Through Thick And Through Thin

Chapter Twenty-Two

Kevin was kissing Linz again when the doorbell rang.

"Damn it, we have the worst luck," she groaned as he let go of her.

"Relax, baby, it's probably just some salesman or something," Kevin pointed out, pulling on his boxers and getting out of bed. He walked over to the window that looked out onto the front yard and was quite surprised to see his little sister standing there. At first she just appeared to be normal, but as he watched her more carefully, he saw that her eyes were red, and she was shifting nervously from one foot to the other. "It's Katie," Kevin informed Linz. "And she doesn't look very happy."

Linz raised her eyebrows. "Do you think something happened with A.J.?"

"I don't know, but I'm going to find out," he resolved, pulling on his wifebeater and walking out of the room as Linz started to get dressed as well.

When Kevin opened the door, he saw that Katie's eyes were indeed filled with tears. "Hey...what's the matter, sweets?"

" I interrupting anything?" Katie asked timidly, peering past Kevin and into the house. "Because I can go away..."

Kevin shook his head. "Of course not. Now, what on earth is wrong?"

Katie took a shaky breath. "I left A.J.," she mumbled before she broke down in tears.

Kevin gasped and quickly stepped forward to wrap his arms tightly around her. "'s okay, sweets, it's okay...want to come in and talk about it?"

"Okay," Katie murmured into her brother's chest.

He let go of her so that she could step inside, but she didn't let go of him. "Okay, you've gotta let go then."

"S-Sorry," she whispered, releasing him and entering the house.

"Come on, we'll sit down," Kevin suggested, putting a hand on her back and steering her over to the couch in the living room.

Linz appeared in the doorway just as they sat down. She gasped and rushed over to Katie's side when she saw her state. "Oh my gosh, sweetie, what happened?"

"I dumped A.J.," Katie informed her. "And I'm not taking him back this time! Not ever!" she cried.

"Okay, calm down and start from the beginning," Kevin soothed, rubbing her back.

Katie took a deep breath and managed to control her sobs as Linz sat down on her other side. "Okay...well, this morning I was thinking a lot about what to do about him, and I decided that I should try to save our relationship and just be patient with him. And I was trying to do that when he woke up, but he was just being a jerk. So then he excused himself and went upstairs, and when I went after him, I found him smoking in the bathroom. So I said, 'That's it, I'm leaving,' and I went down to the car," she related.

"Katie, I'm so--" Kevin began.

"Wait, I'm not done," she cut in. "So anyway I was in the car, and A.J. came down to try and make up with me, and I basically bitched him out, with just cause. I mean, he's been treating me like shit and taking me for granted, and I told him that. I was about to leave, but he begged me to give him another chance and swore that he would shape up...all the things he said were so sweet, and I make the mistake of believing them. For a little while, I thought everything was better. But then when Brian called me, I went up to find him, and..." She swallowed hard to keep from crying again. "He was in the guest room holding a pack of cigarettes. I can't believe it, Kev!" she blurted out. "I really thought that he had changed for me, but..."

Kevin and Linz exchanged a glance over her head as she buried her face in her hands. Linz took a deep breath. "You're better off without him," she said.

"I am not! Look at me, I'm a mess..." Katie replied sharply.

"Maybe you are now, but in the long run, if he's chosen to ruin his life like this, then it's better that you're not a part of it," Linz pointed out.

"I guess...but it just hurts so bad," she complained.

"I know...believe me, we know the feeling," Kevin empathized, wrapping his arm around her.

"I just...I can't believe he would do this to me. I thought we would be together for the rest of our lives," she whispered.

Kevin's brow furrowed as Katie continued to cry. "I could fucking kill him for this," he mumbled.

"Don't," Katie commanded, not even looking at him. "Promise you won't."

"I promise," Kevin replied dutifully. "You know I just hate to see you like this."

Katie nodded and moved closer to her brother so that she could rest her head on his shoulder. "I'm really sorry that I came and ruined your afternoon, but--"

"Don't worry about it," Linz interrupted, putting her arm around Katie.

"Yeah, we're glad to be there for you," Kevin seconded.

"But I'm sure there are other things you'd rather be each other," Katie quipped.

Kevin smiled, glad that she hadn't yet lost her sense of humor. "Well, we can wait till tonight."

"Tonight," Katie echoed. "Shit, I've gotta call Brian and tell him I'm not coming."

"What do you mean, you're not coming?" Linz demanded. "You have to come. Everyone's gonna be there."

"But...what if A.J.'s there?" Katie asked in a small voice that was almost a whisper.

"Does he even know about it?" Linz wondered.

Katie thought about that for a second. "No...I saw him with the cigarettes before I finished asking him if he wanted to go," she remembered. "But look at me. I'm in no state to go out dancing."

"Nonsense. You're coming," Linz declared.

"But I have nothing to wear. All my stuff is at my house...where A.J. is right now," Katie reminded her.

"So borrow something of mine. We're the same height. I'm sure I have something that'll fit you. Come on, we'll go find something right now, okay?" Linz suggested, standing up and grabbing Katie's hand.

"It seems I have no choice," Katie said with a little laugh as Linz pulled her out of the room.

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