A Storm Is Coming
Warnings: This story is very very AU and OOC especially early on, Language, H/C, Angst
Disclaimer: I don't own the Partridge Family and am in no way affiliated with said tv show. This fic is only for the enjoyment of the reader.
Author's Notes: After watching this Lifetime film I just thought that even though it would be an AU, it just screamed The Partridge Family, so that's how this particular story was born. Now keep in mind that it is an AU so things will be different, but I hope you all like it just the same. Please read and review!
Summary: Shirley Collins' world is turned upside down when her four year old son Keith and his father die in a boating accident. 14 years later, by chance Shirley sees a home movie that features none other than her supposedly dead husband and son. How far will Shirley go to get her son back?
Chapter One: The Accident
The sky was clear, the weather warm. The sun was shining brightly on the backyard deck of a house in San Pueblo California where a young, blond haired lady was seated in a chair holding a young girl while watching a small, dark haired boy painting a picture.
The young lady was Mrs. Shirley Collins. She was married to Mr. Louis Collins but even though they had two beautiful children, 4 year old Keith Collins and 1 and a half year old Laurie Collins, Shirley now believed that her marriage to Louis had been a mistake. Louis was almost always down at the harbor sailing, or buying something across the world; his last buying venture was a small dive shop in the Keys.
In fact Shirley was in the midst of trying to get a divorce from Louis. So far she had custody of both children but their father was allowed to take them for the weekend every first Saturday of every month. It was known to Shirley that he didn't like that arrangement but when the divorce was final, Shirley was prepared to let Louis see Keith and Laurie every other week; the man just had to be patient!
Closing her eyes Shirley took in the small breeze that rustled her hair. Saturday; Louis was on his way to pick up Keith. It was the older man's scheduled day to spend with his son. Shirley could tell that Keith was looking forward to it. He always liked spending time with his father; going sailing with the older man or playing the guitar with him. Even though he was young and small, Keith was really picking up on the guitar.
"See...I can't do it mommy." Keith said, putting his blue paint brush down on the deck. He had been attempting to paint a picture. All he had to do was stay in the lines and use the correct colors, but he was having trouble staying within the lines, but he was only four years old so it was understandable.
"Yes you can honey. Just take it nice and slow." Shirley replied, sitting up in the chair, still holding young Laurie who was asleep in her arms.
Young Keith just shook his head, not believing his mother.
"I can't I tried! It's too small to fill in!" Keith replied, his young voice full of anger and disappointment.
Standing, Shirley put the still sleeping Laurie in the chair before sitting down next to her son, taking in his work.
"You are right it is small. Hey, did you know that can't isn't in the dictionary?" Shirley asked. She watched her son's face; watching him take in what she was saying. Since Keith was so young he really didn't care about any old dictionary but Shirley was leading up to a point that Keith would understand.
"Do you know what we are going to do? We are going to get rid of all of those cant's. Do you know how? We are going to take a deep breath..." Shirley took a deep breath and held it, waiting for Keith to do the same. A moment later he took a deep breath and held it as well. "Now...are you ready to blow all of those cant's away?" Shirley asked; still holding her breath.
When Keith nodded, Shirley said, "Go." She then started exhaling, blowing the imagined 'cant's' away. Keith followed her example and started blowing the cant's away, and when Shirley started to make weird noises as she continued to blow, young Keith started to laugh.
"See? There they go! Good bye!" Shirley said, looking towards the sky as Keith still continued to laugh.
She just loved to hear her son laugh and to see his happy, smiling face. It was just so infectious!
"Now...you can do anything you want to do." Shirley said in a serious voice once Keith had stopped laughing. With a smile still on his face, he picked up his paint brush and had just started to paint again when the doorbell rang.
"It's daddy!" Keith proclaimed.
Shirley kept a smile on her face for Keith's sake. "Okay now pick up your paints and tidy up before you leave." She said as she rose up and entered the house.
Going to the front door she opened it and just as Keith had said, it was Louis. He was wearing a pair of khaki shorts, a baby blue t-shirt and dark sunglasses.
"Shirley." Louis said in a happy tone of voice, but Shirley didn't echo the sincerity in her voice as she said, "Louis."
Stepping away from the door, she allowed Louis in to the house, shutting the door behind him.
"Keith's coming, he's just putting his paints away." Shirley explained when she caught Louis looking around.
"Where are you taking him this weekend?" Shirley asked as she grabbed some of the toys that were left out and began to put them in to a small, plastic tub.
"Oh...out on the boat like always." Louis replied.
Hearing that, Shirley stopped cleaning up and looked at her soon to be ex husband. Was he serious?
"No sailing. There's a storm coming in and I don't want him out in it." She said.
Louis looked at her; surprise written all over his face. "Oh, I didn't know that. Alright, well...I'll just take him down to the harbor, we don't have to go out." he replied.
Shirley put her hands on her hips. "Promise me? I've asked you before not to take him out but...Keith tells me that you do it anyway." She said.
Louis shook his head. "You know how much he loves it out on the ocean." he replied.
"That may be so but it isn't safe Louis! I don't want anything to happen to him." Shirley shot back.
Louis shrugged his shoulders, knowing that Shirley could cancel this little outing if he didn't agree to her demands. "Okay, I promise!" he said.
Getting the promise she was looking for, Shirley returned to picking up the scattered toys while Louis went to the window, looking out on to the sun light front lawn.
He hated arguing with his wife; hated the set up they had so far. How had things gotten this bad? He didn't know.
"You know, I really wish you would have tried to like the boat a little bit." Louis said after a moment.
"Oh really? When was I supposed to find the time to do that? I was raising a son and going to school! I didn't have much time to play, Louis!" Shirley said.
All those years ago Shirley had been going to law school in an attempt to become a lawyer, she had been so close, so very close to completing the bar...then responsibility got in the way. She had thought about going back but...there was still Keith to think about.
"Shirley, I'm not talking about play. You know that I bought the boat for a business. That's why I...you know...got that dive shop out in the Keys...for both of us!" Louis said.
"Exactly. You run off and buy some flea bitten building on the other side of the country..." Shirley replied.
"But...honey, we talked about that for years!" Louis said. He didn't know why Shirley was so opposed to this. It was a great opportunity to raise a family!
"Yes but that was before I had a child to think about!" Shirley replied.
Okay now hold on, Shirley was putting this all on Keith?
"Hey, I am thinking about the child! It is a great place to raise a kid, the Keys are beautiful!" Louis began but Shirley interrupted by saying, "Well I hope you enjoy yourself. But you aren't taking my son."
Okay this was really going nowhere fast. Once the divorce was finalized, Louis had the funny feeling that he'd never see his family...his children again! Why was Shirley being so hard headed? Louis would bet good money that if she had just tried sailing just once she would have loved it, but oh no...Shirley and water...boats even, never seemed to mix.
"You know Shirley, it could have been so perfect. You...you could have gotten your law degree in Miami, move up to practice in the Keys. Weekends we could have just enjoyed the sand..." Louis said. Shirley sighed and stopped cleaning up once again. Looking up she fixed Louis with an annoyed stare.
"Take Keith for the weekend; show him the boat...alright?" she said. She just really wanted Louis to stop talking and leave because he was really starting to get on her nerves...as he always did.
"Yeah, while I still have it." Louis muttered. Hearing that, Shirley stood up and marched over to him. "I don't want the boat or the house or the car," Shirley said, already knowing he'd bring up the house and the car, "I just want things to be fair." she said.
At that, Louis scoffed. "Fair? I put you through law school and now you have your attorney buddies gang up on me! I can't even go to the mail box without getting this legal mumbo jumbo from one of your lawyers. And no, before you start, I don't want any lawyers I just...I just want my family back. I...I get my son...my own son one weekend a month!"
Shirley understood his frustration but there was nothing she could do about that. "When the divorce is final it'll be different." she said.
"Yeah, I probably won't get him at all." Louis muttered. "No!" Shirley countered, "I don't want Keith to grow up without a father, he needs you...he needs the both of us!"
Louis sighed and shook his head. "How did we end up like this?" he asked. Shirley sighed and also shook her head. It was a good question.
"We were so different, we always were." She muttered softly. Louis looked at her and asked, "Then why'd you marry me?"
Shirley paused, not really sure how to answer that question. After a moment she looked straight in to Louis' eyes and said, "Because I loved you."
Louis saw the truth shining bright in her eyes and after a moment he looked away. "Listen Shirley I have to ask you this. Please can we...work this out, just the two of us? Without all these lawyers confusing everything...please?"
Shirley paused. It was a good offer but she didn't love Louis anymore. She didn't want to hurt the man more than this divorce already was, but she just couldn't do what he was asking. Before she could tell him, Keith ran in to the room. "Daddy!" he shouted, rushing in to his father's arms.
Louis picked up his little boy and hugged him.
"How are you doing there sailor?" he asked Keith, who was wearing his baby blue knapsack, a white t-shirt with a khaki colored button up jacket, a pair of blue shorts and some running shoes.
"Very good Captain." Keith replied, giving his father a cute little salute.
"Well that's good to hear!" Louis said. He moved to the front door and opened it before saying, "Now lets see if we can find some pirates in that harbor!"
Walking out on to the front porch, he turned and looked at Shirley. He was still holding Keith who had his small arms wrapped around his father's neck.
"So you never did answer my question." Louis said.
Shirley who had followed Louis and her son to the door, just stood there for a moment. Finally she softly replied, "You know the answer, Louis."
Louis did indeed know the answer; same as before. 'No.' Louis was disappointed but he kept it off of his face. When the divorce was over, Louis knew he was losing Keith...he just knew it. There was no way he was going to let that happen. If Shirley wanted out then Louis was going to save just a little piece of his family and if that little piece was Keith...then so be it.
"Okay Shirley. Say goodbye Keith." Louis said. He watched Keith wave goodbye to his mother before Louis walked to the truck that was parked in the driveway.
"Goodbye honey, take care of yourself! Call me before night night, Okay? I love you!" Shirley yelled after her son as she watched Louis place Keith in the passenger seat of the truck. As Louis shut the passenger door, Shirley barely heard Keith yell, "Bye mommy!"
Moments later the truck pulled out of the driveway. Keith and Louis were gone but they would be back. Shirley wasn't too worried about her son's safety. Louis was an excellent sailor and if he did go back on his promise and did in fact take Keith sailing well...Keith was in good hands, but the storm coming in was going to be a monster. Sighing, Shirley shut the front door and continued on with her cleaning.
Several hours later the storm had hit full force. Shirley was in the living room pacing. Where was Louis and Keith? They should have been back thirty minutes ago! An hour turned in to two hours...then three. Shirley fed and bathed Laurie and put her to bed at the usual time before crashing herself, but she herself couldn't sleep. She kept phoning Louis' phone but received no reply.
At 8 am the next morning she was awakened by the phone. Grabbing the phone off of the cradle, she put the receiver to her ear.
"Louis?" she asked, but it wasn't Louis, it was the Harbor Master, and he was asking if she would come down.
In thirty minutes Shirley had woken, fed and dressed Laurie before taking the slow, wet ride down to the Harbor Master. Upon arrival, Shirley was guided in to the building where the Harbor Master was standing, hunched over his desk. Walking over to the man, Shirley stuck out her hand. "Shirley Collins." She said.
"Hi," The Harbor Master said as he shook Shirley's hand, "I am the Harbor Master Michael Keating. I'd like to thank you for driving down in these conditions."
Shirley saw Michael gesture to Laurie who was sucking her thumb while clinging to her mother.
Getting down to business Shirley asked, "Have they found the boat?"
She remembered Michael's call. Louis's boat was missing...something about a mayday.
"Uh...not yet. As I told you over the phone, we received a distress call from the Oceano about 7:05 this morning. That is your boat, right?" Michael asked.
Shirley was getting frightened and it clearly showed on her face as tears began to well up in her eyes. "It's my husband's." she told the Harbor Master.
"We received a second radio message fifteen minutes later. This one was a mayday. They had lost their mast and were taking on water." Michael replied.
Shirley paused, taking this all in. Okay the news was bad. She was going to have it out with Louis when she saw him! "Where are they now?" She asked.
"That's why I wanted you to come down Mrs. Collins. Do you know how many people might have been aboard the boat and where they might have been headed? It would really help our search patterns." Michael said.
"Y...you mean you haven't found them?" Shirley asked. Oh no...no, no, no, no! This wasn't happening! This had to be some sort of joke, but Michael's face remained the same.
"No ma'am. We've had one of our planes out since we got the call and Dana Point and Catalina also have planes out searching." Michael said. He watched Shirley go to the nearby window and bend the metal blinds back, looking out in to the pouring rain. He followed her over to the blinds and said in a calm voice, "So...ma'am, once again. Do you know who was on board and where they were heading?"
Shirley was finding it hard to breathe. The knowledge that her son was out there in a storm such as the one that was blasting California right now was just too hard to fathom.
"My husband..." Shirley whispered a moment later, "Louis Collins and...and my son Keith." It was then that she broke down and started crying; crying in fear and frustration.
"And they were going?" Michael asked. Ignoring the question, Shirley just looked at him with fearful eyes.
"I told him...not to take the boat, he promised me!" Shirley said in a shaky voice. It was then that Michael knew that Shirley had no idea where they were headed. Oh this was just great! He was about to ask about her husband's sailing experience when his telephone rang. Going over to it he picked it up and talked with whomever was on the line. Hearing some of what the conversation was, Shirley knew it was about Keith and Louis, so she rose from her seat, Laurie still in her arms, and went over to Michael's desk.
When Michael hung up the phone he sighed and took a moment to compose himself. Finally he spoke up.
"Mrs. Collins...they found the boat, it was capsized about twenty miles out...there was no one on board."
Hearing that, Shirley just lost it. Tears were pouring down her face as she fought to keep her hold on Laurie who had no idea why her mother was crying. Shirley pitched forward, fighting to keep standing as the reality of the situation sank in.
"I have ordered my men to continue their search patterns for the rest of the day. Then...it becomes a recovery operation." Michael said in a soft voice.
"What...what..." Shirley said, trying to get the words out, "What does that mean?" She looked up at Michael with a tear stained face.
"It means we have done all we can." Michael replied. He gave Shirley an apologetic look before walking away.
Shirley stayed at the Harbor Master's office for several more hours before she went home. Every day she kept waiting for a call from them stating that they had found her son but the call never came.
A week later she finally heard back from them.
"I'm so sorry Mrs. Collins." Michael said over the phone. Hearing those words Shirley felt her knees grow weak. She dropped the phone even as Michael kept speaking, "I really am. But it's been seven days and we still haven't found them. With the conditions the way they are, they couldn't have survived...I'm sorry."
Shirley stumbled over to the couch and lay down on it, quickly going in to the fetal position as she screamed out in pain, pain over losing her son. She couldn't believe it...it couldn't be happening. Keith couldn't be dead! No...not her Keith! She closed her eyes and cried, picturing his smiling face and that just made the pain that much worse. Shirley was just falling to pieces. She didn't know what she was going to do without her son. Yes she had Laurie but even so a piece of her was missing and she knew that she'd never get it back.
For the next several hours Shirley lay on the sofa crying, knowing her world was just ending.