A/N: Hey guys, here's a new chapter. I just thought I should point out some changes I've made, and I've already edited the first two chapters with those small changes. it's nothing too serious or big, so there's no need to re-read anything! But as you may recall, in the previous chapters Nicky and Alex were fourteen, and Rachel (Jesse and Becky's daughter) was twelve. After some revising I realized that this would be impossible, since I had said before that ten years ago Becky was pregnant with Rachel. So all I changed was that Nicky and Alex are now twelve, and Rachel is ten. Like I said, nothing drastic! :) But I like to let y'all know so you don't get confused.
Thank y'all SO much for reading! Your reviews literally make my day. Sorry if this story is a little dark at some parts, but I really like writing dramatic, dark stuff :) And next chapter will be very...climatic!
Okay, enough of my babbling...
"She wants to go home, but nobody's home. That's where she lies, broken inside. With no place to go, no place to go to dry her eyes. Broken inside."
-Avril Lavigne, Nobody's Home
Saturday, June 27th, 2005.
Becky heard the boys open and close the door to the stairs and knew that it was morning time. Although she could feel the sunlight on her eyelids, she didn't want to open her eyes just yet. She felt Jesse's arms wrapped around her and she could smell his hair gel. That had become a reassuring scent to her over the years. She felt him kiss her head softly, whispering that he loved her. She could hear the family downstairs in the kitchen, having multiple conversations while all pitching in to make breakfast. She heard Stephanie and DJ arguing over who had to set the table. Danny was carefully explaining the process of flipping a perfect pancake to Joey.
Becky opened her eyes and sat up. The house was silent. The bed was empty.
She groaned and rubbed her eyes as she ripped the covers off herself and trudged over to the door. She didn't bother getting dressed; she had the day off today. It was the first time in a while that she didn't have to wake up at four AM. She ambled down the stairs, completely aware that she still had somewhat of a hangover from two nights before. Becky didn't drink very often, so half a bottle of wine in one sitting didn't prove to come from her best judgment.
When she finally got down to the kitchen, the lights were off. Becky flipped on the lights and stepped onto the linoleum floors, surveying the scene before her. The table was piled high with crap, as usual. They hadn't eaten at it in years. The kids would eat dinner in their rooms, Danny and Vicky would always eat out at night, and Jesse would eat in his basement recording studio as he wrote songs.
She heard someone else bounding down the stairs and turned around. It was Rachel, already dressed for her early morning volleyball practice.
"Morning, Mom," she mumbled, opening the cabinet and searching for a granola bar. "Where's Dad?"
She asked the question as if it were just a placeholder. It didn't sound like a true concern, just a habit that she'd picked up over the years. Becky was certain that if she answered with, "On the moon," her daughter wouldn't notice. She wasn't really paying attention because she knew the answer already. But Becky answered anyway.
"I don't know. I guess at a photoshoot with the band. I think he said something about that yesterday."
"Okay," Rachel said. "I'm going to go ahead and walk to practice. Coach likes it when we get there early so we can set up the nets."
Rebecca nodded. The volleyball gym that Rachel's team practiced at was just two blocks away. Becky and Jesse used to make Nicky or Alex walk her to practice, but by now they figured that Rachel knew the San Francisco streets well enough to get there on her own.
"Where are your brothers?" she asked. Some part of her wanted to keep her daughter here and let her skip practice. She wanted to watch movies and laugh at small things for hours with her only daughter as she used to with DJ and Stephanie. But Becky knew better.
Rachel shrugged as she stood on the counter to reach the top shelf where the granola bars were located. "I think Dad drove Nicky to the skate park and Alex went over to his friend's pool."
Becky nodded. She was silent while Rachel hopped down from the counter, her brunette ponytail swinging as she landed on the white kitchen floor. She ripped open the wrapper and took a bite. She was making her way to the kitchen door when Becky spoke up, desperate to talk about something to somebody.
"So, uh, are there any cute boys in your class?"
Rachel stopped and turned around. Her eyebrow was raised, her expression skeptical. "Bye, Mom."
Becky sat down at the kitchen table and didn't move for quite some time. She was contemplating whether or not she should go for her usual morning jog. She usually went for jogs at four in the morning so that she could have time to get to the studio before Live with Regis & Becky started. But she woke up too late this morning, as she always did on her few days off. There were too many people, and people meant cell phones, and cell phones meant cameras, and Becky wasn't in the mood for taking pictures with people or, even worse, people taking her picture and sending it to US Weekly.
It was then that she saw a McDonald's bag sitting on top of a large stack of Danny's paperwork that was scattered haphazardly on the dinner table. Becky picked it up and saw a sticky note on it.
To: Becky. Love, Jesse.
Becky smiled faintly. This was the first act of kindness he'd given her since he'd gotten back the day before. He got home, gave her a peck on the cheek, hugged her for one second, and was back out the door to go to dinner with his band. She had barely felt him crawl back into bed at one in the morning, and she was completely aware that he wasn't even facing her as he slept.
She opened the bag and pulled out the sausage biscuit. She ate it in silence. Even after ten years, it was still odd to have the house empty and quiet, void of any people.
January 19th, 1996. 12:07 PM.
"Happy birthday dear Stephanie, happy birthday to you!"
Becky leaned against the wall, smiling as she watched her middle niece blow out the fourteen candles that Danny had so carefully arranged on her homemade cake. It was chocolate with pink frosting, as she had requested. Steph had invited about twelve friends to go to the movies with her later that night, but she had wanted a family celebration earlier in the day.
Becky pressed her hands to her swollen stomach; it was an instinct now, really. It was also a really convenient place to rest her hands. She eight and a half months along with a baby girl and was due the next week. Jesse was standing next to her and put his arm around her shoulders. Becky sighed, still loving when he did that. It made her feel safe and secure, knowing that her husband was always going to be there for her.
"Can you hurry up? I'm starving over here," Michelle protested. This caused giggles among the family, and Joey made an effort to cut the cake faster.
DJ was standing in the back of the kitchen. Becky hadn't seen her since she'd moved out to go to college. She had come back to San Francisco with rather unexpected news: she and Steve were engaged. However, DJ seemed different. It seemed that whenever one of her family members tried to talk to her, she would get annoyed very easily. She acted as if coming to her little sister's birthday celebration was a chore rather than a close family gathering.
All of the sudden, Becky felt a pang of pressure across her lower midsection. She gasped quietly, automatically lurching forward. Jesse instinctively tightened his grasp on her arm.
"Becky, are you alright?" Danny asked, walking over to her.
"Babe, do you need us to take you to the hospital?" Jesse asked, his tone very concerned.
Rebecca stood up and shook her head. "No, no, I'm fine. I'm good."
"Are you sure?" Jesse asked again, looking her in the eye. Becky nodded with gusto. It had only been a short pain, nothing to fret over.
After eating the cake, the family made their way to the living room, where Stephanie was to open her gifts.
"Open ours first!" Nicky and Alex yelled as they set the Katsopolis's present down next to the birthday girl. Stephanie smiled at the two year olds.
"Okay, okay, I will."
As Stephanie started to rip open the purple paper, Becky felt the same pressure she had felt earlier. She was able to contain her reaction this time, but it lasted for a longer period of time now. She felt her face turning red, but no one else was looking at her.
"Oh my goodness...it's beautiful," Stephanie said immediately putting on the necklace. "Aunt Becky, Uncle Jesse, thank you so much."
"Nah, don't thank me, Becky was the one that picked it out. She knew you'd love it."
All eyes were on Rebecca at that point. She smiled. She and Stephanie had gotten considerably close during the past year or so that DJ had been gone. They would go shopping together, watch movies, and just have good old-fashioned girl talk. Becky savored that time with her niece, since she hadn't had a daughter to do those things with before.
"You're so welcome, Steph. Come here, gimme a hug!"
Stephanie got up and started to walk over to her aunt. However, Becky suddenly felt a third pang of pressure in the same place she had felt it before. This time it was harder. Rebecca dug her fingernails into her palms, trying to contain the pain, but it was too much. She let out a scream and doubled over. She knew very well what was coming; after all, she'd been pregnant before. It was horrible timing. She knew that Stephanie already felt as if her aunt did not care about her anymore because she'd been focusing so much on the baby; she didn't need to steal the show from Stephanie on her fourteenth birthday, too. But she couldn't deny it: she was going into labor.
"Becks, I'll walk you to the car. Danny! Call the doctor and tell him she's in labor!" Jesse instructed, trying to keep his voice calm. It wasn't working very well, but she loved him for trying.
Before she made it out the front door, Rebecca caught a glimpse of Stephanie sitting on the couch. She looked as if she was trying to smile, but instead she was tracing the pattern on the carpet with her feet, lonely on her special day.
And Becky felt a pang of guilt that was even harder than her labor pains.
Rebecca finally made the executive decision to get out of the house. She was going to go insane being alone all day. She quickly ran upstairs and started to change into her running clothes. She flipped on the TV as she brushed her hair, pulling it up into a ponytail.
"Hey, I'm Danny," she heard a familiar voice ringing from the small TV speakers.
"And I'm Vicky. Welcome to Wake Up, San Francisco!"
Becky was instantly nostalgic. She remembered when she said that line every single day. She felt bad, missing her old job. Anyone would give both their arms and a foot to co-host with Regis Philbin on one of the nation's most-watched talk shows. Out of all the news personalities in the country, Becky was the one that received a phone call saying that they wanted her to replace Kathie Lee. She was the one in a million that they decided was the best fit.
Rebecca loved her job. She loved being on morning TV and having people all across the country rely on her to deliver the latest on entertainment, local news, national news, and everything in between. And to get payed almost four times more than her previous show to do it was an even bigger bonus.
But when everyone in the country sees your face every morning, it leads to recognition. Recognition leads to autographs and pictures. Pictures end up in magazines. Paparazzi chase you and follow you everywhere you go, waiting for a mistake to be made so that the whole world can hear about how you tripped on the stairs at the mall with your daughter.
That was what Becky hated about her job.
She walked down the stairs and paused at the front door. The park was three blocks away. She could make it.
Outside, she prepared for the worst. She expected cameras to be set up right in front of her front door. She found it a pleasant surprise when the only lights flickering were the porch lights as she turned them off. Becky kept her sunglasses on although it wasn't particularly sunny that day.
She started to jog on the sidewalk, making her way to the park. With every step she became less tense and uncomfortable being out in public. She had not been able to do this for a long time, and she felt relieved. Maybe the paparazzi had moved on to bigger and better people.
At the next crosswalk there was a stop light, so Becky halted and popped her MP3 headphones into her ears. Instantly, one of Jesse's band's songs was playing.
All at once, Rebecca felt the anger building up inside of her. Sure, she was happy for him. She was happy that his lifelong dream of being in a word-famous rock band had come true after all these years. But that didn't give him an excuse to all of the sudden stop caring about his family. In the beginning, before his first tour, he had wrapped his arms around her and said one thing: "Becks, listen, I'm going to miss you and the kids so much this month. But I'm gonna promise you something: no matter what happens, no matter how popular this band gets, you and the kids will always be my number one. Always and forever."
Becky scoffed when the crosswalk turned into the walking man sign, giving her permission to cross into the park. Sure, we'll always be your number one, she thought sarcastically. Except for the days when you don't feel like it.
She wasn't sure how much longer she could take it.
Not much longer at all, she decided.