A/N - Here's a sequel to 'When the Sky Above is Blue'. I wouldn't call it another chapter but I thought it would be more convenient to post this one to the same story than to post it as a separate story. Compared to all my other Reba fics, this one has taken a longer time to write and to get the voice of the characters right because it's more emotionally taxing than any other Reba fic I've written. I really do hope that this works and complements the other fic. This once is twice as long as 'When the Sky Above is Blue'. Again, I work without a beta so all mistakes, grammar and typos, are mine. Enjoy!
Once, As My Heart Remembers
We are told that people stay in love because of chemistry, or because they remain intrigued with each other, because of many kindnesses, because of luck. But part of it has got to be forgiveness and gratefulness.
- Ellen Goodman
"We were going to have another baby," she announces, both hands resting on the countertop, body slightly leaning forward while gentle waves adorn the red richness of her hair. With Jake having gone over to a friend's and Kyra at band practice until much later, Reba thinks it's relatively safe to start the topic of conversation.
Brock smirks, evidently thinks that she's being sarcastic and gives a snort of laughter. Sensing tension radiating of her body, he looks closer and sees that her blue eyes, normally so clear and beautiful, troubled and murky. "Reba?" His heart thumps so loudly in his chest, the rhythm like a roaring in his ears and he thinks that she might be able to hear it from across the counter. What is she saying? His eyes dart around as he looks out the window and around the space of the kitchen. "What are you saying?" A million thoughts invade his mind and a singular feeling of confusion floods his body.
"We were going to have another baby," Reba repeats, swallowing and looks him straight in the eyes. "Another child."
The silence is deafening. Even on a warm sunny day like this, the atmosphere between them chills considerably. Brock clenches his jaw to keep from gaping. We were going to have a baby? What?
"She would have been about Elizabeth's age by now," she continues, acutely aware of his confusion, his penetrating gaze, his anger. But she has to keep on talking now, or else, she thinks, she will never have the courage to do so again. Each word uttered causes a stab in her chest, almost knocking the breath out of her.
"When?" The single-worded question was laced with frustration and Reba suddenly finds herself lost. Why frustration? She finds herself unable to speak when she opens her mouth tell him so she looks away. "When?" he repeats, pushing hard.
"I was pregnant when we separated." Reba presses her mouth into a thin line. It is all she can do to keep her lip from quivering.
"Why didn't you tell me about this, Reba?" It is a pained whisper, perhaps too angry to rise a note higher or louder. Brock can already feel the raging emotions wrecking havoc within his thoughts. "What happened?"
As though his question has caused her physical pain, Reba briefly closes her eyes. "We weren't talking and I remember thinking a baby would be something good - something that could help us and I was - I was going to tell you and we then fought again and you left… Brock, I didn't want you to come back because you had to, I wanted you to come back because you wanted to. So I waited." Tears pool at the corner of her eyes but she makes no move to wipe them away. "I waited for you," she whispers, the full meaning of her words forming itself right in front of him. She had waited. She had wanted him to come home.
And he didn't.
Brock's heart clenches and he wants to hold her, but keeps his distance. The need to always protect her will always be there but he doesn't know if she actually wants his protection. All he has ever succeeded in doing was hurting her in the later years of their marriage, making their relationship strained and awkward. Content with the contact he is able to have with her through their friendship despite the puns and insults Reba hurls at him all the time, Brock now finds himself on shaky ground again.
"I would have come home if you had told me," he says, quietly; desperately. "What happened, Reba?" he finally asks, and he sees a tear slide down her cheek. "Tell me."
"I didn't know it was going to happen," she tells him, arms crossed and body rigid. "I was going to tell you. I just got home from the doctor. We had done an ultrasound and when I saw the baby, I just - I couldn't keep it from you and I was confused - I didn't know how I felt about things but I didn't like the way our last conversation went."
Brock frowns at this and takes a step closer to her. He can see that she is visibly shaking so he tries not to pressure her. "Our last conversation?" he prompted, sounding as gentle as he can.
Reba sniffles slightly and scoffs. "I hung up on you when you called to tell me you found an apartment." The temperature in her voice cools considerably. Her voice is cold, hard. Accusing.
Brock tries not to wince at her tone and nods instead. "Yeah."
"I called back a few days later," she mentions and wishes all of a sudden that she doesn't have to explain all about her stupid pride to him. "Barbra Jean picked up," she finally says and falls into a deep silence. This is bringing up bitter feelings and Reba doesn't know how to handle the sudden rush of pain, angst and hurt that overwhelms her soul. "I hung up again and I -" she pauses, gathering her words. Reba doesn't want to think of how her decisions in the past have affected her life. "I never called back because the next morning, I was in the shower and - god, it was so painful…"
"Reba?" She looks at him when he says her name and she wonders if he is feeling as tortured as she is. Perhaps he deserves to feel the pain as well. Reba doesn't like the malice in her thoughts and it scares her, but she cannot help herself.
"I lost the baby Brock." Her voice is suddenly small and she wonders if it will forever stay this way. She has never and will never again tell anyone about this. She can't. "I lost our baby." It takes all her strength to keep from breaking down. This is the first time she has ever said it aloud and it hurts her with more force than she has anticipated. Maybe, after six years, the pain is still there. Maybe the pain had never left in the first place.
"My God." The words roll off his tongue and he realizes that he can't form any other coherent words. He needs to hold her.
In several steps, Brock reaches her and takes her trembling form into his arms. She tenses at the contact at first but slowly melts into him, finally wrapping her arms around him. Reba blames him but she blames herself even more. "I couldn't tell you," she whispers into his shoulder, her trembling subsiding somewhat. "You didn't even know about it and telling you about it would hurt, especially since if I had told you before it was too late. I might never have lost it," she reasons, trying to sound detached but knows that she is failing miserably. "I might have taken better care of myself…"
"I would have come back," he says softly, kissing her forehead. "I never would have left you alone if I knew."
Immediately, Reba pulls away, glaring at him. "Don't you understand? I wanted you to come home because you wanted to. Not because I held something over you!" She clenches her fists, willing herself to calm down. "Not because you felt guilty!" Her immediate change in demeanour throws Brock of his feet.
"Reba-" he starts to say but she cuts him off completely.
"It would never have been the same if I had told you what happened and you decide to come home. I wanted love from you, not obligation!" Anger pools at the pit of her stomach, slowly fuelling the flame that has been burning subtly all this time. "And you never came back proving that if I had told you about it in the first place, you would have came home because you felt responsible," she adds afterward, albeit more thoughtful and less anger-filled this time.
"You should have told me. I had a right to know, Reba. Obligation or not, I had - have the right to know. And you wait six years to tell me?" He doesn't raise his voice but the presence of his own anger is unmistakable. "Six years? Why now?"
"Don't you talk to me about rights. You left your rights when you walked out!" she fumes, the blaze of her glare settling on him squarely.
"Well, the way we were then, walking out was about the best thing to do!" He sees a flicker of hurt in her features and wishes immediately that he can take those words back, also knowing at the same time that he can't.
"Is that how you really feel?" she questions, masking her hurt under annoyance and distaste. Because if that really is how he feels, perhaps telling him might have been the biggest mistake she has made in a long time. When he doesn't reply, she shakes her head and makes a move to leave the kitchen, to leave being in the same room as him.
"If you had told me…"
She stops in her track and turns back to face him. "But I didn't."
"I would have returned."
"For what? Pity? Duty? No thanks, Brock," she scoffs sarcastically, fighting the urge to roll her eyes.
"For another chance of us. For love."
Reba is aware of how fast her pulse is racing and she steadies herself before attempting to speak. "We might have had a chance at it if I had told you," she finally says, looking down at her hands. She takes a deep breath and when she speaks, the tremor in her voice cuts right through him to his very soul. "We might have had four children instead of three." The reality of how possible another child might have been settles in between the air between them and Reba wants nothing more than to shut every single possibility out.
She cannot begin to count how many times she has shut out the thought of every single possible moment where she would have been cradling her baby in her arms, the moments where she would have been singing a lullaby to soothe her crying child.
"Yes, we might," he replies, voice soft and full of an emotion so deep that Reba can barely breathe when she hears it. "What are we going to do?"
"There is nothing to do, Brock," Reba tells him, sighing and trying hard not to sound dejected especially when she knows what he would have done if she had told him.
"How can you say that? What you've just told me was the most-"
"Stop," she commands and raises a hand to halt his words. She goes closer to him and takes his face into her hands, forcing him to look into her eyes. "It happened six years ago, Brock. Please don't go messing up everything because of something you can't change. You can't tell anyone or bring it up at all. It'll just cause more hurt. I told you because I needed to let you know. Not because I want you to do anything. You can't."
"I know that." Brock covers her hands with his own.
"Do you?" Somehow, the question hangs in the air and there is no reply.
"Yes." Hesitating only for a fraction of a second, he pulls her in for a kiss. He wants to kiss her and make everything better for her. To ease the incredible pain she must be feeling now.
The first contact spreads wildfire throughout her body, sweet chills running through her nerves and sending electric shocks down her spine. He nibbles slowly at her bottom lip and then abandons chivalry to completely dominate her lips, tongue exploring every corner of her mouth. He shows raw desire for her, lust and something else Reba doesn't know how to identify. Warmth explodes in his chest when he feels Reba respond, giving in to him. Six years since he has touched her like that.
Six very long years.
A blush is starting to spread from her neck right up to her cheeks and Reba feels heat radiate from every single pore of her body. "You're not supposed to do anything," she whispers against his lips, eyes dark with desire but also with pain. "You're supposed to go home."
"What if I don't want to?"
She closes her eyes and turns away.
"Do you want me to leave?" he finally asks, both hands on her arms. "I'll leave if that's what you want."
Reba keeps silent. She does not trust her own answer. Because she doesn't want him to leave. She thought she did, but she doesn't. Not anymore.
No! her heart screams, but this time, her mind tells her she has to let him leave. Reba knows that she cannot afford to be selfish when her entire family is at stake. Is it at stake? If this happens, and if they never speak of it… Will it matter if nobody knows? The better person in Reba says yes but the woman in Reba is fighting to show herself. She wants him and she knows it.
But she also doesn't want to complicate things. Not when everything has finally settled down. She wants stability in her life. For once, there are little worries in her life. Memories are there but present worries are gone. She likes it that way.
"No, Brock," she sighs. "I don't want you to leave. But you have to. It's the right thing. And sometimes, the right thing hurts. What we had was good, but it's in the past. You have a good life going for you now, don't spoil it." She hopes that he cannot see how her own words are killing her. "The baby was what we could have had. But not anymore. Leave it as it is, please."
He pauses for a moment and then gives her a resigned nod. Before Brock leaves however, he takes her face into his hands and kisses her again, taking in and trying to burn to memory how sweet she tastes, how she soft her lips are and how much his heart is bursting with unspoken affection. Reba whimpers slightly, not from weakness for she is not weak by all means, but from bittersweet happiness. It hurts her and yet, fills her heart with the sweetest sensations. What she cannot identify in his earlier kiss is now bare for her to see and strangely, she is comforted by that fact. Brock finally pulls away and then brushes his lips against her forehead before letting go of her face, his hands regretting the loss of the heat and softness of her cheeks.
"I would have come back." His words speak volumes and Reba smiles slightly at him.
"I know, Brock," she says and then watches him as he returns her smile sadly and leaves. He says something but Reba doesn't hear, or rather, she doesn't want to hear what he says. She knows she will cry if she acknowledges it.
When she cannot see him anymore, she goes upstairs and takes a long hot bath. The heat from the water does wonders and Reba feels tension escaping from her body. After that, she doesn't think much of what happened. She cannot if she wants to function normally for if she does, she knows she is gone.
However, when night comes later afterwards and stars light up the sky, Reba lies down on her bed and her mind replays the events of the day. She feels relief at finally letting out what she has been keeping inside for such a long time. And later on when she sleeps, she dreams of happiness without regrets and a lifetime of freedom.
Reba smells flowers, the fresh breeze carrying the signs of spring in the air. There is a river nearby and the sound of lapping water calms her.
"I want to be a bird, Mommy," the little girl in white snuggles in her arms tells her and Reba can't help but to kiss the top of her head. "I want to fly up there!" she exclaims, pointing up to the star-filled sky.
They are lying down on the cool grass, looking up into the stars and at the moment, Reba thinks she's the happiest she has ever been in such a long time. "I want to fly too," she says and smiles at her child, her baby. "And we can touch the stars up there," Reba whispers, pulling the little girl closer to her body. "Together," she adds with certainty.
"With Daddy too," she hears his familiar voice speak and looks beside to see Brock lying down on the other side and watching them lovingly. Her little girl giggles in her arms and hugs her mother closer.
"Look! Daddy! Mommy! A shooting star! Look!"
Reba immediately looks up, at the exclamation of her daughter, into the sky in time to catch its glittering tail. "It's beautiful," she says, stroking the little girl's soft curls.
"You're beautiful," Brock breathes and she blushes at his compliment. "I love you, Reba. Very much," he says, and Reba's heart flairs, shining brighter than the brightest star in the sky above.
This time, she hears. She wants to hear. And this time, she acknowledges his words with words of her own.
"I love you too, Brock."
A/N - This is the end of this story and I hope you've enjoyed it. Reviews would be an amazing gift! Plus they make me more inclined to write more fic. It's always very rewarding to know what the readers think and your opinions are always welcome! Thanks for taking the time to read my fanfiction exploits.