Fandom: Babylon 5
Characters: Stephen Franklin, General Richard Franklin.
Summary: Stephen and his father have had a strained relationship for years, but it’s time they mended fences before they run out of chances.
Word Count: 677
Written For: zdenka’s prompt ‘Babylon 5, Stephen Franklin, waiting for news of his father,’ at fic_promptly.
Disclaimer: I don’t own Babylon 5, or the characters. They belong to J. Michael Straczynski.
Sometimes, usually when he hasn’t seen his father for a long time, Stephen wonders why it is they can’t seem to get along. When they do meet, even having a civil conversation is usually beyond them. A simple enquiry on how his mom and sisters are results in a lecture about how he should try harder to keep in touch with them and then descends into the same old arguments that always rear their ugly heads. No matter how determined Stephen might be that this time will be different, he won’t rise to the bait, it’s like poking a bruise to see if it still hurts, and of course it always does.
He loves his father, and he respects him, though he doubts that respect is reciprocated, but sometimes he finds the old warhorse, career military man that he is, more alien and less understandable than all the myriad different species he’s encountered and treated, both during his travels and aboard Babylon 5. It’s the age-old story of differing viewpoints that simply don’t mesh. Stephen is a healer, his duty is always to save lives, no matter if they’re human or alien, and regardless of which side they might be on in a fight. His father, the General, is a soldier. His job is to fight, and if necessary, kill anyone he’s told is the enemy. That sits badly with Stephen, knowing that many of the troops on both sides are only fighting because their superiors haven’t found a way to get along with each other. War brings so much death, and he’s not sure it can ever be justified.
His father came through Babylon 5 just days ago, for what Stephen thought at the time was just a milk run, delivering new weapons for the station and giving his troops a brief ‘shore leave’, some time to relax, or in the case of most of them, raise a little hell. Their father/son relationship proved as strained as ever, their argument as brief and as heated as every time before, and then the General, old Firestorm, was gone. Only turns out it wasn’t some milk run, he was taking his troops to Akdor, and that meant fighting, and heavy casualties, and there was no guarantee any of the troops that went in would ever come out again, his father included.
Dammit, he should have tried harder to mend fences. What if he never gets another chance? Will his father go to his death thinking that his only son hates him? It isn’t true. Sometimes he hates what his father stands for, but he could never hate the man himself.
Waiting for news seems interminable. Stephen goes over their recent conversations in his head, again and again, trying and failing to find any way of making them go differently. Perhaps they’re just locked into a pattern of conditioned responses with no way of ever breaking out. He doesn’t want to believe that, but sometimes it seems like the only explanation that makes sense.
When the Interstellar News broadcast at long last comes through live from Akbar, when he finally sees his father, weary and bloodied but victorious, it almost doesn’t seem real, his imagination having played out so many scenarios where the General didn’t survive. Lives have been lost, too many to count, some of them people Stephen met when they were on the station such a short while ago, and he grieves inside for all of them, but their deaths only serve to harden his resolve. He’s been granted another chance to say all the things to his father that he should have said long ago. I love you, I respect you, I’m proud of you and proud to be your son… It hardly matters what his father might say in response, just as long as Stephen gets the chance to set the record straight between them, because the events on Akbar have driven home to him that if he waits any longer, he could easily miss his last chance. He’s not going to let that happen.