On a clear and sunny day. 07/07
About: The Walkers (and I do mean The Walkers!!!)
Disclaimer: B&S isn’t mine.
Summary: It started as a clear and sunny day….
Warning: This story is about an Earthquake and it's effect on the Walkers...
A/N: Please, allow me some 'creative freedom' on this chapter. No clear reasons were given and no clear time-line either.
A WEEK LATER:
Scotty knocks on Kevin’s door and goes in to bring him their tea. Kevin quickly throws the pictures back in the file and looks up guiltily. Scotty gives Kevin his tea and takes his own cup. Scotty doesn’t have to see the pictures to know what file, on Kevin’s desk, is about. He sits down opposite of Kevin.
“I don’t want to start a fight, but is this wise? … I don’t understand why you asked Max Carter for this file. With everything that has happened, I wonder if opening up old wounds by staring at the pictures of Robert’s accident, will make you feel better. I’m worried about you.”
“I’m sorry. I know you are worried, but I’m okay.” Scotty doesn’t seem to agree with his words, Kevin can feel it. “So, alright, I admit it, maybe I’m not as okay as I’d like to pretend I am. It was all so weird in that hospital. One moment I was just reliving the entire accident and suddenly you were there…”
“The doctor explained that your second accident triggered your reactions to the first accident….” Scotty starts.
“I know! I sat next to you when the doctor explained it all. I’m not entirely stupid, you know.” Kevin snaps.
Scotty bites his lip. Kevin has been this short-tempered with him all week and it makes him feel so uncomfortable. Kevin sees Scotty’s reaction and closes his eyes for a second.
“Sorry, Scotty, I didn’t mean to yell at you.” He says softly. “but I can’t explain the turmoil in my head to you.”
He picks up the file and browses through it.
“It is the weirdest thing, Scotty. Whenever I try to remember either of the accidents, images seem to mix in my head. I can’t tell which of my memories belongs to Robert’s accident and which ones belong to mine.
It is like watching two movies simultaneously and in some places the movies are very much alike and in some instances they are completely different. And I remember certain clips and parts of the movie, but because I saw both of them at the same time, I don’t know which part belongs to what movie.
It’s frustrating, because I remember the car toppling over and thinking that I’m glad you’re not in the car with me, but at the same I see you next to me. I remember a car coming at me and getting hit by another car and I was terrified, because I couldn’t get out and I believe I’m going to die.
At the same time I unclick the safety-belt, fall down, I have a piece of glass through my hand, when I crawl out. Except there isn’t any glass, my hands are just fine, because I saw the car that was supposed to crash into mine gets hit by another car and I can see it slide by me…
I remember how dark it was, and all those lights from the cars, the smell of the asphalt as I crawled out of the car. At the same time, it’s a clear day. The sun is shining, there’s noise all around me. Paramedics are talking to me, but I can’t answer and at the same time I see them take Robert out of the car and onto a stretcher…
I hear myself telling them to come quickly and look at Saul, Sarah and mom…, but I can’t tell them my name, because everything inside me is locked.” His eyes fill with tears of frustration. Scotty takes his chair to sit beside Kevin and wrap an arm around him.
“I wish I could help you somehow.”
“Please be patient, I’m sorry if I snap at you. I know it’s not your fault. I don’t want to screw up what we have. Not again.”
“Don’t worry. I’m not going to make the same mistake again either.” Scotty says with a wry smile.
“I won’t give you the chance. I’ll be right here, when we re-open ‘Café 429’. Thank God, the damage to the restaurant and our house was minimal.”
“Besides, I believe that Saul only wants to hire waiters who are older than sixty, so little chance that I'll run into the same temptation.…”
"You did say that you like older boys.." Kevin gently teases. Scotty smiles, at the memory of a time so long gone, it seems.
“No. I love you. And neither of us is going to screw anything up, alright?”
He caresses Kevin’s face and places a soft kiss on Kevin’s lips. He can fell how Kevin relaxes a bit, when the kiss because more intense.
“Are you two at it again?” The door swings open and Olivia barges in. Kevin laughs and takes her in his arms to hug her.
“How was school?”
“Weird to be back. We’ve cleaned up the class-room though and the teach is alright again. Not even angry that I left without telling her where I was going. She was just glad I apologized for having done it…”
“Told you an apology goes a long way.” Scotty watches the high-five between his husband and his daughter and he shakes his head.
“Can I go see Daniel? Or is he asleep?” She asks, seeing the baby-monitor on Scotty’s belt.
“Asleep. And let him sleep a bit longer. I’m glad he’s finally back to normal too.. I’ll get you some warm milk…” Scotty walks to the door with Olivia, but when he turns around, he sees that Kevin is once again staring at the pictures. “Something is just not right….” He hears Kevin mutter and somehow those words make him uneasy.
Nora lets Saul guide her to her kitchen. It’s been a week since the quake and slowly things start to fall into place again. It’s not ‘all right’, but it’s not as messed up anymore either. It had been too busy for Nora’s head, that’s for sure, and Saul is worried about his sister.
After Tommy and Justin had gone through her house, they had to conclude that the house was still fine and it seemed like everything was it should be. The shed on the other hand was a big mess, but they had cleaned it up as well as they could, so it was one less worry on Nora’s mind.
Justin had been less fortunate. There are huge cracks in the walls of his living-room and it’s a question if and when he can return to his house. So, for the time being, he’s staying at Tyler’s place, which isn’t that inconvenient to him. Meanwhile, Saul is glad that Tommy is in Los Angeles at the moment to keep an eye on Nora and the house as well.
Sarah and Justin enter through the back-door and while hugs are shared, Saul realizes that he’s happy that they are so fortunate that their family is still intact. Jonathan has made coffee and tea. A bowl of cookies is waiting and they all settle around the kitchen table as they wait for the final guests to arrive.
Not long after, Kitty enters with Kevin and Scotty in tow. Again, a round of hugs, coffee gets served, there’s some small talk, but there’s a certain tension in the air.
“Alright, Kitty, spill, why did you ask for this meeting?” Tommy eventually asks. Kitty takes a deep breath and stands up.
“Scotty told me that Kevin is still suffering from the trauma that … Robert’s accident has left with him. And to tell you the truth, I still have issues as well and I also know that Justin still believes that he could have done things differently…”
“Thanks, Kevin.” Justin throws his brother an angry look.
“Actually, I heard it from Sarah.” Kitty defends Kevin.
“I overheard you and Kevin talk.” Sarah confesses. Justin rolls his eyes.
“Okay, putting whatever someone heard from another one aside, this is about an accident that happened 2 years ago?” Saul asks.
Kitty nods and Saul shakes his head.
“I understand, under the circumstances, how it would help Kevin, but …, I can’t see the purpose of calling a family-meeting…”
“We’ve never really discussed it as a family.” Nora interjects.
“No, but we each talked to someone. We all know where we stand with this.” Saul says.
“Do we? Do we really?” Sarah wonders.
“Yes, we’ve all put in the past. Where it belongs. And where it should stay.” Saul replies. Kitty looks uncomfortable.
“But it’s not in the past. It’s on my mind. Not every single day, but very often. Certainly every time I see Evan and realize that my son will not know what a wonderful father he had. I chose not to talk about it anymore, but now that I realize that two of my brothers are still having issues, I feel we should talk…”
“Then talk to Justin and Kevin, but it no longer concerns Nora, Sarah or me. Holly and Rebecca have moved on. And I seriously have to wonder if you’ve thought about the fact that discussing this, will also bring memories of the trouble Kevin and Scotty have had.”
“Thank, Saul, because I had really forgotten about those.” Kevin replies sarcastically.
“Sounds to me that you have been collectively trying to forget, rather than to deal with it.” Jonathan’s warm voice make everyone look at him. He smiles. “Sorry, Saul, but I’m not going to let you stand here, pretending that this doesn’t concern you, when I know that you still have nightmares about that night.”
Saul looks definitely caught in a lie and Nora has trouble hiding her smile.
“So we agree, that it still affects all of us?” Nora asks. There’s some humming of agreement around the table, including Sarah.
“What do you suggest we do about it?” Kevin wants to know.
“Perhaps we can talk about what happened?” Sarah starts.
“How? Group-session?” Justin asks cynically.
“You’re the one with the most experience with those...” Tommy reminds him. “…Okay. I wasn’t there. How about you each tell me what exactly happened that night.”
Tommy’s suggestion seems to be an acceptable one.
“I have admit, I don’t remember much. It all happened so fast.” Kitty shakes her head. Though she had come up with this idea, she’s suddenly not so sure that she wants to talk about it again.
The pain over losing Robert, the way he already left her that night, chokes her up and she, Kitty Walker-McCallister, can’t find the words to say what is going on in her mind.
Justin puts his cup down. He believes that his own memories of that night are maybe the least bad ones.
“All I know, is that one moment Rebecca and I were talking to Holly. Something about her and mom wanting to revisit the idea of a wedding in Hawaii for Becca and me.” Justin’s face obscures, remembering the smile on Rebecca’s face. Okay, so perhaps the memories run deeper than expected.
He realizes that it was that night that he really lost Rebecca. Perhaps they could have worked things out, given time and space… but the accident changed everything.
“Justin?” Scotty’s voice brings him back from his thoughts about Rebecca. What is done, is done. He can’t change a single thing anymore.
“Rebecca said no thanks, but the connection was broken” Justin continues. “And then we saw all the lights, the truck, the cars, the smoke and we realized that had been an accident. We got out and started running to see if somehow our family was involved. I remember people with blood on their faces, cars smashed against each other. People crying…
And then I saw Scotty. And I heard Rebecca call out Kevin’s name. He was on the other side of the car. Scotty said he was okay, so I checked out Kevin, but Kevin told me to go find the others… mom…”
“I had a piece of glass in my hand… I took it out. It hurt so much.” Kevin says quietly, as if in trance.
“I lost track of Rebecca, because I was looking at a woman who’s arm was broken…” Justin hasn’t really heard Kevin’s words.
“I saw Rebecca, she wanted to know what had happened, where her mother was….” Sarah bows her head, trying to rub the memory of that night away once more.
“I told Rebecca that Holly was hurt and that I couldn’t get her out of the car.” For a moment Holly’s blood covered face comes back to Nora. She had had her issues with Holly, but she remembers how terrified she had been at the thought that Holly was dead. Things had been better between them at that point.… Maybe they could have become friends…
“Rebecca run off.” Nora picks up her story. “I was looking for Saul, but Kevin found me first and then Saul …”
“I was bleeding. I remember seeing the blood and Kevin coming at me. He had blood on his hands as well. If he would have touched me….”
Saul covers his face with his hands and shakes his head. Jonathan wraps an arm around him and Saul looks up at him.
“I had to push him away. Had to. I had to admit to being HIV-positive… I could have made him sick… Very sick. Him. Scotty. Nora. Any of the other kids…”
Jonathan holds him tightly and the silence that falls after Saul’s words is so suffocating, that Justin takes up talking again.
“I ran to the front. I was hoping, against all odds, that somehow Kitty and Robert hadn’t been involved, but that they were on the other side of the truck. Safe and sound.
I hoped that it would be someone else, but the moment I saw Robert’s car, I knew it was bad.. I took one look at him and I knew he knew it too…” Justin swallows away the nausea that comes up at the memory of Robert’s face. He carefully looks at Kitty. She’s in tears, but she nods, still in tears.
“I knew, he was badly hurt, but I didn’t want to know..” She recognizes.
“Rebecca called me…” Justin says.
“Robert told you to go…. It was because he knew, wasn’t it?” Kitty asks.
“I think so.” Justin answers. “I’m so sorry… If there was anything I could have done…”
“You would have done it…” Kitty acknowledges and to Justin it feels as if a huge burden has been taken off his shoulders. “We talked. Robert and I. He told me that I was strong. Then he stopped talking… and I wanted him to stay with me. I wanted someone to help me. Someone to save Robert. I couldn’t let him go… I just couldn’t….”
Sarah’s arms are around Kitty. Nora quietly takes out the glasses of wine. Scotty pours some tea for Justin, Jonathan and himself. Looks like he’ll be driving tonight, if Kevin starts drinking, but Kevin covers his glass with his hand, signaling he’s not interested in wine.
He has a deep frown on his face and Scotty is surprised by that look. It had been Kevin’s face for a few days now. Obviously, Kevin must be trying to find out which part belongs which movie. He wishes he could see what Kevin sees and maybe sort things out with him, but he knows he can’t.
Tommy has been quiet for quite a while, but now he puts his glass down.
“You know what I never found out from any of you. What happened that caused the accident? I know a lot about the aftermath. The pain, the cars piled up. Robert ... but what actually happened..?”
Kitty shakes her head and Tommy assumes that she’s not ready to talk about it. Nora frowns.
“All I remember is, that I was looking outside. Not that I could see anything, but I was just toying with an idea for Holly and David’s wedding. Holly made some remark about that.
And then, swoosh, Holly screamed, hit the brakes, screeching wheels and bam!” She claps her hands rather loudly and somehow that sounds hits everybody in the kitchen.
“Swoosh?” Justin asks.
“Yes, swoosh. The car shook….”
“I had my hand in Robert’s neck, playing with the little hairs just at the line in his neck… They were so soft…” Kitty smiles through her tears. "Like mom, I was looking the other way. I felt Robert tense up. He said something, but I don’t know what and suddenly… I saw this truck coming at me. Glass shattered and .. Robert was covered in blood.”
“I wasn’t paying attention to anything. My mind was still on what the doctors had told me. I was HIV+ and I had no idea how to deal with it. I thought about making an appointment with my doctor once I got home. I didn’t plan to keep it a secret, but I just needed to deal with it first, by myself, before I could talk to someone else.
I only remember Holly’s scream and then the car swerved and that was it… I don’t even remember how I got out of the car. I just remember the blood on my hands and Kevin coming at me and I didn’t want him to touch me.” Saul sighs deeply as if telling all this has taken a lot out of him.
“I wasn’t really sleeping. I heard Kevin talk to Saul. It was a bit far away, I was just drifting on the border of sleeping and waking. I get car-sick if I wake up from sleeping in the car, but I was so tired…” Scotty explains, as if he has to apologize for it, which of course is not the case.
Now all eyes are on Kevin and Kevin feels the pressure.
“I.. I don’t know. Every time I try to remember specific details I feel like the images of this and my latest accident get mixed up.” He explains, looking rather distraught.
“Why?” Nora asks. “Something triggered something inside you?"
“It’s the black car, I think. I keep seeing it.” He frowns. “That night of the accident, there was this black car, who’d been behind me for quite a while. I remember I was annoyed by it, because it drove up too close several times. Like the driver wasn’t paying attention to me, but was looking at other things. I thought it was kind of reckless driving.”
“Did that car hit you? Is that the reason your car turned over?” Tommy asks and Kevin thinks hard, but shakes his head.
“It wasn’t at the crash-site.”
“There were cars before you and behind you involved in the crash. He had to have been.”
“But that’s exactly it, Tommy, he wasn’t. It’s all such a blur in my head, I can’t figure out…” Kevin hesitates and he closes his eyes. All he sees is the daylight and that black car coming at him. A week ago. He shakes and he can still the sound of the other car crashing into the black car… and the car slides by…
Suddenly Kevin opens his eyes.
“It passed me! The black car, behind me? It past me!... The idiot! It was a two lane highway. There were cars coming from the other direction. Coming right at us. Including the truck… He could have never made it!”
“So it was one of the cars that crashed in front of you?”
“No. He passed me. And another car. Then Holly’s car and then Robert’s… He was so stupid. He didn’t even try to pass one at a time. He just flung himself in front of Robert’s car…
And why? There was enough room for him to move between me and the other car, or that car and Holly's or even Holly and Robert. It was like… It was like…” He looks up at the others. “Forget it. I’m being stupid. It was just…. There was so much time where he could have passed me.
None of us were in a hurry, but if he had been, he could have easily passed me sooner, when there was little to no traffic coming from the other side. But it almost feels as if he waited, waited for there to be a group of cars to suddenly increase speed and pass us. It was such an insane thing to do.”
“Speed? That could explain the ‘whoosh’ feeling I had.” Nora says. “The feeling when something big overtakes you, like you’re being pushed a little off the road. It’s such a normal thing, that I hadn’t really paid attention, but it could have been a car, I just didn’t notice.”
Silence falls again and Sarah is taken back to that particular moment as well. The way the car shook and something about Holly…. Sarah tries hard to remember. It all happened so fast and she had preferred to push it all away, not wanting to deal with all the grief.
“Holly must have seen him coming too. I remember that she screamed something! I was in the back, and I hadn’t notice him until Holly made a noise. But that car literally cut Robert off.” Sarah says. “The truck on the other side saw Robert turn his wheel to the left, meaning Robert ended up on his side of the road.
The driver tried to avoid a collision with Robert by turning away as well, but the truck jack-knifed. At the same time Robert’s car flung back on his own side of the road….”
“I got flung in all directions… I don’t remember a car, only Robert’s scream and the truck coming at us….” Kitty cries.
“I always thought the truck was the cause of the accident?” Justin asks.
“No.” Kitty says decidedly. “No. Something or someone caused the truck and Robert to swerve. There was enough space between Robert and truck. Something caused Robert to make a mistake and the truck responded to Robert.. I’m sure of that.
But I don’t remember what caused Robert to react the way he did. If it was indeed a car, like everyone suggests, why was Robert so caught off-guard by it?”
“I can only speak for myself, but I realize now, that I was actually paying more attention to the black car than to the cars right in front of me.
I can imagine that Robert had expected the car to squeeze itself between him and Holly and not fling himself between Robert and a truck coming from the other side. Maybe Robert was paying too much attention as well and he realized too late what the repercussions were…” Kevin falls silent.
They all remain quiet, each in his or her own thoughts, each reliving the memories in their own way, until Sarah takes up again.
“Can I say something that sounds really, really stupid? But since we’re all here, I’d like to just address it?”
“Go ahead.” Saul replies.
“It almost like… like someone purposely ran Robert off the road.”
“On purpose? As in: not accidentally? That is ridiculous. Why would anyone? Robert was no longer running for any office. He was no threat to anyone.” Kevin shrugs it off.
Kitty’s eyes become wide. She dismisses the thought that comes back to her, and yet…
“There was this guy who wanted a big defense-contract. He was corrupt. Robert had the tapes to prove it…” She whispers, unable to speak out loud what idea has formed itself in her head.
“Oh, no, not Stanton?” Kevin asks horrified.
“Stanton.” Kitty confirms.
“I warned Robert. Stanton is the prince of darkness. I told him that.”
“When we had this charity tennis-match with Luc and Sarah.” Kevin answers Kitty’s question, who starts to look very angry.
“No. I just saw them talk together at the bar. Warned Robert to stay away from Stanton.”
“Stanton is trouble. He only sees money and he doesn’t care over whose backs he has to walk to get it… But, please, tell me that Robert was not involved with Stanton?”
“He had evidence that could ruin Stanton.”
“And Stanton knew?”
“Yes, I think so. Robert believed that the whole ridiculing of my campaign was Stanton’s work. But we faced him and we got out of it.” Kitty replies, but her little victorious smile disappears when she sees the look on Kevin’s face.
“You don’t think…?”
“You don’t fuck around with guys like Stanton.” Kevin shakes his head. “What happened to the evidence?” He now wants to know. Kitty frowns, trying to remember what she could about the tapes and what had happened to them.
“I don’t know. We never needed it. With Robert in hospital, I quit and the deal went to someone else instead of Stanton, so him not getting the contract had nothing to do with either Robert or me.” She explains, but her words don’t put Kevin’s mind to rest.
“Where is the evidence?” He asks again.
“Safe. In a safe place. Maybe that is why Stanton doesn’t take any risks.” Kitty snaps.
“I see.” Kevin says, seemingly in control, but inside him a fire has been ignited… “Well, I don’t know about you guys, but I think this evening has been eventful and emotional enough. I’m out of here. I need to put things into perspective. Come on, Scotty, we’re leaving.”
A bit surprised by Kevin’s sudden desire to leave, Scotty follows his husband in saying goodbye to everyone. Once outside, however, he grabs Kevin’s arm.
“Do you really believe that this guy had something to do with Robert’s accident?”
“No. Of course not.” Kevin replies. “It was just a stupid accident.”
Scotty feels uncomfortable. He doesn’t believe Kevin and Kevin can sense that.
“I’m sorry, Scotty… I’ll be more specific. I believe that Stanton COULD have been responsible. He certainly has the money and the connections. But … what proof do I have?
Robert had something on him. What it really threatening for Stanton? And would it have served his purpose to kill Robert? Would it not have been smarter to keep Robert as a friend or at least an enemy that you can use. It’s all in the political game. I want to blame somebody for Robert’s death, but that doesn’t mean Stanton is guilty.”
Scotty nods in silence. Kevin and his very annoying brain are no strangers to him. He can see the logic in Kevin’s words and it makes him feel more comfortable. He listens to the humming of the motor and closes his eyes and therefore doesn’t notice the look on Kevin’s face.
Kevin’s lips are a straight line. His grip on the wheel is too tight. Stanton! Kevin curses Robert with every word he can think off. How could Robert have been so stupid? Kevin’s knuckles are white from his grip. To him there’s no doubt in his mind that Stanton is guilty and Kevin will make him pay the price.