December 5, 1998

"- Father of mine, tell me what do you see, when you look back at your wasted life, and you don't see me-"

The small radio/CD player was abruptly snapped off with a forceful click.

"I'm not sure if I hate or love that song."

Eric looked up from his paper to give Tate a crooked smile. "I know what you mean. 'Both' works."

"Yeah." Tate settled down at the small kitchen table, taking in the room with unconcealed interest. Eric shrugged it off easily, after all, there was nothing unusual here. Just the average place for food preparation and casual dining, showing the signs of a couple that enjoyed cooking. A grin tried to creep across the human's face. Lord knew 'Riah certainly enjoyed the hobby, even if half her attempts were flat out disasters. It was probably a product of being on the run for so long: home cooked meals meant it was safe, for the moment at least. Old habits die hard. Especially the bad ones.

"So, uh, where's Mom?"

The casual question sent a pang through Eric. Tate said the words so easily. Mom. Dad. Would he ever be able to hear those words from his son's mouth without the serious warm fuzzy attacks? God, I hope not!! "She's out shopping. And never, ever let anyone try to fool you into thinking that's only a human female trait. By her example, God help us when gargoyles are accepted enough to go to malls."

Male bonding. With his son. His son. Almost a year now, and he still had problems wrapping his mind around the concept.

Tate snickered. "I'm just grateful Jay has to be forced to go. Even if she does powershop once she's inside, at least it takes a bit to get her there."

"By the way, how's she doing?"

"Eh." Tate shrugged, a forced look of disinterest crossing his face. "Good, I guess. I call her every now and then, but she's so busy...." Disappointment and loss snuck past the pretend indifference. "I miss her," he admitted softly. "I don't think she's intentionally avoiding me, but I can't talk to her enough...."

"Believe me, I understand. When Karen started working, I felt the exact same way."

Tate blinked and tilted his head to the side. "Karen? Karen who?"

Oh shit. "My, uh, first wife." Eric took a quick drink of his coffee, trying not to see Tate's jaw dropping amazement.

"First wife?" he echoed. "Does Mom know?"

Eric was caught between a startled laugh and the pang of loss he always associated with his first love. "Yes, she does. Besides, Karen's been dead for quite awhile now." Sixty-one years, his mind whispered, sixty-one years and four months. He shook off the melancholy easily enough, thanks to too much practice.

"Can I pry?" Tate asked tentatively. "I mean, if it's too sensitive or stuff...."

"Ask away," he said. "I'm still amazed how little we've actually talked about this sort of thing."

Tate's grin was rather bitter as he shot a glance at the radio. "You mean the past?"


"So? Who was she? What was she, for that matter? I know absolutely nothing 'cept what Mom's told me, and that was mostly what happened when you two met. What about before?"

What, indeed. Eric carefully placed his cup down, and considered the question. Where to begin? "I suppose the beginning is the best place. I was born in 1914-"

"What?!" Tate squawked, "that's impossible! You are not 84!"

He couldn't hold back a weak laugh at that. "Tate, how old are you?"


"Exactly, although with time in the egg that's forty-seven. That means I was at least fifteen when you were laid, so I'm minimum of sixty-two. However, I was twenty-seven when I met Mariah."

"But...but....You don't look it!" the rather traumatized looking gargoyle protested.

"Thank you," Eric chuckled. "It has something to do with how 'Riah can change to a human- at least, that's what we suspect. It gets rather complicated. Either way, it's not that important. My parents were average, middle class, unimportant people. They did tried to raise us well, I'll give them that."


"A younger brother and older sister. Andrew died in the Second World War, Rachel... old age got to her. Anyway. My parents... were truly not spectacular in any way. Father's one contribution to humanity as a whole was that he went to the trenches in the Great War, as they called it. He died there. Mother didn't know how to support us, so we had to fend for ourselves from an early age. I didn't manage much, aside from trying everything once. I ended up doing all sorts of things, here and there for awhile, mostly menial jobs. Factories, warehouses, theaters.... I did most anything and everything from making fireworks to mining. I finally settled into a small position as clerk in a soda fountain shop. When the Depression rolled around...." He couldn't hide a shudder. "Things got bad," he simplified. "In '34 it got... well, a hell of a lot better, actually. I met a girl."


"Yes. She was beautiful, though mind I am biased. Long, flame red hair, green eyes that could piece or melt you, and a figure -" Suddenly remembering his listener was his son by another woman, Eric broke off with a cough. "Uh, I'll tell you when you're older."

Tate laughed. "Come on, I'm of age, no matter how you consider it."

"Yes, but Mariah can still beat the stuffing out of me. Another time, then."

"All right," the gargoyle chuckled. "So what happened with you and Karen?"

"The usual thing. Met, fell hopelessly in love, nearly got killed by her first generation immigrant father who hated the fact that I was Catholic. They were Irish Protestant. Anyway. We married against his wishes, and had a very happy year together." Happy? More like euphoric. It had been all so perfect.... He shook off the thought. "She died in a car crash, lost control one night when going around a curve. They couldn't even identify the body, just the car. I truly thought my world had ended. Since the army had been poking around not too long before, I joined up and got shipped off to Germany as a spy, of all things." He shrugged, forcing casualness into his posture. "I think you know the rest."

Tate shook his head. "Sorry to disappoint you, Dad, but all I know is you met Mom by getting beat up by Nazis in the sandpit. Which, no offense, sounds like it belongs in a comic book instead of real life."

Another shrug while he mentally shied away from the memories that brought up. "You'll have to ask your mother about that. I'll just say that... life was not good in Germany, for much of anyone, at that time. My last post before deserting to come back here was a concentration camp."

Tate winced, somehow managing an understated, "That musta been pretty rough."

"Yes. But calamities aside, leaving the country was probably the best decision at the time. Kept me alive to meet 'Riah."

"That's rather bleak."

Eric shrugged, managing a mangled smile. "I don't think I left you with a much better life situation."

His son was already shaking his head. "I had clan."

"True. True."

After a lengthy pause, Tate reached over to place a hand on his shoulder. "I'm sorry."

"For what?"

"Bringing up the memories."

It was his turn to shake his head. "I need reminding, every now and again. I don't mind. Besides, you deserve to know where you come from."

The smile he got warmed him to his toes. "And where my dad came from, don't forget."

"I doubt I could."

The silence was now comfortable, but Eric still reached over and started up the CD waiting in the stereo. Once again, Everclear floated through the room.

"Father of mine/tell me where have you been
you know I just closed my eyes/my whole world disappeared
father of mine/take me back to the day
when I was still your golden boy/back before you went away

I remember blue skies/walking the block
I loved it when you held me high/I loved to hear you talk
you would take me to the movies/you would take me to the beach
you would take me to the place inside/that is so hard to reach

father of mine/tell me where did you go
you had the world inside your hands/but you did not seem to know
father of mine/tell me what did you see
when you look back on your wasted life/and you don't see me

I was ten years old/doing all that I could
it wasn't easy for me/to be a scared white boy in a black neighborhood
sometimes you would send me a birthday card with a five dollar bill
I never understood you then/and I guess I never will

daddy gave me a name/my dad he gave me a name
then he walked away/daddy gave me a name
then he walked away/my dad he gave me a name

father of mine/tell me where have you been
I just closed my eyes/and the whole world disappeared
father of mine/tell me how do you sleep
with the children you abandoned/and the wife I saw you beat

I will never be safe/I will never be sane
I will always be weird inside/I will always be lame
now I'm a grown man/with a child of my own
and I swear that I'm not going to let her know/all the pain I have known
then he walked away/daddy gave me a name
then he walked away/my dad he gave me a name
then he walked away/daddy gave me a name
then he walked away/my dad he gave me a name

Then he walked away

Countless thanks to Datafage for his continued efforts at proofreading, and M.C. for her friendship and advice.

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DISCLAIMERS: All characters belong to me. You can't use them without my permission. But if you ask, you're most like to get it. But you still have to ask. The gargoyle race in general, along with a bit of gargoyle lore are owned by Buena Vista and therefore the Great Mouse, used with great reverence, respect, and without permission. This isn't intended as copyright infringement. Music was "Father of Mine" provided without permission by Everclear. Also not intended as copyright infringement.