A.N. - Several folks have asked me why the companion piece, Like Father, Like Son, puts some of the blame for the events of Untethered on Donny, as well as on Frank. This is my (perhaps somewhat clumsy) attempt at an explanation - there were several questions raised in my mind by their behavior, and I couldn't help but wonder if Donny was as innocent as he claimed to be. And Frank had to have known Bobby was in the prison - if Bobby was allowed to use the telephone, surely Donny would have called his father and told him Bobby was there. And, too, Donny could have escaped by faking the appendicitis at any time - there was no real need for Bobby to ever know he existed, and Frank could certainly have told Bobby (and their mother) at a much earlier time.
As always, I own nothing, except an extremely suspicious mind -
Alone in the deepening twilight of the late fall evening he sat, far away in his mind, eyes on the bustle in the street below without seeing any of it. The room was too cool, but he had no desire to get up, adjust the thermostat and turn on the light; he'd barely had the energy to drag his weary body home and he didn't really feel the chill. Indeed, it seemed he had no stamina at all; he was drained by the low-level anxiety that permeated him, body, mind and soul, and which seemed to be the only constant in his life these days.
It had been a week since he'd been discharged from the hospital; a week of doing nothing, really, except taking long walks around the city, his purpose two-fold: to further exhaust his already weary body, and also to look for his nephew, Donny.
Donny. What a chip off the old block he had turned out to be. Just like his father, Frank – and, for that matter, just like his grandfather. Donny and Frank had played him so neatly, using Eames as their go-between to get him to talk to Frank in the first place. When Frank didn't appear at their mother's funeral, Bobby had made up his mind not to try to contact him again, and Frank was smart enough to know that he shouldn't try to get in touch with Bobby directly. One thing about Frank, even aside from the junkie aspect - he had all the self-preservation instincts of a textbook narcissist. It was all about him and what he wanted.
Well, he'd never have to worry about Frank again. The first thing he'd done, the next day after his discharge home, had been to go to see Frank, to try to find out where Donny was. Frank claimed not to know, but did admit he'd been in contact with him. Bobby had already been furious when he arrived at Frank's, not only at what he'd endured on behalf of his so-called brother and nephew, but also at Frank's use of Eames to get Bobby involved in the first place. He'd gotten angrier when he found the syringe Frank had hidden among the papers on the table. And when Frank told him he should take Eames to a motel and get it out of his system, he'd nearly lost it. It was a good thing he was on suspension; he wasn't sure that he wouldn't have shot Frank had he been carrying his duty weapon. He told Frank never to contact him again, and all Frank could think about was himself. You don't want to be a brother to me. Typical. So how and when had Frank ever been a brother to Bobby? It still remained to be seen whether Frank and Donny's manipulation of his desire to forge a decent relationship with his remaining family would cost him one, if not both, of the only things that mattered to him. His job – and Eames.
Thinking of Eames, he reached into the drawer of the table next to his large, leather reading chair where he was sitting, picking up a small black velvet ring box he'd put there earlier. When Frank had returned their mother's engagement ring to him before he'd gone into the prison where Donny was being held, he hadn't thought much about it, but in light of subsequent events one of his errands today had been to have the ring examined by a jeweler friend of his. Surprisingly, Frank had left the ring intact; Bobby wouldn't have put it beyond him to have removed the large center stone and replace it with a cubic zirconia so he could sell the gem and use the money to fund his self-destructive hobbies. The only possible explanation for why he hadn't done so had to be a source of supply that didn't require money.
The ring was a lovely thing, a large oval center stone surrounded by smaller round and baguette stones. It was actually two pieces; the oval was a solitaire, and the other stones were mounted on an interlocking band, all set in platinum, which had been the fashion at the time. As he gazed at it, moving it around in the dim light of the room, sparkles and flashes of color danced in its depths. He knew his parents had once been very much in love; unfortunately, by the time he'd been born, that time was long past, hence his own doubtful parentage. He sighed deeply. One of several reasons why he would never be able to give this ring to the one woman whose small, slender finger he'd ever consider slipping it onto. Shutting the box, he replaced it in the drawer, closing it gently.
Leaning back, he closed his eyes. If he hadn't tainted Eames' career before, he had certainly done so now. Even though she had brushed aside his apologies, telling him he had nothing to feel guilty about because it was her choice, just as remaining his partner had been all along, he couldn't help regretting her involvement. Despite her reassurances that she had had no qualms about helping him in the first place, in hindsight he couldn't help but marvel at how incredibly stupid he'd been about the whole thing. He was so desperate to build a relationship with the only family he had left; he'd been blinded by the revelation that he had a nephew, too blind to question why, if Donny had been set up in the first place, Frank hadn't come to him when it happened. There was only one possible answer: Donny hadn't been the innocent bystander he claimed to be; he had been the one needing the ride to pick up the drugs from his supplier. Most likely, he was the one who supplied Frank, probably free of charge. Bobby laughed to himself, a bitter sound. After all, what was family for?
When Donny had gotten himself sent to the mental observation ward, and told Frank about some of what he'd seen, Frank told Donny about his uncle, the NYPD detective, and it had all snowballed from there. Perhaps they didn't intend for things to go as far as they did, but Bobby wouldn't make any bets on that score, either. After all, Frank had done his share of abusing his little brother, too. And Donny was smart, very smart – unfortunately, he was also a narcissist, like Frank. Once Donny had escaped custody, he never looked back. He hadn't even bothered to ask Frank whether Bobby was all right – if he had, Bobby felt sure Frank would have tried to deflect some of Bobby's rage by telling him so. The memory of Jo Gage telling Bobby about her father saying Bobby could have gone either way fluttered through his mind -
Well, the lesson had been learned. It was what it was, and no matter how hard he tried, it would never be any different, as far as his family was concerned. Sometimes, he reflected, it was necessary to just save yourself. He could only hope and pray now that the department wouldn't exact from him what he considered to be the ultimate penalty – the loss of his partner. Alone in the dark, a single tear slid down his cheek.