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Give me Single Dad Zane

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After getting married in July 1993, Zane is a high powered attorney in Austin, while Becky volunteers throughout the community as part of the Women’s League and various other philanthropic organizations. Together they’re a young up-and-coming couple who were often seen on the society pages, hobnobbing with the elites of Texas power. (Beverly couldn’t be more proud).

Eventually they decide the time is right to have a kid. They’re both excited and thrilled. Zane might be a little apprehensive about handling a tiny baby (it’s been a long time since his sister was a baby) but he knows Becky will be an awesome mom and she’ll probably do the majority of the parenting while he continues up the corporate legal ladder. (Beverly of course is also ready to swoop in at a moment’s notice to “help out” as needed, gloating at the idea of the next generation of Garretts arriving.)

Patrick Garrett is born in February 2003. He is a beautiful and perfect as they all could have hoped for. Zane doesn’t think his heart can get any bigger. And after a few minor freak outs and some coaching, he’s lugging the baby around like a pro after awhile. He cuts back his 70 hour a week work schedule to something slightly more manageable, but Becky and their nanny have everything under control.

Becky Garrett dies in a car crash in November 2003.

Zane’s grief and depression are overwhelming. Becky had been his world for more than two decades. He holds it together until after the funeral, but then he crumbles. Yes, like canon Zane he drinks to numb the pain. Probably would sleep all day if he could, not eating, alternating between ignoring baby Patrick to clutching him tightly like he’ll never let him go. The nanny does her best to keep things as normal as possible for the baby, but eventually she calls in the big guns to take over - Beverly Carter-Garrett.

She arrives and nags, scolds, threatens until Zane agrees to move back to the ranch. It’ll be better to be surrounded by family, she says. You can rest and heal. Your law firm will understand a bereavement leave of absence. We can help you take care of Patrick better. The baby should grow up on the ranch and learn his legacy, yadda yadda yadda.

Zane gives in. He’s just so fucking tired. And what’s the point of arguing? Beverly’s probably right - she can do a better job of handling Patrick than he can. (Never mind that there is already a housemaid assigned for nanny duty). Becky had handled everything. Zane only has a vague idea of who Patrick’s pediatrician even is. He has no clue when he’s due for his next round of vaccinations, for cryin’ out loud.

It takes a little while, but eventually Zane works through some of his depression. It doesn’t go away for the longest time, but having a baby means you don’t stop, you have to keep moving forward - whether you want to or not. And Patrick is moving and crawling and about to walk and babbling and holding his arms up to be carried and how can Zane deny him that?

The temporary leave of absence continues for a year. His law firm tries to get him back in the office, but other than a few consult/strategy sessions with the partners, he really doesn’t want to go back to that life.

He’s coming to the realization that he doesn’t really want ranch life, either. Not that he doesn’t love it, or appreciate the help that his family has been, but it’s time to break free of the memories of life with Becky. And - let’s be honest - the clashes with Beverly are starting to become more frequent. Yes, she was a help when he needed it, but Patrick is his child, not hers. She doesn’t get to make the parenting decisions for the boy and it’s time they made a change.

They end up in Baltimore. (surprise, surprise). Maybe Zane had visited once for a legal conference and loved it. Maybe his law firm had some sort of corporate retreat there every year. But Zane picks it for other reasons - being on the east coast like that puts them closer to historical and cultural resources that Zane thinks will be a benefit to Patrick’s education. He’s looking forward to exploring the Smithsonian with him, and Broadway, and the Statue of Liberty and every other thing they can possibly do.

Zane knows that he doesn’t want to be a lawyer any more, other than maybe a little pro bono work here and there, but he’s not in a hurry to pass the Maryland bar. He just can’t go back to 12 hour days and miss out on life with his son.

So, he buys a bookstore in Fells Point from a couple who are ready to retire. One with living space above the store. (Let’s face it - starting a business from scratch with a 3 year old underfoot probably is probably more work than he’s looking for). It’s a comfortable modest business. The decor is cushy reading nook meets college library stacks, but with plenty of spaces for Patrick to color and read his books in the kids area or play with blocks and cars and space ships. They even get a couple of store cats who follow Patrick everywhere. The cutest thing is when Patrick settles down for a nap in the back room and the kittens snuggle with him.

Zane’s feeling blessed that his handful of employees (probably all part-timers - a couple of college kids from Johns Hopkins and maybe a couple of retired ladies who enjoy working a couple of days a week) are okay with him bringing Patrick to work every day. In fact, the retired ladies are always ready to be surrogate grandmas while they’re there, admiring Patrick’s drawings and listening to his stories and trying to sneak him a treat every once in awhile when Zane’s not looking. And so far no complaints from the customers either about him being a disruption.

Zane treasurers these few years with Patrick underfoot. School will start soon enough with all that changes that entails. Zane can still see Becky in Patrick - the shape of his nose, the lighter brown of his hair. Patrick doesn’t remember her, but Zane makes a point of showing him pictures of her and pointing out their similarities.

“Zane would feel the weight of responsibility quite heavily, which could make him a rather strict, dull father on the surface, adhering to the rules, rarely letting the child break them because he knows those rules are there for the child’s benefit. But he would also be the father who, at the end of the day, is the one a child will go to for advice and comfort because kids know where it’s at, and Zane’s love for his child would shine through in every action, even when he is scolding. Zane would be the father whose hugs and words meant more to a child, because rather than coming at random for no reason, they always have a reason behind them.” **

A couple of years later, Patrick would be in 2nd grade (7 years old). It’s his last year to attend the Sea Life Safari at the Baltimore Aquarium. He’s gone for the past 2 years and it usually falls around his birthday, so they build a little birthday party into it. Zane is going along as a parent chaperone to help out.

Cue bomb scare at the Aquarium in Divide & Conquer. Ty still comes running in to help out. Maybe he helps hustle out Zane and Patrick’s group before heading back in. Zane’s outside with the kids, trying to keep the kids calm and out of the way of other law enforcement, but he might have taken an interest in the FBI agent as he gives his impromptu interview, but he never learns his name. It takes Zane forever to get Patrick to sleep that night after all the excitement. He is just as excited the next day to see the interview, because not only can you see the FBI agent “He’s so cool, dad!” you can also see Zane and Patrick for about 2 seconds in the background. “We’re on TV, dad! We’re famous!!!! I can’t wait to tell the kids in my class!”

One of the must dos of being a small business owner is to network - so Zane regularly attends the monthly Chamber of Commerce meetings and the city’s community outreach events. Especially in light of the unrest that’s been happening in the city lately. The back of his shop got tagged a few weeks ago, and he’s got a vested interest in keeping Fells Point a safe and welcoming area. So he’s eager to hear what law enforcement is doing to address these issues.

So imagine his surprise with the guest speaker at this month’s CoC breakfast meeting is none other than the FBI agent from the Aquarium - one Special Agent B. Tyler Grady according to the agenda. He’s witty and engaging, seeming to be in perpetual motion as he gives his talk. The information is interesting enough, but Zane does appreciate being able to get a better look at the guy in daylight, in a suit, and not under a state of personal panic like the first time.

Afterwards, Ty stays to do few mandatory ‘grip and grins’ before he can escape. Zane doesn’t intentionally wander over, but as he’s doing his own chatting with people, they end up in the same general area. Zane thinks he notices Ty getting a cornered look like he’s desperate to escape - his gaze is wandering like he’s trying to gauge the number of people he’s got to shoulder past to get to the exit.

Ty looks past Zane, but then zeros back on him, eyes widening with recognition. Zane can’t imagine that he would remember him from a brief encounter weeks ago that happened under duress, but he knows that with his height, people do tend to remember him.

Ty comes up and introduces himself with a handshake. “Hi. Special Agent Ty Grady. And you are?” Zane smiles. “Zane Garrett, Special Agent. It’s nice to officially meet you.”

At this point, my creative juices have given out. Maybe Zane goes home and tells Patrick that he got to meet the cool FBI agent again, and he invited them both to watch the FBI team play softball. Instead of Shannon and Elaina in the dugout when the bomb goes off, it’s Zane and Patrick.

Maybe Ty and Zane start meeting for lunch occasionally. Not calling it dating just yet. They both know single parent dating is challenging. Every so often they do things with Patrick, who still thinks Mr. Ty is the coolest thing ever. They’ll go to Orioles games or a day trip into DC.

It gets a little dicy once Patrick realizes that he’s gotta share Zane. But eventually they all get through it. Because

“Ty would be the fun father, the one you know will teach you the things that will make you the cool kid in school, the one who will help you pick up and brush you off when you fall down and then say ‘walk it off, kiddo, you’ll get better’ because that’s who Ty is and that’s who he makes everyone around him. Walk it off, kid.” **

Patrick gets to be Zane’s best man at the wedding.