See the children run as the sun goes down, as we lie in fields of gold.
"For being a dad?" Patrick asked. He and Pete were sitting in a park, against a tree while they watched Andy and Joe being chased around by Danielle and Josh. By the looks of it, the kids were winning. And terrifying Andy and Joe in the process.
"Yes. Every time I go upstairs to even look at him... she follows me and she stops me picking him up."
"I mean, how much time is it before she gets so attached she doesn't need me? Then she'll kick me out and I won't get to see my kid grow up." He ran a hand through his hair and exhaled heavily.
"What am I going to do?"
Patrick tried desperately to think of a solution for Pete, but he couldn't. He racked his brains but, forgive the pun, he was stumped.
"I honestly don't know." He said. "Maybe it'll pass."
"It won't pass. It'll just get worse. Like a tumor. You know? She'll keep acting like this, and I'll keep being the one who sits back and watches everything being done. Then we'll keep having fights and she'll get rid of me."
He rested his head in his hands.
"I don't know what to do." Pete mumbled through his fingers. "I love them both."
"She knows that, don't be stupid." Patrick said, nudging him. "I mean, face it, without you... Petey wouldn't... /be/."
"PATRICK! HELP ME!" Andy yelled from far away, waving desperately. "I'M DYING!"
Patrick waved back like he didn't notice what Andy had said, and looked back at Pete.
"So what happens when you fight?"
"Well, a few nights ago she told me I could sleep on the couch, while Petey slept in my bed." Pete admitted.
Patrick opened his mouth but Pete interrupted.
"And I know babies shouldn't sleep on beds. That's what I told her, but she yelled at me. Then Petey cried because of all the yelling, and when I went to see him she yelled at me again."
He looked around and thew his hands in the air.
"Before I came out today she yelled again. 'Where are you going?', /she screamed. I told her I was going to see you because I wasn't needed there, and she just shrugged and basically spat 'Whatever'./ Then I felt really bad for leaving them both, but I know if I was there right now... she would just push me away. I could use being around kids I'm actually allowed to play with."
He groaned and lay back.
"I could understand why she got so distant when she was pregnant. Like you said, she resented me for getting her pregnant and being uncomfortable, sure. Now I can understand all that. But... I don't know. It was sometime during the birth, I just felt like everything went back to how it was before. Like she loved me and she needed me there to breathe. And we were told a lot of couples are sort of... traumatized during a birth. Like, the guy for seeing it and the woman for doing it. I was just proud we'd gotten through it. And not just that. 'Cause we'd done it together."
Patrick nodded, understanding, and Pete took his phone out.
"But now... ugh. It's just..." He sat up and looked at Patrick.
"Watch. I can't stop thinking about them, so I'll call them to see how they're doing. Listen." He said, as he dialed his house phone and put the phone on speaker.
"Hello?" Rachel's voice was calm and polite as she picked up the phone.
"Wait." Pete mouthed, before speaking. "Hey honey. How's it-?"
"What do you want? I'm really busy. He won't sleep and he won't eat or anything."
"Relax, honey. I'll come home and we'll..."
"There's no need for you to come home."
"Because we're perfectly fine."
Pete's face sank and he shrugged at Patrick, mouthing 'see?'. Patrick felt awful for him. If that was him being pushed out.... he didn't know what he'd do.
"Okay. So... I'll be home soon. We're at the park."
"No rush." Rachel said, and hung up.
Pete sighed and held his hands up in the air.
"I give up. I'd be a shitty dad anyways. Maybe she's got everything now - I should just go." Pete said. Patrick hit his arm and shook his head.
"Don't you dare do a runner. People who run away from their children are fucking assholes. Trust me, I know from experience."
Pete looked straight ahead, but his eyes were somewhere else. Patrick wasn't sure if he'd heard what he'd said.
"I want that." Pete said, indicating towards Andy and Joe with Danielle and Josh. "I want to do that with Rachel."
"What? Be severely beaten to a pulp in a public park?"
"No. I just want to take Petey to the park and run about with him. I want to teach him how to tie his shoes, and I can't wait to teach him the bass or see what he'll be when he's older."
Patrick bit his lip and nodded.
"I want what you have." Pete said to Patrick. "It's so perfect."
"Perfect? Are you crazy? You think that is perfect?" Patrick asked, nodding towards his kids. "It's far from it."
"How? Pete, I thought you of all people would know there's so much more than an outside cover."
"But I see you everyday..."
"Yeah. But what about at night? You don't see when Josh cries because I "read the story wrong", or when Danielle sits for hours talking about how she'll get married and have this great family one day. They're such happy kids, I just know it won't last."
"What are you talking about?"
"Some day I'm gonna have to tell them about Christina. And how am I gonna do that? 'Uh, well, yeah, your mom cheated on me and left me to raise you, I fought this really hard custody battle to keep you, then my girlfriend died. And yes, I know my life sounds like an episode of Maury'. How am I gonna tell them that?"
Pete stayed quiet while Patrick watched Danielle and Josh again.
"I don't want to hurt them, ever. If there was some way I could keep them like that forever.... I would. Just to spare them all the shit of growing up." He sighed. "I know Josh will take it hard. Like, when he'd old enough to realize every other kid at school has a mom. He might blame me, I don't know. And Danni? I don't know. I feel more sorry for her. Because she's a girl and... she has no other girl around to talk to."
"Why would she need to?"
Patrick looked at Pete and shrugged.
"You know girls. I mean, I can listen to her when she's older. But face it, I'm a dad. Do I really want to sit and listen about my daughter talking about boys and clothes? Or what about when she needs her first bra or starts her period? She needs a girl to talk to then. You know me, I can talk about it, sure, but I get really nervous and jittery."
"She's /three/. And you're thinking about training bras and shit... you have at least... nine years until you need to worry about that. And then you might be married again."
Patrick shook his head.
"I think the only person I love is Amanda."
Patrick nodded and stood up, while Pete joined him. They walked around slowly, both with the same postures, hands in their pockets and looking at the ground.
"I really realized when I was at the grave yard." Patrick admitted. "How much I love her and how much I wish she was the one that was here to support me."
He looked at Pete.
"Not that your support is useless. 'Cause it helps. You know? I just mean... all that stuff I just said."
"I think you should give Rachel a chance, Pete." Patrick said, stopping. Pete stopped too and turned around.
"I know, I know, it's hard being pushed out." Patrick said. "But it's a first time mother thing. Some get really overprotective. I mean, think of it this way, at least you're together. You can come through the problem together. At least you have help. It's not like you're doing it on your own."
Pete looked out over the large lake where people could hire boats and ride them around the water. He caught sight of Joe who was walking with Josh, pointing at a couple of ducks by the waterside. Andy was still running from Danielle who was giggling and chasing him, laughing when Andy let out high pitched, exaggerated girly screams.
"You're right." Pete agreed. "You're absolutely right."
"Uh, Patrick?" Andy asked sheepishly, suddenly behind them while he tapped Patrick's shoulder. Patrick turned around.
"We sort of got bullied into promising these guys lunch..." He said slowly, pointing at Danielle and Josh who stood grinning at them all.
"Oh, man. Alright, as long as they don't get really hyper. They seem to love it when they go out to restaurants." Patrick said. "You coming?" He asked Pete.
"Yes! I definitely am!"
"Whoah, look out, Captain! Joshua Airways coming in to land." Pete said, spoon feeding Josh who was sitting on his lap.
"Pete, he's not one anymore." Joe told him. Pete shrugged and Joe still watched.
"I want a go!" Joe whined.
"Aw, do you feel left out? Okay then, open wide." Patrick teased, flying his spoon through the air and stopping in front of Joe's mouth.
"Haha." He laughed sarcastically and pushed the spoon away. He turned to Danielle.
"You want an airplane? Open..." Joe started, picking up his own spoon, but Patrick nudged him.
"Uh, she thinks that's degrading." He told him.
"How on earth does a three year old find that degrading?" Joe asked. Patrick shrugged.
"She's quite the lady when it comes to dinner."
"Man, we'll all have to don suits and ties when we eat with you in future, right, Danni?" Pete asked with a grin. Danielle nodded and beamed.
'Oh, what now?" Pete groaned, rummaging in his pocket as his sidekick started to ring and vibrate against his leg, and put it to his ear.
"Where are you?" Rachel, once more, sounded angry and irritated. Pete sighed, while Josh slid off his leg and went to sit next to Patrick on the opposite side of the table.
"I already told you, the park." Pete informed her.
"Do I have to give a reason?"
"Um, no, no, course not." Pete replied. "Well... if you want us we're in the cafe..."
"We'll be there. Don't you dare go anywhere." And with that, she hung up.
"I hate post pregnancy hormones." Pete said, resting his head in his hands on the table.
"Aw, are you still crabby?" Andy asked, poking his side.
"Shut up." Pete said, slapping his hand away.
"Shut up!" Josh repeated, slapping Patrick's arm.
"Ow. Josh, quit talking like that, it's not nice." He said. Josh stuck his tongue out at him as Patrick leant forward on the table.
"I saw that." He said, without turning around while Josh looked surprised.
"It's not only mom's who have four eyes." Patrick said to the others.
"I wish I had no eyes. Then I wouldn't be able to see Rachel glaring daggers into my spine."
"Was that her on the phone?" Joe asked.
"Yeah." Pete replied, almost sadly. He hung his head as the others talked and then a shadow fell across the table.
"Afternoon, guys." Rachel said. Pete's head snapped up and he stood up quickly, almost knocking his plate over.
"Hey!" He said.
"Hi." She replied, sitting down.
"Hey, big fella. Did you come to see Daddy?" Pete asked, looking into the stroller where Petey was fast asleep. He reached in and Rachel looked around.
"Don't pick him up. I just got him to sleep."
Pete's face fell and he sat down again.
"Oh, okay." He said, and pushed his food around his plate with his fork. Patrick, Andy and Joe looked at each other.
"Um, Rach? You know... sometimes they like to be cuddled when they're asleep." Patrick said, warily. "I used to cuddle these two and they'd make these noi..."
He stopped talking as Rachel shot a look at him and Pete leant back so she couldn't see him and waved his hands crazily to tell him to shut up.
"Or not, you know... they like their sleep." Patrick said hastily. "Hey! Swings!"
He got up and ran over to the swings, knowing one of the group would follow him. Danielle ran after him and he picked her up to sit her on the swing.
"Hey, little guy. You wanna see Petey?" Pete asked a while later, when Patrick had returned and Joe had run off to the slides with Danielle. Josh shook his head furiously and Pete laughed.
"You know you want to. Come on, for me?"
Josh didn't respond, so Pete picked him up, shifting him onto his lap.
"Now, shh, 'cause he's asleep." Pete whispered, putting his finger to his mouth. Josh copied him and peered into the stroller.
"Ugly!" Josh said.
"Josh!" Patrick whispered, sternly from the other side of the table. Pete laughed again.
"It's okay, Patrick. You used to look like that, you know." Pete told Josh.
"No I didn't!"
"You did. And your dad and I still loved you!" Pete replied, poking his nose gently.
"In fact, Joshy... I reckon you were stranger looking than Petey." Patrick added, teasing Josh, who folded his arms and stuck his nose in the air.
"You know, he kind of reminds me of you when he does that." Patrick told Andy, who sat up indignantly.
"Excuse me, I do not do that!" He argued, unknowingly crossing his arms and raising his head in the air.
"Moo!" Danielle giggled, tugging Andy''s hair as she reappeared with Joe.
"Um, ow?" He said to her, tugging her own hair just enough to make her giggle instead of hurt her.
"Danni, that's not very nice." Patrick said, shaking his head.
"Sorry." She said, innocently.
"That's okay. I mean, if you're gonna tease him, do it properly." Patrick said, grabbing Andy's glasses off his nose and taking off.
"Hey! Give them back!"