skidmo_fic: (tesla)
[personal profile] skidmo_fic
Title: Thicker than Blood
Rating: PG
Pairing: Tesla-Watson friendship
Word Count: 1399
Warning: none
Disclaimer: None of these characters belong to me...sadly.
Feedback: yes, please.
Summary: The first time it happens, James glances over the scrawled note (Make sure it doesn’t grow up to be an idiot. –Tesla), sighs, scoops up the tiny, sleeping bundle, brings it inside, and immediately sends a note to Nikola to meet him for lunch the next day.
A/N: Part of my NaNo project to write every day using song lyrics as prompts. Title comes from the song “Happy New Year B” from Rent. …not as cracky as it should have been.




Though we may have our disputes
This family tree’s got deep roots
Friendship is thicker than blood

- Jonathan Larson, “Happy New Year B”, Rent



The first time it happens, James glances over the scrawled note (Make sure it doesn’t grow up to be an idiot. –Tesla), sighs, scoops up the tiny, sleeping bundle, brings it inside, and immediately sends a note to Nikola to meet him for lunch the next day.

***

“Did you expect me to let some imbecilic bint raise my progeny?”

James scrubs a hand over his face, and doesn’t point out that such problems could easily be avoided by not impregnating ‘imbecilic bints’ in the first place. “And just what am I supposed to do with her, Nikola?”

“Look out for it. See to its education. You’re more than capable of figuring out what it needs.”

It is a she, Nikola,” James tells him, exasperated. “And she’s your child.”

“Which is why I’m seeing to its—excuse me, her— well-being. What would you have me do, James?”

James sighs and shakes his head. Only Nikola could have to ask that question in sincerity. “She’s your daughter,” he points out again. “She should be with her father.”

“I have far better things to do than raise some squealing brat. Besides, can you imagine me taking care of an infant?”

James nods. “You have a point there.” He frowns. Nikola has put him in quite the awkward situation. Nikola is too stubborn to take care of the child himself, and James cannot in good conscience turn her over to the state.

The waiter comes by with their meal, and after he leaves, James says, “Never again, Nikola.”

Nikola grins as he starts on his salad.

***

He’s not a neglectful father, James supposes. He pays for the girl’s (Verity, James named her) education, her food, her clothing, even pocket money to keep her amused. And he stops by every now and again, mostly to make sure he approves of Verity’s curriculum, but he always spends several hours in conversation with her.

Verity is, of course, exhausted after these conversations, during which Nikola apparently quizzes her on everything she’s learned since he last saw her. She’s always anxious to see him, though, asking James when Papa will be coming again, seeming to forget the way the visits drain her.

Nikola has always had that way about him.

***

When Verity is ten, another sleeping bundle is left on James’s doorstep, and he carries it immediately over to the hotel Nikola favors when he’s in London.

“You can’t keep doing this to me,” he says, foisting the baby into Nikola’s arms. “I am not an orphanage.”

“My dear James,” Nikola says, gingerly handing the child back. “There is no one on this earth I would trust to raise my children more than you. And you wouldn’t subject the child to a life of poverty and ignorance, would you? I assure you, that’s all it’d get with its mother.”

His mother,” James says, exasperated, as he shifts the blanket-wrapped bundle to make the child more comfortable. “Your son, Nikola.”

“Have I been a bad father to the other one?”

He always does this, always refers to Verity as ‘the child’ or ‘the girl,’ never using her name, but there’s a touch of warmth in his voice when he speaks of her, a twinkle of pride in his eye that James could never miss.

“You’re away too much. She misses you.”

“I come when I can,” Nikola says. “There’s so much to do. Business is booming and all that.”

James sighs, unconsciously rocking the child in his arms. “Is that what you want her to remember of her childhood? That her father was always too busy for her?”

Nikola shrugs. “If I’m to change the face of the world, I simply don’t have time to play nursemaid.”

It’s a lost cause. James may be as rational as he likes, there’s no reasoning with Nikola when he gets an idea in his head.

“Would you at least like to name this one?”

Nikola shakes his head. “I’m sure you’ll find something suitable.”

***

The boy—James named him Miles, after Nikola’s father—proves to be as able a student as his sister, and as Verity’s talents take a musical bent, Miles’s are more on the engineering side. He constantly builds models out of whatever materials he can find, and when Nikola visits on his seventh birthday, Miles presents his father with a scale model of Westminster Abbey made from toothpicks.

From then on, every visit from Nikola sees Miles with a model of some sort to give to his father. Their relationship proves much the same as Nikola and Verity’s. Nikola occasionally makes Miles cry, and Miles always seems melancholy after an evening with his father, but not a visit goes by that Miles doesn’t look forward to with shining eyes.

James always suspected that Nikola discarded the models before leaving London, but on a trip to the States to visit Helen, he stops by Nikola’s office and finds a cabinet in the corner containing every one.

“They miss you,” James says to him as he prepares to leave, and Nikola shrugs.

“They always do.”

***

When Verity is twenty, she leaves London to attend the Institute of Musical Art in New York, foregoing James’s offer to get her into the finest school in Europe in the hope that, being closer to her father, she will see him more often.

James doesn’t have the heart to crush that hope.

***

Three months after Miles’s twelfth birthday, another child is left.

James frowns and fires off a telegram to Nikola, reading: Next time, use a condom.

The telegraph operator very nearly refuses to send it, calling James a vulgar, disgusting man.

James can’t help feeling he’s channeling Nikola when he stands his ground, calling her a prudish, silly housewife in return.

***

When Nikola disappears after allowing Helen to fake his death, James assumes Thomas (he’d named the boy after Edison, just to get a rise out of Nikola) will be the last basket left on his doorstep, but eleven years later, there’s another.

The note attached simply reads: Call her Sofija.

***

He never tells Helen that he’s had even this slight contact with Nikola. He never tells any of the others. He lets Helen believe Sofija is his own daughter, and if she questions the origins of her name, she never does it within his hearing.

Sofija herself believes James is her father, but occasionally, on birthdays or at Christmas, he still expects Nikola to show up and quiz her on her learning.

***

He goes to visit Verity on her seventieth birthday, and he feels guilty that she looks so old and he so relatively young.

Before he leaves, she confesses to him that Nikola had come to visit her.

“He’s still so young,” she says. “It’s such a strange thing, to be older than your father.”

James nods and hugs her, kisses her cheek as though she were still the child who used to fall asleep in his lap.

“He says hello,” Verity continues. “And he asks if you miss him.”

James smiles wistfully. “Only as much as I should.”

***

Miles is visiting him when the next child arrives, and Miles asks if that’s how he showed up, just left in a basket in the hopes someone would answer the door before he froze to death.

James tells him that as far as Nikola was concerned, James would always answer the door.

It’s a boy, and the note attached to the basket just says: A Jimmy for you, James.

***

Jimmy is provided for in James’s will. His guardianship transfers to Declan, the best way he knows to assure Nikola that Declan can be trusted.

***

Seeing John again is a blow he was prepared for.

Seeing Nikola again is one he’d half been expecting and finds he still wasn’t prepared for.

And there’s no time to tell Nikola that his children miss him, that the two he’s never really known are flourishing, that James misses him. Because the suit is failing, and he’s known that since before they reached Bhalasaam, but it doesn’t hit home until he sees Nikola exactly what this means.

He tells Helen he’ll miss her, because she needs to know. He and John have said everything they need to say, and Nikola…

Nikola looks devastated, which is as much as James needed him to say as well.

fin
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July 2012

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