damncompass: Arms crossed (Don't like your shit)
It wasn’t something that Joshua dreamed about much, but suddenly being in the apartment his parents had before Claudia arrived wasn’t too far off the map.

Smelling a very familiar scent, Joshua wandered into the kitchen to find his father at the table smoking a joint.

“You sure you don’t want one? I have extra.”

Joshua rolled his eyes and walked over to the table. “If it was something other than a dream joint, then perhaps I would, but it would probably just frustrate me more.” He paused. “Hi Dad.”

“Hey, you.” Before Joshua could sit down, Peter got up and pulled him into a hug. “I’m sorry I fucked up.”

Joshua hugged his father back, clinging a bit. “I should have been there. It was my own damn procrastination that kept me in Lincoln that weekend. I should have been there, and then I could have helped, or reminded you, or something.”

Peter sighed. “Oh, stop blaming yourself, you dumbshit. We were on a date, and you stopped wanting to tag along on those when you were five. And it’s not like either of us had a phone handy - and even if we did, I wouldn’t have thought being tired was worth bugging you. If you’d been there, I might have plowed the damn car into a tree anyway. It’s not your fucking fault. This one’s all on me.”

“Yeah, well. I...” He shook his head, and plunked down on one of the chairs. “I still feel like I should have been there, should have done something to help.”

“And that is because you never did deal with anything unless you were high.” Peter rolled his eyes. “Get on that, kid, seriously. Besides, you did what you needed to. You took care of Claud. Couldn’t ask for more than that.”

“Yeah, well. You tell me how to get some fucking pot in buttfuck South Dakota. I remember you had it bad in Sioux Falls sometimes.” Joshua sighed. “And, I did to a point. And then I fucked up again and left her.”

“You didn’t fuck up, you had an accident. There’s a difference.” Peter pulled the ashtray closer and stubbed out his joint. “As for the pot, let your girlfriend do the driving, keep an eye on the landscape until you spot some, buy some seeds from the owner and grow your own. Problem solved. You have a fucking satellite interference machine, don’t you? Not to mention there’s enough badges around that damn place to deal with anyone who came prying.”

“Damnit, Dad, why do you have to be so logical when it comes to pot?” He leaned back in his chair. “Maybe I will. Besides, I could always say that it’s just a plant-based Artifact that I’m fucking around with. Honestly, the only person who’d care would be Artie, and he can shove it.” He pauses. “And… I knew what I was getting myself into. It wasn’t just an accident. I knew I might be leaving Claudia behind, and I didn’t care.”

“Yes, you did. You wouldn’t be beating yourself up over it fifteen years later if you didn’t care.”

“That’s not the point, Dad. I care now, I cared before. I just… in that moment, I didn’t.”

“The Donovans, way too fucking hard on ourselves since 1954.” Peter rolled his eyes. “You cared even then, and I bet some part of you knew Claud would be fine. She’s resilient. So are you. And it all worked out in the end. Get yourself stoned and let it the fuck go, kid.”

“You do realize, Dad, that most parents would be telling me the exact opposite.” He shook his head, laughing a bit to himself. “Donovans, doing what people least expect since… who the fuck knows when.”

“And since when were Claire and I most parents? You won’t relax enough to get anything really useful done if you don’t. Let go of all the baggage that’s weighing you down and trust your instincts. You got this.”

“If it was anyone other than you, Dad, I think I’d tell them off for shit advice.” Joshua shook his head. “It’s just with you and Mom somehow it all worked out. How the hell’d you pull that off?”

“Hard work and dumb luck. Me knowing how to balance a budget and her being smarter than me. You guys completely outclassed me.” Peter smiled. “I’m proud of you, though. You and Claud. You both turned out great.”

“You’re pretty damn smart yourself, Dad. Don’t try to say you aren’t. You kept up with Mom and Claudia and I pretty damn well.” Joshua shrugged. “Besides, finance isn’t easy.”

“Never said I wasn’t, but you guys had me beat by miles. I’m just glad you and Claud found a good use for your talents. You two are good for that place, and it’s good for you.”

“Well, I know it’s good for Claud, at any rate.” Joshua shrugged. “I’m still not completely certain that I won’t fuck it up, though.”

Peter raised his eyebrows. “As I recall, the debate team problems came from the people who gave a shit not having the time and the people who had the time not giving a shit, and you still took that clusterfuck and won nationals. You’re a leader, Joshua, whether you like it or not. And you’re not going to fuck it up any more than Claud will.”

He made a grumpy face, shaking his head. “Damn it, Dad, why can’t you be as illogical as people think you are? It’s awkward sometimes.”

“Because I don’t believe in lying to my kids. You’d figure it out sooner or later. Your heart’s already there, we just need to get your head in the game. That’ll come with time, though.”

“We’ll see.” Joshua paused, and poked at the joint in the ash tray. “I miss you, Dad. I don’t think I realized how much until lately.”

Peter sighed. “I miss you too, kid.” He reached across the table and ruffled Joshua’s hair. “But we’re still with you, and you damn well know it.”

“Heeeeeeeey.” Joshua made a face and fussed with his hair. “You know how terrible my hair gets when you do that.” He smiled, though, and took a deep breath. “I know you’re with me. Even more when I see Mom in Claudia.”

“And you’re too much like me for your own good.” Peter smiled. “But you’ll be fine. Trust yourself, Joshua. You got this.”

“Thanks, Dad.”
damncompass: concerned face (Not sure about this)
Falling asleep after his poker with Helena and Moist, Joshua didn't think much of anything would happen.

Suddenly, he was no longer in Millways, but in a dimly-lit (to his eyes, at any rate) room, awkwardly staring at papers scattered on a desk. The handwriting was familiar somehow, the ink splatters and prose reminding him of something he just couldn't place. As he reached out to pick up one of the papers and actually read it, a voice came from behind him.

"You know she doesn't like people reading what she's writing until she's done." Joshua turned, startled, only to find an eight-year-old girl looking up at him, a very familiar smirk on her face. "Mummy even hated it when I read what she'd written."

He just stared at the little girl for a moment. "You know, I think I'd recognize you anywhere. You are adorable."

"Thank you, Joshua." Christina ran over and attached to his legs. "Mummy really likes you. I don't think she's ever liked anyone as much as she likes you."

"Well, that's good to know, Christina." He sighed, walking as much as he could with an eight-year-old attached to his legs, and sat down on Helena's bed.

Christina sat down on the bed as well, swinging her legs off the side. “Well, you’re taking care of her. As much as anyone can, really. She needs that. It’ll help her heal - she spent too long not doing that.”

Joshua leaned back against the headboard. “Yeah, I’ve kinda figured that one out. Spending time out of time sounds like a good idea at the time, but it really isn’t.” He pauses. “Fu… uh, yeah, it’s never a good idea at any time.”

Christina laughed. “You do know how often Mummy says ‘bollocks,’ right? Uncle Charles was the only one who really cared.”

“Yeah, I know. I just… well, the last kid I was really around was Claudia, and Mom and Dad really didn’t give any shits.” He just looked at her for a moment. “Not that I mind meeting you, but why me and not your mother? I mean… no offense, but she’d probably get more out of seeing you.”

“Not now.” Christina sighed. “She isn’t ready. She can’t get me back until she lets me go. Now, it’d just be another disappointment, and it would probably hurt more than Egypt since I act like me.”

“Who else would you act like?” He looked at her oddly. “I mean… aren’t you just my perception of you now anyway?”

“No, silly, the trap in Egypt made something that looked like me but all it said was ‘Mummy.’ If Mummy had been thinking clearly she would have known I always said more than that. I don’t know about perceptions, but this is more accurate.”

“Oh. I… see.” In the way that he doesn’t really. “Well, uhm. Is this like Christmas Carol where I’m supposed to learn something from you?”

Christina laughed. “What you take away from it is up to you. I just wanted to meet you.”

“Oh, alright.” He glanced over to the desk which somehow had been cleared of its papers, replaced by a couple dolls and a deck of cards. “Well, I could play with you for a bit.”

Christina grinned, and they played for quite a while, chatting and laughing.

When Joshua finally woke up, he had a feeling that there was something that should have stood out to him, but he’d be damned if he could remember it. He turned, noticing Helena still sleeping soundly beside him, and kissed her on the temple. She stirred, but didn't wake up. Probably better that way.

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Joshua Donovan

July 2014

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