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Old Fanfiction: War of the Worlds - Father Figure
sophie_deangirl
As I was rooting around for something else when I found an old PDF of one of my very first fanfiction stories when fanfiction was someone compiling stories for a fanzine and it was a paper publication. I wanted to share it.

War of the Worlds was a syndicated show back in the '80's. For a little context, here's a post I did in June, 2010 explaining it.

Forgive any missed grammar and the like as I was proofing through from a PDF so I just might miss something. Hope the hookiness brings a laugh as opposed to derision.


Father Figure

Debi approached the closed doors with trepidation. She didn't want to bother him and yet she really wanted to ride her horse, Sage, and he had promised to teach her to ride bareback today.

She got to the door and rapped so lightly that she was surprised to hear his voice answer on the other side.


"Come in," said the deep-throated voice.

Debi looked at the doorknob and grasped it in what took like an agonizingly long time to do. She turned the knob and opened the door as it silently brushed against the pile carpeting. She poked her head through at first, not wanting to venture any further in case he was in a bad mood, and also to have a quick exit, if needed.

"Oh, Debi, come on in. I'll be right with you," said lronhorse, his face losing its harsh concentrated features upon seeing her.

"I'm sorry, Colonel, I hope I'm not bothering you ... l -" she stumbled.

"I was just trying to finish up some paperwork so that I could have the afternoon free to give you that riding lesson," lronhorse said as he signed something on his desk with an exaggerated flourish of the pen, "Done."

"If you've got things to do, we can do it another time," said Debi apologetically.

"I need a break," said lronhorse, "Let's go."

He flashed an honest smile at her as he rounded his desk, met her at the door and her apprehension disappeared. She liked the Colonel and often saw sides of him that no one else did.

She had been mesmerized by the tale he told of his Grandfather the first time that she met him and liked him right away, yet she had also seen the tougher, harder side of him when he worked with Harrison, Norton and her mom. She was not so much afraid of that as much as she was very respectful of that side. She understood how busy he was, but he never acted bothered by her presence. She smiled back at him as he led her out of the office. In the hallway, the two of them bumped into Suzanne.

"Hi, mom!" Debi exclaimed.

"Where are you off to, sweetheart?" Suzanne asked.

"The Colonel is going to teach me to ride Sage bareback."

Suzanne gazed up at lronhorse with a look of surprise, yet touched by his show of gentleness with Debi.

"Well, that's great, Debi," Suzanne said as she looked at lronhorse, "Why don't you get ready? I want to talk to the Colonel for a second."

"Okay, but I hope it isn't about work," Debi said as she raced off and out of the front door, leaving it wide open behind her.

Suzanne shook her head. Will her daughter ever learn to leave a room like a normal person and close a door behind her?

When she was out of the door and out of earshot, Suzanne continued to look at lronhorse as if she were looking at a stranger.

"Why are you looking at me that way?" lronhorse asked, feeling an uncomfortable flush rising from his neck to his cheeks.

"Well, I - " Suzanne stalled, "I just didn't expect..."

Suzanne just couldn't finish her thought because it was so unbelievably inconceivable that she couldn't quite describe it in words.

"That I'd take Debi riding?"

"Well, yes, I mean, it means a lot to her," Suzanne softened from astonishment to gratitude.

"I like Debi. She's a very bright girl. My only regret is that she has to live in isolation here at the Cottage," lronhorse became pensive, "She reminds me of myself. In my own different way, I was deprived of a normal childhood. I don't want her to ever regret the way she lived like I did."

Suzanne was touched by lronhorse's soft spot for Debi. He had always treated Debi with respect and with a bit of nostalgia and by talking about his lost childhood it cemented her observations.

"I really appreciate it, Paul. I've felt guilty about what I've been putting Debi through because of my career and not just here, and I ask myself a lot if I have sacrificed Debi's happiness for my own goals."

"Judging by the way Debi has grown up thusfar, I think you've done a great job..."He trailed off for a second, "I wish -" 

lronhorse stopped in mid-sentence as if revealing his next thought would cause something bad to happen.

"I guess I better get to her lesson before she thinks that you've kidnapped me for some work to do," lronhorse said quickly, feeling that sudden flush of embarrassment rising up again for betraying so much of himself to her.

lronhorse rushed out the door in his clipped manner whenever he wanted to remove himself from an embarrassing moment or when he was totally frustrated, most of the time the latter happened with Harrison. Sometimes Harrison pushed lronhorse's exasperation level to its limits.
Suzanne watched out of the open door and saw him reach the stables and enter. A few moments later, she saw him pull two horses out by their reins. Debi was sitting atop Sage, a beautiful chestnut stallion, who had taken to her the moment that they had arrived at the Cottage that fateful day when four lives crashed into each other in a reluctant alliance, at least, at first.
The other horse was a jet black stallion, snorting and spiritedly resisting being pulled by the rein. Suzanne recognized the horse as Hawk, lronhorse's favorite. She had seen him ride Hawk, bareback as he was going to do today, horse and man flowing together in fluid movement. It was during those times that she had seen the shadows of his Indian heritage blur with the modern day warrior that he was.

She watched him mount Hawk and instruct Debi patiently.

Suzanne swallowed hard, feeling emotion catch in her throat as she watched the two of them together.

Suzanne had other regrets when it came to Debi. Not only did she feel that she had sacrificed her daughter's happiness for her career as she had told lronhorse, but she also regretted depriving her of a father. Granted, Cash McCullough was less than a weekend father since their divorce and she could blame him for that and for the cause of their separation as well, though she understood her role in it too, but Cash was still her father, and his alienation of Debi only deepened the guilt that Suzanne felt. Though she didn't regret the direction that her life had gone, or Debi's presence in her life, she often questioned her choice in a husband and father for Debi. Debi was the one suffering from that choice now and Suzanne knew that there was very little hope, given her job fighting aliens, that she would ever have a normal life or another chance at having the father that she deserved, but today, seeing lronhorse taking Debi out riding, she began to wonder about her judgment about him.

Clearly, lronhorse was a stubborn, necessarily brutal, but brutal nevertheless, quick tempered man, who, on the surface, seemed emotionless, unyielding and a man incapable of showing compassion, let alone, love and the smallest affection, but beyond those surface qualities were layers that Suzanne was beginning to discover with each day that she worked with him. She had remembered the patience he showed Debi when she kept interrupting him as he told his Shaman story. She saw the fascination in Debi's eyes and the gentle reverence in lronhorse's as he spoke his tale. His voice quavered with sentimentality and regret for a culture beaten into submission as he told of the grandeur that was his Great Grandfather's time. What was most surprising for her to discover was that he had a sense of humor, joking about his Great Grandfather being fired as the Shaman, then just as quickly, returning to the veneration of his ancestral background. Debi was a good judge of character, except in her blind devotion to her father, and Suzanne knew that she trusted lronhorse. Debi clung to lronhorse, seeing in him what she couldn't get from her father and he indulged her, but not from some kind of false kindness or from the type of toleration that some adults treated children, she saw a genuine affection for Debi in his eyes as well as a paternal longing for children. As Suzanne watched them disappear into the forest, she closed the door behind her.

* * * *

Paul lronhorse was amazed at how quickly Debi had taken to the bareback riding and she kept up with him adeptly. They rode side by side at a walk and she stayed even with him.

"You're doing great, Debi," lronhorse said, smiling widely.

"This is SO fun, thanks for teaching me, Colonel."

"You can call me Paul if you want to Debi, but just when it's the two of us, okay?" lronhorse said with a sneaky, secretive grin.

"Okay, Paul," Debi said, smiling broadly herself, "Thanks for taking time to teach me... "

"You're welcome, Debi. You're a good student."

There was a moment of comfortable silence as they rode together.

"Where did you learn to ride bareback?" Debi asked.

lronhorse became introspective for a second as he thought about a mostly painful past with flashes of wonderful memories that sometimes pushed out the bad ones as if there weren't any.

"My Grandfather taught me," he said finally.

"How about your dad?" Debi asked innocently, not realizing the question prickled raw nerves inside of lronhorse.

"I never really did much with my father... He wasn't around much."

"Just like my dad," Debi said with real regret and just a touch of a growing hatred that sometimes seeds itself over time from deprivation.

lronhorse grimaced out of Debi's sight, realizing what he had said had brought up her own fatherless life.

"Your father cares about you, Debi," lronhorse unconvincingly lied, struggling to appease the hornet's nest he had created with his remark.

He had met the "illustrious" Cash McCullough and found him to be the image of his own father with only the shell as the difference between them. He had disliked him from the moment he had heard about his Errol Flynn-ish exploits from General Wilson and the total disregard he had for other people's feelings, especially his daughter. His treatment of Suzanne at their dinner was abhorrent. It wasn't very polite of him to listen in on their intimate conversation, though much of what they talked about involved the Blackwood Project, he had also heard the stinging accusations that he had made against her and against the project without regard for the truth. He just blindly accepted whoever gave him the information on face value and accused from that basis. In that way he was very much like his father. 

Paul lronhorse's father was a harsh, unyielding man who had set his own standards and expected people to live up to them or be belittled in his eyes. He blamed his life on the white man, not just the present white man's abuse, but for the past and the degradation of his people. When his son, Paul lronhorse, decided to enter the white man's world with his entrance into West Point, his father disowned him and called him a traitor to his people. The word, "traitor'' was beaten into him verbally as he packed his few belongings and left, turning his back on his belligerent father and his pleading mother. Her cries still haunted him. He remembered the embittered look of betrayal on his younger brother, John's, face inheriting his father's ignorance and his blind rage against the white man, seeing Paul as a coward to his people. He understood the hatred Debi was feeding with her father's continual absence, but regretted that she would have to endure it as he had.

"I used to think so," Debi said angrily, "If he loved me, he wouldn't forget my birthday. Fathers don't forget their kid's birthdays."

"Fathers are human too, " lronhorse said, feeling that he was sinking in a quicksand of lies.

"How come you aren't married?" Debi abruptly asked, clearly wanting to leave the subject, "You'd make a great dad."

lronhorse stiffened with the question and the comment. He had never thought about becoming a father, though he did think about marriage once, but, as usual, his military lifestyle interfered and it never materialized. He still thought about the pain his fiancee must've felt as he forced her to make a decision of choosing his life or hers and eventually losing everything because of his stubbornness.

He didn't think that he was father caliber. He was afraid he'd end up like his own father; cold, loveless, uncaring and rigid. He thought it was ironic that the very act he thought would exorcise his past from him may have only added to his anger as he constantly fought to become accepted, and to eventually achieve that acceptance and prestige as an Officer of the United States Army.

He wondered if all the conditioning may have cemented whatever hatred he had for his father and now, he realized, all the guilt that he had been carrying with him from the day he left home.

"Well, I guess because I haven't had time to meet someone special enough to marry and I don't know if I'd make a good dad," he answered uncomfortably, clearing his throat.

"Well, I know that you would," Debi insisted with a little girl's petulance.

"I'll take your word for it," lronhorse smiled and paused, "Do you want to go back now?"

"Let's stay just a little longer?" She pleaded.

lronhorse capitulated and they rode in silence for a few minutes, enjoying the brisk breeze that shuddered through the trees and leaves. The sun's rays cutting through the branches like laser beams searing a path along the ground. lronhorse looked at Debi and regretted having reminded her of her father. She still possessed an innocence that he wanted desperately to preserve just a little longer.

* * * *

lronhorse and Debi dismounted their horses to walk down to a stream just ahead of them. They brought the horses down to let them drink from the stream and then tethered them around a medium sized tree. They sat down and leaned against another tree trunk and watched the water cascade lightly down, almost playful in the way the gentle crests of the splashes collided with the stones, the sound was like children's giggles.
lronhorse took in a deep breath and closed his eyes, feeling the creases of worry about the alien threat smooth out with the peaceful surroundings. Debi watched him and smiled amusedly. She had never seen him this relaxed before. She had always seen him on the run, his toughness and almost cold-hearted ferocity etched on his face and weaved into his steel-rod posture. She knew that lronhorse had a softer side, but he had only shown that in the most private moments with her and to himself. She felt a strong affection for him.
Though Harrison, Norton and Uncle Hank had tried to give her some paternal support, she never felt akin to any of them. She liked them and she loved Uncle Hank, but Harrison was a little too off-the-wall for her at times and she felt like he was trying to impress her with his intelligence, which she wasn't impressed with, in fact, it confused her more; Norton was like an older brother figure, wanting to have fun with her by playing games, but didn't want to teach her anything; and Uncle Hank was just that, an uncle. He would spoil her with gifts and snippets of his time when he came visiting to the Cottage, but when he was gone, it was like he had never been there.
With Paul lronhorse, she felt that she could trust him with everything on her mind and he gave as many secrets about himself to her as she did to him. He trusted her with his feelings and made her feel important. Paul lronhorse was the father she had lost when her parents divorced; the father she had never had really since her father was never around even when they were married. She missed and loved her father as a daughter would naturally feel that way, but in her soul, he felt less her father the longer he stayed away from her.

Paul lronhorse was never too busy to talk to her, taught her about his Indian heritage, and understood her feelings of alienation from her father because he knew how it felt. He was patient and loving in a deeper way than anyone had been, except for her mother. He didn't treat her like a little girl, but didn't think of her as someone to mold. She felt accepted for herself with him. He was only distant when he was doing his job and she kind of liked treating their relationship in a secretive way. It made her feel like that when they were together, no one else could interfere and that they only had each other. She really needed that sometimes. There were just something that she couldn't tell her mom about. It was great to have a secret friend in Paul lronhorse to confide in. She was beginning to love him like a father.

"Debi? What are you thinking about?" lronhorse asked, noticing her revelry.

"Nothing..." She stuttered, a little embarrassed to tell him what she was thinking.

"I thought we could tell each other anything?"

"It's a little embarrassing.”

"You can tell me."

Debi stalled for a second.

"I was just wishing."

"Wishing? For what?"

"That you were my dad... " She trailed off, feeling afraid that she'd chase him away.


lronhorse looked at her. Her statement surprised her, but not in the way that he thought it would.

He found himself to be flattered and for a moment, he wished it too.


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This is just wonderful! I remember when you sent some of your old fan fiction to me, and I think I remember the character of Paul Ironhorse, but I don't think you sent this particular fic. :) I love it! It's wonderfully sweet, and I loved Debi's thoughts about Paul. Fantastic work!

Thanks for your comment.Yeh, this story, the earlier one I posted, Warrior Heart and Soul were ones I sent you back in the day. I'm finally getting around to cleaning them up and posting them. I'm hoping to do a couple more. I'll be emailing you soon. It's been a crazy summer and the fall semester is fast approaching. You're always in my thoughts and I always appreciate you taking the time to comment or review.

Edited at 2012-08-02 03:40 pm (UTC)

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