Title: Little Miss Independant
A/N: Written for the prompt Independance at fanfic100 and the prompt Parting at 25fluffyfics
Summary: JR is about to start Kindergarten and Michael is having a hard time accepting his daughter is growing up.
“Dada…..Dada….come see what Daddy bought me!” JR called out as she ran in the door. Michael kicked it closed behind them with his foot and dropped all the bags onto the table.
“DADA………….where are you!!!” JR’s voice echoed through the house as she ran into the kitchen and not finding Ben, was about to run upstairs when he came in the back door.
“What’s all the noise?” Ben asked as JR ran up to him, grabbing his hand and pulling him into the living room.
“Look what I got!” She stated importantly, tugging at one of the bags until the contents finally came free. “A new backpack for ‘indergarten and it’s pink and it’s got stars on it, see Dada, they sparkle!”
Ben took the bag from JR’s outstretched hands and examined it carefully.
“It’s very pretty JR.” He said, crouching down in front of her. “And look, this is where your pencils go and there’s a special place for your drink bottle.”
“I got new ‘rink bottle too, Dada.” JR said, climbing onto a chair and searching through the bags until she found what she was looking for.
“See Dada…it’s pink too……I love pink…..and it’s got stars too…. but I wanted one with my name on it.” JR said, shaking her head and Ben noticed her bottom lip start to drop.
He picked up her and sat on the chair, settling her on his lap.
“Do you know why you couldn’t find one with your name sweetheart?”
“Because your name is very special and if everyone saw it, they might want it too” Ben said, watching JR closely.
“I’m special, Dada?”
“Yes you are.” Ben replied, meeting Michael’s eyes over JR’s head.
“Why?” JR asked, wriggling so she could look up at Ben, her big brown eyes which she’d inherited from her father, full of curiosity.
“Because when you were born you gave your Daddy something he never thought he’d ever have.”
“A daughter.” Ben replied. “And when your Mama said she wanted to name you Jenny-Rebecca your Daddy looked at you and knew that was a special name for a very special girl.”
JR turned to Michael, a wide smile on her face. “Did you Daddy?”
“Yes, honeybun I did.” Michael said, walking over and pulling out a chair, sitting down next to Ben.
JR climbed off Ben’s lap onto her fathers’ and wrapped her arms around his neck.
“I love you Daddy!”
“I love you too, sweetheart. “ Michael replied with a catch in his voice. “And tomorrow you start kindergarten and…..”
“I’m a big girl now!” JR interrupted , clapping her hands. “I’m five and a half!”
“Yes, you are.” Michael replied. “I’m going to miss having my honeybun at home all day.”
“Don’t be sad, Daddy.” JR said, snuggling against Michael. “You can play with Astro if you get lonely.”
Michael laughed as the dog came bounding into the room as soon as he heard his name as if he was about to miss out on something. He stopped in front of Michael, his tail wagging furiously, and JR clambered down from her fathers lap.
“Wanna play ball Astro!” She said as she grabbed his collar and pulled him from the room.
“I can’t believe she’s starting kindergarten.” Michael said. “She seems too little to be going out into the world by herself.”
Ben reached for Michael’s hand, squeezing it gently, before wrapping his arm around his husband’s shoulders and pulling him close.
“I know baby, but it had to happen one day.” He could tell that Michael was going to have a tough time saying goodbye to JR tomorrow morning and was pleased he’d managed to change his early class so he could go with them. “But she’s so excited about it, and I think it will be good for her to get to know more kids her own age.”
“You’re right as always.” Michael replied laughing. “But still…..I’ll miss her…the house will be so quiet without her around.”
“But just think of all she’ll have to tell us when she gets home every day.” Ben tried to reassure his husband. “And it will make the weekends even more special.”
“Do you have an answer for everything?” Michael said, grinning at Ben.
“Not everything.” Ben replied, leaning in and kissing Michael’s plump red lips. “But she’s growing up and there’s nothing we can do about it. The years will fly by, and before we know it, we’ll be waving her off to college.”
”There is no fucking way she’s leaving Pittsburgh to go to college!” Michael stated, looking horrified at the thought.
“Oh baby…I do love you.” Ben said, trying not to laugh at the look on Michael’s face.
“You’re not helping!” Michael retorted. “And I don’t want to talk about it any more.”
“Maybe later I can find something to take your mind off of it.” Ben suggested, pulling Michael onto his lap and running his fingers down his husband’s chest, letting them come to rest on the bulge in Michael’s jeans.
Michael let himself be distracted momentarily before shaking his head.
“That’s not going to work!” Michael stated, in a determined tone, but Ben could see him wavering as he ran his fingers around the top of his husband’s jeans.
“Ok, well if you’re not interested, I have plenty of papers to mark.” Ben said, pushing Michael off his lap.
“You’re a tease, Ben Bruckner!” Michael said, glaring at Ben but he soon dissolved into laughter.
“I expect a lot of attention tonight to take my mind off tomorrow morning.” Michael said as he walked to the door. “But now I’m going to find our daughter and tell her to watch out for the boys that tease at Kindergarten!”
Ben’s laughter could be heard throughout the house as he sat down at the table and opened his briefcase, pulling out the essays that needed marking, knowing that an early night would be demanded by Michael.
The next morning dawned clear and crisp, and JR was already dressed by the time Ben and Michael got up. Michael made her breakfast, trying hard to stay upbeat, but he knew he was going to be a mess when they had to leave JR at the kindergarten and was thankful that Ben would be there with him.
“Daddy can we go now?” JR asked running back into the kitchen, her backpack dragging on the floor behind her.
“Go and find Dada and tell him you’re ready while I get your coat.” Michael replied, watching as she ran off yelling for Ben.
They both returned moments later, JR sitting high on Ben’s shoulders.
“You ready to go?” Ben asked his husband, noticing immediately the downcast look on Michael’s face.
“I guess.” Michael replied, picking up the bright pink backpack and dropping it over his shoulder.
Hunter appeared as they were about to walk out the door.
“Hey brat…. have fun at Kindergarten.” He said, reaching up and tickling JR who wriggled on Ben’s shoulders as she giggled loudly.
“I’m a big girl ‘unter.” She laughed.
Hunter heard Michael sigh and turned to him. “You gonna cry or something!”
“Of course I’m fuc….. I’m not!” Michael answered huffily but Hunter noticed a tremor in his father’s voice.
“Whatever!” Hunter replied, rolling his eyes and then moved quickly to avoid a smack across the head from Ben.
“Don’t be late for school, Hunter!” Ben called over his shoulder as he ushered his husband and daughter out the door, and they began the slow walk towards JR’s kindergarten, JR talking excitedly all the way, and Michael trying hard to have the same enthusiasm as his daughter.
When they finally reached the School, and found her classroom, Ben lowered JR from his shoulders, giving her a tight hug before standing her on the ground.
Michael looked around at all the other children heading in the gates, noticing a few looks cast in their direction, but he ignored them and bent down in front of JR.
“Have fun Honeybun, and Daddy will be here to pick you up later ok.”
JR wrapped her arms around Michael’s neck and snuggled into him. “I love you Daddy.” She whispered as Michael pulled her tightly to him.
He was sure other parents felt like this when they said goodbye to their children on their first day at Kindergarten, but he was determined to keep his emotions in check until he got home.
He finally let JR out of his grasp, and she took her bag from Ben and began to run towards the door of the classroom, looking back and waving at her fathers one last time before she disappeared from sight.