A/N: This chapter concludes the first (and only) fully written arc of "Our Life To Live", though I do have other pieces of it I'll eventually post. Just wanted to say a big thank you to everyone who's been reading and commenting. Also, I never saw Rebecca Lewis' first stint on the show and I watched very little of her 2009 return so I'm sure I've taken some major liberties with cannon/continuity here.
Chapter 7 - What Lies Beneath (The ΚΑΔ House)
Randall's Fork, South Carolina
"Kyle? Kyle, where are you?"
Kyle Lewis could hear his sister calling for him, her melodic voice effortlessly piercing the house's thin walls. Through the slats of the stairs, he could see the sensible white shoes she was wearing float in and out of view as she searched for him. But he had no intention of revealing his hiding place.
Over the years, it had become almost a ritual every time their mom moved them into a new man's home. When they lived in Roger Mitchell's apartment, Kyle had still been small enough to fit in the cabinets under the kitchen sink when the screaming got too loud. At Alan Spencer's cabin, he used to barricade himself in the hall closet when his host's temper exploded. Living in Carlo Fernandez's cramped trailer had been tough, but when the man got over-the-top drunk, Kyle would slip out and go sit in the rotted treehouse he had found on the far edge of the motor park. And when they inevitably ended up back at his mom's friend Beth Anne's, he would retreat to her attic and build a fort out of the boxes.
His sister was the one who had come up with the game when they were younger. But they had only been staying in Clark Duncan's house for a few weeks and she hadn't been home when Kyle, while picking baseball cards up off the hallway floor, had noticed the loose plank in the side of the staircase and found the crawlspace behind it. She would never find him. And since she'd promised she wouldn't leave without saying goodbye, he was gonna make sure of it.
She was barely around as it was, always busy with her classes at the community college, shifts at the diner, and lately, her volunteer work at something called the Tabernacle of Joy ministry. But now, she was moving away, to Pennsylvania of all places. The ministry had offered her a job spearheading an outreach program in a town called Llanview. It was probably the type of place where the houses had white picket fences and the people waved good morning to each other. She'd never come back to South Carolina and who would blame her.
How would he survive without her? His mom tried, but only his sister understood how it felt to be shuffled from place to place, to deal with the endless parade of posers who would never be his dad. She couldn't leave, she just couldn't.
Especially not today, Kyle thought to himself. He gingerly touched the bruise swelling under his eye, flinching almost instantly. It had started out as a normal enough Saturday morning, fishing off the old dock with his best friend Mike Dawson. But something had been different. Something…about the way the sun had caught Mike's wavy blonde hair. And…the way Mike's arm muscles had bugled when he threw out his line. It was like something inside of Kyle…awoke and, acting on this new impulse before he even understood what it meant, he had kissed Mike Dawson.
And then, just as quickly, Mike Dawson had punched him in the face and called him a fag before running off. He w-wasn't, though. He d-didn't like boys like that, Kyle tried to convince himself, ignoring the obvious evidence to the contrary, as he again lightly touched his sore eye. But all the guys at school were going to think so if Mike told them what happened. What the hell was he going to do?
Suddenly, his hiding place was invaded by a stream of bright light. Shielding his eyes against it, he looked up and found himself face to face with his sister. His duty as a younger brother ensured he would never admit this, but she looked nice. She had never been one to spend a lot of time on her appearance, but today, she was wearing her best church clothes, her face was lightly done up with makeup, and her curly brown hair was hanging loose instead of tied back in its usual ponytail.
"Are you forgetting who taught you to do this?" she admonished him softly. She smiled and then extended a hand toward him.
"C'mon Kyle, aren't you gonna say goodbye?"
The sensation like he was falling rippling through his body, Kyle shook himself awake. A wave of disorientation washed over him as he blinked his eyes against the morning sun. What time was it? Had he overslept? Where was he? The bed was too comfortable so he couldn't be in an on-call room at the hospital. Sierra Rose, the world's most adorable alarm clock, hadn't woke him up so he couldn't be at home.
Then he remembered and, with a happy sigh, he burrowed himself deeper into the covers. His old room. Oliver. A night of passion he wouldn't be forgetting anytime soon.
Rolling onto his side, Kyle was surprised that Oliver wasn't still in bed with him. He was sitting across the room in a chair, dressed for the day, his head bent as he tied his shoelaces. Kyle could smell his Irish soap from there and it was intoxicating. Mission accomplished, Oliver looked up and his eyes met Kyle's, a sheepish grin stretching across his face.
"Planning your escape?" Kyle jokingly drawled as Oliver came towards him. "Now that you're done having your way with me?"
"I will never be done having my way with you," Oliver assured him with a smile. He swooped his head low to kiss Kyle. He tasted like mint toothpaste. "If you must know, because I am the world's greatest boyfriend, I was gonna sneak out and get us some coffee. Figure we're gonna need a good caffeine rush to get through today."
"Awww…you're the best. Coffee would be awesome," Kyle agreed as he sat up, stretching his arms over his head. "What time is it anyway?"
"Little before eight," Oliver answered. "Say, when I got out of the shower, you were doing a lot of mumbling in your sleep. Were you having a nightmare, tough guy?"
"I dunno…I, um, don't really remember," Kyle fibbed, the details of his dream already coming back to him. Deciding to act before he lost his nerve again, he fixed Oliver with what he hoped was one of his more winning smiles. "Hey, listen, can I ask the world's greatest boyfriend a favor?"
"You sure can," Oliver replied, scooping his car keys up off the dresser before turning to face Kyle. "What, do you want bagels too?"
"Actually…do you mind if I borrow the car for like an hour?" Kyle asked, spitting out the request like it was a mouthful of dirt. "I have to drop some paperwork off at LU. I was gonna do it yesterday, but I got caught up packing and then I had to go see Schuyler and the traffic coming back was terrible and I kinda just ran out of time…"
"Kyle, relax. It's not a problem," Oliver assured him with, to Kyle's relief, nary a hint of suspicion in his voice. "The furniture's not getting delivered until two so we've got plenty of time." He tossed the car keys onto the bed next to Kyle. "How 'bout this? You pick up breakfast while you're out and I'll go finish packing those last few boxes."
"Works for me. But, you know, the university offices aren't open for another hour," Kyle said with a coy smile, sliding the covers down his body so Oliver could see just how up he was. "Got any ideas how we can kill some time?
"I'm sure we can come up with something," Oliver responded with a horny chuckle as he yanked his T-shirt off over his head and pounced on top of Kyle.
Kyle had lied. Lied to Oliver.
No, he hadn't lied exactly, Kyle tried to rationalize to himself as he drove to the far end of Llanview University's sprawling campus. He did have paperwork he had to submit to the bursar's office, but it could have just as easily been faxed or mailed. He was there to take care of business of a completely different nature and he knew it.
He didn't even have to lie. Oliver would have understood. Hell, he probably would have insisted on coming along for moral support. Maybe that's why he hadn't told him, Kyle mused as he brought the car to a stop. He knew in his gut that this was something he needed to do on his own.
Getting out of the car, Kyle took a deep breath to steady himself as the charred remains of the Kappa Alpha Delta fraternity house came into view. It wasn't where he and Oliver had met and fallen in love. Quite the opposite, it was a house of horrors where three evil men he refused to acknowledge as brothers – Todd Manning, Powell Lord, and Zach Rosen – had gang raped Marty Saybrooke. It had been abandoned and boarded up soon after, but had remained a black mark on the campus and the fraternity itself for years.
The rundown building had always given Kyle the creeps, even before he'd learned about its dark history. Maybe because it kinda reminded him of a haunted house from a scary movie he'd watched when he was way too young. Once when they were pledging, Vince Barriger had made them spend the night inside and Kyle had screamed like a little girl when one of the other pledges, Stan Griswold, had leapt out of a shadowy corner at him. Oliver had teased him mercilessly for days, but Kyle hadn't minded much because he liked the way Oliver lit up when he laughed.
And now, Kyle thought as he approached, kicking a loose stone across the grass, this awful place was also his sister's grave. The police had been unable to recover her body from the wreckage, theorizing that it had burned up in the gas explosion. The last time anyone had seen her, she had disappeared into the house to look for Powell, who unbeknownst to her, had been shot and killed by John McBain.
It made Kyle sick to think that she had spent her last moments alone, mourning a man who didn't deserve her, who had made her do such terrible things. He didn't want to remember her like that anymore. And he wasn't going to…starting today.
"I…I know I didn't have to come here to talk to you," Kyle began, the words squeezing past the lump in his throat. "But…I didn't really have anywhere else to go. I wish I did. I don't know if there was a spot in the park where you liked to sit…or a place you liked to get your coffee…or even what church you belonged to."
"Had a dream about you last night, about the day you left to come here," Kyle continued when he could. "You were sooo excited…and I was sooo jealous that you got to escape, got to leave it all behind and start again. I swore that, one day, I'd do the same thing. And even after everything that happened to you here, I knew…I just knew that Llanview was the place where my life was going to begin. And I was right."
"Of course, I took the hard, painful, roundabout way because I am a Lewis after all," he admitted with a rueful chuckle. "But I did it. I became a doctor. I found the love of my life. I'm even a dad, which I definitely didn't see coming. My life is everything I wanted it to be…but I don't think I could have gotten this far, hell, even survived growing up the way we did, if it wasn't for you. That's why…t-that's why I need to get this off my chest…"
"The last time I saw you, at Todd Manning's house?" Kyle elaborated, jamming his shaking hands into his pockets. "Natalie and Jared were about to go to the police, I still didn't have the money to pay off my debts. And then there you were. The answer to my prayers, promising me that you were going to fix everything, that you were going to make everything alright, just like you used to."
"But instead? You abandoned me…for that PSYCHO Powell Lord," Kyle roared, the pent-up fury bursting out of him. "You left ME holding the bag…the cops accused ME of helping you commit those murders and kidnap that baby. And on top of all of that, who shows up to arrest me? Oliver, of ALL people."
"Waiting there, in that interrogation room, I hated you so much. And right…a-and right before Commissioner Buchanan came in and told me that you…that y-you were gone…I wished…I-I wished that you were…" Suddenly, Kyle's feet weren't on solid ground. He was hunched over in the grass, tears streaming down his face, unable to speak.
"I'm sorry, I'm so sorry, I didn't mean it," Kyle finally managed to choke out through his sobs. "And I'm sorry that I didn't question why you stopped returning my phone calls or why you canceled on me for Christmas."
"But most of all," Kyle went on as he started to calm down, "I'm sorry I let what happened that day blot out everything else. Because you were a wonderful sister. I don't want to deny that anymore and…I don't want to feel guilty or mad when I think about you."
"I want to cherish the memories I have," Kyle, getting to his feet, explained. "I want to be honest with Oliver when it's your birthday and he asks why I'm sad. I want to be able to tell Sierra about her aunt, about how she taught me how to swim and took me to movies and put Band-Aids on my knees. And that's why I came out here today."
"So…goodbye, Rebec…Rebecca. I miss you…and I'll always love you." With that, and a heavy sigh, Kyle turned and walked back the way he came, wiping his eyes so he could see where he was going.
By the time he got back to the hotel, Kyle was relieved to see, glancing in the rearview mirror, that his eyes were no longer red and puffy. Juggling two large cups of coffee and a bag of breakfast sandwiches, he made his way inside.
He couldn't quite pinpoint how he felt, now that he'd ripped open the stitches, torn down the wall he'd put between him and Rebecca. The anger, uncorked after being repressed all that time, had dissipated. So had the brief rush of relief he'd felt afterwards that he had finally spoken his peace. But now…there was just this empty void throbbing inside of him, reminding him all over again that his sister was really gone.
Approaching the apartment, the unmistakable sound of his daughter wailing jolted Kyle from his thoughts and he hurried the last few steps. Nudging the door open with his shoulder, he was greeted with a full-on baby meltdown. Oliver was doing his best to calm her down, using all the usual tricks, but Sierra was inconsolable, squirming madly in his arms, her face flushed as she screamed.
"I leave for an hour," Kyle quipped, making himself known as he put the food down on the coffee table, "and everything goes to hell! What happened?"
"Thank god you're here," Oliver exclaimed, his eyes wide. "Roxy brought her in right as I was shoving Mr. Giraffe into a box and now I think she hates me." Kyle couldn't help but find it cute that Oliver was both joking and sincerely worried Sierra wouldn't forgive him.
"Not Mr. Giraffe!" Kyle joked, extending his arms. "C'mere, sweetie." As soon as he was close enough, Sierra practically leapt to him. She latched onto Kyle with surprising strength considering her size as she continued to weep.
It reminded him of the first time he had ever held her. It was at the hospital after her kidnapping ordeal at the hands of Allison Perkins. Oliver had been filling out the necessary forms so they could take Sierra home and Kyle had stayed with her while Doctor Evans performed his exam. But, after all she had been through that day, she hadn't been the most cooperative patient.
Without even thinking, Kyle had picked her up and it was like she instinctively knew that he was there to comfort her, to protect her. He had fallen in love with her the minute he saw her in the NICU, but that had been the moment when, in his heart, he became her dad.
"You know," he whispered to Sierra, rubbing her back in comforting circles, "when I was little? I used to be scared of moving too. New house, new people. But you, baby girl, have nothing to worry about. Not while me and your daddy are around." She started to settle down, her grip on his shirt loosening, her cries slowing to stuttering hiccups. But then, like a switch had been flipped, Kyle suddenly felt like he was the one clinging to her. That she was comforting him. And it was working.
"That seems to have done the trick." Kyle lifted his eyes and noticed Oliver watching them, his head quirked to the side. "Here you go, princess, a peace offering." He held out a pacifier to Sierra, who started sucking on it contently. Then, without another word, Oliver did the most perfect thing and wrapped both Kyle and Sierra into a bear hug. They stayed that way for a few minutes, swaying to a beat only they could hear.
"Kyle…," Oliver tentatively spoke up first, breaking the silence. "If you're holding the baby, whose hands are on my butt?"
"I'm gonna miss you hunks so much!" Roxy's unmistakable rasp filled Kyle's ears and, even as Oliver's mouth twisted into a horrified gasp, he broke out into a belly laugh that filled the apartment. It was the perfect final snapshot of life at the Angel Square Hotel.
"Say bye-bye to Llanview, Sierra," Oliver cooed to his daughter as, mindful of the U-Haul hitched to the back of the car, he carefully maneuvered his Jeep onto the highway. In her car seat, Sierra, her eyes already heavy with sleep just a few minutes into the drive, lazily waved her little arms at him.
Oliver then turned his attention to Kyle in the passenger seat. He was staring out the window, his expression hard to read. Kyle had done a decent job of hiding it, but Oliver knew him better than anyone and he could tell there was something weighing on his mind. He hoped Kyle knew he didn't have to struggle with it on his own, that he would always be there to help shoulder his burdens.
"Hey you," he broached the subject, reaching his hand over to rub Kyle's knee. "Everything okay? You've been kinda quiet…"
"Sorry, I didn't mean to be," Kyle replied with a small smile. "I was, uh, actually just thinking about my sister."
"O-oh." That was about the last thing Oliver had expected Kyle to say. He never talked about his sister. Oliver couldn't even remember the last time he had said her name. "What, uh, what about her?"
"You remember I told you about the first time I kissed a guy?" Oliver nodded, feeling a silly twinge of jealousy aimed at the straight boy who had beaten him to Kyle's lips.
"Well, that happened the same day Rebecca was moving to Llanview," Kyle went on. "I didn't tell her the whole story, but she saw the black eye and how upset I was so she insisted on taking a later bus and we spent the day together like we used to. And she told me that, no matter how far apart we were, she would always be there for me.
"Maybe it sounds nuts, but today," Kyle continued, gazing up at the sky through the windshield, "it kinda feels like she is. Like she's, I dunno, watching over me or something. And…I think she'd be really proud of me…and that she'd be happy for us."
"That's not crazy at all, Kyle. Of course she'd be. From everything you've said, she loved you a whole lot," Oliver assured him, squeezing his leg. Kyle, nodding that he agreed, took Oliver's hand in his and gave it a squeeze. "Do you think…do you think she would have liked me?"
"Are you kidding?" Kyle scoffed, his usual energy bubbling back to the surface. "She would have fought me for ya." Oliver laughed as Kyle planted a loud smooch on his cheek. "And she would have been a great aunt to you, munchkin," he said, looking back at Sierra. Startled again from her nap, she let out a frustrated yet adorable sigh.
"That's right, Sierra," Kyle told her, a bright smile filling his face, warming Oliver's heart. "We're going home."
She stood there for a long time after he disappeared from view, her hair whipping around her face in the breeze. She hadn't been close enough to hear what he was saying, but she had seen him crying and it had taken all her willpower not to run to him. Only her solemn vow to her love had kept her rooted among the trees bordering the house.
"It's us against the world, baby," he had whispered in her ear as he held her in his strong arms, like no time had passed at all since they had been wrenched apart. "We'll take our revenge on those wicked souls…and then we'll be free, to be one with each other. All you have to do is let him go."
So, with a new determination…
Rebecca Lewis, very much alive, slunk back into the shadows from which she had emerged.
Next up…Kyle and Oliver settle into their new life in Cherryvale.