"No, it doesn't end with rk, it ends with a c," he explained to Molly on their first date. "But it's pronounced similarly."
"You're kidding, it's spelled c-l-a-c?" She asked.
"That's uh..." She started blushing. "I always thought that maybe you were one of those people who couldn't pronounce r you know... But that's actually kinda hot."
He smiled and he leaned over to kiss her. They were lying on the grass in his family backyard under the cover of a starless night. It was rather dark and he stumbled a bit trying to find her lips, sliding his against both her right eye and nose before landing on the proper destination. She was giggling the whole time.
"You think your parents are watching us?" She asked.
"I doubt it. Well, maybe my mom."
"I'm just kidding. I think they left soon after you arrived."
"How do you know that?"
"You see that room on the second floor to our left?" He said, motioning his head backwards.
"I can barely see it. It's really dark out here."
"Exactly. They would never turn the light off in that room this early in the evening unless they are not in the house."
"So... We have the place to ourselves."
Clac was a gentleman however and he didn't take advantage of the situation that night. His parents didn't come home until a couple of hours after Molly left. He was in his bed when he heard them turning off the security system as they went through the front door. The next morning, he saw a strange, happy look on his parents' faces as they asked him about his date. He just told them that it went well.
"Son, I'd like to speak with you in my office," said his father.
"Sir, may I ask if we could do that after? I'll be late because I still need to finish breakfast-"
"Bring your plate with you and bring that table napkin along," he instructed coldly. "Your mom will take you in if you think you can't make it on time."
Clac looked at his mother who still had the strange smile on her face and gave her a puzzled look. She just nudged her head towards her husband to say to Clac that everything was fine.
Clac picked up his plate and napkin before following his father up the stairs to his office. He tried to quietly sniff his father's trail to find traces of Ateran in the air but he couldn't detect any. When they got in the room, his father closed the door behind them and then sat on his office chair and Clac set himself up across the desk, carefully placing the napkin on it before putting the plate down.
"Do you like that girl? What's her name, Mouxanne?"
"Yes sir," Clac replied, swallowing the piece of food he had yet to chew down his throat. He knew better than to have food in his mouth while speaking to his father. "She goes by Molly, sir."
"Did I... do something wrong?"
"Oh no, you didn't son. I am happy to see that I raised myself a full FF instead of a pussy-fucker faggot. You know this pleases your mother too?"
"Yes sir." Clac placed his fork down on the plate because he knew he wouldn't be able to finish his food. He decided then that he would just get something from the classroom dispenser so that he could last the morning.
"I don't know how to tell you this son but..."
Clac's heart was beating fast. His mind was muddled with thoughts and information as he tried to sort through them to find the cause of his father's troubles so that he could anticipate the fallout ahead of time. He always felt better when he knew before he was punished. It gave him a sense of victory over his old man.
"Last night, your mother and I met with our family friend General Oste."
"Are we getting deployed sir?" Clac was both relieved and concerned. He knew for sure that he didn't anger his father in any way but he was not ready to leave Earth. He had grown up romanticizing Earth-living. In fact, he was hoping that he would remain there until the day he dies.
"Yes son. But not any time soon."
"Well, this is why I wanted to talk to you now. You know this information cannot get out to anyone else outside of you, me, and your mother. You are not to tell anyone about this, and that includes Mouxanne."
"I understand sir... But that means, I would have to marry Molly-"
"Which brings me back to why you are in my office. Son, I can see you like Moux... Molly. But it's your first date. It's your first girl. Do you know how many women I have dated before I met your mother?"
"Too many," his father said hastily.
Clac looked down at the barely eaten protein sandwich on his plate. He felt as if something important and irreplaceable was just taken away from within his grasp. It was an emotional sensation that was completely new to him.
"Look son," his father reached out and lifted up Clac's chin. "All I am saying is that you need to slow down and think about your life. Molly may not be the one. I know you have talked about her for a while now and it's good that you two ended up liking each other but it's young love. It never last. And you know how inconvenient it is to dereg her after you both go official? I don't want to see you go through that."
"How long before we are to deploy, sir?" Clac's voice started to crack.
His father went silent for a moment. Then he removed his hand from Clac's chin and slapped Clac hard across the face.
"You are a man! Especially after last night! Can you act like one?!" He yelled at Clac.
"Yes, sir," said Clac as he mustered the courage to sit up straight and looked his father in the eye. He held his tears as much as he could but one did roll down from his right eye.
"You keep this up Clac and they will always call you clickety-clack."
"I'm sorry, sir." He said, still holding on strong.
"Son, from what we know, it's going to happen either this year or next year."
"Thank you, sir."
"So please. Have fun with Molly. But don't lead her on. For her sake and by god for your own fucking sake. She's not worth it, Clac and we are not to talk about this anymore, you hear me?"
"Loud and clear sir."
"You can go now," his father motioned him to leave and Clac started heading towards the door.
"Oh son?" Clac stopped and turned around. "You seem to have forgotten something."
His father pointed down at the plate and Clac hastily picked everything up.
"Sorry sir," he apologized and slowly exited the room.
His mother was waiting outside and as he closed the door to the office, she gave him a tight, long embrace.
"Please mom, I don't want to cry here," he whispered to her. "He'll hear me."
"Let me take you to school," she said as she took the plate away from Clac and lead him back into the kitchen.
"Just know this Clac," she said as they were leaving the house. "No matter what happens between you and Molly, there is wisdom in what your father said."
Clac gave his mother's statement a thought after hearing it and immediately decided that it was definitely worse than the things he just heard his father told him earlier in the good old office.