We Can't Run From Fate

Jack had never given much thought to the mark on his wrist, the one that told him he had a soulmate out in the world. He was always more the one night stand than soulmate kinda guy. One thing he never expected though was to find his match in Alex Gaskarth, a twenty something single dad just trying to give the best life he can to his daughter.

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6. Chapter 5

After the first very awkward first date a few more slightly less awkward dates happened and as much as Alex was terrified to admit it he was starting to really enjoy his nights out with Jack. They gave him a chance to have fun, to let go for a little while and plus Jack was just good to be around. The biggest problem though he hadn’t told Jack about Grace, he kept having to come up with excuses about what he did and why he was covered in glitter...  He was pretty sure Jack thought he was a stripper of some sort.

It was a Saturday a few weeks after the original date and Alex was getting ready to go out again, he was taking Jack ice skating. It was something he’d always enjoyed but since Grace had been born he hadn’t had the time or even the want. He’d taken Megan on many dates there and since her death hadn’t been able to face it since... At least since Jack.

Zack had come round to babysit for him, part of Alex always felt guilty at leaving his daughter with his friends why he went to have fun. It didn’t seem fair somehow.

“Are you sure this is okay?” he asked, standing in the doorway not quite ready to go.

“For the thousandth time yes,” Zack sighed.

“I’ll try not to be out too long.”

“Be out as long as you like me and Grace will be just fine. Won’t we Grace?” Zack reassured him.  

“Go Daddy!”

“Thanks love.”

He kissed the top of her head and moved to the door again. Zack sighed, Alex obviously wouldn’t go anywhere without a push. Leaving Grace happily watching the Disney channel Zack took Alex outside into the hallway, half closing the door behind him.

“We’ll be fine, it’s not like I haven’t known her all her life,” Zack said.

“I know, I know. I just feel guilty leaving to have fun why you’re babysitting my little girl,” Alex admitted.

“Alex, get over yourself. I love looking after Grace she’s a wonderful child and well... I haven’t seen you this happy in so long, you deserve this.”

Alex gave Zack a hug, Zack almost crushing him in the process.

“Thank you.”

“No problem, no go you don’t wait to leave him waiting.”

Alex nodded and after one last look toward his daughter Alex left.

“Have fun and remember the five date rule!” Zack shouted as Alex disappeared down the hallway.

 

Jack always teased Alex about always being ten minutes late and as usual it was no different. He pulled up in his beaten up old car to see Jack already standing in front of the ice rink doors. Blushing Alex walked over to him, embarrassed about his continued lateness.

“You’re cute when you blush.”

No hi, no how are you doing, just you look cute. It made Alex blush harder.

“Can we go in now?” Alex asked, feeling the heat on his cheeks.

Jack chuckled and took Alex’s hand, leading him through the doors. Alex smiled as they entered; it brought back so many good memories being back by the ice. He’d brought Megan on a fair few dates over their time together, the thought sent a chill through him but Alex ignored it.

“How do people walk in these things?” Jack asked, trying to stand in skates.

“You don’t walk in them, you skate,” Alex teased.

“Shut up.”

Alex stood up, perfectly able to stand and walk without the need to hold onto the wall. Jack on the other hand was holding onto a nearby wall to keep him standing. If he couldn’t stay up right on dry land, what hope did he have on the ice?

“Are you sure this is a good idea?” Jack asked, wobbling his way over to where Alex was standing.

“You’ll be fine.”

Holding his arm out to steady him Alex managed to get Jack over to edge of the ice.

“Ready?” Alex asked.

“I’ve never done this before,” Jack admitted, looking at the slippery ice in front of him.

“Don’t worry, you’ll get the hang of it. Look I’ll go first.”

Alex stepped out onto the ice, sliding backward slightly but staring standing.

“See, easy.”

“Hmm okay.”

Alex held out his hands and waited for Jack to join him. Carefully Jack put one foot on the ice then the other, turned out it was even slipper than it looked. Jack tried to grab hold of the rail but missed and fell straight on the ice, straight on his ass. Alex was bent over laughing, he knew he shouldn’t but he’d never seen someone fall just getting on to the ice before.

Jack tried to get himself up but his feet kept sliding from under him, making me fall on his ass again. With one hard trying to cover the smirk on his face Alex pulled Jack onto his feet, quickly wrapping his arm around Jack’s waist to keep him from falling.

“Still sure this was a good idea?” Jack asked, grabbing hold of the rail as he feet slid all over the place.

“Positive,” Alex beamed.

“Look it’s easy, just point your feet out a tiny bit and lean your weight forward.”

Jack tried and ended up falling straight into Alex’s arms.

“You’re determined to be on your ass today.” Alex joked.

“You’ve done this before, it’s not fair!” Jack complained, holding tightly to Alex’s arms.

“I haven’t done it since...”

Alex cut himself off, the truth was he hadn’t done it Grace had been born but he couldn’t say that, Jack wasn’t ready to hear that yet.

“Since what?”

“Since... I had an accident, broke my leg. Makes ice skating kind of hard,” Alex tried to joke it off and hope Jack would let it go.

“I’m going to break my leg the way this is going,” Jack replied, clinging onto Alex’s arms for dear life as Alex gently pulled him along.

“You’re doing fine, look I’m even going to let go.”

Alex moved his arms away so Jack was skating on his own.

“No! Alex!”

Jack was wobbling again, arms flailing until he was on his butt again.

“Oh Jack...”

Alex was laughing again as he pulled Jack to his feet.

“Don’t let go.”

“Okay, okay,” Alex said, holding tightly onto Jack and continuing to pull him around.

 

They lasted another hour on the ice before their fingers were frozen, cheeks flushed red and Jack had fallen over a total of seven times; once even managing to pull Alex on top of him. Luckily for them next door to the ice rink was a little diner, somewhere they could warm up over hot cocoa and apple pies with custard.   

“I think I bruised my butt bone,” Jack said.

“Sorry, I seriously didn’t know someone could be that bad,” Alex teased.

“Hey! It’s hard.”

“I managed it fine.”

“You’ve had practise,” Jack argued.

“Not in 5 years!”

“5 years? Shit, how badly did you hurt yourself?” Jack asked, concern leaking into his voice.

“Oh hmm...” Alex stalled, trying to think of something to say. “I just haven’t had the time to come back,”

It wasn’t really a lie more like missing part of the truth.

“I’m going to get some cocoa, do you want some?” Alex asked.

Jack nodded and Alex took the empty mugs back over to the counter for refills. Alex hadn’t realised he’d left his phone on the table till he returned to see Jack looking at it.

“Who’s the girl?” Jack asked, looking at Alex’s phone background of Alex beaming at the camera with a little girl on his lap.

“Hmm....”

Alex quickly put the drinks down before his hands started shaking.

“She looks just like you, is she your sister?” Jack asked.

He could have lied, he could have said right there that Grace was his sister but he didn’t. The truth he’d been hiding for so long came slipping out like water over a waterfall.

“She’s hmm... She’s my daughter.”

Alex watched his phone fall to the table and look of shock appear in Jack’s eyes.

“Your daughter? You have a child?” he asked, his voice disappearing in some high note of shock.

“She’s called Grace, she’s nearly five and yeah she’s mine. I’m sorry I didn’t tell you, I was scared, I haven’t seen anyone since and I didn’t know how you’d react. Look if you want to fuck this whole soulmate thing and walk away then fine.”

Alex tried to explain, offered Jack an escape even though he hoped he wouldn’t take it. He closed his eyes and waited for Jack to reply but the only thing he heard was the sound of the door bell ringing. Opening his eyes Jack was gone.

 

 

 

Zack had just put Grace to bed when the front door opened; slowly the sound of footsteps reached him.

“Hey Al...”

He stopped when he saw the look on Alex’s face. There were tears on his cheeks and his eyes red rimmed, like he’d been crying for hours. He was swaying on his feet and just looked exhausted.    

“Alex, what happened?” Zack asked, pulling the boy to couch before he collapsed.

“I told Jack,” he muttered.

“Told Jack what?”

“About Grace,” he whispered his words barely auditable.

“Oh... I’m guessing he didn’t take it well.”

Alex shook his head.

“He walked out, just left without a word.”

“Fuck, Alex I’m so sorry.”

Zack put his arm around Alex’s shoulders to try and comfort his friend. The world hadn’t been kind to Alex, from taking the girl he loved; to trying to raise his little girl all alone but Zack had thought Jack would be different. He thought Alex had finally found something that would be okay.  

“What do I do now?” Alex asked.

Zack had always thought soulmates were a sure thing. He thought they saw each other and that was it but Jack and Alex’s relationship was more rocky than most. He was about to try and say something reassuring when a small shadow appeared at in the edge of the room.

“Gracy, what are you doing up?” Alex asked.

“Bad dream,” she whimpered, hugging her teddy bear.

“Come on; let’s get you back to bed.”

Alex got up to pick up his daughter and hold her close to his chest.

“Well I better go,” Zack said.

“Night Zack, thanks for everything.”

Zack wished he had more to say, his words hadn’t exactly been inspiring but it was late and he knew Alex had work in the morning.

“Night Alex, don’t worry you’ll work it out.”

Alex just nodded as Grace waved sleepily at him. Zack couldn’t help smiling; she was such an amazing little girl, just like her father.

“So, what was your dream about?” Alex asked, tucking Grace back into her bed.

“There was a scary monster in my closest, he was trying to escape,” she said, pulling her princess blankets up around her.

“Let’s check shall we?”

“No Daddy!”

Alex pulled open the closet doors but of course the only thing inside where Grace’s clothes.

“Nothing in here... Oh wait.”

Alex climbed in and looked out at his daughter laughing.

“I think there’s something in here now.”

“Daddy it’s you!”

“See there’s no room for monsters,” he said, getting out and closing the doors behind him.

“No monster?” she asked.

“No monster, now how about you go back to sleep?” Alex asked, kneeling down beside her and playing with her messy hair.  

“Story first!” she demanded.

“Oh you want a story?” he teased.

“Goldie locks please,” she asked, giving him her best smile.

Alex had never been able to resist that smile, whether it was to stay up a little longer or to eat ice cream for breakfast. Sometimes he wondered who was really looking after whom.

“Okay, Goldie locks it is”

Grace shuffled up on the bed as Alex got the book, making room for Alex to sit beside her. Grace loved cuddling why Alex read to her, it reminded him of all the days he’d read to her before she born.

“Once upon a time there was a family of three bears who lived together in a little cottage. There was a Daddy bear, a Mummy bear and a baby bear. Every day there would have porridge for breakfast. Mummy bear would put the porridge on the table to cool and the bear family would go for a short walk.”

Grace was beginning to drift off with her head resting on Alex’s stomach.

“One fine day they set off for their walk, just as usual. But there was trouble just around the corner! Coming down the path was a very naughty girl. Her name was Goldie locks...”

Grace had fallen asleep, curled up next to Alex and well he simply didn’t have the heart to move her. Watching as his little girl slept peacefully he smiled, even when his world was falling apart she’d always make him feel better

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