Pairings/Characters: Lianne/Jake, Lianne/Keith, Jake/Celeste (eventually: Logan/Lilly, Duncan/Veronica, Logan/Veronica)
Summary: There are similarities to the past and now. History always repeats itself, whether we realize it or not and breaking the circle is always the most difficult part of it all.
Spoilers/Warnings: Everything to 3.17 (Debasement Tapes), especially Season 1
Disclaimer: None of it's mine, and if it was it would all be going different right now. So don't sue, because I have nothing and it'd be a waste of both our time. The Song is Say Goodnight, Not Goodbye by Beth Neilsen Chapman.
b A/N: /b There's dialog in this chapter, but it's closer to the middle
Leave My Heart Behind
Say goodnight, not goodbye
You will never leave my heart behind
Like the path of a star
I'll be anywhere you are
Lianne got the folded up announcement from the paper shortly after her own mother had sent hers. There was a short note, him claiming he'd always love her and be there for her. That in his heart, he was still waiting. She simply tucked it into the shoebox she kept in the closet containing the engagement clipping and several others. Sometimes she went through the box and looked at the pictures of them gazing adoringly at each other in high school. So young and so in love that they she was shocked they weren't together now. Other times she looked at the pictures and remembered how naïve they had been, thinking that they would be together forever. Like they were some kind of fairytale. Once and a while she would cry for him, for herself, for the love and life they could have had. Because they were a fairytale. Today she just placed the new addition to her box of memories and replaced it in the closet.
Keith had never seen the box. He knew nothing of Jake Kane and their high school romance. Some days she resented him a little for that. He didn't know that she had been broken by someone's lack of faith in their relationship. That she had been left behind in the story, forgotten. Other days she loved the fact that he hadn't known her then. When every girl in school wanted to be her and every guys wanted to date her. When she had been humiliated to find out that her boyfriend of two and half years might have gotten a girl pregnant during a short summer break up. Then devastated that she had allowed herself to be manipulated into losing him when six months later it turned out to be a lie. Her history was unknown and he couldn't pass judgment on it.
Still she longed for Jake. Even as she accepted the gold ring with the small round cut diamond Keith had presented to her while down on one knee. They had been in the park on one of his few days off when he had done it. And she couldn't help but think that the café she had written her last letter to Jake was right across the street. That Jake would've known she preferred silver to gold and oval to round. But Keith's bright smile and happy laugh when she said "yes" made her stomach plummet and her heart tighten. She loved Keith, it just wasn't the same as when she had loved Jake. She had once read that you could never love two people the same way. Maybe it was true. Keith was a safe kind of love, one that she felt that she might be able to relax into someday. She may not be able to be herself fully around him but that could simply be because she hadn't known him forever. Or because she was growing up, becoming who she was supposed to be, someone else.
It was her own fault. She had forced herself to be more of what she thought he expected at first and that was a hard pattern to break.
In the spark that lies beneath the coals
In the secret place inside your soul
Keep my light in your eyes
Say goodnight, not goodbye
She had sent Jake a clipping of her own wedding announcement, but had waited months to do so. She didn't include a note, though. A year later she found that she was still waiting for a reply. The realization came while packing up the Fresno apartment. Keith had a couple more days of work before the move and had left her to finish the packing. She nearly forgot to forward their mail and only remembered when she took out her 'Jake Box'. It had reminded her of the clipping she had sent him and that she never got a reply about it. It panicked her a little that if he came for her she wouldn't be here. That if he sent for her she'd never get the letter. That's when she knew.
Lianne Mars was a horrible wife. Still in love with a man she hadn't heard from in over a year, and hadn't seen in nearly five.
She forced herself to throw away the box then. She would not pack it up with her husband's things and bring it to their first real home. It would never enter the house that they had found on their trip up there seven months ago. Her mother was sick and had been placed in an assisted living complex. It didn't seem like it would be long before she passed and it made Lianne realize that she hadn't spent nearly enough time with her. Keith was tired of the Fresno police force and all the "bullshit" as he put it. "More crooked cops than straight ones" was his constant complaint and he couldn't help but jump at the chance of a new location. She had told him some stories of Neptune, and it was probably her fault for making it sound more ideal than it really was.
A week after she packed all their things and threw away her dreams Lianne pulled to a stop in front of their new house. Neptune. Home. A unexplainable rush went through her and suddenly she felt giddy about it again. Something about this place always sent a chill down her spine, shocks through her fingers. She could never decided if she liked it or not. But she knew one thing. She like the dangerous feel of it.
Don't you fear when you dream
Waking up is never what it seems
Like a jewel, buried deep
Like a promise meant to keep
She had been in a store when caught a glimpse of Celeste, looking positively annoyed with the saleswoman. She had to do a double-take to be certain that it was the same pointy-face peaking over the top of a clothing rack. She wasn't really a fan of Celeste, not now and definitely not then. But it wasn't until Lianne had rounded said clothing rack that she truly hated her. With a large protruding stomach it was hard to deny that she and Jake were expecting a baby.
Lianne halted in her tracks and made a quick exit even as she felt Celeste's glare hit her back. She had gone in there for a reason, looking for a dress for her mother's funeral and now she would have to wait. She didn't exactly have a lot of time, but there was no way she was going to make small talk with Celeste. Not while she'd rather kill herself with one of the ice daggers that woman would certainly be throwing at her with her eyes. Celeste had already seen her, been alerted to her presence in Neptune and that would be enough.
Then another realization hit her. If Celeste was here, so was Jake. Even if they didn't live here, there was no way that Jake would let his heavily pregnant wife travel on her own. Lianne tried to calculate how far along Celeste must be. It had to be at least six or seven months, but really there was no real way of knowing unless she spoke to either her or Jake. And there was no way in hell she was going to submit herself to a conversation with that woman. She quickly found a phonebook beneath a broken payphone and looked him up. He was living in the 90909 district now and she wondered briefly what he had made his millions on. Didn't matter, she decided as she ripped the page out and rushed to her car. She sped out of the mall parking lot and briefly thought that she might get pulled over before realizing that if she was it would be her husband doing it.
Slamming through her front door she dialed the number on the sheet of paper she held in her shaking hands. He answered on the fourth ring, sounding out of breath and tense. His voice relaxed when he heard hers, offering condolences for her mother's death. Instead of an awkward and stilted conversation over the phone she opted for one face to face. They made an arrangement to meet for coffee and catch up, two days after her mother's funeral. Three days from now. Sunday. She smiled as she placed the phone back in its cradle, and grinned as she got back in her car and drove to the mall. She sang along with the radio in the car and hummed along to it inside the stores. It wasn't until she spotted the black dresses that she started to mourn again. A silver lining. That's what Celeste's presence had been today.
Then funeral had been quiet. She had cried and Keith had held her hand tightly before she had pulled it away. Keith wasn't who she needed right now, he hadn't known her mother. He didn't understand that now, in the middle of October, all Lianne could think of was the fact that in a month she'd be having her first Thanksgiving without her mother. And soon after that her first Christmas without her as well. That there wasn't going to be anyone to call and complain to if her dinner hadn't turned out. He simply helped her into the bedroom after everyone had left and tucked her into bed, kissing her on the forehead.
He said nothing when she left to go shopping early the next morning. Didn't protest when she hadn't made it home in time to make dinner, simply muttered about picking up some Chinese food. When she insisted that it was okay for him to work the next afternoon he simply thought she needed time to herself. He kissed cheek goodbye as he patted her hair, reminding her that if she needed him to call the station. She nodded and sent him on his way, returning to her bedroom to change into the new outfit she had bought.
Jake must have been nervous, because she arrived fifteen minutes early to find him waiting for her already. So much for her prep time. He stood to greet her, enveloping her in a tight hug before she could protest. She squeezed back and the embrace went on a bit longer than they both obviously intended for it to go.
You are everything you want to be
So just let your heart reach out to me
I'll be right by your side
Say goodnight, not goodbye
She settled herself into the chair across from Jake's even though she really wanted to sit next to him, up close.
"How are you?" Jake asked, his eyes flitting nervously over her. Her hair was still just as golden blonde as it had ever been, the hair he had practically worshipped as a teenager. Her eyes still deep and dark, giving away all her emotions. She still hadn't looked him in the eye though.
"Right now I'm doing better. It's good to see you Jake." She paused. "You don't know how good." Her eyes darted up to meet his for a moment before glancing away. A second later they were back to his and held.
"It's good to see you too." He replied, his voice thankfully not catching on the lump in his throat. He made the first move. His hand snaking out to cover hers on the table, his breath catching when she didn't pull it away.
Lianne looked down at his hand covering hers, settled between her water glass and the edge. it looked older and tan in comparison to the paler tone of her own skin. She smiled a little at the warmth before looking back up.
"I've missed you." He hadn't meant for it to slip out, especially not this early in the conversation. But it was out there and he was unable to take it back. The startled look on her face almost made him wish he could reach out and catch the words, shove them back in. But the combination of hope and joy in her eyes urged him to continue. "So much."
"I've missed you too, every single day." Lianne's voice was barely above a whisper and her focus had moved back to their hands. She pulled back a little and felt his grip tighten a little before it loosened again. Instead of pulling away completely she threaded her fingers through his until their palms were pressed together. His hand tightened again, but this time not in the fear of losing contact.
"Come on," Jake whispered, sliding out of his chair and pulling her from hers. They stood there for a moment, staring at each other, hand entwined awkwardly between them. He let go of her for a moment before changing his grip and it's angle, then tugged her towards the door. They hadn't even ordered the coffee they had come to drink.
Sliding into the passenger side of his car she watched him hurry to the driver's side door. In the seconds it took him to get there reality began to sink in. What she was doing. What she was about to do. She wasn't stupid, she knew where they were going and what they were going to do there. But his door opened and he slid in beside her, smiling and clutching at her hand.
The trip to the hotel was silent but not awkward as she would've thought. She'd always wondered how people got themselves into affairs. What sequence of events had to take place to get them alone together and in bed. After this she'd never have to wonder. She'd never doubt the phrase "it just happened" again. Because these things apparently do "just happen". After all, she hadn't planned on doing this when she went to see him. She figured that he would be a comfort her husband failed to be.
Oh god, her husband. And his wife. Keith would be devastated by this if he ever found out. Celeste would throw a fit. She would probably scream and throw things, breaking vases and picture frames like the cliché wife. Lianne supposed she should feel guilty about this, but she didn't. This was the way she should have been.
"That letter broke my heart you know." Jake said, staring straight ahead. They had parked in front of the Neptune Grand a few minutes ago, but neither had made a move to exit the car.
"It broke mine too." Lianne replied, moving her focus from the dash to his profile. She bit her bottom lip as she waited for him to turn to her. When he finally did she had tears running down her face.
"I love you," he whispered as he cupped her face, rubbing the tears away with his thumbs. Leaning forward he chastely pressed his lips against hers for the first time in almost seven years. He pulled away from her to stare into her eyes. "Never stopped."
"Me either." It wasn't a whisper this time, and her eyes flitted away from his and too the front of the hotel.
"I'll go in, and get us a room. You wait in the car and we'll drive around to the side." Jake made the move to leave before she grabbed his sleeve. His plan was too risky, the two of them walking up there together. She'd been gone for over half the decade but she still had friends here and so did he. They'd be recognized and people would know.
"How about you come out to get your briefcase after you get the room. I'll stay in the car until you come out, you tell me the room number. I'll got to the bar and then meet you up there in about 15 minutes?" Lianne suggested, her heart thudding at how quickly the plan had come to her, how easy this was for her.
He nodded his agreement, looking in the backseat to make sure he had actually had a briefcase. Sliding out of the car his hand slowly detached from hers, her hand dropping to the center console as contact was lost and his door slammed shut.
"I need a room, just for the night." He said, walking up to the desk, pulling out his wallet. He probably should have cash for this, a credit card was traceable. It would show up on the statement and Celeste would wonder what he had been doing there. Especially so soon after her tantrum that Lianne was back in town. She'd know something was up. She'd been angry with him for a good 72 hours now, complaining how Lianne would never be out of their lives. Throwing that damn letter in his face again, the way she had been since she found it. Her name hadn't been signed at the bottom, but Celeste had known it was from Lianne when she pulled it from his nightstand drawer.
A key was slid across the counter to him, shiny and silver, with the number 412 engraved on the top. Sentimentality washed over him and he tried to find a way it could be significant to them, a tie to their past. The only thing he could come up with is if you added all the numbers together you'd get seven, the number of years they'd been apart.
Jake was back at the car, opening the rear door and saying the room number clearly so she wouldn't mistake it for another room. Shutting the door just as quickly he tossed the keys to the valet and disappeared through the glass doors of the hotel.
Lianne slid out of the car and made her way to the hotel bar. She ordered a glass of wine, Chardonnay. She sipped on it while staring at the clock, she'd go up in a few minutes and officially be an adulterer. Or she could use the house phone to call up and tell Jake that she couldn't.
She slid off the stool, leaving her glass behind, and made her way to the elevators. No going back, not now, not ever. She was in this and it had been too long since she touched him.
One knock on the door and it's all it took. Wrapping her arms around his neck and pressing her lips to his and she was gone. He wrapped his arms around her waist and kicked the door shut behind them.
Two months later and it was almost Christmas. Jake had told her he had a gift for her, that she would get it the next time they met. They met once a week for the first three weeks, but as they got more comfortable in the situation they got more daring. The frequency of the trysts grew as November wore on. But with Christmas just three days away they came to a screeching halt. For the past three weeks they had been meeting no less than four times a week and last week they had met every day except for Tuesday. Celeste had had a doctor's appointment. She was due soon and Jake promised that as soon as the baby was born and Celeste was recovered he would leave her. They weren't happy together and things had been worse since the pregnancy started.
So with their last meeting until after Christmas Lianne prepared longer, taking special care with her hair and make-up. Keith had left an hour ago for his shift. He hadn't seemed to notice anything was different, but their timing had been perfect when they started this. He thought she was still in mourning and she did nothing to correct him. They had only been together once since her mother's funeral and he hadn't questioned her on it.
When she arrived at the hotel Jake had a small gift-wrapped box sitting on the small dining table. But it would have to wait until after their usual activities.
They moved quickly tonight. Forgetting to put the lock on, the do not disturb on the door and on the phone. And the box of condoms lay unopened on the table beside the bed.
She didn't worry, just moved onto her gift while they waited for room service. Snuggling into the white terrycloth robe she tore into the shiny red paper. From the black velvet box she extracted a pair of round diamond earrings in a silver setting. She kissed him and thanked him profusely.
They moved slower this time, but still managed to forget the protection sitting on the table next to her gift.
You are everything you want to be
So just let your heart reach out to me
Lianne drove calmly to the hotel. It was almost the end of January and Jake had called her two days ago to cancel due to the fact that his wife had given birth. He called this morning to reschedule, one more tryst before his wife and child were released from the hospital and he no longer had as much free time. But soon she wouldn't either.
She was pregnant.
And god help her she couldn't definitively say who the father was. She had been with Jake for nearly four months now, but they had always been careful… except for right before Christmas when in their passion had forgotten. Their time before had ended with him assuring her his marriage was over and her excitement had carried over into the next time. They had been stupid.
And she had been with Keith once before that and then again on Christmas. An even dumber move that she would now have to explain to her lover.
She knocked on the door. 412. Always the same. She wasn't sure but she had a feeling that Jake had some sort of deal with management. She knew he had gotten a new credit card, and the statements were sent to his office. A credit card that Celeste knew nothing about. An account that listed Lianne as the secondary and had sent him a copy with her name on it. It had been tucked neatly in her wallet until yesterday, when she learned she was pregnant. Now she prepared to return it to him, along with the earrings he had gotten her for Christmas and the matching necklace he had presented her with a week later.
The door swung open to reveal a grinning Jake. A grin that didn't falter at the solemn look on her own face. Instead he began to prattle on about his daughter, Lillian. Apparently she was beautiful and Lianne would love her. So far the child was blonde and blue eyed and if it stayed that way she'd look a little like Lianne. So when Lilly was staying with them people wouldn't wonder. Wouldn't ask.
As he chattered on about the baby Lianne's stomach dropped, and for a moment she thought there would be another bout of morning sickness. But when the nausea didn't kick in she realized it was from what she was about to say.
"Jake." She said, her voice low and weak. He continued on though, he didn't hear her. She cleared her throat and spoke louder, stronger. "Jake."
He stopped, his hands froze in mid-gesture. "Yeah baby?"
She swallowed. She hated that he was calling her baby now, hated how it made her want to melt. Made her want to change her mind.
"We can't do this anymore." She insisted, surprised her voice hadn't cracked over the emotions threatening to choke her.
"What are you talking about?" Jake asked, confusion evident both in his voice and on his face. "It's only a little while longer. Until Lilly is more than two days old."
Lianne side-stepped Jake's out-stretched arms. She wouldn't look at him, couldn't look him in the face for the next part. Knew the hurt she would see there would gut her as she gutted him.
"I'm six weeks pregnant." She said in the same low, weak voice she had used earlier. She couldn't help it, she chanced a look at his face.
He looked… happy. Joyous even.
"We're going to have a baby?" He asked, but before she could respond he continued. "I'll have to start divorce proceedings sooner, and so will you. We'll work something out to get partial custody of Lilly, and she'll have a little brother or sister closer to her age than I had originally thought. But—"
"No Jake," Lianne interrupted, her voice strong and full of sorrow. "I can't. Because there's no guarantee…" she trailed off, hoping he would catch on to what she was saying.
"I'll leave her Lianne. I thought for a moment that I might stay with her because of the baby. But I want to be with you, and if it's a choice between you and our baby and her and Lilly… I choose you and the baby. I'll get custody of Lilly, joint for sure, but I'll file for full. It'll work out."
"It might not be yours Jake." This was the part she had dreaded. Actually telling him that she had cheated on him. In truth she had been cheating on Keith with him. But in her heart it hadn't felt that way until now. Now she felt the guilt of her betrayal. "It might be Keith's baby."
Jake's face fell and his knees shook. He had to sit, and when he did he almost missed the chair behind him. Lianne still stood nervously by the door, looking like she was ready to flee at a moment's notice. She hadn't even taken off her coat. That should have been his first clue.
"You slept with him." He didn't throw it out like an accusation, she'd already admitted as much. This was just him stating a fact.
"He's my husband." And that's all there was to it. Lianne slid the credit card onto the hotel room desk. Beside it she placed the necklace and earrings he had gotten for her. He didn't want them back, any of it.
"Keep them." He stood and crossed the room in three long strides. Scooping the jewelry up and placing them back in her hands. His hands came up to cup her face, his thumbs gently rubbing the tears from her cheeks. Slowly he leaned down and pressed a chaste to her lips.
"This breaks my heart more than any letter ever could." He whispers as he backs away from her and picks up her abandoned credit card, never breaking eye contact with her. Finally he turns and walks out of the hotel room. He stoically leaves her, riding the elevator and leaving the hotel before he change his mind and beg her to still be with him. Before he begs her to take the chance that it might be his baby.
Lianne sits on the bed for nearly a half an hour after he leaves, staring into space, hand resting on her stomach. Before she leaves she glances around the room one last time. They won't be returning to the room again and with all the time they had spent in it she had grown rather fond of the décor. She lets the door close softly behind her and she takes the elevator down to the lobby. She makes her way numbly across, ignoring the people at the front desk and the bell boy. They all knew her. Not her real name, but they had seen her enough to recognize her. She's sure they all knew what she was doing here.
It takes her until she's in her car to break down.
She tells Keith later that night, when he gets home early from his shift. He looks happy enough but there's something in his that's different. A look that tells her that he knows. Knows she hasn't been faithful and that the baby may not be his. A look that tells her that he trusts her to have ended things with the other man over this.
It isn't until well after dinner that he finally says something about it though. And it's indirect, and subtle enough for her to not have to question it or make any excuses or explanations.
"I heard that Jake Kane's wife had a baby girl a couple days ago. A man's got to be happy with that, a good wife and healthy little girl." Keith says it almost out of the blue. If it weren't for the fact that he just found out that she was pregnant it would be almost be like he was calling her on it. That he was actually bringing up her affair. But the look in his eyes says he doesn't want confirmation that they're having and affair. Just confirmation that it's over.
"Good for him. I hope they'll be happy together, the three of them." Is her only reply before she excuses herself to go shower. After she steps under the spray her façade breaks and the happy mask she'd been wearing since she gave the news cracks. The tears come hard and fast, disappearing into the water.
She's six and a half months along when she hears the news. Celeste Kane, pregnant again. Lilly is barely five months and they're already expecting again. It seems that Jake back to his marriage quickly.
She had only seen him once since they ended their affair. They had passed each other at the post office. She had been sending Adrianna a letter and had dropped her bag. When she looked up he had been frozen in the post office doorway, staring at her. He hadn't come in. Instead he had gone out and sat in his truck until she was finished and in her own vehicle.
She had a fairly easy birth, without a prolonged labor. Keith had coached her, squeezed her hand and encouraged her.
She had cursed his name and threatened him, taking the time to glare at him in between the doctor's shouts for her to push. She threatened violence to the overly perky nurse who seemed more excited than either she or Keith. "Baby thief" had crossed her mind more than once. At one point she had told Keith to keep an eye on her.
Veronica Lynn, named for her grandmothers, was tiny. She had a mall tuft of blonde hair on the top of her head and seemed to already have a good disposition. After crying for a bit at the beginning she had settled down and sleepily cuddled up to her father's chest.
Her father. Keith would be the only father Veronica ever knew. Lianne had long ago decided against a paternity test. There was no way she could take this away from Keith. She had seen how excited he was throughout the pregnancy. How in love with his daughter he already was. Veronica already had him wrapped around her tiny little finger and all she had done was sleep.
As Keith began to speak to the baby and cuddle her closer into his arms Lianne reached up to fiddle with her necklace. The diamond pendant rolled between her fingers. Jake had Lilly and another baby on the way, Keith could have this one.
Whether it was his or not.
Keep my light in your eyes
Say goodnight, not goodbye