A/N: Haven't edited this yet, I'm sorry! Maybe I'll find the time soon enough. Thanks too Lacrossefreak100, .disguise and as always, Emily! Really appreciate the feedback guys!
ALSO PLEASE NOTE: In the last chapter, Phoenix was described as with, black hair and blue eyes, yeah, not anymore. I figure him and Connie are twins so they should look as much a like as they can! He now has golden brown hair and blue eyes as well. Thank you~
"Surprises are foolish things. The pleasure is not enhanced, and the inconvenience is often considerable."
After slamming the door shut, she locked it and put the chain on, messily. Her hands shook nervously and she threw her back against the door as if it would help against his furious pounding. She sunk to her knees, willing the tears away. Her arms rest on her knees, Connie and Phoenix came running down the stairs.
"Mom, what's wrong? Was he really a crazy man?" Connie asked sadly, quickly going to the window and peeking through the curtains at him.
"Want me to beat him up?" Phoenix asked his mother softly.
Her watery eyes shined in adoration, "No, thank you baby." She whispered, petting his beautiful, soft, brown hair. "It's okay, really," she smiled at his disbelieving look.
He nodded stiffly, before walking over to Connie, "Con, come on, let's go upstairs." He coaxed, trying to pull her away from the window.
"Do we have to?" She whined, following her brother upstairs reluctantly.
"Yeah, we do. And come on, if you stop your whining, I'll even play that game you really like."
"Really?" Connie asked, perking up, "You'll really play, my little pony with me?" She squealed.
"No." He laughed dryly, "The other one you like – Zombie Slayer." He grinned.
"That's your favorite you gip!" She growled, chasing after him and disappearing completely up the stairs.
Sage felt warmth spread through her like wildfire. The pounding on the door had ceased and there was only silence, but she knew he hadn't left. He was waiting for her. For the long over-due explanation that she indefinitely owed him. It was only a matter of time before it happened, fate was cruel to her, but she supposed lying was a bad habit to get into and it wasn't an example she was looking to set for her children. She needed to come clean and explain it all, if not for herself, for her children and for Devlin. They all deserved that much.
Sighing, she wiped the few stray tears that had fallen down her cheeks and stood, dusting herself off. She stood still behind the door, trying to gain the courage to open the door and face him.
Distantly she heard her children bickering and the sounds of Constance's 'My Little Pony' interactive DVD playing and smiled, finding the courage she needed.
Undoing the chain and the locks, she twisted the knob of the door, opening it slowly.
Devlin stood in front of her, his head lowered, soft, brown hair in a messy tuft, his neat business attire was still perfectly intact, besides a few wrinkles in his blazer; his jaw was sharp, defined and his cheeks were flushed a rosy pink, light stubble washing his face attractively. He raised his eyes to meet hers and she felt a stab around the left side of her chest and her body felt heavy. A wave of nausea came over her as she read the heartache in his eyes, the pain, the disappointment, the anger – his eyes had always been expressive. He looked at her as if he'd never seen her before, as if he didn't know her. And maybe he didn't. Maybe she didn't even know who she was anymore.
She opened the door wider, standing beside it, "Come in," she whispered, "let's talk."
He nodded and stepped slowly into her house hold, politely wiping his feet before he walked in, although Sage was sure there wasn't a speck of dirt on them, she gave a small smile in thanks anyway.
She led the way into her kitchen and urged him to sit down at the table. His head was still lowered and he didn't lift it once to even look around at her house, at what she had achieved, of what his children had achieved – not that she could blame him.
"Would you like anything to drink?" She asked, politely, standing opposite him, holding on to the chair in front of her, "Something to eat?" She tried again.
He shook his head, "Sit down, Sage," he demanded in a low voice.
Sage obliged, nervously, "Thank you," he said again.
She swallowed, tapping on the table not knowing what to do now. Sure she was going to tell him, but was she just going to jump right in and go for it or did he want a softened version of the last nine years, one that wasn't so emotionally draining and depressing.
"Soo…" Sage trailed off awkwardly.
He gave her a dry look from across the table and she found herself swallowing her nerves again.
"How old are they?"
She sighed inwardly, glad that he'd decided to get the ball rolling. She would tell him, she just needed a nudge in the general direction – a very firm nudge.
"9 years of age." Sage smiled softly, looking at her fingers and twisting them around.
"When were they born?"
"November 9th 2002. 7:47Am, five pound fourteen ounces and 7:58am, five pound five ounces, you can probably take a guess at whose the heavier one of the two." She chuckled, but Devlin didn't, she stopped laughing and continued to play with her fingers.
"What…" He began. She lifted her head curiously and he sighed deeply, not looking at her. "What are their names?" He almost whispered.
She waited until he lifted his gaze to hers and after not hearing her answer he did. There was a silent exchange between the two of them. She could never understand how he was feeling, but she could guess.
"Phoenix Mitchel Devlin Swain and Constance Elizabeth Swain," she said seriously.
His face contorted into pain and his eyes turned misty. What had she done? He stuck a hand in his hair, gripping it tightly before squeezing his eyes shut. To her absolute horror, a tear rolled down his eyes.
"Oh, Dev." She began, reaching a hand across the table to him.
He retracted his hand just in time though and stood, leaving her feeling rejected and sheepish.
"Don't," he said, his back to her, "I just need…a minute."
"Of course," she whispered reassuringly, "of course, Devlin."
He stood there for minutes, occasionally sniffing, but she knew he hadn't cried anymore – just the after affects. He stood in thought though, in processing. He was trying to figure out where to go from here, what he would do, damage control with the media, Carmen – at least that's what Sage assumed he'd be thinking of.
"Did you know?" He asked distantly, his back still turned, "Did you know when you dumped me? Is this why you dumped me?" He more stated than asked, quietly.
"Devlin, look," she began, trying to think of how she was going to explain this without making it sound as lame as it was. I did this for you – Devlin wouldn't believe a word of it.
"No, Sage. Just answer the damn question." He grit as he whipped around to face her, slamming his hands on the table as he went.
"Yes. Yes I did." Sage said truthfully, not daring to meet the rage in his eyes.
"Look at me Sage." He demanded, "You've spent all this time hiding from me, hiding all of this from me," he yelled, raising his arms to her house, "hiding my children from me!" He cried furiously, "My own children, my flesh and blood that you had the audacity to name after me! God, why? I can't understand why you did it. I'm racking my brain for any plausible reason! Did I do something to you then? We talked about having kids, we said we could do it if it ever did happen, we'd do it together! That was our plan. I wanted to be…" he trailed off, sitting back at the table with his head in his hair before looking up directly at Sage, his golden brown eyes melting into hers, "I would have died for you, Sage." He whispered and Sage felt another piece of her fragile heart chip away, "Why did you do this to me? Why couldn't you have told me? Why did you have to keep this a secret! I could've helped you, even if you didn't have feelings for me anymore, you could've had the decency to tell me you were going to have my child – two of my children – and then stood all over my heart." Sage winced, disheartened by his words. She did love him; she did it for them, for him, so he could have a better life, so he could have the life he possessed today. "Sage, come on, you've really got to help me out here, because I'm trying, I am, but I'm missing so many pieces. Do you possess the decency to give me that?"
Sage felt something in her stir. She could understand that this may have come as a shock and yes, she could agree in some ways that it wasn't the best course of action, but, he was really grating on her and she didn't know how much longer she could keep sympathizing with him. Sooner or later, the caring little butterflies were going to turn into red demons with knives.
No, Sage thought to herself. She wasn't going to let her pride get the best of her. This was a mistake she had brought on herself; she would reap the percussions of her actions. She just hoped what she reaped didn't break what left of her heart there was.
"You should know while you stand there mute, that I could very well collect on my lost nine years."
Her jaw dropped and her eyes filled with tears. She tried her hardest not to let them fall, but tears can be very ill-behaved. They trailed slowly down her cheeks that began to turn pink with suppressed emotion. She was not so used to containing her emotions anymore; she never felt the need to, so when she did, it wasn't easy.
Devlin's gaze didn't deter from her own, he just stared her down, his eyes never once flicking away. He didn't seem saddened or hurt that he'd made her cry and that wasn't the Devlin she knew. This wasn't the Devlin that would die for her. This Devlin was the hurt, arrogant but powerful man she knew he could be – she just never expected she would ever be on the receiving end. She didn't want to beg for his forgiveness, but she would beg for her children if that's what it took to keep them. She'd already lost him, she couldn't lose them, she just couldn't…there'd be nothing left for her worth living for.
At first, the idea of children had frightened her and she found herself crying to sleep because she never thought she'd know what to do, if she was mother material, but as she came to learn, being a mother isn't something you can learn. You just are. Everyone is born with a maternal sense of being and when nurturing two lives inside of your own body for nine months, the maternal senses blossom. They feel things that you feel and you feel things they feel, it's a connection, a bond that can only be formed through blood. A sense of belonging that none can replace. Her children were her world; she breathed them, lived them and wanted the world for them.
Her eyes widened and she let out a gasp, slapping a hand to her mouth, she closed her eyes sobbing softly. The realization of it all hit and it hit hard.
"God, I'm so sorry! I am so, so, sorry." She wheezed through her wracking cries, sinking to the floor and pulling her knees tight to her chest. Sage buried her head in her knees, crying mercilessly. "I'm so sorry," she whispered, rocking herself slightly.
"Sage," she heard him say softly, "it's okay." He tried to assure her, "It's not really, but, I'm going to pretend it is because you…our…the children don't need to see you like this. I'm sorry for what I said, I'm not- I would never- I don't plan on taking them from you." He finally finished.
Sage wished his words could ease the immense pain she was feeling, but it wasn't just about that anymore, it wasn't just about him threatening to take the only people left that had meaning, it was about all the pent up emotion she'd been forced to hold in since becoming a mother, since having her children. She couldn't be emotional or depressed or sad around her children. They were bright and intelligent, they would figure something was wrong and they'd get hurt, she never wanted them to hurt, so she had to pretend to be happy. From the moment they were brought into this world, she had vowed she would forget Devlin ever existed, clearly some nights, she had broken her vows and she felt like a fool for it, but she didn't acknowledge to being a saint.
Devlin had unknowingly broken down those barriers, those walls of emotion without even knowing it. Why did he do this to her?
"Sage, why are you still crying? I told you it was all okay. We'll sort something out. Obviously, I want to be a part of their lives now, if…you know, that's okay with you." Sage knew he was being polite and courteous and that she could have said no, then told him to mug off, but she owed him this. She owed him a chance at the nine years she had robbed him of.
"I'm so sorry," Sage continued to whisper, rocking back and forth.
"What are you sorry for, Sage?" He asked, sitting across from her, his knees bent and his arms resting around them.
She looked up at him with all the hurt and anguish she couldn't hide, "I'm so sorry." She was sorry for breaking up with him because she was pregnant, for breaking up with him. Period. She was sorry for the hurt she'd caused him, she was sorry for her silence, she was sorry for not trying, she was sorry for her selfishness – god, the list could've went on.
His eyes softened immediately and his fingers twitched as if they wanted to reach out to her, but she knew he wouldn't. Instead he smiled softly, only nodding his thanks – he understood – as he clasped his hands tightly together.
"Mom?" A voice whispered.
She quickly wiped her tears away, but knew it wouldn't do a thing to deter their worry, "Yes, baby? Where are you and why are you hiding?" she asked as his head popped around the doorway and into view, "Call your sister down here; you both need to meet someone." She whispered softly, sniffling as she spoke to Phoenix.
He nodded once, staring at her with concern. With a small glare at Devlin he turned and ran back up the stairs.
"I don't think he likes me very much." Dev chuckled slightly as he pushed himself off the floor.
Sage smiled, "Probably not, but would you be enamored with your tear-stricken mother and a strange man you don't know?" she giggled, "I thought not," she said at his silence before pushing herself off the floor also, dusting off her hands.
"Are you sure this is a good idea?" Devlin asked nervously, shuffling his feet nervously.
"Scared?" She taunted, "You should be. These kids will eat you alive." She warned, half joking, half not. She wasn't purposely trying to scare him off; she just thought he should be prepared, right? What a joke. She didn't want him there any more than he wanted to be there. She could probably guarantee that if Devlin wouldn't come back, given the second chance to do so. And that, was in itself, why she was scared. She knew he had a heart of gold…when you were in his good graces. He'd been a bit of a dick before they'd got together and she couldn't completely disregard that part of him though it was so long ago. Maybe people did change? Useless infantile leopards never change their spots, her father's voice taunted. She could acknowledge that she was more than likely on his shit list and what if he used to kids to get back at her? What if he…made them so unbelievably happy and spoiled them and then abandoned them? What if he….spoiled them and gave them the things she couldn't and they loved him more than her. Maybe, she'd lose them anyway – not in the legal sense – but in the heart-breaking, my child doesn't love me anymore way.
Pushing those pessimistic thoughts from her, Sage decided that the only thing she could do was give him the benefit of the doubt. Innocent until proven guilty, right? Easier said than done.
"Mom?" she heard a demure voice cut through her incessant inner ramblings and her head snapped to Phoenix, Connie standing curiously behind her brother. Her hands clinging to the back of her brothers t-shirt, she peered around him to take a look, her eyes raking the emotional mess that was her mother and then her eyes flicking inquisitively at Devlin.
One eye squinted and she stepped out bravely from behind her brother.
Sage gave Devlin a sideways glance and found his eyes widened in adoration and fear. His eyes were misty, but warmer than she'd ever seen them before.
Connie cleared her throat in a business-like manner, snapping Dev from his mystified daze.
"Your hair looks very soft, just like mine and the color is just like mine too, do you get your hair done at Daisy's aswell? She's great." Connie breathed. The tension Sage was completely unaware of cleared instantly. She couldn't help the glowing grin that braced her features.
"Actually, no, I go to her cousin Rose's." Devlin joked very lamely, taking small steps towards her and sitting in front of her cross-legged. Never taking his eyes from hers, he just sat in front of her, staring.
Connie didn't mind though, Sage could see it in her eyes, she enjoyed the attention and she was content to let this man she didn't know from a bar of soap take in every single one of her features. Somewhere, in the back of her mind, she wondered if she should be mad at that? What if it wasn't Devlin and actually…a pedophile? Scared, she decided on having a chat to Connie later about it.
Phoenix, looking uncomfortable as ever standing next to her, raked a hand through his own, soft, gold brown locks. Sage felt her heart fill with loving goodness, knowing he was suffering through this awkward moment for his sister, to make sure she knew he was there if she needed him. But she clearly didn't.
"Guys," Sage began, deciding it was time to break the news…or something, "I…This is Devlin."
Three pairs of eyes locked onto her, Devlin amused, Phoenix uncomfortable and Connie still curious.
"I'm Constance Elizabeth Swain," Connie stepped up to Devlin, breaking the thin blanket of tension that clouded the room. Holding her hand out to him, she smiled politely.
His eyes widened and Sage slapped a palm to her forehead, the sound resounding throughout the room.
"Psst…" she whispered, a hand cupping her mouth as she leaned over to Devlin who was now slowly shaking Connie's hand with mixed emotions, "I forgot to mention, I named them after your mother and father….kind of." His head whipped to Sage's, misty and dumbfounded.
He found he had no words to describe how he felt, "but…why?" he managed.
Sage shrugged, avoiding his gaze, "I just…I figured since you know, they lived with me, I'd give them the only piece of you I could. I know it doesn't make up for me not telling you about them, it's just, I, I wanted to do something. I felt horrible. I knew I should've told you…it was complicated." She whispered a mile a minute, still not meeting his gaze.
He nodded, sensing she didn't want to get into all that now and turned his head back to Constance. He knelt down so he could talk to her at eyelevel. "Hi, Constance," he swallowed back the overwhelming tears that threatened to take him, "you don't know how much of a pleasure it is to finally meet you." He whispered, fearing that if he spoke to loud he'd wake up from this surreal dream.
"Really?" Her eyes brightened, "I…" she began trailing off, unsure. She scrunched her face adorably and turned to her mother for reassurance.
"Go on, Connie, it's okay," Sage prodded.
"It's just…I feel like I know you from somewhere." She squinted her eyes.
Sage smiled proudly at her intelligent daughter, though the resemblance couldn't be missed.
"Don't be stupid," Phoenix broke in, "we don't know him. We don't know anything about him Con. Look what he did to Mom! He hurt our Mom, he should leave."
Dev was taken back by the words of his own son and couldn't find the words to defend himself; he did, however, feel a semblance of pride though. He was protective and cared for his family. As much as he loathed to admit, Sage had done a better job raising them on her own then he could've but then, he never doubted she couldn't do it. If anyone could, she could and she had.
"Phoenix – " she began, but snapping back from his stupor Dev interrupted.
"Not Mitchel?" He asked.
Sage just shook her head.
"No…Mitchel's my middle name and so is….Devlin." Phoenix's eyes went wide at the same time Connie's did and they finally made the connection. How they hadn't seen it before was a mystery.
"You're…" Phoenix sputtered.
"Daddy!" Connie squealed jumping onto Dev the next instance. Surprised, Dev stumbled a bit on his heels but regained his balance and lifted Connie up with him as he stood.
Devlin found himself again, lost for words as Connie wrapped her legs around him as tight as she could, her small, thin, arms wrapping around his neck in a strong hold. Her head nestled into his neck. He was sure he could hear soft sniffling and feel a slight dampness through his shirt.
"I've missed you so much, Daddy." She muffled softly.
Sage heard clear as day though. What had she deprived her children of and why? She was such a selfish person. Why had she done this? Why had she not seen that they'd need a father, that they'd WANT a father? She felt like the worse person in the world.
Devlin still not able to find words just petted her hair softly, holding her just as tightly. He hugged her to him and thanked God that he'd found what he felt had been missing from him the moment he walked out Sage's door that day.
Connie lifted her head off his shoulder, droopily and he cocked her onto his hip, though not an easy task. She looked thin, but dear lord, she weighed a tone. He didn't mind though, this was the daughter he hadn't met for nine years and he wasn't ever going to let her out his sight again if he could help it.
"Daddy," she whispered again. Her hands reached up slowly, unsurely, and she placed her soft hands on Dev's cheek, cupping her hand against it. He leaned into his daughters touch as she felt all over his face, touching ever so lightly. As she traced his eye, he felt the strength that was holding his tears back wither, and they freely trailed down his cheeks. Connie traced the tracks on his cheek with a finger and when the tears stopped, she lightly kissed his forehead. "I'm glad your home Daddy, I've been waiting for you," she whispered right into his ear, just so he could hear. He felt his heart almost burn out of his chest. He'd never felt more alive than in that moment with his daughter.
She wiggled around in his hold and he kissed her forehead gently before placing her back on her feet. She kept a strong hold on his hand though. Finally able to take in his surroundings, he felt his heart ache with compassion for Sage. Phoenix stood in front of his mother protectively as her eyes brimmed red and blossomed with pain. He knew exactly how she was feeling and gave her a small forgiving smile. Though it seemed he should've been unbelievably angry at her for keeping such a secret from him, he couldn't. He couldn't hold it against her. He wanted to reassure her that everything was okay and that he had forgiven her. She needed to forgive herself, but it wasn't the time, not with the kids around.
Taking a quick glance at Phoenix, he wondered where the name came from, maybe it was her husband? No, she wouldn't do that…would she? Devlin tacked the thought away in his brain, promising himself to ask at a later, more appropriate date. Phoenix had the same golden brown hair that sat atop of his own head but his eyes were a chilling blue. He'd have shivered at the iciness of Phoenix's stare if he didn't feel so proud. Constance was welcome to the idea of another parent, but Phoenix seemed like a harder nut to crack. He wished he could plead his case, but it wasn't the business of his now. Sage had kept this secret, it was only right that she explain what happened. He trusted she'd tell them the truth about everything, about their relationship as teens about…their break up. Maybe she'd even tell them why she broke up with him. Cause he sure as hell still had no idea. Adding that to the list of things he needed to ask her later, he stared wistfully at Phoenix for one more fleeting moment, hoping that a relationship was still possible between him and his son.
"It's been so wonderful to meet you guys," Dev began, awkwardly scratching the back. He briefly wondered if this whole parent thing came naturally. He didn't want to disappoint them, or himself, "but, I better get home." He sighed, wishing he didn't.
"But…" Connie began, "do you…have to?" She whispered, grabbing onto his arm.
He knelt down to her again, pushing her long, soft, beautiful brown hair back from her forehead, "I'll be back. I'll never leave you again," he whispered, cupping his daughters cheek, before pulling her to him. Connie looked broken hearted as he stood from her and turned to Phoenix, his hand outstretched.
Phoenix eyed him carefully and after a minutes thought grasped his hand with a firm hold. Dev met Phoenix's challenging gaze, not deterred in the slightest, they stared at each other until Phoenix gave a brief nod. Devlin found himself questioning the age of his own children. Nine years old? God, were they sure? Letting out a puff of air he wasn't aware he'd been holding, he turned to Sage, nibbling his lip in uncertainty.
"I'll call you," he said softly, giving her a crooked smile.
Sage inhaled quietly, "Yeah, definitely."Sage smiled slightly and walked with their children to the door.
They all watched silently as Devlin climbed into his black Mercedes parked across the street and waved as he drove off disappearing into the distance.
She let out a huge breath of heated air, feeling exhausted. Her eyes stung and her cheeks felt hard, her lips were soft and chapped, her legs felt all shakey and she just wanted to sleep. But looking down at her children who both stared up at her with demanding, unhappy faces she realized she wasn't going to get any sleep until she explained everything to them. She owed them that at least.