A/N: This is the second story in the "For a Lifetime, and then some" arch

A/N: This is the second story in the "For a Lifetime, and then some" arch. The first one was "Heartbeats".

There's no particular order to read the stories, since they are all oneshots and deal with the same couple (Zachary and James) at different stages of their lives. Hope you enjoy!

- Forgetting To Forget -

In my case, growing up without a father was pretty neat. I didn't secretly pray for him to walk through the door on Christmas Eves, and I never wasted any birthday wishes on him. For me, he literally didn't exist. The word father was probably the one I had most difficulties understanding at school.

I remember once, in first grade, we were asked to draw the members of our family. At that time, I was convinced that I came from a watermelon seed my mom had accidentally swallowed on one hot summer day. I wasn't aware of the fact that most families had a Daddy in them who loved Mommy very much, and from that love kids like me were born. Therefore I couldn't understand why, at the end of the day, the teacher would smile and praise all the kids on their drawings, and only when looking at mine her expression would turn sad and she would simply pat my head gently without saying anything.

I'm sure THAT screwed more with my psych than the so called lack of a male figure in my life.

And just imagine my confusion on Father's Day when, instead of joining me in the kindergarten's sandbox, all the kids were gathered inside, around a big white table. They were busy coming up with handmade presents for this mysterious 'Father' person and they seemed to be really enjoying themselves. I remember sitting in the sandbox and staring at my hands, feeling my heart sink lower with every occasional giggle that reached my ears. It hurt being left out, but I never really tried to fit in, never had the courage to ask who this 'Father' was and why he was so important that there was an entire day dedicated to him yearly.

But I never felt lonely for too long.

"Hey…" the greeting was whispered directly into my ear, the voice familiar and instantly comforting.

Ah yes… Him. The memory of His voice resounds in my head today just as clearly as twenty years ago. His name was Zachary, but until the day I could correctly pronounce his name, I called him Ree. While Ms. Mill did all the teaching, Ree, her ten year-old son, took care of the minor chores around the kindergarten - He cleaned up after we had lunch, dug through the huge box of broken toys to see which ones can be salvaged, helped us reach the really interesting books that were always on the top shelf and sometimes, when he was done cleaning and repairing and throwing out the trash, he came to keep me company.

"Hi Ree," was all I offered as a response. I didn't raise my head for fear of him discovering that I was very close to crying and boys, as we all know, didn't cry. Ree, however, wasn't at all happy with my feeble response.

"Hey, what happened to that smile I used to get?"

I hung my head lower, if that was even possible. "It's broken."

After twenty years, I still wonder why exactly I chose those specific words that day. A 'broken smile'… perhaps, seeing as Ree was very good at repairing the toys we broke on a daily basis, I was unconsciously sending him help signals, somehow knowing that if anyone could 'repair' me, it would be him. I think Ree knew that too.

"Broken you say? Hmm…" my eyes were still downcast, but I could imagine him tapping his chin with his index finger. That's what usually followed his pensive hum and it meant that he already found a solution but still enjoyed making it seem as though he was still searching for one. He was a very smart kid.

"C'mere, let me check the damage." He held my chin and I dutifully, albeit reluctantly, tore my eyes from the fascinating grains of sand that were covering my hands and finally looked at him.
I noticed that he was sitting in the sandbox too, and that fact alone almost made me smile. Almost.

"Tsk… It is broken," he said with a frown and tapped his chin again, "hmm…"

I was suddenly very afraid. If Ree could see right away that it was broken, then it must be something serious. I kept thinking to myself - and what if Ree can't fix it? I will never smile again? But I love smiling, and laughing.
My eyes must have widened noticeably, or whatever it was that kids did that gave away their shock, because Ree was quick to rub my arm in comfort and smile that shiny smile of his.

Yes, I admit, I was already smitten back then.

"I think I know just how to fix it," He said and sent me a wink that today I would interpret as 'trust me'. I don't recall what I thought of it back then, if anything at all, but I remember feeling reassured, even if my next words showed that I was anything but.


"Yes." Another wink.


He chuckled, nodding his head, and perched forward to kiss my brow. "I promise."

And that's it.

You must be thinking that this can't possibly be the end, but it is. That is, the end of my memory. There's obviously more, but I don't remember what happened next, and my mother never bothered to fill me in on the important details. Apparently I lost consciousness at that moment, and after a short trip to the hospital and some tests, the doctors discovered odd, wheezing sounds in my heart. But I won't go into medical talk right now - that's not why I'm writing this.

My point is… I too grew up without a father. Of course, unlike you, I never had one to begin with and my mother kept me conveniently clueless of the word's meaning until I was about eight.
You'll probably laugh, but I actually thought that 'Father' was the name of a superhero that brought happiness to all women in the world (mainly because he was always mentioned in the same context as 'Mother'), and that 'Daddy' was his sidekick. Considering the possibility that at that time I didn't know what a synonym was, I think I came pretty close to the real meaning of those words.

So by writing this, I'm not trying to brag about my success as an individual even without a father constantly by my side. After all, Freud was right and I turned out to be gay after all. But I wanted to share with you something that you probably unintentionally forgot - that there is always someone by your side to brighten your day. There will always be special people who, regardless if you are smitten with them or not, will repair your broken smile and soothe your aching heart.
Just… don't be afraid and raise your head to face the world.
You'll see – you're not alone.

Happy Father's Day, Ree.

I love you.


After waiting patiently for what seemed like hours, James finally saw the ridiculously long 'note' he wrote being folded again in four and put away on the nightstand.

"Jamie… you didn't—"

"I know, I know," he sighed, embarrassed and suddenly uncomfortable in the position they sat in, both on the bed, Zack propped against the headboard while he sat between Zack's outstretched legs, resting his own back on the warm chest behind him. "I know you're not my father – thank god for small miracles – but I needed you to finally open your eyes. I had enough of seeing you trying to ignore this particular day because you're mourning someone whom, if I may remind you, you never even wanted in your life, much less needed."

Silence greeted him and, realizing how what he said must have sounded, James launched into an explanation. "I mean," he squirmed a little against the broad chest, noticing how the one arm encircling his waist tightened even further, "not that you'll find me complaining if you actually were my dad, but it's just too creepy imagining that scenario right now, seeing as the only information I have about him from mom is that he was never 'the most lovable chap out there'."

Zack smiled and didn't even try holding back from kissing the milky neck exposed to him so shamelessly. "Compliments will get you anywhere, at any time and as fast as you wish."

James felt a shudder run down one side of his body and up the other one. Feeling the beginning of an erection brush his lower back sent more shudders through him, and he met Zack's tentative thrusts by pushing back into the heat. "That wasn't a compliment." He whispered and closed his eyes as the hot lips on his neck parted and a moist tongue briefly caressed the skin above his pulse.

"A declaration of love, then? Even better."

The words were breathed out on the wet patch of skin before Zack's lips engulfed the spot with renewed vigor, ripping a rather loud moan out of James' throat.

The attack on James' neck abruptly stopped and the chest he was lying on started to shake, sending warm puffs of silent laughter into his right ear.

Definitely more than a little aroused, James felt like rolling his eyes. So yes, the neck was his erogenous zone. The git knew it and still found it funny every damn time! No wait, by the way his chest shook this was bordering on hilarious!

"Mind sharing the joke?" James asked, his voice stating that he clearly wasn't happy with the interruption of the foreplay. The fact that he said anything at all informed Zack that he still hadn't lost the touch and that said foreplay was way up there on the hotness level.

Somewhat guilty for cracking up and ruining the mood, Zack decided it was time to do what he did best – kiss and make up. He brought his right arm to join the left around James' waist, squeezing and pulling his lover to lie back against him. Lithe back to broad chest, the front of his trousers flush against James' denim clad behind and his lips, parted as much needed air rushed in and out, attached to the nape in a manner than can only be described as possessive.

When Zack pulled him even closer, James couldn't help but moan again in pure bliss. There was so much contact… it made him experience so many different sensations simultaneously that at some point James could feel his mind shutting down, leaving him to deal with the overwhelming emotions on his own. This intense physical reaction was a regular occurrence when in Zack's company, and it reassured James that he was indeed loved, just in case Zack forgot to say the words one day.

"Jamie… darling…" finally came the gentle whisper, followed by lips pressing once behind James' ear, then once more. "I love you."

James absorbed the soft words, their sound… their warmth… their meaning. He closed his eyes and took a deep breath, filling his lungs and heart with much needed force. He held it in for a while as though trying to slow down time, making the moment last a bit longer, carving it just a bit deeper into his heart and memory.

Apparently, Zack could be many things – tactless, selfish, a dirty old perv and even James' father, in some alternate universe. But he was never forgetful, or as Zack himself always claimed – he conveniently forgot how to forget.

-The End-