Snap Shots Series: Portrait

THIRTEEN


He could feel his heartbeat pulsing in his temple as he watched her and waited for an answer. He reached up and rubbed his temple and looked at her trying not to look upset that she wasn’t answering quickly. Her lips moved, opened, closed, then twitched, first once then twice, but there wasn't a response that came from her, just a silence between them that was starting to become more and more annoying.

It wasn’t really that hard of a question. She could make the choice to have him be in their lives or not be in their lives. He figured that if he had been some kind of a bum it would hard to make the decision, but really he didn’t see many drawbacks from them being in each other’s lives. It was up to her. Sure he would be there for them even if she refused his help, but at least she would have the option to tell him how involved or not involved he needed to be in the whole thing.

"Well isn’t that the question of the hour," she said softly turning away from his gaze. He could hear the anger in her voice. The emotion there was thick and for an instant Lance thought that she might cry. Her eyes had watered when she'd spoken to him, but she didn't let on that there would be emotion shown. In one instant he was glad that Willa seemed to be fighting him all the way on this. For so long he'd thought that everything with Brennan and Amy would destroy some of her spirit, but he was glad to see that it hadn't. The only trouble now was that she was turning that spirit on him as she glared at him coldly then continued down the hall when JW started to whimper.

Lance followed closely behind her and watched her every move as she lay JW down on the changing table. He didn’t know what it was but he had the urge to reach out and make sure that she didn’t drop JW when she leaned over to put him down. When his hands reached out for JW he caught himself and put his hands at his sides. He knew that he wanted to help out, but he didn't need her to get angry with him over it.

"Don’t roll off the table pumpkin," she said with a soft voice as she leaned over and kissed his stomach. JW giggled up at his mother.

Lance loved the way that she was so openly loving of their son. It reminded him of a time when they'd been that way with each other. It was something that he desperately wanted back and hoped that would return.

Lance was caught off guard when Willa grabbed up his hand and put his hand on JW’s stomach. Not daring to go against Willa’s instructions to hold his hand there on JW he turned his head and watched her walk across the room. She pulled open the closet doors and stood there for a moment looking at the miniature clothes handing on the railing.

He didn’t know how that young of a kid could have that many clothes. He wanted to laugh. He imagined that Justin’s kids or JC’s kids would have that many outfits, but he never thought that his kids would be fashionable like that.

"What do you say Fred?" Willa said with a sing-songy voice, "How about the blue jumper Spanky got you?"

JW's reaction to the one sided conversation was just to make happy gurgling noises as she spoke. Lance didn't know if he really could understand at all what she was saying, but he seemed to like the sound of her voice. He wondered for a moment if JW would recognize his own voice soon.

While Lance felt important standing there doing his part, he almost felt as if he didn't need to be there. JW didn't move really, not that he would have with Lance's hand across his stomach. He just lay there and smacked his little gums together happily and Willa seemed to know how to do everything that needed to be done to take care of their son. It was a strange feeling to have, but he finally realized that maybe she really didn't need him around. She'd done fine for the nine months she'd been pregnant and it seemed as if he only seemed to stress her out. He didn't want that at all. He wanted things to be back the way that they were.

Silence filled the space between them. It was one of those moments where Lance thought he literally would have been able hear a pin drop. Willa moved around the room comfortably and then returned to the changing table.

"Huh Fred?" she said looking down at JW. "What do you think about this one?"

Finally when he'd had enough of the silent treatment, when he saw that she wasn’t going to talk to him, he cleared his throat and asked, "What’d you call him?"

"I called him Fred," she spoke softly. Her back was slightly turned and she seemed to be acting perfectly normal about all of this as she pulled the outfit off the hanger and went to put the hanger back, "Someone I once was in love with used to call me that." She glanced over her shoulder and he thought that he saw her roll her eyes, "Too bad he doesn’t call me that anymore."

"Willa." Her name came out in a tired sigh. Lance let his gaze drop to the floor. He was tired of this. He didn’t need this kind of stress from her. She needed to just let it go.

"See," she said and came back over to the changing table, "JW loves the blue ones. He always hates anything else I put him in." She set to work, removing Lance’s hand from JW before she bumped him with her hip, moving him out of the way. She began to unsnap the buttons down the front of the outfit he had on and was soon pulling JW out of the clothes.

Lying there in just a diaper JW began to cry a little. His

"I know Fred, I know," she said softly. She kissed the tip of her finger put her finger out and tapped his nose lightly with it. It distracted him a moment and he settled down. "We'll be done soon."

"Willa?" He started to say. Willa shoved a toy into Lance’s hand.

"Entertain him for a minute. He may not be forty thousand screaming girls, but that squeaker thing seems to keep him entertained."

Lance moved the toy and began to squeak the thing while Willa quickly changed JW's diaper. It had been a long while since Lance had been around a baby. The last time he remembered diaper changes was way back when he'd go to Tennessee with Justin to visit Justin's little brothers.

"That's really gross," Lance said turning his nose up as she pulled the diaper away and cleaned JW up.

"It's nothing," Willa commented and reached to tickle JW's stomach when she was done putting him into a new diaper. "Right Fred?"

"Can you stop saying that?" Lance asked with an annoyed tone. He picked up the box of baby wipes and began to read the label, or at least he looked at the words, but none of the information seeped into his brain.

Willa began to slide JW into the new outfit. Lance never realized how tough it would be to dress someone until she saw her struggle to put JW in his outfit. Somehow his arms and legs just didn’t want to go the way that Willa wanted them to go.

"Stop what?"

"Stop calling him Fred," he said firmly.

"Why?" she asked as she quickly snapped JW into the new outfit and picked him up. The baby clung to her and immediately began to stick his fist in his mouth. "It's just a pet name for him I have."

"Willa," Lance sighed. On the one hand it hurt him that she would use that nickname in front of him like that, but on the other hand he liked the idea of JW having that nickname. It meant that she loved their son and he thought that she loved him too. Why else would she chose THAT name for him? "Are you trying to rub it in forever?"

She stared at him with a cold expression. "Rub what in?" she asked.

Lance glared at her finding it hard not to just grab her and shake some sense into her. She was acting as stubborn as she’d been when they first met. This attitude was just to punish him for the months he’d been away. He knew that much but he felt that she shouldn’t blame him now for things he couldn’t go back and change. "Stop being so damned innocent and just come out with it."

"Come out with what?" she said, "Really Lance, you should get some more sleep. You don't sound very coherent today."

"Willa just spit it out. Are you going to be mad at me forever?" he asked.

She blinked at him a few times. "Mad about what?"

"Will you please stop answering my questions with questions!" Lance slammed his hand down on the changing table, knocking over the box of diapers and the baby wipes with his motion.

JW began to whimper and was soon crying desperately.

"Great Lance," she said with an annoyed tone, "Scare him a little more why don't you?"

"I didn’t mean to scare him."

"Well you did," she said.

"What the hell Willa? Do you really think I want to make him cry?" He asked.

"I don’t know what to believe with you anymore," she said.

Finally having enough of the strange behavior Willa was throwing his way, Lance dropped his hands heavily to his sides and left the room. "I can't stand you when you're like this!"

"When I'm like what Lance?" she asked.

He turned around and stared at her. "I'm trying Willa. I'm trying my hardest to be around for you. Don't push me away."

"I'm not pushing you away," she said with a sigh, "I was the one who invited you down here in the first place."

Lance sighed again as they made their way down to the living room again. Willa slid easily into a seat on the couch and held JW against her. She grabbed for the remote and turned on the television and began to hum along with the commercial as she rocked JW.

"Can we talk after he goes to sleep?" Lance asked coming around to sit on the far end of the couch.

"I don't know what you want to talk about," she said.

"We need to make a decision about us. And now before this blows up into something more than it is."

"Well what is this?" she asked.

"I don't know Willa," he said. "I just don't want this tension between us."

"Tension?" she asked.

"Let's not start down that road again, ok?" he said. "I just want us to be like we were. I want to spend time with you again and have fun with you and enjoy being with my son with you."


"Well you have a funny way of showing that," she said angrily clutching JW to her as she glared at Lance. JW had almost had his eyes closed, but came awake with a start when she opened her mouth.

"Can I hold him?" He asked, "He fell asleep with me yesterday."

Willa didn’t look to confident about her decision to give him JW, but she did it anyway and fussed over him for a long time before she sat back and watched Lance.

"So you want to be in his life?" She asked with a mean tone to her voice as she ran her hands through her hair. "I just hope that you don’t run out on him the way you did when you found out about him."

Lance glared at her over the top of where JW was laying against his shoulder. "Willa. I’m sorry. Am I going to have to apologize for that forever?" He asked.

"Maybe," she said. Her eyes met his and he could see the tears in them. "I can’t trust you Lance. I don’t want to be mad at you, but I can’t trust that you’re going to be there for me or for him."

"I’m not some deadbeat dad," Lance argued as she looked back at the television. He grabbed up the remote and turned off the TV. "I’m going to be there for him."

"What if I don’t want you to be there for him?" She asked, "It’s easier sometimes if you have a dad that just isn’t there instead of someone who is there only part of the time."

Lance ran his hand over his face and sighed. "I’m not going to disappear on you," he said, "You have to know that. Do you think that I would have been gone if I’d known that JW was mine? I mean do you really think I’m that big of an ass?"

Willa looked at him again. "I can’t do this," she said, "I can’t go through that again. I was in love with you..." She paused and put a hand out to him. "I am in love with you, but I know that I can’t go through that again. You broke my heart and that can’t happen again."

"I’m not going to let that happen," he said, "What do I have to do to prove that to you?"

"I can’t just take things back," she said, "I--"

"I didn’t think that you would," he said, "I just want a chance. Give me until New Years to prove myself to you that I’m going to be here. I know it’s only a few weeks, but I need that chance."

Willa stared at him.

"If things don’t work out between now and then I’ll leave you alone."

"Really?" She asked.

"I’ll put money away into an account for JW and I’ll pay child support and all that, but if you really want me to be gone then I will be."

She wondered for a moment if this was just his way to keep this out of the press or not. She knew if she put up a fuss about it he would get bad press and the whole roller coaster ride that she’d gone through with Brennan and Amy would resurface.


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