A/N: I have one special anon to thank for this title. S/he is lurking somewhere and I would love it if s/he came out of hiding so I could lavish them with gifts. This part is officially dedicated to YOU, you special person out there who has relieved me of my woes. THANK. YOU. Anyway. Nothing really to say. Here’s part 2. I shall upload it to fanfiction when I stop being lazy. /neglects fanfic very very very very badly.
Divorce. It crushes him flat just five months after his birthday. In retrospect, John could have seen it coming for over three years now, his relationship with his wife tumultuous even at the best of times, with her demanding more than he wanted to give. The past year had been especially difficult. He should have noticed her pulling away from not only him, but from Logan as well. Even Heather the nanny is at the house more than she is.
When she slaps the papers on the table though, he cannot help but feel it rip through him, all his dreams in that second shattered. Eight years of marriage. Somehow they seem too short.
But his first thought is how the media will take this and his whole body is flooded with anger at his wife for being so inconsiderate of him and his career, for being so selfish and wanting a better life, and for having the chance to get that better life—she, after all, is not Senator Wright. He is. And Senator wright is known as a good man, a Christian man, a man whom millions look up to, a man who doesn’t believe in divorce and will now be judged for it. She does not have the obligations he has, she does not have to worry about how this will reflect on her character. She can disengage and disappear, becoming somebody else’s wife, while he remains stuck center-stage, spotlight blinding.
“I met another man,” she tells him flatly, “and we’ve been seeing each other for over a year now. I’m sick of playing pretend with you.”
His world is spinning, spinning, he’s falling down, down, down and he can’t find his footing. His imagination turns on him, just as his wife has, and he imagines her in someone else’s house, eating someone else’s food, making love to another man, and then having the audacity to march back into his home and kiss his son on his forehead and sleep in the same bed as him. For a whole year, she had deceived him. Another punch to the gut. He feels sick. He wants to vomit all over her.
And the media will gobble it up. He can’t process it. He explodes, because it’s so much easier than crying.
He screams at her for everything that he is thinking, words tumbling out of his mouth, disgusting words that lay barren in the air. He calls her a dirty whore and a thief, accusing her of using him for his money and his fame. She screams back at him, and his dirty whore has always had claws (maybe he once liked that about her), and she digs them in deep now. He shakes her and she slaps him. Blood rushes to his cheek. Blood rushes and swirls inside him, and it feels like fire. The air erupts with the sound of crying, but neither John or his wife is in tears.
The tears belong to their son. Logan, standing there. Logan, sobbing.
John grabs his wife by the wrist and shakes her again, as hard as he can. “Do you see—do you see what you’re doing—that is you fucking son!”
“So now you give two shits about him!” She screams at him. “All these years acting like he’s a show dog you can use to win you trophies, taking him out now and again like that will fix things—he cries at night when you don’t come home—!”
“Shut up, you bitch, you can’t talk, you’re fucking some other man!”
“You’ve never been there for him!”
He slaps her hard. As hard as he can. His temper makes him blind and his hand just moves, and it’s done. He’s hit his wife. His body thunders and all he can register was how good that just felt. She crumples with an inhuman shriek.
As fast as she can, his bitch picks herself and flees from the room, shutting the door and leaving a hysterical Logan, sobbing on the floor.
The sight of it just makes him angrier. “Stop crying!” He screams at his son, making Logan jump. And then Logan runs too, disappearing down the hall.
John doesn’t know why he follows, still buzzing with adrenaline from that slap. But he races after Logan, following his son’s crying and Logan shuts his bedroom door and locks it.
“Logan, open this door right now!” He pounds heavily on the wooden door, and he wants it to break underneath his fist.
“NO!” his son screams back at him. “Go away!”
“Logan, now, or I swear, I will break this door down!”
“I don’t want you!” Logan pounds back on the door. “Go away, I don’t want you!”
John stops pounding, his fists release into shaking hands, and he leaves just as he has been requested. He stumbles into the kitchen and feels like his whole body has been lit on fire, like he has woken up from a nightmare in a sweat. But the nightmare lives on, as his anger bleeds into anguish, the fire burning stronger inside him. Nothing can cool him down, but still, he tries. He breaks into the liquor cabinet and drinks. The physical burn of the alcohol sears away the pain that rattles inside of him, pain that cannot be scratched away or picked, or bandaged, or healed. It is when he is slightly drunk, the tracks of his own tears stained on his face, that he goes back to Logan’s room, finding the door open by just a crack.
An invitation in.
His son is sitting against his bed, his face hidden underneath his arms. When John approaches him, his little voice comes out muffled:
“I’m not a dog,” he says. “I’m not anyone’s dog.”
“I don’t think of you like that. Not even a little bit—not for a second, you hear? Logan, you’re my little boy,” John breathes the words and they linger in the air, smelling of vodka. But he means them. That must count for something. “C’mere.”
“Don’t hit me like you hit Mommy,” Logan’s voice breaks as he looks up. His eyes are puffy and swollen with redness, which makes the green of his eyes shine stronger. He doesn’t wait for his father to reply, but crawls almost desperately toward John, fitting onto his lap awkwardly and burying his face into his father’s shoulder. “I’m sorry,” he mumbles against his shirt and begins to cry again.
He has nothing to feel sorry about. This is all his fault. He is a failure.
She calls a week later.
“You’re not to come within one hundred feet of me,” she says.
“That’s a little extreme,” he says.
“You hit me.”
“You hurt me worse.”
She ignores him. “How’s Logan?”
“He refuses to go to school and he won’t eat.”
“Well he’s your son, so you do something. I’ve dealt with him and his needs for six years. I shopped for his clothes, I fed him and bathed him and did everything I was supposed to. Your turn.”
“You’re his mother.”
“And you’re his shitty father. This will teach you a lesson.”
“So what? You’re just leaving him with me?”
“Do you not want him?”
He pauses. He feels Logan’s tiny hand gripping his shirt, he hears his birthday song and remembers how Logan used to eat his applesauce without much fuss. Logan never cried at night, Logan always smiled. Logan, his son.
“I want him,” he says.
He makes a list of things Logan needs—
A haircut, new shirts, new pants, new socks, new shoes, a new lunchbox, a new bookpack—anything and everything new, to signify a fresh start. John decides to enroll him in a new school too, a private Christian Elementary that costs a fortune, but will teach his son good morals and lessons, and the choice will reflect well on him. Logan gets a uniform and John brushes Logan’s hair and forces him to drink all his damn milk every morning, before Heather comes and picks him up. For twenty minutes in the morning, it’s just John and Logan, father and son. It’s stressful, Logan is cranky, but damn it, John gets it done.
He tries to be a good father, the best father, to prove his ex-wife wrong. But the Twin Towers crash into dust, and America is thrust into its own crisis. Once again, John doesn’t have time. He wants to do his job well, he wants to live up to his potential and one day he wants to be President. He wants so much, he needs so much, so he can’t afford to tuck his son into bed. Isn’t it just a small sacrifice, for the good of the people? In the long run, it won’t even matter.
The media is all over him all the time as the scandal of his marriage gets out and he’s accused of hypocrisy. Everyone shouts at him—“You’re not the man you said you were!” He’s corrupt, he’s divorced before forty, he is not “All-american” like he advertised himself to be, he does not have the picket fence or the dog or the loving wife or the adorable, mild-mannered son. Not anymore at least.
He’s in a perpetual bad mood as he hurtles through a never-ending tunnel of “Shit Happens.” He’s growing too old for this game, but he’s not a quitter. Never was, never could be. But even though he tries his best, he can’t be both Senator Wright and Logan’s Dad. He misses meetings or he misses piano recitals and teacher conferences. Pick and choose, he’s the loser in the end.
Once he receives an emergency call from the hospital. His son has somehow consumed some peanuts. He flies into a panic, drops everything and goes. Logan is lying down in the hospital bed, eyes half-closed, so small in the gown, his hair a tussled mess. He is too pale, he almost melts into the sheets, and he is too quiet. There is no trace of a smile anywhere on his face, not even when his eyes open and he sees his father there.
“What happened?” and John can only take Logan’s hand and squeeze it, so nervous and scared himself. What if he dies? What then? He looks like he could die at any moment.
“I ate some peanuts. I didn’t have a lunch, but a boy offered me his trail mix. There were peanuts in it. I didn’t know,” Logan recites. His tone is almost bored, and clearly he has told this tale several times already.
“Why didn’t you have your lunch?” Senator Wright is livid. “Heather is supposed to make you lunch, and if you want to get lunch there, you have money in your account—”
“I didn’t have money. You didn’t renew it, Dad.”
His blood freezes inside him. How could he have forgotten such a thing? He always remembered to keep his son’s accounts filled, just in case Logan ever needed anything. Logan has never, ever been without what he needed or wanted. Money was, at the very least, the one thing John could offer to his family, when he himself was not available.
John is struck with a profound sense of failure yet again, so powerful that it goes straight through him and leaves him hollow. He is the one that put Logan in the hospital for his carelessness. From that day forward, John always, always—without fail—makes Logan’s lunch for him.
There were days when he and Logan had walked down Central park toward his office, hand-in-hand, and Logan had hopped up and down and begged for ice cream, until finally John had relented.
There were days when Logan had brought home worksheets from school, tugged at his shirt, pointed at the shiny sticker and the shiny A on top, smiling bashfully.
But then there were days when John couldn’t take it and screamed at Logan to clean his room, screamed at him to shut up, screamed at him to stop playing the piano, stop crying, and give him some peace and quiet. And Logan began to scream and fight back, slamming doors hard, emerging from his room in a perpetual bad mood, his eyes red from crying. After work, John came home to a grim-faced Heather telling him that Logan had flown into a temper tantrum and broken three dishes.
Then came the days when they rarely spoke at all. Logan, already in bed by the time Senator Wright made it home, with his door locked, refusing to open.
“Something’s wrong. He’s becoming so different, Mr. Wright, I don’t even recognize him sometimes. You need to be there for him,” Heather pleads with him. “I think he really, really misses you.”
He does all he can. But his job—
The days all run together, they dwindle, and John still didn’t have enough time.
When he’s been divorced officially for three years and Logan is ten, Logan asks him, “Do you mean what you say on the news 100% of the time?”
“What, Logan?” he can’t help be a little sharp, he’s swamped at the moment.
“I watch you on the news,” Logan says quietly. “Every time you’re on. And I was wondering if you mean what you say, or if you’re just saying what they want to hear.”
“What are you talking about? Of course I mean it. It’s my platform, Logan.”
Logan looks down. “But…so marriage should only be between a man and a woman, then? Dad?”
Three new emails, all important. The economy is in shambles.
He can fix it—he’ll find a way, he always does. That’s him, Mr. Fix-it man, Mr. Do-it-yourself politician. That was his slogan.
“Daddy, I think…I…I…”
“Logan, will you please be quiet. I can’t concentrate with you blabbering.”
“I’m gay,” said Logan to the silence of the dinner table. His voice held tears, but his eyes looked straight forward.
“Hm?” John looks up from his phone. “Hold on Logan, I have to go take this call.”