A/N: Yay a quick updated!!! If you want to read the other Judith encounters they're in HTSUYL: 101! Thanks so much to all my reviewers and readers!! ;-) And now without further ado…

Step 12:

Realize That All Happiness Fades, And Except That It's Time For You To Retake The Reigns

"Okay and what is your mother's name dear," the clerk asks with a sympathetic look.

It seems that instead of being pissed at me for being short with her, the clerk's decided to pity me.

"Mrs. Meredith Bankton," I say with a sigh. 'Pity is really the last thing I want right now.'

The clerk, whose name tag says 'Ms. Peggy Jones', types the name into her computer then frowns, before making a few more clicks.

"Are you sure she's to be picked up today," Ms. Jones asks still frowning.

"We received a call saying that she was being released today," Nathe says frowning as well.

"Well there's no record of her having any release papers or date here," she says with concern.

And I begin to feel like shit because I can feel hope blooming at the thought that maybe we are wrong and she's not coming home. 'Yet.' I remind myself.

"Let me go ask the administration head. Wait one moment please, we'll figure this out," she says smiling kindly at me before leaving. 'Yeah pile on the feeling of shit why don't you.'

I sigh and rub my neck, because I know that thought wasn't fair. It's not her fault my life's so screwed up.

"Are you alright," Nathe asks massaging my shoulder with his hand.

"Yeah I just want this to hurry up and be over with," I say giving him a small smile.

"Sirs," Ms. Jones calls and we turn to see her walking back up to us.

The frown is back on her face and I'm not sure if that's a good or a bad thing for me.

"The administrator would like to speak with you. Right this way please," she says turning back around to lead the way.

I sigh again as we follow her down the usual hall and through double doors that need a security card and code to open. We continue walking down a drab beige colored hall that's nothing like the lobby of the facility. These walls are a stark contrast to the vibrantly painted walls out front. We reach an office door to the left of where we would normally go and the lady behind the desk stand up coming around to greet us.

"Mrs. Low, here are Mrs. Bankton's visitors," Ms. Jones says courteously.

"Thank you Ms. Jones that will be all," Mrs. Low says passing someone sitting in a chair, and I just now realize my mother's in the office along with another gentlemen across from her on the other side of the room.

"Hello I'm Mrs. Low," she says reaching out her hand to shake.

"Hi I'm Travis, Mrs. Bankton's son," I say giving her hand a firm shake.

"Hello I'm Nathe… a family friend," Nathe says with an almost imperceptible pause, shaking her hand as well.

I hear a derisive snort on the side of the room my mother's on, but I clench my teeth and choose to ignore it.

"Nice to meet you gentlemen if you both would please have a seat, I would like to go over some concerns I have about Meredith," Mrs. Low says as she leads us to the chairs in front of her desk before retaking her own seat behind it.

"What kind of concerns," Nathe asks frowning as we take our seats.

"I don't want him here," my mother snaps out icily.

"I'm sorry, who don't you want her Meredith," Mrs. Low asks turning to my mother.

"Him," she says pointing to Nathe, before flashing a smirk at me so quickly that if I hadn't been expecting it I might not have seen it.

I look over to see Nathe grinding his teeth, glaring at her with obvious, 'to me at least', restraint.

"My apologies Mr. Nathe, but Meredith has the right to have or not have whomever she wants participate in this meeting," Mrs. Low says with a sigh.

"It's alright Nathe," I say softly as he opens his mouth to no doubt object.

He turns to face me, eying me critically and I shoot him a reassuring smile that I don't really feel. I open my mouth to offer verbal reassurance, but Nathe speaks before I do.

"Okay," he says cutting me off and turning away from me to stand up.

I think he might be angry but it's something I have to do, because the fact of the matter is he won't always be there to protect me. 'Nobody ever was before.' When the door shuts behind Nathe my mother moves to his vacated seat. Looks at me with a sickly sweet smile and pats my knee, before turning to Mrs. Low who starts speaking again.

"Now Travis I understand that you're eighteen and acting as the advising adult in your mother's care," Mrs. Low asks me directly…

"Yes," …but it's my mother who speaks.

"Now Meredith we've talked about this, I was speaking to Travis," Mrs. Low says reproachfully.

"And I speak for Travis. I am his mother," my mom says raising her nose in indignation.

"Travis is old enough to make his own decisions and speak for himself," Mrs. Low says more strongly.

"Not if he's making the wrong ones," she bites back.

"He is right here and yes I'm in charge of her care. Can we move on please," I say wearily just wanting this day to end.

"Do not interrupt me when I'm speaking," my mother reprimands me severely.

"Meredith," Mrs. Low says with the same tone as my mother, and my mother turns her glare on her.

"That was uncalled for, Travis is right we need to proceed with this meeting. Thank you Travis," she says turning back to me.

"Now it was just recently brought to our attention that one of the nurses here was allowing her personal feelings and religious beliefs to sway the way she interacted with the patients. Now while we encourage our patients to, get in touch with their own…spiritual awareness to help them through this difficult time. We do not in anyway permit our nurses to give any kind of spiritual guidance. Such things are strictly forbidden. We have a pastor and priest on staff for any kind of spiritual guidance patients may need, but only they are allowed to give any kind of counsel in that regard," Mrs. Low says choosing her words so very carefully.

"Said nurse has been fired, but unfortunately not before her…affects had long reaching, effects," she says, her eyes wandering to my mother as she finishes.

'Does she really think this is news or something? I've known about it since it started.'

Mrs. Low looks to me as if waiting for me to speak and I look back not having anything to say. The awkwardly tense silence stretches, and I feel no need or desire to fix it.

"Travis," it's the man in the corner that I forgot was there who breaks it.

"My name is Mr. Thomas; I'm one of the counselors here. The one that's been working with your mother," he says leaning forward towards me.

"Now your mother was showing marked improvement until such time as she began her…friendship with the nurse. Since such time it has become extremely difficult to…speak with her. Or to…get her to acknowledge her part in her sickness," he says, also picking and choosing his word carefully.

'No shit Sherlock she's decided to blame me instead. And I don't know if they think I'm stupid, or if they're worried about a law suit the way they keep tiptoeing around their words.'

"We are truly sorry for this unfortunate…obstacle in your mothers over all recovery, but this facility is for substance abuse and psychiatric care for people who are a danger to themselves or others. And while we may not…agree with Meredith's new…views, that alone is simply not enough reason to keep her here," she finally drops, what I guess she feels is the bomb, and crosses her fingers on her desk waiting for my response.

I continue to stare at her for long moments before she catches a clue that I have nothing to say. She and Mr. Thomas both clear their throats glancing at each other before Mrs. Low begins again.

"It seems there was a hold up with the paperwork so your mother with not be released until tomorrow. I'm sorry," she says the last in such a heart felt way that I know for a fact she's not talking about the damn paperwork.

'Right, so you all fuck her up worse and then send her home to be my problem. Gotcha.'

"Excuse me," my mother says in a dangerous voice, apparently unaware that she wouldn't be released today.

"That is unacceptable," she grounds out through her teeth.

I just sigh, sinking lower into my chair. The only outward response I've had through out this whole meeting. Mrs. Low clears her throat again and I wonder what in the hell could possible be in it that hasn't come out already.

"My apologies Meredith, but it will be taken care of as soon as possible. Do you have any questions Travis," Mrs. Low asks turning to me, and trying to derail my mother.

I simply shake my head standing up, and moving towards the door.

"Travis," my mother says sharply standing up and following me out the door.

She grabs my freshly held arm yanking me towards her, and I feel a slight swing shoot through it. 'Phantom pain,' I think turning to face her.

"You are not leaving me here another second," she hisses at me.

"Well what the hell do you expect me to do, you don't have the paperwork to leave," I snap at her, then swallow thickly as fear shoots through me, until I remember we're in public so she can't do too much. 'Yeah, right now.'

She glowers at me squeezing my arm tighter. 'Okay not phantom pain.' Then she quickly releases me when Mr. Tomas exits the office. He stares back and forth between us for a moment.

"Oh, no need to wait for Peggy, I'll show you out Travis," he says with a smile on his face though his eyes are sharp.

"Um thanks," I say awkwardly not really knowing what else to do.

"I'll see you tomorrow mom," I say turning to go.

"You will see me later today," she says before storming off.

I just sigh for the hundredth time and continue on my way with Mr. Thomas trailing beside me. We reach the door and he opens it holding it for me as I exit and he follows. I see Nathe stand and I begin to approach him, but am held up when Mr. Thomas places his hand on my arm in a gentler mirror of my mothers clasp. I look down at it before look up to him. He leans into me slightly before speaking.

"I… If you ever need any help or someone to talk to please give me a call," he says handing me a card all while never letting go of my arm.

"Um thanks," I say stuffing it into my jean pocket, again not knowing what else to say.

He squeezes my arm gently before going back through the double doors, and I stare after him a moment before walking over to Nathe. 'Well that was weird.'

"What was that about," Nathe says in a weird voice with his eyes slightly narrowed.

"The hell if I know," I say looking at him startled and it takes me a minute to realize he's jealous.

'Oh this is just priceless,' I think with a snort, opening my mouth to tell him so. But Nathe's phone rings before I can say anything about it. He pulls it out of his pocket and glances at the LCD screen before answering.

"Hey B.B.C.," he answers smoothly.

'Yeah like he didn't just sound like a jealous boyfriend two seconds ago.'

"Wait what," he asks frowning as he starts quickly making his way to the front doors.

"When," he asks sharply.

"Where is he now," he asks pushing through the doors and making a beeline for the car.

"Well where is she now," he asks unlocking the door, getting in and starting the car.

I jump in quickly half afraid he might leave without me, and buckle up.

"Okay I'm on my way home now. Make sure he doesn't leave," Nathe says quickly before hanging up and putting the car in gear.

"So…what was that about," I'm almost afraid to ask, not wanting to distract him from his bat out of hell impression.

"Judith showed up at the house and upset Scott pretty badly," Nathe says navigating a turn a little sharply but with skill.

"Damn," I say half because of the turn and the other at what he said.

"Yeah," he exhales making another turn.

XxX~x~XxX

We arrive at the house in record time, and Nathe jumps out heading for the door. As I exit the car Judith appears out of nowhere making a beeline for Nathe. Nathe looks up seeing her and cuts her off at the quick.

"Go the fuck home Judith. I don't give a damn about anything you have to say," Nathe says reaching the door and I quicken my pace meeting him there before Judith does.

"Nathe would you just listen? There was a misunderstanding and Scott…" Judith tries but snaps her mouth shut as Nathe rounds on her.

"Travis go inside," Nathe growls at me and I hesitate a moment before going in.

'I really don't think he should be out there alone with her.' And I'm proven right when I hear raised voices as I make my way to the kitchen. Charlie, B.B. and Finn are sitting around the kitchen table, and B.B. jumps up when I enter looking behind me for Nathe.

"He's out side talking to Judith. I think someone should…" I start to say but fade off as Finn stand up saying something in a language I don't understand.

"Oh hell," B.B. curses at the same time, scurrying around the table and striding to the front door with Finn following in her wake.

"You wretched bitch," we hear Nathe yell as B.B. swings open the door, and I look out to see Nathe towering over Judith with his hands fisted at his side.

"How? How could you say such a thing to him? What the hell is wrong with you," he continues.

"You didn't hear the way he was talking to me," Judith yells rationalizing.

"I don't give a shit what he said to you, you probably deserved every word. And nothing, no-thing he could have possibly said could justify that," he yells back before B.B. cuts in.

"Nathe that's enough, the damn neighbors around the corner could hear you two," she says rushing out and superimposing herself between Judith and Nathe.

"Judith, take your ass on somewhere before I kick it up and down this street. Finn, take Nathe inside," B.B. orders glaring at Judith.

"You lay a finger on me and I'll call the police," Judith hisses at B.B..

"Honey if you can dial," B.B. snarks back.

"And right now you're trespassing so they'd be taking you," she says with a glaring smile.

"This isn't over Nathe! I'll fucking destroy you, just like you did me," Judith snarls at Nathe, who Finn is trying to usher inside, before storming off down the path through the front yard.

"Oh child please," B.B. says shaking her head turning toward Finn and Nathe as they head inside, her following behind.

During this time Charlie and I have moved to the living room and stood there watching the whole encounter through the door. When Nathe comes in his face is a mask of fury and he inhales deeply sitting on the edge of the couch. B.B. enters the house last closing and locking the door.

"What the hell happened today," he asks after many more measured breaths.

"We don't know. We were in the back yard messing around and when we came back in Scott and Luke were at the door standing off against Judith. Then Scott tells her something about dying before letting her see Charlie, and he shuts the door in her face. Then he goes upstairs looking, so lost," B.B. says in slightly frazzled anger and Finn goes over to her and rubs her back comfortingly.

"We asked Luke what happened and he said he thinks she broke him before following Scott upstairs. Neither have been back down since," she finishes taking a deep breath to get her emotions under control.

"What did she say to you," she asks bringing Charlie, who's looking rather harried himself, close to her chest.

"She said she told him something about not wanting him because he's was nothing but trouble, and that's why she didn't fight for him like she is Charlie," Nathe says with a growl.

He then looks up and reaches for Charlie, who leaves B.B.'s arms and goes to him slowly, looking dejected. When Charlie finally reaches him, Nathe clasps his shoulders in his hands looking him straight in the eyes

"Everything that woman says is a lie. She wasn't in either one of your lives because she is selfish and irresponsible. She had the chance to be a mother and she threw it all away because she doesn't care about anybody but herself," Nathe says strongly.

"You remember the talk we had with Scott and he told you a bit about his time with Judith," Nathe asks him and I remember that Friday that turned into a "coming out" party. 'It feels like eons ago and it was just this past weekend.'

Charlie just nods his head looking sad.

"Well it's things like that and what happened today why I don't want her in our lives. So don't feel bad or blame yourself for what's going on because it's her fault and her selfishness that's causing all these problems, and she's just trying to use you as an excuse," Nathe says vehemently and Charlie just nods again silently.

Nathe watches him not knowing what else to say, when Charlie suddenly throws himself into Nathe's arms.

"Why won't she just leave us alone," he finally asks brokenly and Nathe gathers him in his embrace as he cries.

"I don't know son, I don't know," Nathe says soothingly rocking Charlie back and forth.

Charlie eventually winds up falling asleep in Nathe's arms and he asks Finn to lie him down in his room while he goes and talks to Scott. They both head up stairs leaving B.B. and I in the living room, and she rubs at her right temple sighing before looking at me and smiling wanly.

"I'm going to go start on dinner, you want to help me," she asks kindly.

"Sure," I answer right when my cell phone rings, blushing I mumbling an apology while answering it and B.B. chuckles with a genuine smile before heading towards the kitchen.

"Come get me now," my mother snaps at me before I can even say hello.

I wait until B.B. is fully in the kitchen before responding.

"I thought you weren't being released until tomorrow," I say gritting my teeth.

"Yes well, I took care of that heathen of an administrator, and I'm being released today like I'm supposed to," she answers and I can hear the smirk in her voice.

"Now come and get me, without that man," she barks before hanging up.

I lower my phone inhaling deeply as I see Finn come down the stairs.

"Hey could you tell B.B. I'm sorry? I'd like to help her cook but I have to go pick up my mom," I ask as he descends the last step.

"Aye but I thought you and Nathe already did that," Finn asks his thick brows furrowing.

"Yeah but there was a mix up," I say approaching him to ascend the stairs and retrieve my keys from my room.

"Alright, good luck," he says patting my back as I pass him.

I grab my keys from my dresser, and as I'm walking towards the stairs I pause at Scott's bedroom door debating whether I should tell Nathe that I'm leaving or not. I decide against it not wanting to interrupt. 'Besides I may be back before he even leaves the room, and if not Finn and B.B. know where I am.'

XxX~x~XxX

I reach the facility before I fully realize I've left the damn house, and I shake my head to clear it of its unhelpful thoughts. 'There's no use dwelling on what ifs, I'm here now and it's going to be the way it is.' I think exiting the car and approaching the building. But before I can even press the button to lock my car, let alone make it to the front doors they burst open and my mother marches out. Mrs. Low and Mr. Thomas stand in the doorway watching her as she nears me.

"Let's go," she barks as she strides past.

I stare at Mrs. Low and Mr. Thomas for a moment before shaking my head and turning to follow my mom. 'Yeah thanks guys, get her all riled and pissed off then dump her on me. Appreciate it.' I sigh getting back in my car.

"I can't believe you left me there, I'm your mother," she yells at me as I start the car and we exit the parking lot.

"Take me to the store. Listening to you I dumped all my alcohol before coming to this heaven forsaken place," she sneers, and it takes everything I have not to swerve the car off the road in shock.

"You just got out of rehab," I all but shriek.

"Oh shut up! I can't believe I let you talk me into going into that place. Children obey their parents not the other way around," she yells.

"And besides there is nothing wrong with alcohol and it your fault I was drinking so much. I just have to get you back on the right path and everything will be fine," she says nodding resolutely.

"What's that supposed to mean," I ask sharply with a feeling of dread.

"We'll talk about it when we get home. After we stop by the store," she adds.

We reach a stoplight and I turn my head to look at her. I was intending to speak but I can't help but just stare and wonder how anyone could be the way she is.

"What," she snaps breaking me out of my thoughts.

"I am not taking you to get liquor," I say succinctly and I can feel my heart pounding rapidly in my chest.

"You will do as I say," she answers tersely narrowing her eyes dangerously, and I feel my throat seize but I fight it and push on.

"If you want alcohol you can get it yourself. I'm not taking you," I say determinedly willing myself to keep breathing evenly.

I suck in a sharp breath and my eyes water at my stinging cheek, and I'm so worried about not hyperventilating that it takes me a moment to realize she slapped me. 'It's been so long since I've been hit I almost forgot how to take it, but it wasn't too hard so at least there won't be bruising. I am out of practice with hiding them after all.' I think sardonically as I grind my teeth.

A car horn blares behind us and I look up to see that the light has turned green and I press the gas and continue onward, 'toward the house'. I don't say a word as I drive and it takes a while before she recognizes where we're going.

"I said to take me to the store," she growls at me and I stay quiet as I continue to drive.

'If I can just stay quiet and make it to the house, then I can drop her of and fucking leave.'

I feel a sharp tug on my hair that causes me to swerve a little before I regain control of the car. Her hand is fisted in my hair at the root, and I grit my teeth and bare it as she increases the pull.

"Take me to the store now. I am your mother and you will do as I say," she continues to demand with a growl.

"What are you going to do make us crash if you don't get your way," I hiss out in pain my eyes stinging from the pressure.

It takes a moment but she finally releases me, and I squeeze the steering-wheel in a painful grip to keep me from touching the sore spot on my head.

"See this is precisely what I'm talking about. That man has warped your mind. How dare you disobey me? Talking back, disrespectful good-for-nothing," she hisses and spits, and she continues to bitches the rest of the way home. 'To her home.'

I pull next the curb in front of the house and put the car in park. I look into the backseat for her duffle and realize belatedly that she never brought a bag out with her. I see it as a blessing and wait for her to exit the car, but she just sits there staring at me expectantly.

"Open my door," she orders crossing her hands in her lap.

'I wish I was strong enough not to care about her anymore.'

"And don't think you're getting away that easily, we will talk," she says as I sigh shutting off the car and getting out.

'I wish I was strong enough to walk away and leave her alone.'

I open her door for her and follow her towards the house, hesitating at the threshold as a wave of fear grips me. Absurdly I feel as though if I enter I'll never be able to leave again. That if I go in now she'll trap me here forever and the fear is almost strong enough to make me turn around and leave. But I push the thought aside as my mother snaps at me.

"Shut the damn door," she yells and resignedly I enter the house completely and close the door behind me.

'I wish I was strong enough not to love her anymore.'

x~X~x

A/N: I know another bit of a cliffy, but at least it was long!! Lol! My poor Travis! ;-( Like I said his mom is back and even worse…she has a mission!! Dun dun dunnnnn!! HTSUYL: 101 has been updated as well. If you want to know what really happened during Scott and Judith's encounter & read Nathe's conversation with Scott and Luke it's in HTSUYL: 101! Hope you all enjoyed it! Till next time!! ;-)

Reviewers & Readers: Thank you so much autumn-annette-19 & shorteyy jayylee for reviewing. And thank you so much to all my readers. I truly appreciate it! I hope you enjoyed the update! ;-)