Title: We were, We are, We will be
Summary: Don watches his daughter, Sally, sleep and ponders the consequences of risky ventures. Set during Mad Men's Season 3 finale Shut the Door, Have a Seat.
Word Count: 700
Author's Note: My first ever Mad Men fic.
He sits in the chair and watches her sleep. Her golden blonde hair curls over the plump youthfulness of her cheeks, the rose flush of sleep bearing precious hints of innocence and fading infancy. With eyes closed, her precocious and adamant willfulness slumbers (as do the glimpses of the woman she will become), and all he sees is his little girl, delicate and beloved and to be protected always.
This need to be her tower of strength staggers his desire to run, to stand on his own, to be free of cares and of caring. His love for her (and Bobby and even Baby Gene with his wrinkled smoothness) ties him down more surely than any contract or spoken vow (he’s broken the laws of man, what good is a vow to him?).
His side of the bed where his wife sleeps is cold (her side even colder) and has been for longer than he’d care to remember. He cannot cling to Betty (he never could), and so he built up the strictures of marriage to bind her to him, in role and route. She would circle him, never too close nor too far, for he wanted her near enough while guarding his secret distance. His design of a happy family precluded intimacy and bred dissatisfaction and distrust. And now his caged lady has broken free of his bars and plans to fly away. And he cannot cling to her and beg her to stay, to love him – he never could.
He cannot fight to save his marriage - his heart’s always strayed from her and doesn’t know the way home. He’s been untrue to his past, his wife, his family, his friends, to everything but his calling. He is devotion to the dream and the words that speak to the hearts and minds. He dove into the suit and the persona and believed that peddling stories made sense for a man who was nothing but shadows and lies. He became the story and the storyteller, every moment a creation of imagination.
Only now does he realize he’s learned to breathe under those rainbow waters (where before he thought he was drowning). He wants to save his world of dreams (the word, the vision, the possibility of hope), to build himself an island full of dreamers where he may swim in the waters yet live on land. And it would be his and theirs and ours. It would be home.
Except the water he smells is turning into musk on the hay in the rundown barn and the thunder clapping meets the shattering of bone and spraying of blood. The desperate risk to be his own man (like his father), to find a new home – what would he lose to stand on his own? And Sally? What would she lose if he failed?
Tomorrow, he will let go of his wife and he will fight (he must fight) for his dreams. But tonight, he will cling to his daughter in the darkness, breathing in the sweet scent of soap, listening to the rhythm of shallow exhales from her tiny chest. He’s stood still for so long, frozen in place, ever on the brink of retreat – no more. No more standing still and no more running. He cannot be her tower now (he must act), but let her be his anchor as he rides out to battle the British.
And when he returns triumphant (he must win), he will bring her spoils with a smile and a not-so-absent pat on the head. That’s the dream – his children and his friends and his island. The old world is gone (his wife, his house, his office), sifting sands beneath his feet, but this new world he’s building – the way he dreams it, it’s bigger and brighter than any place he’s ever seen. He’s always been a dreamer running from his past; now he will be a dreamer who builds the bright side of his future. Where once the dream was his lie, it will now be his truth. He will become the dream, he will bring the dream to life, and then he too will be real. Finally.