Genre: drama, tragedy
Category: TV, Passions
Synopsis: This is my take on how events should have unfolded following the big Chad/Vincent reveal on May 25-26, 2007. In a perfect Passions world (one not controlled by JER), this is how it would have gone.
Notes: Chad - same old same old homo thug wannabe from the 'streets' tv mainstay, only sans being Alistair and Liz's spawn. He is only related to the Russells by marriage. Also this is unbeta'd so forgive any mistakes.
Disclaimer: Everything belongs to NBC and JER.
She heard the car pull into the driveway, tires screeching, but still she kept telling herself this all had to be a dream.
Whitney Russell paced across the carpeted floor in the living room of her New England childhood home, once owned by her pair of parents, now solely in her father's name. She flinched as she heard T.C. Russell slam the counter in the adjoining kitchen, screaming at an unsuspecting rookie cop to patch him through to Chief Bennett. He needed a restraining order.
The person he needed it for was Whitney, the person he needed it against had just pulled up next to his Ford Pickup outside. His eldest daughter showed up at his front door earlier, dressed for going out but with a huge duffel bag on her shoulder. He never expected her back this soon on the night usually reserved for quality time with her best friend, while he babysat his grandson, a schedule they had in place for well over a month. As soon as he saw her, he could guess with near complete assurity who had caused the concrete look of total loss and torment on her porcelain face.
"Baby, what's the matter?"
"Daddy..." she stopped herself, trying with all her stubborn might to hide the storm of vulnerability conjured not even an hour before by the man she had given her life to. Trying, even when face to face with the one man she didn't need to hide herself from. "Where's Miles?"
"He's upstairs in the nursery playing - sweetheart, what's wrong?"
"Good, good," she walked through the foyer into the living room, only wanting to hear the first half of his sentence.
Looking around at the worn-in furniture and framed photos on the mantle, she suddenly couldn't remember or understand why she had ever left the comfort of this place.
She remembered her first night spent with him at his studio, in the face of a tragedy. It was well past her curfew, she should have gone straight home right after the devastation she had faced at the prison, she was sure her parents and sister were wondering where she was. But instead she gave in to mixed feelings of grief and desire so strong that she thought her need for him would never detach itself from her.
Skin on skin, his on hers, swimming in the warmth and aroma of lit candles.
Skin on skin, his on his, in the cluttered storage closet of that scandalous club.
She had begun pacing, back and forth between the couch and coffee table, T.C. looking on. She only picked up speed as she tried to shake the sudden flashbacks from her mind.
"Um...did you feed him dinner yet, did he eat? Because I can go make him something, he'll always eat PB&J without a fuss, yeah I'm gonna go do that..." she headed for the kitchen.
"Sweetie, Whitney, STOP. What happened, talk to me. LOOK at me."
And she did, turned around to look at her father and finally release the sea of emotions crashing against the walls of her chest. The tears and shuddering sobs confirmed what T.C. already knew. Only one person could cause her to cry like this, a cry of heartbreak he had never seen before from her, and was frankly waiting to see, because he knew it was coming without knowing the cause.
He calmly rubbed her back in the way only he could, their special method of father to daughter comfort. He held her in a tight embrace, as if it would help him make up for not being able to shield her from this pain in the first place.
"It's Chad, isn't it?"
This question set forth another convulsing wave of silent tears. He knew this meant yes.
T.C. sighed heavily. But on the inside, he boiled. He knew his bastard of a son-in-law would mess up eventually, he knew it from the start. He only wondered what act of treachery he had committed to transform his often stoic daughter into a sobbing heap. He did know for sure though that lies and deceit had to be a part of the mixture, a concoction he had been helpless in preventing Whitney from drinking those years ago. She'd only married him a little over 6 months ago, but there had been years of puppy love, lover's rebellion, lover's quarrels, and other dramas. He had finally resigned himself to an amicable relationship of indifference with Chad, but only because of his daughter's wishes, naive as they were. He never trusted the boy as far as he wished he could fling him, like the tennis balls back in his prime. It was one of his favorite daydreaming past times, to imagine Chad's head in miniature and multiples, neon green and fuzzy, hurtling toward him at top speed, then away again with a satisfying whack as he reveled in euphoric satisfaction. He was able to deal with his daughter's decision with the help of these visions, along with the inevitability that Chad would one day ruin the greatest gift he'd ever been given.
"Tell Daddy what happened." He didn't usually resort to speaking to his grown girl like she was 10 again these days, but he sensed it was what she needed to hear at the moment. "How did you get here? That looked like your Mother's car earlier..."
Whitney had heard footsteps behind her on the secluded section of the wharf - her favorite escape in the town she grew up discovering - where she had run to blindly to get away from Chad and the confusion he now manifested. Thinking he had found her, she whipped around, an injured animal ready to fight to the death to protect herself from her predator. Her expression immediately softened when she saw who it was. "Mom."
"Oh my...honey, what happened?" It was by chance that Eve Russell happened to be on the wharf that evening for a walk, or maybe it was fate. The sight of her daughter sent her into immediate alarm.
Whitney stared at an unseen coordinate that appeared to be a little over her Eve's left shoulder, vision with no focus. "My life is over, Mom."
Eve gingerly took Whitney by the wrist and led her to one of the oversized sightseeing benches lining the pier. "Come over here. Honey, what is the matter?"
"Well what, is he hurt?"
Whitney's gaze remained unfocused, now on the horizon. "No. No, he's gay."
Eve heard the words, but they didn't compute. "Ok honey, you're not making any sense now."
Whitney hadn't heard her. "I can't...I can't even believe this. This can't be happening right now."
"What are you saying? What do you mean, he's gay, honey...I mean, he's your husband. And you have a son together and a baby on the way."
This brought Whitney's gaze to her mom's stricken face, and Eve became startled by the chestnut eyes staring back at her filled with a morose that she hadn't planned for them to be exposed to this early in life. "No. No Mom, I caught him. Theresa and I walked in the back room of that gay bar on Market Street and he was...having sex with Vincent." Her final words broke on a sob.
So, there it was. Yet another revelation concerning the bitterly painful cause and effect pattern that marred Eve's present life due to past transgressions, coming at her like a slap in the face. She gripped the weather-worn wood of the bench; it was all she could do not to fall out on the ground, which she was sure wouldn't help her daughter at all right now. She'd have to fall out later, in the privacy of her newly leased one room apartment, with only the walls to cradle her cries. But now wasn't the time.
"Oh, baby," was all she could think of to say, as she gently pushed back the bundle of wet curls veiling Whitney's downturned face and swept her into her arms. Right now she just needed to be Mom, and a set of arms to cradle cries so that her daughter wouldn't know at this fragile moment what it was like to bear your blistered heart to dead, unfeeling air. She sat there, holding and rocking her, until the tears subsided enough for Eve to help Whitney to her car.
"She found me at the wharf, after I ran away from Chad I ended up there. I told her what happened and she took me back to the studio, that's the last place I wanted to be but I needed to grab clothes for Miles. And then I just ended up grabbing as much as I could that I could find. I don't ever want to go back to that place. Then she brought me here. Said she didn't want to come in; she blames herself for this."
A few hours ago his response to Eve blaming herself for anything bad would've been "Well, she's right damnit."
But not this time.
"She's wrong." Whit lifted her head from its resting place on her dad's chest to meet his eyes, shocked by his change of heart. His eyes didn't meet hers back, they were distant and ice cold. "This is all Chad's fault. Only his."
And with that he had left to make "an important call" in the kitchen, leaving Whit with a kiss on the forehead and alone again with her thoughts.
She couldn't decide what emotion overode the others the most: fear, anger, betrayal, disgust...or embarrassment. How could she have been such a fool? She suspected for so long. Suspected something, an affair definitely, but never THIS. Lying bastard. He's gay. He's GAY. Things had never been right again with Chad after the convent and Rome, and eventually his curious behavior had been too odd for Whit to ignore the signs. Her bubble popped and she started paying attention, asking questions. But he always managed to steer her back into the pasture of false security.
"That stupid doll, 'business trips,' late nights at work," she mumbled to herself, wearing a deeper path in the carpet and twirling her wedding band. "And I thought it was Valerie! I couldn't have been more off. And Theresa hired Vincent, to investigate my suspicions about Chad having an affair, when HE was the affair the whole time! Oh my God, I can't believe this. What am I going to do?"
She felt sick. Nausea was just another part of pregnancy, but she had a feeling this time it was being caused by the repulsion she had over Chad and his adultery.
Oh my God, the baby. Whitney touched her stomach. "I'm about to bring another baby boy or the girl I've always wanted, into this?"
Panic began to set in; she flopped onto the couch, her legs giving out. She felt shaky, hot, dizzy, alone.
That's when she heard his car. Only mildly, it was background noise behind her crying. But when he burst in, without knocking, an intruder, looking around like a madman for her, she sobered.
He heard her before he saw her. But there was no mistaking the malice in her tone. He advanced toward her, after taking a quick, angry glance at the suitcases and boxes in the foyer.
"Whitney, baby, just hear me out..."
"I said GET OUT. I mean it, Chad. I don't want to see you."
"No, you can't mean that. Just let me explain."
"How dare you even come here?!? You lost your place in this family when you started sleeping with..."
Her voice broke. She couldn't say it. Every repetition of it just made it more real and caustic. The man before her, she didn't even know him. He looked less clean-shaven, less put-together, more sinister than she'd ever seen him before. Or maybe this had been him all along, underneath the loyal husband and friend costume. The thought terrified her.
"Just please, Chad, just leave." Her voice strained to plead with him, but she forced strength, forced the wall to reconstruct.
"I'm not going anywhere, until you listen to me. I can't lose you Whitney. What you just saw means nothing."
"You already lost me!!" She tried to keep her voice down, to avoid T.C., or God forbid Miles, from finding out Chad was there. No matter what, she wasn't letting him near her son.
"Whitney, I get why you're upset, but don't say I've lost you, ok? I can't deal with that."
"Well, guess what? I can't deal with you cheating on me -- and with a man, no less. So I'm wondering what exactly there is to explain. I saw you having sex with Vincent. Not only are you cheating on me and lying to me, you're gay, Chad --"
"No, Whitney, I am not gay."
"Saying it doesn't make it true, alright? Listen, we're married, we're a couple. And for you to stand there and tell me that you're not gay is not only insane, it's insulting. Chad, I...I don't even know who you are anymore."
"It's just this thing that...happened, Whitney, ok? I don't know how or why, but Vincent and I, we just connected."
"I know you connected, because I...I kind of saw that." She turned her back on him, looking again at the mantle as she tried to regulate her breathing. She softly rubbed her stomach, which helped immediately, something else far more important to focus on than him and the insanity he brought. He came closer and grasped her shoulder, wanting to finish the conversation. Whitney flinched and slipped away from his touch.
"Can you not put your hands on me, because I know where they've been."
"Please, just let me fix this, ok?"
"IT'S NOT 'FIXABLE,' CHAD! Just stop it. The only thing I know is that you're a liar, and you betrayed me. You betrayed me in the worst possible way. And you didn't just betray me, you betrayed our son, our unborn baby. You didn't just cheat on me, you cheated on all of us. You can't possibly make this up to me. It's just unforgivable. You betrayed me over and over again. And not just by having sex, by lying to me. Because it just meant that every kiss we shared, every time we made love, it was nothing but a lie."
"Whitney, I can see why you see it that way, but I -- "
"No, listen to me. I was nothing but truthful with you and faithful with you and you stabbed me in the heart. So it's not seeing it 'that way,' it's seeing it the way it IS. This is FACT Chad. You cheated! Acknowledge it! Stop living in whatever fantasy world you created with Vincent. The fact that you keep denying it just makes this all hurt more. Not that you care. Or else you wouldn't have done this in the first place."
He couldn't help but take notice of all the hurt in her voice. He'd never meant for it all to end up this way. He'd never meant for it to happen in the first place. But it had. And he didn't see it as the end of anything, just a nasty blip on the radar. He had to fix it, and he would. He had been trying to fix it behind her back, but that failed. So now that she knew, maybe it would be easier. Whatever the case, his only option was to fix it. Calm her down, and get her back. He took a few steps back, knowing that she didn't like to feel cornered. He quickly thought of the right words to say to make her understand, to make her see that things weren't what they seemed earlier. He had hurt her, but he'd spent the last almost 10 years with her and he knew her well. He'd have to edit his approach in order to get out of there with his wife and son before Coach showed up.
"You know, everybody said I was sick for loving you when we thought we were brother and sister, but I never questioned our love until you joined that convent. That's when I decided that if I couldn't have you, I didn't want any woman."
She shook her head. "So you turned to men?"
"No. Just Vincent, Whitney. There's something different about him. I couldn't figure it out, Whitney, but I was attracted to him and I felt sick about it at the same time. I wanted to tell you when we were in Rome. But I couldn't, Whitney. I was ashamed. And I thought that once we got back together, it would end."
"But you didn't end it, Chad."
"No. But Whitney, I tried. God as my witness, I tried. I wanted Vincent and who I was when I was with him just to go away. But every time I convinced myself it was over, it wasn't. Sex with him was -- "
"Ok, I don't want to hear this, Chad. I don't."
"It makes me sick to think about this, too. Being with him...I was like an addict who couldn't stop." Whit took a sharp breath at this, tucked her arms around her tiny frame, and walked further across the living room. "Please, Whitney, don't turn away from me. Help me." She whipped around in her tracks, eyes flaring.
"Help you? ...With what, Chad?" She advanced back toward him. "I can't help you with something this painful. And why should I help you, when you obviously had no regard for my feelings while all this was going on? I suppose you'll say 'Oh, well, what happened to the old Catholic good girl Whitney? The one who 'does unto others?' Well she's not here right now, Chad," Whitney said, pointing to the ground beneath her. "She's wherever my faith and trust in you went."
Chad just stared back at her, arms crossed. He was beginning to get annoyed as she continued to counter and shoot down all of his reasons. Annoyed and also confused; he hadn't expected it to be this hard to get her to understand. His eyes followed her as she began to pace the floor again. Abruptly she stopped to face him, pointing.
"So wait a second. When Rebecca told me that she saw you at the motel, she was telling me the truth then. And when I walked in on Vincent at the motel and I thought there was another woman in the bathroom, it wasn't another woman. It was you, right? How many lies have you told me?"
"I don't know," he said tightly. "A lot. But I hated it."
Whitney threw up her hands. "Oh, well I guess that just makes it alright then. You hated it. That's great. But not enough to stop seeing Vincent?"
"I told you I tried. There is one thing that's still true in all of this and it's I love you."
"No. I actually don't think that you do. Because if you love me, you wouldn't cheat on me. You wouldn't lie to me. You wouldn't get with some other guy and possibly expose me to some kind of disease."
"Whitney, I only had safe sex with Vincent."
"Accidents happen. I don't give a damn if you call it safe sex or not. You exposed me and my child to God knows what. And you know what it proves to me? It proves to me that you don't love me."
"Whitney, of course I love you. You're the only woman in my heart."
"The only woman."
"And then there's Vincent."
"I don't love him, Whitney. It was just sex."
"Ok, well, that...that makes it better."
"You know what I mean."
"You know what? I don't want to hear it. I don't care, Chad. I really don't. It just hurts me too much to care right now."
"Whitney, please, just tell me how I can fix this, ok? I'll do anything to make this up to you."
"You can't possibly make this up to me. I mean, you shattered my trust in you. You broke our marriage vows. Our marriage is...is completely over. There's no going back."
The color flooded from Chad's face. "You don't mean that."
"Oh, yes, I do, Chad. Our marriage is over. I want a divorce."
He didn't move. He couldn't move. His words became laws that he had to enforce although he had no right. "You can't want a divorce."
"Yeah...yeah, actually I can."
He couldn't believe he was hearing her speak like this. And he definitely didn't appreciate the look of sincerity in her eyes.
Whitney stood looking back at him just as hard as he looked at her. Saying all that she had to him had been freeing; she didn't have to stay with him, she didn't have to do anything he said. Not after what he'd done to her. She was in her father's house, which definitely wasn't Chad's territory. She should've felt brave, and she did, for what felt like one fleeting moment. But that quickly faded as she watched Chad's hand ball into a fist.
"You're not divorcing me."
The chamber walls of Whitney's heart became trampolines, vaulting the organ in a non-synchronised tumult of movement. She knew an ultimatum when she heard one. Her eyes went to the staircase back in the foyer, the staircase that he was closer to, the staircase that led to her son. Suddenly she remembered the other staircase off of the kitchen. I have to get to Miles, she thought. If I can just get him and get out of here... Her plan had no fine-tuning or checks and balances, but there wasn't any time for that. She had to save her children from his wrath. Still in a silent staring contest with him, she began to discreetly slide out of her heels, preparing.
"Oh, I can't believe this. You've got some serious nerve."
Whitney and Chad turned. Simone Russell stood in the archway to the living room, staring pointedly at Chad.
"Now I'm sure my sister has been more than nice to you so far, but I'm here now to tell you to get the f%^$# out."
"You can't talk to me like -- "
"I can and I did. You lying, cheating bastard. If for no other reason, you should want to get as far away from this house as possible to avoid the wrath of my father, who will rip you into pieces if he finds you here. And I would happily watch him do it."
Whitney backed away from her husband, looking in disbelief as well as relief at her little sister over his shoulder.
"You talk a lot of smack for a little girl," Chad spat, grasping at the only straws he could: putdowns.
"I'm not a little girl," Simone replied with a curt laugh. "I'm a woman, a woman who can't believe she ever saw anything in you and who is ashamed to share even a sexual preference with you."
"For the last time, I AM NOT GAY!" he said, seething.
Simone's stalwart gaze never left her face. "I'd keep my voice down if I were you," she said, crossing her arms. "Daddy's only a room away."
His mouth opened to attempt to put her down more before what she said set in, but not before he got anything out. Knowing she was right, he glared at her before taking a deep breath and turning back to his wife. Her beauty never failed to captivate him, even at a time like this. The innocent vulnerability that swathed her, remained with her after all she'd been through and done, cast itself around her, acting as a shield and a beacon. It was what had always attracted him to her; the single thing about this woman that left him enamored and mystified. He wasn't ready to let her go, that was the only thing he was sure of. He pushed aside the glaring truth of his misdeeds, the lack of an explanation for them, and the fact that those feelings that caused the misdeeds were still there, lingering, for a dude that he thought of as scum on the bottom of his Armani oxford.
"What about Miles and our baby on the way? Don't they need a father?" he plead, his voice leaving the room in a hush.
"Yeah, they do. They need a father they can look up to, not one that's going to cheat on their mother," she finished, punching him with a stare she wished could physically bruise him.
"Come on, Whit. You need to rest," Simone said, her soothing tone making Whitney break eye contact and suddenly feel exhausted. "Let's go upstairs. And we'll check on Miles, ok? Chad can see himself out." Whitney walked carefully around Chad toward Simone. She then turned and took one more look at her husband and the father of her children, who was boring a hole into her, piercing enough to crush her if she hadn't been in survival mode. Without taking her eyes off of him, she pulled off her wedding ring and placed it on her father's desk, then took her sister's outstretched hand. Simone guided her to the staircase, wanting to get her out of this world where lies were spread like truth, wanting to carefully place her into the world of her past for a time, where everything made sense; a pearl back onto its bed of velvet for safekeeping.
It didn't take much to make a beast cornered by fierce prey move past the thrill of the hunt and just go in for the kill. To forget about reasoning and wasting time with sounds when all they wanted to do was claim what they believed was rightfully there's.
He crossed the space between them to the stairs in an instant, pushing past Simone and grabbing Whitney by the wrist. Whitney had no time to react, not even time to make a sound in protest.
But what Chad failed to realize was that a steadfast younger sister can match a frightened husband toe-to-toe, and this fact became painfully clear to him as he suddenly began to feel the pressured force of Simone's grip on his own wrist, forcing him to drop Whitney's. In the same motion she grabbed Whitney's freed wrist, pulling her out of Chad's reach and guiding her to sit on the stairstep above her. Whitney gripped the railing to balance herself even more, engulfed in a fresh set of silent tears. Her whole body showed how spent it was. She pierced the air in front of her with a stare, as if it held all the answers for the way she was feeling, her cheek flush with the wall next to her.
Good, Simone thought, watching him writhe in pain but try not to show it on his face. So those self-defense classes she had taken after losing Rae had paid off.
Her face showed no emotion as she stood elevated above him on the steps, putting all of her body's strength into twisting his arm at the most contorted angle possible.
"What are you THINKING?" She didn't give him a chance to answer and instead just twisted more and more, leaving him in a mute state. Finally her fingers started to twitch with the force. Only then did she let go.
No one said a word. Simone kept her focus totally on Chad as he attempted to collect himself enough to stand from the floor where he'd fallen. When he looked up at his sister-in-law, her face said nothing, but said everything at the same time. He grudgingly finally admitted defeat and eased his way backward to the front door, never taking his eyes off of them, his spouse, still crouched on the stair, and her younger sister, temporary protector enjoying the role reversal. Not knowing when he'd see his wife or son again, he stalked out to his car.
As soon as the door clicked shut, Whitney's breathing slowed and calmed some. Still, she kept her shrouded seat on the floor. Simone came down to eye level with her. They sat in silence for a few more slow-moving, easy seconds.
"Sweetie, he's gone. I can't hear his car anymore. It's ok," Simone said, brushing a strand of her sister's expanse of curls from her face. This sent Whit into more tears, knowing that ok was the last thing she felt.
"H-h-how did you get here? How did you know to come?" Whit pleaded, her voice thick with crying.
"Mom called me. And I sped all the way over. Come on," Simone helped her stand. Whit did, and held her hand the rest of the way up the stairs and down the hall, a willing follower.
They came to the nursery door and peeked in. Miles was fast asleep on his stomach, fists tucked close to his face and propped up on his chubby knees, his favorite position. Simone could feel Whit's clutch on her hand loosen.
"It's a good thing he was already here, I don't think he overheard a thing."
Whitney seemed to look at her sister as if she was seeing her for the first time that night. As if what had just happened had happened to someone else and she didn't recall where she was. But suddenly it all came flooding back...and she felt safe. Simone had seen the same things she had, experienced Chad's particular type of crazy, and was still there. She had an ally.
"Yeah. It is a good thing."
They continued on to their childhood section of the upstairs, one of the reasons T.C. and Eve had fallen in love with the house years ago. It offered 2 rooms across from each other on a side hall, perfect privacy for the 2 children they'd always dreamed of having. Simone opened her sister's door and led her in, sensing that she didn't want to be alone tonight. After Whit took her old room in for awhile, still in somewhat of a daze, Simone suggested she take a shower. When she was done Simone had pajamas waiting for her.
"But these are some of your faves..." Whitney said, settling into the soft cotton of the sleeves and looking much more like herself.
"I know. And you always used to try to steal them after laundry was done," they shared a laugh. "So I figured I'd be nice this time and let you indulge."
"Well thanks. For everything."
Simone smiled in return. "Ok, come, might as well keep up the nostalgia. Grab a brush, there's one on the dresser."
Realization came, and Whitney leapt off the bed to retrieve the brush. She then sat in her desk chair; Simone, standing behind her, began to gingerly smooth out her still damp hair. The familiarity and rhythm of their old routine calmed Whit even more. She closed her eyes, enjoying the moment. Enjoying any moment, the first after the fiasco of the past night. Emotion welled up inside of her. Chad's betrayal flashed briefly in her mind, then everything leading up to it. All the misplaced years of wanting love that weren't given focus because she had to fulfill someone else's longstanding dream. The first appearance of that thug in her world so long ago. Then the love of a genuine man that she betrayed, quite possibly the only time she had ever felt true love. Then onto living a cloistered existence, being used by a deranged mogul, the revelation of a social taboo in her life being a lie. After the flashes there was nothing left, but the present. Much more important and easier to dwell on, her sister's immediate care for her was something she hadn't expected, but needed just the same.
Simone was just finishing her signature french braid when T.C. tapped on the door. "Sweetheart? Sugar Bear, are you in there too?"
"Yeah, we're fine, Daddy. About to go to bed," Simone answered. They exchanged relieved eye contact over the fact that it seemed T.C. hadn't overheard anything from earlier.
"Alright, well you girls get some rest. I'll see you in the morning. And sleep in. Miles and I will be up in plenty of time to cook you both a big breakfast, ok?"
Whitney couldn't help but smile. "Sounds great, Daddy. Thanks so much for everything."
"Now you know you don't have to thank me. I spoke with Sam, and you can rest easy because that bastard won't be coming anywhere near you or my grandson. And, I just wanted to say...it's really nice to have both you girls back in the house like this. I don't like the circumstances, but...well everything happens for a reason. Alright, sleep well, goodnight."
Simone flipped off the light as Whitney slid beneath her duvet, taking in its familiar smell. Whit stared up at the ceiling, what she normally did as a teenager when she needed to sort through the lingering thoughts of the day before she'd be able to fall asleep.
"Simone?" she said softly, not sure if she was still awake.
"Look, I just wanted to...well I don't even know what I want to say. Or rather I don't know where to start. What happened...his...my...I'm..." she paused to collect herself. "Just, thanks. Again. I don't know what else to say that could possibly begin to sum up what you coming tonight meant to me. Tonight doesn't even seem real. And I just...it reminded me of how much I want our relationship back. I want my little sister back. I think about it all the time, but just with life...it gets in the way, you know? And for what? I wasted my time and my life with him, and totally ignored spending time with you. I haven't even been there for you. With Rae, with, everything. I mean I need to face it, I haven't been there for you since it all came out that I was keeping my relationship with Chad from you to protect you and it hurt you anyway, I can't believe I chose him over y--"
"Whit. Whitney. It's alright. Take a deep breath." Simone turned to face her sister. Lying face to face, pillow to pillow, she looked into her eyes, eyes that had lead her without even having to try for the first 16 or so years of her life. Eyes she couldn't say she fully understood anymore, eyes that had changed, but ones she wanted to get to know again. "Ok, first...don't say that you wasted your time and your life. Because if it hadn't been for that time, we wouldn't all have Miles. He's the only good thing to come out of this. Him and my other niece or nephew growing inside of you. Second, you really don't have to say any of this. I already know. I know you needed me and I'm glad I was able to be here for you. For once. It's crazy how much things have changed. I can't believe how much of a rock I've become for others when I used to be so...unstable," Simone chuckled at herself. "I mean I was always stable for Kay, but that's not really saying much." Whit chuckled along with her this time. "But now, Paloma comes to me, Jessica, even Noah sometimes. I never would've thought I'd be in this position, I was so used to being the needy one."
"Well, you're a natural." Simone smiled reluctantly yet thankfully at the compliment. "So don't even doubt yourself." Whit sat up, absentmindedly fingering the tender space that her wedding ring used to cover on her index finger. "I just know that it feels so relieving to not have to be that person, for once. At a time like this." Tears of release threatened to fall again.
"I wish you would let me be that person more often."
"Oh, you don't have to worry about that," Whitney said as the tears gave way. "Tonight didn't just teach me about that monster's cheating ways. It made me realize a lot of other things too. Maybe we can start to act more like sisters, get rid of this huge gap." She gestured in the air between them.
"I'd like that."
"So would I." Whit wiped her cheeks, and then began to rub her sore eyes. Simone patted the pillow beside her, and Whitney plopped back down onto it. Finally giving in to her exhaustion, she turned on her side and sighed deeply, her pillowcase drying the rest of her tears. And her sister hugged her close, physical reassurance to go along with her prayers that she wouldn't have to go through what was to come alone.