Through Thick And Through Thin
Over the next three weeks, things got progressively worse and worse for both of the Richardsons.
It turned out that Sara Billingsley, whom Kevin had promptly dumped after the Linz incident, was an aspiring actress, and rumors of their relationship were soon all over the news. This didn't exactly help the situation between Linz and Kevin. At first, they were both too mad to try and talk to each other. Then Kevin caved and tried to call Linz. She wouldn't talk to him, so then he got mad at her. A few days later, Linz caved and tried to call Kevin, but then he wouldn't talk to her, so
she got mad at him again. And so it went back and forth between the two of them until they were both so confused that they forget why they were angry; all they remembered was how angry they were.
Meanwhile, Katie and A.J.'s once phenomenal relationship was falling to pieces before Katie's very eyes. Ever since she had made the deal of offering him sex in exchange for not smoking, things had just gone downhill. But that wasn't all. The nicotine cravings had made him bitter to begin with. Now he hardly ever talked to her, and when he did, he was usually just asking for sex. If it hadn't been for his progress, which was barely any progress at all but progress nonetheless, Katie probably would have saved their relationship and fixed things, but she saw that he was gradually cutting down and let them be. She just willingly gave herself to him whenever he asked for it, hoping that things would get better after the cravings subsided.
Katie's heart was heavy as she moved off of A.J.'s. body one night when he had been "good." She wrapped her arms around his neck and kissed his cheek. "I love you, baby," she whispered, deciding to try and improve things a little.
"Yeah," A.J. muttered, pushing her arms away. He rolled over onto his side and was soon asleep.
When she was sure that he was unconscious, Katie burst out crying. What was happening? A.J. had never done that before. He would always at least say "I love you too," and after making love to her, he would usually sing softly to her until she fell asleep. Like it's really making love any more, she thought bitterly. It's just pure sex, plain and simple. A.J. had kissed her maybe twice in the past week when the two of them weren't in bed or about to get in bed. Katie shakily got to her feet and got dressed. She had to talk to someone about this. Who better to go to for advice than her older brother?
She walked into the kitchen and picked up the cordless phone, noticing that it was one A.M. but not really caring as she pressed speed dial 8 for Kevin's number. He picked up after five rings, and when he spoke, Katie was surprised at the pain in his voice.
"Hey, Kev...what's wrong?" She hadn't spoken to her brother since that night at the club, so she'd assured herself that Linz and Kevin must have resolved whatever had been between them.
"Linz," he replied drearily.
"What?" Katie asked in surprise, momentarily forgetting about her own problems. "What happened?"
Kevin quickly explained the whole situation. "And now she won't talk to me," he concluded. "I don't know what to do. Every time she calls me, I want to make up with her, but I think of what she did, and I just get too furious to speak to her."
Katie sighed. "Well, from what it sounds like, Linz will call you again soon. Just listen, Kevin. Focus on the good, how much you love her and want to be with her, not what she did."
"I'll try," Kevin agreed glumly. "Now what about you? You sound like you've got something on your mind."
Katie took a deep breath and before she knew it, she was pouring out everything she had bottled up over the past three weeks to her older brother. "I don't know what the hell to do. I love him so much, and I want to keep helping him, but...I can't take much more of him treating me like this."
Kevin sighed. "Well, before I say anything, you're doing a great job with him, sweets. To be honest, I didn't think that you could do it, but you proved me wrong. You obviously have a power over him that none of us do."
"I know that, and that's why I don't want to leave," Katie said.
"But you're right. You're relationship isn't healthy any more," Kevin continued. "So I don't know what to tell you. I think--no, I know--that deep down, A.J. still loves you, but if staying with him is gonna hurt you this much...well, I can't make the choice for you."
"I know," Katie whispered. "Well, you're probably tired. Did I wake you up?"
"No, I was awake...just thinking," Kevin replied.
"Okay, I'll let you go. But first I have another idea for what to do about Linz."
"Well, you say that she won't talk to you. Why don't you write her a letter?" Katie suggested sensibly.
"A letter," Kevin repeated. "Why didn't I think of that before? G-d, I'm a fucking moron!"
Katie giggled. "You know what's funny?"
"A year ago, you were telling me not to swear," she reminded him.
Kevin laughed. "Yeah, well, you rubbed off on me. And do I say that any more? Noooo."
Katie smiled. "I know...you've never been one to be hypocritical."
Kevin stiffened. "I-I gotta go," he stuttered.
"Okay. Will you be all right?"
"Yeah. I love you. Bye," he said mechanically before hanging up the phone quickly. Yeah, Kev, you've never been one to be hypocritical...until now.
He quickly got out of bed and got a piece of paper and a pen, as well as a large hardcover book to write on. When he reached his bed again, he bit his lip in thought for a moment before starting to write.
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