Learning as You Go

~1700 words :: Jude Law/Ewan McGregor :: 4/27/04 – 7/30/06
A handful of domestic stories set in a universe where Jude and Ewan have a kid together. (Note: These were written over the course of a couple years and are posted in the order I wrote them, so the internal timeline skips around a bit.)


This Time

“Jesus, Ewan…” Jude says. “He was supposed to be in bed an hour ago.”

Andy squeals, squirming as Ewan tickles him mercilessly. “I’m tiring him out,” Ewan says, not looking up.

“No, you’re not. You’re winding him up.”

Another shriek and Andy escapes, running down the hall and up the stairs to his bedroom – no, Ewan thinks, probably our bedroom – leaving Ewan on the floor looking up at Jude. It feels like he’s being lectured.

“You always do this,” Jude sighs, collapsing onto the sofa and narrowly missing the Lego castle Ewan and Andy – okay, mostly Ewan – had spent the evening building. Ewan doesn’t remember why he thought the couch was a good place for it.

The faint sound of the telly coming from upstairs means Andy is indeed in their bedroom. “I’ll get him,” Ewan says before Jude can get up. He stands, stretching, doesn’t hurry. “There’s some Chinese in the fridge,” he calls from the landing.

Andy’s not even paying attention to the TV. Of course he’s not; it’s news. What five-year-old watches news? He’s bouncing on the bed instead. Sometimes Ewan thinks he never stops bouncing.

“See, you’ve wound him up.” Ewan starts at Jude’s voice behind him.

“He’ll tire out soon.”

“He has school tomorrow.”

“You heard the man,” Ewan says, scooping Andy up and dangling him upside down. Ignoring his protests, Ewan carts him into the other bedroom and throws him unceremoniously on the bed. “Get your pyjamas on.”

“Come on,” Jude adds, bending to pick up the Spiderman pyjamas from the bed. “I’ll help you.”

“I can do it, Daddy,” Andy says, grabbing the pants from Jude’s hands. “You can pick a story.”

Andy falls asleep half-way through the story, and when they’re out in the hallway again Ewan pulls the door shut and says, “See? Tired him out.”

Jude smacks him on the arse. “This time it worked.”

The Kiss

“I’ll be home around five, then.”

“See ya,” Jude calls out from the kitchen as the front door clicks shut. Moments later his shorts are being tugged nearly off by a distraught three-year-old and yanked off balance he spills coffee down the front of his shirt.

“Andy…” He sets down his mug, wiping his hands off on a dishtowel. “Andy!” The tugging continues. “What?”

Andy glares up at him. “You didn’t kiss Papa!”

“I kissed him earlier.” There would have been more than that, too, if Andy hadn’t burst in on them. “You saw us.”

“No, now!” Andy stamps his foot and grabs hold of Jude’s shorts again, trying to pull him out of the kitchen. “You have to now, Daddy, or it’s not right!”

“He’s already gone,” Jude says, prying the fingers away.

Andy promptly grabs his hand instead and, getting more and more agitated by the moment, commands, “Go get Papa!”

“All right, all right…” Giving in, Jude follows Andy to the front door. “He’s probably gone already, though.”

Andy doesn’t seem to care, shoving Jude through the door and peering up the street first one way and then the other. “Papa!” he shouts, and Jude looks up, catching sight of Ewan about halfway down the street. Still in his pyjamas, Andy takes off down the pavement, shouting, and with a sigh Jude jogs after him.

Their shouts finally get Ewan’s attention and he turns around, pulling his headphones out of his ears. “Did I forget something?” he asks, looking puzzled.

“Your kiss!”

Jude hesitates and then leans in, meaning to give him a quick peck, but Ewan’s hand comes up, fingers tangling in his hair, and the kiss deepens. Behind him he can hear Andy’s sigh of relief at the crisis averted, whatever it may have been.

When he pulls away, Ewan grins. “What was that for?”

“I’ll tell you later.”

Dinnertime

“You seen Andy?”

Looking up from the fridge, Jude sees Ewan standing in the doorway, holding tight to a pair of squirming legs hooked over his shoulder. “Nope.”

“Daddy!” Andy squeals. “I’m right here!”

Jude cracks open his beer and cocks his head. “Did you hear something?”

“I think the neighbours have a new cat.”

“Papa!”

“So what’re we having for dinner?” Ewan says. “I’ve got this sack of potatoes here…”

“Kinda wriggly.”

“I’m not potatoes!”

“But they’ve got maggots, I was going to say, so we’ll have to have something else.”

“Chips!” says the maggoty sack of potatoes.

“Chips’re made of potatoes,” Ewan says. “Oh, here Andy is!” He swings Andy around and turning him right-side up. “Where’d you come from?”

Andy grins up at Jude, dizzy and breathless. “I was always just here.”

“Oh yeah?” Laughing, Jude ruffles his hair and says to Ewan, “You want a beer?”

“Nah, I’ve gotta go and get chips.” Ewan tickles Andy. “Chip shop or McDonald’s?”

“McDonald’s!”

Ewan pulls a face, but Jude just shrugs. “Shouldn’t have given him a choice. You know better.” Setting his beer down on the counter, Jude pulls out his wallet and hands Ewan a couple of notes. “Get me something at the chip shop while you’re out.”

Slinging a giggling Andy under one arm, Ewan rolls his eyes. “Yes, Master.”

Awkward Conversations

It’s hot. A fucking oven. That’s all Ewan is thinking when he pulls his shirt off over his head and tosses it on the sofa. It’s only the shocked gasp from behind him and the thud and fizz of Andy’s Coke hitting the floor that remind him why he was wearing a shirt in the first place.

Fuck.

“Papa! What happened to your back?”

“I fell,” Ewan says shortly, and fuck, that might have convinced Andy a few years ago, but at eight, he’s not nearly that gullible anymore. Now it’s probably only gone and made him suspicious.

Sure enough, when Ewan turns around, Andy’s looking up at him like a miniature version of Jude, with his brows drawn and his nose wrinkled. “How’d you fall like that?” His eyes widen and he says accusingly, “And there’s bruises on your chest, too, and your tummy!”

“I’m clumsy. Like someone else in this room.” Ewan grins and shrugs, bending to pick up the nearly-empty Coke can. “Get me some kitchen roll and we’ll clean up this mess, okay?”

“Okay…” Andy frowns, obviously not the least bit convinced.

Ewan drinks the last of the now-flat Coke and claps Andy on the back, nudging him towards the kitchen. “Come on. Daddy’ll be pissed off if the floor’s all sticky when he gets home.” And thank God Jude’s out, Ewan thinks, or he’d be pissed off at Ewan, too. Though he might be able to come up with a better explanation, something not as stupid as “I fell” but not quite as…candid as “your dad bit me”, which would probably be met with equal disbelief anyway.

They lay sheet after sheet of kitchen roll on the spill until Ewan begins to think maybe they should have just used a towel. Andy’s quiet the whole time, but Ewan knows he’s not off the hook. They’ve nearly got it all sopped up before Andy finally says something, and it’s too quiet at first for Ewan to hear.

“Hmm?”

“I said, parents aren’t supposed to lie.”

Well, fuck.

“You’re right,” Ewan says slowly.

“So how come you lied?”

“I di-” Ewan cuts himself off; denying it’ll only make things worse. He picks up a soggy ball of kitchen roll and drops it in the bin he’s dragged out. “It’s, erm, to do with sex. It’s something your dad and me, something we like to do.”

Andy dumps the rest of the Coke-soaked kitchen roll in the bin, his face screwed up as he thinks it through. “You like getting bruises?”

“Sometimes.” The floor’s still wet, so Ewan grabs his shirt off the sofa and sops up the last of the mess.

“Okay,” Andy says finally. “Can I have another Coke?”

Whether that’s meant to be forgiveness for lying or permission to carry on, Ewan doesn’t know, but it seems to be the last of that discussion, thank fuck, at least for now. The bin and his wet shirt in one hand, he gives Andy a one-armed hug, kissing the top of his head. “Wash your hands first.” Straightening, he hesitates for a moment, then adds, “And don’t-”

“Don’t tell Daddy, I know.” Andy grins at him. “If you promise not to tell about the Coke.”

Ewan kisses him again. “Cross my heart and hope to die.”

Knowing

When Andy is born, he doesn’t look like anyone. Well, except every other baby. Ewan’s pretty sure he wouldn’t be able to pick him out of a lineup, and if someone were to switch babies on them, they’d never suspect. He’s always thought when people say stuff like “he’s got his father’s nose” or “she’s got her mummy’s eyes” about newborns, they’re either flat-out lying or just deluded.

Even as a toddler, Andy’s just another blond-haired, blue-eyed tyke. Ewan and Jude were both blond when they were that age. They’ve both got bluish eyes. Andy could still be anybody’s kid.

It’s not as if Ewan dwells on it or anything. He just wonders sometimes and he wonders if Jude thinks about it or if he cares, but he never asks. Jude never brings it up, either, so maybe it doesn’t even cross his mind. Maybe Andy won’t look like either of them. Maybe he’ll look like Carrie-Anne (he’s got half her genes, after all) or maybe he’ll just look like himself.

By the time Andy’s started school, Ewan’s stopped thinking about it so much. When people ask, he says Andy is theirs and if they press for details, he tells them it’s his name on the birth certificate, but they don’t know for sure and they’ll never know unless there’s some medical emergency or something. He says he doesn’t want to know.

And then one day he sees them together, Andy fast asleep and Jude dozing next to him, and it’s so obvious he doesn’t know how he missed it before. It doesn’t make him love Andy any less or make Andy any less his son, but his chest is tight as he crosses the room and lies down next to Andy, and when Jude blinks and smiles at him sleepily, his answering grin feels more like a grimace.

It doesn’t change anything and he’ll get over it, he knows, but for now he pulls Andy close, feeling oddly possessive, and he wishes he could go back to not knowing.


Note: Helens has written several other stories set in this universe. They can be found here.