Chapter: 07–More Than Words (Part 01 of 02)
Author’s Notes: Chapter’s title comes from the Extreme song More Than Words.
My eternal thanks goes out to all my supporters who are relentless in offering their words of encouragement and leave review after review following each and every chapter. I thought you’d be tired of this little fic after a few chapters, so hearing that you want more does my heart good. :)
Regarding the fic, things have taken a turn with this chapter. Bree now has Danielle and Andrew at home, her relationship with Rex has gone from flinging bitter insults to reluctant acceptance and though she’s still battling certain demons, she’s growing as a person and evolving. The angst and drama is beginning to let up, but before you get too cozy, something bad is going to happen to Bree. I’m just warning you (though not in this chapter).
The corridors of Fairview Hospital were aloof, endless chasms decorated with doors leading to everywhere but where Bree desperately wanted to be. An alacritous “click, click” sound ricocheted off the white walls of the hollow hallway as the spinous heels of her shoes pounded ruthlessly against the tiled floors in synchronization with the disquieted heart which pounded against the wall of her chest. Her mind was focused solely on the son who’d been absent from her life for four months. All she wanted to do was see him, hold him and know he was alive and in one piece. Every possible scenario involving that first glimpse of Andrew after their long separation ran through her mind like a kaleidoscope. In vain, she tried to imagine what she should say to him, but nothing seemed to properly convey the emotions that were ripping through her body this very moment. So buried into her own chaotic thoughts was Bree that she didn’t notice Rex reach out and take her hand in his.
Together, the apprehensive parents maneuvered their way to the second floor waiting room where they were met by Justin, who’d called Andrew’s mother only twenty minutes before.
“Mr. Van De Kamp, Mrs. Van De Kamp,” he greeted in a solemn manner, politely shaking Rex’s hand.
“Where is he, Justin?” Bree asked worriedly. Any second now, she feared she would erupt into tears if she didn’t get to see her son.
“Listen, I wasn’t suppose to call you...”
“What do you mean?” Rex inquired in curiosity.
“Andrew didn’t want me to call you, but I didn’t know what else to do.” Neither Bree nor Rex understood what Justin meant and were getting frustrated by his cryptic replies. On top of the anxiety she was experiencing, she wasn’t in the mood to solve puzzles.
“Where is he, Justin??” she asked, emphasizing each word through a clenched jaw. If he didn’t tell her, she would implode.
“He’s, um, in the recovery wing, room twenty-four. But you can’t go in there! He made me swear that I wouldn’t call you!”
As the last words slipped through his mouth, Bree swiftly spun around and started heading toward the recovery wing, leaving Rex behind with Justin. Once he realized she’d taken off, he had to jog to catch up with her.
“Bree, wait a minute!” he said when he finally reached his ex-wife. “You can’t just go barging in there. Maybe we should tell a nurse to let Andrew know we want to see him.”
“No,” she snapped.
“Bree... Bree!” Rex grabbed her by the arms, effectively stopping her.
“Rex, let go...”
“Listen to me, Bree...”
“Rex, please let me go!” she pleaded and sobbed, trying to yank herself from his grasp. It broke Rex’s heart. Tears that she tried so hard to contain started pouring from her eyes and he pulled her close to him, wrapping his arms around her shaking body. To his immense relief, she clung willingly to him. He was mute as he let her unload the burdens she’d been carrying around since she’d forced Andrew out of the house and onto his own.
“I haven’t seen him in four months! I packed his things and I dropped him off in the middle of nowhere. What kind of mother does that to her own child?? I was too busy trying to straighten out my own life that I ignored my son’s needs! And rather than have patience and try to help him, I dump him like a litter of unwanted kittens!”
Rex’s arms tightened and he stroked Bree’s hair, much like he would do to soothe a fussy child. “Shhhh, it’s going to be ok. We’ll get to see Andrew, but honey, you can’t burst into his room unannounced. What if he calls security? If they have to escort you out of the hospital, you won’t be allowed back.”
Against his sweatshirt, she cried a tearful lamentation that for months had eaten at her soul and exacerbated the blatant void that grew with each day that passed without hearing from her son, “I have to see him, Rex. If only for five minutes, just to tell him that I love him and that I’m so sorry for letting him down.”
“We’ll go talk to the nurse and have her let him know that we’re here to see him. But Bree, it’s up to Andrew then. Ok?”
There was nothing left to say so she soundlessly nodded her head. Taking her hand once again, Rex led her to the nurse’s station which was positioned in front of the entrance to the recovery wing.
“Excuse me...?” he said loudly, hoping to get the attention of a nurse. Promptly, one came to the desk.
“Dr. Van De Kamp, it’s nice to see you!” A pretty, young nurse named Marla recognized him. “I’m sure you’re here to see your son, is that correct? We’ve been taking good care of Andrew since he’s been here.”
“How long has he been here??” questioned Bree concernedly.
“You must be his mother. It’s a pleasure to meet you. To answer your question, he’s been here about five days.”
“Five days?!” she exclaimed, horrified that Andrew had once again slipped so easily by her undetected. What kind of horrible mother was she?? “Why didn’t someone call me or his father?? What’s wrong with him?!”
“I’m sorry, Mrs. Van De Kamp, but because Andrew’s eighteen and a legal adult, I can’t divulge any more information.”
Observing Bree on the brink of tearing someone’s head off, he cut in hastily and assured the nurse, “Don’t worry, Marla, we understand. Would you tell him that his parents would like to see him?”
“Yes, Dr. Van De Kamp,” she smiled before trotting off to Andrew’s room.
After she left her desk, Bree turned to Rex, an expression of outrage on her face. “Five days, Rex! Five days! Why are we just hearing about it now?! God, he’s been alone all this time!”
“He’s not been alone, he’s had Justin with him.”
“You work here, for God’s sakes! How could you not know your own son was here?!”
Rex allowed Bree to criticize him to her heart’s content for he knew that she was a mother in distress, sick to her stomach over Andrew. He wished he could steal her pain from her, but he was powerless to do so. The only comfort he could offer was to stand by her side and convince her that everything would be fine.
Not more than five minutes later, Marla returned to the desk. This time she wasn’t smiling.
“I talked to Andrew and, uh, well...” To the Van De Kamps, Marla seemed to be quite uncomfortable and a bit embarrassed to be having this conversation with them. “Well, he said that Dr. Van De Kamp could come back but under no circumstances did he want to see his mother.” The hesitant nurse carefully avoided looking at Bree, who was beyond devastated at being turned away by her son. Her face fell and her heart was burdened with grief that metastasized the longer she was kept away from Andrew. At least Rex would be able to see their son and that provided her with some comfort.
“Go on, Rex. Go see Andrew,” she urged him stoically.
“I’m terribly sorry, Bree. I promise I’ll talk to him,” he told her apologetically. Rex wanted to reunite with their son as much as Bree did, but upon seeing her so distraught, and knowing she was doing her best at trying to hide it, he didn’t want to leave her side.
“I know. Just tell Andrew for me that I love him and I never stopped loving him and that I want him to come home after he’s out of the hospital. Would you do that for me?”
“Of course,” he nodded before his reluctant departure for Andrew’s room.
There was a row of chairs that sat opposite the entrance of the recovery wing and though Bree tried sitting in one of them, she was too fretful to stay put for more than two minutes at a time. Berating herself for turning her back on the only son she had, she wished she could undo that day as well as all the other hardships they’d endured the last couple of years. Perhaps she could’ve done more to help him; maybe if she had paid more attention to him, maybe if she hadn’t given up on him they all might not be in this situation. Andrew could be as stubborn as his mother, which meant it might be a long time before he decided to grace her with his presence. The most important thing right now was knowing that he would be ok. She didn’t even know why he was in the hospital, but it didn’t seem to be life-threatening, which she was thankful for.
While Rex was visiting Andrew, time slowed to a lackadaisical crawl for Bree. The universe was at an apparent standstill as Bree repeatedly wrung her hands, nervous of the uncertainty that lay ahead. Since she had enough time to kill, she traveled back in time mentally to ascertain exactly when everything started going wrong with Andrew. He hadn’t always been as angry a person as he had become. As a child he’d been mischievous, like any other boy, but he was always ready for a cuddle and a kiss from the mother who he’d always been so intent on pleasing. All he ever asked was for his mother to be proud of him and give him praise for his accomplishments no matter how small and insignificant the triumph. Had she been the type of mother to show her children how proud she was of them? Probably not. Like Rex had pointed out on more than one occasion, she had transformed into a repressed, unemotional robot. That was the perception she wished for others to have about her and it eventually carried over to her family. If her children rebelled, it was to get some kind of reaction out of their seemingly cold, uncaring, hard-to-please mother.
An hour later, Rex emerged with a sheen of mist coating his eyes. Hopeful, Bree bolted out of her seat and met him halfway between the entrance and where she had been sitting.
“Well, how is he? Why is he in the hospital?”
“He’s doing fine. He’s got a badly broken leg, what orthopedic surgeons would call a compound multi-fragmentary fracture. James Phillips, his doctor and one of the best orthopedic surgeons around, performed surgery the other day to insert pins into the bones to hold the broken pieces together. His recovery’s going very well, though. He’s... God,” Rex sighed and wiped his eyes with his hands. “I haven’t seen him in so long. I’ve missed him so much. I can’t describe to you how it felt to see him.”
A strangled cry threatened to escape through the gate of quivering lips that barely suppressed the emotion that flowed from her heart like a waterfall. “I can’t believe he’s here in Fairview. Oh my heavens! I don’t think I care so much that he hates me just as long he’s healthy and on the mend.
“How did he break his leg?”
“He didn’t want to talk about it. I’m sure we’ll find out in time.” Expectantly, Bree peered at Rex and he knew what she was going to ask next. To spare her, he answered her question before it had the chance to be verbalized and shot down.
“I’m sorry, Bree. I talked to Andrew, I told him what you asked me, but he doesn’t want to see you.”
“I see.” Easing herself into a chair, she exhaled deeply. Her ex-husband sat besides her and took her hand.
“You know how he is, honey. When he wants something, he’ll be asking for you. Give him some time, he’ll come around. I’m sure he missed you just as much as you missed him. How could he not?”
Bree couldn’t speak. Her voice was shadowed by the overwhelming thoughts and feelings that tore through her body like a tornado. The best she could manage was a nod lest she fall apart.
“It looks like he’s doing well. Justin’s here if he needs anything and he has our cell numbers. I suppose we should be going.”
Shaking her head, she replied, “You go on, I’m staying here.”
“Honey,” Rex said with gentleness, sensitive to Bree’s feelings that were exposed like an open sore. “Andrew’s pretty set on not seeing you today, you wouldn’t be doing yourself any good by sitting out here. You can wait just as comfortably at home. I’ll be coming to work in a couple of hours, if he changes his mind, I’ll call you.”
“I can’t go home. Not now. Not when he’s just a few feet from me. I spent the better part of four months not knowing where he was, thinking he could be hundreds of miles from me, wondering if he was dead or alive. Now that I know where he is, I want to stay close, even if I can’t be with him. I’m not leaving until he does.”
“I wish you’d change your mind. You could be waiting for a long time. Listen, just give me a few more tries, maybe I can talk him into seeing you. Meanwhile, you go home and wait.”
“No!” she objected, resolute in her stance. “I appreciate you talking to Andrew on my behalf, but I’m afraid that you could talk until you’re blue in the face and bribe him with a car and he still wouldn’t budge. I’m going to stay here and I don’t care how long it takes.” Bree’s insistence only made Rex feel more helpless. If only his son and his ex-wife would each relent a small bit, he wouldn’t have to act the clueless arbitrator. Though he was wary of leaving Bree to her own devices, he had no other choice but to do so as he still had to shower and dress for work.
“I’ll drop by the house and tell Danielle what’s going on. I told her I’d drive her to work today. My shift begins at noon, so I’ll drop by and see you and Andrew. If you need anything, don’t think twice about calling me.”
“Thank you, Rex.”
Something didn’t feel right to Rex as he stood there gazing awkwardly at Bree. After saying his good-byes, he felt odd about simply walking away. There was a strange nagging sensation that was prompting him to complete the scene. His eyes locked with Bree’s and as he stared into those dark pools encircled with green, he saw something there he hadn’t seen once in the months since he returned to his family: trust. She was sharing with him her deepest fears and pain and wordlessly begging for his support. The Bree he’d wanted to divorce a year and a half ago was gradually shedding her thick skin to reveal a human side that needed affection and reassurance. Instantly, he understood what was lacking. Forgetting they were no longer a married couple, he pulled Bree tenderly against him and placed a simple, chaste kiss on her cheek. It was a declaration, not of love, but of a partnership of mutual support and amiability. Should she suffer anguish of any kind, Rex was making it known to her that she wouldn’t have to do so alone, that he would be her partner, to share in the afflictions foisted upon her by their common path in life. Appearing to interpret the complexity behind such an uncomplicated gesture, Bree snaked her arms around her ex-husband and embraced him, letting neither air nor light nor sound come between their bodies.
“Tell Danielle to come see her brother. He’d want to see her.”
“I will.” Tearing himself from his ex-wife, he trailed out of the waiting area and out of Bree’s sight.
Lonesome and suddenly tired, Bree returned to her seat wondering when her son would soften his rigid stance and allow his mother back into his life. If only he’d give her another chance, she would make things right. She worried that maybe it was too late. For most of his eighteen years on Earth he’d lived in a perfectionist’s hell that had been thrust upon his father and his sister by his mother. Rex and she had talked about forgiveness earlier that morning and she hoped that her statement to him could be proven wrong, that there was indeed enough forgiveness to erase the animosity and hurt caused by ignorant, damaging decisions. While Andrew made up his mind about whether to see his mother or not, she would wait for him with the patience that had eluded her at their last meeting.
True to his word, during his shift, Rex came to see Andrew and stopped to update Bree on his condition. They didn’t bother to discuss the idea of Bree visiting her son because she knew Andrew hadn’t altered his decision. If and when he did, Bree was certain she’d feel it in her heart and at that point in the day, her heart felt like it was weighed down with heavy stones. Thirteen hours elapsed and Bree continued her vigil in the waiting room. Prior to going home, Rex came to see her once again. This time he didn’t check on Andrew, rather he took a seat next to his ex-wife.
“I wish you would reconsider...”
“I’m not moving.”
“I see that.”
When she turned to look at him, she had to admit that he was a handsome man, always had been. He wore his white doctor’s coat over a blue dress shirt and matching silk tie with black slacks. A stethoscope was carelessly slung around his neck. Smiling, it became clear to her just how proud of him she was for all that he’d accomplished in life, not only for himself, but for his family. The only change she would make–and it was only small change–would be to straighten the lapels on his coat. Other than that, he was a sight of perfection, a perfection so effortless it seemed unfair.
Gingerly taking hold of his crooked lapels, she rearranged them until they were a mirror image of one another, beaming with a pride Rex didn’t comprehend. “Rex Van De Kamp, you’re a very handsome sight. You look exactly how a doctor should look.” After pressing on the cotton fabric a little here and a little there, she was finished.
Chuckling, he responded as he inspected Bree’s handiwork, “Oh, really? And how’s that?”
“Professional, distinguished, intelligent, successful, competent...”
“Can I quote you on that for my business card?” he asked, visibly amused and touched at the same time.
“Absolutely. If I may ask, what do you presently have printed on your business cards?” she inquired in playfulness.
“Dr. Rex Van De Kamp, MD. Are you absolutely sure you made the right choice?”
“Rex!” He delighted in her reaction, completely thrilled to be making her smile and laugh amid the tense situation with Andrew. He liked it when she laughed because she appeared so natural and alive. It was something he hadn’t gotten to see a lot of. With each passing year, the number of instances in which Bree laughed, truly laughed, had waned, which was a pity because Rex thought the look and the sound suited her.
When the moment couldn’t seem to get any more perfect, it all collapsed into ruin when Rex’s cell phone began ringing. Flashing Bree a contrite look, he dug into the pockets of his coat to retrieve his cell.
From where she sat, she could hear a distinctive, high-pitched voice being emitted from the phone. The words being spewed a mile a minute in Rex’s ear were indistinguishable, but she could tell the other party didn’t sound too pleased. The conversation lasted a mere two minutes before Rex hung up.
“That was Amber,” he informed her insipidly. “We’re suppose to go out to dinner and see a movie when I get off work.”
“Ahh,” Bree voiced her disappointment as she turned away from him. Her one good moment in a dismal day trampled recklessly by Rex’s two-bit tart.
“I suppose I should get going,” he stood up in discernible abruptness. “If there’s any change...”
“...I’ll call you.”
Gloomily, she watched Rex as he left the waiting area and disappeared down the hall.
All her life, people had been walking away from her, leaving her to wonder what was so undesirable about her that no one wanted to be in her company for very long. Grateful that Rex’s presence had helped pass twenty minutes of a day that had trudged endlessly on, she knew she was in for more of the same as the night wore on. The kind nurse that had taken over for Marla at the nurse’s station had apparently been told of Bree’s plight as she brought the troubled mother the largest cup of coffee the hospital cafeteria supplied. About two in the morning, Bree drifted, against her will, into a short, fitful sleep. When she awoke, the first thing she did was go over to the nurse’s station and ask about Andrew. Satisfied that he was continuing to make great progress with his broken leg, she went to the restroom to freshen up which basically consisted of splashing some water on her face and removing the day-old make-up that had collected in the creases around her eyes and mouth. Unhappy with her appearance, there was nothing she could do about it currently. It had been a lifetime ago since she’d been seen in public without make-up enhancing her already pretty features. The flawless part and her trademark flip had given way to dull, flat hair that appeared to simply sit on her head, which didn’t please Bree, either.
A day later, Bree was still waiting to hear from her son, her defenses starting to crumble and her confidence ebbing. She put herself through a rigorous interrogation concerning her parenting skills, her future with her children and her ability to love and nurture them. Night fell on her hope while the sun rose on her self-doubt, that cancerous demon that led her to alcohol, who’d shoved it down her throat each time she required the use of her inner strength. Distrust of her own capabilities slithered its way into her head, causing old patterns to resurface. Not only did she have to deal with her son’s present condition, but she had to battle with her desire to drown the voices in her head with alcohol. Vicious thoughts crammed her mind, overloading it with their venom. Why couldn’t they stop? Why wouldn’t they leave her alone so she could worry about Andrew?
Pacing the room, she tried to deflect her thoughts by concentrating on other things. Sometimes that meant reciting recipes from memory, or listing all the appliances she wanted in alphabetical order, or staring blankly out the window at nothing in particular while she wrung her hands and twisted her hair around her finger in thoughtful reflection. She even took a stab at trying to get interested in reading the articles from the three-year old magazines that were flung haphazardly on the room’s tables. The whole time she was at the hospital, Bree never left the confines of that room, not even to eat. The growl in her stomach became more pronounced as the hours lurked along and at times her tongue cried for relief, but still she was adamant that she wouldn’t leave until her son was able to. When four o’clock in the afternoon rolled around, Rex surprised her by stopping by, as dashingly dressed as the previous day. He checked on Andrew, told Bree what had passed between them and watched the familiar dispirited expression cross Bree’s face as he yet again had to tell her that Andrew didn’t wish to see her. In the end, Bree was still unmoving in her decision to keep her place in the waiting room, though no one could accuse Rex of not trying to get Bree to go home or at least to eat something. However, she did break down and request that he bring her something to drink.
A few minutes after midnight, Bree was struggling to stay awake when out of nowhere an alarm went off from inside the recovery wing. It didn’t even dawn on her that it could have something to do with Andrew, but every hair she possessed stood at attention when she heard one of the nurses run off yelling, “We need a doctor in room twenty-four, stat!”
Ice ran through her veins like sharp razors and her heart convulsed mercilessly in its place.
“Oh my God, that’s Andrew’s room!” breathed Bree in a panic. Calling Rex hadn’t even entered her mind, all she could think about was her child. Throwing all rules and regulations violently and carelessly aside, Bree ran into the recovery wing, weaving through the horde of doctors and nurses that were littering the hall. One of the nurses at the nurses station recognized Bree and attempted to run after, shouting her name, but Bree wouldn’t stop. She had to get to her son. They could call the police and have her escorted from the property, she didn’t care. There was one thing on her mind and heeding the rules wasn’t it. As she ran, the noises around her faded into the background and all she could hear was the rush of blood in her ears, its flow propelled by the rapid speed at which her heart beat. The world around her seemed to be moving in slow motion. Glancing at the room numbers posted just above the doors, she ran until she saw ‘24'. Unconcerned that she hadn’t obtained anyone’s permission, she boldly entered to search for Andrew. Though she couldn’t see him through the entourage of doctors and nurses that surrounded the bed, she heard his deafening, high-pitched screams.
“It hurts!!” he cried.
Instinctively, Bree pushed herself between two medical attendants flanking the right side of the bed and gazed lovingly down at her son, enraptured by the feeling of seeing him but horrified of what was happening to him. At first, he didn’t see her as his eyes were closed tightly in the agonizing pain he was experiencing, but as soon as Bree laid a tender hand atop his head, he recognized the familiarity of the feel and his eyes flew open. They showed pure terror.
“It’s going to be ok, Andrew,” she smiled down at him with a serenity that had previously evaded her. She didn’t know where the sudden calmness came from, but she was glad for Andrew’s sake that she was able to be so composed. “Don’t worry, they’ll take care of you,” she cooed in a soothing lilt as she had done when he was a young child. Stroking his hair, damp from his unsuccessful efforts at quelling his own pain, her gaze never left him. He stared up at her and big tears fell down his flushed cheeks in recognition.
“Mama!” his voice was stifled by the excruciating pain in his leg that felt like thousands of little needles stabbing his flesh from within over and over again, resulting in a burning sensation shooting upward to his thigh. “It hurts, it hurts so bad...” he ended in a shaky whisper. Talking too loudly made it hurt even worse.
“I know, baby, I know. Don’t think about the pain, Andrew. Look at me, ok? Don’t look at the doctors.”
Andrew managed a clipped nod, but gritted his teeth, growled, moaned and shrieked, all in an attempt to lessen his suffering, but it was to no avail. Bree continued with stroking the top of his head.
“You’re doing great, darling. They’ll stop the pain. You’re managing just fine. You know what? I’m so proud of you, Andrew. So very proud.”
At this point, Andrew grabbed Bree’s hand and squeezed with all his strength and whimpered.
“Squeeze all you want, you won’t hurt me,” she encouraged him over his screams.
“Mama, when will it end??! Can’t you make it stop?!” She had to restrain herself from scooping him up into her arms in a mother’s effort to shield him from all the bad things she’d promised to protect him from the day he was born. Instantly, the fire that eluded her earlier returned and she silently declared that she was his mother and she would protect him at all costs. Nothing would separate her from Andrew again. He was her son and she was his mother. It would require more than a grudge and anger to break the bond she had forged with him upon conception. Her strength had to be enough for the both of them.
“Soon, sweetheart. They’re working as fast as they can to help you. It won’t be long until you’ll be out of pain. Remember when you were eight years old and you broke your arm? Remember when the doctor told you they would have to set it and that it would hurt, so you begged your dad to do surgery to remove it because you’d rather have your arm taken off than go through the pain?”
“Mama!” he wailed, holding onto her hand for dear life. Wishing to do more, she could only stand by and watch her son be victimized by an invisible assailant that came from within his own body.
“Hold on, Andrew. You’re being so brave.” Gently, she wiped the sweat from his forehead.
“I can’t stand it anymore!”
Sitting on the edge of the hospital bed in an attempt to be closer to him, Andrew welcomed the invasion of his space and let loose Bree’s hand to envelope his mother with his arms. He clung to her tightly in desperate hope of finding solace. Trying to console him, she rubbed his back softly with one hand while holding his head against her with another. His ear lay on her chest and she could feel the tremors that racked his body in jagged waves. It was the same spot where his tiny head laid the first time she ever held him. When she spoke, Andrew could hear the muffled sound of her voice through her chest wall. He also heard the beat of her heart which was an anchor in the midst of the chaos that whirled about him. It’s steady, timely rhythm proved to lull him into a trance-like state in which the pain began to subside. Drowsiness soon carried him away from the world around him and the pain that had inexorably besieged him dripped from his body. In the arms of his mother, he peacefully feel into a deep sleep.
Loathe to release her son, she eased Andrew and herself down onto the bed and lay there as his erratic breaths lessened and became more regular. Tucking his head under her chin, she felt his warm breath shower her clammy skin. Closing her eyes, she savored the moment which she might never again experience and reveled in the intimacy that hadn’t been afforded to her since Andrew entered adolescence. She knew he was eighteen years of age, but that night he’d been a child in a young man’s body crying out for the one person who knew him and loved him unconditionally. He was too proud to have a nurse bring her to him, but somehow she knew he needed his mom. It was purely instinctual, something set in place the second she became a mother. Becoming a parent was the last thing Bree recalled as she, too, joined Andrew in sleep. The troubled world continued to spin and life went on as Bree and Andrew lay unto themselves, relishing a reunion of which neither was aware.
(To be continued in the next post...)