The Baby Game: Section Nineteen
Placing a hand on the wall Serena took a deep breath. The door was
cracked and she could see Lance sitting in the wooden rocking chair facing
the window and holding his arms in a manner which told her that Roselyn
was still in his arms. She had pretended not to notice those types
of things over the last few weeks, but seeing his arms the way they were,
the shoulders scruched up as if he was afraid that if he relaxed that she
would fall away from him, she knew that she needed to talk to him, needed
to make a move, and needed to help him deal with the things that she should
have faced when Roselyn had been born.
That afternoon, the fight that they'd had was definitely the starting
point. She hadn't meant to ruin things with him, but the more she
tried to help out the more things got worse for them and as his mother had
stated, it was going to hurt Roselyn the most. She didn't want that.
She'd never wanted that. True she had been punishing Lance for
some of the things that had been going on, but she never had intended for
Roselyn to feel the effects of her depression.
By the time she stepped into the room tears had filled her eyes. She
felt the effects of that time away from her daughter. She didn't
have a clue where anything was, what clothes were in the closet, even what
song played on her daughter's little mobile that hung of her head at night.
She wiped the tears away with the back of her hand and quickly moved
her shirt and her jeans into place. She didn't feel like she belonged
in the small space, but this would be her chance to change that. Her
place in their lives was on the hook. It was a defining moment, a moment
that she paused to take in.
You can reach me by sailboat, climb a tree and swing rope
Take a sled and slide down slow, into these arms of mine
You can jump on a speedy colt, cross the border in a blaze of hope
I don't care how you get here, just- get here if you can
She had heard him singing something or other from the kitchen where
she'd escaped his earlier tyraid, but had been ignoring it while she finished
the dishes. She had wiped her hands and had found a seat on the couch,
but the sound of his voice had found her all the way down in the living room.
She'd gone as far as to put her hands over her ears, but nothing would
make the sound go away.
When she cleared her throat his head whipped around. "Did you
need something?" he asked.
She didn't trust her voice. She knew that even if she could find
the words to say to him that her voice wouldn't let her say the words.
She nodded and looked between his face and their daughter's face.
Despite the many times that she'd been forced to take care of her,
Roselyn's face was completely a mystery to her. She hadn't spent
enough time looking at her to even be able to recognize her as her own.
"I wasn't singing too loud?" He asked it with a smile, that smile
that he'd only been using for Roselyn these days. He'd faked enough
for her sake, but the only times she'd seen it that wide was when he had
her in his arms or he was speaking about the little girl who was now staring
up at her father while holding onto his pointer finger. He looked
back down at Roselyn and spoke using a deep base voice that reverberated
through the room. "Roselyn here doesn't like the newer stuff, but
I found one she seems to not scream at. I'm a little rusty on my Oleta
Adams, but it seems like for once I'm trying to get the girls not to scream
"None of the girls are screaming at you," she finally said sounding
more like a Budwiser frog than the voice she usually projected to people.
"I beg to differ," he said, "At least my mother wouldn't agree with
"Well there's at least two girls that aren't going to be yelling at
you," she said bravely.
"Two?" he asked lifting an eyebrow to look at her.
Roselyn began to fuss and her face pinched up and she started to turn
"Is she ok?" Serena asked looking down at her.
"She's probably going to start crying here in a few minutes. If
she's gonna bother you I can take her for a walk, you know, take her out
back or something. That ususally works to keep her busy for a minute
and get her calm."
"Does she need a bottle or something?"
"Yeah," he said, "I could get her one." He pushed himself up
expertly and moved over to her crib and started to put her down which
totally made her start to scream more.
"Lance go get the bottle," she said snapping at him.
He started to move Roselyn and she moved over and put her arms around
"What are you doing?"
"Holding her," she said and tried to smile. "I tried to do this
before, but you wouldn't let me. Go get her bottle. We'll be
ok for a few minutes."
Roselyn screamed again in Serena's arms and she almost wanted to give
her back, but she knew if she didn't hold her now, too much time would go
by before she would hold her again. "Are you sure?"
"Yes," she said, "Please go get her the bottle. She's gonna lose
her voice in a minute here."
Lance looked more startled than she thought he would. "Sit down
and rock her. That should help and try to burp her. I'll be
"I'll be fine with her for a few minutes." Her body moved across
the room to the room to sit in the rocking chair. She moved slowly
until she got comfortable with her daughter's weight in her arms and then
looked over at Lance. "Just go."
His eyes didn't leave her until he was completely out the door. She
felt bad that he didn't trust her with Roselyn. She might not have
been participating in their lives for the last few weeks, but with the
now smiling girl in her arms she knew that there probably wasn't much she
could do to the girl that would ruin her before Lance got back.
Lance grabbed out the bottle and when he went to go back up the stairs
he heard only silence from the second floor. For an instant he thought
that maybe Roselyn was hurt or something, but when he reached the doorway
he heard Serena talking to their daughter with a sweet voice that she
hadn't heard in a long time from her.
"And then Mommy and Daddy decided that they loved each other and we
decided to have you and James and even though James isn't here with us any
more he's going to be out little angel and make sure that nothing else bad
happens to us anymore so that we can be happy and so that Daddy can sing
you songs every night until you get to be a big enough girl to sing with
He watched her pause for a moment and he moved closer, watching her
fingers play over the blondish brown hair on the top of her head. "Roselyn,
I don't know if I can ever make it up to you what I've done, but I'm not
going to do it any more. I was sad for a very long long time and
that's because I was a sore loser. I thought that I had the rules
and the game figured out, but it wasn't until your daddy came along that
I figured out that I was all wrong. I didn't even know what game I
Lance coughed and moved closer to the two of them. "Sorry I took
so long." He reached a hand down to her. "Do you want to take
"No," she said and he watched her pull her arms more around Roselyn.
"Let me do it."
"Are you sure?" He didn't want to make her feel paranoid about
it, but he wasn't sure if she knew what she was doing.
"Honey you look tired. Why don't you go and take a nap and I'll
wake you up whenever?"
"Are you really sure?" he asked.
"I'll be fine. I'm gonna sit right here and hold her and rock
Lance tried to break in and tell her that she needed to remember to
She tried to remember what she'd seen Lance do with her before he'd put
her to bed before. She'd seen enough movies to know that there were
other things that she needed to do before putting a baby to bed. "I'll
burp her and put her to bed."
She nodded and took the bottle and started to feed Roselyn.
After having all her attention being diverted away from the little
girl he was suspicious that all of a sudden she'd be all about her. Lance
didn't trust it. He wished that he could, but there was no way to
be that comfortable with someone being with Roselyn, when he'd been the one
to take care of her for so long.
He gave her a chance, but instead of leaving her totally alone he closed
the door and then found a seat in the hallway so that he could look through
the crack and watch them. His heart went out to her, but at
the same time there was part of him that wanted to run in there, grab Roselyn
away from her and yell at her for being so selfish. He'd spent the
last few weeks with them in the house and she hadn't shown any interest at
all in the little girl. Roselyn might not know the difference, but
he wasn't going to let her walk back into their lives so easily. He'd
let her make her apologies to Roselyn, but he wasn't going to accept her words
for a while. She'd have to show him that she was going to be there
before he let himself relax.
Orlando had gotten extremely hot. Lance had fallen asleep and found
himself lying flat on the floor in the hallway, face on the carpet when
he woke up. The air conditioning was on probably full blast, but he
could feel the sweat in his hair and felt a few drops slide down his cheek
as he pushed himself up. His back protested as he finally got to his
feet. He twisted to the left and the right and tried to think relaxing
thoughts, but the silence got to him before he could do anything to ease
the tension in his lower back.
"Serena?" he called out. He looked around for a moment. "Serena!"
He heard the voice and for a moment almost didn't recognize it. "Mom?"
There was a sound of pots and pans and then his mother's voice came out
of the silence. "I'm in the kitchen honey."
Lance made his way down to the first floor loudly trying to make it known
to his mother that he wasn't at all pleased that she was in the house. He
found her in the middle of the kitchen, treating the appliances and the food
as if it was her own. His mother seemed to be elbow deep in pots and
pans, cooking God knows what on all four burners on the stove and something
was sitting in the lighted oven that looked to be pot roast.
"What are you doing here?" He walked past her to close the back door
that was open and letting the heat of the day inside. "I'm not cooling
all of Orlando here Mom."
"You need some fresh air in here. It's stuffy in the house."
"Can I ask again what you're doing here?" he asked the rhetorical question,
still wondering why his mother was standing there acting like this was her
"I'm making dinner." She was rinsing a head of lettuce and cutting
cucumbers to put in a salad and didn't look up.
"Where's Serena?" he asked looking around thinking she might be out on
the back porch.
"She went to take Roselyn to the doctors."
"Nothing," she said, "Don't start assuming things. It's her check
"Her check up day is tomorrow," he said scratching his head with one hand
as he reached for a glass in the cabinet.
"No," she said, "Her check up was today. You fell asleep yesterday
and stayed asleep all night and all this morning. I told her that
we should wake you up and put you to bed, but she insisted that you sleep
through whatever you needed to sleep through."
"I've been asleep for twenty four hours?"
"Yes honey," She looked up and frowned at him. "You must have
needed it honey or you wouldn't have slept that long."
"I probably needed a few hours, but I haven't been sleeping lately--" His
head began to hurt a little and he looked around. "What are you doing
here? I thought you and Serena weren't talking to each other."
"No," she said, "Serena and I have said what needs to be said to each other.
The only reason she went over to Kelly's today was to make sure that
we got time to talk."
"I don't want to talk about it."
"Well I do," she said slamming the cleaver into the cutting board.
"Don't Momma me," she said, "James Bass you better sit your bottom on that
chair and listen to what I say because I swear to go above if I have to
tell you this again it'll be on my--" She took a cleansing breath
and removed the cleaver. "You need to hear what I have to say and
after this, if you don't go and find your wife I swear that I'll never speak
to you again."
"Momma, she's not my wife."
"No," she said, "But she should be. She should have been months ago,
but you two let me and everyone else stand in your way. I didn't raise
a son that shies away from things that challenge him and I know that I was
hard on you and I know it was confusing, but this needs to stop."
Lance took a seat and left his cup empty on the
"I know I've been difficult and haven't been the most open person," Lance
knew that his mother must have been thinking about this a lot because it
sounded almost rehearsed. "I don't know if Serena is the right one
for you." She put a hand up. "Let me finish before you start
to protest. I do have a point to this and you'll hear it here in a
minute." She ran her hands through her hair and sighed. "I don't
know if you know how to love someone the way that Serena loves you. And
don't say that she doesn't love you because I've seen it in the way that
she looks at you when you don't see her. She's put up with everything
that the world and I have thrown at her and she still loves you. At
first I was worried that you were going to have your heart completely shattered
by her, but now I think that if you don't be with her that you're going to
have enough regrets for two lifetimes. The worst thing will be that
your daughter will be the one who is effected by it the most."
His elbows leaned against the counter and his heads cupped his chin to
keep his head up. "I can't talk to her Momma. She and I just
rub together wrong. It's like magnets and we're to the same to attract."
"Honey you have to give her a chance. She thinks right now that any
mistake that she makes is going to end it all. For her it's sudden
death overtime with a tie game and she thinks that you have the advantage."
"Advantage?" he asked, "What advantage could I possibly have? I've
been a single father for a few weeks now and all she's done is cry at me
because I'm spending time with our daughter."
"Baby," she said. She walked over and tipped his face up. "You
have to love them both and you have to trust enough in that love that no
matter what happens you'll always be together."
"How can I trust that though?" He let his eyes tear up. "How
can I trust that something isn't going to happen to Roselyn, that something
isn't going to happen to her. I mean--I didn't even get to see James
really and he died and I feel like--" He started to try to pull in
a breath but couldn't breathe. "He died and all the money, all the
fucking shit in the world that I have, all the love that I have couldn't
"Baby calm down," she said, "Please calm down. What happened to James
wasn't anyone's fault. It wasn't you or Serena or anyone's. He
died and you know what we'll all miss him even though we barely knew him,
but you have to get over this. You've been given everything and more
in life and--"
"If I could give it all back just to have him live I would."
"That's not what I meant honey. I just know that you've had a great
life and maybe this may sound corny, but with luck like you have, you have
to know that bad things do happen to even you." She hugged him and
rubbed his back as he tried to pull air into his lungs. "Your test
now is to not let it get you down. You need to dedicate yourself to
a woman who loves you and a baby who needs you."
"How do you know what I need?" he asked pushing her away. "You don't
know what it's like--"
"I do know. I know good and well what it's like. I had a baby
die Lance. I had it happen and your father and I almost lost ourselves
in that, but he stood by me and I had you to redirect my energy on. Why
the hell did you think I made such a fuss about you joining the group in
the begining?" She sighed. "I didn't want to let you go. I
didn't want something to happen and me not be there to save you because I
had that happen and I couldn't bare to let that happen again."
His jaw fell a bit and he stared at her. "What?"
"You heard me," she said.
"Momma?" His eyes began to water and for a moment he thought he wouldn't
be able to see her as he pulled her towards him. "What the hell are
you talking about?"
"I didn't mean to be upset with Serena. I didn't mean to do everything
that I did. I just wanted things to not be hard on you. I've tried
my entire life to make things that way and with the Pearlman--"
"Momma don't bring that up."
"Yes," she said, "It's important. I couldn't save you from that Bastard
and this time I wasn't going to let anyone else blind-side you. I knew
from the begining that she was out to make trouble for you."
"Mom. I volunteered."
"Volunteered?" she asked.
"Momma she wanted a baby and I wanted her and so she got what she wanted
and I got what I wanted and now Roselyn is going to have parents--"
"What she has at the moment now honey is nothing. She's got a shell
of a father, who clearly hasn't been sleeping enough and a mother who is so
afraid of disappointing you that she'd rather push you both away rather than
try to love you like she knows how."
Lance went and found a seat in the living room. "I know it takes a
big man to admit when he's wrong, but at the moment I don't know what to do.
I was in control of it all, but somewhere along the way it got totally
out of hand and I think that it's going to spiral and I'm not going to have
another turn at this game--"
"I've never known you to give up on anything. You need to fight for
her because if you don't she's gonna give up on you and it's only going to
hurt all of you in the end."
"I can't do it though," he said, "I love her and she hates me and I can't
live like that."
"Baby, she doesn't hate you. She loves you and she's afraid to let
you down. She's afraid that at any moment you may leave her alone."
The Fatone house was quiet that afternon. When Serena
had arrived Joey had been on his way out to go over to one of his friends
house to watch a football game or baseball game or something and basically
waved hello and good bye to her in the same wave.
She'd felt bad about just dropping by after Roselyn's check up, but hadn't
a clue where else to go. She probably could have gone over to WEG and
hung out, but if she'd been over that way she would have had to explain more
about why she and Lance weren't getting along. Everyone seemed to know
at this point that they were have disagreements, but there wasn't any more
information out about what was really going on.
"So she's over there with him?" Kelly asked.
"Yeah," Serena said making sure to hold Roselyn's head as she rocked in
the chair in Kelly and Joey's living room. "She came over, basically
kicked me out, and said that she and Lance needed to have a talk. I've
tried to make him talk to her and she must have got fed up with the stalling.
I've never really know her to be outwardly mean. I mean sure I
"Was this or was this not the woman that probably caused your premature--"
"Kelly please don't," she said, "Please don't make things worse. His
mom and I talked and we've settled our differences and she wants to settle
everything with Lance before he and I work things out."
Kelly took the glasses of ice water that she'd poured and came over to where
she was sitting in the living room. "And you left them there?" she asked
taking a sip of her water as she moved Serena's glass close enough so that
she could reach it."
"Yeah," Serena said, "What was I supposed to do? I tried to get them
to talk, but it wouldn't work and so now she's the one in charge."
"You're a brave girl to leave them alone together." Kelly smiled.
"Joe and his mother have had a few heart to hearts and believe me they
were better off when they were over because in the middle of them I wasn't
sure who was better off." She reached and touched Roselyn's hair for
a moment. "I wonder who'll still be standing when it all gets over with."
"At this point I'm almost rooting on his mother," she said with a sigh.
"I know I should side with him, but I think that maybe she'll actually
make some progress with him. I've tried my hardest to do what he wanted
me to do in the last few days, but it seems like no matter what happens we
just butt heads."
"Lance is still being a jerk?" Kelly asked and reached for a glass that
Brianna was about to knock over. "Brianna where's your book. Why
don't you get it and we'll read to Roselyn and Aunt Serena."
Brianna toddled over to a basket full of toys at the end of one of the
couches and pulled out the one she wanted before turning to the two women.
Serena moved a little in her seat and watched Brianna for a moment then
looked at Roselyn's closed eyes and prayed that she would grow up to be at
least somewhat like the little girl in front of them. "At this point
something needs to change and if his mother tells him what I think she'll
tell him I'm in for a new Lance to come home to."
"That big?" Kelly asked.
"I just want it to be over. I want us to get along and for him and
his mother to get along. We've been in limbo for so long now that I
just feel like if we don't step out of this little tornado we're in then we're
going to be here forever and I know everyone around us is going to get pulled
into it. I don't know what it's going to take, but the last two days
have been great for me. Lance fell asleep on the floor--I told you
"Yeah," she said, "Joe does that every once in a while. I found him
asleep on a raft in the pool one day and it scared the hell out of me. I
thought he was going to roll off the damn thing and drown himself."
"See," she said, "That's what I want. I want things like that to not
be a crisis, but just another funny story we can tell our friends."
"It will be," Kelly said, "Lance is just stubborn. He just needs to
learn how to rely on you. He's been kind of the man of the family for
so long for them. He started making more money than his parents about
six months into the group and he's kind of been the responsible one. He
just needs to relax enough with the idea that you guys are a team and that
you're going to be there for each other and that as cliche as it sounds, you're
not going to run away from him at this point."
"Is that how it works for you and Joey?" she asked.
"It's different for me and Joey. We've got history way back before
the group, before any of this. We made our own way and so do you and
he, but whatever way you make it, you need to make it together." She
smiled. "I knew you'd be a natural."
"A natural?" she asked.
"You hold her like you've been holding her all along."
"I've learned it all from Lance. That's what is so amazing about him.
He never left her when she needed him. He was there and maybe
I was--" She took a deep breath. "--Maybe that messed me up. Hell,
ok, it did mess me up, but at the same time I'm glad that he was the way
he was. I'm glad that he was there for her because I knew that I couldn't
Her hand reached out to catch the door as she came through it, but when she
looked back she saw a male arm and hand placed on the door to keep it from
hitting into her. "How are my girls?" a soft voice asked.
"Fine," she said and moved into the kitchen.
She'd been gone all day and knew that his mother had been there, but from
the look of the house it seemed as if Diane had never been there. She
noticed that a few of the tomatoes were gone from the carrier and that there
were two plates in the sink, but other than that the place looked cleaner
than when she'd left it.
"How was your day?" he asked.
"I went over to Kelly's house. I thought your mom--"
"She told me," he said and pulled the carrier from her hands to set it
on the counter. He removed the blanket that was hung over Roselyn's
head and smiled down at the sleeping baby. "How was your visit?"
"What's going on?" she asked, "Why are you yelling and mad at me?"
"Cuz I'm tired Serena--"
"You just slept for a day."
He turned towards her, but kept a hand on the carrier to make sure that
it didn't move. "I meant I'm tired of fighting with you, tired
of the way things are going, and tired of trying to pull this family apart
when clearly it's meant to be together."
"What?" she asked.
He looked her in the eyes and for the first time in weeks she could see
the pain that he was in. "I want us to be family. I want to get
past whatever bullshit that has kept us from doing it so far."
"Fine," she said, "You win. If that's what you want."
"This isn't a competition," he said, "This wasn't supposed to be you versus
me. It was supposed to be us against everyone else, hell not even
that. It's just supposed to be us."
"I don't know--"
"No," he said, "Don't say it. Please don't say it. Just say
that you'll try. Just say that you love me and you love our daughter
and that you'll try. I talked to my mom today and she told me too many
things for me to even comprehend. All I want to know right now is
that we love each other and we love Roselyn."
"Of course I love her and you and of course I'm going to try. I've
been trying for weeks."
At that moment Roselyn chose to cry out. They both turned to her
and found her turning red and crying. Their hands hit as they reached
for her and to Serena's surprise she found him backing away. "You
hold her and I'll get her bottle."
"Maybe you should."
"No," he said, "Team work ok?" He moved across the kitchen quickly.
"You rock and sing, I'll get the bottle and next time we switch."
"Next time?" she asked.
"Yes," he said and leaned and kissed her. "I expect that Mr and Mrs.
Bass should take turns."
He moved and put the bottom part of the bottle into the microwave for a
programmed heating session of twenty seconds. "That's going to be your
name isn't it?"
"What?" she asked, eyes wide trying to understand everything that was being
thrown at her.
The bottled stopped it's heating cycle and he put a nipple on the bottle.
"You're still going to marry me right?"
Her head swam with details and information and when his lips met hers yet
again she bolted awake. "Yes."
She moved away and kissed Roselyn's head as he moved the bottle into place.
With her holding and him feeding they moved across the room and took
"Yes what?" he asked.
"Good," he said. He moved to find a seat and hugged Roselyn and Serena
against him. He leaned his head back, still with his hand holding
the bottle. "Did you think this would be the prize?"
"The prize for what?" she asked.
"We've played the game well. I didn't think that this would be the
prize that we'd win."
"I love you too Lance Bass."
"I love you Serena almost Bass." He looked down at Roselyn who hiccuped.
"And I love you too Roselyn Bass."