He preferred night time hours, all of his life. Growing up the oldest of three, he’d been expected to excel, to be a good big brother, but those things hadn’t interested Ethan. He slipped into the game world as a teen, and he never looked back. Cold turkey quits now and then to attempt saving his first marriage, to be a better Dad to his youngest, Caitlyn. But all in all, he didn’t see the harm in finding something he enjoyed.
Perhaps his first wife would have been happier, maybe still alive, if she’d found a hobby to enjoy.
Two wives dead before him, and the only one that got his heartstrings was Cynthia. They hadn’t even had a honeymoon. She had been the hope for his twilight years he desperately needed.
His only real constant was Caitlyn’s dog, Bazooka. When she’d gone to college, she’d left him behind, and they’d become pals. Bazooka prefers the after hours too, when the streets are quiet, and he can leisurely sniff every fire hydrant.
Caitlyn frets about him walking around the city at night, she’s afraid he will get mugged or possibly kidnapped. He just shakes his head. Every parent knows you can’t have a favorite, and perhaps most don’t, but he does. She’s always had him wrapped around her finger, and she’s never taken advantage of his love.
Four kids, plus a step-daughter, and only two are estranged from him. Odd how he could raise Cara for a good many years, become nothing to her, and then share a house with her daughter, Rachael. They didn’t have a grandparent type of relationship, it was merely a roommate situation.
The house is Caitlyn’s, he never did get around to owning his own place. They rented upscale townhomes while he attempted to be a paralegal, then a mid-class one until the divorce. He’s proud of Caitlyn; she takes good care of herself and her son.
His only real complaint was Thomas’ Dad, Lewis. He popped in and out of Thomas’ life; it’s always a rollercoaster of emotion for the little guy.
Caitlyn never restricted Lewis’ access, even when she wanted. Thomas was always thrilled when his Dad was at the front door to see him.
Thomas tries to give his Dad a hug, but he’s already on his way to the kitchen, leaving Thomas feeling rejected.
Caitlyn doesn’t regret Thomas, but she absolutely regrets his Dad. She’d like to give her son the world, and instead he has to put up with this crap.
He never takes Thomas back to his place, mostly because he’s a couch-surfer, currently staying on her twin brother, Aidan’s couch. Caitlyn knows that Aidan is ready to kick him to the curb, but his roommate, Julius won’t commit.
Lewis will watch TV with Thomas, and when they sit and find it broken, he begrudgingly gets up to try and fix it. He curses the entire time, making Thomas cringe.
One thing that Thomas needs is a Dad to show him the ropes, tossing a baseball, throwing some pigskin. Ethan takes it upon himself to teach these things to Thomas, to the best of his abilities. He never played sports, not even the video game kind.
Ethan doesn’t think Thomas will be very good at sports, but knowing these things seems important to childhood.
Thomas hugs his Grandpa, then excuses himself to fly his kite out front. He gets weary of tossing the ball.
Thomas runs through the house while his Mom makes cashew chicken for dinner. She rarely gets to cook, and while it’s not her favorite thing to do, she enjoys caring for her family.
Thomas gets his kite to catch flight instantly, and he’s enjoying himself until his Mom calls him in.
Caitlyn serves dinner; it turned out perfectly too.
When she steps on the backporch to call her Dad in, she finds her Dad unconscious on the ground.
The ambulance takes too long to arrive, but Caitlyn is afraid to move him in case he was injured when he fell. When they finally arrive at the hospital, there is already someone outside to bring him in. Caitlyn thinks it must be bad if someone is already waiting.
She tries to eaves drop, but everything is in code. Does it really save time to speak in code?
They quickly move him into the ER, and Caitlyn is left in the waiting area, wondering what she is supposed to do.
Her Dad has collapsed from heat exhaustion before, it could be the same thing. Was it crying wolf to call all of her siblings from a possible-case of heat exhaustion? She agonized, staring at her contacts, as she worried there was something even more wrong with her Dad.
In the end, she decided to call. Colin didn’t answer, but she left him a message. Luca was at work, and he wanted to be kept updated. While her twin brother, Aidan said he would get a rideshare from the firestation.
Having abandoned her dinner at the table, Caitlyn decided to find nourishment in the vending machines. She was surprised the hospital stocked an abundance of junk food.
One of the paramedics approached her, wanted to offer her encouragement, but Caitlyn wasn’t interested in being hugged by a stranger. She appreciated the paramedics and all their efforts toward her Dad, but she wasn’t a lovey girl.
She almost immediately felt bad though, she could have used her to find out more information, or to understand doctor lingo.
Before she can sit down, a nurse comes over to explain they’ve moved her Dad up to the OR and are operating. A doctor will be by when they can to explain.
She wanders up to the third floor to see if she can overhear information, but the way is locked. She can see his operating room, but the hallway is still.
A smoke sounds like a better option, and she heads outside to wait for Aidan. He’s just getting out of the rideshare car when she lights up.
Years ago, when he’d left her to join the military, she’d been lost without him. She had always expected them to attend university together, and while it had been the lowest days of her life, they were both stronger for their separation.
But this time, when one of their parents was having health issues, it was nice that he wasn’t across the world with the military. He was here, and the person she needed to see the most.
No sooner had they sat in the waiting room, when Luca and Nadia entered. They had always been there for her, when her Mom wasn’t, she ran to them.
Resident Hadley came to speak with them. The surgery was going well, but there was extensive damage to his heart and arteries. Was he on medication for his heart and blood pressure?
He hadn’t been on any medications, they told her.
It had always seemed good that her Dad didn’t take a trillion medications, but Hadley’s face had made it seem bad. No one, not even Caitlyn could take Ethan into visiting a doctor.
Luca insists they grab pancakes, he’s heard they have the best ones in all of the county. Caitlyn knows he’s doing this to distract her. She goes along with it, but keeps her phone handy just in case Rachael needs help with Thomas, or Colin suddenly cares about their Dad.
The EMTs are still around, and surprisingly, Caitlyn watches her brother get all blushy over the lead.
He approaches her to say thanks for helping his Dad, and instead of being rude because Caitlyn had been, she’s polite with him.
Caitlyn and Luca take a seat, enjoy their pancakes, and laugh at their brother trying to hit on the woman.
He gets her name, Louise, and she actually seems to like Aidan. He’s able to get her phone number, and then he excuses himself to sit with his family.
Caitlyn can’t help but notice how sweet they’d be, an EMT with a fireman. It’s like they were meant to be. She knows she is getting ahead of herself, but she’d love to see her brother settle down, and she knows he wants to as well. Plus he hates living with Julius and now Lewis.
Several hours pass, and Nadia excuses herself to take care of the kids. They can only leave Kai in charge for so long, before one of them should head home. Aidan heads home to shower and change into civilian clothes as he still geekily calls it. Eventually, her and Luca are fast asleep on the uncomfortable sofa.
Just past 6 am and Nurse Caroline comes out to give them an update. The sleep was fitful and uncomfortable, but it was sweet relief from the agonizing wait.
She opens with the news that they can see Ethan now, he’s been set up in the ICU, but only one at a time.
However, she shares that he hasn’t woken from his surgery yet. There is some swelling in his head from the fall, and they are concerned which is why he is in the ICU.
The rest of the ICU is quiet, her Dad is the only one here.
Her stomach drops when she realizes they’ve put him in the same bed her Mom died in. Terribly memories flashback of visiting her here, looking for closure from her Mother, a very cold woman.
Caroline checks his stats while Caitlyn comes to terms with the information she’s been given. Is this it for her Dad? That is all she really wants to know. Does she need to prepare herself to have no living parents, explain everything to Lewis, again?
She feels sick, but manages to force herself to stay planted.
No one ever called Ethan a Father of the year, but he was to her. She leans in after Caroline has excused herself, and whispers to her Dad. She didn’t know if he could really hear her, but she wanted to believe he could.
Luca takes her turn, then she is back to stand watch. The ICU is sleepy, which means that some of the staff have moved to other floors to help those patients.
Rachael gets Thomas to school, they’ve explained how his Grandpa had surgery, and that he would be staying in the hospital. No one is sure of the prognosis, because an actual doctor has failed to come in to tell them yet.
Rachael cleans the house to put her own mind at ease, she wonders if her Mom needs to know. She hasn’t referred to Ethan as her Step-Dad since she was very young, but didn’t hospitals change that?
She calls her, and her Mom isn’t exactly interested. She’s disappointed in her Mom. Ethan isn’t really a Grandpa to her, but she still cares about him as person.
When doctors do come in to speak with Caitlyn and Luca, they explain the circumstances. Ethan had slipped into a coma, his heart surgery had went well considering his age and shape of his veins, but there seemed to be an underlying condition that was keeping him under.
Luca passed the information on this time.
Rachael stayed home from work to greet Thomas at the bus. She threw on a show that evening to distract themselves.
That night Caitlyn called to share the day with Rachael. They’d been best friends before they’d been aunt-niece, and through all their ups and downs, Caitlyn was grateful to have her by her side through this.
Rachael had done research on her phone during the day, and there was still hope he’d wake up. She’d read of people being in a coma for a decade that suddenly awoke.
Even as she said it, they both knew Ethan wasn’t that type of case.
Rachael awoke to crying that night, she went into Ethan’s room, and found Thomas.
She cooed comforts to him, and found that he cried equally for his Dad and his Grandpa. It didn’t seem fair, he sniffled.
Caitlyn came home the next afternoon to be there for Thomas. She waited outside for his bus, there wasn’t anything she could do at the hospital. She’d read her Dad books and gamer articles, and if he could hear her, she knew he was happy, but Thomas needed her as well.
He was ecstatic to see his Mom again; they’d never been apart for a single night.
She forced him to work on his homework, which he groaned about like usual. The routine brought comfort to Caitlyn.
That night they climbed into bed, the future seemed uncertain. All of these years, she’d shared her bedroom with Thomas, her stomach felt sick to think he might have her Dad’s old bedroom in the near future. An ache formed at all the moments she still wanted to experience with her Dad, her wedding day was just a small one. She knew he’d dance with her, even if he’d grumble the entire time, but it all was slipping.
She didn’t even have a boyfriend. She needed him to stay for so many more years than he seemed intent on.
Thomas fell instantly to sleep, while Caitlyn’s mind filled with all the holes her Dad’s absence would leave. She tried to keep remembering that he was still there, that time was not necessarily up, but she didn’t feel hopeful.
Notes: Sorry for the long delay, life you know. I played a few of these updates out in early September, so hopefully I can get them written up now. Neither of these girls seem interested in dating. Considering their last boyfriend was Lewis, that might explain things. Then Ethan’s health issues put a damper on things too.
Thomas was in Ethan’s bedroom crying about Lewis, I thought that was terribly sad. I’m not sure why exactly as there isn’t a memory to explain.
Thanks for reading!