Forty Two:

When her eyes fell to stare at his feet he moved around the couch to sit next to her, but found that his closeness was only a discomfort to her.  He wanted to reach out and have him save her, have him old her and tell her things would get better, but there was no way that was going to happen.  They were stuck in this yo-yo game that pulled them apart and forced them apart.  They couldn't be normal or safe or even sane.  It would be too strange to be normal.

She pushed up and started to pace before she moved to lean against the kitchen counter.  He had turned towards the television, but he could see her reflection in the screen.  Her face was turned towards him and she stared at the back of his head for a long time before her head dipped and he saw her lean even more.  Part of him said to leave her alone and deal with whatever had just been thrown at her, but another protective part of him made him turn his head to look at her.

It was just at this point when her knees seemed to buckle and she fell into a pile next to the breakfast bar.  He heard the thump and was over the back of the couch before the sound left the room.  He didn't know that his reflexes were so quick, but he found himself, almost a blink of the eyes next to her on the floor pulling her into his lap to hold her there.  "Serena?  Serena open your eyes and look at me honey."

Her eyelids flew back and her mouth moved like a fish's when it was struggling to breathe.  Her arms started to move to push him away.  He'd been through this a few months before, when he'd fainted in front of her, but it had been fake.  He'd done it to get her back.  He hadn't understood how scary it had all been until he was looking down at her praying that she didn't die on the linoleum.

His arms seemed to reach to greater length grabbing up the phone to dial 911.  He spoke to the person on the other end of the phone and ten minutes later they were on their way to the emergency room.  The paramedics had taken over and he was riding along only holding onto her free hand as they worked on her.

The hospital was a maze of hallways and as they pushed her into the ER to get checked over Lance pulled his phone out and dialed.  "I need--"  He took a deep breath.  He didn't even know who he'd dialed.  He hadn't been paying attention.  "I need someone to come to Orlando General."

Twenty minutes later Justin showed up in the doorway with Joey in his wake.  The three men took seats in the waiting room and spent the next few hours waiting for word.  The nurses had told him that she'd got into premature labor and they were trying to control it and that they didn't want him in the room while they were working because it was such a delicate situation, but assured him that he would know news about her soon.

It took all his strength not to dial the phone and cry to his mother.   It was horrible to have the two women in his life so out of sorts.  Serena was fighting for her life and he was fighting for the strength not to fall apart and cry to his mother.   He needed her at that moment, but he figured out that Serena must have been on the phone with her before her attack of whatever and he couldn't speak to the woman if she was the reason for all the drama that was happening a few doors away from where he was waiting.

"You ok?" Justin asked.

The voice was soft and caring and Lance wished that he could tell him good news, but he couldn't.  He just stared at him unable to even form the words in his mind to tell him what was going on.  "I'm fine," he lied.  He took a deep breath.  "We should call someone or something and tell them that we're here.  I'm sure the press is going to get wind of this and--"

"Sit down," Joey said, "We'll call Johnny and tell him.  You look like you could use some rest."

"This is all my fault."  He started to pace.  "I was the one who talked her into this.  She was going to go off and--"  He held his hands above his head when he felt his throat close up.  "She should have turned and run away when I told her what I was thinking.  She should have.  I should have pissed her off or kicked her or something...anything to keep her away.  I was the one--"

Justin somehow took the lead and he and Joey forcefully made Lance take a seat.  They hooked him under the shoulders and basically dragged him across to plop down into a chair.  "Calm the hell down."

Joey took a deep breath and put an arm over his chest when he tried to get up.  "Let Justin go make the calls and see if the doctors have any more news."

Lance instantly covered his face.  He was ashamed of what he'd done.  He'd been trying to keep things in check, in control and he'd done a good job of it, but somehow they'd gotten passed him with this insane problem that now had four lives in the balance instead of just one or two.  "I did this to her.  I made her do this.  I made her get involved with me and with my parents and I'm sure my mother didn't help the situation.  She should have been with Billy."

"Shut up," Joey said, "She's in love with you.  No one made you or her do anything.  She would have walked out long ago if she didn't love you.  She always has been and you never even noticed.  Even way back when before you and she got together--"

"You don't understand Joey.  I tricked her into this.  I told her--I begged her--freaking trapped her--to be with me and it was the one selfish thing in the world that might now kill her."

"You're about to be a dad," Joey said, "You need to think about that and about being a dad to two little kids.  You have twice the joy that other people have."

"Well that might not happen either.  James, the little boy is sick.  He's got DownSyndrome--"

"What?"  Joey's face paled.

"He's sick and he might be totally--totally not a son that I--"

"Shut up Lance," Joey said, "That little boy is your son no matter how many fingers or toes he has.  You shouldn't even think about that."


Her eyes opened and she found herself staring up at a blank ceiling.  She felt like someone had punched her in the gut and felt things poking her all over as if she'd been in a car accident and she was still sitting in the mangled car with the parking brake sticking in her kidneys and the million pound car sitting on the top of her chest.


She blinked her eyes and started to cough.  She found something was keeping her mouth and throat open which just made her panic even more.  She moved her hands to pull whatever it was off of her, but she found that she couldn't move.

"Serena baby don't move ok?"  The voice was there again, but she couldn't see who was talking.  "I'm gonna go get a doctor.  Just stay still sweetie and it won't hurt ok?"

She reached out to grab the person so that she could move them over to where she could see them, but they left the room before she could get a hold on them.  Her stomach hurt and her mind couldn't grasp the idea that she was in the hospital.  She felt groggy and she wanted to cough again, but she basically was holding her breath until someone came back to take whatever was in her mouth out.

Finally a friendly unfamiliar face moved above her and a few moments later she was breathing a little easier.  They moved her so that she could sit up and she was handed water.  It was then that she realized that things weren't as they were that morning when she'd woken up.  Lance was there and with her, but the hollow look in her eyes made him look older and depressed.  "What happened?"


"Miss Radcliffe," the doctor interupted.  "You collapsed this morning and your fiance called 911.  You were having a hemorage in your abdomen and we had to do surgery."

"Lance?" she asked looking at him.  He looked down at his shoes and she saw him start to cry.

"Please tell me nothing happened to the kids," she said, "I know they're early, but please--?"

"James, the smaller one is in critical care and your baby girl Roselyn is with him.  She's a little stronger, but I think both of them have a fight ahead of them."


He stood up from the seat he'd taken, glanced at her for only a moment then left the room.  "Excuse me."

The doctor seemed to be as dazed as she was to his reaction to the situation.  They both watched him leave and the doctor came to her side.  "I want you to rest and when you get a little bit stronger we'll take you over to see the babies."

"Is anyone else here?" she asked.

"There were a few men with your fiance and they've told me about the press possibly getting news of this.  I want to assure you that your children will be fine in NICU and that we'll make sure that your fiance and you aren't bothered by the press."

"Thank you," she said and leaned back.  "If you see him in the hallway can you ask him to come back in here."

"I think he needed some air.  He's been through a lot this morning."

"Tell him to come and sit in here even if I'm asleep."

The doctor looked nervous about the whole situation, but nodded to her wishes and left her alone in the room for only a few moments before another one came rushing in to start some tests on her.

The room was dim, the only light coming from the pen light that the doctor was using to examine her with.  When the lights had been on she'd had no urge to look around the room, scared to find out that she might be hooked up to more machines than she thought she needed.  Now that the lights were out and there wasn't much to look at she was finding it hard to keep her concentration.

She could hear voices in the hallway and tried to turn her head, but  the doctor got on her case about moving from where he was trying to look into her eyes.  She held back the urge to cry and tried to pay attention to the people who were examining her.

"How's she doing?"  She recognized Joey's voice in the hallway.

Her eyes moved to look towards the door again when she heard a sobbing  noise and then she heard Lance reply.  "She's awake.  I haven't--They haven't told her everything yet.  I just don't--"

"Take a deep breath Lance," Justin's voice said.  She couldn't see where they were now, but she imagined the three of them in a little huddle outside the door waiting to be let in.  It was amazing how impatient those guys could be when they wanted something to happen and it wasn't happening when they wanted it to.

"Miss Radcliff?"

Her eyes snapped forward.  "Sorry."

"I need you to count forwards and backwards up to ten and back down to one."


The sound of someone else coming in the room startled her.  She was trying to remember which number came next, but she didn't get to six before the doctor in front of her disappeared into the hallway.

"Where are they going?" Joey asked, "Lance.  What did that guy say?  Where did they say they were heading."

"Nick something," Justin sounded confused.

"NICU--N-I-C-U," Lance said.

Sounds of footsteps filled the hallway and Serena lay her head back on  her pillow as she heard people rushing around.  She didn't know what was going on, but she was too tired now to find out.  It was funny how things could tire a person out so quickly.  She hadn't moved, had barely breathed in the last half hour, but she felt like she'd been running a marathon.

The hallway became eerily quiet and she sat back up again.  She tried to move from the bed, but found herself in too much pain to do so.  Trying to stay calm she lay back again and stared out the window.  She couldn't see much of where she was or what was going on below her window, but she stared out at the sky until she heard footsteps in the hallway.

It seemed like hours before she heard someone in the hallway.  A door slammed shut and she heard footsteps for a moment, then the rubber sole of a running shoe caught on the tiles and made a screeching sound that made her jump.

Moments later Lance appeared in the doorway.  With the light the way that it was she couldn't see much of his face, but the slant of his shoulders and the way he scuffed his feet against the floor told her that there wasn't good news coming her way.

"Lance?" she said finally turning her whole upper body to face him.  "Lance, what's wrong?"


Justin and Joey appeared in the doorway and stood watching the two of them in silence.

"Catch him," Justin said as he moved forwards towards Lance.

Serena's eyes flew back to Lance and found that he was starting fall over. Joey and Justin each grabbed a shoulder, forcing him to keep his feet  even though his knees were wobbling.  His head dipped and his hands moved to  push them away, but he didn't seem to have the strength to push them away from him.

"I can't--"  He gasped for air and looked at Justin.  "Tell her."  He glared at him then turned to Joey.  "Tell her."

Serena was completely confused by the situation and watched the three men standing there watching her.

"Serena," Justin started to speak.

Joey pushed all of Lance's weight on Justin and moved to find a seat next to Serena on the bed.  "Serena, little James didn't make it."


Her eyes opened when she heard voices in her room.  It was discharge day for Serena while Roselyn would be staying in the NICU for another week.  The two girls had fought their battles and it seemed strangely ironic that her daughter was stronger in her battles than she was.  Serena had been the one to set up her life and watch it play out, but now it was the little girl down the hall that would control how their lives went.

"I don't know if she'll want to see her," Lance whispered harshly.  "She hasn't said a word about it.  Do you think that's strange that she wouldn't want to see Roselyn?  Everyone else in the whole world wants to see her.  Did you see people this morning.  It's only been three days and there is already a spread on it in the magazine.  Maybe it's the press.  You don't think that she got a copy of that somehow.  I don't know if it's because of what happened to--"  He paused for a moment and his voice came out thicker when he spoke again.  "She's still messed up over James and I don't know if seeing Roselyn is going to hurt that or help that."

"She has to see her," a female voice said, "You have to make her look at that little girl and realise that there are other people here waiting on her."

"Kelly.  I can't force her to do anything.  You know that.  I can't be the one to make her--"  He coughed and Serena moved her eyes to look at where her two visitor's were standing in the doorway.  Lance had his hand on his forehead, eyes bent to look down at the ground and Kelly had her arm around him.  "--I just want them both home and out of here.  If she's not ready to see Roselyn then I'll let her rest until we bring Roselyn home.  There really isn't much anyone can do anyway since Roselyn has restricted visitation anyway."

"If you want Lance I'll stay here with Roselyn while you take her home.  I know it's always nice to have someone familiar around when babies are tiny."

"You should go home and be with Joey.  I don't want to take you away from your vacation with him."

"Really Lance, personally I'd feel better if someone was here with her.  I mean if anything were to happen I'd be able to get a hold of you right away and--"

Lance sighed and turned towards her so she shut her eyes a drew in a deep breath.  Her face was relaxed so they probably thought she was still asleep.  She moved her head back to face the window and tried not to let her tears fall.  She felt horrible, not only mentally, but physically.  She'd been having stomach cramps since the birth of the twins and since she'd found out James's fate she'd felt like her head and her heart were going to explode.

"You should wake her up and take her home.  Spend a few hours away from here and I'll keep an eye out for the baby."

"Are you sure?"

"Yes," Kelly said, "I'll let you talk to her and whatever.  I'll go sit with Roselyn."

"Thanks Kel," Lance said.

"What about your parents?  Do they know what--"

Lance coughed again.  "They aren't--"  He coughed again.

Kelly sounded panicked, but Serena didn't turn to look at them.  "What's wrong?"

"I can't--"

Serena moved her head to look now and found that Lance was standing there with his arms over his head.  His eyes were wide and he looked like he was about to hyperventilate.  "I can't breathe--"  He looked around.

"Lance calm down," Kelly said, "Just look at me and calm down.  Take some deep breaths and concentrate."

Kelly felt like throwing up.  It was the worst feeling in the world to be watching the aftermath of decisions that she's made.  She'd wanted the simple things in life, family, a nice place to live, nothing too extreme, but it seemed even that the simpliest things were making her life more complicated than she could have ever imagined.


When he'd parked the car in front of the house he'd almost forgotten that she'd been sitting next to him.  They'd been escorted by security to the car and things had seemed ok until the guards let them be.  She'd gotten in the car, buckled her seatbelt and he hadn't heard a bit out sound from her since.  He'd asked her if she needed more air conditioning, asked her if she wanted to listen to a different song on the radio, but all he'd gotten back was her moving her shoulder a little more so that she was almost fully turned towards the window.

"Babe," he said, "We're home."

He watched her reach for the door and she stepped out of the car without waiting for another word from him.  He watched her walk in front of the car and head into the house from the garage door.  He finally let himself out of the car and moved into the house, hoping that he was going to have enough patience to deal with all of this without losing his mind.  A sigh escaped his lips and he decided he might as well go into the house.  It wasn't going to get any better if he stayed in the car longer so he willed his hands to move the door knob and moments later he was in the kitchen.

"Are you hungry?" he asked nervousely, "I'm not sure what they've been feeding you over there, but I think there is some left overs from the other night that we can heat--"

She glared at him for only a moment before he looked up to see that more than a few people were standing in their living room.  They had welcome home and baby things with them and he could see immediately that this wasn't the welcome home that the group should be giving at the moment.  They all had their thoughts in the right place, but reality had come in to reschedule the things that they should have been doing at the moment.

"I think I'm gonna throw up," Serena said looking back at the living room.  She turned and disappeared up the stairs and Lance found a seat at the breakfast bar and sunk into it.


Lance looked up to see his mother staring down at him.

"What are you doing here?"  Anger surged through his veins and he pushed himself up from the chair, knocking the chair back so that it slammed to the floor.  "What are you doing here?"

Her voice softened and she cocked her head to the side like she used to do when he'd been sick as a child, as if looking at him from that angle would help her see what was really upsetting him.  "We thought that you all could use a little--"

"Get the fuck out of my house."  He wasn't sure that he should be talking to his mother that way, but the anger in him blocked out all the thoughts in his mind that didn't involve keeping Serena safe.  He could only think of the image of her back disappearing up the stairs.  "I can't you even thought for a minute that this was something that we should be doing?"  His eyes searched her face for only a second before glancing up at the other people in the room.  He caught the shocked looks on their faces, but ignored them.  "What were you thinking?"  He looked up at the other people again.  "WHAT THE HELL ARE ANYT OF YOU THINKING?"

His mother's jaw dropped open.  "I--"

"GET THE FUCK OUT OF MY HOUSE!" He screamed not caring that the rest of the guests were staring at him.  When she didn't move he grabbed her by the shoulders and physically moved her towards the door.  "Here's the door in case you forgot where it is!"

"Lance!"  Justin appeared and pushed him away from his mother.  "What the hell are you doing?"

"Get out!"  He screamed.  "Get out now!"

They finally seemed up understand that he wanted everyone out of the house.  When they were gone he locked the door then took a deep breath and looked around for a minute.  He kicked his foot into the floor and swore under his breath before he walked back towards the living room.  There were presents that he started to pile up then he removed the streamers and pulled the ballons down so that he could pop them.  He could have just broken them, but instead he tried to step on them.

The popping noises and the action of stomping on them seemed to pacify his need to destroy something for the moment, but it wasn't until he heard her voice that he noticed the destruction he'd done.


"Yes?"  He turned around and took a breath, moving his hands through his hair a few times.  He tried to calm his heart rate and moved his shirt around a little.  "Did you need something?"

Her eyes glanced around the room.  "Are they gone?"

"Yeah-"  He took a deep breath and watched her eyes scan the downstairs for a moment.  She looked like a scared little kid playing hide and seek and worrying that she would be caught first.  "I didn't know that--"


Before he could say anything more to her she turned her back and ran up the stairs to the second floor.  He could hear her feet make it to their master bedroom and then he heard the door shut.

Lance let his arms and his legs go loose as he landed in a puddle on the floor.  His hands went to his head and he moved so tha his back could rest against the wall.  His eyes burned and his lungs hurt as he tried to catch his breath.  He knew that everyone had wanted to do the normal baby things for them and there was probably nothing wrong with them trying so hard like they had, but with everything going on it wasn't the time or the place to be throwing parties.

Forty Four:

The car seemed to drive itself to the hosptial on his return visit.  He remembered leaving the housing area, remembered merging into Interstate 4 traffic, but after that he didn't remember much else of his drive until he got onto city streets and had to look for the parking entrance.  He'd been gone only about three hours, long enough to call up Chris and have him come over and stay with Serena so that he could relieve Kelly's position for her. He was glad that she'd stayed there with Roselyn, but at the same time he was feeling a bit guilty that his drama was starting to effect the rest of the group.

Chris had come over to stay with Serena voluntarily.  He'd worried about the two of them and probably had heard everything that had happened that afternoon.  Lance sighed.  His relationship with Justin would probably be on the rocks a bit after the incident with his mother.  Justin was very protective that way and would probably take his mother's side before taking Lance's side in the argument.  He didn't know the background of situation and surely wouldn't be able to understand that Lance half knew what he was doing and having a party at this time wasn't the right thing to do.  He'd warned his mother to be careful of things like that and she'd ignored him and gone through with things, seeming not to care that Lance was in fact an adult and actually might know things that would be good and not so good for his family.

He had been there off and on for the last three days, but today, knowing that he would only be going to see Roselyn and wouldn't be able to take her home really had hit him hard.  He'd wanted them both home, first for the fact that he would be able to keep an eye on both of them at the same time, but also because he had to drive through media when he left and when he came in which was too much publicity for one day for him.

He'd left the drama of Serena's situation at home and somehow thought that the NICU unit at Orlando General might be a less chaotic enviornment to be in.  He'd been extremely wrong.  It had started off when he'd turned into the parking lot.  Vans from Entertainment Tonight and Access Hollywood as well as MTV were lined up near the ER entrance and the local news vans had also joined the crowd.

Taking a hint from someone in front of him he drove passed the entrance that he'd used before and ducked last minute into the parking garage.  He could see the staff parking sticker on the back window of the car in front of him, but he didn't care.  He was going to park there even if he had to give the man ten thousand dollars to secure a spot.  The attendant at the security booth seemed to look at him extra hard, but he tried quickly to explain. "The press over there is looking for me and I'd rather not have to deal with them right now."

The guard nodded and wrote him out a temporary pass then handed it to him and pointed the way to visitor parking spots where Lance's car would be out of the way.  He parked the car, but didn't get out right away.  His body filled with the strangest sensation of fear and dread.  He knew that he wanted to see the little girl, but at the same time she only seemed to remind him of the fact that James had died and the fact that she wasn't the normal littl baby that everyone else he knew seemed to have.  He'd pictured his all much differently.  No hospital stay, no doctors all over the place, and especially no separation of the people in his life.

Finally he decided that he was ready to face the NICU nurse and the rest of the people in the hospital.  He pushed the door open to the car, collected himself a little then locked and turned the alarm on carefully before looking around for a door that would lead inside.  His steps were slow and deliberate and as he walked he felt has if someone was pushing him down into the ground.

Lance's heart rate tripled when he stepped off the elevator on the third floor of the building.  He'd been there a million times before, but this time for some reason he felt more pressure on himself to do the right thing for Roselyn.  The doctors were very optimistic for her recovery, but at the same time had told him to prepare for anything that might come their way. Having a premature baby wasn't a walk in the park and Lance was going to have to do a lot to keep up with the demands of it.

"Hello?"  He hadn't even realized that he was standing in front of the nurse's station until the young woman behind it stood up and kind of waved. "Can I help you?"

"I'm here to see my daughter," he said with a choppy manner.  "She was in Room 346 the last time I checked."


"Roselyn Ann Bass," he said.

"Oh Mr. Bass!"  The nurse smiled at him.  "I have an envelope for you."  She rummaged through some papers for a moment then pulled out a manila folder.  "The pictures of your twins were developed and I know that you might want a copy."  Her voice lowered a notch, "We were all really sad when we heard about your son, but I thought that you'd want the pictures anyway.  I put them in separate envelopes and labeled them not knowing if you'd want to see both or neither of them."

He reached for the envelope.  "Thank you."

The reminder of James only made his heart break more.  He'd made a few calls over the last few days to have a small private funeral for James.  The moment he'd made the call to Melinda she'd taken over things, only telling him that he would get a call with the time and place of the ceremony.  She knew that he had other things to think about and was making sure that he could focus on the living and not dead members of his family.

His feet moved along the tiles heavily until he found the waiting room.  No one seemed to be around so he sat down in the far corner and opened the bigger envelope.  Two business envelopes with the hospital's address on them fell into his lap.  He immediately opened the one with Roselyn's picture in it and smiled at the little girl.  She wore a tiny pink hat and was curled up tightly in a blanket for the quick picture.  He pulled his wallet out and tucked the picture away before moving onto the next envelope.

James's envelope was harder to open.  He began to slide his finger along the seam on the back, but stopped himself when the paper started to slice his skin.  It was just a reminder of the pain that came along with seeing the picture.  Red stained the paper along the edge where a paper cut had been opened on the side of his pointer finger.  He sat staring at it for a moment before wiping his hand on his jeans and continuing to slice through the paper.

The tiny boy's picture fell out into his lap.  He wore a blue little hat like his sisters.  His face was more peaceful, eyes closed, almost as if he was already taking his first nap when they were snapping this shot. Methodically his eyes traced the tiny puckered face and tears began to fall when he realized really what was going on in the picture.  He'd heard something once from his father that about when a person becomes a parent that they tend to sacrifice everything in the world not to see their children hurt because it was too painful.  At that moment all of his father's words and all the stories that he'd heard in his past came back to
haunt him.  Lance had always been a sympathetic man, but for him to see the pain in his son's expression would have brought him to his knees if he hadn't already been sitting down.  James was crying, tears had formed in his little eyes, and it wasn't a peaceful look on his face, but almost the calm before the storm of crying that was about to break over him.


He looked up and saw Kelly in the doorway.  He didn't know exactly what to say or to do and neither did she, but she came to his side anyways and sort of looked over his shoulder at the picture in his lap before she carefully picked it up and looked at it.  "Is this James?"

Lance tried to speak, tried to say something, but the words wouldn't come out and he only could make a squeaking noise in return.

"He's very handsome," she said, "He's got your eyebrows."

Embarrassed at his reaction Lance coughed away the lump in his throat and looked over to where she was looking at the picture.  "He does?"

Her finger traced the young boy's almost non-existent eyebrows.  "See right here," she said, "This little crooked angle is the same one you have."

"Really?"  His fingers rubbed at his eyebrows.  He wanted to ask her so much more about his son, but knew that if he did it would just hurt too much.  It was almost better not to see all the resemblances rather than to get stuck on features that he'd never see again.

"Yeah," she said.

He took the picture back and held it in his gaze for a long time before he moved to put it in his wallet.  He placed it in the safest place he could think of, behind his driver's license, then took a deep breath.  "How's my baby girl?"


Her thoughts had been haunting her all day.  She'd heard Lance leave and then had heard someone on the bottom floor of the house, but when she'd seen Chris's motorcycle parked near the basketball net that had been put in a few weeks ago she shuffled back over to bed praying that he would do his duty to baby sit her, but mind her mood and stay out of her way.  She knew he would have the best of intentions, but most people she'd run into lately seemed to be tripping over themselves to do the right thing and say the right thing, but all of them were failing miserably, like she seemed to be doing lately.


"I'm ruining your life," she said.

"You aren't ruining my life," he said, "You aren't.  I made the decision to be with you and if my parents aren't used to the idea of me being a father then they'll have to deal with it.  They aren't going to be upset with you and when the baby comes they aren't going to be thinking about that.  They'll be thinking about their grandchild and about how much they love the two of us for having such a great baby."

As she turned to face the window he put a hand on her arm to turn her around, but she wouldn't turn.  "This is so easy for you."  Her tone was accusing and he hated hearing that tone from her.

"Easy?" he said rubbing his forehead, "This is not easy for me.  I mean physically you have a lot more to battle with, but I'm stuck here wanting to make things better for you and easier for you and you won't let me."

"Stuck?" she asked turning to glare at him.  He couldn't imagine what the hormones in her body were doing at the moment, but the reaction to his statement was ridiculous.  She fell into the seat across from him and began to cry uncontrollably.  "Great.  Stuck."

"This is a no win situation with you isn't it?"  He sat down and sighed stared at her for a moment then moved across to sit next to her.  "Serena," he pleaded, "Please don't cry...I don't know what to do for you when you do and I'm not sure how to make you stop."

"I'm just tired and I need to sleep," she said, "And my back hurts and I just need to get away."

Lance took a breath, pushed himself up and moved to help her stand. "I've got some calls to make anyway before the show starts," he said, "Why don't you go back to bed and we'll talk tonight if you're awake or tomorrow morning.  Ok?"

"I'm sorry Lance."  She leaned towards him and hugged herself up against him.

"Just go back to bed sugar and rest.  I bet you'll feel better when you wake up."


Her eyes pushed themselves open.  She'd taken his advice and had tried to relax, but she woke up with the same sore feeling in her stomach, her heart, and her head.  She sighed and moved her hands to her face, pushing away her tears.  "Well that didn't work," she grumbled.

"What didn't work?"

She jumped when she heard the voice next to her.  She had expected to be along.  She was too shocked to scream, but she grabbed the blankets up to her chest and moved her legs up in case she wanted to kick at something or someone.  She slid farther towards the edge of the bed and let her eyes focus on Chris.  He was lying on Lance's side of the bed with popcorn sitting in his lap.  He'd turned on the televsion and was watching a movie while she'd been sleeping.  "What the hell are you doing up here?"

"I thought you'd want to watch a movie--"  He chewed a handful of popcorn.

Her body relaxed a little.  "Why the hell do you have to be here?"

He reached over and patted her leg.  "Thanks."

"It's not you Chris," she said, "I'm sorry.  I just don't know what to do about all this and I haven't had a lot of time alone to even think about it.  I thought I was going to have another month to plan this out more, but it's been dropped into my lap and now I'm just trying not to drop any of the pieces."

"Well what about Roselyn?" he said, "I hear that she's the cutest baby in the world.  When do I get to see my little friend and my little niece in the same place?"

Her lips formed into a frown.  "I don't know."

"You don't know?" He sat up.  It was rare that she'd ever seen Chris go into panic mode, but this was something else.  "You mean somethings wrong and the doctor isn't going to let her come home?"

She shrugged and avoided his eyes.  He would want to know why she hadn't seen Roselyn and she couldn't think up a good enough excuse.  The real one was that she knew that her heart would break in two if she saw the baby, but it seemed a cop-out kind of an answer.  She'd never been one to sit by and be the victim of any situation, but with this she felt like curling up and never speaking to any one ever again.  "I don't know."

"Are they taking it day by day?" he asked.  She could almost seem his heart pitter pattering in the veins on the back of his hands as he reached across for her hands.  "I remember with my little sister they never gave an exact date because they wanted to keep the stressing down."

Her hands slid under the covers and she looked at the television for a moment as a commercial came on.  "I don't know."

Chris moved the popcorn off his lap and turned to face her.  "You don't know what?"

"I don't know anything!"  She screeched at him.  Her lungs hurt, but she continued, "I don't know.  All I know is that I woke up this morning, talked to the doctors about me and then was brought home to a houseful of people I didn't want to see just to be left with a baby sitter that I don't need while Lance goes and disappears back to the hospital.  We haven't said more than ten words to each other in the last few days and before all this happened we--"

"Take a breath girl," he said, "You're going to hyperventilate."

She let her shoulders slump.  "It's not fun being me."

"Welcome to my world," he said, "You know it's not fun being's hard being this cute."  He smiled devilishly at her.

"I'm serious," she said.

"So am I," he said, "It's hard being this cute.  People don't take me seriously because they are caught up in my looks."

A smile cracked her face.  "There's always one thing I can count on with you Chris--a sense of humor."

He made a completely serious look.  "So tell me about your daughter?"

Silence filled the room for a long stretch of time before she cleared her throat and began to speak.  "I don't know anything about her.  I've only seen her for about an hour the other morning.  She's--"  She took a breath.  "I only saw her for a little while.  I couldn't stand to see her for longer than that.  The machines and everything was--"

"Serena take a breath," he said.

She sighed.  "I can't get anything straight in my head."

Chris got up.

"Where are you going?" she asked.

"Wait a minute," he said, "I'll be right back."

She watched him leave, heard him open one of the other doors in the hallway then a moment later returned with her traveling drawing kit and a huge pad of drawing paper.

"What are you doing with my drawing stuff?"

"Use it," he said, dropping the box onto the bed next to her.  "You haven't drawn in weeks.  I can tell."

She glared at him and wondered for a moment if someone had been keeping tabs on her the last few weeks.  She'd been over to Johnny's a few times to visit some of the staff there since most of her friends had gone to Europe with the boys, but she hadn't thought that anyone was reporting back on her activies.  "What?"

His head cocked to the side.  "I wish that I had ESP," he said.  He kneeled on the bed and took her hands into his.  "Your hands.  They're all girly now instead of stained with permanent markers."

She examined her hands and realized that she hadn't been drawing lately.  With baby things to do she'd been running around silly and hadn't thought about new work, just had been looking over current projects.  "I haven't drawn in a few weeks."

"Then do it," he said with a smile.  "That's what I do when I get stressed out."

"You don't draw Chris.  I mean you cartoon, but I've never known you to sit down for more than a few minutes."

"It doesn't matter what I do."  He dropped her hands back into her lap.  "It's the whole idea that you can sit somewhere and totally concentrate on something that has nothing to do with the rest of your world.  For me it's video games or skateboarding or going out on a ride on the bike I got, but it's something that I'm doing that gets me away from everything and everyone."  He sighed.  "You need that girl.  You really need that."

"What's going on with me won't go away."

I did a little research on premature babies and read an account of a mother dealing with a new tiny baby -->
here .

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