Just how phone calls from Earth managed to connect to a cell phone on Rhy'Din was another wonder of the Nexus that Matt would never be able to wrap his head around, but there was no mistaking the number that popped up on the caller ID. He briefly considered ignoring it, but how did you ignore a call from your estranged father when you hadn't talked to him in years? What did he want? What if it was important? What if he was dying or something?
"How'd you get this number?" It was the first thing Matt said, once he'd decided to answer the call.
The familiar chuckle on the other end of the phone assured him his father was in no grave danger. "That's a fine greeting for the man who raised you," California Senator Daniel Foster and Matt's biological father pointed out. "I have my sources, you know."
"What do you want?" Matt pressed further, knowing his father well enough to know this wasn't just a social call. He'd accompanied his mother to Rhy'Din nearly four years ago and hadn't heard from his father since - not even so much as a birthday card - until now.
His father clicked his tongue in response. "Again, a fine greeting, Matthew. How about a 'Hi, Dad. I miss you. How's it going?' instead?"
"Hi, Dad. How's it going?" Matt echoed, leaving the part about missing his father out, as they both knew it wasn't true. At least, not anymore. There had been a time when Matt and his brother Lucas would have given anything for just a little fatherly attention, but that time was long past.
"That's better," Daniel Foster replied, sounding just a little bit smug. "Can't a father call his son to say hello? It's not like your mother left me any way to contact you. It's taken a while to track you down, but I figured she'd take you to Rhy'Din. You can't get much farther from home than that!"
"Is this about me or Mom?" Matt asked, narrowing his eyes in irritation, though his father couldn't see the look on his face.
"It's about you. Well, and Lucas and your mother in a roundabout way, but mostly it's about you. It's been a long time, Matt. I thought maybe you'd like to come visit. No strings attached. Just you and me. Maybe we could go on that fishing trip you always wanted to take," Foster suggested.
Matt hesitated before replying, as he tried to sort out what his father really wanted. He was pretty sure it wasn't quality time with his sons. "That was years ago. Why now?"
"Better late than never, son," came the reply.
"What's this really about, Dad? I assume you're not interested in turning over a new leaf or making amends," Matt said, knowing his father better than that. If something didn't directly benefit his father, he wasn't usually interested. Matt thought about it a moment before he realized the real reason for his father's call. "It's an election year, isn't it?" he surmised.
There was a long pause on the other end of the phone before his father replied. "Yeah, but that's not why I'm calling ..."
"Oh, really?" Matt said, his voice dripping sarcasm. "If you're hoping to reunite the happy little family, that's not going to happen. It's too little, too late, Dad. Mom is seeing someone, and Luc is getting married."
"I'm not calling about your mother or Lucas. I'm calling about you, son," Foster insisted a little too vehemently.
"I'm nineteen years old now. I'm not a kid anymore. I'm going to university. I've got a job and a girlfriend. I've got a life here. You had your chance, and you blew it. You're just going to have to get re-elected without us for a change," Matt told his father.
"Matthew, you don't understand. I'm not running for Senate. I'm running for ..."
"I don't care if you're running for President," Matt interrupted. "I'm not coming back, and neither are Mom or Lucas. Not for that. Make a new family, Dad. Get re-married. Do whatever you have to do, but don't call me again, unless you're really ready to be a father."
"Matt, wait ..." his father pleaded on the other end of the phone, sounding almost desperate.
"Bye, Dad. Sorry," Matt said, just before he hit the End button to disconnect the call. He wasn't sure why he was doing the apologizing, when it should have been the other way around. He waited a minute for his father to call back and plead with him again, but the phone never rang.
It hurt his heart to have to be that way with his father, but the man had never done a damned thing to earn either of his sons' love or loyalty. It was a hard lesson, but one his father needed to learn if he was ever going to reconcile with his sons. Matt doubted it would ever happen, but in his heart, he still hoped.
* * * * *
On the other side of the Nexus, Daniel Foster was fuming. "This isn't over," he growled to himself as he opened the door of his office to summon one of his so-called aides. "I want you to go to Rhy'Din and find out where that bitch is hiding my sons."
"Yes, sir, but where is Rhy'Din?" the aide asked, looking a little confused.
"Don't worry about that. I'll show you how to get there," he assured his aide. "Two can play at this game, Jessica," he muttered between clenched teeth, as if he was talking directly to his ex-wife. "And I do not intend to lose."