Disclaimer: I do not own any part of 7th Heaven; this includes, but is not limited to: its characters, settings, names, and storylines. I do, however, own any characters you do not recognize and my own story.
Note: May 2004 is the only AU part of the story; everything else is the same it was in the show, except for that Kevin never quit the police force
Summary: After nearly twenty years of partnership, the Kinkirks and the Hamptons have shared a different kind of partnership. Aside from working with each other's spouses, they have watched their children grown up together side by side, sharing many secrets. All was well usntil tragedy strikes, resulting in the revelation of unsettling truths.
"Do you, Roxanne Richardson, take Chandler Hampton to be your lawfully wedded husband; to have and to hold from this day forward, for better or for worse, for richer, for poorer, in sickness and in health, to love and to cherish; from this day forward, until death do you part?"
Roxanne Richardson's body was plastered with chills as Reverend Eric Camden spoke before her. Her eyes were glued on the handsome man whose hands grasped onto hers. She could feel her hands drench with sweat as he gripped onto them and his loving eyes gazed into hers. Never in a million years could she have projected that she would be marrying such a great man. She didn't deserve him, but yet he loved her and she could never understand how he could. After all they had gone through over the last year; with the loss of his father, wanting to get married so quickly and her doubts, and then their getting back together when Paris and Chandler broke up when her ex-husband returned.
Her thoughts raced as she started to second guess herself. Over the last months, since she had agreed to marry Chandler, she had felt doubtful at so many instances in time. She had almost backed out on more than one occasion. One little detail had pushed the wedding up by many months, and it was the reason she could not hold back now. For the first time since she had been on center stage, her eyes wandered off of Chandler's. She looked down at her puffy dress where a small bulge existed. It wasn't visible unless one knew what they were looking for, but Roxanne knew it was there quite well. She was pregnant, with a minister's baby.
At first she had considered skipping town; she could have easily made up an excuse to leave. There, she could have had the baby, given it up for adoption, and possibly have returned someday. The more and more she had thought about it, the more implausible that plan became. She had her father, and she could never just "leave" him.
The other option she had considered, and would have done, if it had not been for a certain someone. Roxanne's eyes wandered away from her stomach and set on the crowd. The church was packed to its max; many of the guests she did not even know. Naturally, the majority were parishioners who had come to see their associate pastor's final words as a single man. She saw several of them cup their hands and whisper to the person next to them. That was the exact reason she did not want it to be so; Chandler's reputation was on the line.
He was a pastor of a Protestant church. Protestants preached abstinence until marriage. How much worse could it get when your pastor's fiancée was pregnant? She couldn't imagine being in Chandler's shoes, and he wouldn't have to be in those shoes if it hadn't been for Lucy.
Her eyes drifted over to the Camden's pew, which included Kevin and Lucy. Annie, Ruthie, Sam, David, Simon, and Cecilia were all there. Lucy's face was glowing back at her. If only she hadn't gone out with Lucy that last time, Roxanne knew that she wouldn't be standing in the place she was right then and there. Was it stupidity, or fate? She and Lucy had gone for pizza, and the smell of the sauce had made her nauseous; Lucy had guessed spot on.
Lucy had been nothing but support. She had encouraged Roxanne to face her greatest fear; to tell Chandler. And she had done just that.
Looking away from a glowing Lucy, Roxanne's eyes fixed back on Chandler's face. He was a man with a heart full of gold, and she couldn't have ever asked for a better man. When she had told him, his white face had turned as pale as snowflakes. Just when she had expected him to stomp up and leave her, he had stretched his wide arms out and scooped her into them. He had told her everything would be all right; not to worry. Her heart had thumped faster and faster as he promised to marry her.
The silence had deafened the church, and Roxanne could feel the hundreds of restless eyes setting on her, waiting for her to say the words. She could see in her peripheral vision that Reverend Camden's face had turned an olive color, like he was having his doubts. Chandler's loving smile had begun to droop downward, when she uttered the words, "I do."
~Eighteen Years Later… September 2022~
Summer has come and passed
The innocent can never last
Wake me up when September ends
~ Green Day, Wake Me Up When September Ends
The warm beating September sun bled into seventeen-year-old Savannah Amélie Kinkirk's face, bringing her to consciousness a whole two minutes before her alarm clock was set to go off. She grunted, still lying in her bed. Her arms stretched and she rubbed her fists against her eyeballs, loosening the matter that had built inside of her eyes from the previous night's slumber.
Before she could realize what day it was, she felt her cell phone buzzing next to her in bed. There had not been a day since she had gotten her cell phone that she had gone without it by her side at night. Her cell phone was her lifesaver; it was her alarm, her calculator, and most importantly, her connection to the rest of the world. She considered her cell phone to be her must precious birthday present, which she had received for her fourteenth birthday; many years after the rest of the kids in her class had received their phone calls. "Savannah, sweetie, you aren't anyone else's daughter. You are ours," she had heard over one million times. "And we shall decide what is best for you."
She knew her parents meant well, but sometimes they could be a little bit too power-crazy. Fortunately for her, she had two younger sisters and a brother who also got to live in the same footsteps as she. And luckily for Savannah, she only had one year left of it all.
Her phone buzzed again, and this time she knew it wasn't the alarm. She grabbed her cell phone and flipped it open. Ditto; she still had a flip phone. It happened to be her mother's old phone. "It lasted me for twelve years, Savannah, and it's still in perfect condition. That's better than most modern phones. Everyone else has to get a new phone every year. See, sometimes older technology is better." Sometimes her mother could be so oblivious to the world around her.
"Hey, girl ~ =) can you believe it's the day? We're official seniors! So, what are you wearing today? – Chloe," Savannah read the text message from her best friend. With that, she stretched her legs out long and tall, sitting up she glanced across the room at the empty perfectly made bed. She looked down at her own purple pajama pants. What am I wearing today? It was the first year she had not decided on what she was wearing beforehand. Here she was, a senior, and she hadn't taken the liberty of picking out an outfit to wear to her first day of senior year. Surely all of the other seniors would be all "dress to impress." Not she; she was going as Savannah Amélie Kinkirk. She had no desire to "impress" anyone. After all, she did not have to; not like other girls felt the "need" to impress guys at school.
"You're naturally beautiful," his soothing voice had mended her heart. "You don't have to try to be beautiful, baby; you just have to be you. Not many girls can honestly say that." She had blushed so heatedly when he had said those words, and with those, she could never fall out of love with him.
Her phone buzzed again, and her heart leaped a meter, hoping it was from who she thought it was. "Hey, love, hope you're up and at 'em. It's your big day :-)…I can't wait to see you :-) I love you!" She read the last two to three words over and over for the repeating seconds. In her heart, she never wanted to stop reading and hearing them inside her head. There was something unexplainable about those three words that lit up her heart every time with a feeling she only got when he would tell her that he loved her. Nobody else, not even her parents, could give her that feeling love and security.
She knew that her parents had been rejoiced when she and Aaron had started dating. Although, they had never officially "announced" that they were a couple, it had just become an understanding. They hadn't had to announce it. Aaron had been a part of her life for as long as she could remember. She couldn't picture her life without him or Chloe. The three of them had been thicker than blood since they were little. Aaron was a year younger than she and Chloe, but that didn't change anything.
Aaron and Chloe had spent most of their childhood at the Kinkirk household. However, they started seeing less of Aaron when they had entered middle school, and he was still in elementary. That was the same year Savannah's aunt and uncle had moved back to Glen Oak with their twin boys, who happened to be the same age as Aaron.
Her aunt and uncle, both OB-GYNs, had started their own practice in Glen Oak. Now, they owned the main obstetrician-gynecology office in town. For the most part, between the two of them and Savannah's great-uncle, they saw all of the pregnant women in town. On top of that, her great-uncle's daughter, Erica, was studying to become a gynecologist at Columbia. In three years when she graduated, she hoped to join the team.
Her Uncle Matt and Aunt Sarah were the only blood relatives she saw regularly. All of her grandparents were deceased. Her father's dad had died long before she was born; her dad had only been a teenager himself. She had met her mother's father, but she couldn't remember him at all. He had passed away when she was only two. Her mother had been pregnant with her fourteen-year-old sister, Krystinah, at the time. She and her cousin, Charlie, were the only grandchildren her maternal grandfather had really gotten the chance to meet.
As for Charlie, she couldn't help but feel for him. His mother and father had separated for the second time since his birth when he was only three, and it was the final time. Mary, his mother and Savannah's aunt, had walked out with one of his sisters, and was never heard from again. She left Carlos with Charlie and one of the twins, Crista. Charlie and Crista were raised by their father in Puerto Rico, although Carlos made sure to keep in contact with the children's maternal relatives in Glen Oak. That was better than anything Mary had ever done. None of them had heard the slightest word from her or her other daughter, Jenna, since she had walked out; not even Savannah's mother or her Uncle Matt.
She and Charlie had become close friends over the years. Charlie had chosen to attend Crawford University out of all of the colleges in the world he could have chosen from. "I want to be close to the family I barely got to see while I was growing up, thanks to my mother," he had told her. "And you, Savannah. You're my cousin…on my dad's side I don't have any cousins my age." He had saved up the money to get an apartment of his own and was a frequent guest at the Kinkirk home.
Savannah knew that her mother was highly offended by her oldest sister's lack of effort to contact her. "If she were to call anyone, it'd be me, right? We shared a room for like, eighteen years! I can't believe she wouldn't call me!" She had ranted for hours and hours to anyone who would listen, including Savannah's father; Roxanne and Chandler, Chloe's parents; Sandy, Aaron's mom; or any a random church parishioner who had known her sister and her when they were younger.
On occasion, Savannah would try and picture her mother as a teenager. She tried to compare the family her mother had grown up to, to Savannah's brother and sisters. Her mother had had seven children in her family. There were only four in hers, and Savannah couldn't imagine there being anymore. Already she felt like she was cramped for space, even though there were plenty of rooms left in the house. She still shared a room with her sister, even though she was well aware that the attic had once been used as a bedroom. Once she had asked her mother if she could move up there. Her mother had turned as pale, like she had just seen a ghost. "No, no, and don't you ever ask to again!" she had snapped in an uncanny voice. And Savannah had made sure not to.
The last to have lived up there, to her knowledge, was her youngest Aunt Ruthie. Savannah knew that her Aunt Ruthie was a sore subject, and her mother didn't like to talk about what had happened to her. The room was in the same condition as it had been the last night Ruthie had slept in it. Savannah didn't know the whole story; she had only been three when it had happened. She only knew she was three because it had also been her first day of pre-school.
She could vaguely remember lots of crying, and the police had wrapped the yellow "Crime Scene" tape they used on television on cop shows around the house. Her mother hadn't let her come over to see her grandma that day; she had to stay home.
That was back when they still lived in the small house behind the parsonage; she had lived there until she was six, the year the twins were born. It was also the same year her grandmother was diagnosed with cancer. Her young uncles, also twins, were only eleven at the time. Her parents ended up selling the house and moving in with her grandmother. Despite her grandmother's prognosis of eighteen months, she lived for seven more years, having passed away two weeks after seeing Sam and David graduate. Two weeks later, her father's mother died in a fatal car crash, leaving Savannah and her siblings without grandparents.
She still had lots of aunts and uncles; her Uncle Ben moved to the jungles of Africa shortly after his mother's death. He insisted that he had no further reason to stay in Buffalo. He had only been there for his mother. Savannah wasn't sure what he was doing in Africa, but he sent her and her siblings the most expensive gives every Christmas. As for her aunt on her father's side, Patty Mary, she was married to Robbie Palmer. Savannah knew there was a history there, though she didn't know the whole story, her mother had always told Savannah, "I'll explain when you're older." Now that she was older, she still didn't know the whole story. She had a thirteen-year-old cousin named Mason that she had only met on two occasions. Patty Mary and Robbie didn't come around often; apparently they were "traveling the world."
Sam and David disappeared shortly after graduation; they basically lost touch completely. The only out of town relative who kept in contact regularly was Simon. He and his wife, Cecilia, had moved out East to "get away" from the madness of Glen Oak. From what Savannah had picked up on over the years, her uncle had killed a boy, and even though it was an accident, whenever he returned to Glen Oak the memories haunted him. So, now, he, his wife, and their fourteen-year-old daughter, Celia, lived as far away as they could get. He was still extremely close with his brother and sister; he would call at least once a day.
There were times she wished her family was closer, but she was grateful for the family she did have. Her Uncle Matt was one of the funniest persons she knew. When she couldn't talk to her mom or dad about something, she knew she could go over there, and he would sort everything out for her. That was just the way he was. And whenever she had questions that her mother wouldn't answer for her, he usually would. Though, there was that occasion, he would respond, "I think that's a story for your mom to tell you." Generally, when it involved Mary he would say that. Savannah hadn't had the nerve to ask him about Ruthie; she saw the way he tensed up with her mentioning of Mary, she didn't want to his reaction to Ruthie.
Her phone buzzed in her pocket again. "Hellooo? Savvv…You up?" she read Chloe's snide tone in the text message.
Sighing, Savannah began typing rapidly. "Yup, I'm up…wearing what I usually wear…jeans and a T-shirt!"
Almost instantly after she had sent the text, she received a reply. "Whatever…lame…" She rolled her eyes, knowing Chloe didn't mean to come off as rude, but that was Chloe. Somehow, she had no concept of how tone could be perceived so incorrectly via text, and that was the way it was.
Giving her friend a break, she changed text windows and replied to Aaron. "I love you too. =) Do you need a ride to school today?"
Knowing that he wasn't the fastest at texting, she got up and slipped into a pair of jeans and grabbed her Kennedy High School Volleyball T-shirt that she had gotten her freshman year. It was the only year she had gone out for any sport. Since then, she had been involved merely in clubs and other activities, such as National Honor Society and Debate. Sports were not her forte; her uncle often joked that she had inherited her mother's "athletic" gene.
Just as she had finished getting dressed and ripping through her knotted hair, she heard her phone buzz from across the room. She had started to walk toward it when Krysti stormed in. Her hair was perfectly straightened; she wore designer jeans and a newly purchased pink silk top. Black streams of freshly done makeup were running down her fair face.
"Krys, what's wrong?" Savannah immediately reacted, walking toward her sister and completely forgetting her cell phone lying on the edge of her bed.
"It's Mom and Dad!" Krysti cried, flopping herself on her bed and hugging her pillow tightly. "They're downstairs screaming. I think they're getting a divorce!"
Savannah's heart dropped, knowing her sister had to be overreacting. Krysti had always been the "drama queen" in the family, and she was always jumping to conclusions. Mom and Dad would never get a divorce, Savannah assured herself. She knew that her father's long and never-ending hours on the police force irked her mother; and they would frequently argue with it. Her mother would demand that he take more time for her and their family. And even though she and Roxanne, not only Chloe's mom, but his partner, were close friends, Savannah's mother often complained that he spent more time with Roxanne than he did with his own wife. Then, generally, he would argue back, that she spent more time with Roxanne's husband, Chandler, who happened to be the co-pastor of their church. The same church that Savannah's grandfather had preached at for nearly thirty years before he passed away, handing it down to Savannah's mother.
"Don't be ridiculous—," Savannah began as her youngest sister walked in still dressed in her pajamas. The pre-teen's long blonde hair was still in knots; it was apparent she had not brushed it. "Alannah, why are you not dressed?" Savannah asked. "It's your first day of middle school! You should be excited!"
The not-so-little girl curled her lip and sat on the edge of Krysti's bed. "My tummy hurts," she stated. "I think I'm sick. I don't want to go to middle school." She leant against Krysti.
Savannah placed her hand, observing Alannah. This was the girl who had been boasting for months, before school had been released last summer, that, "I'm going to be in middle school next year!" Here she was, having cold feet.
Another blond figure stood at the doorway; he was shorter than Alannah, but there was no denying that they were fraternal twins. Unlike his sister, he was fully dressed and his hair was combed. Let alone, that set that day apart from all others. In general, Zachariah was the last of the siblings to be up and ready to go. Usually they were dragging him out of bed, or dumping water on his head to get him up.
"So, did you guys hear the news?" the eleven-year-old boy stuck his nose up high, welcoming himself into the girls' room. "Mom and Dad are getting a divorce."
Author's Note: So yeah, I have a million and one (okay, like seven) other stories to write, but I'd just rather start a new story. :~) Reviews? =) What I like about this story, is it focuses mostly on the Kinkirks and Hamptons, and leaves mostly everyone else out – except for Matt and Sarah, because I can't write a story without them. =( Well, I can, but you get the point. And before anyone asks: this is not related to Outside Heaven or any of my other stories.