Title: Papa, Can You Hear Me?
Author: Mackenzie
Rating/Pairing: {{SLASH}} Toby/Josh
Archive (if applicable):
Summary: Toby and Josh are both haunted by the sounds of their deceased daughter.
Author's Notes: Okay, lots of notes in this one. The song was written by A Bergman and M Bergman and is from "West Side Story". This story is slash but not sexual. (For those of you who don't know, slash is a story dealing with a relationship [sexual and non-sexual] between two members of the same sex [male/male; female/female].) While reading this, pretend that Toby and Josh have been together for ages, there was no Andrea Wyatt and that while they were engaged in their relationship, they decided they wanted a child and therefore CJ, being her wonderful self that she is, agreed to be a surrogate mother and give them a child, a daughter, whom unfortunately passed away at the age of 17 due to a car accident. This story takes place two years after her death.
Disclaimers: The only one I own is Rachel Jean Lyman-Ziegler, everyone else belongs to Da Man.

Papa, Can You Hear Me? By Mackenzie

~*~

God. . .
Oh God. . .
May the light. . .
Illuminate the night. . .
Illuminate my soul. . .

Papa, can you hear me?
Papa, can you see me?
Papa, can you find me in the night?

~*~

Toby sighed softly as he walked down the hall and stopped at the locked door. He reached out and slowly fingered the old brass key with the cranberry tassel, allowing the pieces of it to slip through his fingers like the silky strands of her hair.

With one breath, he unlocked and opened the door of her room. He was immediately awashed in the smell of her and it stunned him that the smell could still be there even two years after her death. He slowly walked in and sat down on her bed, running his hand over the smooth white battenburg lace comforter and seeking until it found her doll, the doll he and her father bought for her on her third birthday.

Toby slowly picked Mrs. Squiggles up and held her close and breathed in her little girl smell.

~*~

Papa, are you near me?
Papa, can you hear me?
Papa, can you help me not be frightened?

~*~

He sighed softly and let out a slow and ragged breath and looked down at Mrs. Squiggles in his arms and reached out and slowly touched her face, remembering when his little girl wouldn't go anywhere without her. He remembered a particular time when Mrs. Squiggles was damaged.

-:-:-:-Flashback-:-:-:-

"Catch me daddy!"

"Which daddy are you talking to?"

Rachel giggled as she clutched her beloved Mrs. Squiggles closer. "Both!"

Toby and Josh looked at each other and grinned as they took off chasing their five-year-old around a beach. They were on vacation in Hawaii, a place that Rachel had only seen in pictures and a place they longed to take her.

Rachel squealed as she held her doll closer to her and much to her fathers' surprise, she dropped the doll and took off running into the water. Josh, not watching where he was running, paying more attention on watching his lover and daughter having fun, ran out to the water to be with them and froze when he heard a soft crush.

He looked down at the sand and saw it was red with blood and his foot was bleeding and then looked at Toby, his face pale. Toby looked at him and immediately knew what happened. It wasn't long before Rachel's scream could be heard.

"You killed her!"

Rachel ran back onto the beach and gave Josh a good shove with a force that surprised him and picked her doll up, her porcelain face crushed. Toby slowly walked out of the water and sat down on the sand with hisdaughter and assessed the damage.

"Honey, it was an accident, daddy didn't mean to hurt Mrs. Squiggles, he knows how much you love her."

Rachel looked up at him, tears falling, "She's dead, daddy."

Toby shook his head and carefully took her from her. "She's not dead, honey, daddy and I can fix her, don't worry. We'll go back to the hotel room and I'll give you your bath while daddy takes her to the dolly hospital and gets her fixed up good, okay?"

Rachel nodded and went over to Josh, who stood quietly by, guilt all overhis face. She looked up at him and crooked her finger and motioned for him to come down at her level, to which he kneeled, a hand on her waist.

"You'll make sure the doctor gets her fixed?"

Josh nodded. "I will, sweetie, and I'm so sorry. I didn't mean to hurt her."

Rachel nodded and hugged him and kissed his cheek. "I know, daddy."

Toby picked the doll up and handed her to Josh and gave him a quick kiss and looked at him and his heart hurt for the pain he was feeling over shattering their daughter's feelings. "It'll be okay, Josh, we'll get her fixed."

Josh nodded and kissed him again. "Yeah."

Toby picked Rachel up and put her up on his shoulders and the three walked back to the hotel where Toby proceeded to bathe Rachel as Josh went out to find some good super glue and porcelain paint.

Four and a half hours later, Josh returned back to the hotel room, his fingers glued together and covered in paint, but the doll's face perfectlyin tact.

~*~

Looking at the skies, I seem to see a million eyes, which ones are yours?
Where are you now that yesterday's waved good-bye and closed it's doors?
The night is so much darker
The wind is so much colder
The world I see is so much bigger now that I'm alone.

~*~

Toby sighed softly as he studied the face of Mrs. Squiggles. Rachel never noticed the faint hair-line cracks that seemed to magically appear years later. He didn't hear Josh come home and didn't notice he was there until he felt a hand on his shoulder. He looked up at him, softly, "Hey."

Josh sat down next to him on the bed and kissed his cheek. "Hey." He looked down at the face of Mrs. Squiggles and shuddered involuntarily, remembering the pain he caused their daughter. Toby saw this and took his hand and squeezed it, softly, "Two years, Josh."

Josh nodded, softly, "Yeah. Doesn't seem possible."

The older man nodded and sighed. "I know. It's like she's still here sometimes. I miss her so much, I swear there are times I can smell her perfume or hear her laughter."

Josh smiled and looked at him. "We had some great times with her, Toby. Lots of laughter was in this house."

Toby nodded and smiled softly. "Yeah."

~*~

Papa, please forgive me
Try to understand me
Papa, don't you know I had no choice?

Can you hear me praying?
Anything I'm saying?
Even though the night is filled with voices

I remember everything you taught me, every book we've ever read
Can all the words in all those books help me to face what lies ahead?
The trees are so much taller
And I feel so much smaller
The moon is twice as lonely and the stars are half as bright

~*~

"It's late, Toby, let's go to bed."

Toby nodded and carefully set Mrs. Squiggles back in her rightful place and stood up. "You know, I was thinking. Let's keep this room open. Let's not shut it away pretending it doesn't exist. We both loved her and we still do. Let's keep her spirit alive and free by keeping this room open."

Josh nodded. "I think that's a good idea. I'm sure she'd love that. We were blessed, Toby, we had the world's greatest daughter, given to us by the world's greatest woman. I thank god for CJ every day because if it hadn't had been for her, we never would have been touched by Rachel."

Toby nodded. "Yeah. Josh, I know that I don't say it nearly as enough, but I do love you."

Josh smiled softly and kissed him. "I know, Toby, I love you too. Let's go to bed."

Toby nodded and the two men walked out of their daughter's bedroom.

~*~

Papa, how I love you
Papa, how I need you
Papa, how I miss you
Kissing me goodnight

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