|Come Rain Or Come Shine
Author: cutelittlelawyer PM
We can never predict the future. One event, one choice, can change a person's life forever. Kenzie, Derek, Dylan and Sophie each have a challenge to overcome. Together, these four people learn the importance of honesty, trust, friendship and courage as they realize that coming back from the edge is something nobody can do alone.Rated: Fiction T - English - Friendship/Romance - Chapters: 48 - Words: 210,826 - Reviews: 68 - Favs: 5 - Follows: 4 - Updated: 04-06-13 - Published: 02-10-12 - id: 2996133
|A+ A- Full 3/4 1/2 Expand Tighten|
Twenty-Three – Disclosure
Richard told Derek that he was going to spend the night with Whitney. Given that I'm staying here tonight, there's really no need for Richard to be here too, so this sounded perfectly credible. Derek accepted it without comment, and didn't seem at all surprised that his father had made a spur-of-the-moment decision to leave. Apparently, Richard has always been unpredictable in his comings and goings, and his family has just gotten used to it.
I'm uncomfortable with the fact that Richard lied to Derek so casually. To be candid, I'm horrified by the alacrity with which Derek's whole family lies to him and keeps secrets from him. Richard, Dylan and Sparrow, and probably the two other sisters as well, all seem to have something they don't want Derek to know. I suppose if anyone asked them, each one of them would have some kind of justification for not being honest with him. I suspect they're keeping things from him either for some self-serving purpose of their own, or a well-meaning but ultimately misguided desire not to cause him any unnecessary stress.
I think Derek's entire family underestimates him. Mental illness notwithstanding, his capacity for dealing with stress is much greater than any of them give him credit for. He isn't always confident and he sometimes needs reassurance, but he certainly doesn't need to be sheltered from reality. His family doesn't seem to understand that their attempts to protect him are far more upsetting to him than hearing the truth would be.
Richard didn't stay to eat with us. I'd thought he would, because we'd set three places at the table, but he must have decided it was better to start on his journey sooner rather than later. Derek's only reaction to his father's hasty exit was to gather up the extra bowl and silverware, and return them to their places in the cupboard. Since Richard wasn't there, I didn't bother to enforce the 'dinner before dessert' rule. He'd probably have been disappointed to know that both Derek and I ate our caramel pudding first.
After supper, I cleaned up the kitchen while Derek talked on the phone with his friend Jamie. Derek and Jamie have the easy camaraderie of old friends. In fact, they're so unquestionably at ease with each other, the first time I ever saw them together I'd mistaken them for lovers. I know better now, of course. The thing I find puzzling is what brought them together in the first place. Loud, colourful, vivacious Jamie hardly seems like the kind of person Derek would gravitate to, but despite all odds, they've been best friends for over thirty years. Jamie always greets Derek with an exuberant hug and a kiss on each cheek, and the amazing thing is that no matter where they are or who happens to be around, he lets her do it. I can imagine his distress if anyone else behaved toward him like that. I'm pretty sure he wouldn't even let me fuss over him in public the way Jamie does. Of course, I think Jamie is the kind of person who gets away with doing a lot of things that other people wouldn't get away with. Jamie Moore is a law unto herself.
I was just finishing up the dishes when Derek wandered into the kitchen to inform me that Jamie and her husband Robert plan to come over on Sunday afternoon. Jamie, apparently, would not take no for an answer, and did I mind? I laughed, and told him that of course I didn't mind. This isn't my house, so I'm fine with whatever he decides. Besides, Valerie and I have plans for Sunday, so I most likely won't be here when Rob and Jamie show up anyway.
Derek spent the rest of the evening reading in the den, and I'd used the time to make a few phone calls of my own. I chatted with Valerie for a while and then phoned my brother Alex. I thought about calling my parents – I haven't spoken with them in over a month – but ultimately decided against it. I have to be in the right frame of mind to deal with my mother, and last night was not a talking-to-Mum kind of evening.
Derek and I went to bed earlier than we normally would have. It hadn't been a particularly long or difficult day, but I was far more tired than usual. I'd hoped we would have a restful night. In retrospect, though, I suppose a full night's slumber had been too great an expectation. I'm sure I would have been capable of going practically unconscious almost immediately, but Derek seemed to find sleep elusive. Even though I knew he was uncomfortable, the more he tossed and turned the more difficult it was for me to be sympathetic.
At some point it must have occurred to him that his restlessness was making it nearly impossible for me to sleep. He leaned over, kissed me lightly on the cheek, and whispered that he was sorry for keeping me awake and maybe it would be better if we spent the night in different rooms. I didn't really want to sleep alone, but I didn't protest very much when he climbed out of bed. I watched him leave before I let my eyelids slip shut. A few minutes later, I heard the television come to life in the den. I finally drifted off, listening to the noise of the wind outside and the sound of the TV from down the hall.
The next time I open my eyes, the room is filled with light and the clock says it's ten minutes to ten. I wonder how in hell I managed to sleep through the alarm. It's only after several seconds of frantic thought that I remember I didn't even set it.
Beside me, Derek is curled on his side with his hands tucked under his chin, oblivious to the bright winter sunlight shining on him through the window of his bedroom. Once I'd finally fallen asleep last night, I must've been dead to the world because I hadn't noticed Derek coming back to bed. I watch him for a moment, relieved that he seems to be resting more easily now than he had been last night.
Cautious of disturbing him, I get out of bed as carefully as I can. I scoop my phone from the bedside table and tiptoe out to the hallway, closing the door behind me on my way out. Leaning against the wall, I dial the main number for Legal Aid. I could get ready for work and be at my desk before lunchtime, but the reality of the situation is that I'd much rather stay home today than face the insanity of the office.
With the necessary phone call completed, I head downstairs to start a pot of coffee and bring in the newspaper. When I open the front door, I'm met by a blast of cold air and a swirl of snowflakes. There seems to be a lot more snow than the weatherman had been calling for. I can see that the wind is making it drift a little, but at least it isn't still coming down. I shut the door quickly.
I pull on my parka and trade my slippers for boots before heading outside to collect the paper. I make a detour to the garage first, and then I spend several minutes shovelling snow from the front steps. By the time I'm done this chore, I'm more than ready for a hot drink. Back in the kitchen, I fill two clay mugs with steaming coffee. Then, with the paper tucked under one arm and a hot mug in each hand, I make my way upstairs again.
When I return to the bedroom, I find Derek sprawled on his back in the middle of the bed, one arm stretched out to the side as if he were reaching for me, only to discover I wasn't there. I place the two cups of coffee on the little table, drop the newspaper onto the rug, and then I sit on the edge of the bed. Derek is awake, but just barely. I touch his outstretched hand.
"Time to wake up, Sleeping Beauty."
He makes a little snorting sound and mumbles something that sounds like, "Prince Charming."
"A thousand pardons, Your Highness," I say. "Are you going to open your eyes for me, or do I have to kiss you first?"
He opens his eyes slowly, and gives me a sleepy smile. "Kiss me anyway?"
I laugh. "I guess I don't need to ask you if you're feeling better."
"Hmm..." he murmurs. "Still tired."
"Too tired for some company?"
"Company would be nice," he says. He rolls over and squints at the clock. "Damn...I can't read anything without my glasses any more. Is it really ten-thirty?"
"Why aren't you at work?"
"I called in sick."
"But...you're not sick," he says. "Are you?"
"No," I say, "You are."
This earns me another smile. "Kenzie, I don't think you're supposed to take a day off when someone else is sick," he says. "Anyway, it probably would've been okay for you to leave me on my own for a couple of hours."
"Would you have wanted me to leave you?"
"No, but I don't think you should stay home from work because of me," he says.
"That's not what you said yesterday morning."
"What did I say yesterday morning?"
"You don't remember?
"Vaguely," he says. He frowns, and a little crease appears between his brows. "Maybe it's good that I can't remember. I'd probably be embarrassed. Was I really pathetic?"
"Do you really want me to answer that question?"
"I think you just did," he says. "I wish you hadn't seen me like that."
"I don't think any less of you," I say. "You're not well. You couldn't help it."
"I guess not, but it's still humiliating. I mean, throwing up and crying doesn't do much for my tough guy image, does it?"
"I thought you couldn't remember what happened yesterday morning."
"I might not remember what anyone said, but I do remember that part. Anyway, I'm a little better today. You could've gone to the office."
"Maybe I wanted to skip work," I say. "Maybe I just want to stay in bed all day with you."
"Really?" Derek says. "That's one hell of an offer to make when you know I don't feel well enough to do much about it."
"Don't you want me to stay in bed with you?"
"Is that supposed to be a rhetorical question? My bed is your bed," he says. He pats the space next to him. "All offers of cuddling are readily accepted."
"I'm more than happy to cuddle, but I'm going to drink my coffee, first," I tell him.
"Did you bring coffee for me, too?"
"Black with a teaspoon of sugar?"
I smile. "Don't worry, sweetie. I know what you like."
"I like it when you call me 'sweetie'."
"I like that you're not difficult to please."
He sits up and takes his time rearranging the pillows so he can recline on them. When he's settled, I hand his mug of coffee to him. I slide under the covers beside him. Derek glances sideways at me as I lift my own mug off the bedside table.
"Did you mean it when you said you wanted to stay in bed with me all day?" he asks.
"Maybe not all day," I say. "Maybe just until Richard comes back. I wouldn't want him to catch me the way your mother did."
Derek grimaces. "That was awkward."
"Awkward isn't the word I'd use."
"It wouldn't be like that with Richard anyway," says Derek. Holding his mug between both hands, he takes a tentative sip of coffee before he continues. "He already knows we're sharing a bed, and I'm pretty sure he's figured out that we're just sleeping together and not...you know...sleeping together."
"The distinction is so clear when you put it like that."
"You know what I mean," Derek says.
"I'm not sure I do," I tease, feigning bewilderment. "Maybe you should try to explain it."
"When I'm feeling up to it, I'll demonstrate," he offers, and gives me a brief, cheeky grin.
I can't help giggling. "Are you sure you're sick?"
"Unfortunately, yeah," he says. "If I wasn't, we wouldn't be having this conversation. We probably wouldn't have gotten past 'I want to stay in bed with you all day'."
"Derek Rain, you have a very naughty mind. Has anyone ever told you that?"
"You like it," he asserts.
"I do," I agree, laughing, "but I think you like it more."
Derek neither denies nor confirms this, but his complete failure to look innocent convinces me that I've gotten an answer anyway. I take his teasing mood as a good sign. His attempts at playfulness notwithstanding, though, I can tell he isn't feeling nearly as energetic as he'd like me to believe. He's pale, and looks exhausted despite the excessive amount of sleep he's been getting this week.
I watch him from the corner of my eye as he drinks his coffee. He's still cradling the cup in both hands, and I have the impression he doesn't quite trust himself not to drop it. He's had noticeable tremors in his hands over the past few days. This particular side effect of his medication has discouraged him from drawing and painting – and shaving – for most of the week. He hasn't complained much about it so far, which is a testament to how poorly he feels. If he really felt like working on his art, I don't think he'd be taking the problem of his unsteady hands with such good grace.
He catches me watching him and frowns slightly. He says, "What's the matter?"
"Nothing," I say. I reach out and stroke the prickly blond stubble on his chin with the tip of my index finger. "I'm just trying to decide if I like the idea of you growing a beard."
"I don't like it," he says. "It's itchy as hell."
"When Richard gets back, maybe he can help you shave."
"You're joking, right?"
"I've seen what Richard does to himself with a razor. I'd rather suffer through the itching than let him shave me," Derek says. He swallows a final mouthful of coffee, and then carefully passes the half-empty mug to me. "Here. I think I'm done with this."
"Are you all right?"
"My brain wants caffeine, but my stomach disagrees," he says. "I'll be glad when I can actually swallow more than a few mouthfuls of something without feeling like I'm going to be sick."
I finish the last of my own coffee and then place both mugs on the small table on my side of the bed. "Would you be more comfortable lying down?"
"Even if I lie down, my stomach is still going to hurt," he says. "I think I'll be okay as long as I don't move around too much for the next few minutes."
"I'll help you keep still, then," I say. I move closer to him so that I can snuggle against his side. I slip one hand beneath his oversized blue t-shirt and rest my palm on his belly. "How's this?"
Derek puts his arm around me. "Know what I like about you?"
"What?" I say.
"You have warm hands."
"Your mother and father would probably disapprove of this," I say.
"Too bad if they do," says Derek. "Incidentally, while we're still on the subject my father, he should have been back by now, don't you think?"
"It snowed a lot last night," I say. "Maybe he didn't think it was safe to drive."
"Did he call?"
"I didn't check voice mail, but if either of our phones rang, we would've heard them."
"You would have, anyway. I never hear anything when I'm asleep," Derek says. "You know, it's weird for Richard not to have called."
"Maybe he and your mother are sleeping in."
"Maybe," he says dubiously. He's quiet for a moment, staring into the middle distance as he scratches his bristly cheek with his free hand. When he finally returns his attention to me, he says, "Richard didn't really spend the night with Mum, did he?"
"I don't know," I say. "He might've gone to your mother's place at some point."
"What do you mean?"
"Richard asked me not to tell you where he was going."
Derek sighs. "Of course he did."
"He meant well."
"Everyone always does," Derek says.
"He didn't want you to worry."
"Did Richard tell you where he was really going?"
"Brilliant," says Derek. "My father lied to me, and you knew the truth and you didn't say anything."
"What was I supposed to say?"
Derek startles me by abruptly drawing away from me. In a split second, his entire demeanour has gone from calm to a kind of alert intensity. It strikes me as a little intimidating, and a moment later I realize why. I've only ever seen him like this in a courtroom or at discoveries; when he wants to get to the bottom of something and isn't willing to put up with any truth-obscuring bullshit. Never in a million years could I have pictured myself as the recipient of Derek's courtroom stare, especially not while we're in bed.
"You need to tell me what's really going on around here, Mackenzie," he says. His tone is one I can imagine him using on a recalcitrant witness. "Where did Richard really go?"
I feel utterly compelled to give him an answer. I say, "He went to see Dylan."
"Where?" Derek persists.
"Apparently, he's at your cottage. Richard wanted to talk to him in person."
"I think he wanted to finish the conversation they were having on the phone yesterday."
"You know what thatwas about, too, don't you?" Derek says, his expression hardening into something perilously close to anger. "Richard didn't want you to tell me."
"He was afraid you'd overreact," I say, and even as the words leave my mouth, I'm anxious that Richard may have been right about that.
"I wonder if he thought about how I'd react when I realized you know more about what's going on with my family than I do?" he says. "This isn't even any of your business, but people are telling you about it while I'm left completely in the dark. And the fact that you didn't tell me is just―" He raises his hands in a gesture of mute frustration.
The words hang in the air between us. Derek doesn't respond immediately, but as he sits there, watching me, his anger gradually subsides.
"No...Kenzie, I'm sorry," he says at last. "I'm not mad at you. It's not your fault that my father thinks I can't handle the truth. I just don't want you to think I can't deal with it."
"I don't think that," I say. "I wanted to tell you, but I wasn't sure if I should. Do you want me to tell you now?"
"Did Richard make you promise not to talk about it?"
"No, he didn't make me promise."
"Okay," he says. "In that case, yes, I do want you to tell me what's going on."
I decide there's no point in building up to the important part with a big explanation. I say, "Richard thinks Dylan has been helping Sophie hide from the police."
"What?" is Derek's stunned reaction. Clearly, this isn't what he expected to hear.
"Remember the article in the paper on Monday?"
"Sean showed it to me at the office. After I read it, I tried calling Dylan at work and his staff sergeant said he'd been on personal leave for a week," I say.
"Did you know he was taking time off?"
"No, but I guess you've figured out by now that Dylan doesn't tell me everything," Derek says. "Anyway, I don't see what his being off work has to do with anything."
"By itself, I guess it wouldn't mean anything," I say. "But there were all the phone calls."
"What phone calls?"
"There was that weird phone call I had with him on Monday, remember? You told me Richard talked to him on Monday, and then he called Richard again from the cottage yesterday. Last Friday, Sparrow said he'd called her from a pay phone at some motel."
"I didn't know Sparrow talked to Dylan last Friday."
"Sparrow decided not to tell you. She thought the last thing you needed was to hear Dylan going on about Sophie."
"Is everyone in my family hiding things from me?" Derek says. "No...don't answer that. Dylan wanted to talk to me last Friday about Sophie?"
"That's what Sparrow said."
"Did she say what Dylan wanted, in particular?"
"Damn," Derek says softly. "Was he calling from the Sea Breeze Motel, by any chance?"
"I don't know," I admit. "Sparrow couldn't remember where he said he'd been calling from. What's so special about the Sea Breeze Motel?"
"The manager lets you pay in cash and doesn't ask for identification."
"Dylan is no stranger to the place. He used to go there with his friends."
The way he says 'friends' makes me think of the way he'd explained to Dr. Scarlatti about his relationship with me. I say, "His girl friends?"
"And you know this because...?"
"I picked him up there a bunch of times, when he was too drunk to drive himself back to town. I always refused to bring his friends, though, so they usually ended up staying there for the night."
"I think that's way more information than I ever wanted to know about your brother," I say.
"Sometimes the truth is ugly."
"Honest to God, Dylan shouldn't be allowed to drink without supervision. A few times, I was surprised he was even coherent enough to call me to come and get him," says Derek. "It's not always him taking care of me, you know, despite what he'd like everyone to believe."
"I hope he realizes how lucky he is," I say. "If I were the kind of person who went to sleazy motels, I don't think my brother would come and get me in the middle of the night. As much as I love Alex, I'm pretty sure I wouldn't do it for him, either."
"I never wanted to do it," Derek says.
"So, why did you?"
"I don't know," he confesses. "I guess I just didn't want him to get into trouble."
"Do you think he would have done the same thing for you?"
Derek doesn't answer this question. Instead, he says, "What was Richard planning to say to Dylan?"
"I don't know," I say. "He didn't talk to me about that."
"If I were Richard, I'd be demanding to know what Dylan thinks he's doing. If he's really helping Sophie hide, he's taking one hell of a risk."
"Richard knows that. It's the reason he didn't call the police. He knows how much trouble Dylan would be in."
"Does he think the police aren't going to figure it out eventually anyway? I mean, it isn't as if Dylan is a civilian. He's one of them, and if he stays off work too long, his sergeant is going to start asking questions."
"God damn Sophie," Derek says. "Whenever she's involved, everything turns into one big complicated mess."
"What are we going to do?"
"We're not doing anything," says Derek.
"Why? Shouldn't we―"
"No," he says, forestalling me before I can even make a suggestion.
"You don't think we should call the police?"
"Why would we want to do that?" Derek says. "It'll only be a matter of time before the police figure out my relationship to Sophie and start wanting to ask questions. I'm just going to wait for them to call me."
"Richard thought you'd turn Sophie in."
"Maybe I would, if it didn't have consequences for Dylan," Derek says. He gazes at me thoughtfully for a moment, and then an expression of realization settles over his features. "That's why Richard wouldn't talk to me about this, isn't it? He was protecting Dylan. From me."
"You and Dylan haven't exactly been on good terms, lately."
"Dylan and I fight all the time. Just because we're not on good terms at the moment, it doesn't mean that I'd be willing to get him into trouble like that."
"That's what I told Richard."
"Obviously he wasn't convinced."
"To be honest, I don't think he was really listening," I say. "So...You're really not going to do anything?"
"I missed my chance to do something."
"What do you mean?"
"If I'd been thinking, I would have called the police when Sophie showed up here," Derek says. "If I'd called them that night, we wouldn't be discussing this right now, because she wouldn't have had the chance to meet up with Dylan. Now, he's in trouble because I couldn't bring myself to pick up the phone."
"This is not your fault," I say.
"Dylan didn't have to help Sophie, you know. If he'd been thinking, maybe he would've taken her home before she missed her appointment with her Parole Officer."
"He should have stayed the hell away from her in the first place. Maybe we both should have," Derek says. He shakes his head. "Sometimes I wish we'd never met her."
"Most of the time," he amends. "We had some good times, but I'm not sure if even our best moments were worth all the trouble."
"Was it really that bad? When Dylan and I talked that night at his place, he said he thought you and Sophie were happy, at least in the beginning."
"I don't know," Derek says. "I'm not sure if Sophie has ever been happy. She's too unstable to be content with anything for very long."
"You don't know if you were happy?"
"We were having a good time. I guess I had myself convinced that having fun and being happy were pretty much the same thing," Derek says. "Being with Sophie made me feel important. When we first got together, she made me feel like I could do anything, like I was a hero."
Remembering another bit of the conversation I'd had with Dylan, I ask, "Did you feel safe?"
"Back then? I thought so, but now I know that I was never really safe with her. I wanted to believe we were strong when we were together, but that's not the same thing, is it?"
"No, I don't think it is."
"Everything we had in the beginning...none of it was true. Both of us created an image of what we expected each other to be, and in the end, neither of us could live up to it," Derek says. He looks away from me. "I'm not a hero. I never was."
"I don't need a hero."
"Sophie and I are two very different people."
"I know. It's just...I want to be better. I'm tired of being the person who never meets anyone's expectations."
"Derek, look at me," I say. "Please."
He hesitates, but only for a few seconds. "Kenzie, I―"
"Shh...just listen to me for a minute," I say quietly. "I don't expect you to be anything other than you are. You know that, right? I don't need Prince Charming. I don't need a superhero. I need you."
"This is the second time you've said that to me," he says, sounding as if he's thinking out loud more than continuing the thread of our conversation. "That day at work..."
"Do you believe me?"
I'm aware of seconds ticking by as Derek studies me. After a while, he says very softly, "I trust you."
Unexpectedly, hearing this statement feels more overwhelming to me than hearing him tell me he loves me. I feel as though I've been given an invaluable gift, something I need to protect, and the sheer enormity of that responsibility both astounds and frightens me. The last thing I'd ever want to do is betray the trust of this beautiful, fragile person beside me. When I'd awakened today, I couldn't possibly have imagined this is the way the events of our morning would unfold. It's amazing.
I don't know what to say to him, but then it occurs to me that I don't have to say anything at all. Quietly, we settle beneath our blankets again, and we hold each other close. It's enough. We don't need words right now. I close my eyes, concentrating only on the warmth of Derek's body next to mine, the soft sound of his breathing and the comforting scent of him.
For a moment, I can believe that there is no other place but this room, and no one in the world except Derek and me. No one else can touch us. Nothing can harm us, because our arms around each other are sufficient protection from anything that could ever hurt or frighten us.
"I trust you."
I speak the words so softly that I'm hardly aware of them myself, but when Derek says "I love you" in a voice barely above a breath, I'm reassured that he'd understood my whispered confession. I know what it means to be safe, I think to myself, Being safe is being here.