Pairing: There's some Charles/Olivia, although neither of them makes a direct appearance
Word Count: ~600
Spoilers: Set prior to the final scene in 2x12 "Trapdoor."
A/N: For thefandomzoo's off-screen moment challenge.
Summary: Charlie contemplates his relationship with his father.
Charlie leaned back in his seat and stared at the hospital entrance. He should go in, he told himself. His father would be waiting for him. It was a nurse who had called to tell him his father needed someone to stay with; Charles Sr. certainly hadn't unbent enough to ask. But he had accepted--as reluctantly as Charlie had offered--after Charlie pointed out that Olivia was still visiting her parents and thus unavailable. It hadn't surprised Charlie that his father had no friends to turn to instead; the man had never been big on friends. Just admiring acquaintances. All those people whose good opinion his father had valued more than he valued his own son. His only son.
"Couldn't even visit me once," Charlie muttered, fingers tapping the side of the steering wheel. He caught himself and stilled his hand, then reached for the bag of grapes beside him. He was surprised to realize he'd expected his father to visit. But then, why wouldn't he? They'd gotten along well enough before all that. His father had even seemed to take a certain pride in his namesake, though it had been his mother in whom Charlie confided. Why shouldn't a son expect his father to believe his (true!) protestations of innocence? Not that anyone else had, except maybe his mother. Charlie wondered, sometimes, what his mother would have said if his father had allowed her to visit him in prison. People said things face-to-face, sometimes, that they didn't say in letters. Would his mother have held on to her belief in his innocence while peering at her convict son through thick prison glass? Her battered and bruised son, and some days Charlie almost understood why his father had forbidden those visits. Even if that separation had killed her in the end (and Charlie firmly believed it had).
Speaking of wives, why hadn't Olivia returned when she got the news? Surely the bride-to-be ought to want to be with her wounded husband. He'd been shot, for god's sake. Not seriously, but still. Shouldn't she be the one doing this? Charlie had certain suspicions as to what had kept her in Austin, and he disapproved. It was, he supposed, understandable on some level that she should desire some sort of reconciliation between father and son, but...
"It's none of her business."
Was she even old enough to remember the trial? Maybe. She'd been eighteen then. Five years younger than Charlie himself. Still in high school. Had she read the papers? He didn't think he had when he was eighteen. He'd been busy doing other things then. Dating Jen. Playing sports. Going to class, enough to keep his grades high enough for the Academy. Looking forward to graduating and starting his life. So maybe not then. Olivia had probably looked it up later, though. After she started dating his father? She'd certainly known what was what the first time she'd come to visit.
Charlie drew in a deep breath and released it slowly, reaching for calm. Reaching for stillness.
No Zen for Daddy, he'd told Connie, and it was true: all the tapes on oneness and forgiveness and the futility of revenge hadn't been enough to overcome the bitterness. But if he truly wanted a pure and peaceful soul, maybe it was time to try harder. To face the man himself and see what came of it.
He just had to take care of his father for a few days. That didn't mean he had to forgive him.
Charlie picked up an apple and slipped it in his jacket pocket. "Nothing's there initially."
He climbed out of the car.
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