Fallen Fathers


Akiela Xal

Disclaimer: Story mine. Characters sorta. Picture #7

Written November 14, 2008

She wasn't sure how long she'd been standing there, hands shoved deeply into her pockets to ward off the bitter chill blowing off the Potomac. This was the first time she'd come here, to Arlington, to visit his grave. She'd never known him, of course, only heard stories that her mother told her about him. Her mother had really loved him, but it just wasn't meant to be. Viet Nam had ended her mother's hopes of being with the man she loved. Now, thirty-some years later, here she was paying homage to this fallen father that she'd never met.

"Well, Dad," she said, placing her hand gently on the grave marker, "it's been nice talking to you. Merry Christmas."

"That's nice. Do you come here a lot to talk to your dad?" asked a petite blonde standing a row over and a few graves down from her.

Jo Sanders looked up, "What? Oh, no, this is the first time I've been to visit his grave. Silly, I know, but I'm from California, and I don't get this far east very often."

"Me too," replied Nikki Hutchinson. "To both actually," she chuckled. "I'm also from the Golden State, and this is my first trip to Arlington."

"Huh," Jo grunted. "Listen, I was about to head over to The Wall… wanna join me?"

"I'd like that," she said walking over to the taller woman.

"Where're you parked? I'll walk you to your car," the raven-haired woman offered gallantly.

"Oh, I was dropped off by a friend. I was planning to call a cab to return to my hotel when I finished here," the petite blonde demurred.

"Well, I'm parked just over there. I'll drive us to the monument, then take you back to your hotel, how's that," she smiled.

"Ya know," Nikki said once they were in the vehicle, "I'm not really sure why I even came here today."

"Why's that?"

"I never knew my father. Sure Mom loved him, but from what she's told me… he wasn't going to come back to her when he came home."

"Huh. So, why did you come then?"

"I was in town for a friend's commitment ceremony, and it just seemed like such a waste if I didn't even come over."

"I hear ya," Jo said. "I'm in town on business, and it just seemed like the right thing to do."

Getting out of the car near The Wall they wandered down its length searching for familiar names. Finally Jo reached out and traced her fingers over one name in particular.

"Huh," said Nikki. "Is that your dad? Corporal Kevin Sanders?" At the other woman's nod, Nikki dug in her bag. "I've got something you should see."

Jo took the grainy photograph of two smiling young men. One a tall, sandy haired, well-muscled man and the other a shorter, blonde man. When Jo looked up at her questioningly, Nikki pointed to the shorter of the two men and said, "That's my dad. Corporal Michael Hutchinson and…"

"That's mine?" asked Jo, wonder evident in her voice.

"Yeah, so, I guess you've heard the stories too, huh?" asked Nikki.

"Sure, they met in boot camp and were inseparable from the moment they first stepped off the bus."

"You know they were…" Nikki trailed off.

"Huh? Oh, sure, I knew that," Jo said offhandedly.

"That, um… doesn't bother you, does it?" Nikki asked hesitantly.

Jo gazed into the smaller woman's green eyes. "That would be kinda hypocritical of me, don't you think?" she said with a wink at her companion.

Nikki let out a breath she hadn't realized she was holding as she returned the blue eyed gaze. "Yeah, me too."

Jo took her hand as they turned back to look at The Wall one last time. "Hey, your Dad's name is right next to mine."

"Together until the very end."

Jo turned back to her and asked, "Do you think their daughters might be able to do the same thing?"

In answer Nikki reached up with her free hand and brought Jo's head down for a tender kiss. "I hope so," she whispered. They walked hand in hand back to the car and the rest of their lives… together.

The End


Story by: Akiela Xal
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