My father had died quietly in his sleep and as shocking as it was, I knew he'd lived a good life. He'd worked up to the day he died to settled the restless ghosts and I felt confident he would not be one them.
Mom was naturally upset but she had a calm about her as if she knew, as I did, that he'd gone peacefully and fulfilled. The funeral was large with most of the island attending but after a time, all those people went home leaving us in peace. Even the paparazzi that had haunted him for years seemed to respect this and left with the crowd.
After the service, Tes took the children home while I went back to my childhood home to see that Mom was okay and being taken care of. I never should have doubted that Eowyn and Theodin would pitch in to make sure she was comfortable but I shouldn't have doubted my mom either. "Oh would you just leave me be? I'm fine!" she muttered as Eowyn offered her yet another drink. "Faromir, just go on home to your family now. Your siblings will take good care of me..." she said with a subtle eye roll.
The weeks after my dad's death passed quickly enough and before long Eowyn returned to Bridgeport and my mom seemed a bit freer. "She has good intentions though..." my mom said after she left.
Tes and I were still on alternating schedules with our jobs and it was beginning to annoy us both I think. She would usually come home just as I needed to leave for work. Then one morning she wasn't home in time to get the kids ready for school like she ought to be. I thought there may have been an emergency at the hospital so I called in a sub for my morning classes and sent the older kids off on the bus.
I tried her cell and the hospital a couple times but could never seem to get through to her department. When she still wasn't home by lunch time, I'd called off work for the rest of the day and was starting to worry.
I'd just put the twins down for a nap when the phone rang. I answered it without even checking the caller ID. "Hello? Tes?" I tried to keep the anxiety out of my voice figuring she'd been in surgery all morning or something.
"Faromir?" the voice on the other line was familiar but not Tes's voice. "This is Jane...I work at the hospital with Tes...." she sounded panicked as she spoke. "Do you remember me? Oh I guess that doesn't matter really..." she was rambling quickly, nervously.
"Jane - what's wrong?" I asked, interrupting her rambling speech.
"Oh dear...well..." As Jane told me the story of my wife's death, I felt nauseous and light headed. I slumped against the piano - the nearest object - and stared at the wall as words like "knife", "artery", "bled out" floated through the cloud that had formed around me. "We did everything we could....I'm so sorry." she said and I could tell she was crying on the other end of the phone.
I don't remember hanging up the phone or saying goodbye to her. It wasn't until I heard Azula and Katara laughing their way into the house that the haze broke a bit. How could they be laughing at a time like this?
Azula caught my eye and her smile faded, oh that's right, they didn't know...
She knew something was wrong though, I could tell from the way she looked at me. For a moment she was happy and joyful and then suspicious and then she shut down all the emotion that showed on her face. Someone would have to tell them...
I would have to tell them...
Once again we donned our funeral attire. Once again we made the slow progression to the graveyard to bury one of our own. There were a lot of unfamiliar faces there but I didn't try very hard to recognize people.
We - namely my Mom who made many of the arrangements - had decided to host the service at the house. She'd invited only family and close friends of Tes's to this thankfully, I was tired of pretending like I knew the people mourning my wife's death.
Mom had a stone made to put in the look garden nook that still held the sculptures from our wedding. Tes wasn't really buried beneath it but it was there to remember her. That's how Theodin explained it to me anyway - as if I could ever forget her.
Eowyn's flight from Bridgeport had been delayed so she'd missed the service at the cemetery but as soon as she arrived at the house, she sought me out and pulled me into an embrace. "Oh Brother." she said softly.
"How are you doing?" she asked quietly.
"Doing? I'm...here." I said sadly. "I'm here and....I don't know Eowyn..."
She nodded and hugged me again. Even as I tried to pull away to check on the kids or the food or something - anything to keep myself in forward motion - she held me firmly in her grasp.
When she finally let go of me and I turned, I saw that Mom and Theodin had everything well in hand. Katara was crying on Theodin's shoulder and Azula was near Mom - though she hadn't cried yet that I'd seen. Zuko was playing with one of Tes's work mates and the twins were too young to be distressed by any thing going on.
I felt that familiar sense of idleness wash over me. I hated feeling like I wasn't moving forward - particularly now when I so desperately needed it. I walked over to the buffet table and checked on the food; it was fine. I checked on the flowers; they were fine. I said hi to a few people and then ran out of things to do.
I was staring out over the cliff thinking of all the things we'd celebrated on this deck and in this house. We'd gotten married here, we watched the kids grow up here and now...now it all seemed to be over.
As I listened to ocean waves crashing against the rocks beneath me, I thought about Tes and Nyaari and even Jhana - so many young mothers lost.
I jumped, startled from my thoughts, as Eowyn placed her hand on my shoulder. "I'm going to be on island for awhile...if you need any help..."
"I think we'll be okay..." I lied. I couldn't imagine ever feeling "okay" again but I didn't need Eowyn flitting around like she'd done to Mom. "Besides, what about Devin?" I mentioned her on again, off again boyfriend hoping to remind her of her life elsewhere.
"Oh I'm sure he'll get by for a few weeks without me." she said as she tucked her arm in mine. "You're more important."
It was a little while later when I overheard Azula and Katara's conversation. "I'm serious Katara...Aunt Eowyn is coming to live with us for a while - I heard her talking to Grandma about it..."
Katara, for her part, seemed unconvinced by her sister's assertions. While Eowyn didn't live with us, she might as well be living there. She was over constantly and I have to admit, her help was appreciated.
She helped make meals for everyone when I wasn't feeling up to it. The more she was around, the less I felt like doing any of my normal activities actually. Why did I need to if she was there after all?
She made sure Sokka and Suki were fed and changed and happy every day as I finally went back to work. I'd taken a couple weeks off immediately after Tes's death but I knew I couldn't stay on leave indefinately - no matter what the principal at my school said.
Eowyn kept on the kids about their homework too. Azula didn't need the reminders or the help and I noticed a bit of friction between them as a result. She seemed to resent the implication that her grades would be anything less than exceptional - even though I doubt that was Eowyn's intention when she'd brought it up.
The more she did around the house, the more distant I felt from my family. I knew, instinctively, that I should address the disconnected feeling but I didn't. I let the gap grow wider with each passing week.
With Tes's night schedule I thought I'd grown use to sleeping alone again but there's something about knowing the other person is safe and will be returning that makes sleeping easier. After her death I tossed and turned a lot in bed until I finally gave up on sleep all together and would creep down the stairs and out to the garden.
It took almost a month before I started sleeping more than an hour a night and actually started paying attention to the things around me again. Katara was spending most of her time outdoors still, only now all her attention was on that training dummy. I knew she'd heard what had happened to Tes and I think it had scared her to some degree. But inside of crawling inward and away from the fear, she wanted to face it head on. It was just the sort of person she was.
She was coming home late most nights I realized and I waited up for her one night, curious and a little annoyed that she was breaking curfew so often.
"Where have you been out this late?" I asked, trying to sound casual about it.
"Remember Dad? I got that job...sometimes I have to stay a little later..." she said, I looked over her face and couldn't detect the slightest hint of falsehood. She really had been out at work.
"Oh, right." I said. I didn't remember her mentioning a job at all. "How long have you been working?" I asked, trying desperately to remember.
"A few weeks." she said. "Night Dad!" she added before heading off to her room.
The next morning, which was a weekend, I looked around for Azula. After my run in with Katara the night before, I knew I needed to catch up with my kids' lives. "Where's Azula?" I asked Eowyn.
"Out in the shed I think." she said, smiling at me.
"The shed? There's nothing out there but the old..."m my voice caught in my throat and I was instantly worried. "The old time machine." I choked out. I don't know why that old machine had me worried - aside from the fact that it was so old it was a miracle it still worked at all.
Eowyn chuckled at my worried Dad face. "Oh I'm sure she'll be fine - I went through it a few times and it's harmless - more like intense virtual reality than actual time travel." she said trying to brush away my fears.
Still I went out to the shed and, feeling slightly creeper like, I peaked through the slats of the door to see what she was up to. She would punch in a few numbers on the pad and then step back and peer up at the old thing. She took tons of notes and then would punch in a few more numbers.
Even when the large metal doors would creak open and the alluring swirl of purple and blue cloud would greet her, she didn't go through the doors...she would look and observe and make more notes.
And then she would let the doors clang shut and start again with new numbers. I felt relieved to know that she wasn't going into the time machine but now I was curious as to what she was up to.
I broached the subject a couple times with her but she brushed it off as just being curious about the machine. Still, I knew when she was bothered because she'd walk around in a bit of a daze and her brow furrowed. I'm certain she was doing complex equations in her head that I couldn't even dream of but I couldn't begin to tell you what they were related to.
I felt a little stalkerish as I watched her closely whenever she was in the house. If she noticed, she didn't say anything about it though. I don't know what was bothering me so much about it - or her - lately. She just seemed darker since Tes had passed. She rarely showed any emotion at all anymore and I don't recall having seen her cry since the day I'd told them.
I was making dinner when I saw her out by the garden. She seemed to be talking - though seeing as there was no one there but a couple of Ice-like sculptures I could only assume she was talking to Tes. I hoped so any way. It actually eased my worry a bit to see her out there with Tes, maybe she just didn't feel she could talk to me about her feelings...
Eowyn was still on the island when Sokka and Suki's birthdays came around. I felt like I'd been neglecting them as of late - though I knew they got plenty of love and attention from Eowyn, their siblings and even Mom when she came over to visit. Because of this nagging guilt, I planned a party and invited all the family and a few friends. There were balloons and toys and cake and a clown I wish I'd never hired.
Like their siblings before them, the first place the went after the cake was to the play set. I thought back to when Tes and I had bought it together. For the first time since her death I didn't feel the urge to cry when I thought about it.
Somehow I knew she was watching them that day and probably smiling to see that our first big gift for Katara and Azula was still being used by our children. "Our grandchildren will hopefully play on it some day" she'd set as she pointed out the particular set she liked in the catalog.
I felt like I was back to my old self finally - well as much like my old self as I could possibly get without Tes by my side. It has been almost four months since she'd died and Eowyn was still at our house almost as much as we were.
"I'm taking Katara and Azula out tonight...alright?" Eowyn asked, pulling my attention from the stack of tests I was grading. I nodded, only mildly curious about what their girls' night out might entail.
"Have a good time, have them home by curfew." I said, resuming my grading.
"Seriously?" Azula said exasperated with the bartender. He'd already dropped the mixer twice and seemed to be all thumbs.
"Sorry." he muttered. "It's my first week..."
"Yeah, I couldn't tell." Azula said sarcastically. "Clutz." she muttered under her breath. She tapped her foot impatiently while he finished mixing her drink and finally presented it to her with an awkward flourish. She rolled her eyes and took the glass from him, turning her back on him even as he started motioning toward the tip jar. "Yeah right!" she said, just loud enough for him to hear.
Katara and Eowyn were dancing and having a great time. "Isn't this great?" Katara asked, having to raise her voice to be heard over the noise.
"Whatever." Azula said, taking a sip from her glass. "Ugh, the Cullen-wanna-be back there sucks." she said, discarding the glass in the middle of a table.
Eowyn didn't say anything to her niece about her attitude but excused herself from the dance floor to order a few drinks for the girls. Unlike Azula, she didn't glare at the bartender or make him feel uncomfortable so he managed to whip up a fairly decent set of drinks. "It's helpful not to make the person serving you feeling like crap..." she tried to explain delicately to Azula but Azula barely acknowledged she'd spoken.
After downing the new drinks, she dragged Katara up onto the tables with her. "Oh Azula...come on...." Katara protested but with a great deal of persuasion, she climbed up on the table.
I walked in about the time Azula was pushing Katara up on the table. Mom had stopped by and encouraged me to go out while she watched the younger kids. She said she thought Eowyn had mentioned a new hangout in town as part of the evening plans.
The only hangout I could find was an old warehouse that had been converted to a dance club of some sort. It wasn't on the bad side of town but it sure looked like it might belong there from outward appearances. Still I went in, trusting Eowyn's judgment. I wasn't prepared to see my teen daughters dancing on table tops.
I hung back from the dance floor, hoping it was just a teen club put almost all the other patrons were college age and older. I saw a few of them leering at Azula and Katara and all manner of patience and trust snapped. I pushed my way through the small crowd and pulled a grateful Katara down from the table. She was eying the men with apprehension and a little bit of a hatred. Azula was less grateful for my intrusion but she climbed down from the table nonetheless - though not before giving a few flirty smiles to her "admirers".
Back home I held back my anger and rage until both the girls had gone upstairs, then I whirled on Eowyn. "What were you thinking!?"
"Faromir I'm sorry! I had no idea what the club was like! I just thought it would be a good time!" she shouted back at me.
"A good time?! Teen girls dancing on table times for a bunch of college boys...and older! And you! Were you so busy with some guy that you didn't see your nieces up there?!" I kept raving - I knew I should lower my voice or walk outside and calm down but I couldn't stop the anger from spilling over. She tried a few times to protest, to defend her choices but in the end she let me get everything out.
"I don't think Dad will ever let Aunt Eowyn take us out again..." Katara said, but she was still smiling. Until the last frightful moments, she'd had a great time.
"Probably not." Azula said, her voice as flat as ever. In truth she was annoyed that her dad had broken up what was finally turning into a fun time but she wouldn't let anyone see that.
"I think it's time you went back to Bridgeport." I told Eowyn quietly. All the anger and rage in me was spent by then. She didn't argue with me, she just walked away, letting to door shut softly behind her.
Author note: I don't hate Faromir, I swear I don't lol. Tes electrocuted herself and I debated for awhile quitting without saving but decided to let the game set the course on this one :(
So I made a little uh-oh with a mod...and apparently killed Azula....I thought I'd fixed it before saving last night and then loaded the game this morning and she was gone and dead. So I had to try and fix it with a bit of cheating, a bit of modding and a bit of Ambrosia
And the first thing she did once coming back to life...scare the crap out of her father
Tes's demise; blasted time machine
Funeral crashers are WEIRD
Candy stealing wench!
So I put Tony and Molly and a few other simmies in BB to replace some of the pirate wanna-bes that were run out of town and Tony is the Town Casanova...but I guess he has standards lol
She's just so deliciously evil
She looks nervous lol