Epilogue: With Dad's Consent:

Before I knew it, Father's Day had arrived, and right around the end of freshman year. Aside from Thanksgiving and Christmas, I didn't care much about celebrating holidays, but I couldn't help but reminisce about my own father by the name of Ike. As stated earlier, I was unfortunate enough to lose him when I was only five years old, and though it'd been roughly a decade since then, no amount of time could heal the serious wound in my heart that stemmed from it.

I allowed myself to lie back on my soft, warm, queen-sized bed that was cloaked in a Lakers-themed comforter. It reminded me of the hugs I used to share with my dad almost every night, and caused me to choke up a little. I know I haven't spoken much about him so far, but that's because he didn't really play a role in my relationship with Chris. However, as our relationship neared its first anniversary, I felt it was only fair to make sure everyone else in my life knew about it, and even though Dad had been gone for quite a while, I still felt it was important to let him know... somehow.

From the day I was born, my father was always there for me. In fact, it was he who provided the chromosomes behind my olive-green eyes and light brown hair. Whenever I was keeping my parents awake at night as an infant, Dad would always be the one to check up on me, despite Mom's willingness to do it herself. I was born slightly premature as well, so I took just a tad longer to achieve certain milestones than most children did. Whereas my mom would sometimes lose patience easily while tutoring me, my dad remained calm the whole time.

Dad was an announcer, known for his excellent speaking voice and colorful sense of humor. He earned money by speaking at various events around town, and was locally famous for the way his commentary would liven up whatever location he was in. Even when he was just chilling at home, he would often crack jokes to lighten up the collective mood between us, though of course he would keep things G-rated. Sometimes, however, I remember he would tell me dirty jokes in private, and as a result, I knew how to swear at only three years old, much to my mother's chagrin. Yet despite this, it only served to strengthen our father-son bond.

Most fathers often tried to shape their sons to be just like themselves, but not my dad. He knew that everyone was unique, and he knew everything that made me stand out. And as such, he never once tried to shape me into something I wasn't. However, that's not to say he didn't have any influence on who I am today. After I took my first steps, we would frequently play outside whenever Dad was off work. Our favorite activity was playing catch with an American football, which we did constantly up until I was five. At some point, I was taught the rules of the game, and if it weren't for that, I probably wouldn't have the aspirations to become a professional player that I eventually got. Nor would I be the star quarterback at Kicksburg High like I was now.

For the rest of our short time together, my dad and I were like two grapes on a vine. We bonded over televised sporting events and jokes, and spent so much time together in general. At the time, Mom was a nurse at the local hospital, and often worked night shifts, meaning she was rarely able to cook for the rest of us. As such, Dad and I would often eat dinner together, whether it be eating out, or enjoying takeout at home.

Unfortunately, our fun-filled bond didn't last very long. Things went downhill around the time of a particular wedding ceremony, during which my dad performed his final gig as the preacher. Mark Simmons, a family-friend who also happens to be the richest guy in town, was getting married for the first time in his life. So naturally, the event generated quite the buzz among the townsfolk. Just three days after the event, the people still hadn't wound down completely after partying so hard, and two particularly unhinged people were currently engaging in a gunfight. My father happened to be running errands for his family when he passed by the two thugs, and was accidentally hit in the side of the chest by a stray bullet, bleeding to death soon after.

Even after the advent of high school, I could clearly visualize the breaking news report that had suddenly appeared on the television that fateful day, with the headline that read 'IKE VAN DYKE DECLARED DEAD ON MAIN STREET', complete with that oh so graphic photograph of my own father. The very man I connected to more than anyone else in my life, only rivaled by my new boyfriend Chris. Dad understood me more than anyone else did, and the bond we shared was even stronger than the one between Mom and I. I rarely expressed it, but I was beyond grateful for Dad's guidance and influence on my life. And now, I was especially sad that I wasn't able to tell him how much I appreciated it.

"Hey, Lucius."

Having been yanked out of my thoughts, I sat up, noticing none other than Mom standing in my bedroom doorway with smartphone in hand. She was wearing a baggy T-shirt and yoga-pants, the type of clothing she usually wore when lounging around the house.

"What is it?" I asked in response.

"I'm ordering pizza for dinner, but I keep forgetting. Do you prefer your Italian sausage spicy or sweet?" Mom asked.

"Spicy." I replied, my tone marred with indifference.

"Heh, should've known. You love spicy stuff. Just like your father." Mom chuckled as she started to dial the number, before looking back up at me, "Lucius, what's wrong? Are you alright?"

"Oh, nothing much. Just thinking about my old man, y'know?" I replied earnestly, "Why he had to go so soon, whether he's proud of me, stuff like that."

Mom then took the time to enter my room and sit next to me on the bed, wrapping her arm around my shoulders.

"Well hey, I'm sure he'd be very proud of the young man you're turning into." She said with sincerity.

"I sure hope so." I sighed, "Damn, I miss him so much."

"Hey, what did we say about using that type of language in the house, young man?" Mom warned, "I'm serious, one more slip-up and that XBOX is going in the garage."

"My bad." I replied.

"But anyways, I miss him too. But he's probably having a much better time up there in heaven. Probably pounding back some cold ones with his dad while they're watching their WWE matches." Mom pondered, glancing up at the ceiling.

"And with Grandma scolding the two of them as usual." I shared a brief moment of laughter with my mother.

"Or wait, what am I saying? I know he's enjoying his time up there." Mom said.

"For the last time, Mom. You did not see Dad in the afterlife." I groaned, rolling my eyes, "You have to be dead to go there, and you were just in a coma."

"Well believe what you want to believe." Mom replied nonchalantly, "Now about that pizza..."

I didn't watch as she left the room, instead directing my attention to the family photograph on my nightstand. I took a deep breath.

"Hey, Dad. Er, sorry to bother you, but... I just thought I'd let you know that I'm doing great. I'm having a lot of fun in high school, and I'm already the star quarterback on my team. I've also recently come out as bisexual, and I've gotten myself a boyfriend. Sure, I had to make some sacrifices to make things work, but it was all worth it. Even though it's been almost ten years, I still miss you a lot. I've never stopped thinking about you since you left us, and I'll never stop thinking about you for the rest of my life. I just hope you think about me too, at least once in a while." I whispered, trying as hard as I could to control the quaver in my voice, "So uh, happy Father's Day, Dad... and thanks for everything."

~ ~ ~ The End ~ ~ ~

A/N: Hope you all enjoyed this story. And if you wish to know more about these dead fathers that Lucius and Chris keep bringing up, then feel free to read The Benefits of Death. Season 1 has already been posted in its entirety, and Season 2 is set to premiere this Fall.