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05 June 2009 @ 08:36 pm
2010 :: pt. 4  
Title: 2010
Rating: PG-13
Part 4
Disclaimer: I own nothing and no one in this story. Though sometimes I wish I did... Please don't sue.
A/N: This is separate from Under the Same Moon. Possibly a spin-off...still haven't decided.




Marabeth headed over to the house as soon as Julianne called. It had been so long since she'd heard her sister; Marabeth assumed her baby sister probably kept in touch with Derek more than anyone else. They were the ones that stayed together the longest, through thick and thin, from the States to London. But it was so strange how Julianne's visits to her spa steadily dwindled as time passed. She used to come every once in a while, whenever her touring schedule allowed, until about last summer. Julianne would call or text from time to time, but even those instances were spread out in time. The girl was simply everywhere from what she remembered.

That' s why Marabeth was so happy to see Julianne on her caller ID. At first.

"Julianne--!" she greeted warmly. She would have said more.

"Marabeth," Julianne cut in. "I have to tell you something."

"Um, go right ahead."

"No--I-I have to see you, Marabeth."

Her sister sounded uneasy. "Sure...anything," Marabeth said, "I'll see you right now. Where are you?"

"My house," Julianne squeaked.

"Julianne?" Marabeth's fingers firmly held her phone.

"Please, just--come over as soon as you can," she composed herself. The line went dead.

Marabeth was around the corner to Julianne's Nashville residence. She pressed harder on the gas.

Once she knocked on the door of her sister's surprisingly pristine, gorgeous white house, she could barely hear Julianne's footsteps
approach the door, light on her feet as always. Marabeth decided that was half the reason why she was so startled when the door suddenly opened. The other reason stood before her.

Julianne's usually sparkling eyes were void of any light, and they were weighed down by dark circles that looked purple against her paler skin. They were magnified by her thick-rimmed glasses, which she barely wore. Marabeth was slightly pleased by the return of Julianne's natural, straw blonde hair, (she always tried to see the positive side of everything) but even her straight locks hung lifeless from her scalp. And she was probably dying of starvation; the last time she had seen Julianne so gaunt was around Season 8 of the show. The vivacious glow was long gone from her baby sister.

"Marabeth," Julianne's lips shaped into semblance of a smile.

Marabeth was speechless. "What happened?" was all she could say when she wrapped her arms around Julianne.

"Come inside," Julianne didn't answer her question.

They silently walked into her living room and sat down on her couch. Marabeth lay her purse beside her and watched Julianne fall into the cushions and hug her knees. She kept her eyes toward the floor, took a deep breath, and lay back against the couch.

"How are you, Marabeth?" Julianne asked.

The older sister didn't expect that and stammered, "Uh, good." She tried to somehow lessen the tension that made the room feel stuffy. "All of us at the spa miss you, though." She gave Julianne a warm smile and reached for her hand. "We all do."

Julianne didn't move her hand. She just nodded her head, impassive. "I know," she spoke so softly.

Marabeth scanned Julianne for a moment. Her sister's abnormal behavior made her more anxious by the second. Whatever was on her mind must have transformed her into the half-alive girl she was being right now. "Julianne, you said you had to tell me something--we can catch up later, hon."

Julianne's breathing started to get shorter, as if her heart was thumping, crawling up her throat. "Chuck and I went our separate ways," she finally spat out, wincing.

Marabeth beamed, but immediately tried to be a little more controlled about it. "Well," she exhaled. "I'm sure the right man is out there, waiting for you, Julianne." She rubbed her hand.

Julianne's eyes started to glisten. "I don't think so--" she choked.

"Oh, sweetie," Marabeth scooted over and embraced Julianne. "Chuck's certainly not the last man on earth."

"I'm," Julianne sniffed, "fully aware of that." She coughed a laugh.

Marabeth patted her back and looked at her baby sister. "See? That wasn't so bad. I'm so glad you called me over today, Julianne."

Julianne stared at Marabeth. Marabeth was about to go on, but the Julianne's wide eyes made her stop. "By the way," she said instead, "how come you're wearing your glasses?"

Julianne's blues settled. "I dunno," she shrugged. "Because I felt like it. No..." She shrugged again and tilted her head side to side in contemplation. "I didn't feel like putting in my contacts. I don't like my solution."

"Buy a different brand then," Marabeth suggested.

Julianne sighed. "Maybe it's too old, it smells really weird--I don't know." She folded her arms. "Whatever."

Marabeth got up and brushed off the topic. "Come on, girl," she smiled, "I'll fix you something in the kitchen to make you feel better. You must be starving--"

Julianne covered her mouth and coughed. "Uh, no thanks. Maybe later." She hugged her knees again and looked innocently up at Marabeth. "There's more I need to say." She patted the space beside her on the couch.

"Please...?"

Marabeth looked at the pleading face of Julianne and slowly sat back down. "I'm sorry."

Julianne shook her head. "This," she said, sure of herself, "is all my fault." She sniffed and wiped a premature tear from rolling down her cheek. She bit her lip and looked down again, breathing deeply. She covered her mouth again and stayed silent for a

few more seconds. Tears were gathering in her eyes, but Julianne kept her face and the hand over her mouth still. Until she couldn't.

"I would've called Mom--" she said fast, "but--no, I couldn't. You were closer." She shook her head, and a tear or two dropped on the hardwood floor. "I can't, I can't--" She started crying.

Marabeth hugged Julianne again and kept her there. "Just let it out, Julianne. I'll listen."

Julianne sobbed, "No--never mind, just forget it." She let go of Marabeth, but Marabeth didn't loosen her embrace.

"Julianne," Marabeth was truly concerned--scared--for her. "We're family. If it's that serious, I'm here for you--"

"No--" She only shook her head more and finally withdrew from her arms. "I'll be right back," she coughed.

"Julianne--Julianne," Marabeth raised her voice when her sister wouldn't answer. She was heading up the stairs.

"I'll be right back," she repeated. "I need to check something....give me five minutes." Her light feet brought her up the steps until she disappeared from view.

Marabeth sat on the couch, feeling empty inside. What could she do now for Julianne if she didn't even know what was wrong? She and most of the family had been out of the loop with Julianne since she had blossomed in the country world and took off flying. Was no one else watching to see if she would soar? Or did she fall alone...? Marabeth slowed her own breathing to calm herself down. The room was too quiet after wiping and listening to Julianne's tears. And other than what her motherly instinct told her, she didn't know what to do.

Given the spare five or so minutes, Marabeth decided to texted the only other person Julianne had probably contacted recently.

A second later, her phone lit up, and she picked it up before her ringtone could even be heard. "Thanks Derek."

"No prob, sis," Derek said on the line. "So you're serious? You're with her right now?"

"Shh--yeah," Marabeth whispered. "She excused herself a minute ago." She leaned forward and rested her elbows on her knees.

"Is she fine?" Derek asked.

Marabeth winced. "Derek....I'm worried about her."

Derek paused. "He didn't hurt her, did he?" he growled into the phone.

"Who, Chuck?"

"Wh--well, who else could it be?" Derek hesitated. "Unless...."

"Unless...?" Marabeth sat on the edge of the cushions.

"No--never mind."

"Derek...?"

"No," Derek repeated. "Those two seeing each other any time recently would be impossible... So it is that Hicktown son of a bitch..." He sounded more like he was talking to himself now more than to her.

Marabeth didn't know whether to feel apalled by Derek's statement or be amused. "I--I don't want to assume anything," Marabeth explained, "but she started tearing up after she told me she and Chuck broke up."

Another pause on Derek's side. She heard a faint flick!, some blank fuzzy noise coming through the phone, and a few more seconds of silence. "Derek," Marabeth frowned, "are you smoking?"

"Yeah. Can't help it."

Marabeth sighed.

Derek coughed. "Any details about their split?"

"No," she said, much to her dismay. "But something isn't right with her, Derek. If I could take a picture of her right now, you'd feel the same way."

"Why?"

"She looks drained. A shell of herself. She's not the same Julianne, full-of-life and smiles, anymore." Marabeth thought about it. "At least, not today....maybe if I stay with her for a while she'll change."

"You gotta find out what's up," Derek said. "After this long, something must have gone on that we don't know about."

"I'll try," Marabeth bit her lip. "Hey, Julianne's been gone for a while. I'll call you once I know more about this."

"Okay," she pictured Derek nodding. "Er....if you want, tell her I said hi."

"Alright," Marabeth warmly smiled.

"Over and out," Derek joked.

"Roger that," Marabeth played along.




Derek continued to smoke in the same spot he was sitting last night. Outside the sun still shone bright and yellow to his right, and the chlorine water sparkled under it. He sat at the edge, no feet in the water this time, staring at his reflection stare back at him and reflecting on the previous night's events. It was a bit early for him to be up, but after Apolo left so late last night, he'd had a rough time going back to sleep.

He let more smoke fill his lungs and exhaled. And after what Marabeth had told him, he came to a conclusion: they were both crazy. Derek was now even more curious to demystify those hidden months separated from Julianne....and Apolo for that matter. A brief image from their post-show meeting at the bar made Derek's heart stop. He could only imagine what incredibly stupid things the skater could do intoxicated.

All this thinking and remembering was making Derek hungry. He hadn't had breakfast, but there was so much on his plate at the moment.

"I see you found your light," a pure feminine voice reached his ears.

Derek looked behind him and saw Shannon glow in the sun. She looked best when she did absolutely nothing at all. No makeup or anything to her hair. It naturally fell about her face in steady waves, and it shone like water too. Shannon's lips made the softest simper as she folded her hands behind her back.

"Did I bother you?" she asked.

"Not really. I was just thinking." Derek rubbed out the cigarette on the ground. "Apolo left last night--he said thanks," he lied.

Shannon ambled toward him. "I saw that," she said, pointing in the empty couch's direction. "I wish I helped him more, though."

Derek smiled. "You did what you could."

Shannon smiled to herself and squatted down next to him. "Were you thinking about Apolo just now?"

Derek briefly looked at his reflection. "And Julianne," he replied. He had to laugh for a second. "Apolo and Julianne," he announced and swept the air above him as if the two names were written in lights. "Like peanut butter and fucking jelly..." he muttered.

"I'm...not really seeing the connection, Derek dear," Shannon laughed. "Maybe you're hungry for some PB&J?"

"That might be part of it."

Shannon giggled some more and, sitting and dipping her feet into the water, rubbed his back. "Might as well," she said when her feet were submerged. "Any news on your sister--well, besides the news we always hear?"

"Heard."

"What?" Shannon asked.

"The trash we always used to hear," Derek corrected. "Tsk." He shook his head.

Shannon wrapped her arm around his waist and hugged him close. "I miss her, too, Derek."

"I mean," Derek hesitated. He tried not to reach any of the items lying opposite beside him: his light, his Marlboros, or his phone. "I mean, it's not like she's dead."

"Of course not." Shannon kept comforting him.

"But..." Derek looked at the pool stretch before him. "Julianne's been so distant."

"She's an adult, too, you know."

"I know," he sighed. He thought some more while he felt her hand massaging his back like she does whenever he wasn't in a good mood. "As much as my baby sis is an adult," Derek said, "some of the things she's done in the past weren't always the most 'adult' in your sense."

"Everyone has to learn some way," Shannon seemed to remind him. She paused, her hand also pausing with the rest of her. "I know how you feel though. I wish she hadn't taken the hard way."

"Yeah..." Derek grumbled. He drummed his anxious fingers.

"I'm sure she's okay, Derek," Shannon assured him.

"Well, I--" Derek started.

Riiiiiiiiing!!!

"Oh shit!" Derek jumped. The phone was roaring at him.

"What is it--who is it?" Shannon gasped.

"It's Marabeth," Derek held his breath. "Any luck?"

"What...?" Shannon asked. Her voice implied that something clicked to her once he said those words. She kept close listening to him.

"Marabeth, you there?" Derek spoke again.

"Derek," he heard his sister first utter into the phone. "I can't talk for long."

"Any luck...?" he repeated hopelessly.

"Derek--promise me you'll stay calm when I tell you--"

"Just tell me if she's okay or not!" he snapped.

Silence. . .


Breathing heavily, Derek was suddenly standing up with his phone pressed to his ear and a fist firmly in his hand. He looked down at Shannon, who looked up surprised by his outburst.

"How is she?" Shannon whispered, wide-eyed and expectant.

Derek opened his mouth--and kept it open. His jaw dropped. He couldn't answer Shannon. He couldn't look at her. Derek covered his mouth and grimaced.

"Dear Lord," he silently screamed.

Seconds later, Derek hung up with a disgusted look plastered on his face. He picked up his tools and started heading back to the house.

"Hey, Derek--!" Shannon followed. "Come on, Derek, it can't be that bad!"

"It can," Derek growled. "It is."
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