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[personal profile] parallax23
The Shortest Distance

Summary: When Kris and Junior’s fairy tale ending hits a snag, they return home to Raintree to find themselves again.

Chapter 4

Dani couldn’t believe her eyes.  One minute Kris and Junior were dancing like love-struck teenagers, and the next Kris was running off to escape him.  Dani sighed and followed after Kris.  Her brother didn’t deserve that.  Kris had to stop torturing both of them.

“What was that?” Dani demanded when she entered the house and found Kris sitting alone in the living room.  She sat down next to her.

Kris ran her hands through her hair in frustration.  “I don’t know.  I don’t even know where to begin.”

“Okay, what’s going on?” Matt asked when he walked into the house.  Jean, Pablo and Junior were trailing behind him.  “I’m officially done with pretending that Kris and Junior haven’t been acting strange since they got here.”

“Don’t worry about it,” said Kris.  “We just had a fight.  That’s it.”

“You’re talking to me here.  I’ve seen you two fight more than anyone except maybe Dani,” said Matt.  “We’re all here for you.”

Suddenly, all eyes were on Kris and she felt cornered.  She didn’t say anything.

“Well, it’s comforting to know that I’m not the only one you’re shutting out,” Junior muttered.

“What’s that supposed to mean?” Kris shot back, rising to her feet.

Junior moved to closer to where she stood.  “Kris, we can’t keep going in circles like this.  We’re going into the kitchen alone to sort this out.  Now.”

“Are you going to make me?” asked Kris standoffishly.

“Kris, Junior…” Jean tried to intervene, but it was too late.

“At this point?  Yes.”  Junior grabbed her arm, but Dani moved between them.  The others watched on.

“Junior, stop it,” said Dani.  “She’s –”

“Dani, no,” Kris interrupted.

“Tell him,” Dani told her pleadingly.

“I can’t –” Kris started to say, but Dani wasn’t going to let this game continue.

“Kris is pregnant,” Dani blurted out.  It was the only way to put an end to this insanity.  If Kris was going to keep digging herself further into trouble, Dani had to stop it.  Her brother deserved the truth too.  Kris had left her no choice.

At that moment, they could hear a pin drop in the room.  No one moved again until Junior sighed.

“I know,” he said heavily.

Kris stared at him.  “What?”

“I’m not as much of a bonehead as you, Dani and Matt still think I am,” said Junior.  “We’re not kids anymore.”

“Everyone, let’s leave these two alone,” said Pablo, gently ushering Dani away from the couple.

Jean steered Matt and Dani back outside.  Before Pablo left them alone, he caught Kris’s gaze and he remembered the girl he once knew.  Some habits died hard, and some never stayed buried for too long.

Junior and Kris didn’t move from where they stood, less than a foot apart but never further apart from each other than they were at this very moment.  She wrapped her arms around herself and looked at him, unsure how this was going to proceed.

“You still have nothing to say?” asked Junior.  “Unbelievable.”

“I’m still processing it,” she replied.  She could’ve kicked herself for that lame response, but her legs had a mind of their own.

He shook his head.  “Are you serious?”

“How did you find out?”  Kris asked.

Junior stared at her unflinchingly.  “To be honest, there were a few obvious signs.  Then your doctor’s office called and left a message on my phone by accident last week.”

Kris nodded.  “I’m sorry I didn’t tell you right away.  Everything’s been so screwed up lately… I just kept thinking that somehow things would magically fix themselves and I’d know how and when to tell you…  Except here we are…”

Junior rubbed his face with his hands in frustration.  This was too much.  It was supposed to be one of the greatest moments of his life, and instead he wasn’t sure what he felt now.  He knew that they were having a rough time, but he didn’t imagine that their relationship had gotten to this point.  He hadn’t escaped the Davis curse after all.  Were they too far gone?

“Say something!” Kris commanded when Junior didn’t say anything for a minute.

He sighed.  “I need some space.”

Then he walked out of the house, leaving Kris standing alone.  She wanted to chase after him, but she knew that he needed to a chance to absorb everything.  As she stood there, she realized that she finally had the space she kept asking for.  It wasn’t what she needed after all.

--------------------------------------------------------------

“Do you want to talk about it?” asked Jean as she sipped her morning coffee.

Kris was seated across from her, staring at her food more than eating it.

They were the only ones in the kitchen that morning.  The party had gone on as if nothing happened, and no one brought up her argument with Junior for the rest of the evening.  He had kept his distance from her, then he went home to Davis Farm after an hour.  Kris wasn’t sure what she was supposed to do now.

“Where do I even begin?  Where does any of this actually begin?” Kris asked, looking at Jean.

Jean put down her coffee mug.  “Sometimes, it’s not the best idea to start from the beginning.  Why not deal with what’s happening now, then trace it back?”

Kris studied Jean for a moment, then she nodded.  “Last night was not how Junior was supposed to find out.  We didn’t plan on having kids yet, but someday, you know?  I knew something was off, but I didn’t know until after the accident.  The doctors picked it up in the blood tests.  We were really lucky that everything was okay considering my fall.”

“Tough kid,” said Jean.

“Like his parents…  I couldn’t believe it.  I didn’t want to for a while.  I’m a jockey,” Kris admitted.  “Well, I used to be...”

Jean nodded.  “You knew this life wasn’t forever.  Most jockeys retire at your age.  Didn’t you ever imagine your life off the track?”

Kris sat up straight.  “Wait, aren’t you curious how I feel about being someone’s mother?”  Then the realization hit her.  Jean was letting her steer the conversation.  “I’m good at being a jockey.  That’s who I am.  It’s all I am.  I don’t have an artistic bone in my body, or a head for business.  I’m no good at being someone’s wife, their daughter, their sister… How can I be a good mother?”

“Who on earth told you that?” asked Jean.

“Jace,” Kris said and let out a sigh.  “He contacted me about three months ago… He patched things up with our father and he called to invite me to attend this wedding of a half-sister I’ve never heard of.  We barely speak and I didn’t want to get pulled into his fake happy family scheme.  Then it turned into this huge argument – we both said some things we both probably regret now.”

Kris hadn’t told Junior about the phone call.  She had been so furious at Jace, and she knew Junior would encourage her to make things right with her family.  Junior didn’t understand that they weren’t the type of people who had family dinners and slideshows from their trip to Ireland.  She couldn’t get caught up in their schemes.  Still, she missed how things used to be between her and Jace.  Now Jace had a new sister, one who wanted to know their father and be the sister he couldn’t get Kris to be.

“He was so hurt that he wasn’t the one to walk me down the aisle at my wedding.  He didn’t even get to see it because he was on the East Coast.  Our relationship was never perfect, but he took all of this so badly – like I did it on purpose.  I should’ve tried to fix it then, but I can’t take it back.”

Jean put her arm around Kris.  “Let me guess, the whole world seemed like it was caving in on you from all sides.”

Kris leaned her head on Jean’s shoulder.  “It was one stupid argument.  I knew if I told Junior, he’d insist we go to Oakland the next day to make it right.  He would tell me that I should go to the wedding.  As messed up as the Davis clan is, they always stuck together.  My family isn’t like that.”

She had kept all of it bottled up inside for so long, she was surprised that she even had the words to explain it all.  There was still more.

“Then that annoying brat wouldn’t stop following Junior around like a lovesick puppy.  All I could think was how I felt like a teenager again, trying to prove my place in his life,” Kris continued.  “It sounds silly now, but I just let it get to me.  And Montana felt it.  That’s why she threw me.”

“It’s okay,” Jean said soothingly.

“I’ve really made a mess of things,” Kris said, shaking her head.   “It felt like I’d lost control, and I just wanted some space to figure it out.  I wanted us to be in a good place when I told Junior about the baby.  Now look at us.”

“You know, I think what’s hurt him the most is that you didn’t just tell him what was going on,” Jean told her.  “You should’ve been straight with him from the beginning.  Instead, you ended up going in circles trying to avoid the truth.”

“How do I fix this?”

“By going back to the problem that started it all,” Jean answered.  “You actually want to go to that wedding, don’t you?  You need closure.  Even if your family is exactly what you think they are, you need to see it for yourself.”

Kris sat up right and studied Jean as she considered what was said.  There had been a part of her that was curious about them, especially when she was going to start a new family of her own.

“Kris, you need to understand what you’re really upset about.  After that, you’ll deal with Junior and be able to give him an honest answer about what’s going on,” Jean said.

“You’re right,” Kris admitted.  She had been hiding from the truth for so long.  She was scared that it would change everything that she knew about her family and about herself.  “How’d you get to be so wise?”

“By screwing up a lot,” Jean said plainly.  “No one is born knowing all the answers in life.  We learn as we go.  People are always growing and changing.  Remember that change is the only constant in life.”

“I guess I was afraid of all of the changes that have been going on… Part of why I came back here was so I could find myself again in a familiar place… except I see now that a lot of things have changed, but so have I…” Kris said.  “I think I know what I have to do now.”


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