The Cameron Hotel Chapter 6 --
Finally, Matt had managed to gather everyone around his Cadillac.
He & Sirrus were already inside, and Alex was climbing into the back, leaving Riddick and Luke standing on the curb. This morning's drama -- the fallout from yesterday's -- had caused them to get out a good deal later than planned, but at least it was over.
After glancing back at the house to make sure his father wasn't watching, Riddick took a hold of Luke's paw stopping him from getting in the car.
Luke looked back, ``I'm sorry Riddick, I really have to go.''
The panthion just shook his head, ``Staying a little longer can't hurt.''
``I'm sure Matt's tired of the delays, already...'' Luke laughed, ``Besides, I'm already gonna' catch hell from my dad for missing church. Just gotta' hope it'll be better if I'm at least home when he gets back.''
``Yeah...'' Riddick let go of the paw, ``Well...about you and Alex: you two...you worked everything out...right?''
The raccoon smiled and nodded, ``Yeah...''
``That's good.'' Riddick shuffled his feet awkwardly, ``You'll be back over again, soon, right?''
Luke hesitated, but leaned in and kissed Riddick quickly on the cheek, ``Sure thing!''
Finally, Matt leaned his head out of the car, ``Luke! You can call your boyfriend later. We need to get you home!''
Alex chuckled softly, leaning to look out the still open back door of the car, ``Yeah! Hurry it up, lover boy.'' He winked.
Riddick looked wide eyed at Luke, then them, ``We...! We're not...uhm...''
Luke smiled and hopped in the car, ``I'll talk to you soon, Riddick!''
``Yeah...'' Riddick waved a little, watching as they drove off to the sound of Matt & Alex laughing, ``Soon.''
The rest of this particular lazy Sunday dragged on, fairly slowly...
Luke went home, where he was later bombarded with questions by a mother who was not at all used to him leaving the house for anything. Happier with the questions than with his father's passive aggressive silence, the young raccoon finally retreated to his room with his pet, Rei, whom he hadn't seen since Saturday.
Alex returned home to his parents as well, and he, same as Jasyn, half a town away, avoided his parents in his own way. Alex's had known about their son and Jasyn ever since the revelation about Peter, but Alex was in no mood to talk to them about a break up, and for their part, they just chalked his bad mood up to the continued strain of the impending trial. As for Jasyn, his parents simply mused on how their son was only NOW showing the typical mood swings and emotional withdrawals of a teenager: problems they'd been lucky enough to never have from him before.
And at the Cameron Estate, Matt, Chris, Riddick, and Sirrus just sat back and enjoyed their Sunday...until each went on to bed. Matt & Sirrus disappeared into the master bedroom up stairs, and Chris went back to his guest bedroom: a room that had, so far, been occupied by him, Alex, Jasyn, and, last night, Alex & Sirrus together. Riddick returned to the same guest bedroom, he'd had last night: the room he'd been told today, would be his permanently. For a moment, as he undressed, he did a bit of math in his head. If he was in this room last night, Alex and Sirrus were in the other, and Luke was on the couch...where did his father sleep?
The next morning, the sun rose on the first Monday of summer break.
It was a work day, and Riddick expected to wake to a near empty house: empty except for him and the little talking dragon he sorely needed to ask his father and Matt about. But he was shortly to be surprised. He left his new room after throwing on the barest of clothes, and plopped down on the couch in the living room. He hadn't quite had the chance to browse Matt's selection of cable channels, and figured this was as good a time as any.
But as he reached for the remote, he was startled by a noise: crashing metal on tile, and a cursing roar: ``DAMN-IT!''
After recovering from his shock and recoil, the panthion's ears turned, pointing in the direction of the kitchen. That was his father's voice, ``Dad?''
Riddick bounded from the couch and hurried into the kitchen, worried first that his dad might have hurt himself, ``Dad, are you ok??''
But upon sliding into the room, Riddick found his father unharmed. Chris just looked up, smiling dumbly and scratched his mane as he stood in a sea of pots and pans.
His son blinked again and then chuckled, ``Come on now! You cooked breakfast yesterday; you can do better than this!''
Chris glared playfully, ``I know. But you try to grab one pan and then they all go!''
``Well at least you didn't spill any food!'' Riddick knelt down beside his father set to helping pick the dishes up, ``What are you even doing home? Don't you have work?''
``If you showing back up isn't worth getting a day off, what the hell is?'' The lion raised an eyebrow as he looked down at his son.
``I guess that's true.''
``Now, you go sit!'' Chris snapped his fingers, ``I can take care of this.''
The panthion looked up, holding about 5 pans already, ``Sit?''
Chris took two of the pans from him, and set them on the counter, then turned back and pointed toward the door to the dining room, ``Dining room. Sit!''
Riddick just kept looking up, ``You mean you don't want help? I see Matt's not here to help any. Where is he, anyway?'' Chris's son was obviously not good at being told what to do.
The lion smiled and snatched away the last three pans from the boy. ``HIS son didn't just show back up in his life.'' He set the pans aside and smiled his big, toothy grin, again, ``He still has to work.''
Riddick smiled back as he stood back up, ``Matt has a son too?''
Chris furrowed his brow, ``Uhm...No?''
The panthion craned his neck and peaked over Chris's shoulder, already almost his father's height even at only 15, ``What are you making?''
Chris pushed at him and pointed to the door, again, ``Nonono. You go sit.''
Though tall, Riddick was no match for father's strength, and made no effort to try. He just smiled and nodded so Chris would stop pushing, ``Ok, ok.''
The boy looked at his father with a growing toothy grin of his own, before leaning forward and hugging him. Chris blinked, unsure what had brought on the hug, but decided not to ask. Instead, he just hugged his son back and ruffled his headfur a bit before they separated.
They were alone. The thought occurred to the panthion as he left the kitchen. He shivered and drew in a breath.
He'd hated his life before, states from here, living with Cheyenne and her red panda. Just being away from them was amazing, but Chris made it even better. In less than two days he'd already proven to be the parent and friend neither Cheyenne nor Mike ever were. Problem was...the difference between two days and twelve years.
Chris was his father. Riddick tried not to let the weight of that word lay too heavily on his mind, but he found it difficult. He hadn't seen his father in twelve years, and now they were back together...back together and alone.
He shivered in his seat at the dining room table, and smiled. No matter the pressure, the adjustment, or how awkward or weird it might be...he'd traded Cheyenne for Chris. This could only be the start of something good.
Almost on cue as his son shook off his worries, Chris burst through the door, complete with his big, toothy grin, and two plates full of food, ``Breakfast!''
Riddick smiled, following his plate from his Chris's paw and down onto the table, then looked up, to see his father sit down.
``You know...'' The panthion grabbed his fork from his plate, ``We had a small army of cooks back home. But not a one of them made food I liked as much as what I had yesterday and...'' he stopped to take a bite, ``...yep: today. You and Matt are great cooks!''
``Matt?'' Chris grunted in annoyance, and then smirked and leaned back, ``He can barely cook to save his skin.'' He smiled, ``I'm the cook here!''
Riddick chuckled a little, ``Uhm...so how long have you two been living together?''
``Hmm? Well, only for a little while. I'm just in for business.'' The lion paused to think, ``About two months, now, I guess.''
``Oh...I thought...'' Riddick took another bite, ``Well anyway, uhm...didn't he have to cook for himself...himself AND Sirrus...before you got here? I mean, he must be able to cook something.''
``Well, he can cook...technically.'' Chris smiled and ate a bit more, ``But that's if you can really call what comes of it `food.'''
The panthion just smiled at that, ``How long have you two known each other?''
``Wow...'' Chris thought back, ``Since high school...''
``Wait...'' Riddick blinked, ``That means he knew you when I was born, doesn't it?''
``He was in the hospital with me.'' The lion nodded, ``And at the courthouse for every custody hearing...''
``Whoa...'' Riddick smiled, ``...so, then you two must be REALLY close: like best friends, right?''
``Yup!'' Chris smiled back, ``Only the closest!''
The panthion blushed deeply and his eyes widened at the last statement, reminded of his Saturday night with Luke. He smiled nervously and looked down, not sure what to ask now, and hoping it wasn't too obvious how nervous he was.
Chris tilted his head, reaching over to pat his son on the head, ``So how about you? What was it like with Calypso?''
Riddick looked back up and smiled reluctantly. ``Like?'' His first instinct was to tell the truth, or at least the parts without Kevin in them, but decided against it. Somehow he felt it best not to just complain, and decided to focus on the few positives, ``It was better than you'd think, really. Mike was rich: even more than you or Matt! So we had maids and butlers, and the battalion of chefs I mentioned. It made everything pretty easy. I mean, we NEVER needed to work, since everything was done for us. And...I even had three really close friends, one from...the same type of home of me.'' Riddick messed with his food and took a few more bites. ``But...''
The lion ate along with his son, ``But?''
``I...I dunno. It's nothing.'' Riddick muttered, not wanting to spend their first day `together' just complaining.
Chris shook his head, ``Come on, now! I did all this so we would have the day together. And...'' For his son's sake, he pushed aside his own nervousness, ``...if we're gonna' do this, we might as well do it right, yeah? Best to start off on the right foot. So please...I want you to know you can talk to me about anything!''
The panthion smiled back, but knew better than that. He couldn't talk about ANYTHING. ``Well...I dunno...they just really didn't ever have much to do with me, you know? I mean, Mike had his own kid, and it was always pretty clear that HE belonged there, and I didn't.'' He took a breath, ``You...in the past 2 days alone, you've been more of...more of a parent to me than they ever were.''
All at once, Chris was pulled in three directions. He felt himself swell, involuntarily at the last statement, but inside he was both hurt and uncomfortable. He hurt, thinking of his son living in such a loveless place, and he was uncomfortable and unsure of himself and his own adequacy taking over as a father for a fifteen-year-old he might as well have never met.
Outwardly, though, he just chuckled and reached across again, ruffling Riddick's headfur, ``Well, I plan to continue to be...provided I keep remembering that you're my son!''
Riddick smiled, never having been anywhere near this close with Cheyenne or Mike and loving the feeling that someone cared, ``You...what do you mean?''
The lion smiled his big toothy lion grin, a bit dumbly, and scratched his mane, ``Well, honestly?''
Riddick nodded, ``If you expect the same from me.''
Chris roared a short laugh, ``It's just that after not seeing you in so long.'' He paused to phrase it right, ``It's almost like you're more of a friend...a pretty young friend, but still not...y'know...a son.'' He shrugged, ``Just something have to get used to.''
``I kind of feel the same...a little.'' The panthion took a breath, remembering that his father said he could say anything here...and just tried to relax enough to be comfortable opening up, ``Remember...how I said I don't remember you?''
``I do.'' Chris nodded.
``I still...I had this image in my head, though, y'know?'' Riddick looked up in his father's eyes, like he was studying them, ``This idea of what I thought you would look like. I don't know if it was just some...generic idea of what a lion should be or...'' He huffed and his gaze softened, ``The image was...really accurate, though.''
The lion raised an eyebrow at his son as he leaned back, ``Maybe you do remember me...and just don't know it.''
``Maybe.'' Riddick looked down, ``But I DO know that...that I've always wanted so bad to find you. I just never knew how. Thought you should know...''
``Nearly every day...'' Chris smiled softly, his fingers tapping the table, ``Even if just for a second...I thought about how you would grow up. I wondered what you'd look like, what your personality would be like. And now that I see you, I think YOU should know, that I couldn't be more proud.''
The panthion nearly got chills, hearing anything like that. Above any amount of happiness, though, he was suddenly very uncomfortable, and his first and only instinct was to put an end to the sappy seriousness immediately.
The teenager smirked, ``Well you should be! I mean, look at me! I'm already the better looking of the two of us!'' He winked and struck a quick superman like pose. He'd never buttoned his shirt, and it hung open showing off his slim and well defined body. ``Don't feel too inferior though: you can't help how great I am.''
Silently, Chris stood up and unbuttoned his own shirt, before throwing it off and flexing. His muscles, the same ones he'd used to drive Matt crazy two months earlier, bulged out much larger and more developed than his son's. Hard labor jobs had put the lion through college, and since then he's tried to never be a stranger to his local gym. Unfortunately for the younger cat, his physique just couldn't compare. Chris didn't say a word, just raising an eyebrow at his son.
Riddick, though, maintained his completely nonchalant attitude, and looked up with only his eyes as he finished his bite, ``Yeah, yeah. Sit down! Muscles mean nothing if you don't have the looks to back them up! But I guess I should give you SOME credit. Had to have gotten more of my looks from you than from Cheyenne.'' He kept eating.
Still shirtless, the lion sat back down, ``Why don't you finish growing that mane out, and then maybe...just MAYBE we can talk about who shows off the family looks, best.''
Riddick sighed instead of even trying to argue that, ``Yeah...that's a drawback. I don't expect my mane will ever get as long as yours. All the panther in me screwed me out of that.''
Chris leaned on the table with a smirk, ``Even when she's gone...she still knows how to screw things up, doesn't she?''
``Well what do you expect?'' The panthion finished his last bit of food, ``It's what she was born to do. She's like Shiva the Destroyer, after all. It's her lot in life!''
Chris laughed in a way only lions can and then smiled, ``Agreed! Oh!'' He smirked, ``You said that you didn't have to do much work while you were living there, right? Well...'' He stood up, ``That's going to change, living with me.'' He tossed his napkin down and put his paws in his pockets, ``Since I cooked, you get to clean the dishes!''
The lion just walked out and into the living room, and his son smiled as he watched him go. Riddick had no argument with that. Chris could have made him clean the whole damned kitchen for all he cared...so long as he was here.
A while later, Riddick finally made his way out and into the living room, to find Chris on the couch watching TV, and in a new shirt.
With a smile, he hopped over the back of the couch, plopping down beside the lion, ``Hey dad!''
``That certainly took you long enough!'' Chris patted his son's head and smiled, ``Guess you weren't used to it, huh? Probably it's gonna' to be pretty interesting teaching you how to live a totally...well...almost totally normal life.''
``I wasn't gone for that long, dad.'' The panthion raised an eyebrow.
``No...'' Chris emphatically raised his own eyebrow in response, ``...but how long does it really take to load a dishwasher?''
``Oh!'' Riddick smiled his father's big toothy grin, ``I washed them by hand. I don't trust dishwashers.''
The lion recoiled at that, ``Well...I wouldn't exactly go that far...'' He shook his head and smiled, ``But I kind of prefer to do things on my own, too. I don't like using all my stores of money. I live nicely enough, but...'' He scratched his mane, ``...that's one thing I really hated when I was living with your mother. All those people waiting on me hand and foot...it was horrible.''
``Eh...I didn't mind it. Any comfort I got there was a nice distraction.'' Riddick shrugged, ``Well...until recently, anyway. After the fallout I had with Mike and mom, the staff wasn't exactly...encouraged...to help me much anymore.'' Without thinking, Riddick picked up the remote and muted the TV, apparently more interested in talking to his father.
Chris smiled softly at the muted TV, not expecting a teenaged boy to prefer just sitting and talking to his dad, as opposed to...well...anything else.
The panthion turned in his seat to face his father, ``Dad...mind if I ask a question?''
Chris shrugged, ``Go right ahead.''
Finally mustering the courage to bring it up, Riddick began, ``So, seriously: what's the deal with Sirrus? I haven't seen very many dragons to begin with but...I mean, I've NEVER seen anything like him! Cause, if he wasn't...well, naked, I would have thought he was just a cub or...uhm...what do you call a baby dragon?''
``Uhm...'' The lion blinked, ``Hatchling? Whelp?''
``Sure! Whelp!'' Riddick shrugged, ``But apparently he's...what? A pet? But since when do pets talk?''
Chris stared at his son for a moment in the final silence, holding back a growing smile before he finally roared out in laughter. ``Bothering you a bit?''
The panthion narrowed his eyes, ``...a bit.''
``Well...'' Chris continued, ``I'm not really sure. I guess he just learned to talk at some point in his life...but other than that: yeah he's just feral dragon, and Matt's pet.'' He smiled and shook his head, ``And you say you haven't seen a lot of anthropomorphic, evolved dragons? I have a few work partners that are dragons...maybe you'll even see a full grown one someday.''
``Yeah...but that still doesn't add up.'' Riddick ignored his father, ``A pet dragon? The one's I have seen, I mean the feral ones that is, were HUGE! And they were anything but domesticated. And, hell, the evolved ones are plenty big too...''
The lion nodded, ``True, true...'' and looked up, ``...maybe he IS just a whelp: a feral whelp. Maybe he's still gotta' grow.''
``Oh...wow.'' Riddick sat up straighter, ``I wonder if Matt's gonna' be ready for that.''
Chris actually took a moment to think about that, and the dragon's libido, too, and he tilted his head in thought, ``I wonder if any of us are.''
``Regardless, though...'' The panthion shook his head, ``...can't get over the talking.''
``Apparently it's not as rare as we'd think.'' Chris shrugged, ``Rumor is: your friend Luke has one too.''
Riddick recoiled, ``A talking feral dragon!?''
``Rabbit.'' The lion pointed at his son as he corrected him.
``I need to ask him about that...'' Riddick blinked, ``But anyway...whatever's up, Sirrus is really cute, at least.''
``Heh...'' Chris looked away and mumbled, ``Not to mention horny as hell.''
The panthion leaned in, ``Did you say horny?''
Chris looked around, rather surprised that Riddick heard him, ``Erm -- hungry!'' He smiled another dumb smile.
``No.'' Riddick twitched his ears. ``No, you said horny.''
``I did not! That's a dirty lie!''
``Okay, okay, whatever.'' The panthion waved his paws, ``Too bad the poor little guy doesn't have a playmate, then, huh? Maybe we should find him a little dragon girl?''
Chris scratched his mane again, ``Well...I don't think a girl would work...''
``No shit? Is he's gay too!?'' Riddick laughed and rubbed his forehead, ``Matt, Luke, Luke's friends, even Sirrus...next thing I know you'll be telling me that you and Matt ARE together!'' Riddick closed his eyes and laughed aloud, not quite the booming lion laugh of his father, but close.
The lion looked quite uncomfortable at that statement, and coughed a little before moving on, ``Yeah, yeah, yeah...'' He scratched his chin, ``That does remind me though, have you ever...y'know...had the talk?''
``T-talk?'' Riddick sat back, ``Uhm...no...but I kinda' don't need it anymore.''
``Hmm?'' Chris's ears twitched, ``What do you mean?''
``Well...'' The panthion coughed lightly and was quite obviously nervous now.
``I've, you know...I've already...done stuff.'' Riddick looked away.
``Oh!'' The lion's ears twitched and perked up, ``Uhm...what...I mean...'' He gulped.
``L-look!'' Riddick held up his paws, ``It's pretty obvious neither of us are ready for this. We're both uncomfortable; maybe we should just move on.''
Chris shook his head and flicked his long tail with a sigh, ``No. I'm your dad...I'm supposed to be having these talks.'' He took a deep breath, ``Did you use a condom? Who was she?''
The panthion scratched the back of his neck, ``Not...really.'' He answered truthfully; he and Kevin might have used them, but they never had them on hand. He just didn't correct his father about the gender.
``Oh no.'' Chris rubbed his neck, ``R-riddick, I...I don't want you to think I regret you or...or anything like that. But...that's what got me and Cheyenne...''
Riddick's head shot up and he shook it frantically, ``Nonono!'' He'd forgotten, not using a condom with a girl was a different problem than not using one with a guy. ``We...we never went that far. It was just...uhm...well...'' And now, he found himself having to lie, ``...if we'd ever gone that far we would have used one, but we didn't really need them.''
``Oh...so you mean...'' The lion relaxed significantly, ``Well okay, then. At...at least you know to use a one when you get to the point of...uhm...past...'' He scratched his mane again, finally just saying it, ``...when it's anything more than oral or hand jobs.''
``Yeah.'' Riddick winced at that. ``Like I said: I'm kindof past needing the talk...'' Riddick breathed a sigh of relief that he wasn't forced to lie any more than that.
Chris sighed with him and smiled, ``Well good then! So...who was she?''
``Uhm...'' The panthion stammered to think of a name, ``Angie! She was a dog. A collie!'' He smiled slightly, cursing himself for not already having a lie prepared.
``Huh...I honestly expected something other than a normal dog...'' Chris shrugged, ``Regardless.''
``A n-normal dog? What do you mean? Would you have rather it been, like...a raccoon?'' Riddick back to Saturday night, and Luke, ``...or maybe something more exotic?'' He smiled a little, thinking of Kevin, ``...like a red panda?''
The lion looked at him silently for a moment, through narrowed eyes, ``That was oddly specific...''
Riddick just smiled dumbly like his father was so good at.
Chris shook his head, ``Yeah. I suppose so.'' He stretched and yawned loudly, ``So, anyway...now that we're done with that: do you wanna' go see a movie or something?''
``Yeah,'' The panthion kept smiling and stood up, ``Sure.''
Chris tossed up his keys, caught them and stood up, too ``We're off then!'' He put an arm on Riddick's shoulder, padding toward the door.
Riddick smiled wide again and leaned against his father for a second as they walked out, ``So...uhm...what do you think of Luke and his friends?''