MORE WAYS THAN ONE 1


With great effort, Lance lifted his hand to the door to knock, but paused to take a breath before he did it. He brought his hand down and moved his jacket back on his shoulders with a shrug then coughed and rubbed his hands against the thighs of his jeans wiping away the nervous sweat that had formed on his palms. Why was he even knocking in the first place? This was his home. It had been for a long time now, but suddenly he felt like a complete stranger coming to visit for the first time.

Knock. Knock. Knock.

His hand dove into his jacket pocket retreating from the door the instant the third knock sounded. Inside his pocket was a pack of gum and his keys so he pulled out the gum and grabbed a stick and threw it into his mouth quickly as he heard his footsteps coming towards the door.

"Did you forget something?" she asked bitterly as she flung the door open. She held onto the door handle as if she might slam the door in his face any moment.

"I'm leaving for Toronto tomorrow and I wanted to stop by to--" He chewed his gum for a moment watching how tired she looked. He probably didn't look much better, but she was pregnant and he knew she needed to be more careful with her health than he had to be with his. "I wanted to talk to you before I left."

"Well come on in," she said with a sarcastic tone. "Can I get you a drink? Something to eat?"

He stopped chewing his gum and shoved it in the corner of his mouth with his tongue. "Why are you being this way?"

"What way?" she asked dropping her hand from the door she turned around and walked towards the kitchen, "Close the door on your way in."

Lance watched her for a moment then came inside and closed the door behind him. He didn't like the start of this conversation, but he knew he needed to continue this with her or nothing was going to get settled and he'd be stuck in Toronto trying to figure it out.

"Nicole?" he questioned as he went towards where she'd disappeared around the corner, "I came over to talk to you...am I interupting something?"

"Patty is on her way over," she said not paying attention to him. "We're going shopping today."

"She's in town again?" he asked.

"I thought you had been in contact with Justin."

She moved around in the kitchen getting herself a snack to eat. He watched her for a moment then let his eyes move to the piece of paper on the counter. It was reminding her when a doctor's appointment was.

"The two of them are engaged and Justin is going to be moving part time to LA with her. I don't know how they're going to work it out, but they're both going to be there."

"Really?" he said amazed that Justin had finally popped the question. He couldn't even think about Chris getting married so Justin was even more of a shock. He couldn't imagine him getting married. He was too young, but then again he would always be too young. He was his younger brother.

"Lance did you have an agenda today or are you just going to sit there and stare off into space?" she asked.

"Why are you being so cold to me?" he asked.

"Cold?" Her shock wasn't at all hidden.

"Yeah." He slid into a seat at the breakfast bar

"You're the one who came to the house and avoided me."

"You knew I was here?" He thought that he'd left everything clean, but he guessed he must have missed something.

She nodded and took a bite of apple. "So is there something I can help you with or are you just going to sit there?"

"Nicole," he started then took a breath, "I want you to come to Toronto with me."

"I can't." The statement had been made. No doubt, no reasons, just a no to him.

"I thought you might say that," he said and stared at the tabletop in front of him. He put his hands against the counter, took one look at her and made his move. It was a threat he didn't at all intend to keep, but he was going to say it, to let her know that he was serious about the way that things were going. "I've put in a call to the lawyer. I'll be filing the divorce papers after I get to Toronto."

"D--Di--Divorce?" she stuttered out."

"Isn't that what you want?" he asked coldly trying still to keep back the tears that were forming behind his eyes. He wanted to break down and cry at just the thought of the word divorce being discussed between them, but he was at the end of his rope with her. He didn't know what she wanted or what to do with her so he was going to see where she'd take the conversation from there.

"You want to file divorce?" she asked. Her hand with the apple fell against the counter and she stared at him, jaw hanging open a bit. "Ricky you don't mean that do you?"

"Why wouldn't I mean it?" he asked, "It seems that you want it to happen and I'm not about to fight that if that's what you want."

"But I don't want that," she said quickly.

He took a breath and tried to curb his voice to keep from yelling at her, but he couldn't. "Well what the hell do you want?"

"I want you," she said, "Just you."

"I can't give you that," he said, "I have things to do before I can retire and stay home all the time."

"I don't want you home all the time," she said, "You need balance in your life. You don't seem to see that as a priority, but I can already see how this life we lead is pulling you apart. You don't sleep like you used to, you don't eat like you used to. Hell you don't even act like you used to. You need a break Lance. You need to take care of yourself. I've tried my hardest to beat that into your head, but you never take my thoughts into consideration."

"I'm fine," he said straightening his shoulders feeling extremely offended that she would say that he couldn't take care of himself.

Just days before she'd been the one who'd needed to be taken care of. How could she take care of him if she needed help herself.


*****

Lance hung up the phone and went to grab a towel. He threw it over his shoulder and went to the sliding glass door. He slid it open and stared at her for a moment before speaking, "Honey, come in here. You're gonna get sick."

"No," she said firmly.

"Come on Nicole, I'm not kidding, come inside."

Lance threw the towel down onto the counter and walked out into the rain. The wind was blowing a little and the rain was coming down pretty steadily and even though the water and air seemed warm he still shivered as he walked towards her.

She turned away when he got in front of her. "I don't want to see you right now."

"Lucy, stop this," he said, "I mean it."

"Lance you don't understand. It's easy for you to stand there and say that this is going to be ok because you're going to go off on tour or to film or to record, or whatever and I'm going to be stuck here alone."

"No sweetie."

"Yes Lance. You know it's true so don't try to deny it. I've never once demanded anything from you, but I've got to put my foot down. If I'm going to have this child then I want you in its life."


*****


The word IF still killed him. To think for a moment that she might have considered that as an alternative made his stomach turn. He wouldn't let things go that far. He was going to be a father and she was going to be a mother and they needed to be together. It was just going to take some intense concentration to make that happen.

^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^

"No you're not," she said moving around the table top to stand next to him. She moved a hand to his face, pausing for a moment as their eyes locked, "You're all pale and the circles under your eyes keep getting darker and darker. Don't think I didn't hear the horror stories about how you collapsed back when you boys were with Pearlman. I'm not letting you do that...if something happ--" SHe took a deep breath when the words caught in her throat. "If something ever happened to you I don't know what I'd do without you."

"If you need me so badly then why won't you come to Toronto?" he asked.

"I can't move my life around for you like that," she said, "I have to have some stability. If I'm not stable then--then you're not stable."

"Why do you feel so respobsible for me?" he asked.

"It's my job," she said softly moving her tongue around her mouth a bit to get a piece of apple that was stuck in her teeth. She watched him closely as her hand still rested against his face. "I'm your wife. I'm not your girlfriend or some stranger off the street. I'm the one who is supposed to think these things and take care of you, but you can't fight me on these things."

"Why did you send me away?" he asked.

"I didn't send you away," she said remembering the conversation. She wasn't the one who wanted him to leave. He'd been the one to go.


*****

"No Lucy," he said, "You stay here. I'll crash somewhere else."

She turned her head sideways and tried to not show too much sympathy towards him. She knew that this was hurting him and she knew she could stop that hurt, but she also knew that he was hurting too and this time would make her be able to deal with that pain. The last few weeks had been hectic for her and now that she was going to be a mother she needed to really reevaluate what she was going to do. "I just need a little bit of time."

"I'll give that to you," he said. She watched his shoulders drop and he took a deep breath. "Let me make some calls and I'll get out of here."

Her heart broke when she saw the look in his eyes. He looked broken and what hurt her worse was the guilt that came along with the fact that she'd caused that.

"I love you," he said. His voice cracked with emotion.

"I love you too," she said and tears came to her eyes, "That's not the issue. I love you and I always will, but I need some time to think--"

"No pressure," he said, "I know that you need the time...and I'll give that to you, but I would hope that you'd give me some time to try to make things different before you make up your mind for good."

"Give me two days and by the time JC and Leah get back from the honeymoon I'll tell you what I want to do." Nicole thought for a moment and wished that she hadn't just made the decision to have him leave. She knew life without him was horrible. When he was on the road she knew that she couldn't get to him, but having him be in town and not be with her was going to make the next two days miserable for her.


*****

"Please come to Toronto with me," he said, "Please."

"No," she said firmly. "I have work to do here. Besides I'm not up to traveling right now."

"Nicole...Lucy...please." His voice cracked and she watched as his eyes filled with tears.

"No," she repeated.

The instant the word had left her lips his whole body tensed and he backed away from her. "Then I guess it's all been said."

She didn't say a thing. It hadn't all been said, but for the moment there wasn't much either could do to help the situation.

"Good," he said, "I guess I can file those papers then."

She gulped back tears. He wouldn't do that. She knew him too well. This was just a threat. She had seen him do this with business. Bluffing always seemed to work with him when he was doing contract negotiations. He'd never leave her like that. He wouldn't give up that easily.

Her body froze as she watched him move out of the room and head back towards the front of the house. She heard him open the door and thought for a moment that he wouldn't really leave, but a moment later the door shut. She was out of her seat and running before she knew it.

Instead of following him out the door though she went and stood in the window and watched him walk down the walk towards his car. What happened next worried her. His hand went to his stomach and he bent over at the waste. For a moment she thought he might be having a heart attack, but when he stood up and looked back towards the house she could see it was only the emotion of the moment that had gotten to him. When he bent over again she started towards the door then stopped again.

She watched him sit down on the concrete and lean back against the tire of the car, covering his face as tears fell from his eyes. She wanted to run out there and tell him that things would be ok, but she knew that they wouldn't. There wasn't enough that they could say or do to make things better and the only solution was for him to come home, which wasn't at all possible. She wouldn't let him do that...and she knew he wouldn't do it in the first place.

When the house phone rang she moved to pick up the extension in the living room. "Hello?"

"Hey Cole. You ready to shop until--" Patty started then stopped, "Nicole? Are you ok?"

"He's sitting in the driveway crying his eyes out."

"Who is?" Patty asked.

"Lance," she said and the emotion she'd been holding back came out in one quick cry of pain. "OH GAWD Patty...what am I doing? He's sitting out there in complete pain...I did that to him." She paused for a moment to let her crying go for a moment. "I made him be that way. What the hell am I thinking?"

"Cole calm down," Patty said, "Just take some deep breaths and explain things to me."

"He's divorcing me."

"Divorce?" Patty yelled. "What did you say to him today?"

"I told him the truth," she said, "I told him that the only way I can be with him is to have him home. It's sooo stupid." She paused and looked out the window, seeing that he was now getting in the truck. "He's leaving I think."

"What happened?"

"He's going to Toronto tomorrow and he wants me to go with him."

"Then go," Patty said.

"Just like you came home to Justin?" Nicole said bitterly wiping her eyes.

"Oh great Nicole," Patty said, "Get mad at me. That's ok. Just yell at me some...go ahead."

"I'm sorry," Nicole said, "I'm sorry. I don't know what's going on. I don't know what to do. I'm about to lose everything that I have right out from under me."

MORE WAYS THAN ONE 2

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