Here's the continuation of Family Days, hope you enjoy it (not much else to add...).
"You spoke very well," Marion said, smiling over at the young wolf. They were actually just getting back from Nancy's funeral, which had been a very nice service; it hadn't been very much like a mourning but a celebration of her life. Of course, that was how he saw it between the wolves, save for the pup next to him. Seeing her family was odd, and there were lots of aunts and uncles that came up to him and gave him either praise or threats.
He couldn't help but wonder why he was chosen to take care of Chris. Sure he was the biological parent--though the test hadn't come back it was hard to deny such an uncanny resemblance--and ergo had more claim, but, what did Chris want? What if the pup wanted to stay, or not move in with him?
Chris stared out the window and tried not to think about what he'd just been through. If he could he would wish it had never happened, that he could just go back in time and stop everything. If he could just be back with his mother--maybe snowboarding again; that would be nice. Sadly, that would never happen again. In the middle of the eulogy for his mother he'd broke down crying like some pathetic little pup. He even had to be escorted off the podium. Still, somehow it had felt right.
Marion put on the windshield wipers and let out a quiet sigh. It was generic but at the same time at every single funeral in his life there had been rain. The entire thing felt right, as if the heavens were crying for what had transpired. He'd teared up a bit at the funeral but kept on a strong face, for Chris's sake. He didn't want the wolf to see him crying.
The chance that the pup was not his son seemed very low right now. At the funeral he'd been pulled aside while the family talked and loved on Chris...
"You better take care of that pup," Mr. Ole said.
"The paternity test haven't come back ye--"
"You can't tell me you don't think he's your son do you?" Mr. Ole asked with a growl.
Marion felt his tongue glue itself to the roof of his mouth and he looked over at Chris. The wolf was currently hugging someone who was probably his aunt. How did this all happen? Four days ago he'd been worrying about getting a boyfriend and now he was worried about taking care of another person. He looked back to Mr. Ole, "I...I--why don't you guys take him?"
"Nancy put you as his caretaker...God only knows why. Lord knows we would but we're going to honor her last will," Mr. Ole said. Trevor Ole had been Nancy's uncle. He had met the wolf once before at a family reunion he attended with Nancy, and the wolf had been very kind. The years had been good to him, but his tone was very different much more threatening. If anything Marion felt it spoke to the wolf's love of Chris--and of Nancy.
"Look...I don't know what you're expecting of me," Marion confessed with a sigh.
"Love the child for Christ's sake,"
Marion looked back at Chris again. He did look like him--just younger. Looking at the pup was like looking into a mirror that showed you when you were just a youth. Chris had his mother's eyes though. They were a startlingly beautiful green. Nancy had the most beautiful eyes--he loved that about her. But what did it mean to love the pup? Sure he could provide for him but could he really love Chris? After a few seconds he looked back at Mr. Ole, "Sir...I don't know. I mean, I'll take care of him and everything, but I don't know what I'm doing--what if the pup isn't even mine?"
"Are you still that blind? He's a spitting image of you!" Mr. Ole said again, obviously getting annoyed with Marion's denial.
That was true. Though he wasn't sure he wanted to admit it, he couldn't really see the test results coming back and telling him that Chris wasn't his son. They were too similar in physical appearance for it to be chance. After all, he even acted like him a bit, but it seemed like he was after his mother's heart. "I'm worried...."
Mr. Ole gave a gruff laugh it seemed, "Anyone would be Marion..."
Marion kept his eyes on Chris, who looked over at him for a moment. His breath caught and he wondered once more how he was supposed to be a parent--he had no idea what to do. "I....I don't know what I'm doing,"
"Don't worry...it'll come to you,"
"But...." Marion said and felt a small tear leaking down his muzzle. He pushed it away with a paw and then looked back to Mr. Ole, "I don't know how I can make him happy again..."
Chris gave a slight sigh and watched the rain paint the window of the hotel. The wolf he was staying with was really nice to him--Mr. Judith. He refused to refer to the wolf as anything else and he didn't care to. What else could the wolf be to him besides a random stranger--someone who had just fallen into his life? He just wanted his mom back.
He thought back to the funeral and felt another sprout of tears well up in his eyes. She couldn't really be gone. It was far too late to stop the tears and he felt them mimic the rain outside. Luckily Mr. Judith wasn't around. He didn't want anyone to see him cry--least of all him. What if Mr. Judith didn't want him?
Surely an aunt or uncle would take him in? Of course Chris knew better. He'd been in the room when his mom told him about his dad. Even as a younger pup his mother had showered him with praise about how he resembled him so much. Still, why hadn't he ever been in his life before now? His mother never really said anything bad about him. He could still remember their talk about him.
He'd known this was coming--right? But Mr. Judith seemed totally shocked. He didn't know if his mom had told the wolf he was his son, though it seemed like Mr. Judith hadn't known about him till now.
Chris couldn't help but wonder why his mom hadn't told Mr. Judith about him? There was no way she was ashamed of him. She always called him his 'little angel' or 'shining star' of her life. It was funny. He hated it when she called him that, but right now he knew he'd give anything to hear those words from her again.
He rubbed his paw pads together and gave another choked sob. He wanted to stop rubbing his paw pads together--that was something his mother did when sad. They shared too many mannerisms. He couldn't walk down the hall without thinking about how he would sway slightly while he walked. He couldn't even think because he had a habit of giving a 'hmph' whenever he had a thought--which his mom did too.
"There's my little angel," Nancy said with a smile. She was extremely thin, but her smile seemed genuine and carried more weight than any physical maladies could.
"Hi Mom," Chris croaked out, trying to keep his voice steady. She had asked to see him. He didn't have to ask the nurses or anybody. He knew that today was the day. This entire past week his mom had been extremely sick--more so than usual. He had no doubt that they would have one more talk--only one more.
"Come-on...I want to talk to you," Nancy said. Her voice was quiet and gentle, like a saint's, or an angel's.
Chris walked over to the bed and smiled lightly, "OK..."
Nancy patted the bed lightly and waited for her son to sit down next to her. She knew he was putting on a strong face, "How was school today?"
"Fine...I think I missed one of the questions on my math test though," Chris admitted.
"That's OK...as long as you try your hardest," Nancy replied.
Chris nodded and looked away, trying to keep his tears away. It hardly helped that his mom had to be patting his leg right now. This wasn't supposed to happen--they were supposed to be fine, have fun and always be together...
"Chris...I want to tell you about your father,"
Chris looked at his mother in surprise, "What?"
Nancy's smile faded a bit, "You'll be living with him..."
"B--" Chris began and looked away. "What about you?"
Nancy smiled and patted her son's leg again, "I'm going to be fine," she lied with a small sigh. She knew she'd be OK; there was only one more obstacle to overcome. They had had this conversation before--what would happen to her. Long ago though she'd made her peace, white shores awaited and faraway places; though she knew it was a journey she took alone. After a minute she continued, "You already know that I think you look so much like him...so handsome and beautiful,"
Chris tried to focus on anything else, but his ears caught every single wave of sound.
"His name is Marion Judith..." Nancy said and gave another sigh. "I'm sure you two will get along fine. He's a good person...my biggest regret is I never let you two meet,"
Chris felt a tear roll down his muzzle and he shook his head, "It's fine,"
"I'm sorry sweetie,"
With that Chris knew his wall was gone. His chest shook and he felt tears begin to fall down his muzzle, "It's not fair!"
"Shh, it's OK," Nancy said and pulled her son to her. Truthfully she didn't have that much strength, and the pup simply lay down next to her.
"No...no it's not!" Chris choked out, shaking like a pup in the cold.
"No! I don't want you to die! Please!" Chris pleaded. Now that the moment was here he couldn't face it.
Nancy felt her son's wet muzzle rubbing over her neck and she just kept her voice calm. When she learned of the cancer she knew it would only be a matter of time. She had come to terms with everything already. "Sweetie...it's OK. There's no need to cry,"
"Why aren't you sad? It's not fair! This isn't fair!"
Nancy felt herself lament lightly and she kissed her son on the top of his head, "Hey...look up here at me,"
Chris buried his head further into his mother's neck and didn't want to look up. If he didn't face it then it couldn't hurt him. That's what she had said about ghost. The ghost, when he was pup. If he hid under the covers then they couldn't get to him--that's what she taught him. It had to work here too--it just had to.
Nancy stroked through her son's fur and waited before speaking again, "Look up at me,"
Chris tilted his head and looked at his mother, his muzzle dampened with tears and his eyes puffy. Why was she smiling at him? That wasn't fair? Why was she so peaceful? "M--Mom..."
"Can you smile for me?"
Chris didn't know what that was supposed to mean. How was he supposed to be able to smile right now? "What?"
"I don't want...the last thing I see to be you crying...you're such a handsome young wolf and I know you'll be amazing in everything you do,"
Chris gave a small wailing cry. There was no way he could smile. Not now--not ever again. Why did this have to be happening to him? Why not to someone else?
"Sweetie...you're going to be fine,"
"No...I won't be," Chris sobbed. "I love you Mom! How am I supposed t--" he tried to ask before the question was choked off.
"Do you remember that time we went up to ski in Jacksonville?" Nancy asked after Chris had calmed down a little. He leaned over and kissed the pup on his head, giving a small laugh as she did.
Chris felt himself nod. He grinded his teeth together and tried to keep the torrent of tears away from his eyes, but failed terribly, "It was fun,"
"Yeah...it was. Remember how I fell on my butt the entire trip?"
Chris remembered and felt himself choke out a laugh and nodded again.
"See? There's that handsome smile,"
Chris sobbed again, knowing that his mother had tricked him into smiling and felt himself rocking back and forth in his mother's arms.
"Thank you for the best thirteen years of my life..."
"Mo--Mom," Chris choked out, as if saying that would make her better.
"You are my blessing. I love you so much Chris,"
"It's all going to be OK," Nancy said and kissed her son on the top of his head again. "I love you Chris,"
Chris pulled on his mother and felt his ears burning. "I love you too Mom,"
Nancy smiled and relaxed back into the bed. She held her son and cradled him back and forth. The doctors told her she probably had another hour or two. She had planned a conversation that would take up that entire length. Of course she couldn't say half of it--all she had managed was to tell Chris how much she loved him. What else there to say right now?
The important thing was that she had her son with her. She knew Chris would be fine--Marion would take good care of him. Her child was the only thing that mattered. Leaning down she planted a kiss on his cheek and stroked over his head.
Chris could feel himself being rocked back and forth. He couldn't stop crying no matter how hard he tried. His mom was too young to die. It wasn't fair; nothing about this was fair. Why couldn't they just still be in Jacksonville? Then he'd be helping his mom out of the snow off her butt.
A small sound next to the sound of a leaky faucet soon filled the room. Even though it brought more grief it was comforting. Chris could hear his mom humming--a peaceful and light song to him. It was something she did while working around the apartment.
He'd never once seen his mother frown. She was always so happy and jubilant. She said that was the most important thing in the world--to smile. Chris thought back to how his mother would tell him how she believed that a smile could carry a person's entire soul in it. He knew she was smiling even now as she hummed on her death bed.
Chris found his paw grabbing onto his mother's and feeling it squeeze at his own. It was so weak, more like a child's grip. He didn't want this to happen, it wasn't right. Still, the song in the air seemed to carry across his soul. He could see himself back at the apartment with her, cooking cookies, or even having her lecture him on why studying was so important.
Nancy smiled and looked down at her son again. She was happy. Life had been great--a blessing the entire time. Her son would be fine--grow strong and be very happy; that much she knew.
The humming ended and the paw gripping his own lost all its pressure. Chris felt his eyes widen and he squeezed it, "Mom?"
There wasn't a reply. He squeezed the paw again, trying to get a response out of it. Both his paws clasped onto it and he shook it.
"Hey...Mom...please...please don't stop..." Chris pleaded, whining as he tried to get his mother to return his grip. "Mom?"
Marion walked to the door and was about to knock before he stopped. He could hear Chris inside crying. He'd wanted to ask the pup if he wanted to go out and get something to eat, but he knew that it would have to wait. Even though he knew it was impolite to listen his ears couldn't help but catch the pup's crying pleas.
"Mom...Mom...please...I love you Mom...please, don't leave me...Mom,"