~ Learn Along the Way ~
by Eveh

Disclaimer of everything: I really hate this part but um?these characters are mine and the story is mine. If you've never heard of my previous story Accident and all those that follow then you will really need to read them in order to know what is going on in this story. There is some language here, but it's not really that bad. No violence. No sex. No drugs. And no rock n' or roll. There are two women here that are in a loving relationship and if you don't like that sort of thing then this story isn't for you.

If you'd like you can write me and tell me your thoughts or just chat at xengab01@aol.com. © 2001-02

You know there's just something about a good nights rest that just can't be beat. It was really unfortunate that I couldn't get one the night I had thought that I had taken care of most of my duties to my family upon my return. The weight was supposed to have been lifted off my shoulders and I was supposed to be feeling like I was free from my burdens. That, however, was not at all how I felt. Instead of feeling free and liberated I felt like something else had been placed upon me to carry. There was something else that I would have to deal with; I just didn't know what it was at the time.

I got some sleep the first night I had slept in my old room after not being there for a while, but I didn't get a lot. Something was bothering me, something inside me just didn't feel right and I knew that it had nothing to do with the baby. It wasn't exactly physical it was just something emotional. I had no clue what was going on with me, so I decided to just ignore it. I was going to practice the "if you ignore it then it doesn't exist" theory.

My first morning back in my parents' home I woke up early, after not haven really fallen asleep, and made a nice breakfast for the entire household. Riana woke up and started crying so I took care of her and let her "help" me prepare our meal. It was really nice to just spend time with my little sister after not seeing her for the time I was away. She had grown up so much and she had learned to say new words?even if they weren't that understandable. Riana just looked at the world in such a new way that it filled me up with a sense of joy to be able to share her new discoveries with her. I missed that. I really missed that.

Riana and I made a very nice meal and then left to wake up our parents. They usually didn't sleep in so long, but it was my guess that they were up late. I would prefer to think that they were up late continuing their talk about me, but I'm sure that wasn't the case?but mind you I don't want to know what the case is. Before Riana could just burst into the room I made her knock gently and after a few moments we were finally called inside.

I picked up Riana and walked slowly into the darkened room. My sister squirmed in my grasp, she would have much preferred to just run into my parents' bedroom and jump into the bed. I reached the bed with the still squirming toddler in my grip and looked down into the tired eyes of my parents. My mom's blue eyes were open and she seemed ten times more alert then the blonde headed figure that was facing away from us.

"Mama!" Riana screamed in joy while continuing to wiggle in my arms. I finally let my charge go and she jumped onto the bed straight into our mom's lap. Dana instinctively caught the small bundle and looked pointedly at me. I just smiled at her and shrugged.

I took another glance over at Sam who still looked like she was oblivious to the world. I went over to her side of the bed, and turned on the lamp that rested on the nightstand next to her. "Wakey wakey," I bent down and told her softly.

"Go away," was the mumbled reply. I just chuckled lightly and looked over at Dana who was staring at Sam with a loving glint in her deep blue eyes. Once again I was reminded of how much my parents did love each other and for the first time ever a little wave of jealously coursed through me.

Usually when I saw the loving gazes my parents bestowed on each other I was proud. I was happy. I was never jealous?how could I be jealous of such a love? On this day however, I was jealous. Not only was I jealous, I was a little angry too. I wasn't angry with them, I was angry with myself. I was upset that I had settled for a love that was nowhere near the love that my parents shared.

I had settled first for Richard and that turned out badly. But hey, at that time I was young, I was still learning about my emotions. Then there was Kel, and I wasn't even sure how that was working out. All I knew was that it wasn't the same as what my parents had. And of course then there was Jose. There was no love in that relationship, but I had settled for what he called "love" and had accepted it as such. None of these relationships that I had had was anywhere near what my parents shared.

But like I said, I was young. I didn't need to find my true love just yet. Still, that didn't mean I couldn't be a little jealous of what my parents had found. I didn't know if I was ever going to find it myself.

"Tori are you alright?" Sam's voice brought me out of my thoughts. She was now sitting up in bed and her green orbs were looking at me worriedly.

I cleared my throat and stood up and moved away from the bed. "Yeah?yeah I'm fine. I just came to tell you two that I made breakfast this morning," I caught sight of Riana and remembered her help in the kitchen and knew how important me recognizing her help would mean to her. "Actually Riana and I made breakfast," I spared my sister a brief smile, "she was a really big help. It's ready whenever you guys are." I finished then left my parents' bedroom as quickly as I could without causing too much suspicion.

Even though I was still in my nightclothes and didn't have any shoes on I stepped outside to the front of the house and sat down on the steps that led to the porch. I looked out at the neighborhood street that had no cars passing through only cars resting beside the curbs. In the yard a few doors down there were some kids outside playing in the early morning running around freely. There was a slight chill in the air but it was quickly being led away by the slow rise of the sun.

I just sat there on those porch steps and felt lost. I had just come home and I was in the place that I knew I needed to be, but for some reason I felt lost. I placed the palm of my hand down on my stomach, for maybe the first time since I had found out I was pregnant, and tried to connect with the life that was within me. I closed my eyes and just thought, I don't know what's going on with me right now and I may never know, but if you'll just bare with me all the way to the end, I promise I'll be the best mother you could ever wish for.

When I opened my eyes I was only slightly surprised to find Dana sitting next me on the steps. I had expected her to show up. I looked at her for a moment and her eyes just looked back. I was surprised to see a certain amount of understanding in her eyes. I had expected for her to start asking me questions to get an idea of what was going on in my head. I had expected for her to ask me how I was feeling and expected her to get me to start talking. I had not expected her to just understand.

She reached her arms out and I scooted closer to her and allowed her to wrap her arms around me. I leaned against her and we both just sat on the porch steps and stared out into the neighborhood absorbing the familiar sounds and feelings.

"I love you Tori," Dana whispered to me after we had sat there for a time.

I shifted in her embrace so that I could get a good look at her. "I love you too, Mom." She nodded at me once and gave me a small peck on the top of my head then I pulled away from her knowing that it was time we got back inside to have a family breakfast.


Eventually, I did leave my parents' home if only to just go out to be by myself for a while. I took my car and took a short trip to the park. I walked around on one of the trails and just relished in the fresh air and the children's happy faces. While I was walking I heard a familiar voice call my name and had the urge to just start running, but clamped down on it.

"Richard," I turned around and greeted my old friend.

"Hey Tori, I didn't know that you were back in town." He said panting slightly from running to catch up with me.

"I was unaware that you knew that I was out of town," I continued walking hoping that he wouldn't follow.

Richard did follow me however and just timed his step with my own. "I called your house after what had happened the last time we saw each other," he rushed out. "Sam told me that you had left town for a while and she wasn't quite sure when you would be back."

"Yes well?I uh?just returned a few days ago."

"Where did you go off to? It seems like you took a really long vacation." He said lightly obviously not picking up on the fact that this subject wasn't something that I wanted to discuss.

"I ended up going to Colorado."

"You know school's already started up again. Actually, it started back up a while ago. Are you still going to go to school in?where were you going before?"

I took a deep breath of fresh air and steeled myself for this conversation. Hopefully he would be the last one that I had to tell anything to about Colorado. "I went to school in Texas, but I don't think I'll be returning there. Bad memories, you know." I let out a rueful chuckle. "I'll probably have to finish getting my basics done at the local community college. It doesn't make sense to enroll into a university if I'm only going to have to drop out soon afterwards."

"Why would you have to do that?" Richard asked perplexed.

"I'm pregnant."

I stole a look at Richard who had stopped walking at my revelation. His mouth had formed an "oh" shape but nothing came out. I stopped walking as well and waited for him to gather himself to that he could catch up with me.

"Are you married?"

I thought this to be an odd question. I had actually thought the first thing that he would ask would be, 'You're pregnant?' like so many other people had done.

"No, I'm not married. The father and I have since split up."

"He's not going to help you raise the child?"

I really didn't see how any of this was his business, but he was a friend, or at least he used to be a friend. I could tell that he was concerned for me. "No he's not. He really doesn't even know that I'm pregnant with his child. We really weren't very close and he wasn't the most stellar of individuals."

"I see," He said slowly and I could tell that he was thinking furiously about something. I figured that he was just trying to work out the details of all that I had told him. "Are you going to be doing this on your own?" He grabbed me by the arm and forced me to stop walking.

"No," I shook my head. "Of course not. I have the help of my family and Kel has promised to help me out. I'm not in any lack of support."

Richard seemed to maul this over for a moment. "I know this is really none of my business, Tori, but are you and Kel?" He made a motion with his hands that was obviously supposed to work as a substitute for the simple words, 'seeing each other' or 'partners' or 'girlfriends'.

I considered lying to him for a moment or making him actually say the dreaded words, but decided that I didn't want to play any games at the moment. "Kel and I are just friends, Richard. That's all that we've really ever been and that's all that we will ever be."

I could see that for some reason my words had actually eased some of the tension that had built up in his muscular shoulders. "But you're right, it is none of your business." I couldn't help but make that clear to him.

The tension once again appeared on his shoulders and he bowed his head in a bit of shame. I did not regret my words.

We continued walking again and the conversation about my little 'vacation' had come to an end. There was no more I would say to him and I think that Richard finally understood that. Instead we talked about what he had been doing since last we had talked and not once did we mention what had transpired between us when last we had met.

I thought that we had both understood then that whatever was between us was over.


The next few weeks past with me keeping busy just taking care of all the details that needed to be taken care of for the life I had chosen to lead. I had to enroll in the community college and start studying vigorously. I had to get an obstetrician, because it was my understanding that I might need one. Basically what I did was put my life in order.

I didn't continue to stay with my parents; I actually did leave to live in my own apartment. Kel offered to live with me at first, but I didn't think that that would be such a good idea. Even though I desperately wanted her help and support, I didn't want to make it so that her life revolved around me. I wanted her to continue working and I wanted her to go out on the weekends, sometimes without me, and have fun. The simple fact was that my life wasn't Kel's.

To encourage her to continue leading her life any way that she saw fit I took it upon myself to go out without her. Don't get me wrong, we spent our fare share of time together, but I made sure that we also spent time apart. I'd go out with Richard sometimes, our friendship having been rekindled since our meeting in the park, or I'd spend time with my family. There were a lot of things that I could do without being with Kel, and I wanted to show her that.

I can't really say enough how important it was to me that Kel maintain her own life. I guess that I felt that she had already given up so much for me that I just didn't want her to give up anymore. I wanted her to create her own life. I wanted her to go out and date and be just the young adult that she was. I knew that when I had decided to have my child that I had given up that chance of being a carefree young adult.

On one such night that I had forced Kel to go out without me, I went out to dinner with Richard. He took me out to a fancy restaurant, telling me that I needed to have fine cuisine instead of the crap that I would usually eat. I didn't think much of where we were going. I just figured that if it served food then it was good enough for me.

I still got dressed up though for the occasion and Richard came to pick me up. He was wearing an understated suit and looked a little nervous. I had no idea why he would be anxious about the night, so I ignored all the signals that he was sending off?all the signals that I should have been tallying up and paying much closer attention to.

We arrived at the restaurant, I actually forget the name of the place now, and had a very nice intimate dinner. If I hadn't of known better I would have thought that it was a dinner date. Actually if I had been sitting at another table in the place looking over at Richard and I having dinner, I would have thought that we were a nice young couple enjoying a special night together. Or at least, I would have thought that if I hadn't of known better.

And damn I really should have known better.

The dinner was soon coming to an end and it was time to order dessert. We were sitting at the table talking about something relatively mundane when our waitress returned with the chocolate raspberry cake that we had ordered and when I stuck my fork in it I hit upon something that definitely didn't belong inside my cake. To my great surprise, it was a ring?an engagement ring to be precise.

"I know you normally put the ring in champagne, but since you can't drink any alcohol I had to be a little more inventive. I hope you like it." Richard rushed out when I held up the ring with a clearly confused expression on my face.

"The ring's nice, but um?what is this about?" I examined the ring closely as if it were some type of foreign object that had very wrongly made its presence into my life.

"Well?" Richard ran his hand through his hair. "?I guess that if I'm going to do this then I better do it right." He wiped his mouth with the napkin on his lap then placed it on the table and stood up to walk over to my side of the table. When he got in front of me he bent down on one knee and even before he could open his mouth I jumped out of my chair and forced him to take the ring back.

"Don't make a fool of yourself here Richard, because there is no way that I would ever say yes." I whispered to him as I was handing him the ring. "Just stand up and kiss me." He looked at me awkwardly. "I wouldn't want you to loose face in front of a bunch of people you don't know. I'm not a total bitch."

Richard nodded then stood up and took me in his arms. He gave me a rather heated kiss that I pulled away from after a descent amount of time. I smiled at him and caressed his cheek. "You're a good guy Richard and a great friend. There's someone who's out their for you, believe me."

The restaurant patrons all clapped and congratulated us on our engagement. I just smiled and thanked them hoping that no one would recognize that I was Victorianna Elizabeth Ann Marcus. I didn't want it put into every newspaper and entertainment rag that I was now engaged, because it simply wasn't true.

Just to make sure that no one that I knew that would know me was in the restaurant I took a quick glance around and when I had made a complete one hundred and eighty degree turn I was staring into a very familiar face. Kel was standing right behind me with a woman I assumed was her date for the evening. For some reason, I didn't think that this was going to be a very pleasant situation.

Kel didn't really say anything to me; she just looked at me asking me with silence about what was going on. She didn't need to ask anything really. I could tell what she was thinking by simply looking into her eyes.

"Aren't you going to introduce me to your?friend?" I looked past her toward the woman that was standing behind her. She seemed very uncomfortable with the situation and looked as if she was about to just excuse herself and make a dash towards the exit.

Kel shifted her stance and brought the woman behind her up next to her. "This is Megan, my date for the evening. Megan, this is Victorianna."

I guessed that because Kel used my full first name that she was unhappy. I don't really understand what she had to be unhappy about. Just because I seemed like I had just gotten engaged it really didn't concern her. It was my life and I sort of resented her for making me feel like I had been caught doing something wrong.

"Well it's nice to meet you Megan," I held out my hand, which she tentatively took. "I hope that you have a very pleasant evening."

"Thank you," Megan said confused. I think she half expected me to treat her badly because I guess she figured that Kel and I had a "past". Megan seemed like a nice enough woman who really didn't look like she wanted to be causing any trouble. I didn't blame her for wanting to bolt.

Richard came up beside me when he finally noticed that I was talking to Kel and very absentmindedly went on to greet Kel in a friendly fashion not noticing the tension that surrounded use. Kel greeted him in an overly friendly manner that seemed to actually make her seem almost hostile.

"Well, it's nice to see you Kel." Richard continued on not noticing the Kel shot daggers through his head. "I hope that you have a nice evening. This place is really nice."

"I'll be sure to make the most of what's left of my night," Kel responded with a smile that didn't reach her eyes.

Richard turned to me. "Well are you ready to go? I wouldn't want to make any more of an ass out of myself than I already have."

I nodded to him. "I'll just meet you outside in a sec. I'm just going say goodbye to Kel."

Richard looked between Kel and I then just nodded his head and left. I think he might have finally picked up on some of the tension that surrounded us.

When Richard was out the door I turned to Kel completely ignoring Megan and spoke with as much strength as I could muster. "God knows why I'm going to tell you this, but Richard and I are just friends and that's all that we ever will be. He did propose to me in a crowded room and instead of telling him 'no' aloud in the crowded room I decided to allow him to save some face. We're not getting married and he knows that?and now you do." My eyes shifted to Megan then quickly back to Kel. "Have a nice night, my friend. I'm sure I'll see you again soon." Then, I just turned and walked out without looking back. I was incredibly tired of the crap that I went through between Richard and Kel. They were both fighting for something that they could never have. I just wished that they could understand that.


"So he proposed to you?" Sam asked me as she handed me a cup of lemon tea and took a seat beside me at the kitchen table.

I took the tea from her and sipped it allowing the warm liquid to course down my throat and warm me up inside. "Well, he actually didn't ever get a chance to say the words, I cut him off before he could do that."

"You said 'no' right?"

I gave my mother an incredulous look. "Do you think I would have said 'yes'?"

"Who knows," Sam shrugged. "You might have decided to?" her voice trailed off and she just shook her head. "No, you wouldn't have ever accepted."

"I'm glad we agree on that." I took another sip of my tea then recalled the rest of the event of the night before. "Of course wouldn't you know that Kel was in the exact same restaurant that we were when all this was going down."

"Really?" Sam looked genuinely surprised. "That must have been fun," she said sarcastically.

"Oh it was," I told her drolly. "Kel and I stood in the middle of the restaurant staring each other down until I finally just told her that there was no way I would be engaged to Richard."

"What did she say after that?"

"I don't know." I sighed. "I just sort of walked out in a huff. I was really upset that she made me feel like I was doing something wrong."

Sam's compassionate eyes studied me for a moment. "Do you feel like you've done something wrong?"

"No," I immediately answered then sat back in my seat wondering if I did indeed feel like I had been caught with my hand in the cookie jar. After some quick thinking I shook my head firmly. "No, I really don't feel like I've done something wrong. I mean, Kel was there on a date and I was there with a friend who just decided he wanted to propose to me."

"Why do you think he did that anyway?" Sam asked sincerely. "Richard has always been a nice young man but what would drive him to do such a thing?"

"I thought about that almost all last night," I admitted remembering my restless night of tossing in turning in my bed replaying the entire night in my mind. "The only reason I could come up with is that Richard didn't want me to do this alone. I think he wanted to take a shot out of making a family."

"Aww?"Sam placed her hand over her heart. "That is so sweet. A little too much 'knight in shining armor for me', but still really sweet."

"Yeah Mama it was great." I shifted in my chair uncomfortably. "It just made my day."

"Oh Tori don't get me wrong, I understand how uncomfortable a situation that must have been for you but," Sam grinned widely, "it's really sweet. He wanted to make an honest woman of you."

I couldn't help but roll my eyes at the thought. "He has almost no chance whatsoever of making an 'honest' woman out of me." I stared intently at my quickly disappearing tea. "Besides," I let out a long breath, "did the feminist movement never happen?"

"Your mom and I raised you and are raising another daughter by ourselves as a couple," my mama pointed out succinctly. "I would have to say that the feminist movement did happen. As well as the gay movement, and a whole lot of others actually that I can't quite think of at the moment."

I raised my brow as my mother in a very Dana like fashion. "Must I explain to you what a rhetorical question is?"

Sam shook her head but smiled brightly at me. "Don't be such a smart ass, Tori."

"Ummmm," I covered my mouth with the palm of my hand. "You said a baaad word. I'm going to tell on you."

Sam just rolled her eyes at me and crossed her arms over her chest. "Would you like to have an adult conversation or do want me to apologize for using inappropriate language and give you a cookie?"

"Weelll," I gave her my best puppy dog expression, "I really do like cookies and I am sort of hungry."

"You," Sam pointed at me, "Are no doubt your Mom's daughter."

I sat straight up in my chair. "What is that supposed to mean?"

Sam just threw her hands up in the air and stood up from her seat. "I've got sugar cookies and chocolate chip, what kind do you want?"


A couple of hours later I was preparing to leave for a evening class when the doorbell rang and Sam answered it only to reveal Kel standing there looking particularly chagrin. "Can I speak to Tori, Sam?"

Sam looked back at me and I gave her a slight nod then she stepped aside and let Kel into the house. "I'm going to go do?I'm just going to go." My mama turned around and walked down the hallway towards her bedroom then shut the door behind her. I always remembered her being a little subtler then that, but I guess her hanging out with Dana for so long had worn some of her delicateness away.

Once Sam was away from what almost promised to be a slight altercation, Kel moved over to where I was standing with my backpack ready to go.

"You going to class?" She asked pointing out the obvious.

I nodded. "What is it you want Kel, because frankly I won't stand here to hear anything short of an apology?"

"Well," Kel fidgeted. "I was just surprised last night and I acted immaturely."

I put my hands on my hips. "Kel, that didn't sound like an apology. Usually apologies sound something like; 'I'm sorry that you would think that I would even consider that you would marry anyone without at least telling you I was seeing someone first, and that I would think that you would get back with Richard without even telling me.'"

Kel looked at me surprised but she quickly recovered. "I'm sorry I didn't know better and I'm sorry that I didn't give you a chance to explain."

"Now that's an apology." I gave her a friendly pat on the shoulder. "Come on, you can take me to class. I'll just leave my car here."

"Okay." Kel reached over and took my bag. "I'm happy to be your chauffer, madam."

I chuckled. "Whatever. Just get me to my class." We started to walk out the door when I remembered that Sam was holed up in her room. "Mama, I'm leaving and Kel's taking me. I'll be back here tonight for dinner!" I yelled.

"Okay Tori," My mother's voice yelled back. "Your Mom will be home by then with Riana!"

We walked through the doorway and over to Kel's incredible new Acura. "Where are Dana and the little tyke anyway?" Kel asked me as we got into the vehicle.

"I'm not really sure." I shrugged. "Sam just told me that Dana had taken Riana out because she was expecting visitors or something."

"What visitors?"

"I'm not sure. They certainly didn't show up while I was there. I don't know maybe they cancelled or something."

"Yeah. Maybe."

A half hour later I was sitting in class taking notes on some subject, which I took absolutely no interest in wondering who would be visiting Sam who she didn't want around Riana or Dana. Unfortunately, I was no closer to the answer than I was to actually understanding the words that were coming out of my professor's mouth. On both counts, I'd just have to wait until I could ask someone to explain what was going on to me.


Kel picked me up after my classes were over. It was the only sensible thing to do especially since she was the one to drop me off. I threw my bag into her car and plopped down into her car and plopped down into the passenger seat just glad to be through for the day. Having forgiven Kel for her behavior the previous night I figured conversation was in order.

"So how did your date go last night?"

Kel shifted uncomfortably but answered my question. "Fine." It wasn't a very in-depth answer but it was an answer.

"Are you going to see her again?"


"So you enjoyed her company?" I continued to prod and would do so until I got more than one-worded responses.


"Were there sparks?" I didn't even get an answer for that one just a shrug.

"Do you want to have a threesome?"

The car swerved and Kel almost went through a red light. "What?" She asked me incredulously. "What are you talking about?"

"Threesome?" I repeated, and in return just received a blank stare. "You can't possibly tell me that you don't know what that is?"

"Are you serious?" Kel asked me clearly thinking that an alien had taken over my body.

"Green Light." I pointed at the intersection before us. "You better go. There are cars behind us."

Kel looked ahead eventually and pressed her foot on the gas. Once the car started moving again I decided to answer Kel's question. "I'm always open for new experiences. I wouldn't suggest it if I didn't mean it."

The car swerved again. Kel spared me a glance that clearly showed her confusion, and then turned her gaze back to the road.

"I..I..d.don't know..um..what to..I mean..it isn't..she wouldn't..I don't know if I could.."

Obviously she was going to continue on this way indefinitely so I decided to stop her by raising my hands in the air and motioned for her to calm down.

"Kel it's okay." I told her calmly. "I was just joking. I don't want to have a threesome with you and your new girl."

Kel's shocked expression immediately turned into an irritated and slightly angry one. "Then why the hell did you say that? I could've killed us, swerving around like that." She yelled.

"Well, I just figured that hearing more then one word from you at a time would take something drastic. Obviously, I was right." I told her indignantly.

"So you forced me to have a panic attack because you wanted to hear more then one word from me?"

"Aww you had a panic attack?" I cooed.

"Don't change the subject." She said sternly.

"Then yes." I nodded. "All that because I wanted to hear you speak. The panic attack was an added bonus." I smirked triumphantly.

"I can't believe you," She gritted out through a clenched jaw.

"Well I can't believe you won't talk to me." I responded letting my frustration show.

"I am talking to you."

"Not about your date though." I quickly pointed out.

"Well that's my business, not yours."

"There's no such thing."

"Didn't you just tell me that what happened between Richard and you was none of my business?"

Damn she had a point. "That's different."


Everybody always wants to know why. "Because."

"Well, because why?"

Why must she be so persistent? "It's me and not you." Ooh, that was weak.

"Did you just hear what you just said?"

Of course I did and I was fully aware that it was a double standard. "It doesn't matter what I said that's just how it is."

"Well then, I'm just going to have to be a rebel and not adhere to 'how it is'."

All right fine. If she wanted me to whine I could. "Why won't you just tell me about your date?"

"Because it's weird."


"Because it is. I'm not ready to talk to you about my love life."

"And why is that?"

Kel sighed. "Because I still consider you a participant of that life."

"Oh." We pulled into my parents' driveway. "I understand."

"Good then."

"You can jut tell me stuff when you're ready, okay?"

Kel nodded.

"Well it's good we have that settled."

"Yeah it is." She easily responded.

"So now we can focus our attention on whose Lexus is in my parents' driveway." I pointed to the silver vehicle in front of us.

"We have to go inside to figure that out."

I nodded my head resolutely. "Agreed."

We stepped out of the car and made out way to the porch immediately hearing raised voices as soon as we had ascended the steps.

"I'd say Lexus owner is a bad visitor." Kel needlessly informed me. I took my keys out of my pocket and went to the front door to open it.

Kel and I entered the house and were met with a rather unexpected sight. Two individuals sat on the couch while Dana and Sam stood before them putting up what looked like a joint front against some obvious threat. As we walked in I caught the last of what Sam was saying. "?understand that I'm living the life I want to live and I'm happy?"

I wasn't sure whether to walk out of the house or not but decided to stand ground beside Sam and Dana because whatever battle they fought I'd be right next to them always.

Everyone in the room turned to Kel and me. With one look at Kel, I decided not to say anything until I was spoken to. I just hoped it didn't take too long for me to be addressed.

"Mother, Father this is our daughter Tori and her friend Kel." Sam introduced us all the while giving me my opening, even though I was shocked that my mother's parents were sitting right across from me.

I reached out my hand to the hostile looking older woman. "It is nice to meet you ma'am."

Reluctantly the woman shook my hand. "Likewise." Her voice was bitter and clipped.

I chose to ignore her and reached my freed hand out to the aristocratic gentlemen sitting next to her. "And it's equally as nice to make your acquaintance, sir." I had just put myself into Victorianna mode. I knew how to deal with these people. I had thorough training in this arena and because they were Sam's parents I decided that they'd get my best show.

The man took my hand and even smiled at me. "It's nice to meet you as well. I actually knew your father. It's a real shame what happened to your real parents."

Immediately after those specific words left his mouth I could feel a hand touch my back. I could only guess that it was Dana's because she could always tell when I was about to Kung Fu someone's ass.

"It was a rather unfortunate accident, but it is in the past. I've grown beyond that." I decided to say in place of attacking him.

"It must still be difficult for you though. I mean you never really got the love of your parents to help you grow up." He insisted.

"Yes it must have just been terrible for you." His wife added. "Especially since you were forced to grow up in this particular atmosphere." As she said this she afforded Sam an evil glare. It almost scared me actually.

Sam was going to say something, but I beat her to it. "Mr. and Mrs. Evans, I have found that life is difficult no matter the circumstances, and my particular circumstances were actually quite lavish compared to what they could have been." I told them never loosing eye contact.

"Well yes." Mr. Evans grumbled. "I guess it is all about perspective."

"Yes sir it is, and from my perspective, I've had great parents and great friends and a wonderful family life." I paused. "I mean, I could just be this rich girl whose only friends want my money or care nothing about me at all and only say they are my friends because we're in the same tax bracket and deem me worthy. I could only have family that just stands me because they feel obligated to. But all that would make me bitter and spiteful. No?" I shook my head, "?I would much rather be your daughter's child then a hateful, mean spirited, bratty girl who wouldn't understand the difference between obligated love and real love."

The elderly couple sat on that couch before me and stared straight at me with bewildered expressions. They were obviously trying to figure out if I had insulted them.

"It is all about perspective," I persisted, deciding to hit them while they were down. "And from what I understand it is much better to not let my own perspective blind me to what other people's perspectives might be. I may not like them or understand them, but I should probably make an effort to accept them because their truth is their truth. Much like my truth is my truth." I looked at them curiously. "But of course you two have to understand that already? I mean I'm not nearly as worldly as I'm sure you two believe yourself to be or actually are really." I smiled pleasantly thoroughly enjoying the upper hand I had managed to procure.

"Of course we understand young lady." Mrs. Evans said eventually. "And you're absolutely correct. Perspective means everything." It thrilled me to know that Mrs. Evans wanted to save face in our conversation. It means that I won, and I love winning.

"Where's Riana?" I turned to Sam and asked clearly ending the conversation I had going with our 'guests'.

"She's in her room playing." Sam answered me all the while thanking me profusely with her loving green gaze.

"Kel and I are going to take her out to dinner. I know it's been a while since you've seen your parents," Like eight years, "and I'm sure they want to spend some time with you to get to know all about you."

"I'm sure she'd love that." Dana told me also silently giving me her thanks.

I walked off to Riana's room and gathered her up so that we could leave. When I returned with Ri everyone in the living room was exactly as they were when I left. It didn't look like anything had been said at all.

"You ready to go, Kel?" I asked my overtly nervous friend.

"Yep," Kel answered immediately and headed towards the door.

I went up to my parents intent on telling them goodbye properly. "By Mama, we'll be back in a couple of hours." I leaned down and gave Sam a peck on her cheek.

"Bye baby. Have fun." She returned my kiss and gave Rianna one for good measure.

"By Mom," I moved on to Dana and as I leaned over to give her a kiss I whispered, "My job here is now done. So I must leave here now and go do good." Dana smirked and shook her head slightly. "Have fun." She told me choosing not to verbally respond to my words.

So with that I left. Leaving my parents to take the opportunity I given them.


That night Kel and I took Ri out and had a fantastic time, or at least I think we did. My mind was so pre-occupied I failed to notice that my baby sister had managed to drink my entire glass of a caffeine-included beverage. She was running on high the rest of the night, and I wasn't in the mood to deal with a wild child. Thank God Kel was there though. She proved herself once again as to why I called her my best friend.

When we returned to my parents' home the Lexus was gone and the house was quiet once again, but the tension still filled the air. Dana and Sam seemed a bit tense but I was greeted with smiles as I walked through the front door. Kel gave them a brief greeting then quickly departed. I think she though we were going to have some quality family time.

Sam took Ri from my arms intent on putting the energized child to bed. She knew it would take time to do this, which led me to believe that Dana and I were going to have a serious talk.

"Do you have any questions about tonight?" Dana asked me as soon as Sam and Ri were safely situated in my sister's room.

I shrugged my shoulders not knowing what it is I could really ask.

"What happened after I left?"

"Some yelling but mostly talking." Dana walked up to me and placed her hand lightly on my shoulder. "I think you made quite an impression on them."

"What do you mean?" I asked innocently.

"I'm serious Tori, you really got to them. If you hadn't of come in when you did then they probably wouldn't have even agreed to try and get to know their daughter again." Dana smiled at me. "You did something really great for your Mama."

"It was really nothing. " I waved her praise away.

"No?no Tori you did something that I couldn't get them to do for seven years." Dana's blue eyes dared me to play down what I had done.

"I just went down to their level to talk the talk Mommy and Daddy taught me so well," I said sardonically. "But you've been trying to do?what exactly with them before?" I quickly asked so that my small comment about my biological parents would just pass over.

She knew that I had been avoiding but let me get away with it and answered anyway. "I've just been trying to get them to just talk to her. I told them every which way that I could think of that your Mama needed them in her life and it never worked. But in five minutes you got them to listen."

"Why were they her tonight if you couldn't get through to them?" I chose to ignore the last part of what Dana had said.

"Do you remember that trip to the zoo you took with your mother shortly after Riana was born?"

I thought furiously back to over a year ago only to vaguely remember the trip. "Yeah?" I drew out the word, "What about it?"

"You talked Sam into contacting her family again. From what I understand you gave her pretty good incentive." She explained.

"She's been trying to talk to them this entire time?" I asked astonished. I though the subject had long since been dropped.

"Sam didn't want to tell you about it in case it didn't work out." Dana informed me gently. "She really just wanted to keep all expectation low."

"I can understand that." And I really could. She just wanted her wife's support but not her daughters. Actually, now that I think about it, I don't understand. Doesn't really matter now though, does it?

"So they agreed to meet her again?" I asked putting my brain back on the main subject of Sam and the reunion she had with her parents.

"Yeah, and although there's a long road to travel, I think they're actually going to become part of Sam's life again." Dana seemed generally excited about that too.

"You mean a part of our family don't you?" I couldn't help but ask.

Dana looked at me blankly for a moment most likely evaluating the true possibility of having in-laws.

"Yeah. Our life." She responded eventually. "They'll become part of our life."

"How did things work out with Mama's sisters?" I could only guess that since Sam had started in on her parents over a year ago she most likely had talked to her sisters.

"They actually are doing better. Her nieces are actually getting a chance to get to know their aunt. Over the summer we actually had dinner with Angela. It went over really well." Dana smiled clearly happy with those turn of events.

"So I guess my cousins are getting a chance to meet both their aunts and younger cousin." I said emphasizing the point that we had to see them and treat them like family if we expected them to do the same.

Dana raised her brow at me. "I guess I stand corrected?again."

"Yes you do." I responded confidently. "And uh?why didn't you tell me about this thing with Sam's sisters before. I mean, would I have found out if I didn't ask?" I was having one of those occasional moments where I felt like I had been left out of the family loop.

"Eventually?probably." Dana answered unfazed. "It's one of the many things you'll have to learn about along the way, Tori. You were gone for a long time."

And with one sucker punch to the gut Dana scores!!!

"Yeah," I respond trying to keep the bitterness out of my voice. "Just learn along the way."

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