Many thanks to my wonderful friend and beta, catherder, who did this in record time.Pairing:
This little ghost story came to me on the train on the way home from work. The setting is post-VS3 and therefore No Virus!!. Vision Splendid
The headstone on the double grave in the family plot read Logan Cale May 23, 1958 – July 8, 2002, and his beloved wife, Anne Catherine Cale (nee McDonald) February 8, 1962 – November 8, 2004.
Logan's wheels crunched slightly on the loose gravel edging the pathway as he strained to get onto the grass. It was a crisp, fine November evening, and he had come to pay his respects to his parents on the anniversary of his mother's death, as he had done every year since her death. It was four years, six months and twenty-six days since the shooting that had robbed him of the use of his legs, nearly two years since Joshua's transfusion had finally and irrevocably worn off, and a year since Clemente had finally confiscated the exoskeleton, reclaiming it as stolen DOD property.
Logan's mother had died three days before his 16th birthday, succumbing to the illness that had slowly sucked the life from her over the preceding year and a half. He still felt her loss deeply, a small hole in the fabric of his life. She had been his anchor, the one who was always there for him, his safe port in the storms of adolescence. He had been intimidated by his father, the strict, manly CEO, but his mother had been his friend and confidante.
Logan grunted with effort as he forced his way across the grass, then sat there examining the beautiful marble headstone with the engraved angels. The grave, in fact the whole of this section of the cemetery, was well tended, but Logan wasn't seeing the trimmed edges and swept paths. He sat straight in the chair and cleared his head of thoughts.
That's when he saw them standing side-by-side under the ancient, contorted tree adjacent to the grave. They looked young and in love, much as they did in the wedding photo that had sat on the mantelpiece in his bedroom at the Cale mansion for many years. Logan slowly blinked, but when he looked again, the faint images were still there. Logan reached a tentative hand toward the figures. "Mom? Dad?"
The two figures turned beaming smiles on him. "We've been waiting for you son…it's been so long."
Logan wasn't sure if he was really hearing the voices or if they were in his head, but he relaxed all the same at hearing his mother's dulcet tones. This was the voice that had soothed him to sleep on countless nights through his childhood – the voice he never thought to hear again.
"Logan, we're so proud of you, son, of what you've become."
"How can you say that? I've failed so many times. I'm nowhere near the man you were, dad."
"You doubt my words. Forgive me, son, I was not the father you needed or deserved. I was never there, and when I was there, I didn't appreciate you for what you were. I admit that I wanted you to be more like me – filled with drive and killer instinct - to thrill to the chase of corporate takeovers. I have come to realise that my ambitions for you were wrong - that was not you. You have proven yourself in other ways. You have the courage of your convictions - you are not afraid to stand up for what you consider right and good. You have tried to fix some of the wrongs of this broken world, and suffered untold injury and heartbreak as a consequence. So, yes, son, we are proud of you – as proud as two parents can be." Logan Cale Senior cast a glowing glance at his wife as she continued from where he left off.
"Logan, listen to your father, he's right. We are proud of you. You're a good man,. Don't ever let that change…" His mother smiled reassuringly.
"Son, I ask your forgiveness. I wasn't there for you in your hour of greatest need. Please forgive me. By the time I realised how much I loved you as you were, it was already too late."
"It's OK, dad. Really…it's just…you were so distant…so hard to get close to."
"I'm so sorry, son. You deserved better. But be assured, you were my greatest corporate creation: the thing I've been most proud to say was, at least in part, mine."
"Logan, you're a wonderful, caring person. Let yourself have a little happiness; stop and smell the roses once in a while. All work no play makes Logan a dull, dull boy," his mother smiled warmly.
Logan started at the words. He remembered hearing them before, the scene in the bar at Crash, and what followed – some of the worst days of his life.
"This girl, Max, you love her. Go for it, son. She's the one you've been waiting for all your life. You only get one chance for true happiness, and if you don't do something soon, that chance will have slipped through your fingers. I'm happy that you've found her, but now you have to tell her that you want to share the rest of your life with her."
"Mom, we've been through so much together, Max and me, and survived it. She knows how I feel about her. Waiting a little longer isn't going to make that much difference. So much has happened."
"It will make a difference, son, it will. We only have a short time on this earth. I left it too early to tell you that I loved you. Don't make the same mistake with Max. She wants to marry you. She wants you to ask her. So do it."
"Dad, I never doubted for a minute that you loved me." To his surprise, Logan finally believed this was true. He had been intimidated and even a little afraid of his father, but had never doubted that the love was there. Suddenly the tension went from him and he released the breath he hadn't known he was holding. "I miss you both so much."
"We know, son, but we'll always be there in your heart. Now go and get the girl. Let this be your first and only corporate conquest." His father smiled one last time, and held his wife close.
The two pale figures completely faded out and he was alone again. Logan still sat staring at the spot beneath the ancient tree where they had stood such a short time ago.
"Logan!" Max's boots crunched on the edge of the pathway.
"Max, what are you doing here? " He almost choked on the words. It was an effort to bring himself back to the here and now.
"I…I followed you. I saw your car leaving earlier…and I followed you…" Her voice faltered as she saw the look on his face. "Who were you talking to? There's no one here?"
He tensed, then relaxed again. "No one, no one at all. Didn't I tell you the Cale family is big on insanity." He smiled at her.
"You're okay, I mean, there's nothing…" Then she saw the names on the gravestone. "Oh, I'm sorry, I'm intruding." She half turned to go.
"No, wait, Max. Don't go. Please." Logan turned to follow her as quickly as he could on the grass. "There's something I should have asked you a long time ago…"FIN