See it in a new light, Casey Wallace
The shock started to slip from Case’s face the more his grandparents explained what his father was like as a child growing up. His lines of worry and shock gave way to a slow growing smile and nod as the tale unfolded to explain how Pop always stood up for the little guy – something that he certainly carried with him his whole life. Most of the longer lived employees on the farm were individuals Pop found down on their luck, or otherwise needed a new start on life, and Pop was there to pick them up when life beat them down, dust them off, and get them squarely back on their feet.
It was hard for Case to imagine his father actually going to blows with someone, but who Pop was as a teenager was exceedingly difficult for Case to imagine. That’s how it was though. It was always difficult to imagine your parents as kids, younger than you, dealing with whatever struggled they came up against. Hearing his grandparents recount the tale and smile or roll their eyes, or even shake their head made it all the more believable for Case. Hearing Nina harken back to her own memories of Case’s father made him look her way and share a bit of a glassy-eyed smile.
Case reached over to stroke his wife’s back. He leaned in a bit towards her, “You okay?” he looked into her eyes as she nodded and seemed to blow things off as nothing more than an overly emotional woman getting sentimental. Case knew it was more than that. He knew Pop held a special place in his wife’s heart, even with as briefly as they had time to of spent together. “I miss him too,” Case added, having to look away as his own emotions were starting to show.
Thankfully Gram chimed in to change the subject, asking about what size family the newly-made parents were looking to have. Case turned towards Nina as she pointed out his interest in a larger family, but then was quick to assure everyone that twelve kids was most certainly beyond her own interests. They hadn’t decided on a number, and in truth they both would see how the first kid went before talking about anything more specific as to overall size of their future family. One at a time seemed sensible to Case, and in the end fate would have put them exactly where they needed to be – however many children that might turn out to be.
However, Nina even hinting in the slightest of ways that she wasn’t sure what it would take to survive the first birth got Eiji’s attention in such a way Case almost had to do a double take to understand the intensity with which he wanted to know what Nina might have been attempting to imply. Nina explained she was simply unsure what it would take to bring a child into the world, and to think that never having experienced that before that she’d sign up for doing it a dozen times seemed unreasonable. She reiterated that both she and the child were in good health, and then pointed to him when it came to policing her health and habits through the pregnancy.
Eiji made clear his interest to look out for his sister, and only then when Nina replied that his blood had made her strong did Case get the real message being made. When it came to Nina’s health, Eiji was willing to do whatever it took to look out for her. It might have made Case jealous had he not admired Eiji so much for what he’d done for Nina. In many ways Eiji had saved Nina’s life, and Case would always remember that. Should there ever be a scare with Nina’s health, not only would he be stepping up to the plate, he’d likely find his BiL already standing there asking him what took him so long.
“Godfather!” Case said, as if only now thinking about the concept. Case loked from Eiji to Nina, “I hadn’t even thought about that.”
“I’m telling you, I’m right here…” Eiji said, pointing to himself.
“Well we’d want someone to be a good example to the boy…” Case said with a bit of a playful grin as he looked towards Eiji.
“Yeah Ei. Someone responsible. I’d be honored,” Phil said, butting in as he smiled over to Case.
“Can you be godfather to more than one kid?” Case asked, looking towards his wife. “…or do we have to have a different family member for each kid we have?”
“I was the one who guessed it right off the bat, I think I get first dibs,” Eiji argued.
For a moment there was a bit of discussion, and in the back and forth Ainsley slipped from the table to steal Nina away to bring out dessert.
“I do want to thank you guys for helping out with the addition on the house. It’s way faster with the four of us banging away than me trying to get through it by myself. I owe you. Seriously,” Case said.
Finlay waved a hand, “Oh don’t get caught up in favors with family, lad. You know we’re happy to help.”
Phil nodded, “Actually it’s kind of a learning experience. Better I get all my mistakes out on someone else’s house.”
“That’s your nephew’s room you’re talking about,” Eiji interjected, along with a bit of an elbow into his brother’s ribs.
“We should have that thing buttoned up in no time, then it’s just a matter of finishing up the inside. I guess you know what color to paint the room now,” Finlay pointed out.
“Oh I don’t know…” Case said with a bit of a shrug. “I’m not sure I buy into the whole baby blue and pink options when it comes to kids. I’m pretty sure Nina has an idea or two what to do, and I’ve no doubt by the time we start wandering the hardware store some piece of curtain or wallpaper is going to inspire her. Just so long as it’s not too baby-ish I’m fine with it. I mean, it’s not like a baby remembers what their room looks like. I think you have to be maybe three or four before you actually realize what your room looks like. Until then it’s just a room. I’d take trains and planes over some cutezy baby animals print. Maybe tanks and battleships,” Case said with a bit of a grin. “Ooooh, or bows and arrows,” he added, which got everyone chuckling.
Nina and Ainsley returned with the dessert, causing Case and Phil to quickly bus a few plates to the side so they could set it down in the center of the table.
“Wow... looks great,” Case said, as did everyone else.
Everyone was served, but before they dug in Case stood from the table and raised his glass. “To all of you,” he said, following proper form for a Wallace to make a toast at every family gathering.
“To being there for us, and to those looking down upon us. Thank you all,” he said, keeping it short and sweet as he drank and sat back down to enjoy his dessert.
“…but you have a name already, yes?” Ainsley blurted in, immediately starting on the next secret she needed to barge in on.
Case just smiled and shook his head, looking towards his wife as he waved her on to take on the reigning matriarch.
Nina missed Pop. It was the truth of it, and she knew that Casey would see right through her. Hearing him echo the same made Nina look down in an effort to not tear up more than she already had. She nodded to herself, and to comfort her love took his hand and gave it a squeeze.
There were these moments when Pop would simply be remembered and missed. The man has indeed made such an impact on Nina’s life despite the short time they spent together. She had learned much from the man, and respected him not only through the eyes of his son but through her first-hand experience with him.
Cecil was a good man. He was a great father. And sometimes Nina really missed him.
Talk about family size brought the topic back to something lighter for Nina, but it also somehow led to her saying something that had her little brother worried. It was not something that Nina expected, but Eiji had always been rather sensitive about it. It was something that resonated with Nina, and something she was always humbled by and grateful for. He was the little brother, but he was always looking out for her too.
Nina chuckled when Casey started to tease her brother about being a godfather with a good example, and Philip’s response to that made her laugh aloud. It was cute seeing her brothers want to be godfather to her children, and of course if she would pick people to be a second parent to her child, she would look to her brothers first. They had their strengths and their weaknesses, but Nina knew that they would love her children and take care of them.”I think it has to be only one family member for one child….”
Nina shrugged, unfamiliar to how it really went. ”There would be other kids to look after, don’t you guys worry.””I still get first dibs though!”
Eiji insisted, and as they continued to laugh and poke each other about it, Ainsley patted Nina’s knee and nodded towards the house to get dessert and leave the men to their little discussion.
Nina and Ainsley headed to the kitchen to get the cheesecake
that they made, and while Nina picked up a knife and a few small plates her grandmother collected the dessert forks. Nina was pretty darn excited about the fact that she could get a slice of cake. ”I got it, Gram.”
Nina smiled to her grandmother, and started to slice the chocolate cheesecake that was topped with strawberries. Everyone was given a slice, even Nina, and she wiggled happily on her seat before her husband stood up to make a toast—something that was present in every family gathering. Nina raised her glass she beamed up at her love, taking a moment to look up at the heavens where she knew her loved ones were looking down on them. ”Thank you, everyone…”
Nina smiled, raising her glass or clinking it with those near her, and then she took a sip of the pregnant-friendly drink in her glass. ”Thank you Gram, Gramps… Thank you Phil and Eiji…””I expect my thanks to be that I will be made godfather.”
Eiji insisted, and Nina was willing to jump right in to that topic again but it seems Ainsley had other things rolling around her head.
Nina laughed at the question, but took her time to cut up a piece of the cheesecake and slowly put it in her mouth first. Food first, and then reply. ”Ugh, that is so good, Gram…”
She gushed, again wiggling happily in her seat, and she looked to Casey who had earlier tossed her the ball for answering Ainsley’s question.”We do have a name, yes.”
Nina nodded, licking her fork a bit before cutting up more of her delectable cheesecake. ”Casey and I came up with some names for girls and boys that we liked, and there was a top pick for girls and a top pick for boys… It’s funny though… Because the top pick for boys keeps changing.””What’s the top pick now?”
Philip inquired, to which Eiji showed his interest by widening his eyes as he looked to his sister.”I thought I made it clear earlier that we would announce it once we’ve decided?”
Nina smirked, quirking a brow as she looked to her brother, and then to her grandmother who was very eager to know the answer already. ”How about you guys try to guess what it is?””George!”
Philip clapped, pointing to Casey. ”Easy! Right? I’m right, aren’t I?”
The grin on Philip’s face was wide as he looked from Casey to his sister.”Why George?”
Eiji made a face.”Well doesn’t Casey admire George Washington or something? Or was it George Bush?””It’s not George, no… But it was an option.”
Nina laughed at her disappointed brother, but immediately Philip was already thinking of what other name it could be.”Casey Jr.”
Eiji chimed in, his mouth still full with the large bite of cheesecake he just put in his mouth.”Yes!”
Nina clapped, but then the bright expression turned serious and she shook her head. Much to the dismay of those who thought it was really the final name. ”No, I’m kidding. Casey doesn’t want it to be Casey Jr.” ”I wouldn’t want it, too. One Casey is enough in this family.”
Eiji replied snarkily.”One Casey is all we need. There is no one else like him.”
Nina defended, and reached for her husband to give him a side hug.”Is it Cecil then?”
Finlay asked, wondering if that was something more significant his grandson would agree to name his first son.”Not Cecil, no. I’ll give you a clue on the middle name. It’s something related to Casey.”
She was quite enjoying this guessing game, actually. If they guess it right then they can have an idea of what the boy will be called. If they don’t get it, well then Nina can hopefully insist that the discussion will be opened again some other time.”Curly?”
Eiji guessed, and most everyone busted out laughing.”What? Eiji!” ”Rio!”
Ainsley chimed in after a long moment of just being thoughtful and silent. ”That was a very meaningful place, and it’s related to Casey.”
She explained with a hopeful look in her eyes.”No… Not Rio, Gram… I like that though. That’s cute. How about you Gramps, what’s your guess?”"Is it related to the Olympics? Or maybe that tattoo he has?"
The older man asked."Yeah, what story is that again? Robin Hood?"
Eiji asked with a chuckle."It was William Tell,"
Philip said with a rolling of his eyes. "Hey, that's it. William. Are you guys naming him William? Wait, we were talking about the middle name, right? William sounds more like a first name you guys would pick. Will Wallace. Bill. Billy."
Nina shook her head at the guesses, and enjoyed her cheesecake while they continued to blurt out their serious and silly guesses for Rookie's name."Arrow."
Said Eiji, "Wait, wait!""Archer!"
Ainsley said aloud, even standing up a bit in her seat as she looked convinced she made a right guess. "Archer's a good name. I bet you two picked that one as a middle name. Am I right?"
The cheesecake had everyone’s attention, at least from the moment it got set down on the table to the moment everyone put that first bite in their mouths. Case had beamed the moment he saw it, finding it exactly the kind of cheesecake he’d of guessed his wife would have asked his grandmother to make - chocolate, and a few fresh strawberries on top just to mix it up a bit. It was delicious, what Case would call a perfect cheesecake. It was super dense, cold, and rich without being too rich.
But now the conversation circled back to names, with Gram seeming intent on getting a bit more than ‘we’ll tell you later’. Nina explained that they’d tell everyone once they’d decided, even if they were fairly certain that they were fairly certain they had the name already picked out. But then Nina did something Case hadn’t expected, she agreed that if they could guess it she’d tell them. Case looked to his wife, raising his eyebrows as he looked at her, surprised she was willing to let them in on what they were thinking.
Immediately Eiji fired off the name George, which made Case smile brightly. George had certainly been a name Case liked, stemming for his admiration for the former President and patriot, George Washington. Plus George was an old school name, something that was perhaps out of style today, but that had loads of tradition behind it. Nina explained that it wasn’t the front runner, but that they both had considered it for some time before moving on to something they liked more.
Eiji then guessed it was Casey Jr., which made Case roll his eyes a bit. It just seemed so narcissistic for someone to name their kid after them that there was no way Case could ever bring himself to do such a thing. However when Gramps suggested the name Cecil, Case almost felt ashamed that his father’s name wasn’t on the table. Case carried his father’s name as his own middle name, and maybe the reason he didn’t want to name his son after his father, was that no man would ever be able to be the man his father was. It was like how a sports team might retire a jersey after a phenomenal player retired from the game, no other player would ever have the chance to disgrace the number. Case just couldn’t see himself looking at his son, and calling him his father’s name without that child having an incredible burden of reputation to live up to. Case wanted his kids to become their own people, not try to rehash someone else in the family. As for Case though, there’d always be a part of him that would look back upon the honor he had to carry his father’s name forward, and would do everything in his power to live up to who Cecil Wallace was.
Figuring everyone needed more of a hint, Nina had everyone focus on the middle name they were rather certain they were going to use. She explained it was something related to Case, and when Eiji guessed Curly, Case nearly spit out his drink. “Hey…” he said, smiling as he tried not to choke on the drink that had threatened to shoot up his nose.
Gram guessed Rio, which was both a very cool guess, and a really cool idea. Maybe they’d have to file that for later. Nina shook her head and asked Finlay what he thought it might be. He was on the right track, assuming it was related to the Olympics or one of Case’s tattoos. That got Eiji weighing in, though on a bit of the wrong track, to which Phil then chimed in.
Hearing Phil say the name aloud seemed to resonate with Case enough that in that one second he’d nearly changed his mind. William Archer Wallace. WAW. Young Will Wallace. Gosh it sounded good. Not that Frank was bad, and as Case thought back and forth between the names he tried to imagine what a Will or a Frank might look like. Will sounded great for someone up until they were maybe eighteen or so. It seemed a young man’s name, and very easy to bring a smile on Case’s face when thinking of his own son. But Frank was different. Frank was a man’s name. Frank was the kind of name where Case imagined a square jawed man who surpassed people’s expectations.
Gosh it was tough.
Conversely, William sounded more manly than Franklin did, and when imagining the man Case could see his son transitioning from Will to William as he got older. But what was really making Case smile, was imagining William and Frank, brothers and grown men, taking over the farm for their old man. That was a really heart-warming thought for Case.
By the time Case was back to the conversation at hand Gram had guessed the middle name they’d settled on, and now everyone was staring down the table at Case.
“Yup,” Case affirmed, to everyone’s surprise.
Clearly everyone thought he’d be more evasive with his answer.
“Archer? Really?” Eiji asked, smiling.
Everyone was smiling, as if taking a moment to mull over that name in their heads a moment.
“Well now we have to know the first name,” Finlay said, looking to everyone as they tried to use middle name they now knew without a first name.
“Franklin,” Case said, smiling softly as he looked to his wife. He shrugged apologetically, never having been so good at these little games. “That’s the front-runner. I also like William – just as you’d guessed. Maybe if we’re lucky enough to have two sons we’ll have one of each.” Case leaned back in his seat and rubbed his face, “Man it’s hard… Was it hard for you when picking Cecil?” Case asked, looking across the table to his grandparents.
“Not really,” Ainsley said, looking to her husband as she reached for his hand.
“It was the first name I said, and it stuck,” Finlay explained.
“I think both William and Franklin are good picks,” Ainsley said.
“Me too!” Eiji chimed in. “You just need a second middle name for that brother he’s going to have,” he added with a grin.
“Any suggestions?” Case asked, leaving it to the family.
Casey easily confirmed that Ainsley’s guess was correct, and Nina chuckled as she looked to the reactions of her family. They were all smiles, and all of them seem to like the idea of Archer as a middle name. Nina thought it was pretty cool, and it was something Casey quickly reacted positively about so she knew it was a winner.
Now that they knew the middle name, Grandpa Finlay seemed a bit more eager what that name would be paired up with. Nina didn’t want to reveal that one just yet, so when Casey suddenly blurted it out, she gasped loudly and looked to her husband with amused surprise. ”Casey!” She chuckled, reaching out to poke her husband on the rib for revealing the first name so quickly. She just shook her head though, and as Casey explained about their choices, Nina ate more of the cheesecake she was trying to eat slowly.
It was funny that they had easily decided on a girl’s name but had a difficult time with a boy’s name. And now that was the name they needed for their child and they were still undecided.
It was tough, but it was also fun. In Nina’s mind at least they still had four months to decide on the name.
Ainsley claimed that it was not difficult to name Casey’s dad. It actually made Nina laugh that it was just the first name that Finlay said and they just went for it.
”If we did that I think we’d go with William. That was the first name Casey mentioned. Franklin was the latest… just today actually when we were thinking of names again.” Nina shared as she put down her fork to pace herself in eating her dessert.
The family liked both William and Franklin though, so that should help the couple. Perhaps they could draw lots when the time comes—see which of the names will be given to the firstborn son. Nina smiled at the idea of coming up with a middle name for the second brother, and even if she would love a daughter she actually liked the idea of two brothers… just like the ones that she had.
”Let’s see… how about… Maximus?” Eiji suggested with a chuckle. ”Just like the Gladiator.”
”No, no… William Maximus? Franklin Maximus? Nah.” Phil said, shaking his head multiple times.
”What’d you come up with then?” Eiji challenged, forking his cheesecake and stuffing it in his mouth.
”I don’t know maybe something like… Soldier.” Philip said while stifling a laugh. “We got an Archer, we got a Soldier.” He explained while trying not to smile.
”Philip…” Nina muttered, narrowing her eyes at her big brother.
”No, listen! It’s clever.” He started laughing now, and Nina whined and tossed her napkin at him . ”How many guys named Soldier do you know?” It was a unique name, but also one that Nina wasn't sure if she would give her child despite Soldier being an honorable profession.
”Franklin Soldier Wallace?” Ainsley said aloud to try and see if that would grow on her. ”William Soldier…”
”How about Rio? I liked that idea from Gram.” Nina offered. ”It’s meaningful for us. We have to give it a middle name that is meaningful.”
It was rather entertaining for Nina to have other brains trying to come up with a name for their kids. While people were spurting suggestions, Nina decided to call her mother and see if she had any suggestions over the name. After explaining their first name options and saying the middle name would be Archer, Nina waited for her mother to come up with a winner.
”How about Reece?” Yuriko said over the speaker.
”Reece? Like Reese Witherspoon?” Nina asked. ”Reese’s peanut butter cups?”
”It can be a boy’s name or a girl’s name. That would have been your middle name since it meant ‘ardent’.” Yuriko explained. ”But we thought it better to name you after your grandmother Louise.”
”Reece?” Nina repeated, trying to let the name sink in. ”Franklin Reece?” She turned to Casey for his thoughts. ”What do you think, Kea? You like that? You have anything in mind?”
Case listened as his wife explained how Wiliam was one of the first names they considered, and how Franklin was one that seemed to pop up in one of their more recent discussions. It was interesting to see that everyone seemed good with the two front-runner’s they’d selected. Of course, the down side of that was that they weren’t chiming in with which of the two they thought were better options. However, if Archer was decided as a middle name, they needed another to go with the other first name. If it was true that these names would be used at some point in the future, they needed two complete names.
Eiji was the first to offer up a suggestion. Maximus was an interesting suggestion, but one that Case had a difficult time trying to relate to either his or Nina’s world. They weren’t Italian, weren’t gladiator fans, and if Case w2as thinking of sneaking Max in as a nickname for their son he’d lean first towards Maximillian over Maximus.
Phil suggested Soldier, which, at first, completely confused Case. However Phil made an interesting point, suggesting that as Archer was a rather combative middle name, Soldier would be to. There’s be some consistency between the names, and he was absolutely right that it’d be a unique name for the child.
Nina piped up with Rio, recirculating Gram’s idea. It certainly had meaning to the family, but it was meaning that only pointed to Case. Sure the family was there, sure they all played a huge roll in Case’s success, but just as Case wasn’t all that interested in naming a kid after himself he wasn’t that interested in naming the kid after one of his own achievements. …which was interesting as Case liked the name Archer – even if that likely pointed more towards him than it might to his unborn son.
Yuriko had a suggestion too, Reece. Instantly Case realized that he didn’t know a single person with the name – which was a good thing. It was certainly a known name, but without much in the way of a basis of comparison Case saw it as a clean slate for his son define over the course of his life. Nina looks his way after saying the name a couple of times. Case stuck out his lower lip a but as he tilted his head to the side and nodded. It could work.
“Maximus, Soldier, Rio, and Reece,” Case repeated, letting each of them roll off his tongue. “I like Max, though I’m not sure Maximus is the best way to get there. Soldier’s kinda cool too, but I’m not sure the trend of naming children after warrior roles is a good idea. Rio has a lot of meaning, obviously, but would it mean anything to a child who was never part of it? Reece is interesting, if for no other reason than it’s a complete unknown to me. I don’t know anyone with that name, and our child could paint their own definition of what a person with that name might be.”
“Elderslie,” Finlay said, bringing the whole conversation to a dramatic halt as everyone looked his way.
“What?” Eiji said.
“It’s a village in Renfrewshire, where Sir William Wallace was born. It’s a commuter village, about eleven miles west of Glasgow, and once an isolated patch of Clan Wallace. Elderslie means, ‘field of Elder Trees’. For being little more than a quaint and quiet community, it saw the birth of a young boy who would forever change his country’s future. Perhaps whomever bears the name might strive to change their world for the better as well,” Finlay explained.
“Wonderful suggestion,” Yuriko said over the phone.
Gram was already making a face. As most of the table was smiling at Gramp’s story Ainsley seemed to find the name disagreeable. “No, no… Elderslie? That’s not a child’s name, you old coot. This young boy’s going to make his mark upon the world regardless of his name, the least we can do is make sure everyone can pronounce it.”
“Everett,” Casey said, once again turning everyone’s attention towards the new suggestion.
“William Archer, and Franklin Everett. I’ve no idea what Everett means, but I know it’s an Old West sort of name. I also think it has a certain charm to it. I can’t, for the life of me, imagine someone with the name Everett not being a gracious and polite person,” Case said, letting the name roll around in the back of his mind.
“Seriously?” Phil said, arching an eyebrow as it was clear the name sounded odd to him.
“You don’t like it?” Case asked, looking towards hi BiL.
Phil shrugged, “Sounds like the kind of name kids tease one another after.”
Eiji waved his hand, “Trust me, Everett’s far simpler than Eiji, and kids pick on everyone’s names. You remember, don’t you Phyllis,” Eiji said, before getting a punch in his shoulder from his older brother.
“I agree with Casey, I think it sounds like a very cute name for a boy,” Yuriko interjected.
“Don’t know that there’s been a Everett in the family before,” Ainsley said. “So he’ll have that going for him.”
“Sounds like a real proud name, Casey,” Finlay said with a nod of his head.
“Now you just have to choose between which to use,” Phil stated.
“I vote for William Archer Wallace,” Eiji said.
“Me too,” Gramps said.
“I think I like Franklin Everett,” Gram said.
“You know, Franklin Everett’s growing on me too,” Phil said, much to everyone’s surprise.
“Mom?” Case said, leaving the tie breaker to his mother.
“Oh Casey, you know we’ll love him regardless what name you give him. …but that’s something you and Nina should decide,” Yuriko said – just as you might imagine a mother to.
“Do we leave them guessing?” Case said, smiling over to his wife.
“Oh no you don’t!” Ainsley said with a waggle of her finger.
“We’ve got plenty of time,” Case said. “I mean, we’ve got until we have to fill out the paperwork after he’s born, right?” he said with a bit of a smirk, as if threatening to drag it out until after the child was born.
“Don’t make me come over there and smack you,” Gram threatened with a playful smile on her face.
“Like Yuriko said, it’s up to you two,” Finlay agreed.
“Well then at least tell us what name you liked had it been a girl. Sounds like that one you’d already agreed on,” Ainsley asked.
Case looked to Nina, giving her the opportunity to enlighten them as to which name they fancied.
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