The Baby Game:  Section Twelve
THIRTY-FOUR:


"Where were you?" he asked as he came into the bus.  They'd made it back to the bus just as the show was ending.  The small van had almost not made it back due to the security that surrounded the areana, but they were pulling up and loading back on the bus just as Loni called out to Eric that they needed to leave soon.

"Hi," she said with a calm voice, "I missed you too."

"Where were you?" he repeated.

He was looking very tired and very aggitated.  She would have expected him to pace, but the bus didn't have enough room to do so.  She thought about telling him, but she knew that if the word hospital that he would completely freak out and have a heart attack right there.  She tucked the picture into her pocket and looked at Eric with a warning look.  "I ran an errand with Eric."

His shoulders relazed.  "I thought you were--I thought something was wrong with you--you didn't show up before the show and I swear I spent most of my night praying that nothing bad had happened to you."

"Nope," she said telling the truth.  She moved across to him and hugged him. "Nothing is wrong."

"Good," he said, "Come here."  He kissed her softly then looked her in the eyes.  "What's wrong?"

"I missed you," she spoke into his chest as his hug pulled her closer.  "I just missed you today."

"You ready for bed?" he asked.

"No," she said, "I haven't seen you all day.  I want to hang out for a while and I think we should see Joey for a while.  He's worried about you."

"I'm worried about who?" Joey came up the stairs.

"About the other night," Serena explained, "I thought that we could celebrate tonight and watch a movie or something."

"Celebrate what?"

"I don't know," she said, "Our engagement."

"Another reason to drink," Joey said, "I'm in."

Serena laughed and said, "I don't know about my drinking, but you can have mine Joey."

"I thought I get yours."

"You can't get too liquered up or I won't be able to take advantage of you later."

**********

His eyes opened and he rolled onto his side and grabbed up his phone.  He didn't realize that he had enough room to do that until he saw that Serena wasn't in their bunk with him.  He grabbed up the phone and held it to his ear.  "This is Lance."

"Honey, it's your mother," the soft voice of his mother eased his mind a little, but he still was wondering where Serena was.

"Hi mom," he said, "What time is it?"

"Seven am honey.  I know I should have left you alone to sleep, but we need to talk."

Lance pushed himself out of his bunk and found that the early morning light was leaving the bus looking a little spooky.  It wasn't until he got out to the living room.  Serena was sitting at the table looking at something, but when he came out and sat down next to him she put it inside the book she was reading and leaned against him as she turned the page and pretended to continue what she was doing.

"What do you need mom?" he asked softly feeling Serena tense next to him.  He smiled and leaned and kissed her temple.

"Honey.  We need to talk about this.  I want you and Serena to come home and to talk to us."

"Talk to you?" he asked, "I tried that already and clearly all you want to do is make me feel horrible so that I'll stay away from my fiance."

"That's not what we want honey," she repeated.

"You know what mom?" he asked, "I'm not feeling good right now and I need to get back to sleep.  I'll call you later."

"Honey no," his mom protested.

"Mom.  You've never once asked me who's idea this was.  You've assumed it was her and I just want to assure you that it was my idea so leave me alone about it.  I have work to do."  He clicked off the phone and threw it across the small room so that it hit the couch and bounced off and hit the floor.

When his breathing seemed to calm a little he leaned forward and mumbled, "Is this really worth all this?"  His head popped up when the words came out of his mouth and he looked at Serena.  "I'm sorry Sugar.  I didn't mean to say it like that.  I just wonder if my parents know what they're doing to me."

"Maybe you should listen to them," she said softly.

"Listen to them?" he asked.

"Yeah," she said and pushed against him to make him move.  "I'm going back to bed."

"Serena?" he called after her.  "What woke you up earlier?"

"Nothing,"  She curled her book up into her arms.  "I'm tired Lance.  I'm going to bed."

"Serena?" he called again, "I love you."

"I love you too," she mumbled.

Lance put his head back down on the table and groaned.  It seemed like everything was falling apart.  He was so close to having everything he wanted, but so far away from what he really needed.

"You ok man?" Joey said sitting down across from him.

"What?"

Joey leaned his arms against the table top.  "Are you ok?  It's a simple question, but I have a feeling the answer is going to be a little more complicated than I'm expecting."

"You don't want to know," Lance said.

"Tell me," Joey said, "I live here man.  I know that things aren't great right now.  Come on.  I'm a dad and I've been with Kelly for years.  I've been through this.  I can help you out if you need it."

"Even you couldn't get yourself mixed up into anything like this," Lance explained.

"Try me," he said, "I've had people tell me I'm their baby's daddy.  Nothing can be that extreme."

"Yes it can."  Lance made eye contact with him for a long moment before putting his head down again.  "Yes it can."

Joey leaned a little across the table and patted his shoulder.  "Come on Lance.  It's me...Joey."

"Even you couldn't think up a plot like this," Lance said moving his head up again he began to rub his shoulder and neck.  "It's like As the World Turns or General Hosptial.  Think of the worst thing that you could think of and double that and you still haven't come close to the amount of drama that I have in my life."

"What did she sleep with your bother?" Joey asked, "Wait...you don't have a brother...please tell me she didn't sleep with your sister or your father?  Are we gonna end up on Jerry Springer because I've always wanted to meet that guy Steve."

"No," Lance said, "It's not even worth the time.  This is serious shit Joey.  It's my family and it's real and everything is about to fall apart."

"What's so bad?" Joey asked, "I bet your mom thinks that Serena tricked you into having her baby."

"No," Lance said, "That would have been Billy's job if she hadn't started crying."

"What?"

"Nevermind."  He sighed, "None of this was in the plan."

"She tried to trick Billy into getting her pregnant?"  His shocked look and immediate tensing of his back showed his thoughts on the situation.  "That fucking--"

"Joey."  Lance put his hand up towards his friend.  "Don't start.  Please don't start."  He turned to look to see if the door was shut and it was so he turned back to Joey.  "You don't understand."

Joey leaned back and stared him down.  "Lance she tried to trap Billy and now she's trapped you.  What is there to understand?"

"You'd never understand.  It wasn't supposed to be this complicated.  I'm the one who made it this way.  I'm the one who turned a simple arrangement into something bigger than it should have been."

"What the hell wouldn't I understand?  No wonder your mother is pissed off.  I'd be pissed off too if Brianna ever got mixed up in something like this."

"Joey," he sighed, "Stop.  My mom doesn't know about this.  No one knows about this.  I have my reasons for following through with her plan and you need to keep your nose out of it.  At the time I was looking for someone to be with that I could have an understanding with.  I wasn't looking to fall in love and she seemed to be the one to fill the position."

"Get a fucking prostitute or something," Joey said, "Believe me.  It's a lot easier that way."

"Joey you just don't get it.  No one will ever get it, but I love her and I'm not going to just jump ship now no matter how fucked up our begining was."

"How can you even think that she loves you?"  Joey folded his arms across his chest.  "She probably is just still using you to get child support out of you."

"How do you know that Kelly loves you Joey?" Lance asked.  He found it completely ironic that Joey could be the flirtatious guy that he was and wonder if Lance's woman was being faithful to him.

Joey seemed offended as if he was trying to insinuate that Kelly might be unfaithful to him.  "What the hell does that have to do with anything?"

"Just answer the question," Lance said.

Joey thought for a moment.  "I know because she tells me that she does."

"It's the same for me.  I know that she loves me because she tells me and I know that it's not just some bullshit game because if it was I have a feeling that she would have been out of here long ago if she didn't.  You know how messed up our lives are like...no one would voluntarily put up with that."

"Well if it was real why haven't you gotten her a ring?" Joey asked.

"I haven't had time," Lance said.  He closed his eyes knowing full well that this was going to bother everyone.  He hadn't wanted to be traditional.  He hadn't wanted to be tradtional.  Nothing of their relationship was so he hadn't wanted to start now.  Besides, the cufflink was something that he thought had been unique.  He knew that she'd forever remember him because of that.

Joey's eyebrows came down over his eyes angrily.  "You'd think if you loved each other then you'd make a point of getting her a ring."

"I haven't had time," Lance repeated.

"Get her a fucking ring then so at least it'll look legitimate."  Joey pushed himself up and out of the booth and moved towards the back of the bus.  "Someone is going to find out about her sooner or later and it's going to go to fucking hell if she doesn't have a ring on that finger.  You know how the press gets."

"Where are you going?" Lance asked.

"Back to sleep."

"Joey don't get pissed off.  Don't talk to Serena about it.  It's not something that she wants anyone to know about.  We're together and that's what is important."

Joey frowned.  "I'll keep my mouth shut unless it needs to be opened."


THIRTY-FIVE:

She came into the room with her phone in her hand and stood a little ways away from him when she spoke.  "Honey can you do me a favor?"

"What's that Serena?" he asked looking over at her from where she was sliding in to sit across from him at the table.  He smiled at her, stuck his pen behind his ear and stretched his arms out, cracking a few knuckles on his hands before taking a deep cleansing breath.

She moved to her knees and leaned over the sit of the table, careful of her pregnant stomach.  "I want you to do something for me and I don't want you to get mad when I ask you to do it."  She put up her hand when he started to talk.  "I know that you don't normally get that upset, but this is serious and I know it needs to get done."

His eyebrows raised with her comment, but his eyes returned to his paperwork.  "What's that?"

"Get on the phone with your mom and talk to her."  She took his hands away from the paperwork he was looking over.  "Baby please do it for me.  I don't like you and them fighting."

"Do we have to talk to about this?" he asked with a groan.  

She didn't hesistate when she answered.  "Yes."  She watched his eyes go from bright to dark and wanted to reach over and grab him by the neck.  He wasn't going to make this process easy like she wanted it to be.  It wasn't at all something that she could get around.  If she could have forgotten about him not speaking to his parents it really would have showed how much she didn't care about him, but to see him push himself into his work the last two days had made her worried.  He was definitely a work-a-holic, but his paperwork had never been that interesting to him.

"Serena."  He pulled his hands away from her and picked up his paperwork and looked at it again, pulling the pen from his ear to make a mark on the page.  He sighed when she didn't seem to leave him alone so he put the papers down and looked straight at her with a cold look to his eyes.  "I don't want to talk about this.  I was having a good day up until--"

Serena threw her hands up in defeat.  "Lance this is silly.  I'm not going to be what keeps you from your family.  I'm going to make you talk to them.  I don't know how I'm going to do it, but I'm not going to be called a homewreaker because you and your parents aren't talking."

"Did someone say homewreaker?" Joey said.

"Joey SHUT UP!" Lance said defensively.

"What's that supposed to mean?" she looked at Joey.  "Do you have a problem you'd like to discuss with me or are you content to eavesdrop?"

"Either way is fine with me."  He sounded cocky now, like he knew something she didn't know or had something up his sleeve that might send even more drama their way.

"Joey SHUT UP!"

"Lance?" she said and focused on him.  "What's he talking about and why do you keep telling him to shut up?"

"It's nothing," Lance said and glared at his band mate.  "Right Joey?"

Joey didn't say much to them, just started to mumbled stuff under his breath as he turned away.

"What was that all about?" she asked.

"He knows about our deal," Lance said.

"What deal?"

"The whole idea that you and I would--at the begining of this--that we were going to be a couple basically only so you could get a baby out of it--"

"So he thinks I'm a gold digging whore now?" she said.  Tears came to her eyes and she blinked at him.  "How could you do that to me?  I know the beginning of this was fucked up beyond belief, but I didn't think that you'd tell your friends about it.  Especially one who is probably a bigger whore than me."

"Serena calm down," he said, "Joey is pissed off right now about God knows what and he's got a temper.  He's not really mad at you."

"Well it sure didn't sound that way," she said.

"Baby please don't do this," he said, "I don't want to fight with you.  I just want us to be together."

"Well maybe I don't want you to be with me."  She yanked on her necklace and threw the cufflink at him.  "I knew that this was going to happen.  I knew that having a boyfriend, excuse me FIANCE was going to FUCK my whole world up!  I should have known not to trust this.  It was all too easy to get this all set up nice and comfy."

Everyone else in the bus was now crowded near the door to the back area.

"Serena baby--"

"Don't call me that," she said, "You're soo sickenly sweet about this you almost had me fooled into thinking you actually gave a shit about me and about this baby.  Hell these babies.  I might as well tell you now that you're having twins.  Now you'll be able to tell your parents that your girlfriend slash FIANCE--"  She looked towards the door and saw Joey watching.  "What was the word Joey?  What was it?  HOMEWREAKER?"

Joey started to speak.

"Well consider yourself a saint Joey because you got what you wanted.  When we get to the next city I want off this bus, off this tour...hell off this planet if I can make arrangements!"

She turned and began to walk towards the door and the crowd parted like the red seat, leaving lance sitting there staring down the hall wondering what had just happened.

********************

Lance dropped his head down to the table and took a deep breath.  His whole body felt as if it had been hit by a truck and for the first time in a long time, even in his great shape, he felt like he wanted to give up and crawl in bed and sleep away the rest of the day, maybe even the rest of the week.  He shut his eyes for a moment and then pushed himself up from the table.  He walked by everyone in the hallway without a word and went towards the back room, knowing that she'd closed herself into the back room.

Joey started to talk to him.

"I think you've said enough for one day Joey," Lance said angrily turning and pointing at him, making his arm extend to keep space between them.

Joey looked concerned now, but as far as Lance was concerned it was too late for him to do anything about what he'd done to Serena.  He'd caused trouble when he had told Lance that he wouldn't.  "I didn't expect her to--"

Lance turned away from him and Joey's voice faded out.  Everyone seemed to instantly made themselves at home in the front room while Lance knocked on the back door.  He knew that they would all be watching and listening, but there was no private place on the bus to talk.  He hoped that she would at least let him talk to her instead of keeping that door between them.

"GO AWAY!" she screamed.

Lance took a deep breath and turned towards his bunk.  He looked back towards the front room and saw everyone watching him and felt instantly ashamed of the situation.  A man in his position didn't have much choice in the matter.  He felt like breaking the door down and forcing her to talk to him, but with that move came along a whole set of issues including two bodyguards that would wrestle him to the ground and beat him senseless if he hurt or scared Serena in any way.  

Feeling the need to be away from everyone, Lance pushed back the curtain on his bunk and climbed in.  He shut the curtain and lay on his stomach gripping his pillow to his face as his heart finally was let to feel the pain that he'd just caused.

It wasn't long before Joey came to the bunk area.  Lance expected it.  He knew that he'd be concerned and Joey would be the spokesperson for the rest of the group to try to help because Joey had a knack for being in the blaming place for things, but smoothing things over quickly.  He pushed back the curtain and started to talk to him.  "Lance.  I'm sorry.  I didn't think it would get this out of hand.  I didn't know she'd freak out this bad.  I--"

Lance lifted his head and glared at him.  "I told you that I thought you'd already said enough today Joey so why don't you FUCKING SHUT THE HELL UP AND LEAVE ME THE FUCK ALONE!"  He pulled the curtain shut and rolled over onto his side so that his back was towards the curtain.


THIRTY-SIX:

When the bus slowed Serena looked out the tiny back window.  It wasn't the best of situations, but her plan was to go out and get her phone and call Lance's parents.  She didn't know how or when she'd be able to get away from the tour, but her first priority after the call was going to be to find Chris and tell him that she was quitting.

When they finally were parked she opened the door and slipped out into the hallway.  She could hear everyone up front and knew that she had to face them, but when she entered the front area of the bus she quickly and quietly found her phone and went back into the back area of the bus again, dialing as she went.  

Her breath quicken as she heard the woman on the other end of the phone speak.  "Hello?"

Serena cleared her throat and coughed.  "Mrs. Bass?"

"Yes?"

"This is Serena."  She took a deep breath.  "I don't want to waste your time so I'll be quick about this.  I just wanted to tell you that I'm going to be out of your son's life in a few days.  I broke things off with him last night for a few reasons, but The main one was that I don't want  to be the cause for a family fight.  I know that Lance is really upset about this and he's going to probably need your support right now, but I thought it best that I leave before I cause any more trouble than I already have."

"Serena," his mother spoke smoothly with her southern accent sounding more like Betty Crocker than someone who wanted her to be out of her son's life.  "I want to thank you for calling me.  I know that I was aweful about this whole situation, but--"

"You don't have to explain anything," Serena protested.  "Its alright.  I hope that I love my children as much as you love Lance and that when I'm faced--if I'm faced--with a situation like this that I'll be as protective of them as you are of your son."

"Children?" she asked, "What do you mean children?"

"I'm having twins," she said, "I don't know what Lance and I are going to do about the kids, but I'll definitely stay in touch and of course you and your husband and Stacey and Lance will all have access to them--"

"Are you sure you know what you're doing?"

At any other moment Serena would have loved to hear some concern for her well being, but at the moment Diane Bass was the last person she would consider taking comfort in being around.  "You know I think horrible timing runs in your family.  I don't mean to be rude, but this really isn't the time to start caring.  Just be there for your son when I'm not.  That's all I'm asking of you."  She hung up the phone and began to cry again.

"Girl are you ok?"  Eric had thrown on jeans and a security team shirt and was watching her with a critical eye.

"I don't want to talk about this.  I'm going to go and talk to Chris and maybe stay on his bus.  Please don't follow me.  You work for Lance and I don't want you reporting back to him because I'm sure that's what he'll want you to do."

"I'm your guard though," he said watching her.

"Just leave it alone," she said, "Please."

She left the bus and looked around for a moment.

"What are you doing up?"  Anthony asked coming over to her from where he was helping park buses into spots.

"Which one is Chris on?" she asked.

Anthony looked at her closely for a moment.  "The third one over there.  I think he's asleep, but I don't think that Fred has packed it in for the day to take his time off.  Go knock."

"Thanks," she said and shuffled towards the other bus.

********************

"Lance."

He rolled over, turning towards the curtain.  He opened his eyes and found, not Joey, but Eric looking in at him.  "What?"

"She left."

"What?" He sat up a little, almost hitting his head.  "Where?"

"She's going over to Chris's bus, but she's left and she won't let me follow her."

"Oh," he said and lay back down.  He was still in his clothes, but he didn't care.  His head hurt, his eyes felt puffy, and his lungs seemed to be not expanding enough.  In a nutshell he felt as if he'd been hit by a train and he knew that there was nothing at this point that would fix it.  If Serena wasn't going to be able to talk to him about this then there was nothing that he could do.

"Lance get your ass out of bed and go after her."  Eric opened the curtain again.  "Your woman is about to take herself and your kids out of your life and you're sitting here like an ass letting her!"

"It's none of your business Eric," he said, "Leave it alone."

"It is my business," he said, "You need to go after her.  If you let her get away now she'll keep running from you, but if you go over there and force her to talk then she's gonna know that you at least give shit or not if she leaves."

"Leave it alone," he growled.

Eric's arms reached into the bunk and pulled him out.

"What the hell is going on?" Joey asked opening his curtain to stare at them.

"Nothing," Eric said, "Lance is on his way to go tell his woman that he loves her and that she can't leave him.  "Right Lance."

His voice got caught in his lungs as Eric manuvered him out of the bunk so that he was standing.  He coughed.  "Fuck you."

Without warning, Lance was pushed towards the front of the bus.  Eric pushed him half way down the stairs then made him leave the bus all together.  Once outside he turne to go back in, but Eric wouldn't let him.  He locked the door and stood in the window staring at him.

Anthony appeared.  "She's on Chris's bus."  He spoke before being asked and pointed across the parking lot.  Lance looked towards where he was pointing then started off towards the bus that she was supposedly in.  He didn't know if this was going to work, but he thought he'd at least try since he didn't want to be wrestling Eric is whole morning.
 

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