Altered Reality

Chapter Eleven:

Lucas Roberts was breathless.

There weren't many things that could take his breath away and leave him utterly speechless, but his wife was at the top of that list.

He was laying in the dark of their room, running his fingers through her long, golden hair, with her head resting on his chest. He could tell she was asleep by the shallow breath that spilled onto his bare chest, and the gentle rise and fall of her small form against his.

Moonlight streamed in through the skylight overhead, bathing them in a soft, silver light. The shadows danced across Sami's peaceful face, and Lucas smiled as he traced her delicate features with his thumb, caressing her cheek tenderly.

After nearly nine years of marriage, he loved the fact that she could still make him feel so... amazed whenever he was able to watch her sleep, the steady rhythm of her breathing lulling him into a peaceful state. It was calming, somehow, to just sit in the dark of their room and appreciate the blessings in his life.

After all, he was a lucky man.

He had a dream job at Titan, one that he not only excelled at, but actually enjoyed, and it allowed him to give his wife and son everything they could ever want in life. He was surrounded by family and friends, as chilling as it was to think about, if anything ever happened to him, he wouldn't need to worry about Sami and Will, because there were so many people who he knew would be there to take care of them.

More than anything, though, he cherished his wife and son. Will was an incredible kid, bright and energetic, full of life and adventure, and there was nothing quite like the feeling he got when his son rushed into his arms after winning a baseball game. Sometimes it was hard to believe that he had helped create this little life, but he could see himself in Will, in his smile and the tilt of his head.

His laugh, though, was all Sami.

Sometimes Lucas wondered just what he had done to deserve them, this perfect little boy and his mother, who wasn't just the most beautiful woman he had ever known, but his match in every way.

How on earth had he gotten so lucky as to marry his best friend?

Sami stirred in her sleep, nuzzling closer to him, and Lucas smiled.

Her hair had fallen over her face to expose one shoulder, which was bare save for the thin strap of her baby blue camisole, the perfect color to macth the blue and white striped pajama pants she wore with them, a present from Will that he had helped their son pick out for her on her last birthday.

Lifting her hair away from her face with his fingers, Lucas sighed gently.

Only Sami had this affect on him, only she could make him forget the entire world, could make him loose control of his thoughts, his emotions, his actions. She'd always been able to do so, even when they were kids. There had just been something about her that intrigued him, something that drew him to her, like a moth to a flame.

Sami stirred again, and this time she opened her eyes, blinking hazily. "Hi," she said softly.

Lucas smiled. "Hi yourself."

She pushed up on her elbows and peered at him curiously. "Couldn't sleep?" she asked.

"I was just thinking," he explained lightly.

"About what?" she inquired, arching an eyebrow.

"You," Lucas replied honestly. "Will. How I'm the luckiest man in the world."

"I thought you said Hugh Heffner was the luckiest man in the world?" Sami retorted with a smirk, her pale blue eyes sparkling in amusement.

"Second luckiest," Lucas assured her, leaning in for a quick kiss. "I'd take you over a dozen Playmates any day."

"Mmm, good answer, General," Sami chuckled, nuzzling against his neck sleepily. "I guess that means I won't trade you in for Johnny Depp after all."

"How generous of you," Lucas retorted dryly, lazily running his fingers through her golden locks.

"I'm a generous kind of girl," Sami yawned.

"I know you are," Lucas said, leering down at her with a suggestive waggle of his eyebrows.

Sami rolled her eyes and hit him with a pillow.

Grinning, Lucas drew her closer so he could wrap his arms around her slender waist and rest his chin atop her head. A soft sigh of contentment escaped Sami's lips, and he felt her relax against him, leaning her head back to rest on his shoulder.

They sat like that for a few moments, just enjoying the tranquility of being together with no distractions for once. No cell phones ringing, no paperwork brought home from the office, no television blaring cartoons in the background, no homework to help their son with, just each other.

And the very subject they'd been avoiding hanging in the air around them.

"Tomorrow's a big day, huh?" Lucas asked quietly.

"I guess so," Sami murmured.

"Lexie said that discharge process would only take about half an hour, so they should be en route to the Pub by three or so," he mused thoughtfully. "If we're going to help your grandparents set up, we should probably be at the Pub by two, don't you think?"

"We?" Sami echoed in surprise. "Grandma talked you into it, too?"

Lucas laughed ruefully. "Actually, it was Gran. Caroline was over for tea when I stopped by this afternoon, and while I was helping myself to a doughnut, they reeled me in."

"That sounds like them, alright."

"Never underestimate the little old ladies in this town," Lucas suggested with a wink. "They're a lot slyer than they let on."

"Don't I know it," Sami muttered. "Grandma used to trick us into helping out back in high school when the wait-staff was short, remember? She even got you in on it once or twice, I recall."

"What can I say?" Lucas shrugged. "I look good in the green apron. It was good for business, drew in a lot of women, they came to admire my handsome face and ended up staying for lunch."

Sami snorted, not buying it for a second. "More like they bought lunch to avoid having to put up with you winking at them every time you walked by."

"Uh huh, sure. Anyway, I told Caroline that we'd both help set up for the party. I voulenteered Philip's services, too."

"And does Philip know this?"

"He will when I stop by his apartment to pick him up," Lucas replied with a smirk. "If he has plans, I'll just point out that it would make Belle happy, and he'll be a good little boyfriend and do as he's told."

"You enjoy using Belle to lead him around by the nose, don't you?" Sami accused, narrowing her eyes.

"Hey, he deserves it after all the crap he gave me about being whipped when we got married," Lucas reminded her. "I consider this well-earned payback."

"You would," Sami said, rolling her eyes.

"Like you never give Rex a hard time about the way he does whatever Mimi tells him to," Lucas retorted.

"I have no idea what you're talking about," Sami insisted with a straight face. "I love Rex, he's my favorite twin brother who isn't my twin. I would never tease him about his love life."

"Sure you wouldn't," Lucas snorted.

They sat in comfortable silence for a long moment, but Lucas could feel the tension in his wife's shoulders, which had tightened upon his first mention of tomorrow, revealing just how worked up she really was about her mother being released from the sanitarium, despite her attempts to hide it.

"Are you nervous?" he asked softly.

Sami stiffened a little, clearly annoyed he was pressing the issue, but after a few seconds she spoke up anyway. "More like terrified," she confessed unhappily, biting her lip. "I just don't know what to expect, that's all. I mean, she's been gone for so long, and I'm just getting used to her actually being lucid, but tomorrow she'll be home for good and..."

She trailed off, a dark look crossing her face.

"And you feel guilty that you aren't going to be there, dealing with the uncomfortableness twenty-four hours a day like your father and Belle will," Lucas concluded knowingly, lifting her chin with his thumb. "Hey, no one expects you to drop everything because of this, Sami, they know you have a life of your own to manage. And you've done a hell of a job making sure things run smoothly for your family over the past few years, despite how much stress it's put on you. I think you, of all people, deserve a break."

"I just wish I could make this easier on Daddy and Belle," Sami said in frustration. "It's hard enough for Rex, Brady and I, but we can leave at the end of the day, we can go home and get away from it all for a while. They don't have that luxury."

"You shouldn't feel guilty for that, baby," Lucas told her.

"I know I shouldn't," Sami sighed heavily. "But I do."

Kissing the top of her hair, Lucas rested his chin on her head for a moment in thought. "You know, I think some part of you is resentful of Marlena coming home."

"What?" Sami cried indignantly. "I think you need your head examined, General."

"Just hear me out, okay?" Lucas requested.

Huffing, Sami folded her arms and glared up at him, but remained silent as she listened expectantly.

"I think you've gotten so used to filling the maternal role in the family, that you're feeling a bit replaced now that she's back," Lucas reasoned evenly. "After all, it was you who helped Belle get ready for her senior prom, who she came to when she and Philip were on the verge of having sex back in high school. You're the one who took Brady out ring shopping when he decided to propose to Nicole, who Rex comes to when he needs advice on Mimi, who made sure that John was taking proper care of himself. You've been the one they all relied on and turned to with their problems for so long, it's only logical that you feel a bit threatened by your mother's return."

Sami was silent for a long moment, and then gave a soft, bitter laugh. "I'm such a spoiled brat," she proclaimed. "Mom's finally on the road to recovery and she's struggling to make sense of things, while the rest of the family is just trying to get through things one day at a time, and here I am feeling sorry for myself that I'm not going to be needed as much because of it."

"You're not spoiled," Lucas assured her. "And you're far from being a brat, Goldilocks. In fact, you're one of the most selfless people I know, at least when it comes to your family."

"I don't feel very selfless at the moment," Sami muttered.

"I think you're entitled to feel whatever you want to, given the circumstances," Lucas replied gently. "But just because your mom is back, doesn't mean that your family's going to stop needing you, Sami. You've been their rock for so long, that's not likely to change. And it's going to take Marlena time to adjust, there's so much she can't remember and even more that she missed out on while in the sanitarium, she's going to need you to help her learn everything, even the littlest things like how everyone takes their coffee to the wedding plans Brady and Nicole have been working on."

Sami groaned at the mention of the words 'wedding plans', burying her face into her pillow.

"Long day at the office with Nicole?" Lucas chuckled knowingly.

"She's worked up about flowers," came his wife's muffled response. "Should she go with pink lilies or white lilies for the bridesmaid's bouquets? I'm beginning to wish Brandon was a woman so that he could be his sister's maid of honor instead."

"Yeah, right," Lucas snorted, although he had to admit it would be priceless to see Walker in a pink, fluffy dress. "You know you wouldn't have it any other way. Besides, it's good practice for when Philip and Belle decide to tie the knot."

"That better be a few years off," Sami said wearily. "Twenty is too young to get married."

"We were even younger when we got married, sweetheart," Lucas pointed out wryly. "Remember?"

"How could I forget?" Sami retorted. "I looked like a blimp in my wedding dress!"

"You were not," Lucas said, rolling his eyes. "You were only three months along, baby. You weren't even showing yet at the time. In fact, since neither John nor Bo drew their weapons during the ceremony, I bet some people didn't even realize it was a shotgun wedding."

Sami snorted at that, as he'd known she would. It had been a long running joke between them that it was a miracle it hadn't turned into a literal shotgun wedding, considering how many cops were in her family, but sometimes Lucas wondered if his cousin Hope, who just happened to be Sami's uncle Bo's wife, hadn't had something to do with that.

"Well, if Philip were to knock up Belle, he might not be so lucky," Sami pointed out wryly. "He wouldn't just have to worry about Daddy and Uncle Bo, but Brady, Rex, Eric, Shawn and Andrew, too. They're all very protective of her."

"And you're not?"

Sami made a face at him. "I happen to be very partial towards your kid brother, thank you very much," she replied. "I would have to stick up for him, someone would need to protect him from the Brady Bunch."

"Every time someone calls you all that, I hear the theme song," Lucas mused. "It's a story, of a lovely lady, who was bringing up three very lovely girls... One of them had hair of gold, just like her mother, and the oldest wasn't hers."

"Shut up, Lucas," Sami warned, narrowing her eyes, but that just furthered his amusement.

"It's a story, of a man named Brady, who had two boys of his own... they were three men, with another added, who was not his own..."

"So help me, Roberts," Sami growled, lifting her pillow threateningly.

"Till the one day when that lady and that fellow, fell into bed together on a hunch-"


Trying not to laugh at her outraged expression, Lucas finished the song with a smirk. "Along came the final member of the family, and that's the way they became the Brady Bunch."

He was going to sing the refrain, but Sami's pillow connected with his face, smothering his mouth, so he settled for pulling her down on top of him and tickling her, causing her to shriek with laughter. After all the years he'd known her, he could find her most ticklish spots with his eyes closed, giving him the advantage in situations like this.

"Lucas, stop," Sami cried, giggling madly as she tried to curl up into a ball to keep his hands away from her sides. "That isn't fair!"

"All's fair in love and tickle fights, sweetheart," Lucas quipped, grinning as his fingers found a particularly sensitive spot and she all but hyperventilated, she was laughing so hard.

Neither of them heard the sound of little feet padding down the hall, nor of their door creaking open, but they definitely heard the squeal of excitement that cut through the air just before a small missile hit the bed, knocking the wind out of Lucas as it landed on his stomach.

"What are you doing up, buddy?" he groaned, trying to dislodge Will.

Unfortunately for Lucas, he missed the conspiratorial look that passed between his wife and son, and the next thing he knew, they were both on top of him, tickling him mercilessly.