28 April 2011


It had been two months since the Pesce's house had burned down, and things in Twinbrook were slowly getting back to normal. Kids played in the street, trains rumbled through the rolling green countryside, people slipped away to the local fishing holes for an hour or two of solitude. It was almost summer, and people had started dragging out their rusty lawnmowers to trim their unruly lawns. Teenagers celebrated the end of the school year by blasting music and slipping away to hidden corners of the woods to get drunk.

Yes, things in Twinbrook were almost completely back to normal- except for one noticeable difference.

Where the Pesce house once stood, there was now only a pile of wreckage stretching across the barren ground. The grass had been scorched away, and within the timbers and warped glass that stretched across it, there wasn't even the slightest hint of the former house.

But their house wasn't the only part of Jane and Moe's lives that lay in ruins.

As Jane sat on the bed, staring at her husband tucking Izzy into her crib, she couldn't help but think about how far things had veered off track. Two months ago, they'd been happy, in love, safe and warm in their own house... and now they were as good as strangers, living in a strange home and sleeping in the same bed, but as far away as two people could be.

Living in her parents' house was taking a toll on their marriage, but it was more than that, Jane knew- even if she didn't want to admit it. The incident with Chase, and the pictures, had caused an irreparable rift. She didn't know who had left the pictures for Moe to find, or how she could explain to him that it had meant nothing other than old reflexes.

But to Moe, it was more- much more. Whatever fragile trust they'd managed to build up since their move to Twinbrook had been shattered. Every night was a new argument, or- more often- silence. And tonight was no exception.

"Moe..." Jane trailed off, her voice tired and worn as she realized that she didn't even know what to say anymore. Weeks of the same conversation had shown her that there was no possible way this ended well for her. "Moe, we need to talk" had resulted in only stony silence and the cold shoulder. "Moe, it didn't mean anything" had cost her three hours of yelling and screaming. And "Moe, I'm sorry" didn't seem to mean anything at all.

"What? What do you want now?" Moe's voice was equally tired. It was difficult enough to pretend in front of the children; there was simply no energy left to pretend with each other. "Let's just... not, tonight. Okay?"

Jane bit her lip. "We can't just keep dancing around the same argument for two more months, Moe. Something's got to give. We either sort this out, or... or..."

"Or what?" Moe asked acidly. "Do you want a divorce?"

Jane's eyes widened in hurt shock. "No- why, do you?" She'd been afraid to ask that question ever since the fire.

"Well... no," he admitted. Despite his anger, it seemed ridiculous to get a divorce over something so trivial. Not that he considered it trivial, but others would. It was hard to explain exactly why he was so upset over something that hadn't even developed further than that one moment- or so Jane claimed.

Simply put, it was a lack of trust.

"This just isn't how I saw things," he said finally. "I didn't sign on for ex-boyfriends and threats and arson and cheating, and all this... pink." He gestured around the room wildly. And it was true; the room was filled with an inordinate amount of pink. From the pink mirror to the pink bedspread, pink rug, and pink mirror, it was to stretch any man's patience.

And Moe was already stretched to his breaking point.

To his surprise, Jane began to laugh. "What? What's so funny?" he demanded.

She simply shook her head and continued to laugh. "I'm sorry, it's just... Pink? That's what it comes down to? That's what you choose to complain about?"

Moe shook his head ruefully. "It's just... It's so goddamn pink." The corners of his mouth tilted upwards, and for a moment, he began to smile.

But only for a moment.

The familiar uneasiness seeped back into Moe's mind like fog, filling him to the brink with the same emotions he'd been fighting for weeks. Even a single moment of light-hearted normalcy felt too foreign, too unwelcome right now.

As he lay awake and stared at the ceiling tiles, fighting the insomnia that had started ever since the fire, he thought about everything he'd lost in the past few weeks: his possessions, a home, security... Everything except his family and the clothes on his back. Those things could be replaced, but the worst thing he'd lost was something he didn't know if he'd ever get back.

"Thanks for the coffee, Mom." Jane gripped the hot mug carefully. "You don't have to keep waiting on us hand and foot like this, you know. It's enough that you're letting us stay here while the new house is built."

"Oh, don't be silly, dear." Isabel Evans waved her hand dismissively. "And it's not coffee- it's a triple non-fat white chocolate latte with foam. I didn't get that espresso machine shipped all the way from France to drink coffee," she added reproachfully.

Jane snorted into her coffee but said nothing.

"And anyways, it's the least we could do for you, after that horrible fire," Isabel continued, oblivious to her daughter's amusement. "You poor dears lost everything- of course we're going to try to make things a little easier for you! Especially with... you know."

Jane lifted an eyebrow. "I know? What do I know?"

"Well..." Isabel set her cup down. "Philip and I couldn't help but notice that things are a bit... strained between you two. Not that we've been eavesdropping or anything," she added hastily.

"Yeah... well, we haven't exactly been quiet," Jane admitted reluctantly. "Still, it's nothing you need to worry about. Things have just been difficult, with the fire and the threats. And..." She couldn't bring herself to tell her mother about the incident with Chase. "Things are just hard."

"Oh, honey... Things will get better," Isabel assured her. "And until then, you just try to get back on your feet. The house will be done in no time, and the insurance money will pay for most of what you need. And of course, you know you're welcome to stay here as long as you need."

Jane smiled sadly. "I know, Mom. But I don't know if that'll be enough."

"Wait, where is everybody?"

Jane stared around the nearly abandoned park, searching for any signs of the school picnic that their children had dragged them to.

"It is today, right? Sophie?" Jane eyed her daughter suspiciously. Something about this whole situation seemed fishy.

"I... may have gotten the time and day wrong," Sophie offered. "But look, there are people here! Let's go find out where everyone is." The look on her face was a little too innocent for Jane's taste.

"Well, I guess there's no harm in staying, as long as there are other families here... It'll be nice to get out for a bit," she admitted. It had been a while since they'd gone anywhere as a family.

Sophie grinned and ran over to the picnic tables, waving frantically. Jane looked in the direction her daughter had run, and she suddenly knew exactly what her children had been up to.

Sneaky little devils.

The only other people at the supposed "school picnic" were Lucy and her father.

Chase was at the grill, cooking hot dogs and whistling a cheerful tune. Does he know about his daughter's treachery yet? Jane wondered.

Judging by the look on his face when he turned around with the food, he did not.

"Er... hi." Jane did her best to nod nonchalantly, but Moe had been standing in the same exact spot ever since realizing that Chase was there. All Jane could do was hope that he didn't do anything stupid.

"Well... this is an odd coincidence," she said finally. "I suppose your daughter got the date and time wrong, too?"

Chase simply nodded. "Apparently so. Look, I know this is awkward... You don't have to stay if you don't want." But the twins had already dug into the food. There was nothing to do except grit their teeth and get through the meal in one piece.

After devouring as many hot dogs as Jane would let them, the children rushed over to the swing set and began conversing in hushed tones. Jane had learned enough to know that she should leave them alone if she didn't want to know what they were up to. Judging by their latest behavior, it was a plan to create world peace and solve poverty.

But knowing the twins, it was probably something far more nefarious.

As soon as she could politely manage it, Jane made her escape and went off to feed Izzy, leaving Moe and Chase alone. They watched her as she walked away, both painfully aware of each other's proximity. What did you say to the person whom you hated more than anything in the world, especially when your children tricked you into having a picnic together?

"So..." Chase said finally. "Izzy's getting pretty big, isn't she?"

Moe nodded, and they slipped back into an awkward silence again.

"I, um... I'm really sorry to hear about your house, man," Chase offered. "It must suck. If you guys need anything... I know I'm not your favorite person, but just let us know."

Moe eyed him suspiciously. Why was he being nice? A guilty conscience, perhaps?

"Before you ask, I was at the Red Rendezvous all night," Chase added quickly, as if to read Moe's mind. "Not that I'm saying you think I did it... but... just in case, I guess."

"No, that's fine," Moe said hastily. "I wasn't going to... I didn't think you had... Well, thank you," he finished grumpily.

"And listen... about those pictures... " Chase began. Moe's eyebrows shot up in surprise. How had he found out about them? And why on Earth did he think it was okay to mention them? "Nothing happened, Moe, really. It was just... an impulse, I guess. And I really regret it. I don't want to come between you guys. I mean, I did resent you both, at first... but the last thing I want to do is cause more trouble, especially with... Well, I'm sorry anything happened in the first place. I hope you can believe me."

Moe was too surprised to say anything at first, but after a while, he simply nodded his head. "Thanks, I guess."

Jane watched the proceedings from across the park, snuggling her daughter for some semblance of sanity. She didn't know what Chase and Moe were talking about, and she didn't want to know. It made her nervous enough, the two of them being anywhere near each other. She didn't have anything to feel guilty about, but knowing how angry Chase made Moe... it was enough to make her feel incredibly on edge.

Her thoughts were interrupted by the familiar ring of her cell phone. She took a quick glance at the caller ID- Angie. One of the few people whose phone calls she would actually answer right now.

"Hey, Angie, what's up?"

"Hi, Jane... I was just calling because... Well, Amy's mom is moving, and she invited a few of us to come take a look at her things, just in case there was anything important that we wanted to keep. I think I found something you might be interested in," Angie said hurriedly. "I don't have a lot of time though- can you meet me in a bit?"

"Sure!" Jane was thrilled to finally have a break in the case. She'd left it alone ever since the fire, and every instinct told her to do so now- but compared to the insatiable curiosity of finally figuring out what happened to that poor woman... Jane was powerless to resist.

"Meet me at the Lakeview Bar at ten," Angie said. "Crap- I have to go. Don't forget to meet me, okay?"

"Okay!" Jane hung up and slipped her phone back into her pocket, wondering why Angie had been in such a hurry to get off the phone with her- and just what she'd found.

Angie stood outside the back entrance to the Lakeview Bar, fidgeting slightly as she waited for Jane to show up. She wished she'd suggested a better meeting place- indoors, perhaps. At the very least, she wished she'd brought a jacket.

The sound of footsteps behind her put her instantly on her guard. "Hello?" she called out. "Who's there?"

As the intruder stepped into view, she reached for her purse and fumbled around, trying desperately to reach her mace. But the only thing her fingers could feel was the small leather-bound book she'd brought to give to Jane...

A book that she would never get to give to her.


Aww. Poor Jane and Moe. So sad that they're having such trouble with their marriage. (Oh, and Moe tucking Izzy in bed - awwwwwwwww)

It's nice that Jane's parent are giving them a place to stay for the moment.

Poor Moe, he is so stressed and for reason.

LOL at the kids plot. I'm glad that Moe and Chase had a bloke conversation at last.

Jane, Jane, drop it already...Opps too late.

Poor Angie.

Another good episode.

Man... It's SO heartbreaking to see Jane and Moe going through this, but all things considered, it's kind of understandable. I can't blame either party for feeling the way they do.

Still cracks me up that it's pink that finally sent Moe over the edge, though. ;D Of all the other things that've happened, it's the PINK that turns the last screw. Way too funny. XD

Isabel is honestly such a sweet mother. She's really gentle and proper and comforting--in a way she kind of reminds me of the way my own mom talks. ^^

Maaan. When I first heard of the picnic, I was like.. "Oh lord, the kids are going to poison the parents." But noooo--they just wanted Moe and Chase to get along! That is so freaking adorably sweet. Trust the KIDS to do what the parents can't. LOVE THEM. ;D

It's kind of amusing how well Moe gets along with Chase--it's almost like he spent all his anger towards Jane, and now there's only one direction left he can go, and that's up. So, hopefully that means things with him and Jane'll be on the mend, too...

... but after seeing what happened to Angie. :S OH JEEZ.

So, now: not only who is the attacker, but what's in the book?! Aaagh... so much suspense!!!

Awesome post, Amelia--good mixture of warm fuzzies, drama, and mystery, and great writing to boot! <3

Maybe when Jane and Moe get settled into the rebuilt house, they can resolve their differences. I want to know what is in that book!

Please, where did you get the toddler's bed??

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