The Baby Game:  Section Thirteen

Thirty-Seven:

Knock. Knock. Knock.

Ryan's face appeared in the window with a funny expression on his face, making her smile for a moment.  She didn't feel like smiling and swore at herself for doing so.  She was about to give her week or so notice to Chris and she needed to be serious.  Knowing Chris he'd try to talk her into staying and even though she desparately wanted to do so, she knew that she couldn't.  She was a bother, a burdan to Lance, and she didn't want to cause more trouble than she already had.  She wanted out and hopefully that would leave them with less tension.  If Joey was already making a big stink out of things she knew that Chris would probably side with Lance too so it was better that she was leaving not just him, but everything that was on tour.

"Come on in Miss Serena," Ryan said with a formal tone as the door opened, "Excuse me while I get back to my game."

She heard Chris swear at something and Ryan turned and went back over to look at the television.  "What the hell?  You started playing again without me?  Kirkpatrick, you fucking suck!"

"Bite me!"  Chris returned with.

Serena closed the door and stepped up the rest of the steps and moved into the tiny living room that was identical to the one in the other bus.  She moved passed the two cords of their game controllers and found a seat, chosing to let them play for a minute before she told him her reason for being there.

"Sugar what's wrong?"  She turned to find Chris's driver watching her.  She hadn't seen him come in from the back, but he was now in the kitchen across from her with a cola can in his hand.  "You look like your best friend just died."

"I just have some news to tell Chris," she said, "But I was going to wait--"

"What news do you have for me?" Chris asked moving his head to look like he was listening to her, while his eyes stayed on the screen.

"It's something I don't think I should tell you while you're playing.  I'll wait until you're done," she said with a soft voice and leaned against the table.

Chris paused the game and turned fully to look at her.  "What's wrong?"

"I'm putting in my week notice or two week notice, whichever one you want from me," she said.  Her eyes moved towards the window as she saw the door of Lance's bus open and saw him being pushed out into the parking lot.

"What?" Chris said.  He moved to the table and sat across from her.  "Are you ok?  You aren't sick or anything.  I'd give you time off if you need it.  I don't mean to be such a slave driver, but you--"

"No," she said, "I don't need the time off.  I need to get away from the tour for a while and to do that I think I need to cut all ties for a while."

"Cut all ties?" Chris said and frowned at her.  "You mean you and Lance fought again and you're leaving?"

Her arm started to go numb and her head began to ache.  "It's just better if I don't stay on tour.  I love you as a boss and I'm sorry that I've complicated things, but I need to leave."

"Serena, tell me what's going on," he said.

She looked at Ryan and Chris's driver and said, "It's nothing for you to worry about."

"Clearly it is," he said, "If you're leaving the tour then it clearly is something that is going to effect me and my company.  I can't stop you from leaivng, but I need a good reason.  If you want time off then I'll give it to you.  I'll give you six months even if you need it, but I can't just let you leave without knowing why."

"I can't tell you Chris."  She pulled his hand from his as Lance approached the bus.  "I wish I could, but I can't.  it's too complicated and I don't think that it's appropriate for me to be telling you everything that happens between me and him."

"Fine," he said, "I'm not accepting your resignation though.  You can have however long off, if you want to work from home or whatever that's fine, but I'm in love with your designs and I'm not letting you go find a new job and become my competition."

"Please Chris...just let me go."

"Whoa!"  Ryan said suddenly and moved towards the door.  "What the hell just happened?"

Serena's eyes moved to the window where Ryan was looking and she found that Lance was now crumpled in a heap on the ground.  She hadn't seen what had happened, but soon there was a crowd around them.

"Stay here Serena," Chris said and pushed out of the table.  He moved out of the bus and ran towards the group of people that were now looking at Lance.

A scream filled her throat, but she didn't let it out until a set of paramedics appeared.  She moved out of the table and down to the door quickly keeping her eyes on the spot where he was lying.  Her feet carried her across the parking lot and just as they were loading him onto the cart she got there and insisted that she ride along.

"She's his fiance," Chris said, "You have to let her go."

The paramedics let her onto the little golfcart-like car and they went towards the closest door to the coliseum.  "We'll take him inside and if he doesn't get some color back we'll take him to the Emergency Room."

"What happened?" she asked.

"He's dehydrated and fainted.  Nothing too bad, but we should watch him for a while."

"Serena," Lance said from where he was lying on his back, "Serena.  Are you ok?"

"I'm fine," she said with a shaky voice, "Just rest Lance.  I'm fine."

"Don't leave," he pleaded with her, "Please don't leave me."

*****

He watched her leave the room and took a deep breath.  He couldn't have planned this better.  He'd faked fainting before to get out of certain events, but this was his best use of his acting abilities so far.  When the paramedics had been talking to him when they first got over to him he'd explained to them that he just wanted to scare Serena a little and make her stick around.  They hadn't been pleased to see him faking the fainting spell, but they seemed to understand his reasons for doing so.

When they got into the arena they paramedics made Serena stay outside while they checked him over in the green room.

"I'm really sorry about this.  If it costs money or whatever I'll pay for your time.  I didn't mean to scare anyone, but I had to do something or my fiance was going to walk out on me."

"Next time do it a different way.  We'll play along with this for a while, but our boss will be expecting a few hundred dollars towards the work that we've done."

"You didn't do anything," he said, "You picked me up and put me on the cart and brought me inside."

"Well we have paperwork that will have to be done with this.  THAT is the real pain in the ass of the job," the younger guy said, "So either you can pay a few hundred dollars and we won't tell anyone what you just did, as well as not reporting you to the police for a false call, or we can go out there and tell everyone what just happened as well as making it clear to the police that you need to be fined."

"I'll pay the money," he said, "I'll pay the money."

"Good," the older guy said, "Now what do you want us to tell your woman?"

"I don't know, nothing too serious," he said, "I just need her to believe that I'm too sick for her to leave.  She's pregnant right now and I don't want her leaving."

"We'll tell her that you're stressed out and dehydrated and that you need rest and a full meal.  Maybe the girl will cook for you," the younger guy said.

"Thanks guys," he said.

"Well sit back then and we'll let her in.  Hopefully she isn't smart enough to figure out you're a bad fainter," the older one said, "Next time when you faint fall forwards.  It makes it look more real."  He patted Lance's leg where he was lying on the couch and moved away from him.

Lance leaned back as the younger man left the room.  He couldn't see himself, but knew how to make a pathetic looking expression.  He plastered that on his face and squinted his eyes a little as he heard the door opening.

"L-lance?" he heard her say.

His eyes opened a little farther and he looked across at her.  She carried a bottled water in her hands and looked like she was about to drop it.

"Hi," he said using a weak voice, the kind of voice that he used in middle school and high school to fake being sick with his mother so that he could stay home.

"Are you ok?" she asked and moved towards him.

"Yeah," he said, "They said I fainted."

"You did," she said, "You were walking across the parking lot one minute and the next you were on the ground."

"I'm ok now," he said suddenly feeling guilty for the look of terror that was on her face now.

"Do you want some water?" she asked holding out the bottle.

"Yeah," he said, "Come here."

She moved and sat down on the small coffee table next to the couch he was on.  She opened the bottle and handed it to him, holding the cap in her palm.  Her eyes were starting to water as he sipped the water.

"Baby come here," he said keeping his voice sounding weak.

She moved and sat next to him on the couch.  He leaned and put the water onto the table then put his arms around her.  She started to cry and shake in his arms.  Her arms came around him and grasped at him as if he might disappear from her arms or something if she didn't hold on tight.

"Serena," he said, "I'm fine.  I'm gonna be fine."

"I was worried," she said sniffing.

"I'm gonna be ok," he said, "Are you and the baby ok?"

"Babies," she said sniffing.

"What?"

"Babies," she said, "That's where I was when you couldn't find me.  I went in to see the doctor and I found out that I'm having twins."

"Twins?" he said.  Now he really did feel like he was going to faint.  "Twins?"

"Yeah," she said and cried, "I don't know what we'd do if something happened to you.  I'm sorry that I was mad and that I locked you out.  I'm sorry for everything.  If I knew that it stressed you out so much I wouldn't have said or did what I did."

"Serena," he said, "It's ok.  I'm not mad at you for that.  It wasn't your fault."  He tried to remember a good reason for him fainting.  He actually had fainted a few years ago before a show and had found out later that it had been because he wasn't eating enough stuff with Vitamin B-12 or something like that.  "It was my own stupid fault for not eating and drinking enough."

"Don't do that to me ever again," she said suddenly.  "I can't do this without you.  I know that I wanted to leave and let this not stress you out as much, but I can't leave now.  Not with you like this."

Lance let out a breath and stared up at the ceiling.  His plan for keeping her around had worked, but he hadn't thought that he would have felt so guilty about doing what he did.  It hadn't even crossed his mind that it might hurt her or the babies to see him be sick like that.


Thirty-Eight:


The sounds of the concert surrounded her.  Music blasted from one direction and the fans screamed back just as loud.  It looked like a war out there, not just because the band and the fans were battling for attention, but also because Lance looked a little more than winded as he sang his parts.

The noise was extremely loud, but it barely reached passed where she stood leaning against the hallway wall with her arms crossed across her chest.  She wore a headset over her ears to keep her ears protected.  She wished that there was a whole suit of armor that would keep her safe from everything else.  Today had been hard.  She had seen him lying there on the ground and still couldn't get his words out of her mind.

"Don't leave," he pleaded with her, "Please don't leave me."

Serena's eyes never left the person on the left side of the stage.  When he came down onto the front part of the stage her eyes moved with him, when he was on the right side of the stage, way away from her she moved to stand on her tiptoes so that she could still see him.  She'd seen the concert a million times before, nothing was new except for that way that she was watching only him.  He was pushing himself hard that night, sweat hanging on the armpits of the shirt he wore and making it stick to his back.  He gave his all to the fans, like he did every night.

When he saw her on that side of the stage while they were singing Gone he tipped his bowler hat to her and waved a little.  Some people in front of her looked back and stared at her.  She wished for a moment that she could read lips because the girls almost seemed to be snarling at her and talking about her, or at least that's what it looked like.  She felt like screaming at them to go away, but instead moved her eyes back up to where Lance was now doing a routine with the others.

Finally as the last song of the show started she moved out of the hallway and back into the backstage area.  Eric moved with her, but said nothing to her and seemed to be trying to hide from her a little as they went towards the green room.  He kept his eyes on her, she'd felt them on her for most of the day, but he'd taken her warning earlier and had stayed away from her, or at least hadn't been crowding her.

As a golf cart passed she heard the men on it talking.  They had to stop as another cart went by or she wouldn't have even heard what they'd said.  Funny how little things happen when fate comes into play.

"I can't believe that guy would do that."

"Hey," the other man said, "We got a thousand bucks out of the deal and you know Tim is gonna let us keep some of that considering it's under the table."

"Still," the first one said, "That's a lot of money to get from a guy for a fainting spell.  Imagine what we would have gotten if he'd faked a head injury or something."

"You should have been one of thos slip and fall lawyers.  You can put a price on any injury."

"Wouldn't you if you could make this kind of money?"  The guy laughed.

The other one laughed along, "Stupid pop stars could basically throw that kind of cash off the roof and not miss it."

"Suckers," both men said then drove out of her hearing range.

Serena was so into their conversation that she didn't see the power cords running across the hallway and ended up tripping a little.  Eric appeared at her side and held onto her.  "You ok?"

She swallowed hard and coughed a little trying to get passed the words that she had just heard.  She was sure that they were talking about Lance, there hadn't been anything else happening that day that would have been considered an accident and the men talking about the money meant only one thing.  One of the guys had paid them off, even if it might not have been Lance.  She didn't know anyone else on tour that would have that kind of money at their fingertips to just give away.

"Serena."

A thumping sound filled her ears that were louder than the bass beats of the last song.  She finally realised that she could hear her heart beating in her ears and when she looked up her eyes went out of focus and she leaned against Eric.  A fainting spell due to a fake fainting spell.  She wondered if all this drama was going to ever end.  She knew that she needed to leave, but she wasn't sure now that Lance would let her.  It scared her that he'd gone to such lengths to make her stay.  On the one hand it was flattering to know that he wanted her around that much, but at the same time, if he spent a thousand dollars to keep her stay, it seemed that the sky was the limit to the lengtths he would go.

"Serena," Eric repeated, waving a hand in front of her face.

"What?" she asked and turned to face him.  He was staring at her now, something that made her skin crawl.  She knew she should have pushed him away to throw a fit on him and tell him to leave her alone, but when she saw the concern in his eyes she knew that she couldn't do that to him.

"Hon," he said and slid an arm around her, "Why are you crying?"

She moved a hand to her cheek and wiped away tears she hadn't known were there.  "Nothing," she said, "It's stupid."  She lifted her foot, "I stubbed my toe."  She rolled her ankle around.  "I hate when that happens and with me being pregnant it seems like crying happens too easily these days.  Thank God they've stopped running those reach out and touch someone phone commercials.  I used to cry like a baby when I was a kid watching those.  I'd probably drown now if I saw them--"  She realised she was babbling.  "I'm sorry.  We should get out to the bus.  Lance is going to be off stage soon."

"Are you sure you're ok?"

She nodded and plastered a smile on her face.  This wasn't the time or the place to be discussing this.  If she was going to accuse Lance of this she surely wasn't going to discuss it with Eric.  Knowing the rumor mill on your he'd find out about what was on her mind before she told him.

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

The sound of the bus door pushing open usually was a comfort to him, but that night Lance's body reacted differently as he stepped into his home.  He'd come off stage and Eric had left him a message with Loni that Serena was waiting on the bus.  He'd sent a message back to her through the walkie talkie that Loni had that he would be taking a shower before coming out to the bus and had slid into the locker room to get out of his sweaty things.

Now, a half hour or so later he was watching all this friends moving to their respective buses and waved to Joey who said he was going to spend the night on Chris's bus that night.  He hadn't told Joey the whole story from that afternoon, but Joey seemed to sense that they needed some time alone and had volunteered to party on the other bus that night so that they could talk.

"Serena?" he called as he pulled the door closed.  He found Eric sitting in the front living room and he just frowned and pointed towards the back of the bus.

"What's going on?" Lance asked.

"I don't know," he said, "She's been locked in the back for about twenty minutes and doesn't want to be bothered.  I think that it's because of the pregnancy, but these days who knows.  She started crying tonight because she stubbed her toe."

"Crap," Lance hissed out.  He moved to the kitchen to grab out a drink then waved to the driver who was half asleep in his bunk before knocking softly on the back door.

"Come in," she said.

He walked in to find her sitting in her pajamas watching television.  He could see the remains of her tears streaked down her face and wanted to kick himself.  He would bet a million dollars that her tears were because of him.

"Hey," he said softly and came in, half limping and sighing when he eased himself down onto the couch.  He moved so that his head was lying on her thigh and looked up at the television show she was watching.  "Anything good on?" he asked.

"Not really."  She flipped off the television and moved away from him.  She settled on the seat across from him and glared at him.  "I'm going to ask you this and ask you only once...did you pay off the paramedics this afternoon so that you could fake your fainting spell?"

Lance shot up into a sitting position from where he'd be laying down and almost spilled his water.  "What?"

"I told you that I was only going to ask once and I can see in your expression that the conversation I overheard today really was the truth and I wasn't making things up in my mind."  She sighed.  "If you wanted me to stay Lance you didn't have to lie about it."

His chest tightened and he found that his hands couldn't hold onto the bottle any more.  He put the top back on the cola he was drinking and set it on the seat.  "I--"

"Save it," she said, "I gave my two weeks notice to Chris today and I'll be leaving in the morning.  I called and made flight plans."

"Where--"

"I'm not running away Lance," she said and then her tone changed.  "I'm going to move back to the house in Mississippi and you're going to let me.   I'll see you when I can and I'll be technically still designing for Chris, but not on a regular basis.  When our kids are born I'll figure out what I want to do, but for now I don't want you in my life or in theirs."

"So you're going to stay in my house and not see me?"

She shrugged and seemed way too relaxed about everything.  "I figure you owe me and your kids a place to stay and since I know you're going to be off and on tour for the next few months, I thought that the Mississippi house would be the best place to stay."

"You can't leave like this Serena," he said.

"Yes I can," she said, "I should have left long ago, but I didn't.  I thought that you were in love with me, but if you're able to lie to me like that then--"

"Just like you lied to Billy?" he asked, anger overtaking him.  This was so hypocritcal of her.  "Like how you were going to sleep with him then disappear?"  He took a deep breath and felt his heart pounding in his chest.  "I think you're the last person in the world to be talking about telling lies."  He stood up and kicked the edge of the couch and leaned over her.  He couldn't think of any other way to make himself feel like he was in control especially when everything in the room seemed to be spinning.  "If you're going to be going home then I suggest you not wait until the morning.  Last time I checked, prostitutes didn't spend all night long with their customers."

He didn't mean anything that he'd just said, but he couldn't help himself.  He wanted her to be hurt and angry at him.  It was easier if there was more than one reason to let her leave that night.

Pushing himself up into a standing position, Lance opened his wallet, pulled out the bills in his pocket and threw them at her.  "Keep the change."  He tucked his chin against his chest and moved out of the room slamming the door behind him.

"HEY!"  Eric said scolding him.

"Sorry."  He glared at him for a quick instant.  "I'm going on a walk.  Don't follow me and fucking don't call Loni to either."

Lance's feet hit the pavement of the parking lot and he began to walk towards the arena again.  He showed his pass to the guard near the back door.

"Aren't you guys done for the night?"

"I'm gonna go run stairs for about a half hour.  No one is in there are they?"

"The night guys should be cleaning, but no one is going to bother you if you're in there."

"Thanks."

Anger managment wasn't something that Lance had needed in his life.  He normally was a fairly straightforward type of guy, but at the moment he was so pissed off that he didn't even think that running stairs could take it away.  In the past if he was upset with something, exercising would sometimes help, but even as his feet started to take the first set of steps, he knew that there weren't enough stairs in the building to run him into a deep sleep.