A/N: So it's been a long while since I've updated this story, but I'm back now and you all can expect some pretty frequent updates. Thanks for all the reviews and support, and enjoy this next chapter. Also, keep an eye out for something new that I'll be posting within this week. You guys are great!

-Mari

CHAPTER 42

April 7, 1999

Slam.

Abby jumped slightly on her bed, where she had spent the last hour coloring and watching cartoons on her new mini television, a fifth birthday present last month from Uncle Benny and Aunt Alison. Sighing, she picked out a fuchsia crayon and replaced it with the light blue one she had been using from the large crayon box on her nightstand.

"Abby?"

"What?" She called out, never looking up from her drawing. She heard a crack of thunder and the lights briefly flickered in her room, but she didn't panic—just kept on drawing.

"Can I come in?"

"I don't care."

Jen smiled as she walked through the bedroom door, gently shutting it behind herself before crossing over to Abby's bed. "What do you think about going to Scarsdale this weekend and seeing Grandma and Grandpa Davis, huh? Would you like that? I think Aunt Erica wants to see you, too. She still owes you a birthday present, remember?"

Abby shrugged. "I don't know. Is Daddy going?"

Jen sat down on the edge of the bed and shook her head. "Daddy has to help Uncle Mark pack, sweetie. Uncle Mark's leaving for California next weekend."

"With Aunt Mo and the baby, right?"

"No sweetie, we talked about this. Aunt Mo and Thalia are going to stay in the city and Uncle Mark's going to move away."

"Oh." Abby paused and tugged at her blonde hair, which had grown past her shoulders and fell in long, straight pieces. "Okay." She tucked a piece of hair behind her ear. "Is Daddy mad? He slammed the door."

"He's a little upset at Uncle Mark, and that's why he slammed the door, but he's not mad at you, me or Ryan. Got it?"

"Totally."

Jen laughed and kissed the top of her forehead. "Now get dressed in your leotard so I can take you to gymnastics on time tonight," she ordered, referring to the class that Abby was enrolled in three afternoons a week, after preschool, for two and a half hours at the local gym.

"Yup. Can I wear my silver one today?"

"Let me just grab it out of the laundry basket and you sure can."

"Cool!"

Jen walked out of Abby's bedroom, sticking her head into Ryan's room to make sure the eight month old was still sound asleep. He was still recovering from a bad ear infection that had kept both her and Roger up at night for most of the past few days. She was just glad that the antibiotics that the pediatrician prescribed had worked finally. Lately Ryan had been sort of a handful and getting into everything. The whole apartment had been childproofed, since he had a habit of pulling himself up on furniture and cabinets and walking along with support. Jen was sure that soon enough he'd be taking his first steps and then they'd all be in trouble.

She made her way into the laundry room, digging Abby's silver leotard out of the basket. Usually Mark was the one to take Abby to class on Wednesday nights to give Jen and Roger a break, but since Mark was busy packing for California, that wasn't going to happen.

It hadn't really hit Jen that Mark was really leaving, but perhaps that was because Mark had only dropped the whole idea on everyone two weeks ago after claiming he had the offer to since before Maureen gave birth to now three month old Thalia in January. And from there, all hell had broken loose – literally.

Back in December of 1998, Mark had been offered a position as a production and development assistant to a major Hollywood movie director. Not only would Mark be working under this director, but he would also be part of the process of selecting and casting various actors and actresses for new movie and television proposals. All at the same time he'd be working part time on promoting the various movies and actors under the director, as well as putting together press kits. Mark had known at the time what kind of career opportunity this was, but also new that it would be a very demanding job, physically and emotionally, and that it also required a cross country move –one that he knew Maureen and his family wouldn't be too thrilled with.

Mark had kept quiet about the job opportunity until early March, when he had been laid off from his current job and internship. It was then that he accepted the job in California, and one night, Maureen found out accidentally and was definitely not too thrilled. In fact, she had been furious.

Jen remembered that the argument between Mark and Maureen had gotten so intense that Maureen kicked Mark out of their townhouse and he had opted to stay with Collins and Logan for the past two weeks, only returning home to plead with Maureen and to visit with Thalia. Ever since then, things with everyone had been tense, and it wasn't just Mark and Maureen who were having problems.

Collins' AZT dosage had been raised in February, and although he was still for the most part healthy, he had been hospitalized last week with the flu. He and Logan had broken up once or twice since then, but Logan had spent every night at the hospital with him. Both were unsure if their relationship, which had recently become unstable, would work out in the long run.

Jen's relationship with her parents had become practically nonexistent, and she only contacted them in matters concerning Abby or Ryan, and even the times that she did so were few and far between.

Mark's parents were going through some strenuous times, but were both seeing a marriage counselor and had plans to vacation in Cancun in June. Cindy and Adam's marriage was still as strong as ever, and their three children, Anthony, Rachel, and Victoria were eleven, six, and one and a half, respectively. Cindy was also currently eight months pregnant with the couple's fourth and final child, a boy.

Everything was just--

"Mom!"

Jen looked over to the laundry room door and found Abby standing there impatiently. "Sorry. Here, baby."

Abby grabbed the leotard and stormed into her room, closing the door roughly behind her.

Jen just sighed and watched as another downpour began. The rain just wouldn't let up lately.

-xxx-

"Did she say when she's coming back?"

Roger finished taping up one of the final large cardboard boxes and stared at Mark. "Who?"

"Maureen."

"Oh, no. I think she took Thalia to the pediatrician today and then was supposed to drop her off at your mom's house, but other than that, no. She mentioned something about going to an audition but she didn't say when she's coming back."

"Oh." Mark pushed a smaller box to the side and crossed his arms over his chest. "I guess I fucked up real bad this time. I want her and Thalia to come with me but she won't even consider that. She just goes on and on about how I betrayed her and how our relationship for the past year has been a lie."

"Not to sound like an ass, but you kept a huge secret from her, man. And to make shit worse, you didn't even tell her about it. She found out from a message on the answering machine accidentally and then you told her. I think I would have flipped out a little bit too."

"Flipped out a little bit? She threw me out of our townhouse, but not after throwing back the engagement ring I gave her at my feet."

Roger grinned. "So she's a little upset with you right now."

"A little?!" Mark protested. "A little is Maureen not talking to me for a few days or Maureen giving me the silent treatment. It's been a few days- no, two weeks - and I had to move out. She's being irrational. She says she knew all along that she'd end up a single parent. I'm sorry, what the hell is going through her head?"

"What the hell is going through yours?" Roger questioned, crouching over the box with a Sharpie marker. "I mean, I know this is a big chance for you and it's California, but Maureen's a city girl and you knew this all along. There's no way in hell you can rip Maureen away from the theaters and acting around here. Plus, she's starting classes at NYU in the fall—"

"What?" Mark dropped the tape he had been holding in his hand and gaped at Roger.

"Oh…" Roger swallowed and tossed the marker on the table. "You didn't know."

"I haven't been able to have a civil conversation with her in two weeks! Of course I don't know anything!" Mark shouted. "What is she starting classes for? And how is she paying for them?"

"I don't know, and again, I don't know. You ask her. You're her fiancé."

"Not anymore," Mark replied through gritted teeth. "We aren't even together right now. She's treating me like I'm just a one night stand and oh yeah! We have a baby together."

"Mark, shut up. You're not making sense. You're moving cross-country. You just sprung the whole thing on her, me, Jen—everyone. She's got a right to be mad at you, but she also needs to work things out with you before you leave next weekend."

"Oh, like that'll happen," he grumbled.

"Just remember, this was your decision, so yes, you are to blame for what happened and the consequences. Is Maureen overreacting a little bit? Yeah. She's Maureen. But you brought this on yourself," Roger stated honestly. "There's still some light at the end of the tunnel."

"Not that much light." And with that, there was a loud crack of thunder and the power in the townhouse went out completely.

-xxx-

"How can he be so insensitive? What's going through his head? He knows I hate California!"

Jen sighed and handed Maureen another tissue from the box positioned on the coffee table. Both were seated in the middle of the living room floor next to Ryan's playmat. Ryan, on the other hand, seemed to have lost interest in the mat itself and had crawled over to the window, where he was busying himself with a set of blocks left out from earlier in the morning. Thalia had been asleep in Ryan's crib for the past twenty minutes, and with Abby still at gymnastics for another hour, it had given Maureen and Jen a window of opportunity to meet up and talk things out.

"I can't believe he's doing this!" She took the tissue and wiped at her eyes miserably. "This doesn't make any sense. How am I supposed to live by myself with a three-month-old baby? And we were supposed to get married this spring! Next month, too!"

"Yeah, well so were Roger and I, and look how that worked out," Jen scoffed.

"Yeah, but-- it's California! He said he'd be able to fly back every weekend and whenever I needed him but I can't move out there! I can't just pick up and go and he shouldn't be able to either! I can't even talk to him about this. All we do is fight about if, but if he wasn't so stupid and would have told me in the first place then maybe there would have been a slim chance that I would have been okay with it. Maybe."

"You wouldn't have."

Maureen sighed. "Yeah. You're right. Come on Jen, help me out here. Does Mark really think that it's okay to leave me and our daughter behind? Thalia's three months old. She won't even remember him. She'll start to crawl, talk, and walk without him. I bet he's just waiting for me to give in and move out there with him, but no way. I'm not. I'd move to Chicago and live with my parents before I ever would move to California to live with him."

"California can be nice," Jen suggested. "Parts of it, at least."

"Hmph!"

"Okay, never mind."

Jen picked Ryan up and carefully set him in her lap with the blocks. "Look, I don't know what to tell you, but you and Mark have to work things out. Think about Thalia."

"It's not that simple. He's going to be three fucking thousand miles a way! A phone call and a visit from time to time is all I'm going to get. I can't do long distance relationships. I have a hard time even handling normal, stable relationships."

"He's the father of your baby."

"A real father doesn't get up and leave his infant daughter and his ex fiancée behind."

"I know, but he did offer for you to go with him—"

"I know!" Maureen shouted. "I know, I know, I know! Okay?" she sobbed. "I know. We're falling apart, Jen. Everyone is. I feel like I don't even know Mark anymore. The old Mark wouldn't have done this and I don't know what he's trying to prove, but I still love him. I just can't be with him right now."

-xxx-

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