(2018-12-02) Parents Just Don't Understand
In the wee morning hours after the rodeo, Calvin shows up at Vic's after an argument with his parents.
Players:
calvin..vic..

Vic was late getting home from the rodeo, keeping an eye on Willow who had hit her head earlier in the night. She managed to not run into her own parents which would have probably been a damn ugly scene. She'd forgotten that her family attended the charity event every year, and they likely saw her up on stage with Calvin. After insuring the teenager was ok, she made her way home, her phone having died hours before. Only a few minutes ago did it get charged enough to pull up her texts. Then it was all frantically getting dressed again and looking furiously for the keys to her Triumph. No buses running at 3 am. She's in jeans, a tee, and her motorcycle jacket, lifting up couch cushions and basically tearing the apartment asunder looking for the keys she has used in a month or more.

*

"Your keys are on the hook." Calvin suddenly deadpans. He's just standing in her doorway. Either Vic missed him unlocking the door in her rush or he's a ninja. A ninja with keys. "I guess you got my messages." Calvin is still wearing the outfit he wore on stage. When Vic last saw him. Now he just smells. His expression is one of sheepish misery. He's upset, he's here and he is more than a little embarrassed about that. "I couldn't sleep. I called but your phone was probably dead…so I just came on over." He slips his hands in his pockets and his posture draws up with it. "Do you have any coffee?"

*

Vic wheels at the sound of his voice, wide-eyed, and blinks at him a few times. She hasn't had any booze, so he's not a hallucination. Hopefully. "It died at the rodeo, and I was there pretty late because Willow banged her head and I needed to be sure she didn't have a concussion. Plugged the phone in here and the texts just came through. Come in! Where have you been?" she asks, concern in her voice as she shrugs out of her coat and moves to the kitchenette to put some coffee on. "Something happened with your folks?" she asks worriedly.

The apartment has been slightly decorated for the holidays. A sad little 3-foot plastic tree is in the middle of the dining table/work table, and there are some colorful twinkle lights in the windows, and a wreath on the inside facing of the door. There are two stockings pinned to the shelf on the brick wall between windows due to lack of a hearth.

*

Calvin doesn't answer right away. He was eying the new decorations and now he seems stuck on the window. He stares at the colorful lights on the window just long enough for it to be weird. Then he says, quietly, "I always hated fighting with my family. Growing up, Mom and Dad might crank up over something and it was always me who'd wake up crying and begging them to stop. Or, if the subject of the fight was me or both of us, I'd crawl into bed with Dex. He'd be the one comforting me." He looks out the window with intent, just once and then walks away. He sits at the table and fidgets with the tree. "I'm forty-three years old and I still hate family fights. I'll yell at anyone but the moment my dad yells at me?" He shakes his head. "They came to surprise me. I didn't tell them I was performing but they found out anyway. If I knew they were out there, I might have choked. Anyway, after I got off-stage, they met me and it was fine, at first, and then…fuck." He just sighs.

*

The old Mr. Coffee starts it's magic with an ancient gurgle as Vic digs out two mismatched coffee cups and sets them nearby. She crosses over to the table and slides into a chair kitty-corner to him, reaching a hand for one of his. "What happened?" The lights are the feeble cheap sort of strands you get at Walmart for a few dollars. The decorations on the little sad tree look much older though. It's almost homey in there, for such a dump. One of the stockings is undecorated and clearly Vic's. Or Vic's before Willow can get to it. The other is a riot of color and is clearly the teenager's.

*

"Let me see…" Calvin begins, tilting his head up to recall. "I don't know how it began but it turned into some sort of tag team…this is your life…recap from hell. They were happy, at first. I was great. I looked happy. Who is Victoria Carmichael to you?" He chuckles and pushes some hair behind his ear. "It went downhill. Isn't she a drunk? That's a bad influence. Oh, she's sober! That's great but you've been married three times now." He rolls his eyes. "Well, yes, you are clean now but they say wait. Oh? You don't want to? That's the problem with you right there, Calvin!" He leans back and groans. "It just blew up from there. They love me. They are proud of me as a musician. But a part of them will always see me as the whiny, oversensitive man-child."

"They just dragged me through the dirt all the while pressing me for my plans. It got heated so I left the stadium and went home. Then they were at my door—oh, no…I almost forgot the fight at the gate. They tried to come in and I didn't let them in. They called, I went out there and yelled." He swallows. "They were convinced I was drunk now so I let them in to prove I wasn't." He closes his eyes. "Dex always said I could never set boundaries with them."

*

Vic swallows as she listens to him, wincing a bit at the part about her being a drunk. "They're not wrong about some of it. You know that. I was a drunk. You were married three times. But Cal, they'll eventually understand this is different, right? That we've both lost so much, and found so much in each other, and for fuck's sake it took you a month to even kiss me!" She squeezes his hand. Something in her deflates a bit though. She hasn't seen her parents in years, and the festering wound of their relationship has weighed on her for so long. Getting to be part of his family this Christmas had been the first time she'd felt that familial warmth again. "I don't want to be a wedge between you and your parents though. I already fucked up my relationship with my own."

*

Calvin squeezes her hands. "Listen, Vic, this wasn't about you. You are still welcome to the Starkweather-Shay Christmas, trust me. They think you were all I needed all along because I'm useless alone." He says bitterly. There's the heart of the matter. "They don't believe in me. Just me. Calvin. Like I'm nothing without /someone/. All because I relied on Dex, quote, So, very much." He snorts. "I'm the talent but Dex did all the real work…or something, fuck. It's so fucked up. I won an Oscar but I was still in Dex's shadow." He smiles slightly. "I'm the sensitive artist. Dex was the pragmatic manager." Then he frowns. "Manager of more than my career, but my life too, apparently." He says, spitefully. "What is it with parents? They know just how to hurt you."

*

"It's what they're best at. But I think it comes from a good place at the end of the day. My dad felt I was throwing away my career and the family legacy by leaving the police force, by not immediately moving on and having kids, because the legacy ends with me. As if I don't have cousins or something." Vic sighs and pushes his hair back behind his ears, before pulling his head forward to press her lips to his forehead. "And I'm a lot like my dad in that we are both stubborn mule-headed assholes who won't compromise. Or didn't. I am starting to feel like I might need to swallow my pride and pay them a visit, eat some humble pie, and make amends."

She tilts her head and smiles a little at him. "You are a sensitive artist. It's one of the many things I love about you. I love your passion, your drive, even your temper, because it reminds me how hot that fire in you burns. You're smart enough to have people to manage the things that are less important in life, so you can live in the moment for the things that are important. Dex understood that, and he supported you in it. Maybe they just need to see that you're happy, and safe, and loved, because they are still dying inside too, from losing Dex."

*

Calvin seems to perk right up from Vic's affection. He's left a little pink and nodding. "Theywell, it's Mom's move but Dad learned it.They weaponize memories. I can't just look at my career with Dex at my side and recall it fondly. No. No no no. It's proof that I am incapable of making choices. Any choices. I must have a guiding light. A true north!" He shakes his head. "You're right about where it comes from though. It's a place of love and concern and fear. They don't want to lose both their boys. At the same time, browbeating me isn't going to change anything. I'm still going forward with the double album. I'm still going to perform when I can. I'm still going to run my store. I'm going to live without Dex." Those last words seem to stun him, as if he's never put that sentence together before. He stammers and tries to recover. "L-Look…" He takes a breath. "Make up with your Dad, if he's as stubborn as you, than one of you will be dead before they give. You don't want that. You don't want to leave anything unsaid, any feeling unexpressed."

*

"I'll do my best. But you have to sit down with your folks, with Grant, and Credence, so they can lay out for them how they are working on this with you. How you are being looked after properly. How you still have so much more to say professionally and personally. I'll be there too if you need me too. I'll tell them to their faces how you saved my damned life. How you're my best friend, and how much you mean to me. How I'm not some twenty something blonde with double D's riding on your famous coattails." Vic strokes his cheek as she has been fond of. It's a beard thing. Evan had one too. It brings her comfort, connection. "I want you to have everything go right for once. You deserve a win like this, Cal."

*

Calvin ducks his head a bit and chuckles. "I had some very choice words when they criticized you. Ugly shit you aren't supposed to say to your parents." He doesn't look guilty at all. "The subject changed from you real fucking quick. I said, and I'll omit the nastiness and summarize. I said, she's been hurt. We both have wounds that we let fester but we are working hard to close them up, together. She's my anchor and I love her very much. She's on the team now, so suck it the fuck up." Beat. "One nasty left in." He smirks. "Well, after blowout part two at my house, Grant, who is staying with me and heard a lot more than I would have preferred, offered something similar to your sitdown. Dex wasn't super organized but Grant is. He said can have the next 18 months plotted out before the new year, if I wanted. And then I can take that to them." Calvin shakes his head. "I told him to make a plan but there is no rush because my career is not their business. I won't put it on display for them to henpeck until I lose confidence…again." He shifts a bit, sitting up. "But you and I can talk to them and try to ease their worries on a personal level. Those are hits I can take."

He grins suddenly. "But! Not at Christmas. I returned my invitation to the gathering. I'm not putting myself out to my entire family. Not after tonight. I don't have words for how good felt to be up on stage again. My stage fright vanished. I felt natural again. It's taken me two years to perform like that. I stopped in the middle of a world tour to get back to Dex when hospice was called in. I won't let my extended family chip away at me. So, I'm going to leave town for Christmas and I want you with me."

*

Vic nods along with his explanation of how things went down, making a mental note to get Grant a really nice thank you gift for having Calvin's back. She blinks at the returned invitation though, and even more at the new invitation. "W-where would we go?" she asks, a glance towards Willow's Christmas stocking before back to Calvin. "And what about Wren?" She kisses his forehead again before getting up to pour two cups of coffee and bring them back to the table.

*

"I didn't forget about Wren." Calvin takes his coffee black with a ton of sugar. Why? Because Dex hated coffee and he never had to share. So more sugar. Calvin's got a real sweet tooth, that was apparently repressed for years. "Wren still has her grandparents to spend the holiday with, physically and I can't imagine a worse situation than finding out I'm your Dad and now you have to spend Christmas with an extra large pack of strangers who didn't know you existed until /right now/. I will…tell her before I leave town. Well before, hopefully. Then she can take time to process it without me being around." He sips his coffee and burns his mouth. His next words are a bit lispy. "Do you know how much I have in pure liquid assets? We can go where ever we want short of space. But I was thinking…" He pulls out his phone. He made a list. "I have New York and Vegas here. They both do Christmas big and beautifully. I also have the exotic choices of Reykjavik and Queenstown. I've only been to New Zealand before but I hear Reykjavik is on some serious winter wonderland shit. Lastly, Austin. Austin was my home for a long time. I sold my house but I still have a condo. Well…it was Dex's but he was rarely there and it's long empty. It won't be weird. Promise. So pick! Or give me your own! Anywhere you want."

*

Vic nods at his decision to not burden Wren, but let her know. "Willow might enjoy having the place to herself for Christmas. Maybe she'll spend it with Everett's family. As long as she wasn't hoping to spend it with me." She looks a little stunned at the idea of spending Christmas with him someplace she had never even dreamed of because that sort of money has never been available to her. "Reykjavik, as in Iceland? Like way far away Iceland? Isn't that the place with all the Christmas markets and an ice hotel?" She's heard of it, on tv. In movies. Not in reality. "Didn't they film a couple Bond movies there?"

*

Calvin nods while tapping his phone's screen. "Yeah…Iceland. I'm googling. Markets. Northern lights! Ice hotels and hot springs." He wags his eyebrows. "Aw, hell, Vic. It's like a god damn Hallmark movie. You know how I feel about Hallmark." He says, very seriously before the corner of his mouth lifts. He hands her his phone. "Look! Just swipe Grant's messages away. The performance hit the internet a while ago and I think he's just finding out." Sure enough, Reykjavik is beautiful at Christmas and Grant's thumbs must be on fire as he pings the phone repeatly.

*

"Oh God, am I on the internet? Did everyone on the world wide web throw virtual tomatoes at me?" Vic asks with a chuckle of amusement. "It is a Hallmark movie made reality. And look at that Blue Lagoon place up there. Dear sweet six-pound baby Jesus. That might be the most beautiful thing I've ever seen. Ever." She stares at the images and grabs her laptop from the other side of the table to look up more Iceland stuff. "Northern lights, only 4 hours of daylight, winter wonderland. Christ, it doesn't even look real, does it? It looks like a goddamned Thomas Kincaid painting." Yep, she's smitten with the place. "You better respond to Grant before he has a conniption."

*

Calvin takes back his phone, chuckling. "It's really pretty, Vic. It's the closest thing we're going to get to Santa's North Pole village or whatever." He taps away, snickering. "Grant can be a little tightly wound but it's hilarious. Oh. My label got in touch. They probably want to re-sign me. They quietly dropped me shortly before I got out of rehab. Good thing I didn't care. So…" He leans over to look at Vic's screen. "What do you say? Book it? I'm thinking…fly in on Saturday and leave on Boxing Day? You know I get to charter a private jet, right? No commercial flight for my baby." He steals a kiss on her cheek.

*

"Three days in a perfect Hallmark movie with the man I love? And not have to deal with Airport security lines and lost luggage as a bonus?" Vic asks, still a bit in awe of all this. "How could I possibly say no to that, even if I'd be happy just being with you in my tiny little apartment, cuddled up close." Pause. "After you showered." Her nose wrinkles. "You're still in your stage gear. Go get in my shower, tell Grant you're safe and sound with your woman for the night. Then I need to give you a bit more personal of a thank you for that stunt you pulled on me at the rodeo." She winks.

*

Calvin sniffs himself and snorts a laugh. "I forgot this smell! Oh, darling, there used be girls lining up for a whiff of this." He stands and kisses her forehead. "I'll make the arrangements. Don't worry about anything." He starts off but pauses. "A personal thank you sounds nice but it wasn't a stunt. It was your big break." He starts off again but stops. "Scratch that. I know how this movie ends. You! You keep investigating!" With that, he gets gone.

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