Casey sat silent in the chair beside his father’s still form. It had been a difficult couple of months but their family was still intact. Bryan was mending well despite being bound to a wheelchair. He beat the odds to have survived his injuries and Casey had a feeling he would defy the odds again. He will be up and running around like any other healthy kid his age.
Gregory recovered and was allowed to go home five weeks ago. He still had nightmares but who wouldn’t after what he experienced. It was their dad that concerned them the most. They had given him two transfusions of the aliens blood and his body was still slow to heal. Sighing Casey wondered if it had been the right decision to trust the alien. Maybe it would have been better to let their dad die instead of watching him slowly waste away in the hospital.
A part of Casey realized it was a selfish desire to be released from the burden of having to sit helpless and watch his dad waste away. He was tired of spending his days at the hospital or watching over hordes of children. He wanted his life back. He wanted things to go back to the way things were before mother dearest shot their lives full of holes.
He looked at Lynn and smiled. She had been great through all of this. He didn’t know what he would have done without her. Despite their misunderstandings she was his strength that got him through the day.
“I was thinking about how I’d like to have another date,” Casey replied.
“I don’t know if I could handle another one. The first date didn’t end so well.” As soon as the words left her mouth she regretted saying them. That night ended in tragedy. She’d never be able to remember that night without that memory. “I’m sorry…. I shouldn’t have said ….” She bit her lip to keep from saying anything more.
“I know,” Casey hugged her close. “You’ve been great through all of this. I know you didn’t have to …”
“What? Of course I did,” Lynn blinked at him “they’re you’re family. I wanted to help.”
“Thank you,” Casey sighed “I wanted you to know I appreciate it.”
“You’re welcome,” looking steadily into Casey’s eyes “I did it mainly for you. I couldn’t sit back and do nothing while you suffered. I love you.”
“I did … I do ….” she smiled up at him “but I also don’t want to waste the time we have trying to fit it into a preconceived mold of what I think should happen when. It was made abundantly clear to me that we don’t know what tomorrow will hold and one crazy person could take it all away.”
Kissing her soft lips he whispered in her ear “I still want that second date. Even if it’s a trip to the hospital cafeteria.”
“I guess we have a date, I’m hungry,” she leaned into him content to be in his arms.
Walking into the cafeteria they selected a table before standing in line for food.
“I’m not sure,” Casey frowned “I hope nothings wrong.” He watched Gene sit down at a solitary table. It nearly broke his heart that his brother was having to deal with so much shit. It was bad enough that they almost lost their dad and brothers. Now Gene had to adjust to the fact of being a father and raising his daughters alone when their mother, his ex girlfriend died during childbirth. Coupled with that Aimee left him unable to deal with it. Casey knew that rejection was weighing heavily on Gene’s heart. Casey had to admit though that Gene was handling it better than Casey expected him to.
Casey was proud of his brother and the fact he hadn’t given into the pressure to give up despite the helpful suggestions from their friendly drug dealer and bar owner Celeste. Casey was tempted to have a upclose and personal conversation with Celeste to leave his brother alone. He was positive that Celeste was at the hospital for the sole purpose to entice Gene back to his old life. The kiss proved it was far as he was concerned. Thanks to her little set up in the parking lot that kiss was plastered in every magazine along with stories of how Aimee left Gene for infidelity. Which wasn’t true but Gene couldn’t be motivated to sue the papers for libel and defamation of character. He was so lost without Aimee Casey knew he just didn’t care. Casey worried that Gene was slipping into depression.
“I got a call informing me the twins were ready to go home” Gene told them in a subdued tone. “I’m scared as hell of having two little ones relying on me.” Looking at Casey he gripped his hand “am I doing the right thing? Am I capable of being responsible for them? Maybe I should have ….”
“Gene,” Casey said loud and firm “get a grip. You’re doing just fine under the circumstances. It’s not like you’ve had months to wrap your head around being a father. Those babies were literally dumped in your lap. You can do this. Trust me everyone has doubts and is overwhelmed at first. It gets better.” Casey tried to encourage him to boost his self-confidence that had been low to begin with but had since dropped off the radar since Aimee left. “I know what you’re going through. I’ve been there. One day you will meet the right girl.”
Gene looked blankly at him before dropping his gaze to the table mumbling “I had her and she left.” Casey wished he could go and drag Aimee back so that she could see what she had done. But since he couldn’t he had to be content with picking up the pieces she had left Gene in. Sighing Casey hated jigsaw puzzles in the best of times and he hated the puzzle involved his brother’s heart.
“I’m going home,” Gene announced disrupting Casey’s thoughts. “Michael needs to get back to class and I …. I need to focus on my career. My manager has gigs lined up for me that I need to get in shape for.”
“Are you sure?” Casey asked “You’re welcome to stay here as long as you need.”
“Thanks Case I appreciate that” Gene flashed him a smile “I need to get out of here, the sooner the better. I know too many of the wrong people here. Celeste is too eager to introduce them to me all over again. If I stay I’m asking for trouble and I’m not sure if I’m strong enough to keep from falling back into old habits. You can’t always be looking out for me.” Standing “I need to get back to where the people I know aren’t boozers or druggies. For me that’s Starlight Shores. Barnacle Bay holds too many bad memories. I’m sorry Case I .. I just can’t stay.”
Reaching out Casey gave Gene a hearty hug. “I know. We’ll manage things without you. You take care of yourself and those babies. When are you going to get around to naming them? Call me when you get home, alright?”
“I’ll do that,” Gene told him as he walked away.
Sitting Casey pushed his half eaten sandwich away “I could strangle Aimee.”
Lynn reached over and held his hand. “Gene’s going to be alright” she told him seeking to give him reassurance. Casey had become a more sympathetic person since his bender. It made him a more rounded person and Lynn no longer felt like she had to be perfect around him.
“I hope so. I truly hope so,” Casey said quietly. “He deserves some happiness. I thought he found a gem,” shrugging “I guess I was wrong.”
Smiling sadly Lynn said “Casey we don’t know Aimee’s side. It might not be what we think.”
Standing Casey picked up their trays and discarded their half eaten meal. “I don’t care what her side is. No matter what it is, it didn’t give her the right to just leave. She left without even talking to him. She didn’t give him a chance to explain. How could she do that?” Looking at Lynn “tell me how she could do that if she truly loved him?”
Shaking her head “I can’t answer that. I didn’t get a chance to really get to know her. I got the impression though that she was painfully shy and socially awkward.”
Slipping beneath his arms giggling Lynn practically skipped down the hall lighthearted and happy. Casey followed her with his eyes enjoying her playfulness. He needed that in his life more not than he ever did before.