Always One More 4

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The sound of the storm whipping around outside finally broke through the sounds of the X-box game he was playing.  They gray sky outside and the darkness of the house had shrouded him in a cocoon for the last few hours which was comfortable for him.  It wasn't until he turned off the television and realized just how late it was that he started to wonder where Dani had disappeared to.  He figured that if she was back that she would have at least come back into the rec room to tell him, but since she hadn't paid him a visit there he started to worry.

He listened to the silence in the house for a bit before calling out.  "DANI?"  He cocked his head to the side to listen, but all he heard was the rain and the wind.  It was such a sad sound.  He didn't like the rain that much to begin with and having it be so dark and windy wasn't helping him feel any less lonely at the moment so he decided to go look for her, just in case she was upstairs and hadn't heard him before.

Pushing himself up he started to circle the house.  He left the rec room and found the kitchen and the living room empty.  The dogs were following him, not barking at all, which scared him a bit.  If they were too calm it usually meant that something was wrong and clearly if Dani was still gone, nothing was right.  "Find Dani guys," he cooed at the dogs, but when they stayed right with him he knew that she definitely wasn't home.

Turning on the light in the kitchen he pulled open the fridge and grabbed out a drink then after slamming down over half of it he opened up the garage door and found that her car was indeed still gone.  With a sigh, he picked up the phone and dialed Justin's house.  If she'd gone over there she'd probably gotten caught up in things.  It was going to be a little strange to call over there looking for her, but in this weather he was a bit scared that something had happened out on the road.

"Hello?"

"Hey dude," Chris said with a smile when he heard the tone of Justin's voice.  He might have been angry with him earlier, but now the guy seemed in such a good mood that he wasn't about to ruin it.  "Is my woman over there?"

Justin laughed a bit.  He'd been drinking with his dad from the sound of the game in the background.  "Your woman?"

"Yeah," Chris said, "Is Dani over there?"

Justin burped.  "Sorry guy," he said, "I haven't seen her."

Chris's heart went into his throat and he turned to look outside.  Of course in a novel or a movie this would be where lightening would strike or a door would blow open, but for Chris it was when the rain actually stopped.  The sky didn't clear up, but at least the sound of the water hitting the outside of the house silenced.  "Haven't seen her?"

"Nope," Justin said.

Chris took a breath and it caught in his throat.  "Are you sure?"

"Yeah," Justin said.

"I'm coming over there," Chris said looking for his keys.  He grabbed them up and held them hard in his hand as he moved around the kitchen.  He wrote a quick note and left it on the counter before pushing the dogs into the mud room so that he could take the other car out of the garage without letting them get out.

Justin sighed.  "You can't find her?"

"No," he said, "I'm going to drive over that way and see if I see her on the way."

"I'll look around here and see if I can find her."

"Thanks."

Chris put the phone down and hit the garage door opener.  The door came sliding open and although he hoped to see Dani pulling up into the driveway, it was empty.

*****

Throwing the car into park Chris ran towards the house, slipping in the grass in front of the doorway.  Her car was in the driveway just off to the side and it looked as if it had been there for a while with the rain that was now beading up on the hood and top of the car.  He pushed himself up and moved towards the door to knock.  "Justin!"

He knocked again and soon the door came open and Justin was standing there with a beer in his hand.

"What's up dude?" he asked.

"Is she here?" he asked urgently.

"Who?" he asked.

"Dani," Chris said trying not to let the tears at the back of his throat get to him.

"Yeah," he said, "She's in the living room."

Chris pushed by him, tracking mud into the house and ran towards the living room.  When he saw her he pulled her into his arms and hugged her tightly then moved to kiss her.

Dani, not expecting the move pushed him away and looked at the mud on his legs and feet.  "What are you doing?"

"I thought--"

"What are you doing Chris?" Dani covered her eyes.  "You've just tracked mud into the house."  Dani turned away from him and mumbled, "I'm so embarrassed."

"What is going on in here?" Lynn asked coming in from their TV room.  She looked at the floor.  "Who let the dogs in?"

"It's who let the dogs OUT Momma," Justin laughed.

"Look at the carpet," Lynn said.

"It's ok," Mere said suddenly appearing.  She handed the baby to Lynn then came over to Chris's side.  "It's ok.  We can clean the carpet."

"I'm really sorry," Chris said as he started to calm down.  "I'll pay for the cleaning."

"What's wrong?" Meredith said moving closer to Chris.  "What's gotten you so upset?"

"I thought--"  Chris looked at Dani's disappointment in the whole situation.  "I'm sorry."  He turned and started back towards the door.  "I thought something had happened to you and I guess I was wrong.  I'll leave you guys alone.  Sorry that I interrupted."

"Christopher Alan Kirkpatrick, I just dropped a baby out of my--"  She laughed, "If you make me chase you across the room I'm going to die.  So get your butt back here."

Chris turned around and looked at Meredith.

"Momma Lynn," she said, "Justin. Dani.  Can I talk to Chris a minute?"

"Sure," they all said as they moved into the TV room.

"Now," she said, "Go sit down."  She pointed towards the kitchen table.

Chris ducked his head and moved across to find a seat.

"Now," she said, "What's going on with you?  I haven't seen you this messed up over something in a long while."  She sat down and winced, causing him to put an arm out to her.

"Want me to call for Justin?"

"No," she said shaking her head.  "Talk to me sweetie and tell me what's going on."

Chris sighed.  "Dani and I got into a fight earlier.  She left the house and it was storming and I thought something had happened to her and when I called over here--"

"Justin didn't know she was here?"

"No," he said and felt the tears finally spilling over.  "I was scared to death that the last thing we'd said to each other would have been a fight and I panicked."

"It's ok sweetie."

Chris sighed.  "I'm sorry about your rug."

"It's ok," she said reaching for his hand, "It's just mud."

As soon as the door was closed and the four of them were into the television room, Paul turned down the game.  "What's the score?" Justin asked.

"Tennessee is up by two now," Paul said then looked over at Dani.  "What was going on out there?"

"Nothing," Justin said with a shrug.

"It wasn't nothing," Dani said sharply as she began to pace.  With her eyes turned towards the door she stopped to stand just inside the door.  "Mud all over your--the carpet," she mumbled wringing her hands together.  She knew that she wasn't acting totally sane at the moment, but she wasn't feeling sane right now.  It was times like this that made her insane.  She loved Chris, she really did, but it was times like this that made her think that she wasn't in love with him.  Behavior like his wasn't something that she wanted in her life.  She wanted calm and cool and collected.  She wanted settled.  She wanted grounded.  She wanted the opposite of Chris, even though she thought that she could see passed his behavior.

"Dani," Justin said flopping down on the couch.  "It's just dirt."  He took a drink of his drink then tipped his beer towards her.  "Have a cold one and sit down.  We can get the carpets steam cleaned or something."

"Yeah," Lynn agreed as she sat down next to him.  "I'm sure Mere is going to get them cleaned in a few weeks anyway so don't worry about it."

"That's not the point," Dani said finally falling into the chair next to Paul.  "It's like the whole wine glass thing at the wedding.  He just doesn't think about what he's doing and it ruins everything."

"It didn't ruin anything," Paul said pulling her into a hug.

She didn't like how everyone was taking this as such a casual manner.  If it was anyone else in the world they'd be completely offended, but for Chris they seemed to ignore his behavior and let him act however he wanted to act.  It wasn't right.

Paul smiled at her.  "We'll get it cleaned."

She nodded her head, but closed her eyes when she found everyone watching her.  This was just too much drama for any one person to have in their lives on a constant basis no matter who the drama was happening to.

"Dani," Justin waved a hand in front of her face when she zoned out, "You're too hard on him sometimes."

"Too hard?" she asked and instantly started to cry.  Her shoulders tensed and her body shook with emotion.  "Justin that is just about the worst thing anyone could say to me right now."

"What's that supposed to mean?" Justin asked.

"All of this is hard on me."  She looked at him angrily.  "Every moment of my life is hard on me and most of that hardship comes from that man in the other room."

"Whoa whoa," Paul said rubbing her arm.  "It's nothing to get upset about girl."

"I can't help it," she said and pressed her hands to her face.  "I can't do this.  I thought I could, but I don't think I can.  I love him to death, but everything in my heart and my head is pointing me in different directions.  I want a boyfriend that I don't have to worry about so often.  I want someone who'll worry about me."

"He was worrying about you," Justin gritted out, setting his beer down and sitting up straighter.

Dani's eyes went to the floor.

"Don't pull this bullshit," Justin said, "You can't pull this duck and hide stuff.  He was on his way here because he thought that you'd gotten caught in the storm and might have been hurt.  Yeah I know that he got dirt all over the place, but his intentions are always good when it comes to things like that."

Tegan took that moment to start to cry.  She opened up her mouth and started to wail as if she knew that something really bad was happening if her father was upset now too.

Lynn shushed the baby, placing the little girl against her shoulder to hug her.  Her eyes moved to her son and she sighed.  "Justin, calm your voice down."

"Sorry Momma but I can't watch them do this to each other," he said angrily.  He moved away from the baby.   "She knows Chris and knows his behavior and knows that he's never going to change and yet she still tries to be the victim in their relationship."

"Justin," Paul said sharply.  "Stop this right now."

"No," he said, "I'm tired of this."  He put his hands up.  "I'm not gonna let her bag on him again.  He doesn't need that.  The guy tears himself up over you all the time."

Tegan began to cry again until Justin finally took her in his arms and got up to walk around with her tucked against his chest.  "I'm sorry Dani, but he loves you.  He means well and he doesn't realize sometimes how crazy he acts when he gets--"

"You know what?" Dani said, "I'm gonna go home."

"You do that Dani," Justin said angrily opening the door and leaving the television room.  "Go ahead and do that."  He slammed the door shut and when it didn't catch and close it slid open again letting her see and hear what was going on in the other room.

"What's wrong with her?" Meredith asked.

"I yelled and scared her a little," Justin said.  Dani watched him hand the baby over to Meredith.  "I lost my temper and if I don't go do something right now I swear to god that I'm gonna lose it again."

"Honey," Meredith said, "Are you ok?"

"I'm fine," he leaned and kissed her then kissed Tegan.  "I'll be back in a little bit.  I'm gonna go hang out in the work out room for a little bit."

"Ok."  Meredith sounded more worried than she'd sounded in a long time, making Dani feel even worse.  She didn't need this kind of extra drama in her life.  Dani needed to take her drama home, away from where Meredith was.  She already had enough on her plate to handle right now.

"Dani," Lynn said and came to sit next to her.  "Honey are you ok?"

"No," Dani said and nodded her head no.  "But I'm gonna get out of your hair and Meredith and Justin's hair."

"Are you sure?" she asked.

"Yes," Dani said and for the first time in a long time she really was sure about at least one thing.  She needed to go home.

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Last updated: 07/10/04.