A/N: The Pikes, and all other characters appearing within this story are the property of Ann M. Martin and Scholastic Inc.
It had never been a secret that Diana and John Pike were crazy about each other. This was evident from the very start of their marriage- you could see it in their eyes, and in the way that one couldn't pass the other without making some kind of contact. At times, the air between them felt electric. Later on, this became evident through the eight children that they eventually brought into the world. Many multitudes of combinations of their father and mother, Mallory, Adam, Byron, Jordan, Vanessa, Nicky, Margo, and Claire were what Dee and John prided themselves on.
As their children grew up, Dee and John poured their love into the family they had created. Money was sometimes tight, but there was generally enough to go around. They got by, anyway, and even managed an annual vacation to Sea City, New Jersey. Friends and neighbors remarked that they had never seen a family so close. Sure, the kids got into tiffs every once in awhile, but the familial bond was clear whenever they had to encounter a tough situation. Throughout everything, the Pikes stuck together.
As is the case with many families, things became more complicated as the children grew older. Mallory was now seventeen, and Claire eleven. This made for seven teenagers and one very precocious preteen in one small house. Dee had thought that having eight children under age seven had been a challenge; clearly, she had not thought ahead to the teenage years as she should have.
Between transporting Mallory back and forth to Riverbend Hall, a boarding school that she attended in New Hampshire, the triplet's football, hockey, and soccer games, Vanessa's yearbook and newspaper meetings, Nicky's tutoring sessions, Margo's gifted and talented workshops, and Claire's therapy appointments, the Pike family existed in some sort of whirlwind. Dee lived by a master day planner that listed all the children's activities. John went to work all day and into the night to avoid the constant chaos of the family, and wore a look of mild bewilderment whenever he was home for a significant amount of time. No one noticed this, just as they didn't notice that Dee and John failed to exchange much more than pleasantries. There was simply too much going on.
The kids didn't notice because they were too busy either clamoring for, or being annoyed with their parents attention. They cared that they got a ride to the movies, but not if their parents occasionally saw one together. Not that this was anything other than what was to be expected; teenagers are universally self absorbed.
What was unexpected was that Dee realized one afternoon while making dinner that she couldn't remember a conversation between herself and John that had taken place recently that hadn't revolved, in some way, around one of the children and their activities. It further shocked Dee when she realized that she really didn't care. Once her soul mate, John was now more something like a business partner. They were polite to one another, and worked well together on the project that they had created: their family. But when the day was done, they each went their separate way. Except, in this case, their separate paths had the same final destination. They were residing in the same house, but they weren't really living together; not in the sense that had made up the history of their marriage.
Once having realized the separation that had slowly brought Dee and John apart, the two of them sat down together and had their first conversation about their relationship in approximately six years.
They didn't spend much time talking about the children. They were present in the conversation, of course, as ones children are always on the mind of a parent. For the most part, Dee and John talked about themselves and their relationship, past, present, and future.
They rehashed their initial thoughts on each other, their courtship, and the early days of their marriage. They talked about what it had been like to exist solely for the other, which had been such a short period of time, but one that they both held close to their hearts. They talked about the family they had created, and the love that they had for the family, despite the fact that it was rare for all ten of them to be gathered in the same room all at once. They both gave their thoughts as to what the future held for each of their children. Lastly, they talked about the feelings that they had for one another, and how they had developed, changed, and then dissipated over the course of their marriage. They talked about their future, and what roles they would play in the lives of each other in various situations.
Together they came to a realization that they decided to pass down to their children: The circumstances of the future can in no way change what has already become history.
The love between Dee and John Pike had never been a secret, and what became the lack of that love had never really been a secret either. It was just that everyone, themselves included, had been too caught up in whatever else they had going on to notice it. However, just because it had not been a secret didn't mean that anyone would want to acknowledge it, or deal with its repercussions.
Dee and John made a decision together that they felt was inevitable, and the best choice for everyone involved. Yet even though this truly was the best thing for them to do, they were both overcome with apprehension when they gathered all eight of their children into the rec room to share their news and decision. The morning that the Pike children were informed of their parents impending separation and divorce, Dee and John were addressed with nothing but silence and stony faces. Suddenly, the lack of affection between Dee and John seemed glaringly obvious. Even the children noticed.