Issey grabbed a tissue and dabbed at her nose. Darren and Chris both went for their eyes.
"It's out of the question of course." She said emphatically.
The air in the room was heavy. Chris looked at Darren, "I'm sorry, I know you're a part of this but can I just have a second alone with her?"
The second the door closed Chris hopped up on the table next to her and kissed her then pulled her into him. "We can talk about it later if you want, it doesn't have to be now. We need to let it sink in. I'm just going to say this for now, I love you, I love this baby, but if we lose you we lose the baby. I'll let the baby go to save you" His voice broke and his fingers were digging into her skin. It was slightly painful but she was grateful for it. "I won't let you go for anything."
"I can't talk about this now. I just can't. I'm being punished for what I did and that's fine, I don't care but it's not fair to punish the baby too. It isn't right."
"Hey!" he tipped her chin with his finger and locked his eyes with hers, "Quit it. You aren't being punished, and you haven't done anything wrong. I hate this thinking you somehow deserve to be sick. You were in love with us both; I'm done with you feeling guilty about it." His phone buzzed against her from his pocket but he ignored it, "People fall in love, there's nothing you can do."
She broke down crying then and let him rock her slowly. His grip loosened and his touch softened, cradling her tenderly. She sniffed and pulled it together a little, "You could have said this with Darren here, why did you ask him to leave?"
"I didn't want him to have to watch me kiss you. It's been a hard enough day."
She kissed him again, "You're a good man you know that?"
He shrugged, "There's no such thing. I'm not all that good, but I'm trying."
There was a knock on the door and when she nodded Chris replied, "Come in."
It was Darren. He cleared his throat but it didn't change the lump there, "Can I? Um…just for a few minutes, would it be okay if I talked to her alone?"
Chris again looked to Issey for approval and again all she could do was nod. He slipped from the table and squeezed Darren's shoulder as he exited.
He didn't step any closer to her and he kept his eyes trained on the white tile floor. It had grey flecks and a dot of something orange that could have been dried blood. There was dust along the baseboard and this bothered Darren. It made him angry. This place should be spotless. Finally he swallowed and the pain of it showed on his face.
"I know there is a possibility that my opinion won't matter at all in a few weeks but I just wanted to tell you I'll support whatever you want to do."
She drew a deep breath. "I'm going to need more than that. I need your opinion."
He shook his head. "I can't."
He came closer and she ran her hands down his forearms before taking his hands. "I'm struggling Dare, and I'm not going to make it through this without you."
"I'm here." His thumbs caressed over the backs of her hands.
"Who have you talked to today?"
"Um, you, Chris, a million doctors, those girls at the restaurant, that's it. Why?"
"Anyone else? Texts? Calls from home?"
"Oh, uh, Chuck called to see what was up and let me know Mom and Dad hadn't seen the internet stuff yet. Oh, and Ryan. Why? Did someone say they talked to me?"
Darren undertood. "You saw his phone."
"Happened again just now when he was with me."
"Did he answer it?"
"Course not. Have you seen them together?"
"Chris and Adam? I mean, at rehearsals or whatever yeah." He was being as noncommittal as possible.
"Chris likes him doesn't he?"
"Seems like it, but he loves you, that doesn't change. You should talk to him about this."
"I'm talking to you. Listen to me. I…I sort of hope that he and Adam…oh God that makes me horrible doesn't it? It's just, I love him but it would all be so much easier if he just.. forget it, I shouldn't have said anything."
"Oh my God."
"Never mind. I never said this, I'm just overwhelmed. Today has been crazy and –"
Darren cut her off. "No wait, are you saying it would be easier if Chris went with Adam because you don't want him hurt by all of this or because you want to get back together with me?"
"I'd sort of like the answer to that myself." Chris had stepped into the room unnoticed.
"Chris, I just think it would be a little less stressful for you if you had someone you could talk things out with, someone not involved. I know you hit it off with Adam and I know you've been talking to him pretty much every time you aren't with me today."
"Which you decided to discuss with Darren instead of me."
There was a quick knock and the doctor entered again. "Do you have any questions for me?"
"I just want to make sure I'm clear, I can keep the baby and have a full mastectomy, if it does happen to be cancer, or I can keep my breast and get rid of the baby? It seems pretty clear that no mother is going to give her baby up to keep her breast."
"It's not that cut and dry. I've brought you some literature on the subject I suggest the three of you read this. Go home Issey, home. Not back to the road, not to some meeting. Go home with the people who love you and read this over, Do your research that I know you'll do regardless of what I tell you then talk about everything. Get a list of questions together and come back tomorrow at…" he tapped at his computer, "3:15 and we'll talk. I'll warn you, if you decide to terminate I'm going to want to do it as soon as possible."
"I'm not terminating."
"Come on, let's head out." Chris lifted her off the table and set her on the floor.
She insisted on sitting alone in the back seat on the way back to her place. Chris wasn't so great with the directions so Darren drove. Darren had spent enough time in the city to find his way with minimal instruction.
Chris was quiet as she spent the ride reading all of the twitter and tumblr posts about what a fame whore she was, how she was trying to trap both boys, that she was a beard for them both and the boys were the real couple. Not many mentions of the breast cancer but a few charming posts about how if she hurt Darren or Chris they hoped she'd get cancer and die, or be killed in an accident, or get aids and die or her favorite, kill herself.
This sort of thing was part of the job, especially with younger fandoms, but this was the ugliest group she'd ever seen and today was the wrong day for it. She started to cry again, got mad at herself for letting these kids who knew nothing of her life or her situation get to her and cried harder because it was impossible to pull it together.
Darren caught her eye in the rear view mirror. "You okay?"
"Do you want me to pull over somewhere?"
"No, just get me home please."
When they got to her place she kept her head down and cleared her throat before they got out of the car. "I need some time alone. Can you guys find something to do for a few hours?"
Darren turned in his seat to face her. "I don't want to leave you, you're upset. "
She touched his arm, "I'm okay. I just want to take a really long bath and cry. I haven't been alone in so long, I just want to be alone for a little while."
Darren looked to Chris who was still silent.
"One hour." Darren decided.
"Babe, I'm worried about you."
Chris kicked at the floorboard, "Can you not?"
The other two looked at him his face was flush with anger. "Can you not call her pet names in front of me? It's rude."
"Sorry. You're right. I just wasn't thinking."
"I could use a little alone time myself. Darren can take the car, I'm gonna call a cab." Chris got out and began walking, his cell phone to his ear.
Darren looked at Issey. "Sorry."
"It's fine. He needs a little time with all of this. We've all had a bad day. If you don't want to go out it's okay."
"No, I could use some time to think myself. You don't need the car?"
"No, I really am heading into the tub. Go, take your time. I'm really going to be okay."
She got out, took her house keys leaving Darren the car key only and watched him drive away before heading inside. Her apartment felt too quiet so she turned on the television but TMZ was showing pictures taken of her walking into the oncologist's office with Darren and Chris. Harvey and Surfer Dude were going back and forth about whether she was pregnant, sick or both. She switched the tv off and turned on the cd player, blasting Mahler's 10th through the house and went to run her bath.
Lit only by candles her bathroom felt like a safe haven. Issey dropped lavender bath oil into the tub and slid in, laying her head against the cool tile. She exhaled; it felt like the first time all day.
"Little Sea Monkey I am screwing up our lives with every move I make. I don't mind so much for me but I feel bad for you. Don't worry though, I won't let you pay for my stupidity at least not if I can help it. I'll tell you one thing for sure, I love your daddy and he loves you." She rubbed her still flat (well, as flat as it ever was which was not very) tummy. "Okay, I don't know which guy it is but either way, he loves you and I love him. Don't judge, you wait til you can see them both. They're amazing guys, your possible dads and they both love you so much, even the one who doesn't end up being your dad, he'll still love you, I know he will. If Chris isn't your Daddy I know he'll still treat you like his own. He's been so good with Darren, and it's sort of for me, but it's a lot for you too. If Darren's not your dad he'll try to leave us alone so you, Daddy and I can be a family but I can't let him. I'll tell you something I can't say out loud to anyone else, but I bet you already know since you're a part of me, I really hope Darren is your dad. It's a terrible thing, because Chris is so good to me and I love being with him but I always feel like this is us on our way to other people. I can't shake it. Darren…he's level headed. He'd know what to do for you." She just kept talking, just to hear the words come out of her mouth. She didn't plan what she'd say; she didn't think ahead, she just let whatever was on her mind or in her heart come out. She wasn't sure she believed it all, but it was clear it was stuff she had to get out and nowhere felt safer than this. Candlelight flickered, when the water would cool she'd add warm to it and sink a little deeper. "The biggest secret I have though my little Sea Monkey? You can't ever tell. I'm still in love with them both. I don't want to be but I am."
It felt good to get that one out. She'd been thinking about Darren more and more lately and stole glances at him whenever she thought Chris wasn't paying attention. She always felt guilty later but she couldn't help herself.
Shrivel skinned and starting to get antsy she cleaned up and pulled the stopper to let the water out. Dropping the towel on her bedroom floor she climbed across her bed and grabbed her phone from her nightstand. She had more messages than she cared to deal with but none from the only person she wanted to hear from so she called him.
"Yeah?" he sounded annoyed.
"Wow. Okay. Nevermind." She hung up.
Her phone rang, she picked it up on the fourth ring, "Forget it."
Chris sighed, "Love, today…sucks. I didn't mean to answer the phone that way, I didn't look to see who it was."
"Yes, you did."
"No. I didn't. I assumed it was" his silent trip over the name said more that his words, "someone else, I thought you'd be napping."
"Its okay. Are you coming back soon? Being alone is overrated."
"Are you alright?"
"What? Yeah, I mean, I'd be better if you were here but I'm alright. "
"Don't know he left right after you."
"I'm going to stay at the Park Plaza tonight."