"Dad?" Kim whispered. "Dad?"
"Look at how grown up you've gotten," Jimmy replied. "You like just like your mother."
Kim shook her head and stepped back. "Did you know about this? Did you!"
Max shook her head numbly, as she stood there shell shocked. "No."
"Max," Jimmy said quietly. "I have so much to tell you."
This can't be happening, her mind screamed, how can I have two back from the dead boyfriends? Within a few weeks of each other? How?
"Jesus Christ," Skeeter cut in. "Everyone sit down, and we'll deal with this."
"Dad? Where have you been?" Kim whispered, "I thought you were dead! How could you just leave us like that? Do you have any idea what it's been like for Matthew and Zach? For me? Do you even care?"
"Of course I care. Let me explain."
"Explain? What can you possibly say that can explain? That you were so traumatized by the fact that both Mom and Max left you, that you decided to leave your family? Who are you?"
"Kim, let me explain," Jimmy insisted, as he turned to look at Max. "Please, listen to me."
Max just shook her head, and fought the urge to run. It would be a great time for an earthquake, tsunami, alien abduction, anything at all. Jimmy. Kenny. Together.
"Max?" Jimmy asked. "Would you say something?"
Kaylee, she thought, as a cry pierced the air, thank god. "Uh, that's Kay. I'm going to check on her because I can't deal with this right now."
"Max," Jimmy tried again, as she rushed inside.
"Uh, Kay's been sick . . . Yeah," she trailed off, as she tried to regain some control over anything.
Jimmy watched her go before turning to look at Kenny. "What are you doing here?"
"Getting to know my daughter, and Max again," Kenny offered. "Where the hell have you been?"
"You're one to talk."
"I was learning to walk again."
"Stop," Kim cut in, as Littleton wrapped his arm around her shoulders. "Dad? Why . . . we're you hurt? Is that why it took you so long to let us know that you were okay?"
"No . . . It was," Jimmy trailed off, as he paused at the hurt in his daughter's eyes. "Kim, have a seat and let me explain."
"Are you sure that it is me that you want to explain it too? You did show up at Max's house after all."
"It's okay sweetie," Max said quietly, smoothing back Kay's hair. "I'm here."
"Ssh. Did you have a bad dream?"
Kaylee nodded, as she snuggled into her mother's arms. "Stay?"
"Happily," Max said, as she watched as Kay drifted back off to sleep. "Oh, Sweetie, I don't know what to do right now. I just want to sit here and watch you sleep . . . I love you, Kay. Sweet dreams."
She looked up, and pointed toward the hallway. Closing the door behind her. "She just went back to sleep."
Kenny regarded her thoughtfully. "She isn't the only one that needed checking up on right now. You okay?"
"Yeah, you really look like it. Talk to me."
"What should I say? What can I say? Jimmy? He's dead . . . Why would he do this?"
"He thought he lost everything," Kenny trailed off, as he saw the hurt in her eyes. "Sweetheart, it'll be okay."
"Why come here? Why not go see his family back in Rome?"
"Kim is here."
"How would he have known that? Unless . . . how long has he been here for?"
"Why don't we go find out?"
Max shook her head, and swallowed back her tears. "I can't . . . I just did this with you."
He kissed her on top of her head. "I know. It'll be okay. I promise. Look at me sweetheart."
Max looked up, and shook her head. "Kenny . . . God. It's a good thing. Right? Jimmy not being dead? Why now? After all of this time? How could he do this?"
"Those sound like the same things you asked me."
"It is the same thing."
"I know he wants to talk to you."
"Are you okay with that?"
"Hey, I hated everyone you dated."
Max smiled despite everything going on. "Yeah. Um, I'll be down in a minute. Thanks."
He kissed her on her forehead. "Okay."
"So Dad, why did you come here then? If you wanted to talk to me, Matthew and Zach?" Kim asked again. "Or are we not as important to you as Max?"
"That isn't it," Jimmy said through gritted teeth, as Kenny rejoined them. "Will you let me explain?"
"You don't want to wait for your girlfriend?" Kim asked.
"Uh, she'll be down in a minute," Kenny interjected.
"How is Kaylee?" Skeeter asked, wanting to do anything to relieve the tension on the porch. "I remember her as a newborn, but that's about it."
"Good," Kenny replied. "She's amazing."
"I'm surprised that Max even let you near her, or herself for that matter."
"I didn't know I had a kid. You walked out on three."
"Stop! " Kim cried, as Max stepped out on the porch. "All of you!"
Max bit her lip, as she felt Jimmy's eyes fall upon her. Words failing her, she leaned back against the railing and waited.
"Dad," Kim sputtered. "Where have you been?"
"I never meant to hurt you," Jimmy said softly. "I thought it would be better for you if I left."
"How can you being dead make things better?"
"There was so much talk," Jimmy trailed off. "I didn't want it to effect you too. Between your mother and Rachel, and . . . and what went on with Max and myself. You needed time to heal."
"Who are you to make that decision for us? For me? Do you have any idea what it has been like?"
"I did it for you!" Jimmy replied, as he turned to look over at a silent Max. "For all of you. I know you needed time to deal with everything that happened. It was time to come back now, to let you know that I was all right."
"You have no right to," Kim snapped. "Who are you to play with our lives like this?"
"You seem to have forgiven him," Jimmy argued, nodding toward Kenny. "This isn't any different."
"He had cancer," Littleton interjected. "And was in a coma."
"So? He still walked out," Jimmy continued, as he turned back toward Max. "On you. How is it different?"
"It isn't. It hurt, I grieved," Max said, as she found her voice. "He walked out on me, not his kids."
"What about Kaylee?"
"I didn't know," Kenny stressed, as his own guilt rose up for what he had done.
"Would it have made a difference?"
"Of course it would have. I never would have abandoned my daughter!"
"Oh? So just your girlfriend? Max wasn't enough for you?"
"She is everything to me! We've been through this! If I could go back and change things, I would! I shouldn't have left, and you shouldn't have either!"
"Hey, hey, hey!" Joey yelled out. "Time out, everyone! This isn't going to settle anything! Everyone sit down, and we'll talk like rational adults."
"There isn't anything rational about this," Skeeter said under his breath.
"Fine," Jimmy agreed. "This is what happened. That night, I stumbled out to my Blazer, and found some jerk inside it. They knocked me down, and then they drove into the telephone pole."
"So you just let us think you were dead," Littleton stated, "I identified your body."
"Why come here?" Max asked, needing to know.
"To see you. We parted to badly, and I figured that we were both outcasts from our old lives. I thought that you would be glad to see me. Then I saw you with him. How can you go back to him?"
"How? He walked out on you, while you were pregnant!"
"I know that! I was there!"
"Because . . . I don't have to justify myself to you. To anyone."
"This isn't talking rationally," Joey interjected. "We need to settle down."
"I need to get out of here," Kim said. "Jon?"
"Okay honey. We'll go," Littleton said, shooting Jimmy a wary look.
"Yeah, me too," Skeeter said. "Joey?"
She nodded, as she turned to look at Jimmy. "Is there a number that we can reach you at?"
"I need to talk to you," Jimmy said, after the other four had left. "Just the two of us."
Max shook her head, her mind spinning. "Not now. Not tonight."
"I haven't seen you in so long," Jimmy insisted. "Max, please. I need you to understand."
"It was over before you disappeared. I can't do this again."
"I wanted to give you time. I wanted to come back to you for so long, and it is killing me to see you back with Kenny, after what he's done."
"What you did wasn't any different. If anything, it was worse. Whatever is between Kenny and me in none of your business."
"I think she's made herself clear," Kenny interjected. "Why don't you just go?"
"I'm not finished here."
"You know what? I'd like you both to go," Max said, taking as step backward. "I want to be alone for awhile.."
"Sweetheart," Kenny started.
"Please," she argued. "This is too much for one day. I have to get up early tomorrow because Kay has to go to the doctor. We'll deal with this later. Good night."
"She's doing much better," Dr. Thomas said, after he examined Kaylee. "She certainly is a brave girl."
"She's the best," Max replied, as she smiled at her daughter. "I can't believe she pulled through everything so well."
"She should be fine to go back to daycare next week."
"Great. I know I can't take too much more time off, although I know her father would love to take her during the day," Max trailed off. "I'm going to miss being with her though."
"Her father doesn't work during the day?"
"No. He's in between jobs right now. It's complicated, he was sick for along time, and now he's back in both of our lives."
"I'm going for a walk," Kim said. "I just need to clear my head."
"Do you want some company?" Jon asked.
"Not right now. I just want to be alone for awhile. All of this, I just can't deal with it right now."
"You're going to have to talk to him sometime Kim. Really talk to him."
"He seems to want to talk to Max more so then me. She didn't seem too receptive to the idea though."
"Neither do you."
"How could he do this?"
Littleton sighed. "Honey."
"I'll be back later."
Kenny settled down to wait on Max's porch. She can't still have feelings for Jimmy, she even said that she didn't. We were just getting back on track, and now this? Why can't we all go back a few years? Start over?
He looked up. "Kim. What are you doing here?"
"I just went for a walk, and ended up here. No one is home?"
"Not yet. She isn't answering her phone either."
Kim settled down on the porch as well. "I hardly slept last night."
"You aren't the only one."
"Are you and Max back together?"
"Yeah. She . . . she doesn't want to rush it. I hurt her, abandon her, and . . . I never wanted to hurt her."
"She knows that."
"Yeah," Kenny sighed. "We'll work it out. What about you and Littleton? You're getting married?"
"Soon. I never expected it, but Matthew and Zach are going to school. I can go back full-time, and it just seems right."
"Do you ever talk to your Mom?"
"Lydia, yeah. Jill, no. As far as I know she's still with Rachel in California. I feel like an orphan sometimes."
"You have parents Kim. They love you, with their faults and all, they still do."
"Are you afraid Kaylee will hate you?"
Kenny paused. "Yeah. What do I say to her?"
"She's only two. She doesn't remember. Max wouldn't have told her," Kim trailed off, as the jeep pulled into the driveway. "Someone is home."
"Hi, Max," Kenny called, as she climbed warily out of the jeep.
"Hi," she said, as she glanced at the twosome on the steps, as she unstrapped Kaylee from the car seat. "Uh, are you two waiting for me?"
"It's your house," Kim commented. "We just ended up here. Did Kaylee have a good doctor's appointment?"
"She's doing great," Max said, as she set Kay down on her feet. "Right, Sweetie?"
Kay giggled, as she toddled over to the porch. "Mommy!"
"How are you doing?" Kenny asked in a low voice.
"Better," Max replied. "Do you guys want to come inside?"
"Have you heard from my Dad?" Kim asked. "Since last night?"
Max shook her head, as she unlocked the door. "No . . . He left right after all of you did, and I'm not sure where he went."
"I don't know what to say to him."
"You aren't the only one," Max replied, as she lifted Kaylee up into her arms.
"He seemed to really want to talk to you."
"We were so awful to him, back then," Kim sighed. "Just look at everything that happened."
"He made his choices, we all did," Kenny interjected.
"I don't want to see him, and I don't want Matthew and Zach to know that their father abandoned them like that," Kim said quietly, before sighing,. "They have to know. Not telling them would make me like him. How could he do this?"
"Sometimes it's easier to run away," Max commented, as Kaylee wiggled out of her arms. "To start over."
"Why come back then?" Kim asked.
"You can't run forever," Kenny interjected. "You have to go back and deal with it all sometimes. Believe me."
"I guess you two would know," Kim replied. "I can't . . . I can't imagine ever forgiving him."
"What about for the boys?" Max asked.
"I suppose," Kim sighed. "Jill should know too, even though she is happy in California with Rachel. She tried to get custody of us, and make us move out there."
"I'm sure that you've done great with Matthew and Zach. They're lucky to have you," Max said quietly.
"Thanks," Kim said, as the two woman avoided looking at each other. "I guess we have more in common than we thought?"
"I suppose," Max trailed off, as she jumped to her feet. "Kay? Shit!"
"Max!" Kenny yelled, as she bolted toward the street, where the toddler was chasing a sea gull. "Max!"
Ignoring his frantic calls, she dove toward where Kaylee was standing. Flinging the small child onto the softness of the yard, her whole world went black at the impact of the sedan.