Things My Father Taught Me
Feedback welcome on or offlist
Summary: Circumstances give Steve the chance to ponder his father's wisdom.
When my father first learned that Jesse and I were together - as in together - he hauled me off to his office and sat me down for a father-son chat. I grinned as I reminded him that we'd already had one of these when I was about ten but he just shushed me and told me this one was different, this one was far more important. It wasn't about the birds and the bees, it was about trust, and love, and commitment.
I watched as Jesse stopped at the desk to talk to a young, blonde nurse I vaguely recognized. I was here to pick him up for lunch and I frowned as I looked at my watch and realized that we were already late. If he didn't stop flirting and get a move on, we might as well just stay and eat in the hospital cafeteria. Not that that would bother me. Everyone knew and joked about my liking for hospital food, but I'd promised Jesse a special lunch date today. No hospital food and no Barbecue Bob's. We were going to La Traviata for his favorite spaghetti. I thought he'd been looking forward to it for days, yet now, there he stood, his eyes focused on the girl in front of him, his face serious as he listened to her closely.
She flicked a quick look over his shoulder at me, then bent forward and whispered something to him, a nervous smile crossing her face.
I watched as he shook his head, then turned and crossed the floor to me.
"Hey, you're early," he said, his smile lighting his eyes.
"You're not," I replied. "We're going to be late."
"Not that late," he said, shucking off his white coat and tossing it onto one of the chairs that dotted the foyer.
"You probably should put that in your locker," I observed. "Not a good idea to leave stuff like that lying around where anyone could pick it up and steal it."
"I'll just get Andi to hang onto it for me then," he said. "Don't want to waste time taking it to the locker room." He shot me a secret smile, one full of love, but I closed myself off from it as I watched him walk over and hand the coat to the blonde nurse. She wiggled her fingers at him in a farewell wave and I stomped down angrily on the wave of jealousy that flooded me, then stomped out of the door of the ER and into the carpark without waiting for Jesse to catch up.
I was at the truck before he did, his hand capturing my elbow, tugging me around.
"What the hell is wrong with you?" he asked.
"You need to ask?" I opened the door for him then went around and got into the driver's side.
He hauled himself up next to me, turning to face me, his hand reaching to stop me as I went to put the vehicle in gear. "Yeah, I do. What's the problem, Steve?"
"You were late," I said flatly, hating the way my voice condemned him but unable to stop the bitterness dripping from my words.
"No, I wasn't." He paused. "Okay, I was a couple of minutes late because I was talking to Andi but " His eyes were suddenly clear with comprehension. "You think that I that Andi " Suddenly he was laughing and I felt like slapping him.
"Knock it off," I growled. "It's not a joke, Jesse. I thought we had an agreement a " I stumbled over the word, then spat it out defiantly, " commitment not to see anyone else, male or female. Guess I was wrong."
"No." He shook his head. "You weren't wrong. When I committed to you, to our relationship, I meant it absolutely."
"Then why the hell were you flirting with her?"
"Flirting?" His voice rose an octave and I couldn't help noticing the way his cheeks flushed. "Steve, Andi's gay. She was worried about being outed. She'd heard rumors about you and me and wanted to know if I worried about it too-"
"Did you tell her?" I asked.
"That the rumors were true?" Jesse shook his head. "No, though I don't think I needed to with you standing there glowering at her like a Doberman about to pounce-"
"I don't glower," I interrupted. I gripped the steering wheel tightly then turned and faced him, my dad's words ringing in my ears. *Trust is all-important, Steve. It's what builds a relationship.*
"Yeah, you do," he said, leaning in to place a sweet kiss on my mouth. "I'm sorry I made you jealous I am kinda flattered by it though."
"So you should be," I murmured, turning my head to kiss the curve of his ear. "I'm sorry," I whispered. "I should have trusted you. Forgive me?"
He pulled himself out of my arms and tapped my hand with his. "Get me to La Traviata in the next fifteen minutes and I'll think about it," he replied.
"Only think about it?" I asked, moving the car out onto the roadway.
"Hey, if I don't forgive you now, it gives you the chance to make me forgive you tonight," he replied as his hand traced a soft caress over the front of my jeans.
It was as much as I could do not to put on the lights and sirens and head straight for home. I didn't though. I drove him to the restaurant, we had a great lunch and I took him back to work. That night, he told me he wasn't even close to forgiving me. He did though about 3AM the next morning.
I sat beside his bed for hours, waiting for him to wake up, praying he'd wake up. When he finally did, he looked at me as if he knew I'd be there. I guess he should have. I'd told him often enough. The whole where thou goest I will go routine. I whispered it into his ear every night since we'd become lovers. Not exactly in those words. I'm no poet, and no Biblical scholar but I was pretty sure I'd gotten the message across.
"Hey. How ya doing, sweetheart?" I leaned forward and pressed my lips to the hand I held in mine.
"I'm okay," he rasped, his voice husky from the tube they'd pulled from his throat only an hour or so before. "You okay?"
"I'm fine." Tears welled in my eyes and I scrubbed them away with hasty passes of my fingertips.
"Your dad?" he asked and I could see the fear in his eyes as he spoke.
""He'll be fine too," I told him. "You saved his life."
Jesse shook his head. "I was just in the right place at the right time," he said.
I lowered my head to his and rested it there against his brow, feeling the living warmth of him. "You took a bullet for my dad," I said, as my tears spilled over to drop onto his cheek.
"He'd have done the same for me," Jesse whispered.
"I know." I swallowed the emotion that threatened to choke me. "I don't know what I'd have done if I'd-"
His hand came up and closed my mouth. "You didn't lose me," he said softly. "You can't. Don't you know that yet?"
I lifted his hand away and kissed his mouth, hearing my father's words in my head - "Love is all that matters, Steve. It's the cement that holds you together."
I looked across at my partner, my lover, my best friend, and smiled broadly as we watched the people approaching us.
Jesse grinned back at me shakily. He gripped my hand tightly in his. "I'm so nervous," he said.
"Really? I couldn't tell," I said, leaning over to give him a quick peck on the cheek.
"It'll be fine, right?" he asked as the entourage halted in front of us.
"It'll be better than fine," I replied, "it'll be perfect."
I watched as the social worker handed our three year old daughter over to Jesse. "Congratulations," she said with a broad grin.
Emmy wrapped her arms around Jesse's neck and snuggled in. I reached out a hand and caressed her golden hair. "Hey, Emmy, wanna go home?" I asked.
We'd spent the last six months getting to know her, visiting her almost every day at the foster home, and she'd come to call us Daddy and Papa, but I was still worried that we were taking her away from people she knew and loved.
"Home," Emmy said. She sat up straight in Jesse's arms and patted his face lovingly. "Home, Daddy."
I put my arms around Jesse and Emmy and turned them towards the doors leading out to the parking lot, towards our new life together and remembered my dad's final words to me when he'd sat me down for that talk.
"Above all else you have to be sure you can make a commitment, Steve, to Jesse and to your future together. That's the real foundation, the one that will stand the test of time."
He was right and I did.