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You've never been a very talkative man. You have always preferred action rather than the empty chattering and, if necessary, you were more inclined to listening, even when the subjects didn't make you very happy.

When you decided to marry the woman you loved, for example, you were only eighteen. You heard your parents's reasons in silence; they were against your relationship from day one, and then you took your own way.

The marital problems, however, arrived immediately, but you were young and didn't think too much about it. But, a few months after your second child's birth, everything went wrong. In a short time you came to know the feeling of much money rustling through your fingers, followed by the humiliation of jail and by the bitterness of divorce.

When Veronika left you, taking the kids away with her, you realized how much you had always been wrong, especially about your children, as if they were some toys to be taken and put on a shelf at your leisure.
Deniz, your eldest, was that one who suffered most. He had always been very attached to you, and also the one closest to your personality. You never hid it from yourself that it frightened you a bit.

On the other hand, he was neither a good listener nor more talkative than you, but he was the tsunami of your house. It was clear from the beds turned into trampolines, the furniture into free climbing walls and the waxed hallway into a skating trail. The problem was solved by entering him in a gym where he could practice every sport imaginable. The younger, instead, loved music and he changed instruments and teachers every year; Veronika liked beautiful clothes. And you were the one who financed all their activities, working like a mule, and having less time to spend with them. When Veronika left town, you had even less time. You could see the children only once a year and for the holidays your ex was so magnanimous to let you take the less manageable, Deniz.
Sharing more time with you, however, your son was able to improve his Turkish and to better learn the traditions that you had learned from birth, becoming part of your being.

The summer before his fifteenth birthday was unforgettable.

A whole season just for you, the camping, the ice-hockey final in the Czech Republic, but even at that time there was no way to deepen the knowledge of each other. Deniz never spoke about his life in Monaco, his friends, his school, his mother or any girl; his favorite subjects were mostly his personal bests in competitive sports, computers, branded jeans, the scooter that he wanted as a birthday gift. And you almost felt lucky to have such a teenage son, like many others, though the fear that he might take the wrong path never left you. For this reason you spent your time talking to him, since you hadn't been able to give him a good example.
In the summer before his eighteenth birthday, however, he suddenly appeared in your bar, arrogance and rudeness elevated to the 9th degree. It was almost hard to recognize him, but you knew very well there wasn't only his mother behind that masterpiece of good manners.

Deniz was rude and listened to you less than usual, and you couldn't handle it and, above all, you couldn't handle being suddenly a full-time father for the first time in your life.

You wanted him to speak to you, to explain to you what was happening to him, but there were few thoughts that he could communicate to you, least of all the ones you really wanted to hear.

Your attempts at conversation often ended with furious fights.
Finding out that your son wasn't like you had always imagined, that he liked boys rather than girls, was like a sudden cold shower. But you knew you would get used to it sooner or later, just as you would get used to seeing him walking with Roman, hand in hand.

At that time Deniz was more quiet, fortunately, perhaps he was accepting himself, but mainly it was you that was accepting him.

Sometimes you sat with him to share a cold beer or a warm coffee, your hard demanding questions which he barely answered. The commitment was great, but the results were only just passable. And when he started dating with Vanessa, he seemed to have finally left behind the turbulent phase of his adolescence. You felt that he was also grown up, but you were too busy with your emotional mess to appreciate it fully. Let's face it, you were unable to hide the relief of seeing him with a girl, finally; his same age. Normal.
Unfortunately, the story with Vanessa ended, and your son slowly entered into a self-destructive spiral: he wasn't interested in anything except luxury and fun; alcohol and drugs were his best friends. And not only had the two of you stopped talking, you even avoided each other.

You tried to recover the relationship with him, or what remained of it, of course, but stopping your son had always been like trying to catch an eel with epilepsy, or a snake ready to bite you.
The only thing you wished for him was that he could finally realize what he was doing and that he wouldn't end up in trouble he couldn't solve. But how many times would he return to you in tears, promising things that he couldn't keep the next day?

At nineteen, your boy was in disarray, and didn't know where his path lay nor his own wishes. Funny that at his age you were already a father with a family to support.

Then it came the day when you began to see something different about him. He was basically the same Deniz, of course, but quieter; sighs when he was in love more melancholy.
Then you sat beside him and watched him without speaking, as to tell him: Hey, I'm here, whenever you want.

But his mind was somewhere else.

A father has always expectations when a son is born: a decent education, a good job, a family, and especially that he is happy and doesn't make your mistakes.

But you'd learned that your son's happiness would never be compatible with your visions, and when Deniz confessed to you to be in love with Roman again, you understood that you should have put your hopes under a boulder. Definitely. After seeing them together, embraced and cuddled like two lovers in a book, you even smiled.

A quarter of your visions had already happened and it was all that mattered the most.
On the other hand, you two had never been so close, even when he left you for living with the man he loved.

But how long can a sunny day last before rain clouds appear at the horizon?

A father would want his son to never suffer because of a betrayal, even less that he betray in return. A father would never want to disappoint his child, or be disappointed by him. But there is no way to prevent it, much less a law. And when your son slept with the woman you wanted to marry, the pain and the disappointment were huge, comparable only to your child's death, or when Jenny had died, and to dozens of other horrible things that happened in the forty years of your life. You just had to choose.

But even that shit passed, like a bad summer storm, with so much noise and a residual electricity in the air, because just as you always said, your son would have remained your son even when he was a jerk, and you could do absolutely nothing about it. After all, neither of you has ever been really different from the other.

Fortunately, he had also inherited his obstinacy from you, and eventually, after going through half a hell, because of you, Deniz managed to get back what he wanted more than anything else in the world: Roman.
There are battles that you can't win, as you have always known, but your child had to find out the most terrible way.

"Ten days of bitching for every two days of bliss" it was said about the relationship between Roman and Deniz. Unfortunately, that time, there would be no way to fix it.

Nothing can win against death.

In the following days, your poor boy became a mere shadow of himself, his eyes vacant, his shoulders sagging. You couldn't even speak to him, too much armored in his despair. Then, an evening, he entered your room on tiptoe and slipped into your bed, just like a child, and cried on your shoulder all night.
From that time your son didn't speak much, the only thing that haunted him was job, job, and still job. And a few months later, he had the idea to organize a skating competition in Roman's memory. At first it seemed one of those Deniz's daydreams , something destined to fade with time, just as the pain softens a little by little into the soul, finishing to become an integral part of our flesh and our molecules. But it wasn't like that. The Wild Cup became over the years one of the most prestigious competitions and, thanks to the efforts of Deniz and his collaborators, international in scope.
And at the last event your child met Frederick, wanted by the Center Steinkamp as a new coach. You didn't need to know from him that something new was blowing in the air, because you read it in his eyes, as you always could.

Deniz is thirty, now. He is a successful manager, with new and lucrative ideas, but he's still alone, at least he was until a few weeks ago.
It's evening and you ask him if he wants to celebrate his birthday with you, but he answers he already has a date, with that usual smile that asymmetrically raises his lips.

So you grab a bottle of raki from the fridge and two small glasses from the cupboard, asking him to sit with you for five minutes. Even now you are ready to listen and he, unlike many other times, seems much more inclined to talk. And, in fact, he speaks enthusiastically about the seventh edition of the Wild Cup, the new perspectives of the Sports Center, the trip booked for Christmas. He seems almost happy.
Someone rings the bell, and a man Deniz's age is on the
doorstep. He presents him to you as the new coach of the Center and as his good friend. Later they're off together.

You go back to your table and to your bottle of raki.

A father has always some projects when a son is born, and in these projects he would want to preclude him the ways of evil and pain, but hope is always broken in one way or another. So you wish to see at least a smile returning on your child's face after a bad storm, just as happened a few minutes ago.

And finally, you think that another glass of raki is the most appropriate way to celebrate it.


Chapter End Notes:

A huge thanks to Hannival Kinney and Gary Henderson for their precious help.

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