"So what are you saying?" Randy looked at Neve who had been seeing to his boys for him on his late night shift at the hospital. "I haven't grieved enough over Franny?"
"I just think its too soon for ..you..you and Newt to make a family. Its too soon." Neve was pretty much showing her pregnant self now. Even so, Randy saw her as a pregnant witch of some kind. For all he knew, she had Cecil under some love spell. Yet, Cecil's little music business was thriving. He had bands signed up for local tours and a packed house most nights down at the club. Something was going good.
"You don't have to worry. All right?" Randy gave her a cross-look. What did it matter to that middle age rocker? So what if she'd been in a punk band once, and she still thought she was so cool. He wanted... really nothing to do with her, other than free-baby sitting.
"Don't you worry? What people will think?" Her eyes blazed into him then as if he better listen up.
"No. I don't." As far as anyone knew, Newt had moved in with him after his partner had upped and left him for Japan. It wasn't that big of a deal.
"I see." She kept staring at him as if that alone would change his mind.
"What is it that makes you so angry with me? What have I done?" Randy winced hard.
"I just don't want you to forget her. She loved you so. She made you a family?" Neve informed him.
"You didn't even know her." Randy swelled a frown. It made him bitter to even consider her thoughts.
He hurried home with the boys to find Newt waiting for him with waffles and strawberries.
"You, all right?" Newt asked as he got breakfast on the table.
Randy bit in to a crisp piece of bacon. "I will be." He promised.
"I really wished I'd kept the crew with me, but my cold and all, I just needed some rest, you know." Newt told him he felt bad about not tending to the boys. As it was, his own two were off with their mother.
"Its all right." Randy nodded as he looked around their small flat. "We should really find ourselves a house, you know."
"Yes, one with a garden spot. I always wanted to give that a go, you know." Newt nodded at the sound of that. He smiled.
"Then, get out your laptop see what you find." Randy sighed. He felt determined now to have a home with Newt. He wasn't going to dare listen to that old witch.
Katy took a step back when she saw who answered the door. Was she seeing Franny? How could that be? She was speechless. Finally, Simon spoke up. They were there for Maxie. Naturally, she showed them the way to the room he was still resting in.
He was napping.
For a moment Katy wanted to be rude to him, but the longer she looked at him, the more she knew she missed him. She edged close to him and brushed her hands through his hair. Naturally, she startled him, but she smile and he looked up at her in shock. He'd still lost his voice so he couldn't say a word to her, but he hugged her to let her know he was glad she was here.
"We'll get him to the emergency, first thing." She told him.
Maxie one nodded.
A part of her felt as if she'd seen a ghost. After all Ari was Franny's doppelganger, now wasn't she? Katy wanted to know this person who had saved her husband's life. Was there any chance she'd be anything like Franny? Well, she had called them about Maxie. Katy supposed that was a good start.
"Bugger." Simon didn't know what to think. A mysterious call like that. About Maxie. He called Caity right away, she'd want to know about her husband, now wouldn't she?
"Do you want to take a drive? See if we can find him." Simon offered.
"Oh God, should I?" She sounded restless, but sad. "We had such a terrible row when he left, and..and..can I trust him?"
"Jesus, Cait, he's fucking ill, you know. He can't even speak. Its your duty to see to him, sickness and health, isn't it? You married him. Had his child. It can't be all bad, now can it?" He told her. But the silence grew. "Please, if you love him, any at all, you'll go with me to find him." Still the silence prevailed.
"All right." Her words were in a huff. This wouldn't be pretty, he supposed. But he made a call to Paddy, told him he'd be late from work. He wanted to see this through. Maxie needed to be home so he went around in his little economy car and picked Caity up at The Oaks. At least she was ready for him. It wasn't like him to leave the village much, due to those nasty gas prices.
"Where are we going?" She asked first thing.
"He's in the country. A cottage, out past the glen we always took the last days of school field trips too." He told her.
She hugged herself as if she wouldn't dare have a happy memory of it now or then.
"You can't just stay mad at him, forever." Simon looked over at her, all smug and bitter.
"I don't want to. Its hard. He lied to me, Simon." She was blunt as her hair crept around her face.
"He didn't want to see you hurt, all right. And its the past. He loves you. He wants to be with you." Simon didn't believe those were false promises. But they were on the skirts now. It was a beautiful green out now. Spring was on the horizon. He took the first old road on the right.
"Its just amazing he made it this far. Imagine, if he'd caught a bus, gone to London. Left you behind and took on a whole new idenity. Is that what you wanted Cait?" Simon gave her a slight scowl as it began to rain.
She shook her head, no.
"I want him back, Simon. I do." Caity broke down. "I just don't know if I can, you know, love him..like I did. Will he love me? It was a terrible row. I wanted him out of my life, but he's still here with me." Tears rimmed her eyes then. "I'm pregnant."
Maxie wasn't sure how long he'd been on bed-rest. Obviously, it had been worse than a cold.
"It was a fever," she said and he looked at her blankly thinking he might start talking in a foreign language. Was he losing his mind? Of course, he'd lost his voice. That didn't really help matters. He looked at her face as her hair hide her eyes. One moment she was Franny. The next she wasn't. A part of him felt so sad that it couldn't be true. That a close friend was still alive.
He winced in tears then. A part of him felt so helpless. What use was there for him in this life. He shrank away then, hugging himself under the covers. He missed his baby daughter and his wife too.
She brought him his cell then. She had charged it.
"Should I call someone?" Her hand touched his bare back and he flinched as if might be pure pain to call home. For starters, he had no voice.
"Please, let me call someone." She seemed determined.
He felt like crying, but what good would that do? A part of him felt sick, again. He would not watch as she clicked on the phone and pulled up his contacts. Lord, knows who she would call. He couldn't think who would be on the top of his contact list.
"Hullo." She made contact with someone. "Yes, this is in regard of Max Graves. Do you know him?" It was quiet then. Finally, she said. "Me name is Ari, Ari MacDonald, and I found him out here, in the country. He's rather ill. And he can't speak....."
Maxie nursed his bottom lip. She wasn't even Franny.
After she put his cell away. She put her hand on his forehead.
"You are better. You really are." She made it sound like a promise, but what did she really know? Maxie looked up at her as if she didn't know the half of it.
Sasha wasn't sure she had an answer for Katy. She didn't know where Maxie might be. He'd been out of the boarding house for weeks now. And it was suffering. No one picked up the slack. Bathrooms were going off the deep end. Power fading out in parts. Honestly, it was more than a fulltime job to keep this place going. Not even Jamie with his so called magic tricks was up to this kind of manual labor.
"Its all right, we'll manage." Sasha promised Katy who was trying her best to cater to those who needed a night to stay in the village. The holidays were upon us so travelers wanted a place to stay.
"You can say that because you aren't even here half the time. You've got that duty to get the kiddie's dance program going." Katy was a bit peeved with them all that she was on kitchen duty twenty-four/seven.
"Aye, I was asked to help with the Nutcracker." Sasha gave Katy an evil glare. She was trying to see what was bubbling in the pots on the stove. As it was she was getting paid for this gig and had recently been hired to replace one of the dance teachers at the studio. It was an uplifting job. She found good about her, again. And she wanted this and Jamie was delighted too.
"Of course, you were." Katy fretted.
"You coming down with something?" Sasha then wondered.
"Maybe." She was quite sensitive to the subject.
"And?" Sasha was a bit concerned now.
"It looks I'm with child." Katy winced.
"Really?" Sasha wanted to smile, but she couldn't. They really needed to track down Maxie now.
Maxie thought about heading for Ian's first thing when Katy threw him out. She didn't want to look at him or anything else.
It hurt so as if a limb and had been cut off and he was left with nothing. He could barely breathe, but he kept walking with what little he had. He went through the park as if he had some place to go, but he couldn't stay there either. He kept walking, and soon the cold set in, but he didn't really feel it because everything he knew he'd left behind.
Maxie cried for some time. His tears so hot soon turn to ice, streaking his face. It was winter. He should have known better. But he didn't feel he should do anything for himself. He felt so broken now without Katy. And there was Grace to think about too. He missed them both, but she didn't want him. And there was nothing he could think of other than time for her to forgive him.
Yet he couldn't look back even if he wanted to. He just kept walking, out past the village, past the pastures into the forest, following the railroad tracks as he went. He wasn't hungry. He hardly felt the cold at all. He just kept going until finally he could go no further in the middle of the night Maxie dropped there in the grassy knoll as if he were closer to a glenn, the fairies might come and take care of him, but of course they didn't. He was left in cold, the wind blowing strong, but his eyes were still with his hoodie over his head. He dreamed of a warm place with a fire in a cottage with a rock floor. Soon enough, thats where he found himself, by the fire on the rock floor.
Maxie's eyes finally awoke as he watched the fire glow. His body was stiff. He could hardly move. It was tired and needed rest. But was she who he thought she was? He squinted to see her in the doorway of the kitchen, cutting potatoes for a soup.
"Frannie?" His parched throat could barely speak. He blinked. She looked just like her. So soft and sincere. Her golden hair put up, like Frannie's, when she began to cook. "Franny? Is that you?" Maxie tried to lift himself up.
She heard him then, and came to check on him.
Maxie winced hard, thinking he was the one who must be crazy. Maybe he'd crossed to the other side. He stared into her ominous blue eyes.
"Hush." He thought he heard her say. He struggled to listen to her words. He was so cold. He started to shiver. Maxie looked up at her, wondering what was happening to him.
Katy cooked a little in the kitchen, but it wasn't to Maxie's magnitude. He always cleaned up his messes, except the big one. His little trist with Ian.
She knew her husband was gay now. And it made her cry everytime she thought of it, or him, or Ian or any man, for that matter. It was so horrible. It really made her pessimistic of the world. Why couldn't she just accept it?
Well, he was not that bloke to her. It was as if she knew a different Maxie, one who was there to only please her. He was her best friend. He was the father to her child. It was not suppose to be that way. They were different from the average villager. Not feral animals.
As it was, she couldn't eat and the first week she threw up everything. That was when she was certain of it then. She was pregnant. It wasn't fair. Pop one out and soon enough, it was starting all over again.
"Well, I find you quite fetching." Rhys would come to that conclusion as if he knew what she needed. There in the kitchen of the boarding house. "You'd never be an old cow to me."
She didn't even speak to him instead she tok care of him with a punch in his belly and knee drop in the groin.
"Wake up, you fuckwad!" Would he ever change? Here he had Rae knocked up and still out of the prowl, and they weren't even down at the pub, but the kitchen.
Soon enough he was out of there, and she had oatmeal ready for Rae. Katy teared up at the sight of her. Poor thing. They would take care of her, with or without Rhys. She'd hoped he'd be a good father and a good man to Rae too, but perhaps it was just too late for the latter.
Rae was oblivious to just about anything. She would rather dwell on the X-Factor or Charlie McDownell's whereabouts.
"He is a dream, you know. I don't think real blokes like that exist." She spoke of the Internet star then. She deeply sighed and went on with her oatmeal to finish it up with some sweet green tea.
"Yes, its a shame you can't meet someone as delightful." Katy went on with a tired smile. "But you never know, you might." She had to have hope. She thought of Maxie then. He was the sweetest bloke. Perhaps it was she who had changed him. Maybe he'd always been gay.
"You know its all his doing, don't you?" Anita thought it might have been a dream, but she knew it true now. Who was really to blame about Maxie and Katy's split. Of course, it wasn't that she and Sebastian had some sort of telepathy between them, but there was a connection. She thought he might have the power to change it. Of course, he was so quiet these days. He spent most of his days in books at the University.
"What are you getting at?" Here they were in his room at the boarding house. He was sitting in the window watching the snow fall so peacefully. "That I have my brother's potential?"
"No, of course now." She winced, wishing everything would go back to normal. She'd heard Katy's whimperings as she stayed to herself now with her and Maxie's baby. Maxie was no where in sight. She so missed his huge breakfast in the mornings. He was glorious in his baking. Scones. Biscuits. Even huge dreamy muffins. Now it was so cold. Oatmeal and toast. The boarding house was going down without Maxie.
"Maybe you could ask if he could fix it. At least for the holidays." Anita wanted things to be wonderful again. They were one big extended family. But as it was, it had its secrets too, and it was Jamie who held all the secrets.
"I've asked, really I have." Sebastian nodded. "Jamie says he's done enough. This is only something they can do. Katy will need to forgive him. Perhaps, Maxie needs to forgive himself first."
"But where is he?" This is what troubled Anita the most. "Has anyone heard from him? Anyone?" It pained her to think he was gone for good. Didn't anyone care? They were a family here. Maxie was a great part of it. He was after all the manager of the establishment. Granted they hadn't had a new boarder in months now. "We need to find him, Sebastian. We need to at least know where he is."
She sighed heavily then.
"Come." He made room for her in the window seat. It was warm and cozy next to him. He put his arm around her and held her close. His lips touched the side of her forehead. "I'm sure his fine." He whispered.
"You know that for a fact?" Her dark eyes looked into him.
"No. I don't. But you can't worry so much." He told her, and when he kissed her, it was as if thoughts of Maxie had left her. She smiled then as if this was truly the only happiness she needed. Here with Sebastian.