Status: Coming soon...

Parts of Me

Fifteen Years Old

“Oh baby faster!”

“Keep it down- the boys are probably waking up.”

“Don’t talk about the boys when I’m halfway to-oh John….” Dakota bites down hard on my shoulder as she lets go beneath me on the mattress. We’ve been up for the past few hours, going at it before the boys get up for school. It’s Friday, and we’ve all got a busy day before we can finally relax for the weekend.

And by relax I mean planning the wedding.

It’s been eight months since I proposed to Dakota and since that day, things have only gotten busier and busier for us. The band has picked up and we’ve played a few shows around the Northern states, and a couple in Europe before we head out for a big tour at the end of the school year.
Dakota’s also picked up the extra work with a promotion at her magazine- she’s the second in charge CEO of the whole operation and I couldn’t be happier or prouder of her. This of course means we’ve had to push the wedding off for a year and a bit so we don’t get too overwhelmed but neither of us mind; we didn’t realise how big a wedding was to plan. We’ve also managed to get through our issues that we had and we’re doing better than ever. These days I always make sure Dakota knows how appreciated she is around here and I’m starting to see Em a little less; while it’s important to us that she’s kept up to date in the boys’ lives, it’s also important that we have our own lives and that we do our own thing. She hasn’t been to well after her and James’ break up, but it’s something she’s been going through with the support of her own friends and family; I’ll always support and be there for Em, but this is something that isn’t my place to go through with her.

“I’m so close darlin’,” I hiss into her chest, burying my face amongst her coconut smelling skin. Oh, we’ve also been fucking like crazy, so there’s that.

“Quick, I hear movement downstairs.” She groans, moving faster against me to get me finished quicker. It’s embarrassing, but I’m not as fast as I used to be- Dakota couldn’t be more in shape.
Eventually we ride it out together and are left a panting mess beside one another, hands interlocked between us.

“Sorry.” I breathe heavily, leaning over to kiss her.

“Don’t be sorry- that was great.” She insists, kissing my cheek. “Have I mentioned how sexy the grey hair is?”

“Don’t you dare,” I laugh, shaking my head as I finally regain the strength to sit up. “Not one word about how I look like my dad.”

“Oh I wasn’t going to say anything about that silver fox.” Dakota smirks, knowing how much I hate the physical comparison. Is it really a compliment to be told you look like your dad? Because I don’t feel that flattered.

“C’mon, let’s take a shower,” I laugh, pulling her out of bed with me. “We need to get moving. Do you know how hard it is to wake two teenage boys?”

“Of course I do, I’m the one that does it every morning, thank you very much.” Dakota scoffs, slapping my shoulder. “You go take your shower, old man.”

I catch her hand on my shoulder and bring it to my lips, being careful not to cut my lip on the massive diamond on her finger. I’m still paying that thing off but I don’t regret it in the slightest.

“Come with me, babe.”

“I already did, in case you’ve forgotten.”

“Morning sunshine!” I greet enthusiastically as Mesa finally graces us with his presence in the kitchen that morning.

“Ugh can you not?” He groans, pushing his hair out of his face. “It’s too early to be that happy.”

“It’s never too early for your dad.” Dakota mumbles, sending him a look.

“Mes has a test this morning,” Phoenix smirks, looking over at his brother. “And he didn’t study.”

“Shut up.” Mesa snaps.

“Hey, don’t be rude to your brother,” I frown, turning to face them with a coffee and tea. Decalf and green, of course. “What’s up your butt?”

“Not what’s up Phoenix’s.” Mesa mumbles.

Phoenix rolls his eyes. “Shut up- it’s not my fault you didn’t get any sleep because you were too busy talking to-“

“I said shut up!” Mesa hisses, shoving his younger brother as he goes for his tea. “Dad, tell him to shut up!”

“Mesa enough!” I snap, really not in the mood for this attitude. I don’t know if it’s puberty or teenage growing pains, but he’s been giving us a real shitty attitude the past few months and he’s not telling me what’s going on so I really have no clue how to go about it. We’ve talked to the boys about us getting married and they’re all for it so I know it’s not that. Usually if something was going on and they don’t want to talk to me about it, they confide in Dakota or one of the guys, but so far I’ve heard nada.

“Your dads’ right, babe. There’s no need for the bickering- you too Phe.” Dakota hums as she sets their breakfast in front of them.

“Whatever,” Mesa mumbles as he takes his plate and leaves the room.

“Mesa!” I sigh, slamming my hand against the kitchen bench.

“Let him go, he probably just needs space.” Dakota murmurs.

Phoenix rolls his eyes at his brother. They haven’t been all that close recently and I know it’s because they’re getting older and have their own friends and basically their own lives.

I look at Phoenix, raising a curious eyebrow. “Do you know what’s going on?”

Phoenix shrugs. “He’s hung up on this girl.”

“What girl?” Dakota frowns. “He hasn’t said anything. I didn’t know he was going out with someone.”

Phoenix laughs. “That’s because they’re not going out. It’s a friends-with-benefits kind of thing.”

My eyes widen at the thought of the boys even doing more than kissing a girl. I know Phoenix hasn’t- he told me. Mesa however, kissed Mia when he was eight and she was five. It was kind of cute when I didn’t see him as the demon child. “Wait, what?”

“Have we had the talk yet?” Dakota mumbles to me, looking up with worry. “Oh my gosh, what if he’s…doing other things?”

“He’s fifteen,” I scoff, before turning to Phoenix. “You boys are virgins, right?”

“Dad!” Phoenix snaps, his cheeks turning red as he sips on his coffee. “I am- but I don’t know about him. Who knows?”

“Jesus Christ,” I mutter, running a hand through my hair. “Not my baby- he’s the first born.” I hiss at Dakota.

“Darlin’, do you really think he’s having sex?” Dakota asks Phoenix bluntly. “Like not just to wind up your father- because fifteen is young for that sort of thing.”

“I really don’t know,” Phoenix sighs, “we don’t talk that much, and besides I doubt he’d tell me. It’s not a big deal these days either-if he’s not already he’s probably close to it.”

“Oh well that’s just great,” I scoff all but throwing my mug into the sink. “God dammit. I swear if any of you get girls pregnant- you’ll be receiving a beating- and not from me, from your Grandma.”

“You don’t have to worry about me than,” Phoenix scoffs.

“Good, see? We still have one baby.” Dakota pouts, throwing her arms around Phoenix. “Do we need to have the sex talk or is that being done in school?”

“School- we don’t need to talk about this!” Phoenix whines, “Leave me alone!”

Dakota laughs, kissing the side of his head. “Eat up, we’ll be late for school if you and your brother don’t hurry.” She chuckles as she leaves the kitchen. “You too John! You have a busy day of meetings!”

I pull a face at Phoenix and he gives a small smile.

“I bet you’re just dying to get the wedding over with.” He teases.

I roll my eyes but nod in agreement. “In a good way of course. I should have done this ages ago.”

“We really thought you would have gotten the hint years ago.” Phoenix confesses sheepishly. “Mesa was really pushing for you guys to get married like, three years in.”

I let out a laugh. “Yeah, you boys were in no way subtle.”

“But it got us here so we must have done something right.” He tries with a shit-eating grin.

“Eat your breakfast.”

Pulling up outside the boys’ school, I let Phoenix go but call Mesa back. I’m determined to have a slither of a conversation to at least ease my mind with the thoughts floating around up there. I figured I’d scarred Phoenix enough- now it’s the other one’s turn.

“What?” He mumbles, his eyes darting around outside. “Dad my friends are gonna walk past-“

“What, you’re embarrassed of your dad? I’ll have you know that half of these kids have older siblings that probably turn up to our shows.” I state, based on completely made up facts.

“Whatever- did you want something?” He mumbles, his eyes scanning the crowd for someone, or something.

“Yeah,” I frown, putting the truck in park. “What’s going on with you?”

“What?” Mesa sighs, finally looking over at me. “Dad I have to go.”

“You’re being really distant,” I muse, “you haven’t been acting like yourself and your grades suck, kid. I want to know what’s up.”

He shrugs, playing with the sleeve of his jacket. “Nothing’s up…I’m just…I don’t know, not that interested in physics.”

“Oh I’m sure that’s it,” I scoff, “talk to me, Mes. You don’t do that anymore.”

There’s something in his eyes that I can’t place, and it’s starting to worry me. I’ve never been this out of touch with one of the boys and I don’t know how to handle it. I know he’s growing up and acting like a teenager, but we’ve always been close, despite that. Why can’t they be three months old again? Why can’t they be three weeks old? The first time I really met them? They still don’t know that I bailed just like their mom did- I don’t plan on telling them, either. There are just some details that do not need to be shared. Especially the ones I regret.

“Well maybe I have other people to talk to.” He mutters, pushing the car door open. “I gotta go.”

“Mesa!” I call, but he’s long gone, closing the door behind him and jogging over to his friends.
I sigh and sink back into my seat, watching him walk to the people he seemed to identify more with than myself. I watch him meet up with his friends and slide his hand into the hand of a blonde girl. He kisses her cheek and slaps his best friend on the back. He has a girlfriend and he hasn’t even spoken to me about it. Does Phoenix know? Why are they starting to keep things-

“Hey asshole! Move!”

I roll my eyes and flip off the driver behind me before moving out of the drop off zone.

I need to crack down on these boys before I lose control of them completely.

Making my way into the 8123 offices, I flick through the messages left on my phone. Amongst the nagging voicemails from Ma and the bored texts from Dakota, I had a message in my inbox from Emily.

Emily: are you able to do coffee this afternoon?

I sigh, typing back a response.

Busy day. Sorry.

I feel guilty, but shove my phone back into my pocket. I have a lot on my mind as it is and meeting up with my ex for coffee is not something that will make it all better. My fifteen year old could be doing something I myself didn’t do until I was nineteen. I know, hard to believe, but it’s true. But than again, I’ve heard loads of horror stories on the online parents’ support chat rooms.
I have Tim and Halvo to blame for those.

“Johno! Man it’s been days!” Jared greets dramatically as we hug.

“You been missing Big Biz, baby?” I smirk, slapping his ass.

“Oh you know it. Kids and wives are cool, but there’s nothing I crave more than my boy.”

I let out a laugh, patting him on the back as we head into the conference room. “It’s good to see you too, man. It feels good to finally get back into the swing of things.”

“That’s for sure. Now that the hysteria over the third Halvorsen baby has died down things are slowly getting back to normal.” Jared nods in agreement.

“It’s crazy, huh? Who thought he’d be the one playing super dad.” I chuckle, shaking my head.

“Tessa is convinced he has the baby bug after Milo. Apparently him and Leah have been going at it like they’re trying for their fourth.” Jared winces.

“How do you know that much about their sex life?” I scoff, not wanting to think about my best friend like that- no matter how hot his wife is.

“Girls talk way too much, man.” He mutters as we sit down at the conference table. Eventually Garrett and Pat join us. They come in talking about some animated kids movie they’d both been roped into watching with Pat’s son Leo and Garrett’s daughter Leia. Sometimes it’s hard keeping up with everybody’s kids and how old they are, considering there’s so many of them around us now.
At least we’ll never have to worry about Kennedy adding to the mix; he and Isa are still dead set on a life without ‘spawns’ running around. Whatever suits, I guess. If I hadn’t have had the boys, I’d probably be the same way.

“Greetings, people.” Kennedy salutes as he walks in with a tall cup of coffee; he’s hung over for sure. That’s something I haven’t been in a really long time. Maybe D and I should go out tonight. No I can’t. I have to talk to my son about sex.

I groan, not sure of how to go about it. It’s also hard because I have the oldest kids so I can’t turn to anyone else for advice. Well, I could talk to my own father, but I’d rather run in front of a bus than talk to my parents about the birds and the bees. Once was enough in this lifetime.

“Dude, are you menstruating or something?” Garrett scoffs from across the table.

“I have to talk to the boys.” I mutter, dropping my head into my hands.

A smirk grows on Kennedy’s lips. “Like, the talk?”

I nod as the boys all sit back in hysterics, even Tim whom I hadn’t even noticed come in. “Oh I’m glad you al find this hilarious!”

“Dude, I’m sure there’s nothing you need to worry about,” Garrett laughs, “I mean Mesa maybe, but Phoenix? He’ll take after his old man for sure.”

“What’s that supposed to mean?” I frown, offended. There is nothing wrong with waiting till nineteen.

“I mean, Mesa’s the more outgoing, party boy kind of guy. He’s bound to go first out of the two seeing as Phoenix only has a small group of friends who are more interested in starting a band than getting laid.” Garrett points out. “They’re basically us.”

“Plus, fifteen is way too young to even b-be thinking about that.” Pat assures me.

“Oh come on man, kids are starting way younger than what we did.” Tim scoffs.

“That makes me feel so much better.” I mutter.

“Dude, they’re good kids. It’s just puberty.” Jared says wisely. “They’re going to be fine, you just have to talk to them.”

I guess the tattered advice from my best friends sort of makes me feel a little better. I know the reality of this though and it does scare me. My oldest son could be doing something I really hope he’s not. I know he’s not ready for that sort of thing at this age and I don’t want him to make a mistake he’s going to regret.

We eventually move on from my crisis, and begin talking about what the next couple of months have in store for us. We’re starting to talk about the next album, along with a few other projects the band wants to do. Of course that also means tour, which I’ve been trying to put off so Dakota and I can get married. But seeing as we don’t see that happening for another year or so, a few shows wouldn’t hurt in between studio sessions.

Throughout the meeting I receive another text from Emily, asking when we can meet up through the week. I think she’s starting to become restless with the boys, but I’ve told her already that there really isn’t a lot I can do for her. They’ll meet her when they’re ready, even if it has taken them five years to warm up to the idea. They’re still indifferent about the situation.

When I get out of the meeting, I go with Kennedy to a guitar shop down the road to pick up a guitar I’ve had ordered in. We’ve both decided to treat ourselves to a new guitar each since quitting smoking…again. Even though I gave up quite a few years ago, I picked up the bad habit last year when Kennedy and Isa were going through some stuff and Kennedy was smoking because of the stress. It started out as social smoking but soon turned into a really shitty habit. I kept it from the boys and Dakota for as long as I could, but she caught me one night after they’d all gone to bed and forced me into quitting. My lungs are definitely thanking her now.

As I head home late that afternoon, Phoenix calls me to tell me he’ll be having dinner with Jaxon at his place. The two have been spending a lot of time together lately, writing music with a few friends. They’re in the early stages of starting a band and I know that the second he gets the ball rolling, he’ll become more and more busy with that and I’ll probably see him less. There’s a lot more girls in the music scene around here which means I need to have the talk with him too, even if he’s the more sensible out of the two. It can’t hurt, right?

When I get home, Dakota’s car isn’t in the driveway, but I can hear heavy music coming from Mesa’s room. I think it’s Rage Against the Machine, which makes me proud to call him my kid. Good to know I
haven’t completely failed as a dad.

I mull about the kitchen for a while, making myself a sandwich and waiting for Mesa to come down so I can talk to him. I think it’s better to talk to the boys separately, so they take this seriously and don’t feel awkward about asking questions. I need to make it as casual as possible, so they don’t feel weird about coming to me when the time is right. I want them to feel comfortable about this kinda stuff, even though I know I felt completely uncomfortable when my dad first sat me down.
When he doesn’t come down after a half hour, I decide to go up there and face my fear. How hard can it be, right? Maybe Phoenix is wrong and I’m worked up over all of this for nothing. Fifteen is young, even for this generation.

I get to his room and knock on the door, but he doesn’t answer. The music is a lot louder as I stand outside his room and I wince at what the neighbours must be thinking at this time in the afternoon.
I take a deep breath to rid my nerves and decide to just go for it. He’s my son, how bad can this really be?

Pushing open the door, my eyes are witness to a lot more than I was bargaining for. This is worse than I thought.


Mesa looks up from the girl he’s making out with on his bed. His eyes widen, as do hers, but I can’t help but notice the smirk on her lips. “Dad!”

“Oh my god.” I mutter, stepping back and slamming the door shut. His hand was completely and inappropriately up her shirt and I don’t like the way her hands were lingering down the back of his jeans. It’s the girl he was walking to class with this morning- I knew she looked…social.

I hear the music shut off in his room and scrambling about, along with hushed voices. I make my way back down to the kitchen, not wanting another awkward run in. I can’t believe he invited a girl over without asking me first. The boys always ask to have friends over and-this girl is clearly more than a friend to Mesa.

It takes him roughly fifteen minutes to show his ‘friend’ out, before meeting me in the kitchen. I sit at the kitchen bench with a beer in hand, eyes glued to my son as he leans against the bench on the other side of the room. He’s avoiding eye contact. I can see the love bites on his neck from here.

“Before I bite your head off, I’m going to let you explain.” I say slowly. I don’t want to blow up at him, even though I’m dying to.

He looks up awkwardly. “Her name is Kia.”

“She’s the girl you were walking with when you met up with your friends this morning.” I state, taking a sip of my drink.

Mesa nods. “That’s her.”

“And?” I push, sending him a look. “You know what I’m going to say, Mes.”

Looking away, he crosses his arms over his chest. “I’m old enough to make my own decisions-“

“Not about that!” I scoff, putting my beer down. I don’t think it’s that appropriate that I drink in front of him at a time like this. “Mesa you’re fifteen!”

“So?! You let me make my mind up about seeing mom, yet you don’t think I can handle girls my own age?!”

“It’s not that I don’t think you can handle girls, Mes, I don’t think you can handle having sex!” I snap back at him. All attempts at not blowing up at the kid have gone. I’m way passed angry.

His face turns bright red at the word. “That’s none of your-“

“Oh don’t you start that with me,” I scoff, shaking my head. “I’m your father and you’re only fifteen! You should not be doing that at this age- it’s illegal for starters!”

“I’m not even doing that! You’re yelling at me for something I didn’t do!” Mesa yells, rolling his eyes.

“What I saw you doing was just as bad!” I state firmly. “You’re a kid- you shouldn’t be doing things like that, Mesa. I’m serious. You don’t know what it could lead to.”

He looks at me coldly. “What, like having kids that you don’t want?”

My blood runs cold. “W-what did you just say?”

“I know that you left me and Phoenix when we were born. So much for never leaving us, huh?” Mesa scoffs, before leaving the room.

I go after him, grabbing him by the arm. “Mesa where did you hear that?” I ask, feeling weaker than I’ve ever felt before. My heart sinks to the bottom of my chest.

He tries to pull away but I don’t let him. “You and Dakota were talking about me and Phoenix not wanting to meet mom. You said you didn’t want us to know you bailed on us after we were born because you ‘couldn’t handle what she’s going through’ well guess what dad, I don’t just hate her, I hate you too.” He snaps, pulling away viciously.

With that he runs upstairs and I wince as I hear his bedroom door slam. He turned me into the villain within five seconds and I haven’t felt this bad in fifteen years. I feel sick to my stomach that he knows about that. I wanted to keep that from their knowledge for as long as I could. I know the boys have always had underlining issues with being abandoned by their mom and I didn’t want them to think of me that way too. But to know that Mesa has found out and feels the same way…makes me sick.
I need another beer.

When Dakota gets home round five, I’m out on the back porch sipping on my sixth beer. I’m past buzzed and I haven’t seen Mesa in a couple of hours now.


I look up as Dakota walks out onto the porch, a frown across her lips. “Hey baby, c’mere-“

“What the hell are you doing?!” She hisses, picking up the bottles around me. “Five? Five beers?!”

“Six, actually” I mumble, giving her a pout. “C’mon, come sit-“

“No!” She snaps, pushing my hands away from her. “What the hell are you doing?”

I look away, knowing I’d have to face this and my plan of getting drunk isn’t going to work. “I can’t do it anymore.”

She’s silent, her eyebrows furrowing as she tries to ‘figure me out’ probably. Dakota sits down in the chair next to me. “Are you having another panic attack?” She asks softly, placing her hand on my thigh.

I shake my head, holding her hand in mine. The tears are forming and I feel like an asshole. I don’t deserve sympathy. I don’t deserve the boys- they deserve better. “I think Em should take the boys. I can’t do it, D. I can’t-“

“Baby slow down,” she murmurs, wrapping her arms around me. “What’s going on? What can’t you do?”

“The boys! Mesa knows I left them, babe. He knows I did the same thing Em did when they were babies and he hates me for it.” I whisper over her shoulder.

“Oh John,” Dakota sighs, running a hand through my hair. “Did he hear us talking the other night?”

I nod, wiping my eyes on the back of my hands. “Fuck- I didn’t mean to get drunk I just didn’t know what to do- I came home and found him making out with this girl and I went off at him and he brought it up- babe he thinks I didn’t want them- that that’s why I left.”

“Surely he knows that’s not true,” She mumbles. “John, you had to do what you had to do. They’re not going to understand but they will eventually. You wouldn’t be here today if you hadn’t of taken those three weeks, you’ve said that yourself.”

“But if I was a better dad I wouldn’t have needed three fucking weeks.” I snap. “It’s all falling apart, D. I can’t do it- I thought I could, but I really can’t.”

She moves out of her chair and straddles my lap, placing a hand on either side of my face. “John O’Callaghan, snap out of it! You are a fucking amazing father to those boys and after the way your ex handled the situation it only made sense for you to go away and prepare yourself. Sure, some people would have stayed, but others would have left completely. You stayed, John. That means something.”

“Not to them.” I scoff. “Oh god- wait until he tells his brother.”

“I don’t think he’d do that, baby,” Dakota sighs, leaning against me and wrapping her arms around my neck. I feel her lips against my ear, leaving small kisses. “You’re such a good father, John. Don’t sell yourself short. You’ve sacrificed a lot for those two and you need to cut yourself some slack about what happened fifteen years ago. It’s Emily that should be-“

I look up as she stops suddenly. “It’s Emily that should be what?”

She shakes her head. “That’s their mom. I’m not going to say anything about her.”

“I used to call her a cruel bitch.” I muse.

“John,” Dakota scolds, slapping my chest lightly before sighing. “But I guess you had a right. She messed up what could have been a perfect family for you four.”

“I’ve got my perfect family.” I mumble against her shoulder. “As long as you stay with me, I’ve got everything I need.” Except for the kid that hates me. I think it’s the alcohol, but the tears flood from my eyes as the moment plays back in my head.

“I hate you too.”

“He hates me. My son hates me- he hates both his parents, D. I’ve fucking failed him and I can feel him slipping away from me- he was my first born and I’ve failed him completely.” I choke, using my shirt as a tissue. I’m a fucking joke. He can’t possibly hate me as much as I hate myself. It was only a matter of time before it all came undone and I guess this is it. When he tells Phoenix about the horrible person I am I’ll have lost both my kids. There’s no recovery from that and I have the proof; just look at their relationship with their mother.

I should have let Ash and Tim raise them.

“I’m not even going to fight you on this because you’re in too much of a state to really listen to me,” Dakota says softly as she stands up, pulling me into her. “You’re going to go to bed before Phoenix gets home and I’m going to check on Mesa. Shower and go to bed, John. Sleep this off and we’ll deal with this in the morning.”

I’ve never heard her this low before. She probably agrees with me but doesn’t want to say any different. I knew it. I’m a fucking failure and my own fiancé can’t tell me otherwise.

Maybe they’re all better off without me.

The following morning I wake up with the worst hangover I’ve had in years. I really need to stop fucking around with alcohol. The bed is empty except for my sweating mess of a body. I feel and probably look like shit. Running a hand through my greasy hair, I hold my throbbing head in my hands and wince; I know I deserve all of this.

The door opens slowly and Dakota walks in, clad in nothing but a bathrobe. She looks stunning and I hate myself for tying her down. She deserves so much more than this.

Tears spring to my eyes as the memories of last night come flooding back. “I fucked up.”

“With the drinking, yeah you did.” She nods softly. “Not a great example, babe.”

“Did Phoenix get home okay?” I ask, my voice raspy and broken.

“He spent the night at Jaxon’s but he’s on his way home. They’re staying home from school today. Mesa refuses to leave his room and Phoenix…I just asked him to come home. I think you should talk to the both of them.” Dakota mumbles, looking down at her hands. She’s keeping something from me and I can tell. Her eyes don’t quite meet mine and she keeps fidgeting. I know this girl too well to know when she’s hiding something from me.

“Dakota…” I pry slowly, taking her hands in mine to gain her attention. She bluntly turns away, as though nothing is wrong. “Darlin’, I can read you like a book, tell me what’s-“

“It’s Emily.”
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