Another small interlude from liliaeth and me. Takes place some months after Dawn’s exit from the Hyperion. Gunn’s thoughts on fatherhood and recent events – and his place in the scheme of things.
Please, as always, read and comment! The muse is taking a slight breather in the calm before the storm.
Goddess bless willa_writes - ‘cause she deserves a little blessing.
To read Beloved from the beginning, go Here.
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Beloved – Interlude 12-13 – Sins of the Father
Gunn sat in his office. The door was locked; his desk covered with stacks of files, most of them untouched. He could hear his wife’s familiar voice as she yelled at the kids, telling them to hush – Daddy was working.
Daddy grimaced as he wadded up another piece of paper and tossed it through the hoop on the back of the door.
Swoosh! Another perfect game for Charles Gunn, Esquire. He fought back the urge to whistle yet another Gilbert and Sullivan aria from The Pirates of Penzance.
Yeah, he may not be a corporate pirate anymore, but he still did more than his fair share of finagling paperwork to better serve his clients. And the first piece… the worst and best lie he’d written up post his Wolfram & Hart days was… William Michael Jamison Pratt’s private adoption papers.
Shaking off his discomfort for the moment, he turned to more pleasant matters… he stared lovingly at the pictures on his desk. Their wedding picture to his left. His beautiful Anne, bedecked in white lace. She’d wanted a traditional wedding – said she was only gonna do it once, so it had to be done right. The guest list, however, was anything but.
Their reception christened the new shelter and the entire neighborhood had been invited. Bride and groom in gown and tux, and guests in blue jeans and t-shirts. It couldn’t have been more perfect. Never had fast-food tasted so good. He couldn’t help but smile as he caressed his bride’s framed image.
To his right were the images of their beautiful children. Alonna Kathleen – his sister’s namesake and their firstborn. Beautiful child. Her first school picture; all thick black hair, café-au-lait complexion, and pretty brown eyes. Benjamin Sisko – the son whose name Anne pretended ignorance of in its origin as the first leading captain in a Star Trek series to be portrayed by a black actor. Nappy haired, darker skin, and his father’s nose – with the prettiest shade of blue-gray eyes. The boy who’d completed their little family… until the surprise package that was their newest production arrived – little Carolyn Jane, just three weeks old. Skin as white as her mama’s, fair haired – hard to tell whom her features favored so early on in her young life, and bald as her Daddy liked to keep himself. Little Cue-ball.
Gunn sighed. He was one proud papa. Something he never thought he’d live to be when he was younger.
He picked up Will’s papers again. Seemed like he was drawn to them. Shit, man. How did one legally represent a Shanshued ex-vampire? Pick a mother, choose a father and voila! Lie upon lie. He’d live with it. It gave Spike a new start with blood kin in the truest sense of the word. Vampires certainly are who they ate.
For the third time today – Father’s Day – he found himself looking at those original documents and shook his head. He and Angel’d both agreed that the paperwork was a necessary evil to secure the boy’s place in the human world. They did not agree, however, to lie to family. And lying by omission was still lying. He and Anne had both put in their arguments about telling both Connor the truth, and were soundly refused.
“He already loves him like a brother,” Angel had insisted. “Why should he mess that up with the history of a vampire he’d only met once in passing?”
That night, Gunn had written the first letter he’d never sent.
This is so fucked up, man! You can’t keep one child in the dark about another. You got lucky when Connor forgave you for stealing his memories and placing him with another family. Hell, you got lucky that we all forgave you for that little mind rape.
Do you really think that you’ll get so lucky a second time?
He’d crumpled the paper into a tight ball and tossed it out, only to retrieve it moments later. For whatever reason, he straightened the letter out as best he could and placed it with the adoption papers.
A second letter was written when Dawn joined the fold and the lie was voiced for the very first time. He’d gone along with it at Angel’s behest for one reason only… he’d not known about the history between Dawn and Spike.
It wasn’t until several weeks later that Dawn regaled them all with Adventures in Babysitting starring the once chipped wonder, himself.
Gunn had mentioned in passing that he thought it was rather stupid of her sister, The Slayer, to leave her in the care of a bloodsucker, no matter the chip in his head, and was floored at the girl’s simple reply.
“She trusted him. And she was dead at the time.”
So there you had it. The world’s first vampire babysitter where the child wasn’t eaten as an hors d’oeuvre.
Not a role he would’ve envisioned the blond vampire in. Not in a million years. Then again, they hadn’t had much to do with each other, unless you counted those bathroom peek-a-boo sessions during Spike’s ghostly phase, or the nods in passing before the end. There just hadn’t been time.
From the depth of Dawn’s feelings, it might have been interesting to have known the dude better. Now it was just another lost opportunity.
The young woman’s leaving played havoc on Angel and his family. William was devastated. Weeks later he still cried for his Auntie Dawn in his sleep. When he wasn’t crying for Buffy. What wouldn’t Gunn have given to have seen the legend come to life – even for just those few moments.
And Connor. The guy was an innocent here, and still he’d lost his woman. She’d left without listening to his protestations. Angel damned them both with his falsehood.
“Ah, children,” he sighed, picking up the plaque Alonna had made for him. Father of the Year 2010, it stated. She’d coated it with silver glitter. Gunn smiled, remembering the days it had taken to vacuum the excess stuff off the floor. And wash it from her hair. And her clothes… and the bed sheets. He traced the two handprints in the corners, and the additional fingerprints in the center where Will had leant his helping hand.
That wiped the smile from Gunn’s face as once again he gravitated towards the adoption papers. There were several other letters in that file, all as crumpled as the first. Letters begging Angel to tell Dawn the truth. Yeah, he might have had a hand in the construct of the falsehood, but for family – for people like Dawn who’d known Spike intimately – the lie was unnecessary. She would have been overjoyed to learn the ultimate fate of her friend.
Only now it was too late. The revelation had been brought to light under the worst possible circumstances. When the feeling of loss and betrayal were doubled as Buffy literally passed through her sister’s fingers.
Gunn felt like a damned fool. For all the words in his head; the knowledge of presentation… why could he never confront Angel face-to-face? Neither Spike or Cordelia had had trouble getting up into his space and telling him off for the stupid acts he’d committed, so why couldn’t he, Gunn… the vamp’s closest friend, do the same?
This time when Gunn grabbed the letters, he ran them through the shredder. Nothing left of his cowardice but tiny diamond-shaped slivers of paper.
Determined to make things right, he picked up the phone. He needed to call Angel. To bridge the gap that had developed since the incident with Dawn and the birth of CJ. C’mon, man… just a couple more taps to the phonepad… just one more…
Tomorrow. He’d call Angel tomorrow.