Chapter 220: An Adult
Usually Tim checks his email about five times a day, if not more. Due to rule number three, (never be unreachable) he's always got his phone nearby. But after talking to his mom, he's fairly sure she'll call again or send an email or something. And maybe get ahold of Sarah or Penny (Though he trusts that Penny will be a dead end for her. Ducky's certainly told her about what happened. The fact that she's in San Francisco this week is probably the only reason she hasn't been over to visit.) to try and reach him.
So, he turned it off, put it on the little table beside their front door, and went off the grid for three days. The people he wants to have contact with know where he is and how to get him if need be, and that's enough.
He wrote, a lot. Burying himself in jazz and the sound of his typewriter clicking away. Like with being trapped in the freezer he started as MacGregor, let himself have the distance he needed and worked it out plot point by plot point, organized it, gave it shape, treated it like character backstory.
And after a few hours of that, and a few confrontation scenes ranging from MacGregor killing all of them in an extremely messy and gory way to just yelling at them, he slid into his own voice and spent most of that day free writing, just letting it out.
He wasn't exactly feeling sexy that night, mostly just tired and wrung out, but they went to bed, and Abby wrapped him in her body, gently making love to him, reminding him, vividly, that he is adored, and that no matter how bad this hurts, and that she understands that it hurts, that there is still pleasure.
And it helped.
Nothing changed, but it made him feel good, let him not hurt for a little bit, so that was a step forward.
Saturday morning he opened his phone and began to go through the huge pile of email, texts, and calls.
Seven from his sister, so yeah, his mom must have called her.
Three from Penny.
But only one email from her.
The voicemails from Penny confirmed that yes, Ducky had told her what was going on, and yes, his mom and sister had called her, and that she'd more or less let loose on his mom double-barreled and had told his sister what was going on and that he'd give her a call when he could talk.
He flashed her a quick text. Thank you. Still feeling pretty quiet. Will call you soon.
A minute later he got one back. I know. Love you. He closed his eyes and sighed.
Then he read through the texts from his sister, mostly along the lines of: What the hell is going on? Mom's hysterical, you've dropped off the face of the planet, Ben's pissed because she's so upset, and Dad's currently unreachable. What happened? The last one read: Talked to Penny. I get it. Call me when you can.
He sent her one back that said: Not feeling very social right now. We'll have lunch soon, though.
He got back: With Penny, too?
Yeah. Probably a good idea.
His fingers hovered over the button for his mom's email for a good minute. He's not sure he wants to see what's in there. But the subject is Why with no question mark, so the only thing he wants to know might be in there.
Of course, knowing might rip the very fragile peace he's got right now to shreds. But not knowing means he can't focus on anything else. So he hits the button and it opens.
It's a picture of him and Abby. Sarah must have snapped it, though he doesn't remember that. It's the night they went to the Japanese restaurant, him all shaved and kilted, her in the cheongsam. He's holding the door open for her, and she's stepping into the restaurant.
It's a close enough shot that it's clear he's wearing makeup, but far enough back to see the kilt, too.
His mom attached it to a short message that said: The goal was for you to be strong enough to be a man who could do this. The summer you were fourteen, I didn't step in until it was clear that you wouldn't say no to him. Once it was, I ended it. When you said no to shooting practice, he stopped it. It was always about making you strong enough to stand up for yourself.
You needed to be able to stand up for your interests, for your loves, and say no to anyone who would push you around.
You had to be strong enough to say no to him.
And when you ripped up the Annapolis letter, you were.
His first response, a flare of hot, blinding rage, wasn't very useful. He felt it pulse through him as he read the email, and then tried to let it go.
Big, destructive, angry hissy fit wasn't good for anyone, and he's got people who are depending on him right now. He forgot that, got too lost in himself and the anger before, and lucked out because nothing bad happened on all the other fronts of his life, giving him the time he needed to heal up. But it would have been so easy for things to just go sideways.
He can't knock himself out of commission. Abby needs him, so he can't be healing up from anything.
And maybe he didn't do a great job of letting it go. But it was better than last time, so that's progress.
He headed for his computer and wrote a reply, a long reply, most of it angry ranting along the lines of how when a guy who has literally hundreds of other guys at his disposal who are all trained to follow orders and kill people, threatens you, voice cold and certain, with having those guys grab you, drag you onto a ship, cut your genitals off and rape you, you sure as hell don't say No to him. You do whatever the hell he wants you to do and you do it exactly the way he wants it done. There was maybe a two page long run about how what stopped the shooting practice was him being three seconds away from killing John and if that was their definition of "saying no" something was very seriously wrong with them. Five pages of see that woman next to me in that photo? Yeah. Think it's easy to be her? Think it takes strength to dress counter culture and act even further counter culture? You know why she could do it? Because she grew up with people who cherished and adored her.
He looked at it, fifteen pages in total, hit ctr-A and ctr-C, put it into a different document, for him to keep for himself, and then deleted it from the original email.
Then he wrote a shorter note.
It doesn't work that way. Never has, never will.
I can be that man because I'm surrounded by people who love and encourage me.
I was not that child. I was scared and nervous and timid because the people I loved most, trusted most, thought it was their mission in life to terrorize me.
I could have been that child, wanted to be him, curious, fearless, able to be who I wanted, but you and Dad made sure that didn't happen.
I don't care what you thought you were doing. I'm not interested in any justifications. Who I was should have been good enough, but it wasn't, and you and Dad decided I needed to be someone else.
Sarah or Penny will tell you when Kelly's born. They'll send pictures.
We'll talk again, eventually.
I'll call when I can.
I am extremely angry.
I still love you.
He looked at it and knew it was true. He loves his mom. And maybe it's habit, he's used to loving her, so he does. Maybe she doesn't deserve it. But no matter what it is, it's true.
But mostly, he realizes that a huge part of the pain of this is mourning for the fact that they will never get back to normal. The easy relationship, the trust they had is over.
He's lost the ability to hold her blameless, and she's lost the protection of his father being the only bad guy.
And he realizes something else is gone, too. That by holding her responsible for her actions, he's lost the last shred of his childhood.
Seeing things as they are and going from there, at its core, that's adulthood.