Dani opened her eyes slowly and found that it
was morning already. She remembered getting in bed the night before, but she
didn't remember falling asleep. She let her eyes focus and found that it hadn't
been a dream and that she had called ESPN and said that she couldn't make it to
the interview. She was in Orlando still, with Chris, not just with him, but
WITH him. He'd held her in his arms the day before and hadn't let go of her the
When she found that across her pillow Chris lay, still asleep, next to her, she smiled and reached out and touched his chin. His beard was growing in again, but this time his whole chin and jaw were covered with the rough hair instead of just his chin. She held her breath for a moment and looked at him. He looked different. It wasn't just the beard that was different about his face. He looked calm and as much as she had always wished that for him. His face was slack and rested, and not just from the night they'd spent together. His worry lines were gone and he truly looked as if he'd slept well the night before.
She moved out of bed, grabbing up her shirt and his boxers to cover herself with before she found her way to go to the bathroom. She stared at her face in the mirror for a moment then leaned back and opened the cabinet drawer and looked around for a moment. She needed to brush her teeth and she knew that he ususally kept an extra toothbrush around. She could have run out to get hers, but the car was too far away to think about right then.
"What are you doing?" he asked standing in the doorway. He had the sheet pulled around his waist and was standing there with his hair sticking out in all directions. He had his glasses off and watched her with blurry eyes.
She was careful not to hit the container with his contacts in them off the counter knowing that Chris wouldn't be able to find them later if she did. "I was going to brush my teeth. I was just--"
"Come here," he said with a low growl.
With a smile on her face she scuffed her feet over to him knowing he couldn't see her very well and slid her arms around him. He held the sheet with one hand and pulled her close with the other arm, leaning to kiss her before she could stop him. "You're all blurry," he said when he pulled back.
"Honey where are your glasses?" she asked.
"By the bed," he said looking over his shoulder a little.
"Why didn't you put them on?" She moved her hand up to smooth his hair down a little.
"I don't need them right now. I'll just see you with my hands." His hands moved over her, moving underneath her t-shirt. "I thought you left so I came to find you."
Dani laughed, "It would be easier if you could actually see me."
"I know...but I couldn't wait." He pressed his hips into hers and smiled a lazy smile at her.
"Oh," she sighed, "What did you need?"
He shook his head. "Nothing. Just you."
"Oh really?" she asked.
"Yes," he said and pressed his body against hers again this time letting his hand drop away from the sheet. "What about you?"
"Just you," she said, "And maybe a side of fries."
Laughing at her joke, Chris scooped her up into his arms.
"Chris what are you doing?" she asked.
"Nothing." He moved her in his arms a little and made sure that she wouldn't fall before he started across the room with her. "Taking you back to bed."
"The sheet," she said pointing over his shoulder to where it had been left by the doorway.
"The sheet can stay on the floor with your shirt and my boxers."
She widended her eyes then realized he probably couldn't see her so he used sarcasm instead to show her reaction to his tarzan act. "Oh really?"
Moments later they were back in bed. She didn't remember how they got there, just the laugh that Chris let out when he pulled the boxers that she was wearing away from her body so he could throw it on the floor. "You know I do have other clothes you can wear.
"I know," she said, "I know. You've got a Gap store in your closet now. I hate that stuff."
"I'll get rid of it," he said.
She smiled at him. "Good."
A few hours later Dani was up and out of bed again. "Chris?"
"Yeah?" he called back sleepily. She'd left him in bed, with his promise to get up and follow her so that they could eat something, but so far he wasn't moving very fast about it.
She moved a box of band-aids out of the way, made sure that his contact cleaning solution wasn't going to spill then searched through the cabinet a little more. "Do you have any tweezers? I was trying to fix my eyebrows and I can't find mine."
"Doc, why would I have any tweezers. I don't tweeze...I do the epi-lady thing." A laugh came from the bedroom.
"On your eyebrows?" she said. "Doesn't that hurt?"
"It's all in the name of beauty!"
"Funny Chris," she said, "Don't say that too much or I might believe you and end up telling the whole world about your secret."
"My secret what?" he said, "Everyone knows that popstars are strange about their faces..."
"Speaking of faces...I thought Suzi was making you fix your eyebrows since you decided to grow your goatee out."
She stopped short when she saw the pill bottle on the top shelf next to his can of shaving cream. She'd never known Chris to take any perscriptions. He'd taken Ammoxacylin a few times for when he'd had flu, but hadn't been taking anything other than over the counter cold stuff when they'd been dating.
The name sounded scary to her. She didn't know much about medical things, despite her nickname. She was good with asprin, advil, and neosporin, but nothing with a name that had more than ten letters in it. She could barely pronounce the name let alone try to figure out what it was supposed to do for him. She turned the bottle a little on the shelf. The label held the medical term wasn't something she could understand, but the laymen's term for the drug next to the longer name for it made sense.
Medically she knew instantly why he was taking it, for what she assumed that had been diagnosed as hyperactivity or maybe Attention Deficit Disorder, but she couldn't understand why after all this time that he would chose to be on the drug. It didn't make sense. Wasn't Ritalin something kids took in junior high and high school so that they could concentrate and get their work done? He'd gone for so many years being hyper like he was that she wasn't sure that there was a reason for him to want to change that.
"Did you find it?" Chris asked from the doorway. He wore his glasses, a long sleeved gray t-shirt and blue and black pajama bottoms, despite the heat. "I think that I have some in my shaving kit."
She grabbed up the tweezers and slammed the cabinet door shut. For a moment she thought that she'd break the cabinet all together, but it didn't. "Yeah," she said and held up the tweezers. "I think I need to borrow your glasses or something. They were right in front of me. I'm blind or something."
She could see that he knew something was going on with her. She wanted him to talk about it, but knew that she wouldn't get that information out of him for a while. If he was keeping it secret then she'd have to find the right time to bring it up and right now, after just getting back together with her, wasn't the time.
"Are you ok?" he asked.
She nodded and tried to look normal. "Yes."
"You look pale. You should get to sleep early tonight."
"Y-Yeah," she stuttered out and tried to change the subject, "We definitely need to not be up all night again. I mean I wouldn't trade what we had, but at the same time sleep is a good thing."
Chris looked at the tweezers in her hands. "Are you gonna use those?" he asked.
"I can use them later," she said and set them on the counter net to the bar of soap next to the sink. She picked up his contact lens case and held it out. "You should put these back in."
"I'm gonna wear my glasses for a while. My allergies are acting up."
She shrugged. She set the case down again. "Ok."
"Are you sure you're ok?" he asked.
"Yes," she said looking back at the cabinet for a moment wondering if she should talk to him about the pills or not.
"Come on kiddo. It's time for breakfast--er--lunch," he took her hands, "As much as I don't want to leave this room today, I'm starving."
"Really?" she asked, "I think its dumb for us to go and eat. We're just going to go back to bed again."
"Yeah," he said with a wide grin. He leaned and kissed her. "But if I don't eat I'm gonna freak out here in a minute."
Dani's eyes shot open widely as his alarm went off on his watch.
"Lemme go to the bathroom real quick and we'll go eat," he said, "Go grab out Notting Hill. You left it here when you--" He took a breath and looked away from her. "You left it here when you moved."
"We don't have to watch that," she said, "Really. I saw it two weeks ago with Monica. We can watch a guy movie if you want. I think that Fast and Furious is on Pay Per View. It's on PPV at home anyway."
"No," he said, "Notting Hill is just for you."
An hour and a half later they were back in the bedroom. They'd made sandwiches and eaten and watched the movie for a bit before finding themselves under the covers again, this time wrapped in each other's arms waiting to get more sleep rather than make love.
It was only hours later that Dani woke up again.
She rolled over and looked at Chris the way she had a few hours before, this time though thoughts of his calmness and the pill bottle filled her head again.
"If you stare at me I'm gonna wake up," he mumbled, opening his eyes to look at her.
"It's ok," she said, "You can't see me anyway."
His eyes squinted and he smiled, "You look like a picaso painting."
"Awee," she sighed, "That's soo cute."
"I meant that you look all gross and squishy," he said and rolled over. She hit at his arm and his stomach as he reached an arm over to the bedside table, retrieved his glasses and rolled back to face her.
"There," he said, "Much better." He yawned and moved his hand to her hair and pushed some of it behind her ear. "You look tired Doc. Did you sleep ok?"
"Yeah," she said, "Fine."
It was a complete lie, but he didn't need to know that. She'd been up most of the night worrying about him. When she'd gotten up to use the bathroom she'd opened up the cabinet and stared at the prescription bottle once more just to see what it was. She needed to make sure that she'd read it correctly before she asked him about it.
When an alarm went off Chris moved away from her and shut it off.
"What alarm was that for?"
"Nothing." He stretched and moved a little in bed then threw back the covers and moved out of bed. "I gotta pee. I'll be back and then we can figure out what we're having for breakfast."
She nodded and watched him walk towards the bathroom. He pulled the door closed almost all the way and she turned over and stretched a little. She could hear him peeing then heard him wash his hands then the sound of the cabinet clicking open came so she pushed herself out of bed and went towards the door.
"Chris?" she asked pushing the door open.
"Shit," he swore. He had the pill bottle in his hands and dropped it onto the counter, letting some of the tiny pills bounce in all directions.
"Oh crap," she said and moved towards him seeing a few that fell onto the small carpet that he was standing on. "I'm sorry. I didn't think I'd startle you."
"It's ok," he said moving the pill bottle in his hand. "It's really ok."
"Are you sure?" she asked, "I didn't mean to walk in like that. I'm just stupid about stuff like this. I was sooo used to being here that I didn't even think about it."
"Dani why are you freaking out?" he asked, "I don't care that you're in here...you're freaking out like you walked in on me masterbating or something. Good lord."
She stopped and stared at him wondering if he was really upset with her or if he was ok with things. "You're not mad?"
"Why would I be?" he asked. He was being way too calm about this. He never would have blown up about things, but haivng him be so calm about her realising his secret was something else.
"Nothing," she mumbled. She stood up and backed away, opening her hand to deposit the pills she had in her hand onto the counter. "Nevermind."
Chris stepped towards her and with his freehand he grabbed her arm and pulled her close. "Dani what is wrong with you?"
She smiled and nodded. "Nothing."
"Come here," he said.
She stepped closer. "What?"
He leaned and kissed her, "I'm glad you're here."
"I'm glad I'm here," she said. She picked up the pills from the counter and handed him them.
"Oh," he said, "I get it."
She turned back. "Get what?"
"It's Ritalin Dani, not cocaine or something," he said, "I'm not hooked on sleeping pills or something like that. Like I told my mom...I'm not turning into Elvis just yet." He held up the bottle. "I have a prescription for these so I can calm down."
"I know what they are."
"Don't freak out about it then," he said with a smile, "It's making me better."
"Better?" she asked, "I didn't know that you were worse."
"You know full well that I'm hyper," he said, "I just take them to calm me down. You'll see. If I wasn't taking them I'd be bouncing off the walls. I get along better on them than I ever did off them."
"It's none of my business," she said.
"Damnnit." Chris put all but one of the pills away then poppped that one in his mouth, drew himself a glass of water and swallowed the pill. "Dani I want you to be involved. I want you to know what's going on in my life. I think that was half our problem. I wasn't telling you about everything and you weren't telling me about everything. Back then I was frustrated beyond my mind--"
"Over everything," he said ducking his head. He couldn't believe he was about to tell her all this. It was stuff that had taken months to even half understand. It was going to take a lot for her to understand. "You kept telling me that I was a screw up and--"
"That caused you to go on medication?"
"No," he said, "No. I mean yeah I wanted to not be a screw up, but it was mostly about me wanting to get better."
"You weren't bad."
"Yes--" He made eye contact with her. "Yes I was Dani. I don't think you knew how bad I was. When you weren't around I ususally didn't sleep much...that's why I was so pissed about the day that you broke up with me. I'd fallen asleep because I'd been up for three days and then you broke up with me for something I needed." He sighed. "It was a nightmare back then. Without medication, I spent all my time thinking about no being a screw up and not being hyper...I exhausted myself trying to be normal."
"No one is normal," she sighed.
"You know what I'm talking about Dani," he said, "I spent about eighty percent of my time trying to concentrate on what I was supposed to be doing. You'd think that it wouldn't be that hard, but it is...believe me it is." He put a hand up when she started to speak. "I wasn't screwing up because I was a screw up. I was screwing up because I couldn't concentrate long enough to figure out my schedule or anything else for that matter. The only thing that I could concentrate long enough on doing was singing. It wasn't fair for you or for me to live that way."
"It was that bad?"
He nodded, "I don't want regrets this time around."
"You have regrets about us?" The expression on her face made her look like she'd been shot or something.
"Not about us Dani--Well about us, but not you or me--" He stopped and took a deep breath and counted to ten and focused on the floor. He needed to concentrate closely on his words or she was going to end up walking out on him. "I had regrets for the way I acted, the way you were treated, and the way that I didn't let you know sooner how much I love you."
"I didn't treat you that well either," she said, "I mean look at you--you started dressing different and acting different and I hate that. I really hate what I've done to you. I've made you into an adult or whatever which believe me you could have used, but when I did I replaced you with some little--"
"Dani come here," he took her hand and went back into the bedroom, sat on the bed and pulled her into his lap. He made her she wasn't going to move then he leaned and opened the drawer in the nightstand and brought out a picture. He turned it so she could see it.
"It's us," she said, "What about it?"
"Look at your face," he said, "In the picture what expression did you have on your face?"
"I was happy," she said, "I was happy with you a lot."
"Ok," he said, "Now look at my face."
She turned and looked at his face and it was clear that she saw what he'd been hiding all those months.
"Your eyes," she said, "Your eyes are so dark."
"I'd been up for three days that time. I know that you thought I went to sleep at night, but I never would. That weekend I got up and went out onto the balcony and played my gameboy every night so I wouldn't wake you up."
"But when I woke up every morning you were with me."
"Yeah," he said, "I used to crawl in bed with you about an hour before I thought you'd wake up and pretend to be asleep."
"I was in love with you. I didn't want you to worry about me."
Dani leaned and hugged him. "I'm sorry that I didn't see it before."
"I wasn't supposed to let you know," he said, "I wanted us to be in love and for things to be happy."
"I was in love--I am in love--" She said, "Every day." She hugged him again. "You told me that never a day went by without you loving me. I was the same way. When we broke up I went home that night and cried myself to sleep. I started working more for ESPN not because I needed the money or the work, but because it kept my mind off of you and away from Orlando and LA enough so I knew I wouldn't run into you. I didn't want to see what I'd done to you. The Larry King interview--"
"I should have kept my mouth shut during the Larry King interview," he said, "I started my medication a week after that. I knew I couldn't do it any more after that. People had sooo many reactions to what I said that I couldn't go through a day without thinking about it."
"So what do we do now?"
Chris hugged her close, kissed her and looked at her in the eyes. "We spend never a day apart from each other. Never a day will go by that we don't tell each other that we love each other and never a day worrying about things that need to be said and not said."
"Never a day--" she said.
"Never a day--" He nodded.