For all of Ghost's loyal friends this is the end of this story but look for the family to continue to get into trouble in Monsters, coming soon. I want to thank everyone would stood by me through everything. I hope you enjoyed the story.
Dave walked back into the arena, his temper boiling. He had made it outside in time to see Journey's rattletrap of a car drive off, the back piled with her belongings. He wanted more than anything to go after her, to chase her down and shake some sense into her.
"What'd she do?" Randy asked, appearing suddenly beside the big man.
"Not now Randy." Dave snapped, stalking down the hall.
"Where did she go?" Randy asked anyway, wisely stepping out of the other man's reach.
"She ran away." Dave growled, swinging around to face the younger man, his temper spiking.
"Why? And where would she go?" Randy asked shocked.
"I don't know." The older man answered as worry crashed over him. "I need to go after her."
"Uh Dave , Vince would kill you if you left now." Randy warned.
"Damn it Randy some things are more important." Dave roared.
"Get a grip man. I know that. But you don't know where the hell she's going. So what's the fucking point?" The younger man reasoned.
"So what? We're just supposed to sit on our thumbs and do nothing?" Dave asked, his shoulders slumped.
Randy shrugged, unsure what else to say.
"The show must go on." Dave muttered walking into his locker room to change into his ring attire.
"And Randy," He said, poking his head through the door. "Watch the mouth."
Three hours later Dave got off the elevator on the third floor of his hotel and trudged down the hall, so worn out with worry that he hardly noticed where he was going. His head snapped up in surprise as he caught sight of her huddled in front of his door.
Seeing him Journey gave a watery smile. "I couldn't to it." She explained as her tears started to fall.
Not trusting himself enough to speak Dave sat down beside her and pulled her into his arms.
"I though it would be better if I left and did it on my own." She started, her voice muffled as she burrowed into his chest.
"Not one of your brightest ideas." Dave said quietly, not wanting to upset her further.
"But you know what the funny thing is. I don't want to leave everyone. I don't want to be lonely." She sobbed.
"There's no reason you should have to be." He answered, rubbing her back consoling.
"But I made such a mess of my life. So many mistakes. I just wanted to prove that I could do something by myself."
"Honey, mistakes are normal. It's part of growing up." Dave pointed out.
"Then I realized that if I left it would be my biggest mistake yet." She continued as if he hadn't spoken.
"And one I would never have forgiven you for." Dave warned, giving her a little squeeze.
"I can still go to college. But I don't have to sacrifice my family to do it." She announced.
"I'm glad you came to your senses." Dave said pulling her to her feet.
Opening the door he pushed her into the room, following her inside.
"Now that you have made your decisions I have a few things to say. Sit down." He started using his meanest voice.
Journey hurried to obey, knowing that this wasn't going to be pretty.
"Do you have any idea what I have gone through in the last three hours?" He asked her, his voice low and dangerous. "Do you know how much I worried?"
"I have a pretty good idea." She answered quietly, shrinking down in the chair when he burned her with a look.
"Then why the hell did you do it? Was this some little test to see how much I love you? Cause if that's the case I'll start proving it right now." He growled leaning down over her.
Journey's eyes popped open in panic. "Dave I swear that's not what I was doing. I was so confused but I couldn't leave you. That's why I came back."
"The fact that you came back on your own is the only reason you are not over my knee at the moment. If you had made me chase you down you would not have sat for a month." The big man promised.
Journey wisely kept her mouth shut, ashamed that she had caused the big man to hurt.
"Did you not think I would come after you? And I would have found you, even if I had to hire investigators, I would have found you."
"I know." She answered quietly getting up and putting her arms around him.
Dave sighed as some of his anger blew itself out. "Journey, I want you to listen to me. We are a family. You don't just blow your family off because you're feeling sorry for yourself. You don't run away if they make you mad. Family sticks together." He said, giving her small frame a tight squeeze.
"I promise I'll never do anything like this again."
"I know you won't." Dave said, landing a hard smack to her backside.
"Now why don't you get some rest?" Giving her a little push towards the bed he turned and headed for the door.
"Where are you going?" She asked, rubbing the sting out of her bottom.
"I need a drink."
"Why are we going to Texas?" Ari asked as she peered out the window of the plane.
"Well your daddy is in big trouble." John answered grimacing.
"Again?" The little girl asked laughing. "What'd you do this time?"
"Mind your own business." John informed her, annoyed that she had laughed at him.
Ari flung herself back in her chair and pretended to pout.
John sighed at her theatrics. "I kept a secret." He informed her.
"But secrets aren't bad. I have lots of them." She answered.
"Well some secrets are fun, like what's in the presents at Christmas time. But there are some secrets, really big secrets that hurt people." John explained.
"How?" Ari asked worried.
"Well I kept it a secret about being used by Monica and having such a beautiful daughter as you." He said tweaking her nose.
"Why would you keep me a secret?" She asked pretending to be hurt.
"Well I didn't want to admit that I had messed up, that I couldn't handle everything. If I had told them about you I would have had to tell them everything." John explained. He grinned when Ari looked at him with a confused expression on her face.
"Never mind. Just know that some secrets can be bad stuff." John advised.
"But how did you get into trouble?" She asked anyway.
"Well when you keep really big secrets people worry about you. They know something is wrong. So they try to find out for themselves. It would be like if I thought you where hiding something so I searched your room and started spying on you." John said, struggling to explain it in a seven year olds language.
"Did they do that to you?" She asked her eyes round.
"Yea and then I got really man and said a lot of things I shouldn't have. I really messed up."
"Can I help you fix it?" She asked.
John gave her an assessing look. "You just might."
Half an hour later John woke up from dozing. He looked over to see what had disturbed him. Ari was tugging at her skirt as she squirmed in the uncomfortable seat.
"I don't see why I have to wear a stupid dress anyway." She grumbled, noticing her father watching her.
"Because if we make a really good impression it might get me some points. Besides I think it makes you look pretty." He answered grinning.
"I look like a dork."
"You would have been a dork if you had worn one of those ruffled things your grandmother wanted you to wear. I managed to save you." He informed her.
"I still don't have to like it." She pouted.
Uhhuh , just like I didn't like you taking off Thursday on my friends."
"Here we go." Rolling her eyes the little girl folded her arms over her chest.
"Hey, I was worried out of my mind. I was locked behind bars and unable to help you. Do you know how helpless I felt?" He demanded.
"I wasn't in any danger. Everybody there knows me." She protested.
"It was the middle of the night. Monsters come out in the dark. You could have been dragged into an alley and killed before anyone knew." John yelled, startling several passengers.
"That would have been better than going to child services." She frowned up at him. "Foster homes are a lot worse than being dead. I ain't going back."
"Am not going back." He automatically corrected. "When were you in a children's' home?"
"After mommy died. When they were looking for my family." She said softly turning to look out the window.
"Not a good experience?" John asked gently. Ari just shrugged.
John laid his hand on his daughter's hair in comfort. "You know if I ever have to chase you down I won't be as nice as Randy was."
She started giggling. "He was too messed up to yell." Seeing his look she sobered up. "I don't have a reason to run away anymore. I have family now."
John peered down at her. "Are you sure you're just seven?" He asked causing her to laugh.
Two hours later John stopped the car in front of the large elegant farmhouse the Callaway's called home. Taking a deep breath he looked over at his daughter.
"There is going to be a lot of yelling." He told her. "Really loud yelling and maybe some flying fists." He muttered to himself as he glanced back at the house.
"Maybe you had better wait outside until its safe to come in. And it might be awhile."
Ari nodded; unnerved by the sight of her tough father looking scared. Grim faced John climbed out of the car and walked slowly up the walkway, dragging his feet as he went. Glancing back at the small face pressed against the glass he closed his eyes and knocked.
Hearing the door open he looked up, eyeing the unforgiving features of the man in front of him.
"Get off my land." Mark growled pushing the door shut.
"I'm sorry." John said softly, sincerely.
Letting out an aggravated sigh Mark turned and walked away, leaving the door open.
"That's got to be a good sign." John said to himself as he quietly followed him down the hall.
"What do you want John?" The big man asked tiredly as he slumped into his chair.
Standing in front of him John fidgeted. "I want it all to go away. For everything to go back to normal, for you not to be mad at me."
"You can't take back the things you said." Mark informed him in a dull voice.
"Mark man you have to know that I didn't mean them. And if I hadn't landed in jail the next day I would have called you and told you so." John pleaded.
"You wouldn't have said the things you did unless you had meant at least part of them." Mark reasoned, not giving an inch.
"You have to take into consideration what I was going through, the stress I was under." John pointed out, getting irritated with the situation.
"If you had kept us informed and asked for help a little sooner maybe you wouldn't have had to go through so much." Mark yelled jumping up from the chair.
"If you didn't send people to dog my steps and spy on me maybe I would tell you stuff." John threw back, his voice just as loud.
"I was worried about you. It's something people feel when they can see that their friends are getting in over their head." The older man shouted back.
John turned and walked across the room, his fists clenched.
"Why couldn't you tell me John? That's all I want to hear. Why?" Mark pressed.
"Damn it Mark, I didn't want to disappoint you." John burst out. "I didn't want you to know how much I had messed up." He added in a quiet voice.
The two stared at each other in silence.
"Hi grandpa." Ari said suddenly, coming through the door. Catching site of him she stopped and choked on the rest of her words. "I need you to help me with Daddy's temper. He has a really big one and says a lot of things he isn't suppose to." She finished in a rush as she inched towards her father.
John shrugged in response to Mark's look. "My secret weapon."
Mark waked over to the little girl and peered down.
"Are you a giant?" She asked climbing on a chair so she didn't' have to break her neck looking at him. Gathering her courage she reached out and poked him.
"No but if you call me grandpa again I'll act like a giant and come after you." He answered.
"Grandpa." The little girl announced slyly.
Mark snorted and looked at John. "She's as much a trouble maker as you are."
"Don't I know it. At the zoo the other day she tried to climb in the tiger cage. Almost got us thrown out." John said laughing. They fell into easy silence as Mark picked Ari up and held her against the ceiling with one hand.
"I really am sorry." John said eventually.
"Anything like that comes out of your mouth again I'm gonna wash it out with soap." The older man warned as he twirled the figure in the air.
"I think you should do it now." Came a female voice, causing John to whip around in surprise.
"Guess I had my own secret weapon." Mark chuckled, walking out of the room with Ari.
Journey bit her lip as John continued to stare at her.
"I had explained everything to him earlier but he still wanted to hear you say it." She forced out a small laugh. "For a moment there I didn't think you were going to tell him."
"What are you doing here?" He asked still staring.
Journey shrugged. "Well you had told me all about seeing Mark's friend when the four of us went out to dinner. You said you had called him from the bathroom and said all kinds of horrible things to him. I figured Mark wasn't going to forgive you too easily so I came to help."
John pulled the letter out his pocked and waved it at her. "Did Dave make you come back from where ever it is you took off too?"
"No, I came back before Dave could come after me. Thank goodness. But now's he's got me under such lock and key that I had to practically beg him to let me come down here." She said softly, staring at the crumpled piece of paper.
Walking over she placed her hands on his, trying not to notice the way his jaw clenched.
"John, I was feeling sorry for myself and I took it out on you and everyone else. I made a mistake, just like you made with Mark."
"You said you weren't happy." He whispered, staring into her eyes.
"I was very happy and I was scared I didn't deserve it. So I found reasons why I didn't." She cried, cupping his face in her hands.
"You said you wanted to make something of yourself so you would be worthy." John said, shaking her off as he read from the letter. "That's just bullshit. You are one of the strongest and kindest people I know."
"And one of the most impulsive. When I get an idea I act on it immediately, not taking the time to think it through." She pointed out drying her eyes.
"I'll give you that." He said flashing his grin. "Do me a favor. The next time you get a bee in you ass about something you bounce it off someone first."
She grinned. "Got it."
"I don't think I can handle much more of this." He groaned, pulling her into a bone crushing hug.
Later that day
John walked up the road to find Shawn sitting on his front porch in a rocking chair. Not knowing how to start John flopped into the chair next to him. After several; minutes of silence. He looked up to see that Shawn was continuing to study the countryside, ignoring him.
Shawn chucked quietly to himself as he noticed the younger man getting more and more irritated.
"Are you just going to sit there all day?" John finally burst out.
"Most likely." He answered. Taking pity on the younger man Shawn gave in. "I see you came from Mark's." He observed.
"Yea, we got everything worked out." John informed him.
"That's good." Shawn said, relieved for his good friend.
"Yep, my life would be perfect except for one thing. See I owe a dept to someone and I don't know how to pay it." The younger man explained.
"Maybe all it takes is a thank you." Shawn offered, picking up his tea.
"If that's' the case then I want to thank you Shawn for what you did. If you hadn't helped I would probably still be in jail."
"Not much to be grateful for. I did it mostly for Mark. If something had happened to you he would have never forgiven himself for abandoning you." The older man explained shrugging.
"One thing I don't understand is how you knew I was in trouble almost before I did."
"Mark and I have a lot of the same friends. Evan, the guy you saw watching over you Tues night, works at the courthouse. He saw the warrant for your arrest and called Mark. When Mark blew him off he called me. At my instruction he hired two local goons who found out what we needed to know." Shawn informed him
"I can understand that. I will say it surprised me when you got in contact with me. You've always been the quiet one of the group."
"No reason to speak up when the other three are such loud mouths." Shawn said causing John to laugh.