Status: Coming soon...

Parts of Me

Sixteen Years Old

“And so where are you having the reception?”

“We’re just going to have a small get together in my parents’ backyard.” I inform a very curious Leah as I sit across from her at the kitchen bench. Dakota and I are visiting the Halvorsen’s this cruisey Saturday morning after a handful of appointments about the wedding. It’s only a few weeks away and to say I’m nervous would be an understatement. Leah’s been a huge help to Dakota, which I’m more than grateful for. She’s not even the maid of honor (that role went lovingly to Ashley, as they’ve been friends for years before D and I met) yet she’s been to every meeting Dakota’s asked her to be at and supported her through every crisis I strategically wasn’t around for. I just want to marry the girl, not pick the flowers.

Leah nods. “That’s sweet. Do you have caterers?”

“Of course, Leah,” I chuckle, “Do you really think D would leave it this close to the date to not have a caterer planned?”

“That’s true,” Leah agrees, before looking over at Dakota, who stood with Eric on the other side of the room, going heart eyes over the two little boys hanging off of their father.

“They’re getting big,” I comment, looking on with a slight jealousy at how little Miles and Luka still are. “But he can still hold both of them, so that’s impressive.”

“He’s really been hitting the gym, babe.” Leah teases. “My buff little baby daddy.”

I can’t help but laugh, noticing the muscles in Eric’s arms flex as he hands Miles over to Dakota. Almost two years old, Miles (along with Luka) has quickly become the apple of both his parents and Dakota’s eyes. She keeps offering to babysit, even on our date nights, which is definitely a sign that she’s thinking about having kids. Only a year off of forty, it’s now or never if she wants to have one of her own, something she’s insisted time and time again that she doesn’t mind not having. Was I naïve to take her word for it? Did she really want kids?

“Okay that’s gross,” I mumble, leaning in towards Leah. “Also, is Dakota giving off strong baby vibes or am I seeing things?” I ask, slightly hoping it’s the latter and she’ll just tell me I’m crazy. I could handle ‘crazy’ more than I could handle the baby vibes.

“Oh there are major baby vibes.” Leah states, nodding her head firmly in confirmation.

My eyes widen. “Don’t play with me, Halvorsen.”

“Oh come on,” Leah chuckles. “You know Dakota. If she’s said she doesn’t want kids of her own, she means it.”

I let out a deep breath, dropping my head into my hands. “You’re a cruel woman, Leah Halvorsen.”

“I know. That’s why he married me.” Leah smirks, shooting me a wink as we’re joined by Eric and Dakota.

“Look at this little munchkin, babe,” Dakota coos as she sits beside me with Miles. “I think this is another one I want to steal.”

“Again, he’s not a giveaway.” Leah chuckles, draping her arms around Eric’s shoulders. The two of them have really fixed up their marriage since Luka was born. I was happy for them; they seemed stronger than ever, making sure their foundation was secure and healthy before they raised their third baby together. I know it definitely improved Eric’s relationship with Daisy, too. She was back to calling him ‘dad’ and they even had their weekly father daughter dates. Sometimes I wish I’d also had a daughter after the boys so I could do things like that with her. At sixteen years old, Phoenix is more obsessed with his music and friends to hang out with his old man. Mesa is much the same, trading the music in for partying with his friends. We’re also still on different pages ever since our blow out last year. I thought it would all blow over had I given him some time, but it hasn’t proven to do us any good. Sure we were talking and acting civil, but I know that our relationship has been hindered and he’s further away from me than he used to be. It sucks, but I can’t force him to be closer to me. He has to want it.
Right now he doesn’t, and I need to respect that, as hard as that is for me to do. If I force myself onto him, I’ll lose him for good.

But as a positive to our blow out, the boys are planning to see their mom soon. Phoenix is becoming more and more open to the idea, while Mesa is still a little reserved and cautious about meeting up. I told them to take their time, because ultimately it is up to them to meet her. They’ve agreed to do it after the wedding if they decide to do it, giving them enough time to think things over.

Emily on the other hand has been doing well since her stint in the hospital and has been clean and healthy ever since. She’s accepted the distance between her and the boys in order for her to move on and live a healthier life, for her own sake. I know she’s dying to have them around, though.

“You know if you want one so bad, I’m sure Johno could help you out.” Eric smirks, shooting me a look.

I roll my eyes. “Shut up.”

“Oh no, I don’t want one of my own,” Dakota insists, shaking her head. “I just want this one. Huh little guy? You want another mommy? I could be your other mommy!” She teases, poking his belly. The lively toddler giggles under her touch; almost similar to a way I know I have once while drunk. Very, very drunk.

“You’re already his godmother, Jesus woman.” Leah scoffs. “You just want the cuteness and not the crappy diapers.”

Dakota lets out a laugh, nodding her head guiltily. “That would have to be one hundred percent true.”

“You’re lucky you missed that stage,” I muse. “Two at once? Not a great experience.”
I’d go back and do it all again, of course.

“Speaking of, how are the twins?” Leah asks. “I saw Mesa at Jimmy John’s last week with his girlfriend.”

“Oh they’re good,” I nod, “Yeah he’s pretty hung up on her. I think they’ve been together almost a year.”

“This is Kia, right? The one you caught him with last year?” Eric smirks, raising an eyebrow at me.

“Yeah,” I nod, blushing slightly at the memory. Not a pretty sight. I mean the girl is gorgeous and I want to congratulate Mesa for lucking out with such a beautiful girl, but seeing your first-born child go that far with someone at such a young age will never be something I can forget. “Kia.”

“Oh stop it, she’s a lovely girl.” Dakota insists, slapping my arm lightly.

“Yeah, maybe she’ll give you a grandchild soon so Dakota will stop threatening to steal everyone’s kids. It’ll be really lovely of her.” Eric teases, knowing it’ll only wind me up.

“Shut your mouth, Halvorsen.” I warn. “It’s bad enough he’s confessed to losing his virginity.”

“Eric stop it,” Leah hisses, sending her husband a warning look. “Mesa is a very responsible boy, John. You have nothing to worry about.”

I wish I could confidently say that I agree with her, but the kid parties more than he studies and it makes me nervous. I know that I was the same way in high school; I know what boys are like at that age.

“She’s right,” Dakota nods. “He’s careful.”

“Ugh let’s not talk about this.” I plead, sending them all desperate looks. “I don’t need this today.”

“Alright, we should keep moving. Mesa’s tutor is due in a couple hours and I bet he hasn’t even gotten out of bed yet.” Dakota mumbles, getting up from her seat to pass Miles back to Leah. “Thanks for the coffee. And the babies.”

“Pleasure is ours. Let us know if you need anymore help with the wedding.” Leah pipes up as we head for the front door.

“Like writing your vowels.” Eric taunts, brushing the hair out of Luka’s face as he plays with the toy monkey I’d given him at birth. I’m the godfather for all of Eric and Leah’s kids, so it only makes sense that I spoil the three of them rotten. Sometimes I sort of feel bad about not making Eric a godfather to the boys. But at the time, it made more sense to choose the more mature of my friends.

“Do you hate me, or something?” I scoff as we trail behind the women. “I told you, I’m working on it.”

“I don’t know how you’re stumped. You’re a songwriter for crying out loud.” Eric chuckles, slapping my back.

“Don’t cry daddy,” Luka giggles, hugging his dad around the neck.

“No it’s Uncle John that’s going to be crying, big guy.” Eric smirks.

“I really do hate you.” I state, pulling him in for a hug. “You suck, man.”

“Oh I love you too.”

“I love you Uncle John!” Luka exclaims, reaching across to squeeze me tight. Damn it I miss this young, sweet age of innocence.

“I love you too buddy,” I chuckle, ruffling his hair. “Give your daddy hell for me.”

We say our goodbyes before eventually getting into the truck. Dakota’s driving today, considering I forgot my glasses. Yes, old man O’Callaghan is wearing glasses now. I tried to put it off for as long as I could, but eventually at the ripe old age of forty-three, I had to give in or I’d be causing some real accidents on the road. Dakota insists they’re ‘sexy’ but the only time I’ve thought they look remotely sexy is when she’s wearing them to tease me. The girl looks great in glasses and I can’t wait for her sight to go fuzzy when she gets into her forties. Though if she’s anything like my mom, she won’t be needing them until her mid-fifties.

God, my fiancé is so damn sexy. She’s still wearing denim cut offs in her late thirties and she looks so good in them.

“Have I told you how hot you look today?” I ask her as we drive home.

“No you haven’t,” she chuckles, handling the truck like a legend. Watching her drive my truck is one of the hottest things she’ll ever do. I voice this to her and she bursts out laughing.

“Oh darling, your head really is somewhere else today.”

“I know where I’d like to put my head-“

“John!” She scolds, shooting a glare my way. “Don’t you dare start talking like college-you at this age.”

“This age?! I thought we agreed to never admit our increasing age!” I whine dramatically as I place a hand innocently on her thigh. “Do we really need to go there?”

“Of course we do,” Dakota says seriously. “John, you need to act like a respectable older man, with intelligent and experienced morals, otherwise I’m going to have to fuck some sense into you until you’re begging me to stop.”

My jaw hits the floor of my truck as the words fall ‘sweetly’ from her mouth.

“Dakota…” I gasp.

She smirks, slapping my hand from her leg. “The pants may be short, but I’m wearing ‘em baby.”

When we get home, Mesa is surprisingly awake. Dakota heads upstairs to take a shower (I’m dying to join her, but know that that’s inappropriate with the boys home) so I’m left alone with my eldest in the kitchen.

“Is Phoenix at Jaxon’s?” I ask him as he joins me in the kitchen.

Mesa nods. “He left earlier with some of the guys. I think they’re starting a band.”

I can’t hide the smile on my face as the news arises. My kid is following in my footsteps- he’s such a talented drummer and I’m incredibly proud of how well trained and skilled he is. He really takes his passion seriously and looks at it as more of an art form, one he spends hours perfecting. He has a lot more discipline than I did at that his age and I know I could have learnt a thing or two from him.

“Right,” I nod, “so what are your plans after your tutor this afternoon?” I ask carefully.

“Kia’s friend is having a party.” Mesa hums as he moves about the kitchen while I make him a coffee. He doesn’t drink tea anymore, and even though he claims it’s because coffee is better fuel, I think it’s because he’s trying to change everything about himself just in spite of me. I never would have thought one of my kids would turn out as reckless and carefree as Mesa.

“That’s the third Saturday in a row that you’ve gone to a party.” I point out absentmindedly.

“So?” He shoots back quickly, as though I’m accusing him of something.

“I’m just saying, Mes.” I sigh, raising my hands in defence. “You’ve been going out a lot, lately. Plus I know you drink at these parties.”

He looks away guiltily. “I do it because I want to, not because other people tell me to.”

It makes me feel a little better, but not a lot. Sixteen is still a young age to be drinking. He’s still my baby, no matter how much he hates that.

“The legal drinking age is twenty-one, Mesa. I could get in so much trouble if the police show up at one of these parties.” I point out, crossing my arms over my chest. “I don’t like you drinking at this age and I want you to stop.”

“Dad come on,” Mesa scoffs, rolling his eyes at me. “It’s not excessive, I only have one.”

“Oh I find that hard to believe.” I mutter.

“It’s true,” he snaps, narrowing his eyes at me. “I watch out for Kia at parties so I only have one drink. I’m not a complete failure, y’know.”

I‘m shocked by his words, hurt that he’d even think I think of him like that. It’s clear that there’s a harsh distance between the two of us, one that’s only continuing to grow. I don’t want our relationship to end up broken and unbearable.

“I don’t think you’re a failure at all, Mesa,” I shoot back. “When have I ever said that?”

“You don’t have to say it.” He mumbles.

I don’t have time to respond before his tutor arrives and they start work in the living room. It really gets under my skin that he thinks he can get away with jabs like that. The fact that I don’t know how to respond also makes me look weak and defeated. I hope I didn’t put my parents through hell like this.
Heading up to our bathroom, I sit on the edge of the bath as Dakota showers.

“Don’t you know what privacy is, John?” She mutters.

“If you wanted privacy you wouldn’t have left the door unlocked.” I point out dryly.

“What’s up?” She sighs, poking her head around the shower curtain.

“I don’t know how to talk to Mesa without sounding like a massive asshole.” I mumble, running my hands through my hair. “He’s just so…distant from me. I haven’t seen this side of him, D. It scares me.”

“Well think about it, babe. He’s a teenager, he’s growing up.” Dakota points out. “Try not to put it down to some huge parenting failure- he’s growing up and developing raging teenage hormones, of course he’s going to ‘hate’ you at this age.”

“But Phoenix doesn’t hate me.” I state.

“Not all kids go through things the same.”

I shoot her an unconvinced look before she disappears back into the steaming shower. The heat of the room alone gives me goosebumps. “I can’t just not assume that this has nothing to do with the fight we had last year. He’s been bitter and hostile towards me ever since.”


“It’s true and you know it, D.” I sigh.

“I mean, it could have gone better, but it didn’t. What happened is what happened, John and you can’t change it.” Dakota tells me firmly. “There’s nothing you can do about what happened, but you can do something about the way you let it affect your relationship.”

“He’s pretty much decided-“

“If you’re still the man I fell in love with, you wouldn’t let something like this destroy your relationship with your son. They’re your whole world, John. Those boys are the reason you’re still here, the reason you’re such a good man and you’ll be damned if you let that relationship go to waste!”

I’m astounded by her words, like a verbal slap in the face. It’s the reality check I need, and I should know better than to doubt her advice. Of course I still want to be the man that I was when we started dating; the man who put his children above all else, the man who fought long and hard to provide for them and make sure they were happy. They’re my kids; Mesa and Phoenix are the parts that make me whole, and I can’t let one of those parts slip away so easily.
They’re worth the fight.

“I’m home!” Phoenix calls later that night. He’s been gone most of the day, so to finally have him home is somewhat comforting. Especially considering his brother left for his party about an hour ago with his girlfriend.

“Hey kid,” I call from the living room, where I sit in front of the television. Dakota is working on a job for the magazine, so she’s up in her office and has asked politely and somewhat forcefully for me not to disturb her. “I’m in here!”

“House is quiet.” Phoenix muses as he drops down beside me, his bag at his feet.

“D’s upstairs working and your brother left for that party not too long ago.” I explain.

“Ah,” Phoenix nods. “Jack Wilson’s party. Or Elise Stuart. I don’t know, I don’t keep up.”

“You’re not really the partying kind, though.” I point out, looking over at him.

“I don’t have time for that. The band is more important.” Phoenix states.

A smile grows on my lips and I throw an arm around my son. “I’m proud of you kid, good on you for going out and doing what you love.”

“Thanks dad,” he chuckles. “We’re just going to see where this goes- we might not even make it past the end of semester, but we’re going to try. I’ve got a good feeling about it.”

“So you’re really serious about doing music as a career?” I ask, turning back to the tv, though not paying nearly as much attention as I was before. I have bigger things to focus on, like my sons’ future.

“Extremely,” Phoenix beams. “Ever since I saw you do it when I was a kid, I’ve been entranced. It’s all I want to do, dad. It’s my dream to get up and play music with my friends- the way you do.”

I can’t say I’ve ever been more flattered. My son wants to follow in my footsteps- he wants to be just like his old man. It’s incredible, to say the least. I feel honoured that such a bright and intelligent kid finds me an inspiration and some sort of guidance as to how he wants his future to turn out.

“You just do what you love, kid. But know I’ll always support you and I’ll always help you as much as I can.” I tell him wisely. “But if you’re serious about this band, I want you to promise me something.”

Phoenix nods. “I’m incredibly serious.”

“I want you to promise me that you’ll put your studies first. Finish high school to the best of your ability and make it a top priority, okay? I didn’t do that; I flunked most of my classes and wasted a good portion of my parents’ hard earned money on a college degree I didn’t finish. I’m not saying you have to go to college, but I don’t want you to make the same mistakes I did. The band dream doesn’t always work out and I want you to have something to fall back on. But that doesn’t mean I don’t want you to try your absolute hardest. Apply yourself to everything you do, kid. Studies and music. They’re both as equally as important.”

Phoenix nods in agreement. “I promise, dad. I’ll work hard for them both.”

I let out a sigh, pulling him into my chest. I’m sure I’m suffocating him, but I don’t care. “Why are you the good kid, huh? Why can’t your brother be more focused on his studies?”

“Because he has a girlfriend,” Phoenix smirks. “I think he’s a little focused on something else, dad.”

Rolling my eyes, I shoot Phoenix a warning look. “Is it necessary for everyone to keep bringing that up?

My child is sixteen years old. Sixteen. That’s way too young for that kind of thing to be normal.”

Phoenix shrugs, apparently thinking otherwise. “It’s kind of normal, dad.”

I look over at him. “You’re still a virgin, right?”

I’m met with the expected chorus of groans and whining that I usually get from Phoenix whenever I try to talk about this with him. It never used to worry me, but now that I know one of my sons’ is sexually active, it scares the shit out of me. I’ve seen sixteen and pregnant, and I’m sure there’s nothing stopping them from making a comeback.

“Well do you blame me for wanting to know?!” I scoff, throwing my hands up in frustration.

“Just because Mesa’s not, doesn’t mean I’m not, dad. We’re not the same person.” Phoenix mutters.

“Are you interested in girls?” I ask lightly, trying to dig a little deeper.

He turns to me, confused. “What? Of course I’m into girls! What’s that supposed to mean?!”

“Alright, alright,” I mumble, “No need to get so defensive. I’m just curious if there’s anyone you’re interested in at the moment. I mean it’s totally cool if you’re not, I guess you guys all tap into the hormones at different ages.”

“Never say that again.” Phoenix groans. “You really need to let Dakota do this kind of thing, dad.”

I frown. “You talk to Dakota about this but you can’t talk to me about it?!” She never even said anything about that- was she the one that bought Mesa condoms for the first time? Because I know he definitely didn’t come to me about that- he didn’t even tell me he was doing it until months after his first time. To say I was hurt would be an understatement. The kids really didn’t want me in his life, apparently.

“No, because I don’t want to talk to anyone about it!” Phoenix snaps. “Both of you need to stop asking me about something that first of all, is my business, and two, isn’t even happening!”

“Alright, alright,” I mumble, rolling my eyes. “Chill out.”

Phoenix lets out a frustrated groan, dropping his head back onto the leather couch. “I’m sixteen, dad. I have other things going on.”

I look over at him. “Other things you want to talk about?”

He looks down at his hands as he gives a shrug. Oh yeah, he wanted to talk. “I…I don’t know.”

“You know you can tell me anything, kid,” I tell him softly, draping my arm over the back of the couch.
“Whatever it is, I’ll support you. You know that.”

Phoenix nods slowly. “Yeah…”

“So what is it? It’s clearly bugging you.”


“Phoenix, it’s okay,” I murmur, squeezing his shoulder.

“I want to see mom.” He chokes out. There’s something more in his eyes but he doesn’t seem ready to tell me, so I take what he gives me.

Sitting back, it feels different to how I thought it would feel. They’ve never really said ‘mom’ or talked about Emily in that way. Even though I knew they were starting to want to know more, it was still a weird feeling- even after everything I’ve been through with Em and even though we had a good relationship now.

“You said it was okay.” He whispers.

“Of course it’s okay,” I nod quickly. “I just didn’t think you guys would ever change your mind.”

“I just…sometimes I feel lonely,” Phoenix admits, his voice raspy. He’s looking down at his hands and I see the guilt on his face. He shouldn’t feel guilty about this and my reaction probably didn’t help. “And even though I have you and Dakota, I just…I want more, y’know? I know that sounds bad.”

“No I understand, kid,” I sigh, pulling him in for a hug. “You have your brother as well, but I know you need your mom. Especially at this age.”

He nods quietly as he wipes the tears from his eyes. I haven’t seen him cry in a long time. I hate seeing my kids cry, but I know it’s good for them. “I don’t really talk to Mesa that much,” he admits, “it doesn’t bother me, but I know he feels the same way about mom. I want to know her, dad. But I don’t want you or Dakota to get upset or think I don’t appreciate everything you’ve done for us.”

“Ah Phe,” I sigh as I wrap my arms tightly around his frame and rest my chin on the top of his head.

“You don’t need to explain yourself. You know that we’d do anything for you boys- it’s my job for starters. You’ll never know how much you turned my life around, Phe. Coming back to you two that night changed my life. I know we’ve talked about all of that, but I want you to know that you’re never alone. I don’t want you to feel like you are because you never are. Whether you want to talk about anything and everything, or you just want to go for a ride, kid. I know growing up is hard, but you’re not alone, you hear me?”

We have a very emotional afternoon on that couch, which mainly consists of the two of us sitting and listening to one another. He tells me how school is and how his hopes are really high for the band. He asks me how my parents dealt with me dropping out of college and I tell him the truth. He asks me how I met Emily and I tell him. He asks me how I knew I was in love with Dakota and I tell him. He even asks me about all my first times. First drink, first kiss, date, girlfriend, the first time I slept with someone. I tell him, because he wants to know. I only hope that it’ll push him to always be open with me too. I can’t imagine losing both of them. Being so far from Mesa is torture enough.
Why is this part so hard?

“So I went for my dress fitting the other day,” Dakota pipes up as she sits beside me with a glass of red wine. My eyes nervously watch her glass over our new white leather couches and she rolls her eyes when she sees me. “Oh come on, I’m not going to spill this!”

“You don’t know that!” I shoot back, before reaching for a handtowel that I’d been keeping on the arm of the couch for cases like these. I’d caught Mesa on here with a cola and didn’t want to take any risks then, so why would I risk red wine of all drinks? I lay the towel between us as she rests her glass down.

“You’re such a mom, John,” Dakota mutters, shaking her head.

“Wow, thanks,” I scoff, kissing the side of her head. “I’m just looking out for our biggest assets.”

“Our couches? Babe you’re insane.” She laughs. “Next you’re going to be covering the hardwood floors with carpets.”

“Oh please, you’d just spill your wine over that too.” I mumble.

Shooting me a pout, she shoves me in the chest. “Stop being mean. Now, where was I? Oh right, my dress. You’re going to love it, babe. The back goes really low, but it’s really elegant.” She teases seductively.

I groan as I feel her lips on my neck, threatening to leave their mark. “You know the rule…” I whine quietly as I pull her leg over my lap.

“No hickies above the collar bone, I know, I know.” Dakota mutters as she places her glass on the floor before resuming to me. I like to think I was more enticing than whatever we were watching previously.

“I don’t want my kids seeing that,” I explain.

“No I know, I wouldn’t want them seeing that either.” She agrees, before pushing me back down on the couch. We’ve been so busy lately, we’ve hardly had this time alone. Luckily Phoenix had gone to bed a couple hours ago considering it was almost midnight. I know Mesa wouldn’t be returning tonight because he was staying at a friends, so tonight was all ours.

I groan into her mouth as her hands go down for my belt buckle.

“Take your glasses off,” she mumbles as she sits up on my waist. All these years and every time still felt as exciting as the last.

I blush, not realising I’d left them on. I’d only put them on a half hour ago to read something on my phone but must have forgotten to take them off. I slip them into the pocket of my t-shirt, causing Dakota to groan, shaking her head with a laugh. “Baby, your dad does that. Don’t remind me of him right now.”

“You know the other rule!” I whine, dropping my head back, more than frustrated.

“I know, don’t mention Jay, I’m sorry- you just do the same things that he does! It’s not my fault I notice it!” Dakota insists.

“Well I guess I should do something to you that he definitely doesn’t do.” I try seductively as I lower my voice.

“Okay no, that wasn’t hot at all, old man.” She scoffs, wrinkling her nose. “Let me just take your pants off and stop talking.”

“Am I really getting old at this?” I ask, raising an eyebrow at her. “I don’t want to look like a creep.”

“Trust me, when you have your clothes off, you’re definitely not a creep.” Dakota smirks as she drags down my fly. “I keep you young, baby.”

“Don’t stop keeping me young-“

A vibration too close to my crotch interrupts us; for a second I’m almost aroused by it before I realise it’s my phone.

“Fuck, hold on.” I mutter as I move my hand between us. Dakota whimpers at the touch and I almost turn my phone off as I retrieve it, but don’t when I see it’s my youngest calling me. I sit up quickly, making sure to hold my fiancé by the waist so she doesn’t’ fall off the couch and spill her wine.

“Who is it?” She breathes heavily.

“It’s Mes,” I mumble as I press the green button and bring my phone to my ear. “Hello?”

“Heyy daddy! I n-need you t-to help-help me out!” A very drunk, Mesa James O’Callaghan.

I sigh, running a hand through my hair. “Where are you?”

“I’m-I’m at Kyle’s? Or Jaxon’s brother’s girlfriend’s? I don’t know, hold on-hold on, lemme- I’m gonna ask okay? You wait there, don’t go anywhere-okay?”

“I’m not going anywhere, Mes,” I mumble. “Just find out where you are.”

“Okay, stay. Stay-oh that’s funny, right? Don’t leave daddy, not again,” Mesa whines before bursting out into laughter.

I know he’s drunk, but it still hurts. It only shows that he’s still not over it. “Mesa. Find out where you are and I’ll pick you up.” I spit through gritted teeth. “Don’t do anything stupid.”

Dakota sighs, shaking her head. “Tell him to be safe, John.”

I nod and wait for him to give me the address. “Alright, sit tight, kid. Don’t go anywhere, you here me? Be safe, Mesa.”

“Sounds good, papa Jay.”

With that, our conversation is over and he’s hung up on me. I swear I hear cheering in the background to the chorus of ‘chug, chug, chug’ and hope to god it’s not Mesa they’re cheering on.

“I have to go pick up my shit of a son,” I mutter to Dakota as I stand up and fix my clothes. “Sorry darlin’.”

“Don’t be sorry,” she nods, “and don’t call him that, John. I’m sure you did this to your parents.”

“That doesn’t make it okay. I don’t want him to make the same mistakes I did.” I stress as I grab my keys on my way to the door, Dakota close behind me. “It’s dangerous, D. Kids these days don’t know when to stop. You hear all the stories about how they drink too much and end up with alcohol poisoning. It’s so dangerous.”

“Mesa is a smart kid. Give him a talking to, but don’t yell at him, John. It’s not going to do any good.”

Dakota suggests. “Just worry about getting him home safe.”

“I know,” I sigh, turning to give her a kiss. “Are you going to be alright waiting here? In case Phoenix wakes up?”

“Of course baby, drive safely.” She nods, rubbing my chest. “Good luck.”

“Thanks darlin.” I sigh before making my way out to my car. I can’t believe how drunk he sounded on the phone. I’ve always said to the boys that wherever they are, drunk or sober, I’d pick them up whenever they needed me to, no matter what the situation. I don’t want them in the car with somebody that isn’t fit to drive.

Eventually I find the house and I’m not surprised by the amount of drunk looking teenagers coming in and out of it. There’s a couple other cars around with parents waiting, but they don’t look all too concerned. I roll my eyes at their nonchalant behaviour and get out of the truck. I don’t care if it’s embarrassing that I wait outside instead of inside my vehicle. I text Mesa and wait patiently for him to make an appearance. When he finally does, he’s stumbling out by himself, none of his friends around him. To be honest, I don’t recognise a kid here. I cross the road quickly and make my way to him before he falls out in front of a moving car.

“Ew,” I hear him mumble as I put one of his arms around my shoulders.

I roll my eyes and help him back across the street. “Are you going to throw up? Because I don’t want
that inside my truck, Mesa. Tell me if you’re going to be sick.” I ask firmly.

“I’m fine, fuck- don’t go so fast,” he whines pathetically. I’m raging with anger over his stupid decisions, but try to keep it in. Like Dakota said, it’s not going to help if I blow up at him, especially when he’s drunk and under the influence. We’ll be saying all sorts of shit that he won’t remember.

I open the passenger door and help him in, making sure he’s securely beneath his seatbelt before closing his door and heading around the truck to jump into the drivers’ seat.

“Tell me if you’re going to be sick, Mesa. I’ll pull over, okay?” I tell him firmly as I start the engine.

“I’m so sl-sleepy…” Mesa yawns as he rests his head against the window. “That party was cr-crazy, man.”

“Who were those kids? Where were your friends?” I question him as I start the drive home.

Mesa shrugs. “Not really. Drinks were g-g-good though.”

I roll my eyes, not at all impressed with his pathetic behaviour. “We’re not talking about that right now. I’ll wait until you’re sober and hungover tomorrow morning.” I snap back at him.

“Oh right, whatever.”

“Don’t ‘whatever’ me, Mesa.” I warn as I pull into our street. We seemed to live dangerously close to all the parties, which could give a drunken sixteen year-old the wrong impression, thinking he could walk home alone at midnight. “I’m sick of your shit.”

“Y-y-you know, you’re not supposed to sw-swear in front of your kids.” He tells me smartly.

“Mesa, don’t test me.”

“Mesa, don’t test me.” He mocks.

We pull up in the driveway and I refrain myself from strangling the kid. My knuckles are white around my steering wheel. I love him, of course I do, but he’s a real jerk when he’s drunk and I don’t like it one bit.

“I know what you’re thinking.”

I scoff, unable to contain my emotions. “Oh really? You know what I’m thinking?”

“Mmhmm,” Mesa nods through a hiccup. “You’re wondering why I can’t be more like Phoenix. Well, guess what daddy, I’m wondering why you can’t be more like-“

“Don’t finish that fucking sentence, Mesa. Get inside and go to bed!” I yell, silencing him.

He looks at me through his drunken, bloodshot eyes. “Whatever, dad.”

I let out a sigh as he heads inside. I take a few moments to recollect myself in the truck before eventually heading out behind him. I think it’s fair to say our relationship has officially been hindered.
When I get inside, I fall into Dakota’s arms.

“He’s upstairs. He’s going to sleep it off babe, just calm down.” She murmurs as she holds me tightly.

“I don’t know how long I can do this, D. He’s my child, I can’t have him hating me like this.” I whisper into her hair. “It hurts too much.”

“He doesn’t hate you, John. I know it’s hard to believe but you have to trust me. He’s just going through a tough time.” Dakota sighs, pulling back to look me in the eyes.

“His tough times aren’t the parts I can handle anymore.”

“Hey,” she coos softly, moving her hands to my cheeks. “These parts are just as important as the easy parts. Remember that.”

How could I forget? Slowly, these parts were tearing away at the somewhat successful father I had confidence in being. Who am I?
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I'm sorry it's been so long! To make up for's an extra long chapter...big things coming next!