Four Weeks Later:
"You can't keep fighting it," Wambaugh said bluntly. "You signed the agreement."
Max gulped, as she gripped Kenny's hand under the table. We didn't think, how can this be happening? We can't send them back there. "He was supposed to be in jail for 25 years."
"He helped kill our kid," Kenny stated, squeezing her hand back. "I don't care what we signed, what technicality his lawyers thought up, Samantha and Nate are not going back to him. If you can't stop it, we'll find a lawyer who can."
"Another lawyer will tell you the same thing. Our injunction was rejected. You two have 24 hours to turn them over to their father."
"That isn't going to happen," Kenny said, as he stood. "Honey, lets go."
Numb, she thought, not letting go of his hand. Calm…This isn't happening. He's a murderer and…Caro wouldn't want this. "Okay."
"Max, we'll stop it," he promised, as they walked out to the jeep. "I promise you."
She nodded again, not knowing what to say. Michael released…technicality. We should of…how can they go back there? Infamous, in my next life I'm never leaving the house again. "I…What if we can't?"
"Where is the woman I married? The one that never gives up?"
She looked up at him, as he opened the car door for her. "I'm numb. Everything…it's been so hard."
"You want to give up? You want to send them back to a murderer? That is what is going to happen if we give up."
"Of course not."
"I'm scared, okay? It isn't what Caro would want for them and…they're ours. I know it's crazy, our life is nuts, but they're ours."
"We'll stop it."
"They never told me he killed my cousin," Samantha said quietly. "How could Aunt Maxie not tell me? Nate isn't old enough, but…she doesn't need to protect me."
"She didn't want you to hate him," Zach tried. "He didn't kill Josh, he was…I guess involved."
"We're not going back, Zach. I'm going to take Nate and runaway if we can't stay."
"You have to help us."
"We have to tell them," Max said, as they sat and watched Emily chase Nate around the yard with her cast, as Lindsay laughed.
"They aren't going with him," Kenny said, watching as she rubbed her flat stomach gently. "Max, it isn't going to happen."
"We're out of motions, injunctions. What do you want to do? Kidnap them, runaway, fake our deaths? I hate this," she trailed off. "I don't…I can't…He's every bit as culpable as my Dad in this. A technicality. God."
He wrapped his arm around her shoulders, and pulled her closer. "I'd rather do any of that, then send them back to a murderer."
Protective, she thought, take them and run? That isn't… "I know."
"You're not giving up."
She snuggled in closer to him. "We can't disappear, we can't ignore the court order…think about Lindsay and Emily. What would happen to them if…How do we do this?"
"You just want to let them go?"
"No, it's…I think about Caro and … Kenny, we…I never wanted them to know what their family did, I wanted to give them that. This isn't fair."
He laid his free hand on her flat stomach. Our baby, he thought, she's given me everything I've always wanted. The love of my life. "I know."
She gulped back her tears. "Kenny, I…what is he going to do to them?"
"We're not giving up."
She pressed her lips to his. Out of options. Be here for him, it's going to hurt, I need him in this. "Okay."
He scooped her closer. "Honey…we need…we need to tell them."
She nodded, watching the three in the yard together. "When Samantha gets home."
"Mom?" Zach said, walking hesitantly into the kitchen.
Jill looked up from where she was cooking dinner. "Did Samantha leave?"
He nodded, knowing she was a touchy subject. "Yeah. Is she going to have to go back to her Dad? She doesn't want to and…Kenny and Max want to keep them. I'm kind of scared to go back over there."
"I think you are the least of Kenny's worries right now," Jill sighed. "I don't know. They won't give up on it."
"Why can you two make out and I get grounded?" Samantha pouted, as she sunk on the couch. "It isn't fair."
"Nothing about this is fair," Max said quietly, as she looked at her niece and nephew on the couch. Caro, I'm sorry, I'm so sorry. I can't fix this one. "Guys, we…I can't do this."
Kenny squeezed her hand tighter. We're not…Do it so she doesn't have to. "We met with Wambaugh again today."
"Are we going back to our Dad?" Samantha asked bluntly. "Is that what you're trying to say? I don't want to…Why didn't you tell us what he really did? He's a killer!"
"He's still your Dad," Max offered lamely. Just like that ass in jail is still mine. "The courts threw his conviction out, so legally it never happened and…I know, okay?"
"I don't want to go," Nate blurted out, wiping away his tears. "I want to stay here! With you guys, my friends, soccer and…Dad was mean!"
"He's a murderer," Samantha spat. "How can you send us back! We told the social worker everything! You just don't want us! You want your own kids, you left Aunt Maxie!"
Max gulped, wiping away a few tears of her own. "I know I did. We want you guys, I love you like you're ours. Emily and Lindsay…they love you too. This isn't fair, we didn't…there isn't anything else we can do."
"I hate you!" Samantha yelled, leaping up. "You don't love us! It's your fault our Mom died! I hate you! I wish Dad killed you too!"
"Samantha, stop," Nate sobbed, flinging himself at Max and clinging to her. "Don't make us leave!"
Max hugged him back, gulping back her tears. Not about me, it's about them…this isn't fair. All I want to do it throw myself in Kenny's arms and sob. Not this time, not again. "I don't want you to go."
Kenny watched his stricken and pregnant wife for a long moment. Strong, he thought, I have to be strong for her too.
Samantha sunk back on the couch and began to cry. "I don't want to go either."
"It isn't fair!" Zach cried, the next day. "How can they just take her away!"
"I know it isn't fair," Jimmy stated. "You know how hard…I'm sorry, Zach."
"I love her!"
"I don't want to go back," Nate sobbed, as he crawled into his sister's bed. "I want to stay with Aunt Maxie and Uncle Kenny."
"We can't stay," Samantha whispered. "They'll take us away."
"Dad really killed Josh? Did he kill Mom too?"
"Grandpa did. Dad helped. We can't go back there. Nate, listen to me. Zach and I have a plan."
"Honey?" Kenny said softly, wrapping his arms around her, as she stood in Emily's bedroom door. "You can see that cast in the dark."
She leaned back into him. "She kept telling me how you saved her when she broke it."
He pressed his lips to the top of her head, and inhaled the honey scent of her shampoo. "She was brave."
"I should have been her for it."
He squeezed her tighter. "You're here now. That's all that matters. Max, Honey, we can do this. We can get through this."
"I'm not giving up."
Max gulped, turning to wrap her arms around him too. "Me either."
"We'll find a way."
"Jimmy!" Jill practically screamed, rereading the note on the kitchen table. "Jimmy!"
"Jill? What is it?" he yawned.
"Read this! Zach! He ran away…with Samantha and Nate!"
"This should be over," Max murmured, as she vomited. Sitting back on the floor, she laid her hand on her stomach. I love you already, she thought, and I promise that we'll give you a wonderful life. "You ready to cut this part out?"
"You okay?" Kenny asked, rapping on the door, as the doorbell rang. "Honey?"
"Give me a minute," she called, leaning back against the toilet. "I'm fine. Let me hop in the shower, and stuff."
Kenny glanced at the closed doors, as he jogged downstairs. Let them rest, it's going to be a long few days. Max…she'll be okay. Wrenching it open. "Hi."
"Don't hi me," Jimmy stated, as he led Jill into the house. "What the hell is going on?"
"What?" Kenny asked. "What's going on is Max is puking her guts out, Emily keeps conking people on the head with her cast, and we're out of options and injunctions and have less then 12 hours to turn them over. So what do you want to know?
"They're here?" Jimmy said, pushing past him. "You're sure."
"We're letting them sleep in," Kenny trailed off. "What…what's going on?"
"What's going on? What's going on?" Jimmy started. "Go upstairs! They ran off! Samantha, Nate, and Zach went with them!"
Kenny stepped back, feeling his stomach drop to his knees. "What?"
"My son ran off with your niece and nephew!"
"What?" he repeated, hearing Max puttering around upstairs. "This is…what?"
"Read it," Jimmy said, handing him the note. "Zach cleaned out our checking account."
Son of a bitch, Kenny thought, they ran.
Mom and Dad.
Don't be mad, but I had to do this. I love Samantha and I don't want to be without her. We're not going to let her Dad take her away. Don't worry, I'll take care of both of them. We'll be okay. I love you.
"They won't know what to think," Zach promised, as they rode the train. "They won't find any of us."
Samantha snuggled up closer to him and kissed his cheek. "Thank you for this."
"Where are we going?" Nate asked, as he looked at the scenery that was passing by. "What about…everyone will try to find us."
"We won't let them."
"This is," Max stammered. "What?"
Kenny handed her the note. "Read it."
Aunt Maxie and Uncle Kenny.
We're not going back to Dad. We know what he did, and we know you did everything you could to keep us. We'll be okay, don't be mad. I can take care of Nate, and you can go back to your lives. Thank you for giving us a home.
"This isn't happening," Max said, looking up at her husband. "How could…We have to find them."
"We will," he promised, wrapping his arms around her and holding her close.
Max looked over at her daughters, engrossed in their coloring. "How could they…We should of thought…We have to find them."
"Both of you, we're going to the station," Jimmy said, watching them. "I'm calling in every favor I have. Jill, you should go home in case Zach comes to his senses. I'm sick of this with you, Max. Get your ass in gear and get to work. Whatever your issues are, get over them. You both have a job to do."
Max stepped back. "What?"
"My son ran off with your niece! You are damn well going to help find them!"
Max gulped, feeling Kenny tense up next to her. "Let me a call sitter."