Always One More -- 5

Chris heard the door open and turned to see Dani standing in the doorway to the television room.  He opened his mouth to say something to her, but when a clear thought didn't come to him, he turned back around.  Her expression told him too much about her mood.  She was upset at him.  Disappointed really and that was worse than upset or angry.  It might have been his fault that she'd gotten upset today.  Running into the house like he did probably wasn't the most sane way to enter the house.  He could deal with that much, but what he couldn't deal with was the look on her face.  It was the same look she'd given him when she'd left him the first time.  He sighed and leaned so that he wouldn't have to look at anyone, holding his head up with his hands.

"You ok?" Meredith asked as she rocked the baby against her shoulder.  He wasn't sure if she had asked him or asked Dani.  He looked up pretending that she'd asked Dani.  He watched Tegan in her arms and felt his chest start to hurt.  It was days like today that made him even more depressed about the fact that he didn't have a family yet.  He needed to settle down, but he had a feeling that wouldn't be happening any time soon.

Dani shifted her weight.  He could hear the floor creak since the room was so quiet.  "I'm going to go back to the house," she said casually.  He could hear the emotion in her voice so he looked out towards the backyard, watching her reflection in the window.  She was wringing her hands together and looking around nervously as if she was stepping into a room where she didn't belong.

"You don't have to go," Meredith said very quickly.  She moved the baby to her other arm and started to get up.

"Don't get up," Dani sighed.  "I should.  You've got your hands full with the baby and I've been over here all day now."

Meredith looked at the baby then at her over Chris's shoulder.  She smiled a calm smile.  "Well come by next week--"

"Sure," she said, "I won't disappear--"  She paused.  "I'll baby-sit for you next week if you want to get away for an hour or something."

"Thanks," Meredith said, "Be careful out there.  It looks slippery."

"Yeah," she said, "Thanks."

Meredith smiled.  "No troubles."

Chris waited to see if she'd say something to him.  The hairs on the back of his neck stood on end and every nerve ending in his body was trained to hear and feel anything that came from her direction.  He prayed that she would.  He prayed that she wouldn't be that pissed off at him that it would keep her from being civil to him.  Soon he heard her voice, sounding completely scared.  "Chris?"

"Yeah?" he asked.  He hesitated when she spoke to him and only turned half way around.  He didn't want to see the disappointed look on her face, but he didn't want to keep his back turned to her.

Her hesitation was noticeable.  She waited until the last moment until it would seem too uncomfortable then finally spoke.  "I'll see you back at the house."

"Ok."  He took a deep breath and looked at her straight on for a quick moment.  He tried to sound warm with his voice, but it didn't work that well.  He hated being so uncomfortable around her.  It wasn't natural.  "Drive careful."

She took a long time to answer, but she finally did.  "I will."

He listened to her leave the house before he spoke to Meredith again.  "I'm gonna leave you guys alone too," he said and started to push himself up from the chair.

"Chris don't go just yet," Meredith said then got up and put the baby in his arms.  He took it all in stride and was glad he had experience with this.  He'd seen Justin with the baby and knew that his natural way with her was because of his little brothers and was glad that he had an either year old little sister's worth of experience to help him out or he would have definitely dropped the girl when she was handed over to him.  "I need to get a picture of Tegan with her Uncle.  I have a picture of her and Lance and one of JC and her, but I need one of you two."

"Ok," he said and curled Tegan against him.

The scent of the baby powder was calming.  He took a deep breath and sighed.  This is what life was all about.  A warm little body and baby freshness and the idea that there was someone in the world that was so in need of him and didn't care if he would probably drool just as much as the baby did.  "I guess."  He smiled down at Tegan and made a face and even though he knew babies probably couldn't smile at this age, he thought that she smiled at him.

"Turn her around and rest her up against you so I can have both your faces."  She reached into a drawer and brought out the digital camera and laughed when Chris looked at her funny.  "When you have kids you'll learn to keep cameras close at hand."

He nodded and forced a smile on his face.  He wanted to cry out in pain after having to sit there with the baby.  This hurt to be with her, but at the same time he never wanted to let her go back to her mother.  It was decided then and there that he knew what he needed to do.  He needed to get married and needed to get himself a family.

The picture was snapped and he moved to hand Tegan over to her again.  "I should head out.  I know you said I could stay and I'm sure I'll come to visit again, but I should head the house and try to patch things up with Dani.  I screwed up big time today and I'm sure it's gonna take the rest of the night to get back in her good graces."

"Chris?"

"Hmm?"

"Why do you guys go back and forth like this?" she asked.  "I mean I love you both, but some how it seems like you always end up causing each other more pain that joy these days.  I know I should be encouraging you to work things out and everything, but maybe there is a certain point where you two need to really face the fact that you're different and just because you love each other doesn't always mean that you should end up together."

Chris held his breath for a moment before he sighed it out.  "I've been thinking about that lately."  He put his hands together on the top of the table.  "I love her Mere and at the moment I can't see myself being in love--hell just BEING--with anyone else."

"I just hate to see you all being so insane these days."

Chris wiped at his eyes then looked at Meredith.  "Why is that word always used around me?"

"Honey, I didn't mean it as a bad thing."

"I know you didn't," he said, "But that doesn't stop the fact that you associate that description, that feeling, that freaking mood with me."

"But you are crazy," she said with a blank expression then smiled.  "You're wild and crazy and the most loveable guy I know besides Justin of course."

"Sometimes I think that being wild and crazy and loveable isn't who I want to be  I want to be the guy that Dani falls in love with and loves no matter what I do."

"Chris, seriously, you shouldn't feel bad about who you are.  You should be yourself and if Dani can't take all the parts of your personality then maybe you need to find someone that does."

He nodded.  "I don't think there is a person out there who can take all of me.  Dani has loved me more than anyone in the whole world and if she can't take all the parts of me then I'm sure that no one else out there can."

"Well no matter what happens, I love you and Justin loves you and the rest of the guys love you." she said then held up Tegan a bit.  "And Tegan loves her too.  Ok?"

"I know," he said, "And again.  I'm sorry about the rugs.  IF you want me to pay for the cleaning then I'll pay for it."

"No worries," she said, "Just baby sit a few times and we'll be even."

"Maybe Dani and I can come over next week and sit for the kid," he said and reached to touch Tegan's head.  "I'll show myself out."

Chris let himself out of the house and found Justin standing with a beer in his hand staring off into space.

"Hey man," Chris said with an easy tone.  "I'm gonna hang out."

"You don't have to go," Justin said.

"I know," he said, "But I should.  You guys have enough on your hands."

"Well drive careful," Justin said pointing out at the rain, "It's not looking like it's gonna clear up anytime soon."

"Thanks," Chris said, "I will."

He started to move away from Justin out towards the car.  "Chris?"

"Yeah?"

"I didn't mean anything before when we were talking--"

"It's cool Justin," he said, "I know.  I'm sorry about acting so strange today."

"We cool?" he asked.

"Yeah," Chris said.

They nodded to each other and Chris headed towards the car feeling a little better about things.  He wanted everything to work out for everyone and it seemed as if things were on their way there.

Entering the house scared him.  The door was unlocked so as he came in the door he slid the keys in his pocket and reached to take off his shoes.  There was mud still on him so he tried to keep it off the floor as he came into the house.  His first thought was to disappear upstairs for the rest of the evening, after he realized she was in the living room with the television on.  Or at least the television was on so he assumed that she was there.

"Chris?" he heard Dani yell to him.

He walked towards the sound of her voice not sure how he should react to her calling out to him.  What did it mean?  Was he forgiven and they were going back to normal or would this conversation now be continued and escalated back into the fight that it had been at Mere and Justin's?  He couldn't tell by her voice if she was upset with him still or not. "Ummm,"  He stood there for a moment twirling his keys in one hand and his shoes in another.  He watched her move around the kitchen with a completely normal air about her.  "Yeah?"

She turned to stir pasta sauce.  "Do you want some pasta for dinner?"

"I'm--"  His feet carried him passed her and out to the garage door where he set his shoes down on the side of the steps before he moved back over to the counter where he leaned against it, setting his keys down loudly as he sighed.  "Not to ruin the little mood you've got going on here, but are we ok or not?"

"I thought we could have dinner and talk," she said not turning towards him leaving him looking at the side of her face as she stirred the pot.

"Let's talk now," he said.  "I'm sorry I came running in there like crazy."  He stood up straighter  I was scared to death that something had happened to you when Justin said you weren't over there.  If you can't accept that I really was worried about you and that's why I was acting so out of sorts, then I think our conversation is over."

"I can accept that," she said softly then put the spoon in her hand down on the counter.

Chris was just about to continue the conversation since her tone seemed so calm, but he didn't get a chance.  The phone rang and he reached to pick it up.

His eyes stayed on Dani while he spoke into the phone.  "Hello?"

"Hi honey."

"Mom?"

"Yes," she said then laughed a deep laugh, "Surprised to hear from me?"

"Yeah," he said, "I mean, no not really, but I didn't think you'd be calling me.  I thought you were taking Taylor to see that play in the city."

"We saw it," his mother said, "I just wanted to call and thank you for the great seats."

"You're welcome," he said.

"Honey, are you ok?" she asked, "You sound distracted."

"Dani and I were about to have dinner," he explained.

"No," Dani said interrupting him.  "Hey Bev," she said loud enough for his mother to hear her.  "Go ahead and talk to your mom.  It's all done.  I'll leave it for you.  I'm going to take a shower real quick."

"You sure?"

"Yeah," she said.

He watched her disappear up the stairs then sighed.

"Honey are you ok?" Bev asked.

"I'm fine Mom," he sighed, "Well not fine, but good.  Dani and I kind of got in a fight today so it's pretty tense around here."  He went over and sat down on the couch.  "It ended with me over at Justin and Mere's and there was mud and it just was--it was just a mess."  His voice caught in his throat and he breathed deeply so that he wouldn't cry.  "It's just all messed up right now mom.  Nothing seems to be working out for me lately."

"Take a deep breath baby," she said, "It can't be that bad..."

"I talked to Mere today and she came to the conclusion that sometimes love just isn't enough," he said, "I know it sounds corny, but just because Dani and I love each other doesn't mean that we should be together and I'm starting to believe that."

"Oh honey," she said, "Do you want me to come down there and help out?"

"No," he said, "I mean I'd love to have you here, but it's just not the right time."

"Ok," she said, "Do you want me to let you go?"

"I probably should go," he said, "I'll call you later."


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