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Growing Down

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In time's of… When time's were… In times, it was important to know you could rely on your friends. Because friends were what made these… times less… time-y.

When Paul rang Richard and told him his sa-… his exci-… his news, he told himself he had nothing to worry about, because Richard was a friend, and these were times and the two went together.

Richard laughed at him for a long time, and then hung up.

Paul sent Kim a sms telling her that her husband was an dick, and brooded on the patio while he waited for her to beat the story out of him, finish laughing, and make Richard call him back. Stupid predictable friends.

"So what do you want me to say?"
"I dunno. Something. It's a something bit of news, you can't just say nothing."
"Well maybe it'd be easier if you spent less time sounding like your life was over."
"Christ, you're a pain."
"Yeah, well… You know I'm not the one you should be talking to about this - I can't relate at all."
"What? You're a dad! How can you not relate?"
"Because I was married for several years before I had my first kid, and it was a planned pregnancy."
"Ugh. You make it sound like there were contractors involved."
"See? Totally not your man for this."
"Well who else is there?"
"Gee, I dunno, who else do we know who got married because his girl was knocked up, and then managed to make the best of it?"
"… Oh come on."
"Have fun apologising."

Stupid, stupid so-called friends.

The thing with… with Tim, was that he was practically a time himself. Like that time at the Comfest that was kinda soon after the Dougs had broken up, and Paul was at this party and didn't know Tim was there, until Tim just showed up and was all: "Hey, good to see you, you're new show looks great! Are there any nights that haven't sold out yet?"

And Paul made his view on the matter very clear by politely grinding out: "I don't. Want. You. To come."

And Tim had laughed in that fucking charming way and said: "I'll have to live vicariously through the reviews then," and fucking mussed Paul's hair up before walking away. Fucking prick.

And it didn't help that it was hot. It was meant to be cooler down south, less of an armpit. Which just meant that the sweaty air confined itself to densely populated areas, instead of spreading itself evenly. And Paul couldn't even remember his own damn new phone number, but Tim's sprang to mind simply because he'd spent so much time trying not to remember it.

And his fucking daughter answered it.

"Is your dad there?"
"I need to ask who's calling." She'd be what? Thirteen now? Something like that? She had a slight lisp still, left over from a dentally-challenging bike accident that Paul hadn't overheard Tim telling Julie about. Kids that old shouldn't sound that adorable.
"Tell him it's Paul."
"Paul who?"
"The only Paul who's threatened to eat his kids."

And there's an adorable eep before the phone hits the table with a clatter, and he can here her calling her 'Daddeee'. Fucking teenagers these days.

And the first Time says is: "Congratulations."
"What? What for?"
"For the kid. Well, eventual kid."
"You know?"
"Sure, you know how the wife likes the magazines."
"Um, sure. Thank you."
"How are you taking the news, by the way?"

And Paul's body is clearly being controlled by some rogue satellite Batman built for the Russians or something, because he meant to say: "yeah, surprised, and kinda… you know."

But what he really said was: "I'm sorry I was such a prick."

And Tim's laughing, and Paul's willing to bet his flicking his fringe out of his eyes, and completely unaware that these are times Paul's going though and that kind of behaviour is completely inappropriate.

"Yeah, but you were always a prick. So what are you going to do?"
"How the fuck should I know."
"I guessing it's your kid."
"Well… yeah."
"So do the right thing already."
"What? You want me to marry her?"
"No. God no. Just stop acting like yourself for a while."
"What's that supposed to mean?"
"Stop being a prick and start acting like family."

And something in Paul hurt for a moment, even though it shouldn't have. "You told me that when you said you weren't going to America."
"Did I?"
"Yeah. Which was stupid, because you made it clear that you already had your own little family by then."

Tim sighed, and Paul suddenly realised that they were both so old. "It was never my own. Family's not about blood, you can't own it."
"Stop being a prick, Paul. Get over yourself."
"Merry Christmas," Paul blurted out before he heard the click of Tim's phone settling back into its cradle.