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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8. Chapter 7

A week had passed since Jack had come back and Alex had to admit he felt happy. It was good to have Jack back; they were even planning on his meeting Grace, probably instead of the awkward incident of her walking in on them kissing. Needless to say Zack was not pleased by Alex and Jack’s so called getting back together.

“Alex, I can’t believe you’re doing this,” he said, his voice crackling over the phone.

“Why shouldn’t I?” Alex asked.

“This guy just walked out on you when you found out you had a kid, how do you think he’s going to deal with actually being with her?” Zack questioned.

“I guess we’ll find out.”

“Why are you doing this?”

“I don’t know, because there’s a stupid mark behind my ear that tells me I have to and maybe I want to,” Alex snapped. Glad Grace had gone to bed long ago and couldn’t her father get angry at his friend.

“Just remember it’s not your feelings on the line here, it’s hers too.”

“Stop telling me how to raise my child!”

“I’m just trying to look out for you,” Zack sighed.

“I know that, I do but you don’t know Jack.”

“And you do? You’ve been on a few dates with the guy, is he worth all this? Is he worth nearly getting fired for?”

Now Zack was the one getting angry. It was true that Alex had lied about being sick as to have the next day off, he wanted Jack to meet Grace and he got so few days off.

“You know what? I think he is.”

“For Grace’s sake I hope you’re right.”

With that Zack hung up and Alex was left alone in his living room. Tomorrow was the day he’d find out how Jack would be with Grace or more importantly, how Grace would be with Jack. The nerves and anxiety of what would happen kept Alex awake for most of the night until he eventually fell asleep on the arm of the couch.

 

They’d decided to meet in the park around the corner from Alex’s apartment; it had a good little park for Grace to play in and a nice cafe for them. For once Alex had arrived earlier than Jack; he was sat on the bench outside the play area when Jack came up behind him.

“Hi.”

“Hey, how’s it going?” Alex asked.

“Good yeah, sorry I’m late, we had a late night at the bar last night,” Jack said.

It wasn’t a total lie, it had been late by the time Jack had left the Rockwell but the reason for being late was he wasn’t sure he wanted to go. He wanted to be with Alex but the idea of being with Grace still scared him, it had taken him a serious ass kicking from Rian and a few large coffees to get his butt out of his apartment.

“It’s okay, I think Grace is too busy playing to notice us,” Alex laughed.

Jack just smiled; he wanted to kiss Alex again. He had such an amazing laugh and Jack just wanted to feel his lips against his again but the middle of a kids play area didn’t seem the best place...

“Does she know... About us?” Jack asked.

“I haven’t gone into detail with her about it, she just knows you’re my friend,” Alex said.

“Have you hmm... Been with anyone since?” Jack asked.

“No, not since her mum.”

Jack scanned the little children until he saw her, her father’s caramel hair and little nose but the brightest blue eyes.

“She has her eyes,” Jack said.

“Yeah she does, I wish she could have known her mother.”

“Can I ask... Can I ask what happened to her?” Jack asked carefully, he couldn’t help wondering what had become of little Grace’s mum; all Jack knew was that she’d died.

“Just after Grace was born, like an hour or so something was obviously really wrong. She was in pain and couldn’t find a cause, she was practically screaming and they couldn’t... They couldn’t save her.”

Alex’s voice cracked and Jack wrapped his arm around the boy’s shoulders. Alex had never been able to talk about Megan’s death with anyone, not Zack, not his parents and definitely not Grace. But with Jack everything felt different, like he had the guts to say anything.

“I’m sorry Alex.”

“It’s okay, it was nearly five years ago and I’ve got my beautiful little girl.”

Alex smiled at the thought of his daughter and Jack thought he was the strongest person in the world. He’d lost the woman he loved, he was alone to bring up a child and he was copping so well.

“Daddy? Who’s that man?”

Grace had come over to them why they’d been talking. Her hair just as messy as her dad’s and her cheeks painted red from running around.

“Hey baby, this is Jack. Remember I was telling you about him?”

“Hi Grace.”

She looked at Jack, her head titled to the side as to get a good look at him. Her face scrunched before she broke into an adorable little smile, something else she got from her dad.

“Hi Jack.”

Jack smiled, so far so good.

“Thirsty daddy.”

Alex pulled out a little juice box from his bag and handed to her before pulling her onto his lap so they were all squished on the bench.

“Having fun sweetie?” Alex asked, running his fingers through Grace’s knotted hair.

“We’re playing tag,” she said.

“Man, I haven’t played that in years,” Jack mused.

“Grace, why don’t you take Jack to play? I bet you could beat him,” Alex encouraged.

Grace looked up at Jack again, she thought he looked strange with his hair two colours and big eyes but she liked his smile.

“Do you want to play tag with me?” she asked.

“Sure.”

Grace hopped off her father’s lap and took Jack’s hand to try and pull him up. Once standing Jack was so tall compared to Grace she nearly had to stand on tip toes to hold his hand.

Inside the playground Grace hit Jack on the leg, yelling tag and disappeared out of sight. Despite being much bigger Jack had trouble keeping up with the little girl, she was fast for someone so small. He managed to catch up with her a few times, tapping her on the head and saying tag before running off in the other direction. Other kids joined in their game and soon Jack was being ganged up upon from all angles. He was enjoying it though, he wasn’t sure he’d expected to but as he watched Grace run after another little boy he couldn’t help smiling, he knew he’d made the right choice in coming out.

 

Alex sat watching them from his bench, a small tear in his eye. Grace seemed to be getting on with Jack, he’d been so terrified that she wouldn’t like him but as she chased him around it seemed his worries were unfounded. Alex was torn from the moment by his phone ringing, his boss's name flashing across the screen.

“Jack! Jack, can you watch Grace a minute? I need to take this,” Alex called.

“Sure!”

The words had left Jack’s mouth before he was aware of what he was doing, watching Grace he could manage that for a few minutes. After all, what could happen?

He stood against the fence of the playground and watched her as she went down the slid and across the play equipment. Alex had only been gone a few minutes when disaster struck, Jack watched it happen. One minute Grace was racing after her friend and the next she was on the ground, crying. Jack ran over to her and scooped her up in his arms.

“Shh, Grace, what’s wrong?” he asked, bobbing the crying child in his arms.

“Hurts,” she whimpered, tears running down her cheeks.

Jack looked her over, there was a red patch leaking through her tights meaning she’d probably grazed her knee and her hands were scattered with little scratches. She was still crying and Jack didn’t know what to do, he had no band aids or anything to make it better.

“Where’s Daddy? I want Daddy,” she cried.

“He’s busy Grace, but can you stop crying for me? He’ll be back soon.”

She just continued to cry, making a wet patch on Jack’s arm as he held her. Jack scanned the area for any sign of Alex but he couldn’t see him, in fact the only thing he could see was a little cafe with a sign outside about ice cream.

“Hey Grace, will you stop crying if I buy you an ice cream?” Jack asked, bribery worked on children right?

“Can I have chocolate?” she asked, her little voice hiccupping.

“Sure you can and you can help me pick one out for your daddy.”

 

When Alex returned he found Jack and Grace sat on the bench, a little pot of ice cream each.

“Grace fell over and I brought her ice cream, I hope that’s okay” Jack said.

“We got Daddy one too!” said Grace, who seemed to have massively cheered up after chocolate ice cream, was involved.

“Yeah, yeah that’s fine,” Alex said, he looked at Jack and back to Grace, she still had scratches on her hands and blood on her knee but she was smiling, chocolate all round her mouth.

He fixed up Grace with a few band aids he carried in his bag before eating his own ice cream, strawberry, his favourite.

“Thanks for watching her and making sure she was okay,” Alex said.

“It’s okay, I had no idea what do but I think ice cream worked,” Jack chuckled.

Alex smiled, for Jack and Grace’s first meeting he couldn’t really have asked for more.

“What was the phone call about?” Jack asked.

“Oh hmm just work stuff,” Alex said.

To the true it was Alex’s boss getting very angry at him for lying about taking a sick day, Alex had managed to get out of it by saying his daughter needed him and he’d had to stay home with her. His boss wasn’t exactly impressed but at least he didn’t fire him.

 

They watched Grace playing for awhile longer before Alex decided he needed to get his little girl home. They walked back together, Grace running ahead as Jack and Alex walked behind, their hands entwined.

“I was so scared about today but I think it was pretty perfect,” Alex said, pulling on Jack’s hand so they were face to face.

“You know what, I think so too.”

Before Jack had the chance to lean down Alex was on his tip toes, pressing his lips to Jack’s. It was only the second kiss they’d ever shared but it was the best... So far.

 
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