Chapter Title: 25 | The Final Goodbye
Prompt: #020 – Patrick Thomas
Universe: Late canon (Friends Forever #1)
Genre: Family, Drama
Word Count: 1,255
Summary: Charlie Thomas makes peace with the man who abandoned him as a child.
Links: DW | LJ | AO3 | FF.net
The first of my two 2016 fandom_stocking gifts, this one for ozqueen. I wrote and posted this fic before I read her letter for chocolate box this year, where she mentioned being interested in some Charlie Thomas & Patrick Thomas family dynamics, so win-win! =)
The idea for this story came to me while I was working on my character guide for Charlie during the 2015 edition of fandom_stocking. I am not much for the Friends Forever series, but the first book is a dear exception to that opinion. Kristy's Big News is that her deadbeat father, Patrick, is getting married - and that she and her older brothers have been invited to the wedding in California.
I think this is a scenario we fans have wanted for ages - for the elder Thomas kids to confront their biological father. Bringing Patrick secretly back into the lives of his kids is a running theme - meetings with Kristy feature prominently in both the 1995 movie and Kristy's Book, and I'm fairly sure he also reached out to Sam at least once (although I could be mixing my headcanon with actual canon on that one). This book touches on an actual out in the open meeting with the 3 oldest kids - although Patrick's dismissal of his youngest, David Michael, is also explored here.
Of all the relationships with his erstwhile children, I think both Charlie and David Michael have the deepest, richest veins to mine. Charlie, because he holds the most memories of his father, and because of how dramatically he was forced to change - and David Michael for exactly the opposite reasons. He's the only Thomas child untouched by Patrick's influence, because he never knew him. Rather interestingly, he's the one who wants to go to Patrick's wedding the most - whereas Charlie has to be blackmailed into it.
Charlie, Sam, and Kristy go to California to meet their father and his new fiancee, and they eventually have it out with Patrick. It was a very cathartic scene, especially for Charlie, finally venting some of his anger over their abandonment. We receive a lot of insight into both Charlie and Sam and how they probably dealt with their father's disappearance from their lives. Both characters are given a lot of depth, and suddenly Sam's goofiness has deeper roots than anybody ever suspected.
Charlie is at a crossroads. He wants - and probably needs - to cut all ties with Patrick. He's still a teenager, yet he has maturity beyond Patrick's 40+ years, because of all he's gone through. He had to grow up so fast, and lost a big chunk of his childhood. Being forced back into Patrick's life is hard for him, but he finally does confront him, with that blow-out fight and then by calling a truce with him, and agreeing to attend the wedding.
This fic is the missing scene from Chapter 13, when Charlie and Patrick have a somber conversation during a break in the wedding rehearsal. Charlie has absorbed the news that Patrick and Zoey are planning a family of their own (that bombshell was dropped on Kristy earlier in the book, and the first person she tells is her eldest brother), which directs his conversation here. As angry as he always will be at his father for what he did to them, he has realized that he has to let go of his bitterness and hatred, because its sucking the life out of him. He doesn't want to be the sullen jackass he turns into while he's around Patrick, so he does what he has to do. He resolves Patrick's place in his own life, and starts the process of moving on.
He's not petty or vindictive enough to declare that none of his siblings can have anything to do with their biological father, but I like to think he's made it perfectly clear that he wants nothing else to do with him - those wounds cut too deep. So much of his character is shaped by the determination not to follow in Patrick's footsteps, and he becomes such a wonderful, caring older brother. I see him evolving into an equally loving, determined father, and a strong, decisive man - everything Patrick isn't.
Of course, it helps immensely that he has a solid father figure in his life now, in the form of Watson Brewer. I think having that foundation - and knowing that his mother is happy and content - let Charlie mellow out a little. Kristy describes their mentality as kids as "us against the world" and observes that as they've grown up, they've grown apart, settling comfortably into their lives with Watson and their blended family. This, too, gives the Thomas kids some character depth, some shades of grey that make them feel more real and authentic.
I enjoyed writing this immensely, and ozqueen enjoyed receiving it. I'm really happy I was able to push all the buttons for her that the book pushed in me. I have so many feels and so much sympathy for all of the Thomas brothers with this book - Charlie and Sam and poor David Michael, who feels left out but probably doesn't really understand why.
Hmm...I *do* have a David Michael prompt in my babysitters100 table...maybe this is a way to fulfill it...