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Rewritten in the Stars: Arc 1

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Winter 1978

John was drowning his worries in alcohol. He knew he shouldn't have been there, at a bar late at night with his pregnant wife alone in their home. But that was precisely the reason he was drinking.

He was going to be a dad.

John squeezed his eyes shut and rubbed at them until he saw stars.

Father.

Dad.

Responsibility.

He couldn't do this. He'd tried to be a good man, but was he good enough to raise a child? Mary thought so, but she didn't really know just how scared shitless John was about it all. He sighed and motioned for another drink as the bartender walked by. The man, whose name John had forgotten not even two seconds after the man had told him, poured him another shot and left him alone.

John rested his elbows on the bar and played with the shot glass, watching the liquid swirl around as he moved the glass.

“It'll all work out,” someone said.

John frowned and turned toward the man on his right. He was drunk enough already that the room tilted a bit as he moved. “Huh?” he asked, squinting at the man.

“You look as if you've had a rough day,” the man said, voice gravely and surprisingly serious given the fact he looked like he'd stepped out of a cheesy spy movie in that ridiculous trench coat.

John huffed and rolled his eyes. “You could say that.”

“Things have a way of working themselves out,” the man said.

John frowned. “I'm trying to get drunk enough to forget about my problems. You think you can just hand out advice when you no idea what those problems are?”

The man gave him a small smile. “You're right. It was rude of me. I apologize.”

John grunted and turned his attention back to his shot glass, playing with it. “Why the Hell not?” he said under his breath, shrugging, then he looked at the man again. “I'm about to be a father. It didn't hit me when she told me she was pregnant. It took feeling that baby kick when I had a hand on Mary's belly to realize I have no fucking clue how to raise a kid. I'm gonna fuck it up.”

The man held a hand up to call the bartender over. “Water, please,” he said. After the glass of water was put in front of him, he turned to John again.

“I could lie to you and tell you it's going to be easy,” the man said. “But you're not the type of man who would care for patronizing and empty promises. Instead I'm going to set this glass of water in front of you and remind you that in a few short weeks, a human being you've created with a wonderful woman is going to look to you, is going to depend on you to take care of him, and you're going to realize that all your fears and insecurities don't mean a thing when he needs you.”

John looked into the man's blue eyes and shivered as the room around him seemed to slow to a stop. His eyes burned as the rest of the pieces fell into place. He'd been so scared, unsure of what to do with a baby that he hadn't thought about the child as anything but “the baby” he'd be responsible for. This random guy in a bar who told John his son was going to need him? It was the slap in the face he'd needed.

“Drink your water, John,” the man said, then stood up and walked away.

John forgot about the man in under a minute, never questioned the fact that the man had known John's child was going to be a boy, but he downed his water and left the bar after paying his tab with a determined look on his face.

His wife and son needed him. He wouldn't let them down.