Title: What MacDonalds Do
Fandom: Wilby Wonderful
Characters: Duck MacDonald, Dan Jarvis, OC
Category: character study, family, OC-pov
Summary: It was two months after the scandal at the Watch when Walter MacDonald brought his... boyfriend? lover? partner? beau? Anyway. It was two months after the scandal at the Watch when Walter MacDonald brought Dan Jarvis home.
A/N: So one day I got to thinking about where Duck might have come from...
What MacDonalds Do
It was two months after the scandal at the Watch when Walter MacDonald brought his... boyfriend? lover? partner? beau? Anyway. It was two months after the scandal at the Watch when Walter MacDonald brought Dan Jarvis home.
Walter's only vehicle was his truck, which was a well-maintained, blue and white affair that most everyone on the Island recognized. Driving up the road in it made him and Dan Jarvis look like something in a parade float, especially with its roaring four wheel drive and its clattering of equipment on board -- the 'bare bones' stuff that Walter didn't like to be without.
"Well, what if I need a shovel, or a wire cutter, or an octagonal screwdriver," he would say. "Have you got one?" And of course, most people would say no, and he would smile in that playful way that looked just as silly on a middle-aged man as on the six-year-old hell-raiser he'd once been. And somehow, just as endearing, too.
They could have come in Dan Jarvis's nondescript, dark-colored sedan. For that matter, they could have come separately. But that would probably have seemed too contrived. If one thing could be said about the MacDonalds, it was that they were honest folk.
In any case, whatever decision process they had used resulted in Walter and his... friend bumping along down the hill to the coastside residence where he had grown up in, proud and loud for all the world to gawk at.
Walter's mother watched the truck approach through the front window, frowning and muttering half-audibly. She fell silent as Walter parked on the side of the road. She tensed when Walter turned to the man beside him and leaned in -- but the two men didn't kiss. There was movement under the side window of the truck, possibly Walter taking Dan Jarvis's hand.
The MacDonalds were a demonstrative people, if a quiet one. As a rule, they showed their feelings with looks, gestures, and soft-voiced proclamations that came from the heart.
Tricia, though married to a MacDonald, was a Lafferty through and through, and no one was ever allowed to forget that. Her family had owned the land they stood on for four generations, and she held the unbroken Lafferty record of first prizes for pumpkin pie. She'd always lamented that it was a pity the boy could burn toast. Lately, she pointed it out as a sign of his 'manliness' or somesuch when the neighbors grew coyly curious.
Tricia harrumphed loudly before going to open the front door. Her fine, graying, golden-red hair was frizzing up as if she were electrically charged.
She lit into her son as soon as the men entered, not even allowing him to pay greeting.
"So you show up now, do you?" she said, slamming the door to behind them fast enough to nearly catch the corner of Dan Jarvis's coat. "You're real proud of yourself, I suppose, gallivanting about with him" -- she gestured at Dan Jarvis without looking at him -- "and making a grand show of yourself. I suppose you think you're very brave and avant garde, eh? Breaking my heart and you don't even have the courtesy to come around and apologize for it."
"Is this why you wanted to move out? Is it? Giving me that line about independence and giving me space now you're grown up." She sniffed to show what she thought of that. "You think this is acting grown up? Shaming your whole family like this. Throwing your life away. For what?" This time, she finally turned toward the man standing beside her son. Dan Jarvis flinched visibly at her glare. A glare from Tricia MacDonald was not something a man could sneeze at. "I hope the sex is good, because that's all that's going to keep you warm at night from now on," she pronounced.
"Mum!" Walter exclaimed. He jerked his head convulsively to the side, as if to shake away the shock of hearing the word 'sex' come out of his mother's mouth.
"I ought to put you over my knee. You were always contrary. Always wanted things that were no good for you. I spoiled you, that's what. I let you run roughshod over all the rules when you were little and now you think you can do anything you like."
To be fair, that wasn't entirely accurate. True, little Walter had liked sharp tools a little too much, which had caused rather a bit of excitement in his bringing up. Tricia had certainly not encouraged him in any fashion, however.
One might be surprised that Walter ever picked up an awl again after Tricia had been through with his beloved Stoffy. Eight-year-old Walter's eyes had gone wide when he saw his punctured teddy bear, but he hadn't cried. He'd just shrugged philosophically and asked for a needle and thread. (Lucky for him, his dad was a tailor.) Couldn't boil water, but the boy could sew.
But never let logic intrude when Tricia MacDonald was on a tear.
"And you!" she shouted at Dan Jarvis next. The man jumped nervously, glancing between the other people in the room, as if searching for support, or perhaps an exit.
"Mum--" Walter usually knew enough simply to let his mother run her course, but now he took half a step forward, putting a hand on the other man's arm, as for comfort.
The interruption only stoked the furnace. Tricia slapped Walter's hand away
"Don't you touch him in front of me! You'll catch his sickness, I know it."
Dan Jarvis looked like a large dog that had been thoroughly thrashed and then tossed out in the rain. Walter, however, quirked a small smile. He took Dan Jarvis's hand -- not defiantly, just making it look natural. The taller man looked to him in surprise but did not draw away.
"Mum," Walter said. "I was already gay when I met him. That was kind of the point."
Walter was a MacDonald, all right. No one ever doubted that either.
Harry burst into guffaws of laughter.
"Harold!" his wife admonished, glaring at where he still leaned against the wall next to the front window. She turned back to her son. "Don't get smart with me," she snapped.
Walter looked suitably chastised. Dan Jarvis looked bewildered and anxious -- not too unusual for someone visiting the MacDonald household for the first time.
"Harold, stop that and say something to your son," Tricia said sharply, hands crossed in front of herself.
Sobering, Harry straightened. Tricia was right. This was no time for fun. But lord, it'd felt good to laugh. He'd been feeling nigh sick for the last two months.
Harry hadn't believed the rumors when he and Tricia had first heard. His son? Gay? His son, who built decks and painted fences and could put a man on the ground who ever insulted his family? His son, who couldn't pick a cologne to save his life, who thought blue curtains went fine with brown carpet, who fair made his well-dressed father cry with the rotting old T-shirts he liked to wear?
The rumors had turned into witness accounts, and then into common knowledge. The final blow to their denial had come from a phone call two days ago: "Mum, Dad. I guess you've heard. Can we come over on Sunday?"
Can we come, the boy had said.
So now here was Dan Jarvis in their entryway, looking like a scared rabbit, a hooked fish, and a man on trial all rolled into one. Harry sauntered over in a casual way that Sammy Lastman had once said made him look like a lazy tiger. He liked the sound of that, and it was always in his head when he was looking to make a judgment on someone or something.
He looked over Dan Jarvis's tall frame and wan face with a critical eye. Then he sighed.
"You love my son?" he asked. There was no use asking Walter how he felt. Walter was Harry's son, no question, and when a MacDonald started saying 'we' instead of 'I' in this sort of context, there was no going back.
"Yes, sir," was the quiet reply. No hesitance there, which was curious, seeing as Dan Jarvis looked like he'd never been sure about a thing in his life.
Well, at least Walter had known what he was and accepted it. Harry couldn't say he was glad of it, but it was better than the alternative. Better his son be gay and still a man.
"You're going to let people run you off the Island, aren't you?" he said next. He sensed Tricia move closer to him, lining up with his shoulder. Every year, he shrank a little and Tricia stooped a little more, but they still stood together when it counted.
Dan Jarvis hesitated. Walter frowned, but let the other man answer for himself. "We were thinking of moving. It would make things easier."
"Easier!" Tricia spat. "What do you think you've ever seen of hardship? Some people giving you dirty looks. You think that's the end of the world? You're a coward, that's what you are. Everybody knows it. You've infected my baby and now I-- I'll never see him again." Tricia's voice broke, and she turned her face away. There were very few things on this Earth that could make Tricia cry.
Anger made Harry's voice sharp when he said, "You're not leaving Wilby Island, Walter. Not for the likes of him."
"Don't you think that's my decision?" Walter answered in an icy voice.
Harold and Walter were known as two of the most easy-natured men on the Island. Things that would bother anyone else slid off of them with a shrug. But everyone knew, too: You get a MacDonald's dander up, and you're done. Nothing will stop that man. Not even a Lafferty.
Fifty years ago, Harry had left his family and his home and everything he had ever known for his wife. However he and Tricia argued and blustered and blamed, he knew in his gut that Walter would leave Wilby for Dan fucking Jarvis, and they couldn't do a thing about it.
"If you really do love him, you'll not take my son away," he said softly to Dan Jarvis.
"Dad," Walter warned, just as softly.
"Walter, don't do this." Tricia hadn't recovered enough to make it a demand, and perhaps that was for the best because Walter's steely temper seemed to falter in the face of his mother's plea.
"Mum, I have to. I'll be okay. We'll visit--"
"But you came back!"
Tricia had to reach up to seize her son's shoulders, but she gave him a strong shake. "You left us when you were younger. If this was what you wanted" -- she shot a glare at Dan Jarvis -- "then you could have stayed away. You could have had a dozen men and nobody the wiser, if that would make you happy. They're-- They're better about it there, aren't they? That's why you left in the first place, isn't it? That's why you want to leave now. But you came back."
Walter shook his head slowly, a frown creasing his forehead. He put his hands on his mother's elbows but didn't push her away.
"You'd best think about why that is, son," Harry put in, making Walter look up at him. He knew Walter would. He'd always been a thoughtful boy. A little dreamy with it, even. Enough to make Tricia throw up her hands and utter, "Oh, you MacDonald men!" in frustration when she needed something done fast and now and it doesn't have to perfect, for god's sake!
"I don't know. I just... missed home, I guess."
Dan Jarvis's expression sharpened a little, and maybe the man had a brain after all, because he was looking thoughtful, too.
After Harry and Tricia had married, they had moved to Harry's hometown in Alberta. Harry's parents and sisters and cousins and aunts and uncles had all pronounced how pleased they were with Harry's spunky wife, and they all had done their best to make her feel welcome. People had commented approvingly on how quickly she 'settled down', on how she 'matured' into the responsibilities of marriage. Harry had seen it for what it was, though. Year by year, he had watched the fire dying in his wife.
So he'd brought Tricia home, to the salt air and the harsh winds and the neighbors who traded and argued over imported vegetables, the price of fish, and gossip. And Harry looked at his beautiful wife -- who baked a dozen pies at a sitting and dressed down the postman for being late and insisted on walking out to the point every single New Year's Eve -- and he never regretted that decision. Not once.
Tricia glared at Dan Jarvis now, with all the energy of her twenty-six-year-old self, back when a quiet, clumsy tailor had first tripped over her luggage on a layover in Ontario.
"Let me tell you, Mr. Jarvis. I was a nurse before you were even born. I've seen young men dying of meningitis. Little children with cancer. People twice your age who didn't give up when they couldn't get out of bed anymore. I've seen people who'd lost an eye or an arm get up again. So don't you tell me it's right to run away from talk and people playing schoolyard games. Don't you tell me that you have to drag my son away from his home just to make things easy. A man who tries to kill himself is no fit man at all."
Dan Jarvis looked down at the ground through it all, but it was Walter who exploded: "Stop it, Mum!" His mother went pale in surprise, and everyone turned to look at him.
"What do you know?" Walter demanded. "You've never thought about what it's like, have you? Some guy loses an arm, or lives through brain surgery, or loses his fucking wife to breast cancer, and everybody calls him a damn hero. What do you know about being a faggot. In a place like this? With everyone you've ever cared about watching you, waiting for you to trip up.
"Can you even imagine what it's like? Hiding all the time. Lying. Being so... so afraid. So careful. And all the time, being so jealous of everybody else, so jealous you feel sick with it. You want to die. You want to hurt people. Hating everyone, hating yourself, even. Every day. And never being able to talk to anybody about it. Until it all just fills you up inside and you want-- until you just can't stand it anymore."
Harry and Tricia stared at their son, startled by his passion. His hands were balled into fists and his eyes were rimmed with wetness. For the first time, Harry thought -- he really thought hard -- about what his son might have been doing on the mainland for all those years, aside from living it up as a single young man free of fetters, as Harry had always assumed.
Walter turned his back on his mother, and then, surprisingly to them all, jerked away from Dan Jarvis's touch as well. "I'm sorry, Mum," he said after a long silence, his voice rough. Tricia moved as if to reach out for her son again, but hesitated, then dropped her arm.
"It's-- It's not your fault. I shouldn't have yelled. Only, don't judge him, Mum. It's not his fault, either."
Dan Jarvis moved closer, and this time Walter let him put a hand on his back and stroke it soothingly up and down. The man leaned in to murmur words into Walter's ear, and even though no other part of the men touched, the moment seemed so intimate that Harry was struck by discomfort.
Yet, it seemed to help. Walter unwound slightly and grunted, "No, I'm fine," answering a question that neither of his parents could hear. He scrubbed an arm over his face, causing the tattoo on his bicep to flick up and then down. He turned back around, but shame pulled his head down to the tiled floor.
Harry's son shouldn't ever look like that. His son was not going to leave Wilby looking as if he'd been chased away like a ragged fox pelted by stones.
"You've got something to say, then, Walter?" He tried to make his voice kind, but the image of Dan Jarvis touching his son confused and irritated him.
Walter lifted his gaze, and there was challenge in them once more. Harry shouldn't have worried. MacDonalds didn't give up that easy.
"I'm leaving with him, dad."
"What about his wife?" Tricia jumped in to ask.
"They're divorced. We're just waiting for the papers, now." We, again. Tricia scowled.
"And how he was messing around on the Watch? Chances are, he'll do the same to you."
"No!" Dan Jarvis exclaimed.
Tricia spared him a hard look, then turned back to Walter as she said, "I was asking my son, Mr. Jarvis."
"He says he won't. I believe him."
"How about next time things get hard? Think he'll put another rope around his neck?"
"I don't think so. I won't let him if I can help it." Walter gave Dan Jarvis a look that was strangely apologetic before continuing, "Anyway. It's worth the risk."
Dan Jarvis stared at Walter. His face was... Devastated. That was the word for it.
"I-- I didn't. Kill myself, I mean."
Walter turned, looking puzzled. Harry frowned at Dan Jarvis. Of all the times to tell such a blatant lie...
Tricia glared at the tall man as well. "Because Carol French cut you down," she said evenly.
"No, I mean." Dan Jarvis flicked his gaze around the three of them before returning to the ground. He took a breath, then looked at Walter. "I was ready to. But I thought-- I remembered how you talked to me. And I realized. How silly I was being. God, I still had something I wanted, and I was about to throw it all away! I felt so stupid. So-- So I was going to get down and put everything away and just pretend like it hadn't happened. Only then the bloody chair leg broke and I couldn't get loose. No matter how hard I tried. All I could think about was that I had to live. And I was lucky, because I did."
They all stared at this halting little monologue. Harry would stake his life that the man was telling the truth, but it was hard to believe, after two months of everybody on the Island talking about the 'suicide', and the man himself shuffling around like half-dead.
Finally, Harry admonished, "Watch your language in front of my wife, please."
Tricia gave him a brief glare of disbelief, but Dan Jarvis immediately nodded and corrected himself. "The darned chair leg broke," he repeated. That seemed to puncture the bubble of silence.
"Why didn't you tell me?" Walter said in a rush.
"I didn't want you to feel like you owed me or something. In case it didn't work out between us. I didn't want you feeling like you had to stay with me just because I--" He stumbled to a stop, flustered.
"Because you wanted to live, for me?"
Walter took both of Dan Jarvis's hands, and the other man nodded and smiled shyly.
Forget moving to the mainland. Walter would go to the Congo for Dan Jarvis now.
Dan Jarvis cleared his throat. "Your parents are right, though. It's not fair to make you leave."
"We're not staying for everyone in town to take a potshot at you."
"You belong here."
Harry held his breath, and Tricia squeezed her hand around his forearm, tight, tight, tight with the effort of not making a sound.
"Dan..." Walter glanced at his parents, his familiarity with them perhaps telling him more than his eyes did. "We'll talk about this later, okay?"
Dan Jarvis held his eyes for a second before saying, "Okay."
Harry shared a look of his own with his wife. Tricia looked tired, and disappointment still flitted around her edges, in the brisk way she smoothed her skirt and how the wrinkles deepened close to her mouth. She nodded at him. Then she pointedly averted her gaze.
"Mr. Jarvis." The man turned startled eyes on him. Harry wet his lips. It was damn hard to say. Walter stared at his father with unblinking intensity. Harry grimaced. "Walter might've told you, we're having beef brisket for dinner." Walter relaxed a fraction. "You'd best wash up."
"Y-Yes, sir. Thank you."
"You cook, Mr. Jarvis?"
"Uh, a little."
"You might get your hands on my wife's pie recipe. If you stick around long enough. Tricia always meant to give it to Walter's wife."
Two months wasn't very long, but if Harry knew his boy, it was long enough. If Dan Jarvis couldn't keep up, then he had no business screwing up Walter's life by staying in it.
"Th-Thank you. I'd like that. Very much." Shock was still the predominant expression on the man's face, but a pleased look was making its way there as well. Walter made a face that slid between frustrated and exasperated.
Harry offered his hand, and Dan Jarvis took it. It was sweaty and a little weaker than Harry liked, but no more so than Tom Alder's at the Bank. And god only knew how Harry's hands had been when he'd met Mr. and Mrs. Lafferty for the first time.
Tricia didn't shake, but she did nod at the man with slightly less hostility than before. "You're staying, then?" she said. She was never a woman to let things lie. Gripped by a moment of deep affection, Harry pulled her in and kissed the top of her head. "Harold!" she scolded, batting him away. Heaven forbid her hair get mussed. Harry smiled and turned to his boy.
"I suppose the French house is still for sale."
Walter glared at the joke.
"The... The French...?" Dan Jarvis sputtered. He held up his large-jointed hands in alarm. "We're not-- I'm renting my own place. You know that, right?"
"Do you think I'm stupid?" Tricia cut in crisply. "Where were you planning to live, after you moved to the mainland, if you weren't going to live together?"
"Shut up while we're ahead," Walter warned quickly, putting his hand on Dan Jarvis's shoulder to still the man's fidgeting.
Harry heaved a sigh. He supposed they would have to make allowances for Dan until he could take care of himself.
After all, that was what MacDonalds did.
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