Title: "Secrets and Lies"
Word count: 5,378
Characters: Rebecca/Justin (friendship); the Walkers.
Summary: Rebecca doesn't know whether she's ever going to be forgiven for the secrets and lies she's kept. Starts directly after episode 2.14.
Spoilers: Everything to 2.14. Also some spoilers for upcoming episodes.
Disclaimer: Nothing is mine, just borrowing. All ABC's and Jon Robin Baitz's. Please don't sue!
Author's Notes: Thanks to dragonydreams who did the quick beta on this story. I was inspired by her Justin/Rebecca story and so decided I'd try my hand at one of my own. I'm relatively new to the fandom, so please be gentle!
"Secrets and Lies"
"How long have you known?" It's the only thing he manages to say in the electric stillness.
She shakes her head. She can't say. Not ever, because then it'd be real. The way she had lied to him, to Nora, Kitty, Sarah – all of them. Lied only to remain part of that exclusive clan with the perennial matriarch, the quarrelling siblings with their intimate histories intertwined as only true family could be.
But she isn't part of that, not really. Her Walker family membership had expired the day her curiosity got the better of her. Then again, it had never been hers to begin with so strictly speaking, it isn't her fault that a cat had nine lives but curiosity always manages to kill it. She had outstayed her welcome but had continued on, had allowed them to think she was a Walker through and through.
Blood and tears and flesh and happiness and joy, running through her veins. But she wasn't part of their family and now, never will be.
She had lied and yes, schemed to remain a part of that family. She admits that now even though it hurts; hurts so much she wants to yank out her guts and be done with it. She had actively deceived these people she had grown to love just so she could feel better about her life.
She's just like her mother and that aches, really aches. Because she desperately doesn't want to be, doesn't ever want to be anything like her mother but maybe she is.
Maybe genetics always wins out in the end. She's her mother's daughter. Lies beget lies and mothers beget daughters; isn't that how it's supposed to go?
But she doesn't want to be like her. Never like her. Which is why she's telling Justin.
And now he can't even look at her without disgust oozing from every inch of his skin.
"I can't – god, Rebecca, I can't even look at you right now." She thinks, knows that he adds 'you disgust me' at the end of that sentence. But he doesn't need to because it's always been there, that crackling intimacy they share.
Shared, maybe she should start using past tense. She'd always known his thoughts, dreams, ambitions. They've shared a lot of themselves with each other in that crowning crest of discovery of a brother and sister neither knew about. New horizons and suns dawning and all that, and she'd been so happy to have finally found brothers and sisters and yes, a family she didn't have to cringe from.
They share one heated glance before he storms past, face breaking. If his shoulders graze hers roughly as he strides past, she doesn't let herself wince.
She hasn't spoken to him in a month.
He avoids her with military precision; she knows that. At family dinners, he's careful to sit at the farthest place he can, away from her. The first week he did it Tommy had given him an odd look, but seeing the storm on Justin's face he'd obviously decided to let sleeping Justins lie. She'd seen the curious glance exchanged by Kevin and Tommy, the questioning brow from Sarah; knew that soon she'd be gossiping about it with Kitty and then Rebecca would be prevailed upon to respond.
Even Nora, above the usual sibling intrigue, doesn't fail to notice the increasing chill between her and Justin. She tries pressing Rebecca about it and frankly she's still a little surprised she'd been able withstand Nora's interrogation.
She knows Nora probably tried the same thing and more, with Justin. But he obviously doesn't crack under the pressure either because the week after that they're still fielding the same curious glances. The only difference is that she's been given one more week, a whole seven days to perfect the veneer of normality she's desperately tried to maintain ever since.
She pretends she doesn't see the probing nudges, the inquisitive eyes. Robert is the only member of the family who doesn't allude to it in some way and she gets the sense that he's not doing so out of gentlemanly respect. Besides, he's probably got too many things on his mind to bother with the latest Walker family drama unfolding before his eyes.
She sits and eats, chews her peas and carrots; but they taste like dust in her mouth.
He hasn't said word one about telling the others. His family. She doesn't know why he hasn't. It should've been the first thing he did, alert them to the impostor in their midst. Every minute they're sitting here smiling at her it consumes her; she's being consumed whole by her lie, her guilt. This is her fault, her responsibility. Her mother had started the lie but Rebecca is guilty of keeping it alive.
She almost applauds Justin for avoiding her. He's taken a stand and he's sticking to it.
She can't stand herself right now either.
It seems so long since her birthday when she and Justin had snuggled in the corner of the room eating the remains of her cake, questioning her genes, her identity. She wishes she'd never opened that stupid box; surely Pandora should've reared her nosy head and warned her against it.
She's reduced to hearing about Justin; when he's surfing, playing golf, trying to get his life together. She laughs and talks to Kitty and to a lesser extent, Sarah, but their confidences aren't the same. She's happy for Kitty and Robert and their chance to adopt; Robert's a great dad and she's sure Kitty will be a great mom too. Their lives are coming together just as hers is falling apart.
She is falling apart; she knows it. Decides this can't go on, not like this, not forever.
She's so angry at her mother it hurts. Just as Justin hasn't talked to her for the past two months, she hasn't talked to her mother. Rebecca blames her for putting her in this position so yeah, she's pissed and angry. She has a right to be.
It makes her so lonely she wants to cry though. But she doesn't; because she understands. She's chosen this, this deception. But now it's time to make another choice.
She needs to tell the Walkers that she isn't really one of them.
She's prepared for the worst, standing in the middle of the living room she'd once thought looked more like something showcased in a lifestyle magazine, but this is LA and California and people actually do have homes like this. Her mom had provided a great home, but to her, the Walkers' always looked and smelled and felt like something from a dream; a normal, everyday family dream.
She should've known it was too good to be true.
She braces herself when she tells them in halting words, the truth. Astutely avoids Justin's eyes, piercing even under brighter than usual lights, but she needn't have bothered. He's doing all her work for her, gazing out the window with his heart not on his sleeve.
They all blink for the longest of fractured moments, absorb the truth as it drips slowly into consciousness. Tommy's and Kevin's eyes are owlish; Julia hugs Elizabeth closer to her chest, head down because she doesn't know where to look. Kitty stares at her with a neutral, almost analytical expression. Robert's honest blue eyes are filled with sympathy, not disgust, which encourages her a little. Enough to glance at Sarah, frowning and squinting at her at the same time; Rebecca knows her agile mind's turning over all the possibilities. Saul's not here which helps matters. He'd gone to Italy to take a well deserved break from the dramas at Ojai.
One less member of the family to ask forgiveness from.
But then there's Nora and Rebecca can't, can't look at her. She lived in the woman's house for three months under false pretenses and even though she hadn't meant to – lie that is, not then anyway – she can't bear to look in that woman's trusting eyes.
It's Sarah, predictably, who starts the cross examination. "How long have you known?" Rebecca wants to laugh. Sarah and Justin had said exactly the same thing, in exactly the same way. Blood will out.
She tells her, finds herself repeating it like a mantra the rest of the night. She'd known for two months, a long time. Two months of lies and deceit. She knows she was wrong; badly, badly wrong. Nothing she says will ever make up for it, but it's important they all know she hadn't meant to, lie that is, to get into the family. She hadn't known, had only suspected when David had come onto the scene.
She asks, pleads with them. Please, please believe her. She admits she's lied about everything else but this, this she needs them to know as the truth.
She expects – needs almost – their anger. Maybe their righteous fury will wash away some or all of her guilt, because she needs to be cleansed of her part in this. Her desperation to feel like a part of something had taken her away from the person she'd wanted to become. Ironically, that person she'd been striving to be had been for the sake of the family.
But still there's silence; probing, perplexed silence. Why aren't they blowing up at her?
"So you didn't know?" Kevin asks with his shrewd eyes and careful words; but there's still no accusation in his tone. He's asked the question but perhaps knows the answer already, or believes he knows it at any rate.
"No. Not until two months ago."
"And you only found out when David came?" He continues to probe and the others let him; he's doing their asking for them. "You didn't know until you took that test?"
"No. Kevin, I didn't know."
"Why did you take it? The test I mean." It's Tommy with his curious eyes that asks the question on everyone's mind. Why question her paternity when everyone, even the doubters, had fully accepted her as part of the family?
'She doesn't know' isn't really a satisfactory answer so she tries to explain, again, really incoherently. "I needed to know who my real dad was. I just – I don't know, I couldn't sit back and think yeah, William Walker's my dad and that's it. When I met David it was like, somehow, things clicked. And even when mom told me point blank that he wasn't – there was no way – I just, I don't know, I didn't know whether I really believed her. Maybe I accepted it because I wanted to believe her, so much." Her eyes sought Justin's; it was to be the only time that night he'd meet her eyes.
She doesn't know why she left him out of the story; somehow to not implicate him in this whole mess seems the right thing to do. "And I remembered mom's stories about the dead beat director who she'd been involved with and everything just – I don't, everything just came together."
She shrugs, feeling naked in the glaring light. She's going round in circles. When will it stop? She feels the walls closing in on her; is it possible that even they're glaring at her with accusing eyes?
"Why didn't you tell us –?"
"Oh come on Sarah, we know exactly why she didn't tell us." It's Kitty who abruptly interrupts, voice sharp, smile absent. Robert lays a calm hand on Kitty's arm, but she brushes it impatiently away. She isn't hostile, but the very absence of that smile Rebecca had come to depend on has vanished, for now.
Despite herself, Rebecca begins to tremble. Nothing visible to the others, but she is trembling. She feels it in the way her knees start to shake, traveling up her body until her entire being is vibrating slightly, from fear or dread she doesn't know.
They – the Walkers, her brothers and sisters no more – continue to stare. This was unusual. She'd expected fully fledged fighting, bitter words, harsh accusations of lies and deceit. That was the Walker way, as far as she knew. This stunned silence she isn't prepared for.
But then everything turns a corner. "Well, I for one, would like to know why you didn't tell us." It's Nora who, not so surprisingly, presses her. But she's open, gentle, warm; everything her kids aren't at the moment.
Why didn't she tell them. Isn't it obvious?
Rebecca recounts in broken words, why; fumbling, grasping for redemption. If she'd been more coherent, she would've been able to sum it up with one word: family.
Family. She'd wanted one so badly, one that was normal and bright and caring for each other. The Walkers had their petty infighting and jealousies, but they also had love, respect and a tenacious habit of protecting each other. She'd seen it first hand with Justin, the way they'd fought for him, fought against his addiction and yeah, she'd wanted that. She'd wanted the security, the comfort that came with knowing there were people on her side, people that had to be on her side if things ever went pear shaped. She wanted Justin, Nora, Kitty and Sarah, and Tommy and Kevin and yeah, even Saul, to be there for her if she'd ever needed them.
She'd grown up with only her mom and it had terrified her to think that one day, she could be alone. She'd had a wanderlust for family that try as she might, couldn't be quenched. Not until she'd met them and they'd (more or less) embraced her as one of their own.
She repeats again how sorry she is, how sorry she is to have betrayed their trust, but Kevin interrupts her, eyes shrewd. But he isn't looking at her.
"Wait a minute, did you know about this?" Kevin's the quintessential attorney; he smells the truth a mile off. He glares at Justin, still sitting with that distant, faraway look in his eyes. "You knew, didn't you? And you didn't tell us?"
Immediately the others chime in, a chorus of chaos to anyone who isn't intimately acquainted with the family. Justin only fires up when Sarah finally starts in on him, asking, probing, why, god why, would you keep something like this from us? And it's only then that his anger shakes loose and a general free for all starts.
Only Rebecca, Nora, Robert and Julia keep above the fray; although Rebecca isn't sure whether she can really be above anything at the moment.
She keeps apologizing, but it's almost as if it isn't about her anymore. The siblings are more concerned – or betrayed, as the case may be – with Justin (their real brother) not telling them of the bombshell, rather than with the actual bombshell itself.
Rebecca doesn't doubt there'll be repercussions. The Walkers are so shocked right now they haven't reacted properly. They're reaching for someone to blame and strangely, they've chosen Justin. She knows that soon, maybe as soon as tomorrow, they'll start being angry at her, the real criminal in this whole sordid affair.
She only hopes that when they do, they'll remember she had never set out to deceive them.