AN: Sorry for the long wait! I went back to school and I haven't been able to wrap this up. I added a link in my profile as to what Abby's supposed to look like so you can get a visual or something, haha. Anyways, as usual, there will be some "drama" coming up involving Abby so I hope you'll stick around for that! Thanks so much for the reviews, they really make my day.
"So, explain this to me one more time?"
With a small groan that could easily mirror Brooke's, Abby looked up at Lucas and pouted slightly. "Dora is an explorer! She goes with her monkey, Boots!"
Lucas scratched his head in utter confusion, frowning when the small cartoon characters began to speak Spanish. "She's bilingual?"
"No, Mr. Lucas!" Abby threw her hands up in frustration, lightly throwing her own stuffed monkey at him when he chuckled. "She's Dora!"
"I know she's Dora," Lucas jumped to his own defense. "Who's this dude with her? Her boyfriend?"
"Diego is her cousin!" Abby exclaimed in shock, burying her face into the pillow when Lucas laughed harder at how riled up she was getting. She was definitely hanging around Brooke too much. "Sheesh, you ask so many questions!"
"Can't we watch ESPN?"
"I don't know what that is."
"It's amazing," Lucas told the little girl, reaching for the remote. Abby immediately squealed and grabbed it first, stuffing it up her shirt and fidgeting when it was cold against her skin. "Hey, come on! We've been watching this all morning!"
Arguing with a four-year old; he really needed to go back to work at some point.
"Nana always lets me watch what I want to watch," Abby whimpered genuinely, holding her hands out for Lucas when she felt the tears well up in her eyes. Lucas sighed heavily and pulled her into his arms, tossing the remote across the couch when it fell out of her pajama top. He rubbed soothing circles around Abby's back and did his best to keep her calm before she started crying hysterically.
"Alright, we can watch Dora," he whispered into her ear, repositioning Abby so she was snug on his lap. She clung tightly to his arm that was wrapped around the front of her body, sticking her thumb in her mouth to help herself calm down. He made a face when a fox jumped out of nowhere and even though he would never admit it, it sort of frightened him a little. "Okay, so now who's this?"
"Swiper," Abby responded in a small voice, rubbing her eyes with her free hand. "He likes to steal stuff from Dora. He's not very nice."
"I see," Lucas mumbled, glancing at the clock that hanged above the fireplace. He and Brooke had opted not to let Abby go back to school while Jean was still in the hospital. She tried, but just ended up breaking down in the middle of the day and Lucas had to come get her. It took all his effort to make Brooke actually go to work after the incident, reassuring her that he could handle it. "Do you want anything? Juice? A fox named swiper?" he tickled her slightly, hoping to get at least a smile.
Abby shook her head solemnly, climbing off Lucas's lap and grabbing the remote before shoving it into his large hands. "I don't wants to watch this no more."
"How come? I mean…it was just getting good. I didn't know backpacks could talk!"
"S'ok, Mr. Lucas, you can change it," Abby whispered with a small whimper, grabbing Bananas and sliding off the couch. She slowly made her way over to the large bay window, hoisting herself up onto the ledge and staring absently out at the street. Their neighborhood was vastly different from her grandmother's; they were hardly and children around and it all the houses looked the same.
Lucas shut the TV off and took a deep breath, kneeling down in front of Abby when she finally registered he was staring behind her. "What's wrong, cutie?"
"Can I ask you a question?"
"Shoot," Lucas nodded encouragingly.
"Does God not like me?" Abby asked shyly, her eyes sparkling in the light as she looked up at Lucas in utter confusion and pain. She was only four; she didn't deserve this many tragedies so early on in her life.
"Now, now why would you ask that?" Lucas asked when he finally found his voice, scooping Abby up and settling her on his hip. She refused to look at him, squirming around until he finally set her down. The little girl cowered back and stood against the wall, shaking violently. Lucas was beginning to worry, praying that Brooke was going to walk through that door soon. "Abby, sweetie, what's wrong?"
Abby closed her eyes and shook her head, her messy ponytail swinging all around when Lucas tried to approach her. When he touched her shoulders gently, she recoiled back with a scream, her bottom lip jutting out and tears streaming down her face in pools. "No, no, no! Go away! Go away!"
"It's okay," Lucas tried to soothe her, biting back his curse words when Abby dodged his arms and slumped down against the wall, holding her knees tight to her chest while burying her face into them. Her small body was wracked with sobs and she could only hear her mother's voice, yelling and screaming at her all because she asked one simple question. "Abby, Ssh, it's okay."
"I didn't mean to ask!" Abby sobbed, screaming bloody murder when Lucas finally picked her up, flailing all about in his arms. She tried hitting his chest, kicking his thighs but he would not let go. "Let me down! Please! Please, I didn't, I didn't mean to ask! Please, don't, don't hurt me!"
"A-Abby," Lucas's voice cracked, silent tears falling down his face as soon as Abby began to choke on the tears. Her little arms held his neck so tight, making it harder to breathe. Her face was buried deep into his shoulder, tears hitting his skin every once and a while. "I'm not going to hurt you."
Abby remained silent, her chest heaving up and down heavily as Lucas rocked her back and forth, a nauseous feeling forming in her stomach as her thoughts seemed to be fixated on her mother.
"What?" the response was ice cold, dead silence following after until Abby could find her voice. "I said what?"
"Does, does God not like me?"
"Of course not."
"He hates you."
"It's okay, Abby, I promise," Lucas whispered brokenly, pacing around the living room as the little girl in his arms continued to sob her heart out. No matter what he did or no matter what he tried to say, she wouldn't listen and cry more at the simple movement. "Calm down, please calm down."
When Abby fell silent all of a sudden, Lucas gently pulled her head back and took in the sight of her blotchy face, tears still streaming down her closed eyes. Her breathing seemed to have evened out, but he could feel her heart racing against his chest. He took a seat on the recliner and rubbed her back, reclining slightly to make it a bit more comfortable.
This was going to be the first of many breakdowns and he was fully prepared to take on many more of them.
After ten minutes of silence, he felt his phone vibrate on the table beside him. Careful not to disturb Abby, he flipped it open and prepared himself from the worst when the caller identified himself as Dr. Adams.
This couldn't happen.
"Wow, you look like a ray of sunshine."
Brooke glared at Haley as she slumped on one of the stools at Karen's café, fishing a stray piece of yarn out of her hair. "Why do kids need to do arts and crafts? Instead of gluing the macaroni to the paper, they thought it would be better to glue it to me."
Haley automatically laughed, pouring Brooke a fresh cup of coffee as she continued to pout. She peeled a piece of green macaroni off of Brooke's sweater and threw it in the barrel beside her, leaning over the counter. "How's Abby's grandmother doing?"
"Still the same," Brooke mumbled into the cup, blowing on the steam gently before sipping the hot liquid carefully. "The poor girl…she won't sleep at night and then during the day she just…mopes around. I wish there was something I could do."
"Unless you're a white lighter like in Charmed, I don't think you can do anything," Haley attempted to joke, falling short when Brooke scoffed. She looked around the empty café and took a seat next to her best friend, rubbing her back soothingly. "Does, does it feel weird to have a kid in the house?"
"Yeah," Brooke nodded, her finger tracing the rim of the cup. "I just keep waiting for someone to come by and pick her up but then it hits me; she's here to stay. That is of course, if Jean gets better. I mean I want her to get better, but…"
"I understand," Haley whispered, when Brooke trailed off, staring off into space when silence fell between them. "If you and Lucas ever want some time alone, you can bring her to my, well my parent's, house. It's gets sort of lonely when Taylor goes off on her nightly booty calls and what not."
Brooke could hear the hurt in Haley's voice, cursing herself for basically erasing her best friend from her life. "I'm sorry, Hales. It's just, with everything going on…I haven't been the greatest friend."
"Brooke, that's not what I meant," Haley corrected herself, nudging Brooke's shoulder when she didn't look up. "Don't worry about me."
"I always worry about you."
"Why?" Haley asked sincerely, her brown eyes narrowing into confused slits. When Brooke shrugged a shoulder, Haley knew what she meant. "Is it because of Nathan?"
"Haley, I love you-"
"Brooke, please," Haley's voice broke, giving Brooke the impression that she did not want to talk about this anymore.
Not now, not ever.
Much to Haley's dismay, Brooke wasn't having any of it. "No, you need to talk about this. It's been nearly two months, Haley! What's going on?"
"I, I don't know!"
"Laura, watch the front," Brooke told the other waitress, effortlessly lifting Haley off the stool and dragging her into the back room. As much as Haley protested, she couldn't get out of Brooke's grip and gulped loudly when Brooke forced her to sit down on the chair in Karen's make-shift office. "You…don't move."
"Brooke! This is ridiculous!"
"No! You know what's ridiculous? You running away from your problems!" Brooke yelled, the lack of sleep catching up with her. Add in fifteen screaming pre-school kids and a stubborn Haley, this was not going to end well. "Haley, you're an adult…you two are not teenagers anymore."
"My marriage is none of your business," Haley spat angrily, grabbing Brooke's wrist and pushing her away when she tried to make her stay seated. "Don't come-"
God, she hadn't heard that voice in ages.
Brooke spun around and looked at Peyton, her heart dropping to her feet when she noticed she had Abby in her arms. The small girl was still clad in her pajamas and looked frightened beyond belief. "What, what happened?"
"Luke's been looking for you," Peyton whispered, afraid if she talked too loud it would make Abby start crying again. "Um, he's, he had to go to the hospital."
All the anger Haley had towards Brooke dissipated the second Peyton had finished her sentence. Abby remained silent and calm, wrapping the blonde's spiral curls around her fingers all the while sucking on her thumb. Brooke nearly fell back, allowing Haley to wrap her arms around her waist and sit her down on the comfy office chair. No one dared to speak; no one knew what to say.
"Did he say anything?" Brooke's eyes filled up immediate tears, holding out her arms for Abby when she caught the little girl's gaze. Abby quickly squirmed out of Peyton's arms and crawled into Brooke's, desperate to keep her sobs in. "Hi, sweetie," she whispered, patting Abby's back. "Are, are you hungry?"
"Do you want some macaroni and cheese?" Haley offered to help, bending down to get eye level with Haley. When Abby shook her head and refused to say anything, she looked up at Peyton and expected her to know what to do. "Pey, you have to get her to say something…"
"Just let them be," Peyton whispered, slinging an arm around Haley's shoulder and rubbing her arm soothingly when the shorter girl cuddled into her side. "She can do it, don't worry."
Brooke stood up and pushed Abby up on her hip, looking at her two friends for any sort of help. There was no peep out of the small girl for at least five minutes and that was beginning to scare her.
Abby was too exhausted to move and all cried out. She knew her grandmother was going to die soon and there was nothing out there that could prevent it. Her mother was right; God hated her. If God loved her in the first place, Janice wouldn't have been her mother at all. All she could remember was the loud nights her mother would spend yelling and screaming at various drug dealers for screwing her over, locking her in the bathroom without any dinner because the practically raw meat made her stomach sick. She remembered sleeping on the cold tile floor, making her body numb from all the holes in her pajama shirt and pants. The days she spent in school with Brooke were the days she longed for, praying each night that she could stay in school forever. She didn't want to come home and be dragged around by her hair, she didn't want to be yanked by the front of her shirt and thrown into the corner for time out because she annoyed her mother by asking a simple question.
After a pregnant pause, Abby finally spoke. "I want to see nana."
Brooke was getting sick of the redundancy the last few days brought. She swore the hospital was becoming her second home and if it wasn't for Jean, she would never step foot inside on again for a very long time. Abby opted to walk and hold Brooke's hand instead, absently falling behind when the bright halogen lights nearly blinded her for what felt like the umpteenth time. The insanely sterile smell of the air was also beginning to make her stick; the butterflies in her stomach turning to moths.
Brooke bent down to get eye level with Abby, watching as Peyton and Haley kept their distance. She knew they were on the look-out for any sign of her husband. "What's up, sweetie?"
"Did, did nana go to heaven?"
God, why was this child so heart-breaking?
"I don't know, Abby," Brooke responded honestly, smiling sympathetically at the young girl when she pouted. "We have to find Lucas, okay? I bet he knows what's going on with your nana."
"But, I feel funny," Abby told the older woman in fear, holding her arms up when she didn't want to walk anymore. Brooke swiftly picked her up and held her tight, trying her best to whisper words that she hoped would bring the little girl comfort. "I don't, I don't feel good, Miss Brooke."
Brooke mentally cursed herself for asking that sort of question.
"I'm scared," Abby began to cry, the small sobs hushed at first. "I didn't gets to say bye –bye or I love you, nana!"
"Oh, baby," Brooke gulped, swallowing past the huge lump that lodged itself in her throat. "Your nana knows you love her…no matter what. Don't you understand that?"
"She, she knows I love her?" Abby sniffled, a sparkle of hope glimmering in her moist eyes.
"Of course," Brooke winked with a dimply smile, kissing Abby's forehead when she looked like that was the best new she had heard all of her young life. "She knows you love her! And you know what else?"
"She loves you the most in this world."
Abby smiled shyly and held Brooke's neck tighter, her sobs subsiding as the brunette rubbed her back gently as they trudged down the long hallway. "I love nana the most in the world, too!"
"I bet you do."
"Miss Abby?" Brooke joked; glad that she was able to get a laugh out of the small girl.
Abby fiddled with Brooke's diamond necklace, almost afraid to look her teacher in the eye. "You and Mr. Lucas…well, I…" she trailed off, wondering if she was even allowed to say the word. "I like you guys a whole lot!"
"Aw, we like you a whole lot, too," Brooke felt her heart melt, stopping dead in her tracks when she finally found Lucas; he was slumped over in one of the plastic chairs, his head buried into his hands. His blonde hair was disheveled and she could just tell it was bad news. "Hey, sweetie, do you want to have Peyton and Haley take you to the cafeteria to get something to eat?"
"Yeah, come on," Haley encouraged, offering to take Abby from Brooke. She was reluctant at first, but Abby allowed the blonde to take her away from Brooke, waving nervously when she looked over Haley's shoulder back at Brooke. "I bet they have mac n' cheese!"
Brooke took a deep breath and took small steps over to her husband, placing a hand on his shoulder when he failed to register her presence. "Luke?"
"Brooke?" Lucas's voice cracked, lifting his head up to meet Brooke's gaze. His eyes were all bloodshot and it looked like he hadn't slept with days. "Peyton told you?"
"No," Brooke whimpered, allowing her husband to pull her down in his lap. "She just said you had to go to the hospital…she didn't say what happened or how…"
"She was just too sick," Lucas bit out, burying his face into Brooke's hair when she wrapped her small arms around his neck. He had to admit, it felt good to finally breakdown. He held her close and inhaled her familiar scent; Burberry London and little kids. "You know? They said she put up a good fight…they were surprised she lasted this long."
"Did you get to see her before she, she-"
"No," Lucas cut her off gruffly, his hands rubbing her stomach soothingly when it begun to heave violently due to the sobs that she was holding in. "She died around 10:30 this morning."
"At least she went peacefully," Brooke mused, allowing her tears to fall since Abby was safe in another part of the building with her friends. Lucas mumbled something into her ear, pressing his lips against her temple when she broke down. "Abby sort of already figured out that something went really wrong…"
"Where is she now?"
"With Peyton and Haley," Brooke whispered, absently running her fingers through Lucas's short hair.
Jean's death meant many things; a new life, a new responsibility. Their lives were about to change drastically and both of them were ready. Parenthood was calling and they were willing to answer. However, how was Abby going to deal with all this? Would she rebel? Resent them for not being able to save Jean's life?
"Yeah, Pretty Girl?"
To this day, that nickname still made her blush. "I love you."
He leaned up and kissed her lips, fighting the urge to slip her a small bit of tongue. Now wasn't the right time or place. "I love you, too."
"I'm so sorry."
Lucas raised a confused eyebrow. "For what?"
"Just…just for everything," Brooke gestured with her hands, biting her lip when she willed her gaze to meet her husband's curious blue eyes. "For doubting you…for…for pushing you away when I found out you were sterile. God, you needed me! You needed me and I needed you and what did I do? I pushed you away because I'm the most selfish bitch on the planet."
"Brooke, stop," Lucas interrupted his wife's mini rant, closing all the space between them and pressing her small body tightly up against his. "It was a normal reaction but I'm gonna need you to do this with me, okay? We need to do it together…for Abby and for Jean."
"I can, I can do it," Brooke mustered up the best confidant smile. "I swear, Luke! That little girl is going, she's going to get it all because she deserves the world. It's been horrible to her for the past four years and we're going to make up it up to her. We need, we need to buy her new clothes, a new wardrobe! We need to re-do the guest bedroom…there's so much to do!"
"Calm down," Lucas laughed, reaching up to ruffle her hair when she pouted. "We need to take this one step at a time. Remember, we missed the first four years of her life…we need to make up for that."
Lucas only wished he had an answer for that. "I don't have all the answers, Brooke."
"You like to think you do sometimes," Brooke mumbled, making a face before dropping her head on Lucas's shoulder. They sat in complete silence, watching the heaps of people rush in and head off towards the emergency room. Brooke sighed and interlaced her fingers with her husband's, sliding his wedding ring up and down. "Can you promise me something?"
"All depends," Lucas joked, hoping to add humor to the situation. "Of course, what is it?"
"Don't go anywhere," she whispered, her small tone laced with vulnerability. "I can't lose you, I can't do this alone."
"I'm not going anywhere," Lucas whispered back, kissing the side of Brooke's head.
"I swear on my autographed Michael Jordan jersey."
They allowed the silence to overtake them again, straightening up when Abby's small voice could be heard from a distance. "How are we supposed to tell her?"
Lucas shrugged, standing up with Brooke in his arms before putting her down on her feet. Their hands interlocked and he gave hers a gentle squeeze, mentally telling her she could do this.
They both could.
"Guess what! Guess what!" Abby shrieked as she ran over to the two of them, bouncing on the balls of her feet in excitement. She had cheese sauce all over her face and Brooke and Lucas couldn't help but smile at her display. "I said guess what!"
"What?" Brooke and Lucas replied in unison.
"I had four bowls of macaroni and cheese!"
"Four?" Brooke's mouth dropped open, surprised Abby hadn't gotten sick yet. She sent a small glare towards Haley, rolling her eyes when her friend shrugged innocently. "Wow-that's a whole lot."
"I know! Haley said I could have more but she ran out of money."
"Figures," Brooke scoffed, bending down to Abby's level to wipe the cheese sauce off her face.
Just like a real mother.
Lucas (along with Haley and Peyton) smiled at the display and laughed when Brooke looked uncomfortable with their gazes. "What?"
"Nothing," Peyton waved her off, grabbing Haley's arm when she began to spare into space. "I'll take Baby Haley home, okay? Good luck," she sent Brooke a forced smile, mouthing "call me" before Abby looked back and waved, oblivious as to what was going on.
Haley threw her arms around Brooke and kissed her cheek, squeezing her tight before pulling back. "You can do this," she whispered in the brunette's ear before patting Abby's head. "Bye, Abby."
"Bye-bye," Abby waved up at Haley, wrapping an arm around Brooke's leg when she heard her shift from behind her. "Can, can we go see nana now?"
Brooke felt her heart break, looking at Lucas for help. "Sweetie," she began, her voice cracking slightly. She bent down to Abby's level, taking her into her arms. "We have to tell you something."
Lucas bent down next to Brooke, placing his hand on Abby's back. "Your nana, well your nana…she died this morning."
"No!" Abby pulled back, looking back and forth between the two adults frantically. Her eyes became clouded with tears and she had no idea what to do next. "Are, are they sure she wasn't sleeping? I bet she's just really, really tired! She can't go to heaven!"
"I'm sorry," Brooke whispered tearfully, lifting the little girl up and holding her close. Abby welcomed the contact and buried her head into Brooke's shoulder, muffled sobs coming from her mouth. "I know, Abby, I know. But, it was her time…"
"I wanted to say bye," Abby sniffled, picking her head up to look at Lucas. "How come she had to go to heaven?"
"It was just her time," Lucas reiterated what Brooke said, at a complete loss for words. "I'm sorry, cutie. You don't deserve this at all."
Abby's lower lip trembled as Brooke rocked her back and forth, desperate to remain calm while in the middle of a secluded hospital waiting area. "So, so I gets to live with you guys now?"
After a pause, Lucas nodded his head. "Would you like that?"
"I like that very much," Abby wiped her tears, leaning over to give Lucas a hug. She fixed her gaze up to the ceiling and whispered: "I love you nana and I'll never forget you."
"She'll always be right there," Brooke pointed to Abby's heart, kissing the top of her head comfortingly.
She shared a look with Lucas and smiled; half in fear, half in anticipation of what was to time.
This was the beginning of their new life and she just hoped it was all going to work out in the end.
The central struggle of parenthood is to let our hopes for our children outweigh our fears. --Ellen Goodman