arts, what do you think of this salad?”

 

“Um...I would have made a balsamic vinaigrette to go with it instead of a poppy seed one.” Lane answers simply, “poppy seed with the watermelon is just...a tad too sweet, offset by the feta slightly, but...it needs a bit more.” He offers glances to his Nan, “do you like it?”

 

“I think your assessment is spot on.” Serena winks to him, glad he is sitting between she and Bernie. To her other side sits Sian, “you need to eat.”

 

“Oh, Rena. I’m perfectly fine.” Sian shakes her head, “always such a worry wort. Probably why you’ve as many wrinkles as you do.”

 

“Don’t put other people down just because you’re in mourning. It isn’t becoming or impressive.” Charlotte looks toward the slim, short statured blonde, “I’ve been there, done that, bought the t-shirt.”

 

“Maybe I should do what you did then and find myself a beautiful woman instead of dealing with men who die prematurely.” Sian takes another sip of her drink, she almost instantly regrets her words, but isn’t able to take them back now.

 

“She says, knowing her husband put up a valiant effort against cancer and lost. A husband whose funeral we attended just hours ago. A husband whose children and grandchildren are sitting at the very same table and are listening to your bullshit.” Char watches the woman still, “but, you go ahead, because none of us welcomed you with open arms and saw to it that you were cared for during this and even before...right?”

 

Bernie leans back in her chair, quickly raising her hand for the waiter. “I’m getting a drink. Serena, would you like a glass of shiraz?” She’s glad the young man immediately walks over to them, ordering for she and Serena both.

 

“None of this is needed.” Serena sighs, glancing between Charlotte and Sian.

 

“I’m just really tired of the bullshit, Maman.” Char shoves a bite of watermelon and fetta into her mouth, giving herself a moment to chew before speaking again. “Cameron wants to run his mouth about shit he doesn’t know, Sian wants to blatantly disrespect my father by getting so drunk that she thinks she can say whatever she wants...and then plans to blame it on that alcohol as if it’s a ‘get out of jail free’ card. It doesn’t work like that.”

 

“Mum, it’s alright.” Cole watches her, “do you want to look at the collages Grandad put together? He um...there’s some from when you and Uncle Cam were small with Gran. You look just like Vinnie.” He doesn’t like tension, never has. It doesn’t do his anxiety any favors and he’s trying desperately to resist the urge to run out and pace in the car park. “In fact, maybe you both should have a look...or even the ones from Auntie Sian and Grandad’s wedding. There’s one of you and Uncle Cam dancing together...and one of you and Grandad dancing and...and they look really nice.” His eyes dampen, but he does his best to suppress his emotions, “everyone looks happy.”

 

Bernie reaches across the back of Cole’s chair with her arm, giving him a gentle squeeze. She pulls him to her after a moment, able to feel him trembling slightly beneath her fingertips, and kisses his temple. “It will be fine. Funerals are stressful...hell, grief is stressful.”

 

“I know.” Cole whispers in return, stabbing at his salad again and shoving some in his mouth just to occupy himself.

 

Charlotte sits up a bit, glancing around and noticing the whispers and stares from the people at the other tables. She wipes her hands off on her napkin, setting it aside her dish as she starts to stand. She feels Kait quickly grab her wrist and give her a look of questioning, “doing something I should have done ages ago.”

 

“Oh no.” Serena mumbles to herself.

 

“Hello, everyone. I apologize for ruining your meals. However, I just want to thank everyone for coming today. This was my father’s favorite restaurant and has been even before I was born.” Charlotte discretely twists her arm out of Kait’s grasp, walking around the room a little, “and the dishes you’re eating were among his favorites as well.”

 

I couldn’t help myself. This was a terrible idea no matter how one looked at it. My children were embarrassed, as were my parents and brother. Their eyes staring at me from our reserved table, pleading for me to just sit down. Really, I was about to make more enemies than I had friends.

 

“As you all heard, he and I had our ups and downs, but in the end...he entrusted me with his final words. Which...were meant for me, none of you need to know that. I do, however, want to take the time to talk about your, the collective ‘your’ and not...any one person, but I know they can figure out who I’m speaking about. I want to take the time to talk about your actions in church today. A service my father planned...far, far in advance. He was always a planner. Just couldn’t help himself, really.” Char smiles to herself, “even these pictures around here today, he made before he started getting really poorly. However, as he was making them, he was disappointed with the lack of photographs of my brother and I, and of he and my mother....of us all together. We just...didn’t have many. We were busy living life instead of capturing it.”

 

Cameron glares toward his sister, knowing he’ll need to explain her behavior later on to these friends of his father’s that he actually still conversed with.

 

“I’m getting a tad sidetracked. I apologize.” Char speaks a little with her hands, “the behavior I saw as we entered the church behind the corpse of my father...I could hear your whispers of ‘faggots’ and ‘whores’, I heard them all. I know exactly who said them as well, but...let’s not point those people out.” She shakes her head slowly, “because if I pointed them out, I’d have to point out Jerry who hit on me when I was fourteen, or Richard who groped me when I was fifteen. You’re all disgusting no matter how you swing it.” Charlotte motions to the mentioned men and their stuck up wives with gaping mouths next to them, “none of you once visited my father when he took ill. Not a single one of you. I don’t want to hear that you didn’t know...because I remember a conversation between Sian and my father about it. She had told some of you what room he was in...the same room he was in for over a month. The same room he expired in.”

 

“Charlie.” Kait attempts to wrangle her girlfriend in, whispering from her seat.

 

“None of you visited him and yet you have the audacity to be here and eat the food that he loved with the family that he adored. None of you truly cared about him. No one sent a card for him to get well or of condolences when he died. No one sent a fruit basket or floral arrangement. Nothing.” Charlotte glances around the room, her eyes filled with hurt and storming anger, “and I know why. If he’s poorly, he can’t keep up appearances. He isn’t doing you any favors.” She swallows, “my father and I...in the end, we came together. We all took care of him. Even his ex-wife and her current wife. My parents ended up being great friends after my son was born.” She starts to walk over to the bar, “we all took care of him because that’s what family does. Our weird, mis-mash of a family. We don’t just throw our sick and infirm into an institution because they can’t increase our social standings. So, once you finish your meals, or even before because I couldn’t possibly care any less, do us all a favor and kindly fuck off.” Charlotte turns her back to the crowd, ordering herself a scotch.

 

Bernie starts to smirk proudly, “that’s my girl.”

 

Some of the people were disgusted by my rant-filled speech and left their dishes in that instant, some stayed through the rest of the food. Really, I had never seen people eat so quickly. By the end, it was just my family, sitting at a table, drinking and looking at one another. I had another glass of scotch in me, added from what I had consumed at home, and was working on my third or fourth. We weren’t completely intoxicated, but it was good that we had cars to take us all home.

 

“I’ve never seen anyone clear a room as quickly as you have today.” Sian takes a sip of her martini, having alternated between that and a cosmo throughout the day. 

 

“I grew up around fake people my entire life and the only reason I tolerated them was because of my father. Now that he’s gone, I don’t have the patience for them any longer.” Charlotte shakes her head, “in all the years I’ve known you, Sian, I know you have expensive tastes, but I had never taken you to-”

 

“I’m impressed.” Sian shrugs, “that’s all. I’m just impressed by you.”

 

“Did Richard really grope you at fifteen?” Cameron raises a questioning eyebrow, his words aren’t quite slurred, but he would probably start with another drink. “That’s Gwen’s age.”

 

“I said what I said, Cam.” Char takes a sip of her scotch, looking at one of the photo collages around the room that was closest to the table where they were all sitting.

 

He swallows, getting up from his seat. “I’m...I’m sorry.” Cameron slowly moves over to his sister, looking at the pictures she was also viewing. “Do you...do you, uh, remember the boat that Dad bought? He thought we would do some deep sea fishing or just...sailing or whatever, but he realized we didn’t like it-”

 

“No, he realized he didn’t have his sea legs.” Bernie shakes her head, watching her children, “he would get violently ill while out to sea and used the pair of you as an excuse.” She takes a sip of her wine, “Char was three and you were seven. He sold it just before I shipped out.”

 

“I loved that boat.” Cameron stands up a bit straighter as he looks at his mother.

 

“I know.”

 

Sian starts to laugh at the interaction, finishing the rest of her martini before setting it onto the table. Her body tenses up as her eyes begin to fill with tears, “I truly am going to miss him. He...he was the love of my life...and I didn’t get to spend nearly enough time in the role of his wife.” She swallows, quickly bringing a hand to her face to wipe away her tears. It’s the first time she’s actually said those words. Though she spent a few nights crying and gabbing with her dearest friend, she never actually said what was really on her mind and weighing on her heart. “I don’t want you to think that I didn’t...or that I’m unappreciative of the time he and I had together because it’s far from the truth.”

 

Serena pulls the woman close in an embrace, glad she was sitting next to her. “No one thinks otherwise. We all show grief in different ways.” 

 

“When Dad’s mother died, I played music very loudly in my room and slid down the halls in my stocking feet.” Charlotte offers with a smirk at the corner of her mouth, “I was happy about that one, so I guess it isn’t really one to compare anything to.”

 

“I went to Grandmother’s funeral...it was quite reminiscent of Dad’s, but without as many people.” Cameron sighs softly, “Dad cried a lot.”

 

“He was always the sentimental sort.” Bernie nods, remembering how the man cried when the children were born and she didn’t. One of the many instances of that occurring.

 

“He’d always comment on each of my videos.” Cole runs a hand through his own hair, “like...all of them. Even ones I’m sure he didn’t want to actually watch...like the gameplay ones.”

 

“Your streams too.” Lane nods a little, “he talked about the Halloween one with Vin before.”

 

Cole laughs a little to himself, “I forgot about that.” He folds his arms and leans against the table in front of him, “he made an account just so he could comment as the stream was happening.”

 

“He was incredibly proud of your achievements.” Sian adjusts her position, still lounging against Serena, “saved every article you were mentioned in and every interview you gave.”

 

“What a sappy bastard.” Charlotte mumbles, taking a seat on her girlfriend’s lap, glad when the woman instinctively wraps an arm around her waist.

 

“Well, let’s have a toast then.” Kait raises her glass of beer with her free hand, “to Marcus Dunn, grandfather, father, husband...a man who grew from his mistakes, remedied them, and turned out to be a great human being in the end.” She nods, “may he rest in peace.”