Red vs Blue fic: Of Macaroni Art and Making Grown Men Cry
It’s Father’s Day, and Caboose has a plan. It goes about how you’d expect a Caboose plan to go, so Wash reluctantly comes to the rescue. Part of the retirement fluff series.
828 words | [PG]
Wash follows the smell of something burning into the kitchen. He takes in the scene—there is paper and markers and glitter strewn over the table, and a pot billowing thick black smoke. And in the middle of it all—Caboose and Junior.
“Caboose, what are you doing? You’re going to burn the entire base down.”
“Oh, it’s okay, Agent Washington. I took the batteries out of the smoke alarm, so it wouldn’t bother anyone.”
Wash stares. “That won’t stop-” He doesn’t bother to finish. Wash pulls the pot from the stove. He can’t tell what was even in it. “Were you hungry? You could have asked someone to make you guys lunch.” What does a Sangheili eat anyway?
“It’s Father’s Day!” Caboose says as if that explains anything.
Caboose rolls his eyes like Wash is being the unreasonable one. “It’s Father’s Day, and I’m helping Junior make something for Tucker. Even if he is stupid.” He mutters the last part under his breath before putting on another glowing smile. “We looked it up, and it said that kids make macaroni art for Father’s Day.”
Wash rubs a growing pain between his eyes. It’s typically how all of his conversations go with Caboose. “Caboose, you’re not supposed to cook the macaroni first.”
Junior lets out a string of honks and blarghs. Wash doesn’t need to understand the words to get the meaning—Junior already tried to tell him that.
Caboose’s smile falters. “Oh.” He looks around at the mess, brow knit together.
Damn him. “You know what, let me clean this up, and I’ll help you. Okay?”
That brightens him right back up. “Really?”
Wash sighs. “Yeah, really.”
Ten minutes later, the three of them surround the table—the middle filled with bowls of every shape of pasta and every variety of dry bean they could find in the pantry. Carolina is going to kill him, but Caboose looks thrilled. That kind of balances things.
Caboose and Junior argue over how they are going to make the card. Wash wonders if Caboose actually understands the alien or is just arguing with himself the way everyone seemed to treat Lopez. So far, Tucker is the only one he’d found that legitimately knows what Junior is saying. Wash can’t explain it—it must have something to do with their genetic connection. With the Reds and Blues, it’s best not to over think things. It just gives him a headache.
“Guys,” he interrupts when things sound heated. “Why don’t we each make something and decide later which one to give him.”
That seems to settle things for the time being and both get to work on designing pictures.
“You’re not starting, Agent Washington?” Caboose says as he reached for the glue.
“You said we would all make something.”
Wash sighs. “Yes, I did, didn’t I.”
He pulls a sheet of paper from the pile and stares at it with a frown. He remembers this. Macaroni art. Making it. No, not making it. He never made art—especially not for his domineering father. It’s not his memory, he realizes, squeezing his eyes shut. Epsilon. It’s been a while since he’s had one of these uncontrolled flashes, and it takes a moment for him to untangle his thoughts. He spends one moment considering the idea of Carolina gluing macaroni to a paper for her doting father before shutting the memory away where it belongs.
While the glue dries on their projects, and the boys clean up, Wash cooks a special dinner. Tucker’s favorite roast chicken and potatoes. He’s starting to regret his choice to investigate the smoke. Next time, he’ll let the base burn down and save himself the headache.
Junior suddenly lets out a startled honk.
“Oh, no,” Caboose says. “You ruined the surprise.”
Wash glances over his shoulder at a bewildered Tucker. “What surprise?”
Junior scrambles to grab his artwork, practically shoving it in Tucker’s face as he rambles something in Blargh-speak. Tucker’s frown melts away. “You made this for me?”
“It’s Father’s Day,” Caboose says, handing him another paper. “We all made something. It was Wash’s idea, but then we couldn’t choose which one to give you so you get three cards.”
Tucker looks from the two papers Caboose is holding over to Wash, an eyebrow arched. Wash shrugs and goes back to cooking, trying to ignore the glimmer of unshed tears he sees there.
“Thank you, guys, I guess,” Tucker says. “This is-”
“Why are you crying?” Caboose asks in alarm. “Are they not good enough? Did we do it wrong? Wash said you don’t cook-”
“No, it’s not that, and I’m not crying. I just got glue in my eye—this is still wet.”
“Then what’s wrong?”
Tucker swallows hard, obviously having trouble controlling his emotions. “I just never- I didn’t expect anything, that’s all.”
Junior says something that sounds apprehensive and a little sad.
Tucker hugs him. “It’s okay, buddy. I don’t expect you to know every human custom. I love it.”
Wash shakes his head—this is the weirdest family he’s ever known. He sets the finished platter of chicken on the table just as Caboose scoops both Tucker and Junior into a hug. Tucker mutters curses, making Wash snort in amusement. Weirdest family ever. Of all time.
Making a sound is a mistake, though. Caboose notices him and drags him into the most awkward group hug. Caboose doesn’t notice. “I blame you for this,” Wash says, shooting Tucker an annoyed look. “And Happy Father’s Day.”
Tucker smirks, eyes watery again. “Whatever.”