The things we do to the ones we love…
additional note: an evening in 1846…
He stood in
front of his father, head held high, eyes ablaze. His hands shook where he held
them down, but it cost him his last reserve not to move.
he do that to him? How dared he?
was still fresh in his mind, and he tried not to look at his father as he stood
in front of him, turned towards the window, breathing deeply. Every glance at
the man who had raised him brought up new waves of hurt, and all he wanted to
do was run and cry it out loud, but he stood his ground, his eyes flashing
black with anger and daring his father to repeat what he had just said.
Ben Cartwright didn't need to confirm his decision. Every word he had spoken
was still fresh in the mind of his son, and every word still as painful as if
he had just spoken.
shivered. His body trembled with suppressed rage, but he stood rooted to the
spot, and despite the pain it brought him watched his father at the window as
he deliberately kept his back at him.
will do as you are told."
burned hot with tears that didn't fall. He clenched his hands and willed his
voice to be calm. He almost managed it.
he choked, but the last note quivered, and he bit his cheeks.
around in surprise, but then Adam was gone; and the door was left open behind
It was dark
when Adam finally went home. He had tried to exhaust his anger in running, but
even though his body was tired, his mind still heard the harsh words, his
memory still saw the face of his father in front of him as he told him of his
second he stood with his hand on the doorknob, eyes shut tight. Then he
straightened up and, willing his face into a mask of inscrutability, opened the
Cartwright looked up from where he sat at the fireplace. Through the darkness
of the living room he saw Adam approach, quiet and silent, moving like a
He got up
and rubbed a hand over his face, then took one step towards his son. Adam
looked pale, even in the candlelight. He took another step, until he saw him
stop in his tracks and glance at him.
he said huskily.
turned his head towards him, but his face showed no reaction.
he acknowledged his father, but neither did he say something else, nor did he
he held out his hand to touch Adam's arm, but very subtly Adam drew back, out
of reach, and Ben's heart skipped a beat. He tried to see his son's eyes, but
his face was in the shadows, impossible to read.
He let his
hand fall to his side.
listen to me for a moment." He heard the yearning in his voice and
swallowed again. Adam must have heard it, too, because he moved his head – very
sorry, Adam. I didn’t think it would be a problem. I…"
doesn't matter". His voice was very soft and carefully void of any
emotion. Ben glanced up sharply. Adam's voice this afternoon when he had been
told had shaken with hardly disguised anger.
always the same", he had said heatedly at one point, and Ben, even through
his own temper, had heard that Adam was rapidly loosing control over his
feelings. He had turned away then, to give Adam a minute to calm himself, but
it had helped little.
the time you tell me one thing, just to change your mind at the last minute.
And by then it's always too late for me to do anything about it." Adam had
glared at him. "How often did I
have to give up my own plans when you decided to change yours? How often?"
temper flared. "Have you forgotten what I've done for you? All my
life?" He turned angry eyes at his son, only to look up in surprise when
Adam muttered a soft "…of course…" to himself. All of a sudden he
Then he had
left, and Ben had stared at the empty living room and wondered about what had
this business is important for me…, for you, for this family. You know that.
Please try to understand."
eyes in the dim light were dark and unfathomable. Ben felt a shiver running
down his back as he looked at him.
Ben was confused.
Adam sigh softly.
isn't about an appointment I miss, or a meeting I can't attend." Adam
looked at a spot somewhere behind him as he spoke, but he didn't meet his eyes.
"It's about all the meetings that I missed, all the
appointments I couldn't make because you changed your mind at the very last
minute and …" Adam turned his head to his father, but he still wouldn’t look
don't mind the missed meetings", he said quietly, "but can't you just
tell me the truth right from the beginning?"
Ben felt as
if someone had just slapped him. His mind screamed that he had never lied to Adam,
but his heart knew better, and his conscience suddenly remembered all the times
when he hadn't told Adam of a job, or change of schedule, until the very last
moment, counting on his sense of obligation and decency to get it done –
because he wanted to anticipate a discussion he knew would ensue. And now he
knew that Adam had known, and hadn't said anything until today.
he searched Adam's eyes, but his son just looked back at him, as silent and
dispassionate as he had been since he opened the door.
Adam!" He rubbed his forehead in a vain effort to ease the growing
headache, trying to think of any words he could say. "I didn't think …I
didn't mean…" He suddenly looked up.
didn't mean to deceive you."
doesn't matter", Adam repeated lowly, with a voice so unemotionally calm
that Ben want to shake him. He had the uneasy feeling that his usually proud
and fiery son was slipping away from him, distancing himself further and
further, second for second.
was pleading as he spoke again.
He held out
his hand. "It won't happen again", he said softly. "I
Ben took a
step, then stopped. "Please", he said, but Adam didn't move.
touched his son's shoulder. "I'm sorry", he whispered huskily, and when
Adam finally lifted his head and looked back at him, he drew him in an embrace
Adam tight to himself, relieved that he had been forgiven. He smelled the
fragrance of the summer hay in the soft waves of his jet black hair, felt the
warm body in his arms…and then he realized that Adam didn't hug him back.
back and looked at Adam's impassive face, searching, hoping, but Adam just
disentangled himself from his father's arms and slightly bowed his head.
night, Pa", he said, and walked up the stairs, away from Ben, his back
straight as a ramrod.
He took a
deep breath. It would be a long time before his son would forget what he had
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