Chapter 13 - finally. By RogueAngel

Author's note: This is the last full chapter I have written out. Everything else is in outline form and brief sketches. Sorry. FYI, I have started a yahoo group. I've put all my Harry Potter and Pearl Harbor stories on it, along with some misc. thoughts and character sketches I've made for Smiling Back. I'll be posting new chapters there first, from now on. I'm also in the process of uploading what I call, Smiling Back Revisited. It's my rewrite of the whole series adding more details, character insight and a bit of a Rafe/Evelyn storyline. If you join up you'll receive an email when ever I update.

Chapter 13

Kate paused for a long moment as she stood outside the McCawley house, not quite ready to face anyone. She had thought over a multitude of things that she might say when she arrived; words of comfort, of friendship, of hope, of anger, of censure, and yet she still had no idea what she should say. The situation with Danny had been brewing for so long, everything that could have been said had already been said years ago, and in the interim - silence.

How could you work through something that was so shrouded in silence? She and Danny had talked about it like clockwork every summer as young Danny's birthday drew near, but Rafe and Evelyn remained silent, and neither Kate nor Danny had wished to stir things up in the already tense household.

It all had started with the best of intentions, as most things usually did. "We'll wait until we're finally settled back at the farm," became, "We'll wait until he is old enough to understand," and then nothing. Two weeks before Danny turned eleven it had finally been confirmed that Rafe could not father children. He and Evelyn had been devastated, but Rafe even more so. He had spiraled into a dark depression that was still with him almost five years later.

Seeing their pain, she and Danny hadn't been able to bring themselves to hurt their friends further by telling them it was time to tell young Danny the truth of his parentage. They couldn't take their only child away from them, even figuratively, when their other hopes had just been dashed. So the years passed. Kate noticed Evelyn sinking even further into denial and Rafe becoming even more stoic.

Now it was too late. Danny knew now. He was hurt and angry and everyone was at a loss to explain what had made so much sense all those years ago.

Physically trying to shake her doubts and insecurities away along with a fleeting desire to say, "I told you so," Kate knocked on the porch screen door. There was no point in dwelling on things. Now was a time for action. Unfortunately she seemed to be the only one to think so because there was no sound from within the darkened house.

Opening the door, Kate stepped inside letting her eyes adjust to the dim lighting. Apparently someone had closed all the curtains. "Evelyn?" she called.

No answer.

She set the leftovers on the kitchen table and walked into the living room heading towards the stairs and the master bedroom, but a small sound brought her attention to the couch. Evelyn was still there where Danny had placed her, her face pale and her eyes red rimmed, but dry, as she stared back at Kate.

"Oh Ev," Kate murmured, her heart wrenching at the desolate look on her friend's face. "Where's Rafe?" she asked softly as she pulled the rocker over to the couch, taking Evelyn's cold hand in hers.

With obvious effort, Evelyn sat up, the blanket pooling around her waist. "I don't know," she admitted tonelessly. "I heard the truck drive off awhile back. I don't know where he went or. or when he's coming back," her voice breaking on the last word.

"Ev," Kate moved to sit next to her, pulling her into a comforting embrace. "Oh Ev. It's going to be okay. It really is. You'll see. It will be okay."

Evelyn said nothing at Kate's soft words. She simply sat there, her breathing heavy as the tears began to flow down her cheeks once more, her body too overwrought to sob anymore.

"How are you feeling?" Kate finally asked as her breathing slowed to a more normal pace. "How's your head?"

"Fine. I'm fine," Evelyn replied bitterly, sitting up and wiping away her tears with a corner of the blanket. "Why wouldn't I be fine? My son just found out what a fraud his mother is. How I betrayed the only two men I have ever loved. How I lied to him his whole life. And," her voice become shaky again, "how I never wanted him to find out." She took several deep breaths, trying to get control of her emotions once more.

"He had the right to know and I kept it from him for selfish reasons." She wrapped her arms around her middle defensively, rocking slowly back and forth. "What must he think of me? I wanted him to be Rafe's son. I wanted to pretend that. that. that night with Danny never happened. How will my son, conceived that night, feel about that?" she looked desperately at Kate. "Will he think he's a mistake? That I didn't want him? That I wish he. that I wish he was more like Rafe than like his real father? That I see him lacking because he isn't Rafe's son like we've pretended all along?"

"Evelyn stop!" Kate interrupted as Evelyn became more and more upset and her ideas became wilder. "Danny knows that you love him, as himself. As his own person. The rest can be explained. He won't think anything less of you. He loves you. That won't change, I promise."

Evelyn shook her head. "You don't understand, Kate," she protested. "I have only loved two men in my life. Rafe and Danny. I betrayed Rafe when I slept with Danny. And I betrayed Danny when I didn't tell him that I was pregnant."

"But you thought Rafe was dead," Kate interjected, not liking to see her friend castigate herself. Obviously her time alone had let her worry too much.

"It doesn't matter," she protested, "because I was still in love with him. I used Danny. I knew he felt more than I did, but I let it continue. I played along because I was selfish. I did come to love Danny, but not. not enough," Evelyn whispered guiltily.

"When Rafe came back I was so torn. Seeing him there alive - it was suddenly like being alive myself. Danny kept me going. He made me smile and laugh. He made me care again. But seeing Rafe made me feel alive. Can you understand that?" she questioned, her eyes beseeching Kate.

Kate could only nod in response. She desperately wanted to stop Evelyn from saying any more, but she recognized that her friend had to get this out. She had a feeling that these thoughts had been slowly tearing Evelyn apart over the years.

Evelyn stared off unseeingly. "I had just realized I was pregnant the night Rafe came back. I was pregnant with Danny's child and yet I wanted to run after Rafe and beg him to forgive. He figured everything out right away. As soon as he saw Danny at the hospital he knew about us.

"During the attack, with all the confusion and stress and bombs dropping I thought. I actually thought that if something caused me to. to miscarry," her whole body shuddered at the thought now, "it would be a good thing." More tears began to stream down her face as she closed her eyes in pain. "I as good as wished my child dead so that Rafe." she trailed off, her voice breaking.

"And afterward, Danny was so. caring. He didn't pressure me, but he was there to give me support when it got so hard. in the hospital. all those men dying. Danny worried about me and I had wished his child dead!" she sobbed.

"You did no such thing," Kate interjected harshly, grabbing Evelyn's hand. "You were scared and confused and in the middle of a horrific attack. Thoughts of death and injury are natural - you're a nurse, you know that. You didn't really wish to miscarry. I know you, Evelyn. You didn't. Not really."

Evelyn sighed wearily and sat back, her head resting against the back of the couch as she stare hopelessly at the ceiling. "Maybe not really, but the thought did cross my mind. What kind of woman am I? What kind of mother? To even think it. it's terrible."

"It's normal," Kate told her vehemently. "You were in an unusual situation, but you still cared for Danny, if only as a friend. You would never have wished your child dead. No matter who the father was, you would never have wished your child dead."

Something in Kate's tone made Evelyn look at her curiously. She was obviously taken aback by the vehemence behind Kate's words.

Drawing a shaky breath, Kate turned to face Evelyn. "We've never really talked about Michael, have we?" Evelyn shook her head, her eyes wide, her tears finally slowing. "I married him when I was barely 18 years old," Kate told her, her tone oddly flat. "Grace was born when I was twenty-one. In the three yeas between I had three miscarriages." At this new information Evelyn gasped.

"All of them were caused by Michael. He was. not nice," she smiled humorlessly. "He was an alcoholic and abusive. He'd hit me, kick me, once he pushed me down the stairs. I hated him, but I was powerless and alone in a foreign country where wives were considered little better than property. But as much as I hated Michael, I loved my babies. I feared for them, and it did cross my mind that it might be better if they weren't born, but I still loved them and wanted them. Do you think I love Grace any less because her father is Michael? Do you think I don't wish that she is Danny's biological child sometimes?" Kate looked hard at Evelyn and Evelyn finally shook her head. Of course Kate didn't love Grace less because of her father.

"You see, none of that matters," Kate continued, "because Danny is her father in every way that counts. You were in a tough situation, but I know you, you never really wanted to miscarry. You loved your child, no matter who the father was, too much, even in all the confusion and upheaval."

Evelyn stared at her friend in shock, her thoughts no longer on her own troubles, if only for a moment. "I never knew. I never would have guessed. How.?"

"Of course you didn't know. I haven't told anyone except Danny," Kate told her. "At first I didn't want anyone's pity and then. I just wanted to forget. You don't think that I haven't wished. that I don't pretend that Grace is actually Danny's child and not Michael's just as you pretend Danny is Rafe's son? That sometimes I look at her and I see something of Michael - a gesture, a movement, and it shocks me because I have convince myself that he never even existed?"

"But you hated Michael," Evelyn protested. "I cared for Danny. He was the best friend I had ever had. And I betrayed him. I never told him he was going to be a father - I told Rafe. And even when I told Danny that I would wait for him, a part of me was thinking of Rafe." Both woman sat there silently for a moment. Kate unsure of what to say to ease her friend's guilt. None of this was going to help Danny, but it seemed that Evelyn had to work through her own thoughts and feelings before she could help her son.

"During the raid," Evelyn began softly, "I prayed for their safety. Both of them. But when Rafe stepped out of that plane months later I didn't even think of Danny. Not once. Not until I noticed the look in Rafe's eyes. Not until I saw his pain.

"I missed Danny. I mourned him, but a part of me was relieved that I didn't have to give up Rafe. Until you turned up I had felt so guilty. Like it was my fault Danny died. Like God looked into my heart and saw that I wanted Rafe more, so Danny had to die. If I had told him about being pregnant. If I had loved him more." her voice broke once again and no more words came, even though she tried several times.

"Evelyn, you are being silly," Kate told her. "You are only a woman. You don't have the power of life and death. You felt guilty that Danny died. How would you have felt if he had come home? If he had married you and yet you were never able to truly love him, your love for Rafe would have always been between the two of you?" Evelyn actually looked stunned at Kate's words, and Kate decided to push her advantage, hoping to get through to Evelyn somehow.

"You and Danny loved each other, but it wasn't the kind of love that could sustain a marriage. You know that. You would have had a good marriage. An amicable one. Maybe you'd even have had a couple more children, but Rafe would have always been between you. What if Rafe had married someone else? How would you have felt? Or if your marriage to Danny had effectively ended their friendship? How would you have felt? Can you imagine your life without Rafe in it? Or Rafe's life without Danny? You know what it's like to really love someone heart and soul. Could you honestly live a life only half way? Would that have been fair to you? To Danny? To Rafe?

"Maybe God planned it this way. Maybe He knew that Rafe wouldn't be able to have children, so He gave you a son. A son from the one man that Rafe's loves more than life itself. The one man that is closer than a brother to him. Maybe God knew that Grace and I would need rescuing so he sent Danny to us. Maybe He had everything planned for us and all we have to do is follow our hearts," Kate challenged, her cheeks flushed with the forcefulness behind her words. She desperately wanted Evelyn to see that life had many paths and there was no sense in trying to figure out the 'what ifs' and 'could haves.'

"I didn't think you were a religious type," Evelyn finally said, her brow furrowed as she pondered Kate's words. She was no longer crying and Kate took this as a good sign.

"I'm not," Kate told her with a smile, her shoulders releasing their pent up tension. "I can't stand the holier-than-thou attitudes of most of the religious types in this town who hide their bigotry and snobbery behind God and their church. But that doesn't mean I don't believe in God and that he has a plan for us all. I just don't believe in their God." She paused and smiled gently at her friend, grasping her hand. "Do you see what I'm saying though? Everything turned out the way it was meant to."

"I guess," Evelyn agreed hesitantly. "But we still should have told."

"Hush," Kate cut her off. "That is enough 'should haves.' What's done is done. Give Danny time. He's a good kid. Once the shock has worn off everything will be fine. You can talk to him. It will be okay. Now," she said, standing up and crossing the room. "I'm brought food over. Are you hungry?" Evelyn shook her head. "I didn't really think you would be, but I want you to drink this," handing her friend two fingers of whiskey. "No complaining. Then I'm going to make sure you get to bed. Lying here on the couch won't do you any good. You need a decent night's sleep. Tomorrow you can talk to Danny."

"Danny!" Evelyn started, "He."

"Drink first," Kate interrupted. "Then sleep. Don't worry about Danny, he'll be fine. It's not the first time he's slept at the clearing." She watched as Evelyn quickly downed the whiskey and shuddered lightly. "Now upstairs with you."

Upstairs Kate quickly found Evelyn's nightgown. Sending her friend to the bathroom to get ready, Kate turned down the bed and closed the drapes. Five minutes later Evelyn slipped under the covers, her face pale and exhausted.

Before Kate could leave, Evelyn reached out a hand. "Could you. Could you take some food out to Danny? He didn't want anything earlier, but I'm sure he's hungry by now."

"Of course I will," Kate replied, squeezing Evelyn's hand. "Of course. Now you get some sleep. Things will be better in the morning."

Evelyn nodded, her eyes already drooping.

"Good night, Ev," Kate whispered, turning off the light.

"Kate?" Evelyn called just before the door closed. "Tell him. Tell him I love him. And when he's ready."

"I will," Kate reassured her. "Good night."