Last night the kids were up far later than they should have been, making a fort using Isidore’s bed sheets up until the moment their parents started arguing right outside the door. They don’t fall asleep until early morning, when Leya finally stops crying. Even so, they’re up on time for school, sitting in an uncomfortable silence.
Leya breaks the silence first. “What’s goanna happen to us if they get a divorce?”
“Well first of all they can’t get a divorce because they’re not even married.” Leya’s lip pulls into a quivering pout but before she can start crying again, Isidore continues. “But if they do split up you don’t have to worry. I won’t let them split -us- up, okay? We’re the kids here but they’re the ones acting like kids.”
Bayrose waits until noon for Gem to return home before dialling the person listed as number three on her speed dial. He’s at her doorstep almost immediately.
“Hey Rose. How’s it going? I thought we weren’t going to meet up again til the weekend? Wasn’t Gem getting suspicious?”
“Gem isn’t here.” She thought she was still angry, but as soon as she says those words out loud, it breaks her heart.
He opens his arms and she falls into his embrace. “We… we had a fight last night and he left, and he said he’d be here in the morning but he wasn’t so I called his parent’s house and Mrs. Sari said he hadn’t shown up last night and I didn’t know who else to call!”
Gator sighs, hiding his heartbreak over the fact she’s only calling him because Gem was having a fit. He’s tried being the perfect friend and boyfriend but she’s never even humoured his ideas of being together.
Maybe today he can convince her, but first, he has to cheer her up.
“Listen, the spring festival is up and running. Would you care to join me? Most people will be at school or work right now, so no one will pay us any attention.”
“You know I don’t like being too public…”
Gator puts on what he thinks is his best “kicked puppy” face and with a sigh, Bayrose finally smiles. “Okay fine… just this once.”
There are a few people at the festival who look up at the couple curiously. Without a word to each other, Bayrose and Gator separate, Bay to the dance floor while Gator partakes in some small talk before moving to the opposite side of the dance floor.
The skies open up into a downpour that sends people running for their cars, and Gator finally dances over to his girlfriend.
He shakes his wet hair with a grin on his face. “You’d think people would get used to a little rain growing up in a town like this.”
“Psh, I’ve only lived here a few years and I’m already used to it.” Bayrose answers. “Of course, this means I’ll have to make sure the kids shower when they get home. I don’t want them getting sick.”
Just when Gator was beginning to feel like this was a real date…
“Kids? Last time we talked, Isidore was your only child, our only child. Why do you talk about Leya like she’s yours? Once you and Gem break up she won’t be your problem anymore.“
“But Leya isn’t a problem…” Bay’s face falls as she considers the possibility of never holding her sweet little girl again, or her wonderful father.
“Gator, I’m sorry, but I really don’t think I can leave Gem. I think I still love him.”
“You think you still love him? You mean you’re not sure?”
She shrugs, not meeting his eyes. “I guess? How can you even tell if you’re in love with someone anyway?”
“When you love someone, they become your everything.” A smile rises onto his face as he thinks about his own feelings for the beautiful girl in front of him. “You can’t get them out of your head no matter what; their smile, their happiness, becomes your whole world, their sadness hurts you more than your own sadness ever could, and you have a drive to do anything in your power to make them happy again. Even for just a moment.”
She considers his words, thinking about her relationship with Gem as a soft smile grows on her lips. “Huh… guess I am in love then. Who knew.”
“I’m guessing the person you’re in love with isn’t me?”
She shakes her head. “I’m sorry, Gator, but I don’t think I can do this with you anymore. You’re right about me not wanting to be without Gem, and I’m going to need to man up in order to make him realize I love him.”
He keeps a fake smile on, even though his heart is breaking on the inside. “I can’t say I’m not disappointed you’re picking him, but if being with him makes you happy-“
“It does. Gem and I have made a family for ourselves, and I need to show him he isn’t the only one willing to put an effort into our relationship. Thank you for opening my eyes.”
If he thought it wasn’t possible for his heart to break anymore than it already was… “Of course. I’m glad I could help.”
They jump apart as Bay’s phone rings. It’s a number she doesn’t recognize but she answers anyway. “Hello? …. Yes, this is Ms. Love… yes… what? Is he okay? Yes, yes, I’ll be right there.”
Gator gives her a quizzical look but she shakes her head. “Gem was abducted last night. The hospital just called telling me he’s been cleared for home care.”
Gator has more questions, but Bayrose ignores him and she runs out of the park. Gem was in trouble, but he’s okay, and now its her turn to be there for him.
Bayrose hugs her Gem as soon as they’re through the door. Despite him being cleared to go home, Bayrose had plenty of questions that needed to be answered, and then they had to drop the kids off at Grandma Dora’s for the night so Gem could get some actual rest.
“I’m so sorry for not coming back.” Thats the first thing he says to her, mistaking her tears for her still being upset with him.”I wanted to come back as soon as I hit the sidewalk, but then I saw a green light in the sky and then the next thing I know I’m on the beach where we used to have bonfires and its mid day.”
“I’m not mad at you.” She cries, holding him close. “And I’m so sorry for last night. You were right, I have been pushing you away and its not fair. I love you, Gem, and I never want to let you go. I know the doctors said that this… parasite won’t kill you, but I want you to know right now that I will be here for you and love you for as long as I can. Be it for just another moment, or forever. I love you.”
He dips her backwards, kissing her fiercely as a response. Her words were exactly what he needed to hear right now.
“We don’t have to go to Sunset Valley if you don’t want to.” He whispers.
“I know we don’t.” She answers. “But you want to go, and I think I do need a break from singing for a while. Six months won’t kill me, and the kids will love being able to see a new town. Tell your supervisor we’ll go.”
"Death Valley" is a song by Fall Out Boy, and since I came up with this plot line, I knew it would be the name for the chapter where Bayrose and Gem reconciled. There was also supposed to be a sex scene at the end, but I decided to delete it.
This is only step one for these two, but I think they're past the hardest part. You all got a nicer picture of Isidore up at the top, but apparently I have no other actual photos of him so far so... oops. >_> I'll fix that.
The next chapter or two will take place in Sunset Valley for the duration of their trip so it'll take some setting up. This chapter was originally going to be very different, but I think I like how it came out instead.
Thanks for reading!