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"Christopher was that a beer I just heard you open?"

He paused as he lifted the can to his lips and looked at the ceiling for a moment counting to ten before he spoke.  He didn't want to blow up at his mother, but that night was not going the best for him.  He'd had all that drama  then had gotten home and had felt nausious for about three hours, chosing to take a nap before he'd gotten up again.  Now he was searching for dinner and hopefully a way to get back to sleep, but so far nothing was working.

"Mom, I'm thirty years old.  I know that might depress you to hear how old I am, but really--"  He took a sip of beer and set the can down and turned around to look for dinner, almost tripping over Busta and Korea who were looking at him like he'd forgotten to feed them even though they'd just got done eating.  "If I remember right in my old age, the legal age for drinking in the state of Florida is twenty one.  I think I more than meet the age limit.  I can have a beer if I want to."

"Not on that medication you can't," she said with a motherly tone.  "Chris I thought you were mature enough to know not--"

Medication.  He hated that she brought that up.  He hated that he was taking it in the first place, but it seemed to be helping so he'd agreed to stay on it for a while.  It was was no secret between them.  He'd told her immediately what he was doing when he'd brought up the idea to his doctor.  He didn't want her to find out through some rumor or something that he was taking medication, but because she was one of the few people who knew about it, it didn't give her the right to bring it up in conversation every time they talked.  It was bad enough that he'd broken down and gotten on the damn stuff, but having her hover over him as if he was twelve wasn't really helping him feel more mature and more responsible.

His mother sighed into the phone.  "Methylphenidate isn't something you should be joking around about."

"Mom, it's like speed or whatever."  His mind began to wander for a moment.  His life was turning into an after school special.  He hadn't seen one in a while, but it sounded like something that would have the title of "Steven's Secret Life" or something. 
"You sound like I'm turning into Elvis over here or something.  I'm not taking a million drugs and I'm not turning into a booze hound.  I've cut down on my drinking in the last few months.  It's not going to hurt me if I have a single beer like once a week."

"Did you ask the doctor about that?"

She wasn't going to let this drop.  He could almost see her going through a checklist of what to bug him about.  It was the same thing over and over with her and while he knew he used to need to be told things like that, the last time he thought that he really needed advice like that was years ago.  "No."

"Why not?" she asked,  "I think you need to take this more seriously.  It's your health and all, but I think you need to pay more attention to things like this.  Normal people would actually follow the rules that are written on the pill bottle honey."

"You too?" he asked as he patted down his pockets then brought the pill bottle from his pockets, chosing to leave it on the counter instead of carrying it around.  Maybe it was one of those psychic mom things.  If the pills were away from him maybe she'd feel it over the phone line and leave him alone about it.  "Jesus.  I think I'm gonna hang up now mom--I just got this speech from Dani today."  He groaned.  "She yelled at me today because I was playing with Colton in the street.  She thought that was a really immature and irresponsible thing to do."  He sighed, "I don't mean to be rude, but  I really don't need to hear it from you too."

"From Dani?" his mother asked.

"Yeah," he said reaching for dog bones he remembered that he had.  The dogs had already eaten, but even them staring at him tonight was making him feel on edge.

Moving the phone to his other ear he held it against his ear with his shoulder so that he could grab out two bones.  The dogs saw what he was doing and started to bark so he threw them over the breakfast bar, into the living room, watching as the dogs scattered to find them, "She's in town for the wedding.  If I see her again I'll tell her to go by and see Taylor and you.  I know that Taylor misses her."

He almost didn't have to count this time before he mother said the comment that she always said when he mentioned Dani lately.  "You miss her too."

Chris sighed.  This wasn't something he wanted to get into.  Of course he missed her.  Only his mother knew how much.  There had been more than a few phone calls that he'd made in the middle of the night to talk to her, but now wasn't the time for one of those conversations.  He didn't need to bring up things that he'd gotten over, or at least gotten under control.  He needed to get off the phone ang get some food and some sleep.

He noticed Busta back at his feet looking at him for something more to eat.  "Busta stop drooling, I just fed you."

"Christopher don't change the subject," his mother warned.  Her tone was harsh with him, something that he needed, but almost in the same breath she softened her voice and became his counselor.  "I know you miss her.  You haven't been the same since you all broke things off.  I'm--"

"Mom please," he sighed and leaned agains the counter.  He put his hand against his forehead for a moment then pinched the bridge of his nose.  "Can we not talk about this?"

"Honey I can hear it in your voice.  What's wrong?"

He knew that she was his mother and he should be glad to have her worrying, but for the moment he was done talking or thinking about her.  After the events of that afternoon and the way she'd told him again how immature he was, he didn't want to hear or talk about her again.

He wondered how they'd gotten to talking about her anyway.  He hadn't planned on saying more than a few words to his mom that night.  He had wanted to leave her a message actually, but she'd picked up the phone.  He'd already told her of his plan to come to visit her and Taylor and everyone the next night, but he hadn't planned on having a heart to heart with her over Dani again.

"I know that you've had a hard time the last few months with things and you doing all that you wanted to do with the doctors was your choice, but--"

"Mom, I'm just tired and I don't want to get into it."  He pulled the fridge open, but didn't see anything that he wanted to eat.  "I'm--"

"I'm not saying that you need to spill your guts to be Chris, but you need to keep an eye on that."

"Mom," he said with a sigh.

"I'm sorry.  I'm being motherly again...I know, but I think lately you need a little of that."

"Mom," he said, "I appreciate that you worry about me, but right now I'm just tired.  I had a film crew follow me around all yesterday morning and then had Dani yell at me this afternoon.  I'm just not in the mood to get all touchy feely right now."

"Honey go take a shower or go jump in the hot tub for a while.  I can hear in your voice that you're--"

"I will mom," he said, "I'm planning to go back up and go back to bed as soon as I can get myself something to eat."

"I'll let you go then honey, but I'll see you tomorrow night for dinner.  Ok?"

"I love you," he sighed out.

"I love you too baby," she said, "I'll see you."

"Tell Tyler I'll pick her up from school tomorrow."




Twenty minutes later Chris set his beer on the table next to the bed.  The dogs had followed him updstairs so when he saw them at his feet waiting to play with him he picked up Busta and set him on the bed then grabbed up Korea and put her down next to Busta before slipping under the covers, grabbing up the remote.

The VCR clock said that it wasn't that late so he flipped around and found NBA tonight on then searched some more and found an interview that Dani had done with Mike Maddano.  He would have normally just flipped by it.  In the past he felt like a stalker or something watching her interviews.  Justin always watched the show and would tell him about it, but he'd thought long before that it was better that if he didn't personally watch her.  That night though he figured that he'd catch a little of it.

Watching would be would at least be one moment that he could control the action going on between them.  Today she had controlled the conversation and the other day when she'd seen him with Michele she had been the one to cut the conversation to what suited her.

Lately Dani had all the power in their relationship.  He paused.  Relationship wasn't the word for it.  It was basically a feud at the moment, but even that was a relationship technically, even if she was the one that was more hostile than he was, or at least she was the one that was hostile when they were both in the same room.



Dani knocked on the front door lightly then decided to use the key.  She knew that Meredith and Justin were home.  She could see the lights were on inside, but since she was visiting she thought she'd at least warn them that she was coming inside.  She didn't know, didn't want to know, if they were doing something that she shouldn't see, but if they were she wanted to give them at least the courtesy to know that she was in the house again.

She could hear the television on as she came in the house and smelled popcorn so she knew that they were probably camped out on the couch.  They'd ended up there the night before and she'd sat with them for a while in the big lazy boy watching, but after her long day she knew she didn't want to be a third wheel.

"Hey Dani!" Meredith called from the living room, "Did you eat?  We saved some steak for you!"

"Hey Mere," she called back.  "I caught something over at Joey and Kelly's.  I'll be down in a little while.  I'm gonna go grab a shower."

"Hey Doc!"  Justin called.


"Your interview with Mike Maddano was on earlier!" Justin called, "Next time you interview him warn me because my woman here almost had an orgasm all over herself cuz you got to meet him and she didn't!"

"BeeDee!" Meredith yelled at him.

She couldn't see either of them, but she heard the slap that Meredith landed most likely on his shoulder and the corresponding yelp that came from him, being more dramatic in nature than the hit probably called for.  After that she heard a whispered apology and more whispers so she left them alone to make up so that she could take a shower.



A half hour later, dressed in pajama bottoms and a T-shirt Dani came down to the first floor.  She wasn't at all shy about being in pajamas with them.  She'd been on the road long enough to know that if you were comfortable no one cared what you were wearing, and besides, Justin was so into Meredith that he probabaly wouldn't notice if she came down in a bikini, other to ask if she was cold or not.

When she returned to the first floor, Meredith and Justin were lying on the couch together, spooning, while watching television.  Meredith wore pajamas similar to her own and Justin was in his vacation uniform of sweatpants and a wifebeater.  Most of the guys would hang out in clothes like that if they could.  The only difference today was that Dani was single and noticing Justin's arms.  She'd been around guys half dressed due to her interviews the last few months, but seeing Justin like that only made her think about how she hadn't been able to sit on the couch with someone in a long time.

Shaking her head, she flopped down into her seat.  She'd brought a book with her and had worn her glasses so she could read and she was glad she'd be able to have the distraction seeing that they were so cuddled up together.

"How was babysitting?" Meredith asked after she slapped at Justin's hand a little.

"It was good," Dani said.  She took her glasses off and glanced over at Meredith and Justin curled up on the couch together then turned and watched the movie chosing to french braid her hair before she started to read. "Until Chris showed up."

"Oh God," Meredith said.

As if on cue Justin pushed up so that he was almost sitting up.  He grabbed the remote and pointed it towards the television screen.  "Should I mute this and let you chick--"

"Beedee," Meredith warned.

He leaned and kissed her before she could say anything more.  "I was going to say chickens." He held up his hands from where they'd been around Meredith while turning his head to Dani.  "Your'e like little chickens when you talk.  You just peck things to death."

"Thanks for the vote of confidence Justin," Dani said trying to hold back a laugh that came out anyway.

"You know I'm right Doc," he said with a smirk.

"We don't peck Justin."  Dani wanted to smile at the nickname.  It had come partly from her initals and partly from the fact that she was always the one patching Chris up.  "Girls discuss and debate."

"Girls peck," he said and flipped over the back of the couch to escape the girls' conversation.

"Hey!" Meredith said, "Where are you going?"

"To get a beer dearie," he said, "Do you want to come or do you want to peck some more with Dani?"

"Beedee you're horrible," Meredith said and threw a pillow after him.

"But you Looovee me," he sang over his shoulder as he walked away from them.

Meredith's eyes darkened.  "Call me a chicken again BeeDee and you'll be sleeping alone tonight!"

"I don't mind," he said, "At least I'll get some sleep then.  You snore like a big bear!"

"JUSTIN!" Meredith yelled back.

Dani let her mind wander a little as the couple play fought for a while.



"Awe come on," Dani said at the screen, making it clear the hatred she had for the jerk of a guy on the screen, "No girl is going to fall for you if you're an ass like that.  If you sleep with her sister there is no way she's gonna fall all over you."

"Tell me how you really feel," Christ muttered from next to her.

She turned her head from where she was sitting Indian style next to him, plate in her lap and tapped her fork against the plate.  She didn't roll her eyes, but could tell that she wanted to from the words that met his ears next.  "You wouldn't know what I'm talking about."

"Why wouldn't I?" he asked.

"Because you're a guy," she said, "Guys never know what girls want." She put a bite of food into her mouth and chewed carefully for a moment, "It's not your fault.  It's a curse for all of us."

"So what's your ideal guy like?" Chris asked putting his plate down.  "I mean if Chet here on the tv is doing it wrong then what would someone do to do it right?"

"I don't know Chris," she said staring at her plate.  Her mind started to work.  She was clearly thinking it over.  She put a mouthful of food in her mouth then chewed carefully.  The type of chewing that was only something rythmic to keep one's brain working.  Her eyes glossed over as she stared at her glass of soda in front of her as her lips moved.

"Clearly you do," he said with an annoyed tone.

Her voice took a whistful tone when she spoke again, "I don't know...I've been too caught up with other things to even care really.  I'm with you.  Shouldn't that say something?"

"Well just imagine that this is an interview..."  He grabbed the knife that he'd used for his pasta, licked it clean then put his plate on the coffee table, cleared his throat then held it like a microphone.  His voice came out low and deep and he spoke with the tone of a television reporter enunciating every word with feeling,  "Our viewers want to know what type of guy is your type of guy?"

Dani laughed which of course made Chris smile, "See...that wasn't so hard."

"What?" she asked then squinted her eyes, "This reminds me of some movie or something."

"It does?" he asked, "It was probably some chick flick we saw together...see I was paying attention all those nights when you made me watch Hope Floats and Notting Hill."

"You only paid attention to Julia Roberts and Sandra Bullock."  She uncurled her legs, set her plate on the table next to his, half of her meal still sitting there, then grabbed up her glass and sat back a little.

"Clearly I did more than that...come on have to give me credit for remembering lines," he said then repositioned the knife in his hand, "Come on...spill your guts.  This is supposed to be a sleepover."

Dani laughed again, "If it's a sleepover do I get to make you wear a mudd masque later?"

"Hell no," he said then paused, "I already had my facial today.  I personally like the seaweed over the mud masque.  It dried while I..."  He made a puckered face and pretended to flip non existant hair over his shoulders, "...was getting my manicure and pedicure."

"Ok, ok," she finally said then pulled her toes up under her, "My ideal guy..."

"My ideal guy would know just from a glance how I am feeling..."  She shyly dipped her head, "He'd know what I was feeling and have the power to change a bad mood to a good one with the power of a touch or a caress."  Her hands folded and unfolded in her lap and she took a moment to scratch her arm.

"It's stupid."

"No it's not," he prompted, "Go on."

"Well shouldn't you tell me about your ideal--"

"Tall and dark and handsome," he joked.

"I want to know your ideal..."

"Right now lets talk about you," he said, "I'll tell you my list later."


"The poor girl has lost it," Justin said sipping on his beer before he handed it over to Meredith for her to have a sip.

Dani jumped and found popcorn in her lap.  "What was that for?" she asked.

"If fighting with him distracts you this much I must have missed a whole lot of ditzy days from you when you were together."

"Whatever Justin."

"I'm serious," he said, "You just completely spaced out."

"Don't peck Justin," Dani said.

"We girls don't peck," Justin said imitating Meredith, "We discuss and debate."

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Last updated: 07/05/04.