A/N: This was meant as a one-shot so that's how I'm gonna leave it. It might be a little long. The song is You'll Always Be Beautiful by Blake Shelton. I hope y'all enjoy it. Let me know what you think. :)
Brock Hart waited patiently in the living room, turning the pages of last week's magazine. He was waiting for both of his ex-wives to finish getting ready for Reba's birthday party the kids had secretly planned. They had thirty minutes left before he'd have to start rushing them, even though he knew they'd be fifteen to twenty minutes late to the party. He sighed, pausing to read an article about the newest country music star. It never ceased to amaze him how Reba always had several of these magazines lying around the house. Checking his watch, Brock stood up to walk into the kitchen when he heard the redhead's voice yelling from upstairs. He shook his head, wondering what Barbra Jean was up to now.
"I'm not gonna wear those stupid heels, Barbra Jean! I've told you they make my feet hurt!" Reba darted to the other side of the bed, remembering that Barbra Jean was crazy. She had already managed to get Reba into the tight, deep V-neck, black dress she was wearing now. Reba rolled onto her bed, and off to the other side when she noticed Barbra Jean heading in her direction. "I said NO!" Reba tried again, but the blonde was very determined.
"Oh, come on, Reba! It's for one night. It's not like you're gonna die if your feet fall off! Besides, these are the only shoes we picked out for that dress. NOW PUT'EM ON!" Barbra Jean paused for a minute, holding the shoes out towards Reba. The redhead shook her head, staying alert the best she could. Barbra Jean was fast, and when she wanted something there really was no stopping her. "Ok. Fine. If you won't do it then I will." Barbra Jean waited a second, knowing Reba was watching for any sudden movements. The blonde took a step to her right, moving slightly closer to the bed and watched as Reba took a step to the left, moving closer to her bedroom door. Barbra Jean tried again, but this time took two steps in the opposite direction. Reba breathed in deeply, realizing she would be trapped if she didn't make it to her door in time. Before Barbra Jean could make another move, Reba was running to the closed door, yelling for Barbra Jean to leave her alone. The blonde was hot on her tracks and made it just in time to slam the door shut by ramming Reba's body, with her own, into it.
"You are…so…CRAZY! I'm not wearing those shoes! You can just forget it!" Barbra Jean held onto both shoes tightly with one hand as she wrapped her arms around Reba, turning her away from the door and blocking the path with her own body. Reba puffed as she crossed her arms over her chest, thinking as quickly as she could. The bathroom was her only hope now. Maybe she could lock it behind her before Barbra Jean followed her inside. She dropped her arms, relaxing as her eyes lowered to the floor. Barbra Jean relaxed, too, figuring she had won the war, but jumped right back into action when Reba took off again.
Brock entered the living room, stepping slowly towards the stairs. There was screaming, and loud noises came between each one. He didn't know if he should stay down here and pretend nothing was going on, or run upstairs to rescue whoever was being attacked. Finishing the last of his cookie, Brock started up the stairs. Whatever was going on was probably something he didn't want to miss. Brock burst into Reba's room, freezing at the sight before him. Both women were on the bed, staring back at him in just as much shock. Reba was lying flat on her back, her arms trapped under Barbra Jean's lower legs. Barbra Jean straddled Reba, holding on tightly to both of Reba's legs with her left arm while her right hand pressed a shoe onto one of the redhead's feet. "Uh, I guess I'm interrupting something. Should I leave or do you want me to join?" Brock smirked back at them, enjoying the frustrated sigh that escaped Reba's lips. Barbra Jean took the moment to finish applying the shoes to Reba's feet before standing up. She walked towards Brock, a satisfied smile across her lips. Then, as a shoe flew into her back, her smile disappeared into a shocked circle. She turned around, looking dangerously at the redhead. Reba smirked back, holding the other heel in her hand. Barbra Jean slowly lowered to the floor, picking up the other shoe and glancing at it before standing straight again. Reba swallowed the lump in her throat as she ran to the bathroom. Barbra Jean dashed after her, pushing the door open and making her way inside. Brock shook his head at Reba's scream, and then shut the door behind him as he made his way back downstairs. Why didn't he take a picture? No one would believe him now.
Exactly one hour and ten minutes later, all three adults were walking into the big dance hall. Brock's face was red and he stared down the entire room with a look of complete annoyance. His ex-wives had argued the entire ride from Reba's house to the dance hall. Reba was standing right behind him, a huge pout across her face, and her arms were tightly folded against her chest. She had lost the dress and shoe battle against Barbra Jean, and wasn't too happy about it unlike Barbra Jean, who was jumping around her in order to fix anything that looked out of place. Reba took a deep breath, and dropped her arms to her side, fists still balled up. "BARBRA JEAN, STOP IT!" Reba finally yelled, causing the blonde to take a step back and Brock to roll his eyes.
"I just want you to look perfect! We have got to get you a man this year. You know, you don't have a lot of those left…and I mean years." Barbra Jean pointed a finger at Reba, ducking quickly before Reba could smack the back of her head. They tossed a few more comments back and forth, arguing over everything. Brock tried to walk away, but he found they were absented-mindedly following him where ever he went. He could feel his patience running thin, and tried to hold back just a little longer. Cheyenne spotted her parents and rushed over to assist her father before he blew a gasket.
"Hey, Dad, you look a little mad. What's wrong?" Brock took a deep breath, raised a finger to his lips, and closed his eyes tightly. Reba and Barbra Jean's voices piled over his shoulders, causing even Cheyenne to get slightly annoyed. They could argue over the stupidest things. Sometimes Cheyenne could swear they did it for fun. "Ok. Go find, Van. I can handle this." Cheyenne gave him a sympathetic smile before gently pushing him away from the women. "Mom! Barbra Jean! Y'all made it… in one piece!" Cheyenne pulled each of them into an individual hug, a happy smile planted on her lips. She told them all about the night's events if only to keep them from talking to each other. Reba and Barbra Jean followed Cheyenne as she led them to their table, and soon they both drifted quietly away from her. Cheyenne smiled to herself, proud she still had her touch.
Reba made her way through the crowd of clients, co-workers, friends, and family to the open bar, glad that Van had thought to get one. She sat at on the nearest stool, ordering her choice of drink and starting the night out like she had the past years. This was the first year Van had managed to afford such a gorgeous place with fancy decorations and food. She had to admit that tonight could be her Cinderella night. She shook away the thoughts, knowing she wouldn't meet anyone she hadn't the year before or the one before that. There wouldn't be anyone new at her party. Reba watched the couples on the dance floor as she started her second drink, spotting Kyra with a young man as they circled the floor. She smiled, glad someone was having fun.
"Hey, Ms. H, do you like it?" Van asked as he stepped up behind her. He motioned with one hand around the room, leading her eyes to every corner. She smiled again, enjoying the classiness of it all. Van smiled, feeling proud of his achievement.
"Yes. Yes, I do. Thank you." Reba sighed, drinking the last of her drink and ordering another. "I feel just like a princess, Van." She laughed at his overly proud stance and gently smacked his pouched out chest. Van relaxed, wrapping an arm around her shoulders.
"Good. That was my goal. Enjoy the party, Ms. H. Happy birthday." He kissed her temple, pulling her a little closer to his side for a hug. "Now, I need to go mingle for some mullah." He strutted away from her, joining a group of men and pretending to know what they were talking about. Reba giggled at him before deciding to find some people to talk to herself. Walking around the floor, she spotted a few co-workers and slipped into their conversation. Occasionally, she'd grab a drink from a waiter as they passed by, and thought every time that Van had really out done himself this year.
Brock sat at the family's table, watching each of his family members. They were enjoying their selves immensely, and he was happy that his money was going towards something good for a change. Van had planned this entire night but hadn't kept up with the cost, and had to ask him to pay for half the bill. Brock smiled, contentment washing over him. He had finally done something nice for Reba. He sipped on his beer, knowing he'd have to drive Reba home later tonight. This was her night and she always over did things.
A few minutes later, everyone was sitting down and several people that were close to Reba were giving the speeches they had been asked to do. She was sitting between Brock and Barbra Jean, enjoying every word she heard. It was nice to see how many of her friends really did care for her. She sighed and rolled her eyes as Van announced the next speech giver as Barbra Jean. The blonde quickly gave Reba a breath-taking hug, and then ran to the podium for her moment of attention.
"Reba…my best friend in case y'all didn't know…I have a lot to say to you tonight, but they're things you've heard countless times before." Barbra Jean continued to talk, flipping through a whole stack of index cards. Reba politely asked the waiter to keep the drinks coming, and tried her hardest to ignore the embarrassing stories from the past year that Barbra Jean was sure to tell. Brock chuckled to himself, leaning closer to Reba.
"Be careful, Red. You wouldn't want to start the list of stories for next year's party so soon…now, would you?" Reba rolled her eyes, praying that Barbra Jean would hurry up. Brock was right though. She didn't need to drink too much now or the whole party would have a story for next year. She sighed; taking note of all the laughing and sympathetic glances she was receiving now. Barbra Jean wrapped up her speech, Van previously giving her a set time limit, and bounced off the stage heading straight for her best friend. The other speakers came and went, and the dancing started again. Reba pulled off laughing at herself for most of the night, the waiters becoming her best companions.
Hours later, Brock was searching the ballroom for the birthday girl. He knew her time was running out, and if she wanted to get home before the clock struck midnight then he needed to find her fast. "Hey, Cheyenne, have you seen your mother lately?" The young blonde shook her head, and searched the faces around the room one last time to be sure. She stopped on Barbra Jean, instantly becoming worried.
"No, last I saw she was with Barbra Jean…who probably isn't the best person for her to be around right now." Brock nodded his head, trying to keep his eyes off of the dancing woman. She definitely had too much to drink tonight. "Van and I will take her home in a few minutes. Umm…you might want to check with her on where Mom is." Cheyenne paused when Barbra Jean fell backwards off the table she was standing on. Brock flinched and Cheyenne placed a hand over her mouth before quickly darting away. She turned her head to look at her father as she ran, hoping to give him a little more help.
"Uh, have someone check the bathroom for you. She might be in there." Brock waved at her as he turned in the opposite direction as his oldest daughter. He should have known to check there first. It was where her nights always seemed to end. He stopped outside the women's bathroom, looking around for any females Reba wouldn't mind seeing her in such a state, if she even was drunk. Deciding he'd rather go in himself, Brock pushed on the door. When it didn't budge he tried pulling on the handle, but still it didn't move. He sighed, running his hand over his face. Now, what did he do? Brock started to walk away when a young woman blocked his path.
"That door's been locked for a couple hours now. Besides, Honey, that's the ladies' room." Brock feigned surprised, and quickly thanked her before slipping into the men's room. He rolled his eyes, walking to the sinks for a quick look in the mirror. He would wait a minute before leaving. He really needed to find Reba. His gut feeling was leaning heavily on his instinct that she needed him. Brock sighed, turning to leave when a low whimper-moan-type noise came from a closed stall. He walked slowly to the door, hesitating before calling out.
"Man, you all right in there?" When Brock didn't get a response, he shrugged his shoulders and tried to leave again, but tripped over something on the floor. He looked down, seeing two very familiar high heel shoes. He took a deep breath, relieved that he had found her finally. He bent down, picking up the discarded items. Even slower than he had walked to the stall, he pushed the door open. Brock frowned at the redhead, wishing she wasn't lying on the floor of the guys' bathroom. That couldn't be sanitary. "Hey, Reba, come on…I think it's time we go." She lifted her head towards him to fully recognize who was talking to her. She smiled weakly at him as she reached her hand out towards him. Brock helped her to a sitting position, gently tugging at her hand. Once she was on her feet, he made a quick check of her appearance.
"I need my shoes." Reba started to bend down, but Brock quickly caught her before she could sit back down. He leaned her body against the wall of the stall, showing her shoes to her. Reba pointed at him, trying to stay awake. "You're…good, Mister." She paused, letting out a little giggle, before falling into Brock's arms. He let out the breath he was holding, and gently held her up in a standing position again.
"You know you're in the men's restroom, don't you?" Reba raised her head slightly, looking around the room they were in. Her eyes widened and her mouth stretched into a smile. She rested her hands on her hips, returning her stare to Brock.
"Well, what do you know, I am. That's funny." She started to laugh again, but quickly regretted it as she fell to the floor again, instantly leaning over the toilet seat. Brock waited a minute, using the time to text his kids that he'd found their mother and they'd be leaving soon. "Take me home, please." Reba's voice was hoarse and her breathing was ragged. She sat against the stall, closing her eyes shortly after. Brock smiled at her, shoving both of her shoes into each of his pants' pockets. Gently, he lifted her onto his shoulder, and started for the bathroom door, glad he could finally make it out of there without something stopping him. Staying as close to the wall as he could get, he rushed to his truck. Tenderly, he sat Reba in the passenger seat, making sure she was securely buckled in, before running to his side. Hopefully, he could make it home before her stomach decided to spit back up the contents it held inside.
You always get dolled up for your party
Good thing your birthday only comes once a year
Because you always forget that you're so small
You can't take all that alcohol
And you wind up over my shoulder and into the car
But you'll always be beautiful
You'll always be beautiful to me
The next afternoon, Reba rolled over, trying to escape the bright sunlight and the loud snoring. She grabbed her pillow, folding it over her head to cover her ears. After a few seconds of lying as still as she could be, Reba threw the pillow over the side of the bed, praying it hit Brock hard enough to wake him up. It didn't. She frowned, regretting her next option as soon as she did it. "Brock, wake up!" Even her voice sounded loud and annoying to her. She rolled her eyes, whimpering quietly into her mattress. Brock sat up slowly, working out the pains in his back, arms, and neck from having to sleep on the floor. He unzipped his sleeping bag, tossing Reba's pillow back onto the bed as he did so. The pillow landed on her head, adding to Reba's discomfort. Brock sat down on the edge of the bed, waiting to check on her.
"So, how're you feeling?" Reba gave him a thumbs-down sign before pointing towards her bedroom window with a few choice words. Brock chuckled to himself as he walked across the room, taking his time. Reba took a deep breath as she tried to sit up. "You should probably change outta that dress. I wouldn't want to sleep in it if I were you." Reba rolled her eyes again, but decided she'd have to hold back on the eye rolls for a while. Her headache didn't seem to like them.
"Oh, shut up! Just get my pajamas, please." Reba rested her head in her hands, trying to keep her stomach calm. Brock did as was demanded of him, and quickly gathered her pajamas and the robe she loved so much. He smiled as he handed them to her, and turned around to give her some privacy. He didn't want to be too far in case she needed him for something. Reba stood up slowly, using the bed as support. She closed her eyes, wishing the dizziness away. Why did she always drink so much? You'd think she'd remember how this felt. Once her body and head were as steady as they could be, she attempted to stick one leg into her pajama pants, not bothering to take off her dress first. Brock quickly spun around when he heard a thud and Reba's scream. He bit his bottom lip in an effort to keep from laughing. Reba was lying on his sleeping bag, both hands on her head and one pajama covered leg in the air. Her face was contorted into discomfort and pain. He sat down on the bed with his arms folded at his chest, and stared at the redhead. Her hair was tangled, and a few strands were stuck to her face. He smiled at her, dodging his pillow as Reba threw it at him.
"Hey, you don't want to start a pillow fight. I'm sure I'd win." Reba stuck out her tongue at him, sitting to finish putting on her pants. Brock took over the job, knowing her head was killing her. He didn't want her to make herself sick anymore than what she was. Reba leaned against the side of her bed, closing her eyes for a second. "Come on, Reba. Let's get you changed and then you can fall back to sleep." Brock helped Reba to her feet, having her sit down on the bed instead of the floor. Before either one of them could make another move, Barbra Jean was busting into the room. Reba groaned, resting her head on Brock's shoulder.
"Oh, good, y'all are up!" She smiled at them as she walked to the window, pulling open the curtains. "That's better. It's always so dark in here. Anyways…" Barbra Jean turned around to face the bed. "Hey, Reba, why are you dressed like that? Don't you remember? We have Henry and Elizabeth's dance recital to go to…in like two hours." She bounced on the bed, getting both Reba and Brock to turn around. Barbra Jean tilted away from Reba when she started griping and cussing about the sun shining in her eyes. Brock chuckled again, going to the window for the second time.
"How in the heck are you so…ugh." Reba motioned towards Barbra Jean as she talked. She slowly fell sideways, lying on her side on the bed. Grabbing her pillow, Reba curled herself into a ball. Barbra Jean rubbed her arm, a tsk-tsk sound escaping her lips.
"Oh, Reba…I bought out Starbucks. How else did you expect me to be my bouncy usual self?" Barbra Jean stood up, walking to Brock's side. They both watched Reba as they spoke. "She drank way too much. You should have stopped her." Brock's eyebrows came together and a gasp left his mouth as Barbra Jean shook her head in disapproval.
"You're crazy if you think I could have stopped her. She's Reba. No one can stop her. She could take over the world if she seriously wanted to." Barbra Jean thought for a second before nodding her head in agreement. They were quiet for a minute, just standing side by side and staring at the motionless body on the bed. Brock glanced at the pajama top and robe thrown to the floor, and was glad Barbra Jean had showed up. "Hey, do you think you could get that dress off Reba and put her pajamas on?" Brock asked, hoping she'd be willing to help out. Barbra Jean checked her watch and then shook her head no.
"Sorry, Brock, I can't. I'm late for my lunch date as it is. But hey, it's not like you haven't undressed her before…or seen her…" Brock held up his hands, stopping his ex-wife immediately. She held back her smile, seeing the discomfort and concern spread across his face. "Well, I gotta go. I'll see you two at the recital later. Good luck getting her there." Barbra Jean ventured to the bed, giving Reba one last hug before leaving the house and hoping these two would realize how perfect they were together. She sighed, knowing they were both too hardheaded to do anything about it.
"Thanks a lot, Barbra Jean." Brock sighed before moving to Reba's side. "Reba, we need to put your shirt on now, ok? And take this dress off." He lifted her body up, sitting down next to her. He let her body fall against his chest as he slipped one arm through the shirt sleeve. Maybe he could get this done without seeing anything Reba wouldn't be happy about. After a few minutes and one struggle to slip the dress off, Brock had managed to finish his task appropriately. He ran a hand through his hair, taking a moment to think.
"Brock?" Reba opened one eye to look at him, and continued when he nodded his head. "Thank you." He smiled at her and she returned it. "Can you get me some aspirins? My head is killing me." Reba was whispering, but it wasn't really helping. The only thing she wanted to do was sleep right now. Brock held a worried face, and bent down to be face to face with her. They reached for each other's hand, finding comfort in it.
"Why don't you come downstairs with me…and eat something. After last night, I doubt you have anything in your stomach." Reba gave him a thumbs-up, pushing herself to a sitting position. "Thank you." He turned around, still squatting in front of her. Reba took a deep breath as she wrapped her arms around his neck and her legs around his waist. "You ready?" She patted his chest, and Brock stood up to leave the room.
While Reba ate breakfast and threatened Van about being loud, Brock cleaned her bedroom and bathroom. He shook his head as he changed her pillow case, noting all the make-up stains. It was a good thing Kyra knew how to get the stains out. He tossed the cloth into the dirty laundry basket, getting the bed ready for Reba before leaving the room with the basket. Hopefully, they could get rid of her headache by the time the recital started. Maybe he should buy out Starbucks for her? Reba was finished eating when he made it back to the kitchen. Brock passed the basket to Van, who threw a hissy fit about having to do the laundry when he was the one that planned the best party ever. Then Brock carried Reba back to her room just as he had done earlier.
"You know, Brock, I can walk around by myself. I really don't need you." Reba lied on her bed, slowly curling into a ball. Her headache was slipping away, but only gradually. Brock frowned as he rolled up his sleeping bag. He liked being able to help her when she wasn't feeling well, even if she could do everything by herself. "But I'm glad you're here." His smile returned, and he felt a bit of relief. Glancing towards Reba, Brock snapped his bungee cord, which held his sleeping bag in place, together.
"Well, I'd rather me be here than a whole coffee house worth of coffee." He smirked at her, enjoying the smile on her face. "I'm gonna head out now. Call me if you need anything. Umm…would you like me to pick you up for the recital?" She barely shook her head, patting the bed next to her. Brock sat down, and a comfortable silence filled the room.
"Thanks for holding my hair back all those times last night. I'm glad I didn't have to wash my hair a billion times." She blew out a little bit of air, sincerely meaning what she said. Brock chuckled, tossing a 'no problem' in her direction. She grabbed his hand, holding tightly onto it. "You're a good friend, Brock. It's a good thing the divorce didn't tear us apart completely." Brock smiled at her, not sure what to say. He wanted to tell her those things right back, but he didn't want it to sound like he was just making nice small talk. With his free hand, he moved a strand of her hair off her face, and then wrapped his hand tightly around their joined hands.
"You want me to buy Starbucks so Barbra Jean won't be able to anymore, don't you?" Reba giggled at his comment, nodding her head slowly. "Yeah, I thought so." Silence fell between them again, and as the smiles slipped away they each relaxed a little more. "You should get some sleep before that recital tonight. You don't want to sit through it with a headache." Even though Reba nodded her head, neither one loosened their grip.
"Will you stay for a little longer? Just in case the toast comes up." Brock nodded his head, scooting back a little to lean against the footboard to emphasize his agreement. Reba smiled again, moving over a bit to give him more room. She curled her body around their hands, lying in the middle of the bed.
"I'll be here when you wake up." Reba gave him another thumbs-up, her eyes slipping shut. Brock watched her for a minute, listening as her breathing evened out. He waited by her side until twenty minutes before he had to go home to get ready. Kissing her forehead, Brock made sure she would be warm and then left the house.
I don't care if your hair's a mess from the night before
Your head aches and you're fussing and cussing the sun
Make-up you've had on your face is now all over your pillow case
And you're curled up under the covers into a ball
But you'll always be beautiful
You'll always be beautiful to me
Days after the recital and Reba's birthday, Brock was heading to Reba's house for a family dinner. He was in charge of bringing the ice, and just like all the other times, he wasn't going to let anyone down. He pulled into the drive-way, reminding himself to take a look at the freezer. Apparently, it had stopped working yesterday afternoon. Brock walked into the kitchen through the back door, announcing that the ice had arrived. His announcement, though, was heard by no one. He set the bag in the sink, hoping it wouldn't melt by the time dinner was finished. From the looks of things, no one had started cooking, and it was already five thirty. Brock's eyebrows came together as he left the kitchen in search of Reba. Maybe she was working late again, and no one had managed to tell him that dinner would be a little later than usual? Brock darted up the stairs. His kids obviously weren't home because the place had an eerie silence to it, something Reba would have enjoyed for a few minutes.
"Reba? Cheyenne? Anyone here?" Brock shouted down the hallway, not wanting to have to look in each room. Reba's voice softly called out to him, letting him know she was in her bathroom. Brock eased closer to her bedroom, stopping at the doorway. "Can I come in?" Reba's body appeared in the doorway of her bathroom, and they stared at each other for a few minutes. Neither one really wanting to talk or move. They chose to just stare and enjoy the space the room allowed between them. It was then that Brock noticed the strain on Reba's body. Something wasn't right. She turned away from him, walking back into her bathroom. He took a chance, and followed her. He stopped when he saw Reba leaned over the sink counter, her eyes glaring into the mirror as her fingers traced several places along her face. "What are you doing?" Brock had a clue as to what she was thinking, but he prayed he was wrong.
"Oh, I'm checking my make-up." Reba smiled faintly at him, and backed away from the mirror. She tried to pass him, but Brock wouldn't budge from his spot. "Excuse me." Reba tried again, but Brock's body practically blocked the entire doorway, leaving her no room to squeeze past him.
"You're wearing make-up?" Brock continued to stare at Reba's face, trying to see what wasn't there. If she had any make-up on at all, it had to be very light colors or something that blended in to the exact color of her skin. Reba sighed, shaking her head. She turned away from Brock, not enjoying the fact that she was trapped in such a small space. "Then why would you be checking your make-up?" Brock wanted to leave her alone, figuring that nothing was wrong, but he needed to hear her say it. Reba sighed, fighting back the tears as they threatened to fall and betray her.
"Uh…it's faded away?" She hoped he would get bored with this conversation and leave her alone, but she also knew that Brock was trying to be more of a good guy and less of the jerk he had been for so long. Brock folded his arms across his chest, and she knew he didn't believe a word of it. "Fine, I'll tell you what's wrong…but it's nothing serious. I can handle it on my own, ok?" Brock nodded his head, his arms dropping to his side. "So, no playing the 'knight in shining armor' role, ok?" Once again, Brock nodded his head, wishing she'd just tell him already. Reba took a deep breath. "Ok. Well…This morning…uh…I was trying to…this kid…ugh!" Reba started to pace in the bathroom, and rolled her eyes as she sat down on the side of her bath tub. Brock could feel his fear and concern for her rising with each second that passed, and he prayed she'd hurry up and tell him. "This kid, who's been outta college for about a year, wanted to rent a house with his two buddies. My boss suggested they come to me. They saw me, started laughing, and told Mr. Smith that I was too old to know what a hip and cool house looked like. I was so embarrassed! I guess I've just been thinking about it too much today. It got to me a little, but I'm fine now. I can handle this." She glanced at Brock, and she had to do a double take. Her eyes squinted and her mouth fell open in frustration. Brock was holding back laughter, and when he noticed she'd caught his lousy attempt, he let it go, filling the room with an echoing laugh. Reba stood up, and smacked him on the chest, pushing her way past him and out of her room.
Brock quickly followed her, calling out her name to get her to stop walking away from him. "I didn't mean to laugh, I promise. I mean, compared to what I was thinking happened…it's funny. Come on, Reba, stop, please. Let's talk about it." Reba turned around, pointing a finger in his face. She wasn't surprised to find him so close behind her.
"You are a jerk! Just when I thought you were the guy I married so long ago…you go and laugh at something that's not funny!" Brock instantly stopped laughing, trying to hold back his surprise at her words. She hadn't brought up their early marriage years in so long he'd thought she'd forgotten how good they were. He smiled sweetly at her, and when she sighed, releasing all the anger she had with it, he pulled her into a hug. "You're still a jerk." She said into his chest, causing him to chuckle a little bit.
"Well, you don't seem to mind half the time." Reba rolled her eyes, pushing away from him, and sitting down on the couch. Brock watched her for a second, knowing she needed a best friend right now. He joined her on the couch, reaching for her hand and holding it tightly in his. "Hey, those kids were stupid. They'll learn in time how big a mistake they made when they end up with a house that has a new problem every week. They'll start to think… 'Hey, maybe we should have gone with that old lady. She wouldn't have sold us this house.' …and you will get to laugh at them." Reba rolled her eyes, hoping he had a better way to make her feel better because this wasn't helping her at all. She pulled her hand away from his, folding her hands together and resting her head in them.
"Thanks, Brock. It's good to know I'll get a laugh later in life." He frowned at her, finally realizing how much she had thought about this. She must have had a bad day. Otherwise, she wouldn't have thought more than twice about those kids. He pulled her body into his, gently rubbing her arm furthest from him.
"Hey, you're beautiful, Reba. Don't let a bunch of idiots tell you otherwise. They obviously don't know what beauty is even when it's pointed out to them. If you want, I'll find them right now and…" Reba stopped him, standing up as she walked away from him. Brock was confused at first. He thought he was saying the right things. Reba turned to face him just before she left the living room for the kitchen.
"You said you wouldn't be my knight in shining armor, Brock. I'm not some damsel in distress. I'll be over this by morning. So don't worry." She started to leave, but Brock had managed to get her attention again. She kept her back to him, hoping if she needed it she could make a quick getaway.
"I'm not trying to be your knight in shining armor, Reba. I know you can take care of yourself and that you don't need me, but that's the best thing about having a friend. Even when you are capable of doing it yourself they still want to do their part. They still want to help you. That's all I'm trying to do." Brock stood up, himself, taking a few steps to her. He wanted to hold her until all her thoughts about her day were gone, but she wasn't willing to let him in right now. He'd just have to break past her wall, and for the first time since her walls were put up, Brock was determined to get rid of them. "All I want is for you to be happy just like any other friend would want." Reba had turned around to face him, and she stared at him with a distant look. She knew they were friends. They had always been friends, no matter how heated their arguments had gotten.
"Well, I am happy, Brock. I was just thrown for a loop that's all. Now, you brought the ice, right?" He nodded his head, telling her it was in the kitchen. She thanked him before disappearing from his sight. Brock sat down on the couch for a moment, thinking quickly on how he could make her feel better. With an idea popping into his head, Brock rushed to the shelves with the photo albums on it. He was glad Reba liked to make these books. He grabbed one from long ago and a more recent one, and headed back to the couch. He turned the pages, finding two perfect pictures. Jumping up, he ran into the kitchen, slowing down when Reba looked up at him. Brock smiled at her setting the pictures down side by side. Reba sighed, getting ready to say something when Brock stopped her.
"Just humor me for a minute, Reba." She let out a frustrated moan, folded her arms, and waited for him to continue. Brock gave her an appreciative smile before pointing to the pictures. Reba looked at them and then back at him. They were both of her, and if he wanted them she wouldn't really care. He just needed to ask her already so she could get dinner started. "What do you see when you look at these pictures?" He watched her, ready for his idea to start its magic.
"I see me from our first Christmas as a couple in that one and then this one is a picture from last Christmas." Brock shook his head, pushing the pictures closer to her. Reba picked them up and watched as Brock moved around the counter to stand next to her.
"No, Reba, what do you see? Look a little harder, please." Reba sighed, figuring he wouldn't leave her alone until he had made his point. She held the first picture in the air, closer to her face, and let out an annoyed groan when Brock stepped behind her to lift up her other hand. She dropped her arms, looking over her shoulder at him.
"Will you just tell me what you want? I have to start dinner or no one's eating tonight." As horrible as not eating sounded, Brock had something more important to worry about, and shook his head, gently grabbing Reba's arms again. He brought them back up, and Reba turned around again to look at the pictures. She took a deep breath, and studied the differences in the pictures of herself. Brock waited patiently, stepping to the side of Reba again, and watched as her face changed with each new discovery.
"Talk to me, Reba. What do you see?" He glanced between her and the pictures, completely ready to tell her what he saw. Reba glanced up at him, but only for a second before tears filled her eyes again.
"You know exactly what I see, Brock. The years haven't been all that great. Look at the bags under my eyes and the lines around my mouth." Reba stared at the more recent picture, taking a moment to really focus on it. "You can even see a little bit of gray in my hair. My eyes…they look so tired…and bloodshot, and I can tell…just by looking at my skin...how strained I am. Brock, why are you showing me these pictures? It's only emphasizing what those kids said. This isn't helping." She began to hand him back the pictures with one hand as the other quickly wiped at her cheeks. Brock smiled shortly. It was finally his turn. He set the pictures down on the table so she could still see them, and stared straight at her. Reba folded her arms protectively around her, waiting on him to say something. He jabbed his finger onto the counter next to the pictures and Reba looked down at them, not enjoying what he was putting her through. She was just about to look away when he started talking.
"Well, I guess you are right about all that." He paused and smiled when she scoffed at him for his comment. He started again, knowing exactly what he wanted to do. "But…what I see is something entirely different." Reba glanced at him, confused for a moment. He motioned towards the pictures, and waited for her eyes to return to them. He stepped closer to her, wrapping an arm around the back of her shoulders, and kept his eyes locked on her face. "I see the same woman in both. I see the same bright, loving, deep blue eyes, the same wonderfully contagious, sweet smile, and same beautiful hair. Granted, you might have toned down the hairspray a bit, I still see that same red curly hair." Reba smiled a little, allowing Brock to know she hadn't missed his joke about her big hair. His smile grew as he took a moment to watch her fingers dance across the pictures. He returned his eyes to her face, enjoying the small smile on her lips and the spark slowly forming back into her eyes.
"I also see the same fiery, passionate, stubborn, considerate, strong woman now as I did then. Sweet Heart, your appearance may have changed with time, but who you are…what truly makes you beautiful…will always be there. It will never change. So, if you ever feel like you did today then you call me. I'll be by your side in no time and I will tell you all of this all over again. However many times you want me to, I will do it. Because I think you are so beautiful that you scared the crap out of those kids today. Because you should never have to feel like that again. Because I love you. Because…" Brock was cut off when Reba's finger covered his lips. He smiled under the light weight, glad to see happiness in her eyes again. The woman from their first Christmas flashed before him, and he realized how true his words had been. In his eyes, she hadn't changed at all. She let her finger slip away from his lips, wrapping her arms around his middle and pulling him into a hug.
"Thank you, Brock. I really needed that." She paused, thinking for a moment. Brock sighed with relief and wrapped his arms lovingly around her, resting his chin lightly on the top of her head. "I guess I do need you sometimes, huh?" Brock chuckled slightly, feeling her pull him closer to her. "I'm glad you came so early. The only problem with that is the ice is probably melted." Brock glanced into the sink, closing his eyes at the bag of water. How could ice melt so quickly?
"I'll get some more before everyone shows up. Do you need help with dinner?" Reba shook her head, and finally pushed away from Brock. They both took a deep breath, turning their bodies towards the counter. Silence filled the room for a little bit. Brock stared at the pictures, proud that he could have helped her, and Reba played with the vegetables she would be cutting up for dinner. She wasn't thinking about dinner though. Her mind was on what Brock had told her, and she wondered how much he had meant. She glanced at him, figuring she would never know. He didn't even seem to realize what he had admitted to her. She sighed, getting his attention. He smiled at her before walking backwards to the back door. "I'll go get that ice now. See you in a few minutes." Reba waved as he shut the door, and shook away the mood filling the kitchen. She needed to focus on dinner. Van would be home any minute and she wasn't up to listening to him complaining.
So baby don't you ever doubt when father time starts
Drawing out those lines around your eyes
Cause you'll always be
Yeah, you'll always be beautiful
You'll always be beautiful to me
Yeah, you'll always be
Beautiful to me
Later that night after most of the family had left or gone to bed, Brock and Reba sat on the couch, each one with a small sleeping child on their lap, as the last of the movie finished. They sat in silence for a minute as the credits rolled. Reba sighed, still thinking about her moment with Brock before dinner. He had been so sweet. Brock looked around him, trying to find a way to get the kids in bed without waking them up. He cleared his throat, whispering Reba's name to get her attention. "Henry and I should probably be going. Do you need help with Elizabeth?" Reba shook her head, gently pulling Elizabeth up so she could carry her. Brock did the same with Henry, and followed Reba as she stood up.
"Henry could stay the night here. I know he tends to wake up when he's in the car, or maybe that's just when Barbra Jean drives?" Reba pondered that thought for a moment, thinking that no one could sleep when Barbra Jean was behind the wheel. Brock broke her train of thought, accepting her offer. She smiled at him, and led the way to Cheyenne and Van's old room. They each laid a sleeping child on the bed, and exited the room as quietly as possible. "Hey, can we talk for a minute?" Reba asked as they started for the stairs. Brock, once again, agreed, and followed Reba to the couch.
"Are you ok? Are you thinking about the idiots again because you shouldn't be? You are beautiful. Don't make me call Barbra Jean back over here." Reba smiled at him, shaking her head no. He relaxed a little, and waited for her to talk.
"Uh, I just wanted to thank you for what you said today. It was really sweet, and it helped a lot." Reba paused, seeing a smile spread across his lips. She took a deep breath, relaxing into the couch cushions. Brock watched her, the tension in the room staying at a minimum. "You said something…and I'm probably just over thinking it, but I need to be sure." She paused again, and bit her bottom lip. Brock gave her a confused look, but remained opened to what she wanted to say.
"Is there something that you don't believe?" Reba shook her head, quickly dismissing that idea. "I did mean everything I said, Reba." Brock added, making sure any doubts that she might have would be put to rest. Reba smiled at him shortly, and sat up a little bit. She looked into his eyes, and braced herself for anything that might come from her next question.
"Even that you love me?" Brock was shocked and a little confused at first. He didn't remember telling her that he loved her. Maybe it had slipped out? Maybe he could just tell her that he meant it as a friend, but that wouldn't be fair to her. He was trying to be less of a jerk and had managed to be honest from the time his divorce to Barbra Jean was announced until now. This was his big test. He knew it was. He had to tell her the truth, and watching as her face changed from fear to embarrassment to defensive only made it harder to lie to her. "Uh, just forget it, Brock. It's no big deal. I guess I'm over emotional today." Reba stood up, her body tense with nerves and humiliation. Brock stood up, gently capturing her upper arm with his hand.
"I did mean that, Reba. I didn't know I had told you, and that's the only reason I reacted like that." He let go of her arm when she turned around to face him. Hope was written throughout her eyes, and it fueled Brock to continue. If he was lucky, she might feel the same about him. Although he doubted it, Brock prayed she would tell him that she loved him, too. "I do love you, Reba, and I don't mean as just a friend or the mother of my children. I've been in love with you for as long as I can remember. I've done some horrible things to you in the past, Reba, and I understand that you don't love me anymore. I really do want to stay friends so I hope this doesn't make it awkward between us." Brock took a deep breath, staring at Reba's face for any signs of change.
Reba took a moment to allow his words to fully sink in before she said anything back to him. Could she afford to tell him her own secret? Would it be hypocritical of her to lie to him when he was so open with her? She hadn't hurt him nearly as much as he had hurt her so it couldn't be hypocritical. She could ask for a few days to think about what he was saying, and then work up her courage to tell him how she felt if she truly wanted to do that. At this moment, she was certain she could get anything from him. He would be willing to do anything it took to keep her friendship at the least. As much as she wanted to hide and protect her heart, his eyes were begging for the answer that she could give him. He wanted to hear her say that she loved him, too, and deep down she knew it would be easy. She only had to open her mouth and say it, but easy didn't necessarily mean simple. So much could happen if she admitted to loving him. Did she want to turn up the heat now that the water had stopped boiling? Maybe it would be best if she gave it some time? She sighed, sitting back down on the couch. Brock followed her lead, taking one of her hands into both of his.
"Whatever you are thinking, Reba, is ok. We'll work through it. If it's awkward then we'll have to talk about it. Work through it because I can't watch us drift apart again. It nearly cost me everything the first time. I won't let that happen a second time." Brock waited, his heart pounding in his chest. If he had had any smidge of hope she loved him, too, it was gone now. He knew she would ask for a few days to think, and he would have no choice but to let her have it, and then she would tell him friendship was all she could offer him. It would be too awkward for them to stay friends. He sighed, trying to keep his composure. "Talk to me, Reba, please." She looked at him, and thought as quickly as she could.
"If we do this Brock, we have to tell the kids. Let it sink in with them before we do anything. I have to make sure Barbra Jean is ok with it. You can't change your mind later on and start lying and cheating again. I have to be completely sure that you won't hurt me again. We have to understand how each other feels and keep our fighting down to a minimum. I mean, I know we'll have our arguments, but we can't let them control us." Reba stood up, moving to stand behind the couch. She sighed, taking a second to catch her breath. Brock turned around to face her, wanting to show her how much he wanted this friendship to last. He didn't completely understand what she was talking about, but he would wait until she was finished talking before asking questions. Reba looked Brock straight in the eyes and spoke again. "Do you see how much comes with us being together? Are you sure we could handle what comes with it? The good and the bad? Can we actually make it forever this time? Because if we can't…I don't want to start." Brock nodded his head, taking a moment so both of them could breathe. It hadn't fully sunk in when he turned away from her, and Reba had to wonder if he even knew what she was telling him. She hesitantly returned to his side, grabbing a hold of his hand.
Brock glanced at her, giving her a small smile. Reba watched him, waiting for him to answer her. Finally, after several minutes of being quiet, Brock opened his mouth. "I don't understand, Reba. What do we being friends have to do with the kids? They already know that we're friends. Unless you're talking about telling them that I still love you, I just don't understand." Reba took a deep breath, and closed her eyes. He thought she was talking about being just friends. She licked her lips, ready to tell him how she felt when it hit him. "Wait…are you saying you love me…and want to be with me?" Reba smiled at him, glad he had figured it out. She nodded her head, and watched the excitement form on his face. She quickly raised her hands, stopping him from going any further. He closed his mouth, and showed her he was listening. She sighed; wishing excitement was all they had to feel right now.
"You haven't answered me, Brock. Can we make it forever this time? Can we handle everything?" Brock thought back on her words, and took in to account everything she had said. He realized how scary this was for her, and calmed down a little. He pulled her into a hug, rubbing her arm softly.
"Yes, we can, and we will." Brock kissed the top of her head, holding tightly onto her. Reba relaxed into his arms, settling her fears for now. They had a lot to talk about, but she knew it would have to wait until tomorrow. They were both tired, and he still had a long drive before him. She sighed, wrapping her arms around his middle.
"I love you, too, Brock, and I want this to work, too." Brock smiled, excited for what his future held. They were quiet for a few minutes, completely content on staying like they were. Reba pulled away from him, but rested her hands in his. "You should probably get home. It's late, and I know you're tired." He nodded his agreement, and they both stood up. Reba walked him to his truck, letting go of his hand so he could climb inside. He shut the door, and rolled down the window. Reba smiled at him, stepping closer to the truck.
"We'll talk more about this tomorrow, ok? We'll figure everything out then." Reba nodded her head, and they shared their 'I love yous' again before Brock started his vehicle. Reba stepped away, only to be called back. She smiled when Brock gently pulled her head closer to his. "I do love you, Beautiful, and I promise I won't screw it up this time." Their lips were inches apart and his whispered breath tickled slightly, and they both smiled when their lips finally touched. The kiss lasted for a few minutes, as their hunger for one another swirled in their stomachs more and more. Finally, they pulled apart from one another, each failing to catch their breath.
"I love you, too, Handsome, and I'll keep you to that promise." She gave him a tender kiss before stepping away, and letting him pull out of her drive way. He waited in the street until she was safely inside her house before driving away. He couldn't wait to prove to her how much he meant his promise. He would make sure they grew old together. Brock smiled, his bottled excitement finally shooting through his body. Tomorrow would be the start of their happily ever after.