Author's Notes:

My beta came up with a story idea that she said was perfect for me: write a story about William's reaction to what happened in TSbyBS. I'm not sure this is what she expected. :-)

This is sort of an experimental piece. I supplied the dialogue and you-- and your imagination-- can add in the setting, the tone of the conversation, meaningful pauses, eye movements, etc.

Hope you enjoy!

APERITIF

by

D.L. Witherspoon

(Posted 09-24-99)

"So now what?"

"Now, I go on with my life."

"It will never be the same. There will always be speculation."

"There was always speculation, Dad."

"But it was disorganized, vague. Now, they have a word, a description."

"What's done, is done. I can wish all I want that this hadn't happened, but it did, and it's been dealt with."

"You're not that dense, son. That little press conference was about as helpful as a judge telling a jury to disregard a tawdry piece of testimony. The elephant is in the room, Jimmy. He won't be ignored."

"I don't know. You did a pretty good job of stuffing him in the closet when I was young."

"In order to protect you from what just happened!"

"The best laid plans of mice and men...."

"How can you be so calm? Your life was totally disrupted."

"No. My friends are going to be okay. My life is fine."

"You say this even as you recover from being shot?"

"Not the first time, Dad. Probably won't be the last."

"So, what are you doing about that roommate of yours?"

"Well, I thought about having him drawn and quartered, but decided I'd just make him my partner instead."

"What do you mean, 'your partner'?"

"As in 'going to the police academy and getting a badge' partner."

"You mean you still trust him?"

"'Still' implies I stopped trusting him. I never did. Although it probably looked like I did from his point of view. I'll be apologizing for that for the next couple of months."

"Apologize! To him! For what!"

"For jumping all over him. None of it was his fault, you know."

"Not his fault!"

"Dad, I'm the one with the sensitive ears, remember? You don't have to shout."

"Apparently I have to do something to get through to you, Jimmy. He's using you."

"For what? Oh, yeah, to get rid of a career he's dreamed about for his entire adult life. Damn, I should be offended."

"I don't think I'll ever understand you."

"I think you should really stop trying."

"I love you."

"I know that."

"Let me help you. I can get you any job you want."

"I have the job I want."

"It's not safe now."

"When has it ever been safe? You know Blair's dissertation wasn't a lie. You know I'm a Sentinel. And Sentinels take care of their tribe."

"Whether your 'tribe' appreciates it or not."

"I was never in it for the appreciation. In fact, I can really do without the appreciation."

"Would you have ever talked to your brother again if it hadn't been for the award you won?"

"Probably at your funeral."

"Would you have ever talked to me again if it hadn't been for that old case?"

"Probably at your funeral."

"Well, if I didn't teach you anything else, I taught you how to be cold."

"I didn't know it was a lesson. I just thought it was a lifestyle."

"Are you ever going to forgive me?"

"I already have."

"Like you've forgiven Blair?"

"Exactly like I've forgiven Blair. People make mistakes. They shouldn't have to suffer their entire lives because of that."

"Are you trying to tell me something?"

"No, Dad. Not a thing."

"So, he's going to the academy? At least he'll be able to back you up properly."

"He already backs me up properly."

"I mean with a gun."

"I can handle the firepower by myself. He backs up my soul, and heaven knows, it needs all the support it can get."

"Because it never had my support?"

"You really want to go there, Dad?"

"Was it so wrong of me to want to keep you out of the spotlight?"

"Was it wrong of you to force me into being someone I wasn't? Yes. Think of the good I could have done if I had been the Sentinel all the years I wasn't."

"So, you're not angry on your behalf, but on your tribe's behalf?"

"Something like that."

"Bullshit, son. You've always relished playing the hero. I interfered with that."

"Question-- have you ever known me? Or were you just as clueless when I was in diapers and drooling on myself?"

"Started long before that. When your mother was pregnant, she would place my hand on her stomach so I could feel you moving around. At my touch, you would stop. You were probably giving me that same icy blue stare in utero."

"I inherited the eyes from you, old man."

"You never liked me, did you?"

"I could ask the same of you."

"Too much alike."

"Too different."

"What's so different? You're arrogant, self-absorbed, and an overachiever. Sounds like a chip off the old block to me."

"I didn't come over here to be insulted."

"Then why did you come?"

"Because I felt bad that you got caught up in this, that the reporters were calling you and your friends about me."

"So, you came to apologize?"

"I came as the apology."

"Oh, so you are gracing me with your presence, is that it?"

"I can go."

"No. Sally is almost through with dinner. We mustn't disappoint her."

"That's right. We don't disappoint the help; only each other."

"Bitter, too. Definitely my son."

"Nope. Not bitter. Just resigned. I don't have time for bitter anymore. I have a life to live."

"With Blair."

"With Blair."

"And you don't think that's strange?"

"I'm strange, remember? Fits perfectly."

"He feeds this hero-complex in you, doesn't he?"

"Don't start."

"Do you keep him around because he looks up to you? Because he worships you as this so-called Sentinel?"

"I don't expect you to understand. The concept of 'friendship' is obviously beyond your ken."

"And this captain of yours? Does he worship you, too?"

"Why don't you ask him yourself?"

"I haven't had that much bourbon."

"I worshipped you."

"What!"

"As a little boy, I was just like all little boys-- I worshipped my daddy."

"That lasted till when-- the grand old age of one?"

"I don't know. I'm probably still worshipping you. Can't think of another reason why I'm still sitting here."

"If this is your idea of worship, no wonder you haven't set foot in a church, except for funerals."

"And my wedding."

"The one I wasn't invited to."

"Hey, at least you were named in the paper."

"Bet that wasn't your idea."

"You're right. Carolyn was the one who wanted it listed in the society section. I didn't think it was anyone's business that I was getting married."

"Especially since you were divorced before the ink could even dry."

"She was a lot like you-- always wanting to change me. Gee, most men marry women like their moms; I married one like my dad. Maybe it's time for me to make a lifestyle change."

"Don't even joke about something like that."

"Touchy, touchy. Don't think I'll forget how you acted when you thought Blair and I were lovers. Tell me which makes your stomach roil more: the thought of me being a Sentinel, or me being gay?"

"Is this the prelude to a conversation I don't want to have?"

"If I was sleeping with Blair, I wouldn't hide it from you. It'd be too much fun trying to predict what shade of gray you would turn."

"So, who are you sleeping with?"

"You want a list? Alphabetically or by date? Most recent back to Mary Jane Fuller, or vice versa?"

"You slept with Mary Jane Fuller? Damn. That would have been a nice merger."

"I thought it was pretty good, thank you."

"I mean with her father. I wish I would have known."

"See, Dad? Most fathers want to know when their sons lose their virginity so they can talk to them about responsibility. You wish you had known so you could have made a business acquisition. You know, it's a wonder Stevie and I aren't giving half of our paychecks to a therapist."

"Don't bring your brother into this. At least he respects me."

"He became you. Or at least he was heading that way until he got mixed up in a murder. I'm hoping that now he'll be a little more careful about who he works for."

"Actually, he works for me now."

"Poor guy didn't learn a thing, did he?"

"Who's being insulting now?"

"I see Sally's geraniums are doing well."

"You really like the spotlight, don't you?"

"What are you talking about?"

"The reporters all knew you."

"Of course they did. Sid Graham made sure all of them knew me."

"No. I heard them. Three of them were standing in the hallway, waiting for me to come out of a board meeting. They didn't know there was a back door out of the room. They were talking about you, about which of your cases they had covered, and they were wondering what part the Sentinel business had played in all your successes."

"Less than they think, and more than I'm comfortable with."

"Wonder why no one brought that up at your young man's press conference?"

"He's not 'my young man', and they probably didn't want to look like fools."

"Or maybe they want to protect you, like I've protected you."

"I'm cutting you off. No more bourbon."

"It's not like I have to drive. Unlike you."

"I'll call Blair. I've done my share of being his designated driver."

"You want him to find out his hero has feet of clay?"

"I'm no one's hero, Dad, and he already knows how clay my feet are."

"He was almost crying at that press conference. Did you see it?"

"I saw it."

"I felt sorry for him."

"If you don't mind, I'll keep that to myself. He doesn't need to know he had your pity."

"That was a good thing he did; protecting you like that. He loves you, you know."

"I know. I love him, too."

"He sacrificed a lot for you."

"I know."

"Don't disappoint him, like I disappointed you."

"I'm trying not to, Dad."

"But you were always a better man than I was-- even when you were a child. Always so eager to please, yet always drawing a line that you couldn't be pushed over. Except, I blind-sided you. I waited until you were vulnerable, full of grief over that man you saw killed--"

"Bud."

"Yeah, you were so off-balanced by the murder, that you just let me push those damn senses of yours right out of your head."

"You do realize you're sitting here, admitting that you took advantage of a grieving child?"

"And?"

"Nothing. Absolutely nothing."

"I'm supposed to feel remorse, right? I didn't then. I'm not sure about now. Actually, I'm quite proud of the man I formed with my actions. You joining the Army was a shock, but I think it did you a world of good. Brought out the killer in you."

"And you think that's a good thing?"

"A nice balance to that protect-the-tribe crap."

"You do realize I could kill you right now, and even Sally wouldn't be able to find the body."

"Ah. A perfectionist. Another thing you get from me."

"Dad, you're drunk."

"And you?"

"Suitably mellow."

"A suitably mellow Sentinel. How does that affect your senses?"

"I don't know. Ask Blair. He wrote the book."

"Think he'll let me read it?"

"Sure you want to read it?"

"Yeah. I think it's about time I got to know my son."

"Never too late, huh?"

"Is it? Is it too late, Jimmy?"

"No, Dad. No, it's not."

THE END

Comments? D.L. Witherspoon