The Opposite of FictionAuthor: soaked_in_starsRating:
The Wyatt/Ziegler family, but mostly Toby and Huck.Spoilers:
Just the existence of Huck and Molly. Nothing specific beyond that.Disclaimer:
Thanks to crushing83
for setting up the ficathon, and ninefish
for countless readthroughs and guidance.
Huck didn’t feel the weight of being his father’s son until he showed one of his stories to his mother in high school. She read it, slowly flipping pages at their kitchen table, glasses she didn’t like to admit she needed perched on her nose. She looked up at him, and Huck – who only wrote because the words were there, welling up and spilling over – didn’t recognize the awe in her eyes. He heard her later on the phone with his father. “I always knew he could write, Toby. I just didn’t know he could write like you.”
He didn’t understand what that meant, then; it wasn’t until college that he dug through archived speeches, downloaded files, and began to be able to identify his father’s distinctive cadence and nuance. He realized then that he never wanted to be a speechwriter. He needed to tell a story and create a world based so far from reality that it was barely recognizable as a facet of his life. He wrote fiction to tell stories like the stories his father had never told him.
They were never a family who talked, though Molly was the most eager to try; Huck realized, years too late, that she was the vault into which Toby’s stories had poured. Her eyes (Andy’s eyes, the honest eyes Toby could trust) held the secrets their father had been unable to share with his only son. It was appropriate, though, because Toby had never known how to be a son, and seemed to think that, because of this, he never knew how to have a son. Toby’s ghosts took the shape of his father, of the politicians he’d let down, of the staffers who’d disappointed him, of every regret he never let himself forget. (Except Andrea. She was his private regret, never shared with his daughter, though she knew.) Toby couldn’t tell his son how his own father had disappointed him, because he was sure that, one day, Huck would inevitably say the same things about him. So he told Molly, when she asked, and she pieced his story together bit by bit.
Huck didn’t bother to ask his sister until after three books and countless awards, after reviews and praise and pages that made him cringe when he looked at the words. It was only after far too many years of being angry and distant that he heard what his sister had been trying to tell him. Toby was still afraid of disappointing his son with the legacy of his father.
He sat in front of a blank computer screen for hours before giving up and finding a legal pad. When his pen touched the paper, it was like he was back in high school – the words flowed, page after page suddenly covered with his dark scrawl. He was known for his fiction, but these truths were the most important that he’d ever written. He spoke them the next morning in a clear, unwavering voice, remembering the man who, in the end, he realized that he knew quite well.