"Scotty." Anthony pushes his paperwork aside on his desk. It's not rare for him to have work to bring home on a Tuesday evening, but Laura takes every chance she gets to remind Anthony that he's a Cat's in the Cradle story waiting to happen if he doesn't make time for his kid, and no one wants to live inside a Harry Chapin song. But then, he doubts he's ever going to hear Scotty professing a desire to be like him, either, so the whole thing seems like a nonissue. All things considered, they're nothing alike - ironically, as the first thing everyone had to say when Scotty was born was just how much he looked like his dad. Same nose, same ears, same strangely long toes. Laura had lamented that after incubating him for nine months, it was pretty unfair that he came out looking like a carbon copy of daddy. But when Anthony looks at his son, all he sees is his wife. From his laugh to the glint in his eye that sparkles when he's about to do or say something he knows will land him in hot water, it's all Laura, and he's glad for it. She's much better at being a mom than he'll ever be at being a dad.
"You wanna go shoot some hoops? I figured out how to work the air pump on my ball, like you said, so it's good now."
Anthony's a busy man. The end of the fiscal quarter is nearing, and he doesn't have time to spare for games.
The cat's in the cradle and the silver spoon... he can practically hear Laura singing under her breath.
"Yeah, we can do a few rounds."
"Hey babe, it's me. Know you're busy at work, so we called the home phone; switch the machine tape out after you listen to this because I want to keep it. Your son has something important to tell you..."
"DAD I GOT THE PART, I GOT IT!"
If he closes his eyes, Anthony can almost perfectly picture Laura laughing; he can see Scotty jumping up and down like his blood is caffeinated. He smiles. He misses them.
"Scotty, let me at least give you the phone--"
"I'M GONNA BE A TV STAR I'M GONNA BE FAMOUS," Scotty says, louder now. He probably has the phone pressed right up against his mouth. "And I'm gonna be on TV, like a regular, like every week, and... and it's gonna be so cool and Mom says we can go to Disneyland!"
"I said maybe we can go to Disneyland!" Laura calls out. "To celebrate."
"Yeah, that! So you should come to California and then we can go to Disneyland."
"Call back when you get this and we'll figure it out. I think we're going to be in California for awhile."
"Bye, Dad! Miss you!"
Anthony smiles. He switches out the machine tape.
"Your son seems to be doing really well lately. He and Laura are still spending most of their time in California, right?"
Regular sessions with an in-house counselor are mandatory at Anthony's firm; it's all part of some new Human Resources mumbo jumbo that boils down to making sure no one's about to go crazy and shoot up half the office - or, potentially worse, deflect to a rival firm and bring them all down. Their newest recruit for the cause, Rachel, is pleasant and professional. She makes all of her probing seem like small talk.
Problem is, Anthony's never been a fan of small talk. Or conversation in general, really.
"Primary filming's in Burbank. They're west coast for most of the year." The way Rachel's looking at him implies she's expecting more, so he adds "I visit at least once a month," with a shrug.
"Gives you more time for work, right?" she asks, a loaded question if there ever was one. They both know he'd be clocking the exact same hours in the office whether they were in New York or not.
"Sure. And they'll both be back here soon enough. TV shows don't run forever."
"Aw, babe, you remembered."
"Of course I remembered. When have I ever forgotten? Did the flowers not arrive?"
"Oh, I don't know, they might have? I haven't been home all morning. I bet they have them at the front desk, don't worry. I bet they're beautiful, I can't wait to see them."
This is Anthony and Laura's first anniversary apart. To say he hates it would be an understatement. But he's up to his neck in work, and she's still running around trying to keep Scott under control, which is somehow even more of a task now than it was when he was an actual child in need of supervision. Laura says she'll be coming back to New York any day now, but she's been saying that for a year.
"I miss you," Anthony says, quietly, though there's no one around.
"I miss you too."
"Has there been any progress with--"
"Soon. I promise. Soon."
"All I'm saying is that you need to stop and think long term for a second, because you're not going to be able to keep living the kind of life you've become accustomed to if you're not working."
"Syndication checks," Scott responds flatly, stabbing at a piece of steak slightly harder than necessary.
"He's just waiting for the right project," Laura says more gently, ever the mediator and ever ready to jump to the defense of her little boy, even if he's not so little anymore. She's equal parts endearing and infuriating in this regard; that unwavering support is exactly why Anthony married her to begin with, but to see that same steadfast stubbornness in defense of something so stupid... well. Performers. He could never expect to understand either of them. "You can't just accept everything you're offered; you're a business man, you know that."
"Yeah, while Dirty Dancing 2 is just a great--" Anthony begins to mutter under his breath before taking a sharp, pointed-toed kick to the shin.
Scott unceremoniously drops his silverware to the table with a clang and stands up. "Love these family dinners. Excuse me."
Anthony had always known the day would come when someone would have to fish his son out of lockup. He didn't think that person would be him.
It's unusual for Scott to be this quiet, ever. Even when he sleeps, he's making noise, tossing and turning and babbling to himself mostly incoherently, like he's so immersed in his dreams that he can't bear to just keep them to himself. His mother finds it adorable. His father wore earplugs to bed when they traveled together. Maybe his silence now is because he's embarrassed - which, while rather nice to consider, is somewhat hard to believe, given his typical diet of pride, willful ignorance, and low fat proteins - more likely it's because he's just already feeling the effects of a long night ill spent. He rubs his temples, flinches at the sound of the car door slamming behind him.
"I'm just going to take you back to your apartment," Anthony says, more as a question than a statement. If there's somewhere else he wants to go, Scott won't hesitate to tell him. But he nods numbly from the back seat, and Anthony takes it as an agreement and puts the car into gear.
New York may be the city that never sleeps, but at least it shuts the fuck up for awhile in the dark hours between last call and dawn. It's one of the only times Anthony actually enjoys driving. He rolls down the windows, letting the warm summer breeze help clear the musky scent of stale beer and smoke Scott brought in with him. The kid could use some fresh air, anyway, though he should have thought of that hours ago, before that last beer. Bar fights. Idiot.
"Does Mom...?" Scott finally asks, fully looking like the mere idea of Laura finding out that he got himself into this kind of trouble (again) would be enough to make him vomit all over the upholstery.
"She doesn't know. Told her it was a work emergency."
"And you're not..."
Anthony almost smiles. Almost. "No, I'm not going to tell her."
"We haven't talked much about your relationship with your father."
There is something contagious about the way Scott laughs, even when there's nothing funny about the situation. It's a loud, deep noise that almost echoes in the room; he throws his head back like he means it. He's actually much more convincing of an actor in real life than he is on screen - or at least, in comparison to Home Improvement and The Faculty. Amanda's not exactly familiar with his body of work. She was buried in med school text books while he was in his prime.
"So you really do ask that question. Fuck, I thought that was some kind of cliche joke. How long have you been waiting to pull that one out?"
Dr. Amanda Schwartz is used to dealing with difficult clients, and Scott's hardly the worst she's encountered, but his presence alone in her office is confusing. Though he made his first appointment with her voluntarily, apparently without outside coercion, and has been seeing her regularly for a couple of months now, he seems to do so against his better judgement. He shows up hungover (on a good day), disheveled, usually reeking of either alcohol or pot and always looking vaguely annoyed to be there. At their first appointment, he told her he was looking for a breakthrough. Amanda's starting to think he just wants someone to talk to. Desperately. No matter how much he rolls his eyes about it.
"We... coexist peacefully. I love him because he's my dad. He loves me because I'm his only kid. Can't say either of us of would otherwise. Wouldn't say we like each other all that much."
"Why do you think that is?"
Scott flashes her a wry grin and she prepares herself for a line rather than an honest answer; this is his tell, and she's fairly certain it's so ingrained in him by now that all the acting training in the world couldn't take it out of him. It's why he lost hundreds of thousands of dollars last year in Vegas playing poker. It's how interviewers know they've set him up to spike the ball.
"Because we have one thing in common. We're both assholes."
"Wait, stop, this is it babe, pay attention."
Anthony has never cared about the Oscars before and honestly, he wouldn't care now if Laura wasn't forcefully instructing him to. But she's insistent that this is the year; their baby has finally proven that he can buckle down and mean business just like she's always said, and isn't that what Anthony's always wanted? For Scott to prove that he cares enough about what he's doing to do it well? This is that moment.
He'll believe it when he sees it, personally.
Laura is perched on the edge of his desk, her eyes glued to the computer screen in front of them. Usually Anthony would take the opportunity to poke fun at her, but she's only been waiting for this thirty years or so. She grips his hand with such ferocity that he silently accepts the inevitable loss of his fingers.
It would be nice if the kid managed to pull it off.
"...and Eddie Redmayne, for The Theory of Everything."
Laura's face falls. Dropping his hand, she counts on her fingers, quietly repeating the list of nominees under her breath. "Shit. Is that it? That's all five? Shit." That is it; the hosts have already continued on with the next category of nominees. "Fucking Bradley Cooper."
Well, it was a nice thought while it lasted.
"Do we... I don't know, are you supposed to call in situations like this?" Anthony halfheartedly asks.
"No, I'll do it," she says, standing up and straightening her robe. "You should get back to work."
Father's Day is just another day in Anthony's book. Scott comes over with gifts in tow, the same way he does every year: a new watch, an espresso maker, some weird gadget to junk up his desk at the office. They make small talk for as long as either of them can tolerate it, with Laura gamely pushing on the conversation the whole while, then depart for dinner when the tedium of vague answers about work and commentary about the weather become too much to bear. She slips into the backseat of the car before either of them can protest, leaving Scott to take shotgun. After a few minutes of awkward silence, he fiddles with the dashboard controls to turn on the radio.
Harry Chapin comes on.
Scott laughs but he also doesn't; it's a strangely hollow, empty sound. "What kind of sadomasochistic radio station plays this shit on Father's Day? I hate this song."
Anthony almost smiles. Almost. "Tell me about it."