||Smashing Pumpkins, "Disarm"
After putting Thoreau Vanet's still body in the earth, after believing for four months that his son--his only son--was dead, gone, a stiff and decayed corpse in his family's cemetery plot--after night after night after sleepless night of guilt-plagued thoughts of apologies he never spoke out loud.. Adrian Vanet had convinced himself that he would never hear his name spoken by those lips ever again. He'd made peace with Thoreau's death. The boy--the man really, he was twenty-five as of last September--could no longer feel pain and sorrow and anger. He was dead.
And the dead should not have been able to speak.
He could see the tall, slightly awkward figure hovering uncertainly in his peripheral vision. Turning his head slightly to the left, Adrian watched, heart in his throat, as the image of his son leapt sharply into focus.
His clothes were different now, Muggle clothes, yet somehow more sophisticated than anything Adrian himself would have been able to wear. Thoreau's suit was black with velvet lapels and a sudden overflow of white lace from his throat--he looked like a Victorian image stepping right out of his canvas, uncertain of the world that he now existed in. His hair had lost its warm, honey brown glow--instead, it shone with a radiant, golden inner light that lit up his pale, olive features. Only his eyes, two solid emerald gems with sunfire burning earnestly behind them, glowed any more intensely.
"Adrian?" Thoreau tried again hesitantly. Then, softer, "..Father?"
"I must be dreaming." Adrian turned his face away from his desk and looked at the doorway. Thoreau became less of an imaginary figment. He leapt right out of Adrian's memory and into reality. Their eyes met and held, both staring at each other unblinkingly, not knowing what to do, what to say, what to feel. Adrian could see combined fear, anger, curiosity, and pain on his son's features.
"Khepry said..." Thoreau began, voice cracking. He stopped himself to swallow, closed his eyes, and tried again when he could find his voice. "...Khepry said you wanted to see me."
What can you possibly say to the blood of your body, the spirit of your heart, the better part of you intended to live on after your body had breathed its last breath and given into death, when you know full well that his pain and suffering and misery rests in the palms of your very hands? What consolations can you offer that won't sound hollow and shameful, forced and insincere? What can be said to take back a lifetime of hate? Can anything be said at all? There were so many words Adrian had planned to say to his son, given the opportunity, and now that it was hovering there in front of him, a bloody chalice of relief, he didn't have the strength to reach up, take it, and drink from it.
He looked at Thoreau--stared at him, rather--and stood very still.
Thoreau faltered, his resolve slipping. "...Father?"
"I... Thoreau.." Adrian stood up abruptly and stepped around his desk. As though responding to a reflex action learned long ago, Thoreau backed up, startled. Adrian froze.
It hit him, then, how reluctant Thoreau must have been to come here, to the school he had helped found, to confront the man responsible for the degenerative state he'd lived in for months, and even for his death. His son looked poised to run away at any moment, a trillion different emotions battling for dominance on his features.
"Thoreau?" he said softly and took another step closer.
Thoreau didn't move away, but he didn't move closer, either. He stood very still, his eyes wide behind his glasses, and whispered, "Yes?"
Adrian could have touched him. He could have reached out with one hand and set his palm against his son's face, his hair, his shoulder; he'd never touched Thoreau before, he realized, not out of kindness. He'd steadied Thoreau as a boy when he'd struggled and convulsed when reacting adversely to needles in his skin, and he'd struck his flesh many times out of anger or spite--but he'd never just touched him. He'd never casually adjusted the boy's tie before sending him off to school (he'd seen Teague do that to little Alistair many times). He'd never commented on the length of Thoreau's hair--far too long for any respectable Vanet to be wearing his hair--or how he ought to shave off that ridiculous goatee, he wasn't old enough for it. There were so many things he'd just never said, never done, and it wasn't fair that, now that he had the opportunity... Thoreau was terrified of him.
Adrian Vanet did not believe in crying, but he certainly felt like it.
Oh Elaine, what have I done...
"...if.." he began, his voice weak; it trembled like it had no hope of possibly redeeming itself. "..if I could.. change... change everything, Thoreau, I would.." Bloody inconvenient nerves, I'm not through yet! He caught his breath and clenched his fists; he wanted to lash out to hide his weakness, but he knew that this time, Thoreau needed to see that weakness, to see that his father didn't want to hide things from him anymore. He needed to see who Adrian was, who he really was.
"...I would be good to you."
Thoreau hovered in front of him like he was hanging on his father's every word, waiting, hoping against his better judgment, for something he didn't even know he longed for. The longer Adrian spoke, the more incoherent his voice became, the more conflicted Thoreau's expression became. There were tears in his eyes that he couldn't shed, and suddenly he looked as though he couldn't decide if he wanted to sob, or smile, or laugh, or scream, or do any number of things, and all on impulse.
"I always t-tried to be a good son to you--"
"--you never let me, I was never good enough--"
"It was wrong, I was wrong--"
"--why was I never good enough for you! Why was I never good enough for anyone--"
Adrian wasn't sure when he'd started forward, or when Thoreau's knees had buckled and he'd started to collapse. All that registered in his mind was that now, for the first time in his entire life, he held Thoreau as tightly to his chest as he could, and the boy--his boy, goddamnit--was choking back sobs that he'd never let go to anyone before, his shaking hands fisted in Adrian's robes, threatening to tear the material. Suddenly, there were no barriers between them, there had never been barriers between them--and Adrian felt an all-powerful, all-consuming love for his son sweep over him like it should have when he'd first seen his late wife holding a small, green-eyed baby in her arms when he was born on that twenty-first day of September, 1979, in Sheffield.
When Thoreau's sobs began to abate, Adrian forced out his words in a whisper:
"You were always good enough for me. I was the one who was not good enough for you."