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Distance and Time

Guest charmed60

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Story Title: Distance and Time

Type of Story: Long Fic

Main Characters: Rachel, Jack, Lucas, Martha, Leah. Other characters include Charlie, Angelo, Belle, Aden, Elijah, Matilda and Ric.

BTTB rating: T/A

Genre: Drama, Angst, Family

Spoilers: None

Is this story being proof read: No

Warnings: Deals with grief and there is a later chapter some may find disturbing but I will warn before posting.

Some things you should know before reading. Rachel and Tony aren't yet married but engaged, Jack is not dead but alive and lives next door with Martha; they're both married. Leah and Elijah are also together as are Charlie and Angelo. Belle is also not dead.

When a loved member of the Bay is tragically killed, the family who loved him fall apart. Will they ever be able to move through their grief? Please feel free to criticize constructively, I'm always looking to improve :)


Cherish every day, 'cause you never know

It could take away, the very thing that you love the most

~Alicia Keys - Distance and Time~

Rachel sighed heavily as she gazed around at the mounds of scrap pieces of paper and brochures which were littered across every circumference of the table in front of her. She threw her pen across the table and rested her head in her hands, trying to not look at the screwed up balls of paper which were also thrown on the floor around her. Wedding planning is so hard she mused, nothing she saw in any of the magazines felt right. They’d set a date already but as it was getting closer, Rachel was feeling more and more nervous; she hadn’t organised anything. It didn’t help that Tony had been working non stop lately in an effort to save some money for their nuptials. She appreciated it so much but it meant that she felt like she was doing everything on her own and the pressure was just becoming too much. Trying to organise who was going to sit where at the reception was proving an impossible task and she couldn’t decide whether she wanted lilies or roses for the bouquets. The venue was also something she couldn’t decide on; she didn’t want a Church wedding as she’d had that for her first marriage and wanted this one to be different. But she also didn’t want to get married in a registry office because it felt too impersonal to her; more like a legal process than a commitment ceremony. She’d tried to explain how she felt to Tony but he had a laid back blasé attitude about the whole matter and told her not to stress so much, that everything would work itself out. Typical man she muttered to herself, he obviously didn’t realise how much there was that needed to be organised.

“Every time I come home you are at that table with your head in your hands. Rach you need to stop stressing” Tony’s voice boomed as he closed the door behind him, his work bag slung loosely over his shoulder.

“And you need to stop telling me to stop stressing” Rachel snapped. She couldn’t help it but his attitude was beginning to irritate her. “If I don’t get this organised Tony there won’t be a wedding.”

“Okay” Tony seethed, trying to ignore her anger towards him. “Then let me help you” he offered, running his hand gently over her back and picking up one of the brochures which was buried underneath reams of paper. His eyes glazed over the images on each page and he ran his hand through his hair; he didn’t want to admit it to Rachel while she was in this mood but he had no idea what he was meant to be organising. “This dress is nice” he finally suggested, sliding the magazine in front of her to see.

“Do you think this is some kind of joke?” Rachel shrieked as tears of frustration brimmed in her eyes. She stood up quickly, knocking the chair forcefully backwards into the wall behind her and raced over to the sink, desperate for a change of scenery. She looked back at Tony, anger evident in her eyes. “This is our wedding, what is supposed to be the most important day of our lives and you are just making fun of the fact that I am upset and stressed” she rambled, her voice shaking.

“I’m not making fun of you” Tony shouted back. “You said you needed help organising it and that’s what I’m trying to do.” His eyes were filled with confusion; he’d never seen Rachel like this before.

“What by offering to help pick my dress?” she sarcastically remarked. “Don’t bother, I’ll do it myself.” She turned back towards the sink and decided to start on the washing up, desperate to do something to distract her from the argument. She hated fighting with Tony and she knew deep down that he was only trying to help. But it made her so angry that he was useless when it came to the wedding planning and she started to feel like she didn’t even want to bother anymore.

“Well you clearly can’t do it by yourself” Tony whispered under his breath, regretting it immediately when he knew it was only going to add fuel to the fire. He picked up the other magazines and placed them in a neat pile in the middle of the table, his mind whirring with ways to resolve the situation. “You know what” he began, turning towards her. “Things haven’t been the same between us ever since you started organising this wedding. And I do not like what we have become.” He paused for a moment, allowing Rachel the opportunity to reply but she remained firm in her place with her back to him, plates smashing together in the sink as she furiously scrubbed at them. “Why don’t we just forget about all this planning business and just go away and do it” he suggested.

“Are you serious?” she fumed as she turned to face him, a cup splashing bubbles everywhere as she dropped it into the sink. “Tony this day is meant to be special I want everything to be perfect.”

“And it can be” he argued, disappointed that she hadn’t been as receptive to the idea as he’d hoped. “As long as were together and were married that’s all that matters right?”

“No, it’s not all that matters” she bit back, a lot harsher than she’d meant to. She breathed in deeply and lowered her voice. “Look it’s a nice idea okay but I don’t want to rush things. Maybe we should just put the date back until next year and give ourselves longer to organise everything.” Tony felt like he’d been punched in the chest. He hadn’t expected her to want to postpone it and he certainly wasn’t expecting her to want to put it back a whole year. He suddenly realised why she’d been so hesitant to organise things and he felt intense sadness flood his body.

“Or maybe you don’t want to get married to me at all, that’s what the problem is isn’t it Rachel?” He stared at her intensely waiting for her reaction, part of him dreading what it might be.

“What?” she stuttered. “Of course that’s not what the problem is Tony”

“Yes it is” he laughed ironically. “It explains everything, why you can’t choose anything you like, why you shout at me and get angry at me every time I so much as mention the wedding.” Tony felt his voice begin to get louder but he couldn’t hold himself back, he felt completely hurt and rejected, wishing she’d been honest with him in the first place. He had to admit that he wasn’t totally surprised, he felt stupid for ever believing that someone as young and beautiful as Rachel would ever be interested in an old man like him. “Why didn’t you say something at the beginning?”

“Tony, you’re acting completely crazy” she shrieked back, waving his claims aside. She couldn’t believe that he honestly thought she felt like that. “I do want to marry you, more than anything, I love you so much” she gushed. “I just think I need more time to be able to organise things that’s all.”

“That’s just an excuse” he screamed, his anger becoming more evident. “You know what, forget about lunch I’d rather be at work.” He picked up his bag and headed towards the door, throwing it angrily over his back.

“Tony, stop please” Rachel begged. “You’ve got the completely wrong idea.”

“No you know what, I’m the one who got the completely wrong idea” he seethed, turning to face her with his body midway in the doorframe. “I foolishly believed that you loved me and we had this amazing relationship based on honesty and trust. But I was wrong. You’ve made a complete idiot out of me.” He slammed the door behind him making Rachel wince. She was in shock; she couldn’t believe what had just happened. How could Tony think she didn’t want to marry him she kept asking herself, repeating it over and over in her mind until tears were running furiously down her cheeks. He was usually so sensitive and gentle; it was one of the things she loved so much about him. But to see the anger and pain in his eyes had totally crushed Rachel and it frightened her to see him like that. She loved him so much, she felt so lucky to be able to call him her fiancé but it terrified her that she might not be able to do that anymore.


Rachel receives some earth shattering news

Jack struggles to cope

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Thank you so much Zetti, Charlene, Kirsty, Barbara and Danni I really do appreciate each and every one of your comments and you've all helped me pick out something in my writing that I hadn't actually realised so thank you. Zetti - no it wasn't harsh at all I really appreciate your honesty; I've already written quite a few chapters for this fic but I will definetely try to add in more description and space out the dialogue from now on.

Tony placed his beer harshly down on the table, causing the liquid to spill over the sides and run down onto his lap. He cursed under his breath and grabbed a wad of tissues to soak it up, swiftly removing his jacket and placing it on the back of his chair to save it from the same fate as his jeans. He rubbed his hands over his face and through his hair as his mind whirred through the argument he’d just had with Rachel. He realised he might have over-reacted; she never specifically said that she didn’t want to marry him. He guessed it was his own insecurities that led him to come to that conclusion; even now he still couldn’t believe that she chose him over Roman…or Rambo as he used to jokingly call him. But it still hurt him that she wanted to postpone the wedding, he’d been working constantly in an effort to save enough money and was so excited to become her husband. He knew how much she’d been hurt in her last marriage and was desperate to prove to her that he was different, that he could look after her and make her feel safe and loved. That he could give her a family like she’d always wanted. But just knowing that she was happy to wait, that she wasn’t as excited by it as he was really hurt him. He gulped his beer down and felt the cold liquid running down his throat, considering what he was going to do next, how he was going to deal with the situation. The sound of his phone broke him from his thoughts and he fumbled through his jean pocket, noticing it was a text message from Rachel. He hesitated, scared of what she might say to him. Deciding to bite the bullet he opened the message and smiled to himself at what she’d said; I’m sorry for being such a stressy cow, I want to marry you more than anything. Please come home. I love you x

Tony breathed a sigh of relief and finished the rest of his beer. He looked at his watch and realised he still had 40 minutes of his lunch break left so stood up swiftly from his chair and jogged towards the door, making his way home.


Rachel sighed sadly to herself. She’d spent the past few hours tidying the house as best as she could, putting away anything to do with the wedding in hopes that Tony would come home and they could talk properly. She thought that the text message she sent him would be enough to fix things but he hadn’t even replied to it, he must still be upset she mused to herself. She’d considered calling him at work but she thought that would just make things worse, she didn’t want to make him angry whilst he was trying to work. In some ways he was like her, always using work as an outlet when he was upset about something. Rachel lifted her head and looked around the empty room, realising how dark the house had suddenly become. She flicked on the lamp in the corner of the room and hugged her arms around herself for warmth. Looking at the clock on the wall above her she realised he would be finishing work in a couple of hours so decided she would make him a special dinner for when he got home. The stomach is always the way to a man’s heart her mother used to say to her. She laughed gently to herself and opened the fridge, absorbing herself in choosing what to cook; she needed something that was easy and fool proof. Tony wouldn’t be particularly impressed if she burnt her apology dinner. The sound of knocking on the door broke her from her thoughts and her heart skipped a beat as she thought that maybe Tony had come home early. However as she made her way towards the door she saw Charlie standing in her cop uniform, looking through the door nervously. A barrage of worry ran through her as she opened the door.

“Charlie, hi” Rachel greeted, hoping her friend was here for a social call. She noticed the mournful look on Charlie’s face as she smiled at her; an expression which appeared to be forced. “Angelo, I didn’t see you hiding around the corner, bad day in the office?” she laughed nervously, noticing Angelo had a similar expression as his partner.

“Can we come in please Rachel?” Charlie asked, making no reaction towards her joke. She smiled gratefully as Rachel stepped aside and awkwardly stood in the middle of the living room floor. Angelo stepped behind her and placed a reassuring hand on her back. She’d done this before, but never with a friend; she didn’t know how to even begin. Sometimes she wished she wasn’t in charge, sure it had perks; better money, more holiday. But it had downsides to; like what she was about to have to do.

“I er, I don’t know how to tell you this” Charlie began as she removed her hat from her head and placed it in front of her. She saw Angelo doing the same thing out of the corner of her eye. “There’s been an incident, an explosion. I’m so sorry to tell you this Rachel.”

“What’s happened Charlie just tell me please? Is it Leah?” Rachel’s eyes flitted between Angelo and Charlie, hoping that in some way she would be able to understand what had happened. Her mind flitted with morbid thoughts and tears stung at her eyes.

“I’m so sorry, it’s…I can’t do this” Charlie turned away from Rachel and sobbed into her hand. She absolutely hated herself for being so unprofessional but she just couldn’t say the words.

“Will someone please tell me what’s going on? Angelo?” Rachel’s hands started to shake and her voice began to wobble.

“It’s Tony” Angelo replied bravely, one part of him wanting to comfort Charlie but the other part reminding him that he had to be professional. Rachel froze. She hadn’t considered that it might be Tony that was involved but of course it all made sense now, why he hadn’t replied to her message, why he hadn’t come home.

“Wha..he’s okay though isn’t he?” Rachel felt a single tear roll down her left cheek but didn’t notice her fingernails digging into her arm as she held her breath, waiting for his response.

“I wish I had a different answer for you, I really do. But he was pronounced dead on the scene. I truly am very sorry.”

“No” Rachel yelled out, her hand flinging to her mouth. Her heartbeat seemed to stop as she struggled for breath and Angelo’s face became fuzzy in front of her. She felt tears pouring down her face but she had no control over them, she was numb. “What….what hap, what happened” she stuttered as she tried to make sense of the situation. “The gym?” she added, “I’ve been telling him to fix the air conditioning for weeks, this is all my fault.”

“It wasn’t the gym, don’t blame yourself” Charlie piped up as she managed to gain control over her emotions. She moved closer to Rachel and attempted to put her arms around her but Rachel lifted her hand up and stopped her in her tracks.

“He, he can’t be” Rachel mumbled. “I only spoke to him this afternoon and he was fine.” She realised what she’d said was completely irrational but she was desperate to cling onto any chance that they were wrong. “You’ve made a mistake” Rachel cried, forcing a hopeful smile.

“There’s no mistake” Angelo replied adamantly, moving forward so that he was in line with his partner. “It happened at a bar down in Yabbie Creek, we’re not sure at the moment but we suspect it was an electrical fault. It would have been instant.” Rachel shut her eyes tightly as Angelo’s comment reinforced that Tony was gone. That she would never see him again. It was far too much for Rachel to cope with.

“I need to see him” she exclaimed, surprised herself at what she said.

“Rachel, I don’t think that’s a good idea” Charlie replied sympathetically as she glanced up knowingly at Angelo.

“I don’t care what you think, I want to see my fiancé” Rachel screamed. Silence filled the air and all Rachel could hear was the sound of her own heavy breathing. She looked at the two police officers in front of her who were both looking at each other, as if they were debating who should talk to her next.

“Rachel…” Charlie began, realising that her ability to empathise with people better than Angelo meant she had to tell her. “His body, it was…burned, beyond recognition. It’s not something you want to see, trust me.” Charlie couldn’t even look at her friend as she told her the grotesque details behind her fiance’s death.

Rachel swallowed hard as she tried to fight back the bile which was rising in her throat. Images of Tony lying burnt on the ground filled her mind and she shook her head violently in an effort to remove them. “Then how do you know it was him, you could be wrong, this could be a mistake. Maybe he’s still at work” Rachel rambled as a tiny flicker of hope presented itself to her. She went with it, because it was far better than the alternative. “Maybe I should just call him now and he’ll pick up the phone and everything will be okay again” she cried, as Charlie reached into her back pocket and pulled out a plastic bag. Rachel watched as she reached into it and pulled out a familiar looking wallet. It was Tony’s. Rachel felt her heart sink and her eyes once again filled with tears which she furiously blinked away.

“They found it in his jacket pocket, he was holding it in his hand. It’s a bit burned but, amazingly the pictures are still okay.” Charlie held it out and placed it in her friend’s shaking hand. She watched as Rachel brought it close to her and opened it gently, studying every detail. Her eyes clouded over and she let out a choking sob as she opened the wallet and saw two pictures on either side; one of Tony with his sons, Jack and Lucas; the other of Rachel and him at his birthday party last year.

“He can’t be gone Charlie, we were going to get married” she cried, her legs feeling weak and her knees buckling. Her thoughts suddenly turned to Jack and Lucas, the sons he’d left behind. She knew this would completely tear them apart, she didn’t know how she’d even begin to tell Lucas. He was still so affected by his mother’s death that she wondered how he would cope with losing his father to. “Does Jack know?” Rachel breathed deeply in an effort to speak in between her sobs. Charlie began to reply when the front door opened itself slowly. Rachel swung around and saw Jack leaning against the doorframe, his eyes bloodshot and red from where he’d been crying.

“Please Jack, tell them it’s a mistake” Rachel cried, her sobs becoming more vocal as she saw her fiancés son standing broken in front of her. He rushed forward and pulled her into his chest and she grabbed his shirt tightly, sobbing louder into his shoulder. Rachel felt comforted at first, feeling a tiny sense of relief that she had someone to share her grief with. But the more she held onto Jack the more she realised how much like Tony he was, the way he held her and stroked her hair, even the way he smelt. She pushed herself away from him, unable to cope with feeling like she was holding Tony instead. He struggled against it but her pain had given her a newfound strength; she tore away from him and ran into her bedroom, slamming the door shut.

“How you holding up mate?” Angelo whispered sympathetically, breaking the silence and placing a reassuring hand on Jack’s shoulder.

“I just can’t…it doesn’t seem.” Jack struggled to put into words exactly how he was feeling. His Dad was gone, dead. Who was he going to talk to when things got tough? Who was he going to tell when something good happened? Who was he going to go surfing with? Questions whizzed around Jack’s mind and he started to realise how much he depended on his Dad, how much he was a part of his everyday life. He remained frozen in the spot he was standing, still looking towards Rachel’s bedroom, wondering if

he should follow her.

“Just give her some space Jack. Why don’t you sit down, you’re shaking.” Charlie reached out to her friend and guided him into a nearby chair whilst asking Angelo to make him a cup of tea.

“We were meant to go for a surf this evening” Jack mumbled in a monotone voice, his eyes focused on a picture of him and his Dad on the fireplace. “How am I going to tell Lucas?” His heart broke at the thought of having to be the one to tell his little brother. “He’s just a kid. First Mum and now…” Jack couldn’t say the words. “It’s not right.”

“No, it’s not” Charlie agreed, placing her hand over Jack’s. “But he’s strong and so are you; you’ve got each other to get through this.”

“What about Rach?” Jack asked, finally tearing his eyes away to face Charlie. “Who has she got?” Charlie didn’t reply, she didn’t know what to say. She hated being the professional in situations like this; she never knew whether she was saying the right thing or making things worse. As if on cue, the sound of frantic crying echoed through the house, breaking Jack and Charlie from their thoughts. Rachel’s sobs were haunting, sending chills through their spine. It was as if it had finally sunk in that the man she loved was gone and the pain was too much to bear. Suddenly the sound of collective pieces of glass crashing to the floor made Jack jump and he raced towards her bedroom, part of him scared of what he would find.


Rachel is wracked with guilt

Lucas comes home

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Wow! Thank you so much Danni, Barbara, Charlene, Red Ranger and Charlene - I'm really grateful for all your lovely comments! You've all put so much effort in and Charlene2009 I'm sorry for making you cry :lol: Thank you for keep coming back and I hope you continue to enjoy :)

Jack flung open the door and his eyes darted around the dark room. He saw his Dad’s jeans and navy blue shirt thrown together in a pile in the corner of the room and resisted against the tears which were threatening to fall. Jack squinted through the darkness and closed the door softly behind him; he couldn’t see Rachel but could hear her quiet cries. “Rach.” He called out to her but she didn’t reply. He held his hands out in front of him and traced his way along the side of the bed. A dim light from the moon shone through the window and he saw tiny shards of glass randomly littered across the windowsill. His heart began to beat faster when he noticed a red smudge amongst the glass, which contrasted with the harsh white paint. “Rach” he called more frantically. As he got closer he noticed her hunched over in the other corner of the room and he raced towards her.

“Be careful” she whispered through her tears. “There’s glass on the floor. I don’t want you to cut yourself.” He stopped in his tracks and treaded carefully, crouching down in front of her.

“What happened?” he asked when he noticed a number of pictures lying on the floor around her, covered in broken glass and frames.

“I got a bit angry, I couldn’t help it” she admitted guiltily as she carefully attempted to pull out a cherished photo from under the glass, without scratching it. Tiny beads of blood dripped onto the floor from her hands and she didn’t notice the tiny shards of glass which were embedded into her palms. She felt numb.

“I think you can be forgiven for getting a bit angry” Jack replied confidently. “It’s taking all my strength not to put my fist through a wall or a window or something. Hey you’re bleeding” he soothed when he noticed the blood dripping from her hand and he reached for a piece of cloth lying on the floor next to him.

“Don’t” Rachel screamed, backing away from him. Jack retreated, confused and looked down at what was in his hand. “It’s Tony’s” she explained, breaking down in sobs again. Jack folded it gently and placed it next to him before enveloping Rachel in a hug. “He’s never going to get to wear it again” she cried into his shoulder. “It’s not fair, this is all my fault”

“You cannot blame yourself for this” Jack insisted. He bit his lip and forced his tears away, knowing that he had to be strong; they couldn’t both break down at the same time.

“No you don’t understand, it is. I was so horrible to him Jack.” Rachel’s cries became more intense as guilt plagued her body. “I wanted to postpone the wedding to give me more time to organise everything and he…he took it that I didn’t want to marry him. He left the house and…that’s the last thing he would be thinking of when he died Jack. That I didn’t love him.” She breathed heavily, gasping for air and dug her fingers into her arm, pulling them down so that her skin broke and blood trickled onto Jack’s top.

“Rach, he knew that you loved him” Jack reassured, his heart breaking at the guilt Rachel was feeling. This was something she would have to live with and he knew no matter what he said to her, she would always hate herself for it. He knew because the same thing had happened when his Mum died. He shut his eyes tightly as the familiar feelings of guilt washed over him and memories of the argument he had with her the day she died. It was over something stupid that he doesn’t even remember; maybe he hadn’t done his homework and she wouldn’t let him play. He remembered screaming at her, telling her that he hated her. That was the last thing he ever said to her.

“He told me that I’d made an idiot of him” Rachel continued, her cries still wild and rasp. “It was the last thing he said to me. Jack, that’s the last thing he’s ever going to say to me, I can’t….it can’t be…what am I going to do.” Rachel pulled away from Jack as she struggled to breathe, she felt suffocated. It was like bit by bit things were beginning to sink in, the realisation that she would never hear Tony or see him again, never hold him or get to feel him run his fingers through her hair. She reached up to the table next to her and pulled herself up, wincing as she pressed on her open wounds, the glass embedding itself further into her hands. Her legs felt like jelly and she had to hold on to the unit beside her, despite the pain, just to ensure she would stay standing. Jack jumped up and encouraged her to sit down on the bed, noticing how unsteady she was.

“No Jack, you don’t understand” she cried, reaching out towards him and grabbing his shirt tightly. “I text him to tell him that I was sorry and that I loved him” she screamed, her tear-stained cheeks flushed red. Her eyes were wild and she was staring at Jack with an intensity that frightened him. “He didn’t reply Jack which means he never got it, it was too late. He was already gone. He died thinking I didn’t love him.” Jack pulled her once again towards him, despite her efforts to take out her anger on him. She punched his chest and clenched her fists tighter around his shirt before giving in and sobbing into his chest. Her weak legs finally gave way and Jack guided her to the floor as they both held each other tightly, sharing their grief for the man they’d both loved and lost.


“Hey little bro” Jack greeted as he saw Lucas dragging his feet glumly towards him, a large bag slung heavily over his shoulder. “It’s so great to see you again.” Jack enveloped his brother in a hug and held him tighter than he ever had before; he was the man of the family now, it was his job to put Lucas first; even if that meant ignoring his own grief.

“Yeah, you to” Lucas whispered back, patting his older brother firmly on the back.

“How you holding up?” Jack questioned, dragging Lucas’s bag off of the floor and lifting it into the boot of his car.

“Fine” Lucas muttered back, his hands firmly placed in the front pockets of his low riding jeans and his eyes fixed firmly on the floor.

“I know this is going to be difficult Luc” Jack began as he opened the door and faced his brother on the opposite side of the car. “But Dad wouldn’t…”

“Can we just not talk about this” Lucas screamed, his voice fraught with anger as he banged his fist furiously on the roof of the car. “Dad’s dead Jack…he’s gone. There’s nothing else to say.” Lucas stared at his brother as he allowed the anger to dissipate from his body, his hands trembling in front of him. As Jack attempted to reply to him Lucas flung the car door open and threw his body down on the seat, slamming the door shut. Jack hung his head and slowly lowered himself down into the seat. He just needed time he thought to himself. But he hoped it wouldn’t be long before he started talking to him, Jack needed someone to talk to who knew exactly what he was going through. And the only person who could do that was his little brother.


Jack struggled to place the key in the lock whilst balancing Lucas’s bag over his aching shoulder. His brother hadn’t spoken to him at all during the journey home and after a quick glance behind he could see him attempting to open the door to his old bedroom.

“It’s locked” Jack explained, hoping he didn’t sound too patronising and rile up his brother again. “Rachel will have the key indoors.”

“I’ll wait here then” Lucas replied, his hands firmly tucked in his pockets in his seemingly usual posture.

“Luc, don’t be rude” Jack scolded. He didn’t want to have to lecture his brother, particularly after losing their Dad but he didn’t want him to cause any grief for Rachel. She was already struggling enough as it was; she barely left the house and whenever anyone called round to see that she was okay she would barely mutter a word. It was like she was dead inside. “She’s been kind enough to let you move back in so just be polite okay? Don’t take your anger out on her, she hasn’t done anything wrong.”

“Kind enough to let me move back in? This is my house to if you remember?” Jack sighed under his breath and decided to ignore him; he clearly wasn’t going to cooperate. Opening the door he called out to Rachel, his voice echoing back at him. He dropped Lucas’s bag on the floor and massaged his shoulder gently before walking through to the kitchen. The curtains were drawn; the darkness only intensifying the depressive feeling Jack already felt. The kitchen was immaculate, which meant either Rachel had been on an obsessive cleaning spree or she wasn’t eating at all. Jack assumed it was the latter.

“Hey” Rachel greeted timidly, pulling her cardigan tighter around her. “Sorry it took me so long, I was erm…I had the TV up loud, I didn’t hear you.” Jack smiled reassuringly; her red, puffy eyes told a different story and he suspected that she’d been crying but he didn’t want to pry. “Lucas, it’s really great to see you again” Rachel grinned, a rush of bittersweet happiness rushing through her as she realised that both of Tony’s boys were now home, just where he would want them. She considered rushing forward to give Lucas a hug but seeing as they’d never had that kind of relationship she decided against it, instead offering to cook him some dinner.

“No it’s fine” Lucas replied. “I just want the key to my room.” A cough from Jack’s direction startled Lucas and he glanced quickly over at his older brother, noticing the disapproving look on his face. “Please…” Lucas added, struggling to hide his resentment at the fact that his brother was treating him like a child.

“Sure” Rachel nodded, picking the key up from the table where she’d placed it earlier in anticipation of his visit and placing it in Lucas’s outstretched hand. “Everything’s in there as you left it, your Dad…” Rachel paused, choking on a sob as she always did when Tony’s name came into conversation and looked down at the ground in an attempt to hide her tears. “Well, he wanted to keep it as your room; he was hoping that if he did then you would move back home after you finished Uni.” A door slamming shut startled Rachel and she looked up to realise that Lucas had already gone.

“I’m sorry about him Rachel” Jack apologised, feeling even angrier that Lucas had been so rude when Rachel had finally started to open up. “It’s not personal; he’s just…finding it difficult.”

“It’s okay” she replied, forcing a smile. “I probably shouldn’t have said it anyway.”

“I like hearing you talk about Dad” Jack admitted, hoping Rachel wouldn’t be deterred from talking about him again. “It keeps him…alive for me, I guess. It’s difficult to explain.”

“I’ll try” Rachel breathed, knowing it was the best she could offer at the moment. The simple thought of Tony, a glance at his clothes still thrown carelessly on the floor on the spot where he left them would create a deep pain in Rachel’s heart. It was difficult enough to so much as hear his name be mentioned or smell his scent still lingering on his pillow, let alone talk about him. She didn’t know how she was going to get through tomorrow; having to talk about her feelings for him, how much she missed him and didn’t know how she was going to go on without him. She couldn’t even think these things herself let alone tell them to a room full of people.

“Listen, I was thinking of moving back in here with Martha if that’s okay?” Jack asked tentatively, “just while Lucas is back. I’d like to spend as much time with him as possible and…be closer to Dad”

“Of course it is” Rachel nodded, part of her feeling comforted at the thought that she wouldn’t have to be alone in the house anymore. The silence was eerie, all it did was make Tony’s absence and the realisation that he wasn’t coming home even more real to her.

“Why don’t I put some dinner on, you must be hungry?” Jack offered, in an attempt to change the subject and hopefully force Rachel to eat something.

“No, I’m not. I’ve already eaten” Rachel shrugged. “Thank you though.” She tugged tighter at her cardigan and shuffled her feet back towards her bedroom, leaving Jack standing alone in his father’s living room. Memories of him were everywhere, the pictures, the surfboard tucked in the corner. Even the cushions and the ugly brick wall separating the kitchen from the living room would remind Jack of him because it was his home, it was where he lived. Desperate to escape from the grief, Jack left the house swiftly, knocking on Lucas’s door in one last attempt to connect with his little brother. An expected silence followed, leaving Jack with a determination to try again later and a hope that his family would make it through this okay.

“Help me out here Dad” Jack whispered to the air, hoping desperately that he could hear him and that wherever he was, he was okay.


It's the day of Tony's funeral and there's a surprise visitor.

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Thank you so much again Danni, Red Ranger, Jarliefanever and Kirsty! I'm so sorry I got the preview wrong and it's actually for the next chapter, I forgot about this one! I hope you still enjoy it!

Leah knocked gently on the door, waiting for a response. “Rach, it’s only me” she called as she leant closer and held her hand tentatively over the handle. When she received no response, she pushed the bedroom door ajar slightly and poked her head through, squinting as the darkness hit her. When her eyes had adjusted she spotted Rachel sitting at her dresser table with her back to her. Leah closed to door quietly and walked over to her friend, wiping her hands down her skirt to remove the nervous beads of sweat forming on her palms. Seeing Rachel suffering like this brought it all back to her; the pain, the fear, the constant nausea which would wave over you whenever you remembered that the person you loved wasn’t coming home. She pulled a stool over and placed it next to Rachel, balancing precariously on the edge so as to avoid the trousers which were draped over them clumsily. She assumed they were Tony’s and didn’t want to disturb them; it didn’t feel right to move them when he was the last one to put them there.

“Are you ready to go?” she soothed, her heart breaking as she saw Rachel staring at the wall, moving a comb monotonously through the hair hanging over her shoulder.

“No” Rachel whispered, her eyes fixated on the rip in the wallpaper, a tiny imperfection which had been bugging her even since she had first noticed it.

“I know you don’t want to but…”

“I can’t go” Rachel interrupted, tears trickling down her cheek as she squeezed her eyes shut tightly.

“You need to” Leah replied forcefully but gently. She didn’t want her to break down now, she still had the ceremony and the burial to go through but she knew from personal experience that the hardest part was leaving the house and getting into the car.

“I can’t” Rachel insisted. “I can’t go. Because if I do then I have to accept that he’s gone and…I’m not ready to do that yet.” The brush fell from her grip as she leant into her hand and began to sob, as if she knew deep down that whether she was ready to accept it or not, he was still gone. Leah placed a comforting hand on her arm and squeezed it gently. She wanted to hug her but she remember from when Dan had died that people holding her just made her worse, made her cry more. It was like the close physical contact was just too much to bear.

“You’re never going to be ready sweetie” Leah soothed, wishing she could say something to take her best friend’s pain away. “But you need to be strong today. Your strength is one of the things that made Tony fall in love with you remember? Although he did tell me once that sometimes you being so strong was a downside because it meant you were stubborn and he was never going to win an argument with you.” Leah giggled at the memory and her heart lifted when she noticed a smile creep onto Rachel’s face.

“He really said that to you?” she asked, turning her head away from the wall and facing her friend with a hopeful glint in her eye.

“Yes he did.” Leah nodded, handing her a tissue from the box on the dressing table in front of her. “This is your chance to do him proud, tell everyone what an amazing man he was and how much you loved him. Come on let’s go, everyone’s waiting.” She took her hand and breathed a silent sigh of relief as Rachel followed her timidly, grabbing a few more tissues and stashing them in her jacket pocket.

“Ill be with you in a second, there’s just something I need to do first” Rachel promised as she watched Leah walk out of the door and close it behind her. She walked over to the bedside unit on Tony’s side of the bed and flicked on the switch to the lamp, smiling as the light flickered on. He would always turn the light on before he left for work. It used to make Rachel mad because she would complain about the amount of electricity he was wasting but he always liked there to be a light on in the room when he came home from work. It was one of his little quirks that drove Rachel insane but now he was gone, it was one of his little quirks that she missed. “I love you so much” she whispered, running her thumb gently over the picture of him on the bedside table. Breathing deeply to stop the onset of tears she grabbed more tissues; just in case; and left the room, knowing she had no choice but to let him go.


“Lucas, you have to go. It’s Dad’s funeral” Jack insisted for the numerous time that morning. He’d been in his brother’s room for well over an hour, trying to convince him that he needed to be there today.

“You can’t make me do anything” Lucas yelled, sick of his brother trying to force him to do something he really didn’t want to do. He pulled his diary closer to him and began scribbling away furiously, hoping Jack would get the hint.

“He is your father” Jack screamed back.

“Was. He was my father. And now he’s gone. We just need to get on with our lives.” A deathly silence filled the room after Lucas’s shock comment and Jack was in a state of shock.

“How can you say that?” Jack seethed as he felt the anger bubbling up inside of him. “Lucas put down that stupid book and look at me.” Lucas looked up slowly, still holding his pen above where he was writing. “You are a selfish little brat do you know that? I pray to God that Dad’s not looking down on us right now, how do you think that would make him feel? Seeing his son; his own flesh and blood, not even wanting to be at his funeral to say goodbye.” Jack gasped and attempted to steady his breathing, a bewildered and furious look in his eye. “So are you going to come?” he muttered more softly, hoping that Lucas would change his mind.

“No” Lucas spat, turning his attention back to the sentence he was half way through writing. Jack brought his fist up to his mouth, biting down strongly onto his tongue to stop him from saying something he knew he would regret.

“Dad would be so ashamed” Jack whispered, before turning and slamming the door shut behind him. Lucas carried on writing, the tears that he didn’t want his brother to see brimming at his eyelids. How could he leave me Lucas wrote; the ink blurring slightly as his tears hit the page. He promised me he’d always be there for me. He lied.


“You ready to go?” Jack enquired, trying to force the conversation he’d just had with his brother out of his mind. This day was a chance for him to say goodbye to his Dad and give him the send off he deserved; there was no way he was going to let Lucas’s selfishness ruin that for him.

“Do you really want an honest answer to that?” Rachel replied; a sad smile on her face as she picked up the pictures she’d removed from Tony’s wallet and tucked them in the inside pocket of her jacket; close to her heart.

“Are you okay” Martha whispered quietly to Jack as she saw his frantic, pained expression. She stroked his back gently and placed her other hand lightly on his chest.

“I’m fine I just…don’t want to talk about it” he replied, taking her hand in his and holding out the other for Rachel. Martha sighed sadly; he never wanted to talk about it.

Ever since Tony had died he’d clammed up, avoiding any opportunity for them both to be alone as if he knew that she would ask to talk about things; about how he was feeling. He had put himself head first into organising everything, the funeral, the insurance and insisted on many occasions that he was okay and coping well but she knew him better than that. She knew he was hurting and it was breaking her heart that he wasn’t letting her in. Her thoughts were broken as Jack began moving towards the door and she slowly guided him down the stairs.

“Wait, aren’t we going to wait for Lucas?” Rachel asked, as she stood outside of his bedroom door.

“He doesn’t want to come” Jack answered, clenching his fist tightly. “Just leave him to it.”

Rachel considered going in there to talk to him, she didn’t want him to regret having never gone. But then she realised that if he wasn’t going to listen to his brother then he certainly wouldn’t listen to her. She was nobody to him; he’d made that perfectly clear the night before. Taking a deep breath, she took Jack’s hand again and carefully stepped down the garden path, desperately trying not to trip down the stairs. As she looked ahead, the sight in front of her made her freeze. The hearse carrying Tony’s coffin was parked directly in front of her. It was something Rachel knew she was going to have to see today and she’d tried so hard to prepare herself for it but the grief overwhelmed her again and she found that she couldn’t walk towards the car as Jack was trying to direct her.

“Rach come on” Jack encouraged, placing his hand on her back as she stared at the coffin in front of her. He on the other hand was trying to avoid it, he couldn’t look. He knew that if he did, he’d never get in the car. Rachel moved away from his grip and stood close to the coffin, placing her hand on the glass window of the hearse. She took in the length of it and couldn’t help thinking that it wasn’t long enough for him, what if he was squashed in there; uncomfortable? Images of him lying inside alone flashed through her mind and she began to cry, never taking her eyes off of it. Jack moved forward and pulled her away, looking directly at the floor so that he didn’t have to see it.

“Nooo Jack please, I want to stay with him” Rachel cried, desperately trying to find something to cling to but giving in when she realised there wasn’t anything.

“We’ll be right behind him” Jack assured, guiding her inside the car behind Tony’s coffin. Rachel felt a deep pain at leaving him but felt comforted when she realised that she could still see him from her seat. She felt Jack squeeze her hand tightly and breathed deeply; she thought she would be able to cope with today but now she wasn’t so sure.

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Thank you once again Kirsty, Red Ranger and Danni :) Here's the chapter I promised before :lol: Sorry I've had to split it in 2 parts because it was so long!

“Mattie!” Belle screamed as she noticed her old friend moving through the crowd, her eyes searching for something, or someone.

“Belle hey” Matilda smiled back, holding her arms out for her friend to run in to. Belle didn’t notice her bottom lip begin to quiver as she hugged her and instead squealed with excitement at seeing her again.

“It’s so good to see you again, how have you been getting on?” Matilda’s suspicious silence worried Belle and it was only then that she realised her friend was shaking in her arms, sobbing into her shoulder. “Oh Mattie I’m so sorry, I just got so excited to see you again I completely forgot why we’re here.” Belle wrapped her arms tighter around her and whispered hello to Ric when she saw him come up to them, placing his hand comfortingly on Matilda’s back and shaking Aden’s hand.

“I’m so sorry, I didn’t mean to break down. It’s just seeing you all again” Matilda rambled, gratefully taking a tissue from her boyfriend’s hand and closing her eyes as he wrapped his strong arm around her shoulder.

“Hey it’s okay that’s what friends are for right?” Belle smiled guiltily. She felt awful, reacting so happily without thinking of the grief that her friend was experiencing…again. She felt her boyfriend slip his hand into hers and she looked up gratefully; he could always see right through her. “I know what Tony meant to you” she added “and it will mean a lot to Lucas to. And Jack. They didn’t mention you were coming, I wish they’d have said; we would have met you at the airport.”

“Oh it’s okay” Matilda replied, relieved that she’d been able to regain her composure. “They don’t actually know I’m going to be here, it’s a long story but I didn’t think I was going to be able to come and then I could but I left my phone back at Uni.”

“Matilda Hunter forgetting something? Surely not?” Belle joked, hoping to lift her friend’s spirits.

The sound of Church bells ringing echoed around the grounds they were standing in and it sent a chill through Matilda’s body, bringing back memories of her mother’s funeral. A looming sense of fear and sadness filtered through every fibre of her body and she breathed in deeply, desperate to control her emotions. She slowly turned as she saw the car coming towards her, carrying Tony’s body. She bowed her head respectfully and felt Ric squeeze her hand reassuringly, she didn’t think she’d be attending another one of these so soon after her Mum. She peered up as she heard the sound of the engine fade and watched as Jack climbed out of the car first, his eyes firmly on the ground. He reached into the car and it was then that Matilda realised that he was helping Rachel out; she looked so crushed, as if her spirit had left her body and all that was left was a shell. Rachel’s eyes were completely transfixed on Tony’s coffin until she looked over at Matilda briefly and waved, a weak smile on her face.

“Jack” Rachel nudged gently, “I thought Matilda couldn’t come?” Jack lifted his head up to follow his friend’s gaze and mimicked her greeting, smiling as he saw the girl he’d come to think of as a sister.

“So did I” he answered, trying to understand why Matilda hadn’t let him know.

“I wish she’d have said, she could have travelled in the car with us” Rachel mused.

“You ready?” she heard Martha whisper to Jack, who’d travelled in the car behind them. She wrapped an arm comfortingly around his back and gently prompted him towards the hearse.

“Yeah” Jack answered hesitantly, knowing that a huge part of him would never be ready. He began to walk towards his Dad’s coffin as the undertakers opened the back of the hearse until the sound of Rachel’s voice stopped him in his tracks and he turned around quickly to see her running towards him.

“We need someone else to carry him with you” Rachel explained, a sense of panic and urgency in her voice. Jack gasped, he hadn’t even processed the realisation that without his brother’s attendance at the funeral, they were now one man short of people to carry his father’s coffin down the aisle.

“We can speak to the funeral company I’m sure one of the guys here will give us a hand” Jack decided, slightly hurt that they would need to get a complete stranger to help carry his Dad, it didn’t seem right. It should have been Luc.

“No, actually I’ve got an idea, someone I’d like to ask. Would you mind?” Rachel pleaded, desperate to make sure that everyone carrying Tony’s coffin knew him and loved him. With Jack’s permission she scoured the crowd and rushed quickly to the other side of the road as she spotted the person she was looking for, standing with Mattie.

“Geoff” Rachel called, “I’ve got a really huge favour to ask you” she explained, crossing her fingers that he would agree.

“Anything” Geoff nodded, which made Rachel smile inside; he’d also been such a polite and charming young man.

“Lucas wasn’t able to come today and we need someone else to carry Tony’s coffin into the Church. I know how much you meant to him, he cared about you so much and I would really love it if you could be part of it” Rachel asked, her voice shaking with tears as she recalled Tony’s love for the boy he’d put himself out to help.

“I’d be honoured to” Geoff agreed without a second thought, feeling proud that he’d been asked but slightly guilty that he was taking Lucas’s place; there’d been a time when Lucas had felt jealous of the father/son relationship Geoff had nurtured with Tony.

“And Mattie, I want you to walk behind Tony with me, if you want to that is” she smiled; “you were like a daughter to him sweetheart.” She took her hand as she saw Mattie’s eyes cloud with tears and placed her other on Geoff’s back, leading them both towards the hearse. Geoff prayed that Lucas wouldn’t mind as he shook hands with Jack, taking a deep breath as he prepared himself to do one of the most difficult things he’d ever have to do.

The bells continued to chime mournfully and the clouds parted slightly, allowing sun rays to break through and lighten up the sky. Alf, Geoff, Miles and Jack marched proudly through the gate and into the Church, carrying their work companion, their friend, their father closely on their shoulder. Rachel followed behind with Mattie, tears slowly trickling down their cheeks in unified grief. Time seemed to move quickly as the casket was laid to rest at the front of the Church and the people who’d come to say goodbye took their seats, waiting tentatively for the service to begin. Rachel removed a few tissues from her jacket pocket and smiled ever so slightly as Elijah took to his pulpit. She had wanted every person involved in the funeral to have meant something to Tony and since his relationship with Leah had begun, Elijah and Tony had become good friends; which usually consisted of them collectively moaning about the girls incessant habit of keeping them waiting hours whenever they all went out together.

“Friends…” Elijah began, “we are gathered here today to remember and celebrate the life of a good friend, neighbour, fiancé and father; Tony Holden.” Elijah paused, this service was one of the most difficult he’d ever conducted. It wasn’t because he’d lost a best friend, although Tony was certainly someone who he considered a very good friend after having spent so much time with him and Rachel in recent months. It was the tragedy of the whole situation; he knew Tony to be a good man, kind hearted, loving, always willing to help and it didn’t seem fair that this could happen. Plus having to watch Leah so broken as she desperately tried to support her best friend through such a tragedy was painful for Elijah to watch and he sometimes felt angry with himself; he was a man of God, shouldn’t he have an answer to all of this? To ease her pain and that of his friends around him? The only thing comforting him was the faith that Tony was in a much better place and that one day they would all be together again and able to understand why this had to happen. Elijah continued his speech, giving a brief recount of Tony’s life as given to him by his son Jack and a small reading from the Bible; Blessed are those who mourn, for they will be comforted: Matthew 5:4. He hoped that it would at least bring some reassurance to the people grieving in front of him. His thoughts then turned to Rachel as he invited her up to deliver the speech he could see crumpled and tear stained in her hand. This was the bit he found most difficult during the funeral services he performed; when members of the family and friends would speak about the person they’d loved and lost. Many times Elijah would have to swallow back tears, reminding himself that it wasn’t his job to get emotionally involved, he needed to remain professional. But even though he believed the deceased was going to a better place, it didn’t stop him from being terribly sad at their loss of life. He held out a hand for Rachel and helped her onto the tiny step behind where he was standing, offering to stay with her for moral support; she declined.

“Tony is…was…the most amazing man” Rachel began, still not used to talking about the man she loved in past tense. “He would do anything for anyone, never thinking of himself and he was the most incredible father to his two sons whom he adored.” Rachel’s hands were shaking so much, making it impossible to read from the paper in front of her and she hated the words she was saying. She’d tried writing a speech which would emulate exactly how she felt about Tony, how much she loved and adored him and how he made her whole world better just with those tiny dimples that appeared whenever he smiled. But every time she wrote something down that came straight from the heart, it would be enough to send a cascade of tears through her body and she’d be so overcome that she couldn’t carry on writing; she didn’t want that to happen at his funeral, on his special day. So she’d decided to play it safe, to just say what people said at funerals. But the problem with that was that it was what people wanted to hear, not what Rachel wanted to say and it left her feeling unfulfilled, like she was totally disrespecting his memory for her own selfish reasons, just because she didn’t want to cry again. She couldn’t do that to her Tony, he was too special and so instead she decided she needed to brave it, throw away her planned speech, take a deep breath and tell the world exactly how she felt about her fiancé.

“When Tony first asked me out, I’ll be honest, I wasn’t sure about it” Rachel began, her heart thudding as she kept her eyes focused down at the floor in front of her. “I never thought that he would think of me like that, I thought I was just…some neighbour he needed around to take his paper in for him or keep him company with a DVD when he was at home alone. But the more I spent time with him, the more everything just…fell into place. He was perfect. Charming, loving and he had a really bad sense of humour.” She giggled softly to herself as she remembered his ‘mature drop’ joke when he’d subtlety tried to find out her feelings on their age gap. “I never felt so safe or so loved than when I was with him, I never felt so happy. And now he’s gone.” The reaction she’d been desperately hoping wouldn’t happen began to occur inside of her and she struggled to speak, her voice becoming a mere gurgle of raspy breaths and choking sobs. “He didn’t deserve to die, I don’t know what I’m going to do…he…I love him…why.” She tried everything she could to continue, for Tony, but she just couldn’t do it, the grief was too much. She saw the blurry image of Jack coming to join her at the front but even with him there she knew she wouldn’t be able to say anymore.

“I can’t do it Jack” she whispered, wondering what everyone was going to be thinking and feeling completely humiliated at breaking down in public.

“Yes you can, I’ll stand here with you” he offered, trying to steady her shaking hands.

“No, I can’t. I’m sorry” she mumbled as she ran down the aisle, feeling people’s eyes watching her as she fled. She couldn’t bear to look back at Tony’s coffin, she hated that she couldn’t do this one last thing for him, she felt like she’d let him down. She felt like she’d let Jack down. She flung open the door and gasped in the fresh air, trailing her hand along the brick wall of the Church for support until it could carry her no longer and she slid to the floor, praying to God that if he was listening, he would take her to.


Jack reminisces about his life with his Dad

Mattie attempts to comfort Lucas

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Thank you so much Kirsty, Red Ranger and Charlene :) I hope the lack of comments doesn't mean people are bored already :unsure: Here's the next chapter :)

Jack’s heart broke as he watched Rachel flee from the building and he signalled to Martha, asking if she would go and check on her for him. He would have done it himself but everyone’s eyes were on him and he realised that he should probably do his speech; Rachel wasn’t coming back.

“There aren’t really any words I can say that sum up my Dad” Jack started, surprised at how loud his voice echoed in the tiny Church hall. “I remember when we had a Sports Day back at school and I was desperate to win the race so that Dad would be proud of me; when you’re the son of a P.E teacher it’s kind of expected that you should be the best. Anyway I was about three quarters of the way round and I was in the lead, I could see Dad at the finish line and he was cheering me on with this big smile on his face. I remember running as fast as I could, my legs felt like jelly but I kept on going and then just when I thought I was gonna win it, this kid who’d been bullying me for weeks because of my braces pushed me from behind, raced past me and won the race. I was so gutted mainly because I really felt like I’d let Dad down.” Jack paused, remembering clearly exactly how he felt on that day, remembering how little that kid had made him feel and how angry he was with himself for not winning the race for his Dad. “But he came running over to me with this beaming smile, I thought he’d gone mad for a minute” Jack admitted “I was bawling my eyes out and started shouting at him for looking so happy when I’d just lost…” Jack smiled lightly at the memory and was pleased when he heard people laughing at his story “and then he just turned to me and said but Jack, it doesn’t matter that you didn’t win. You came round that corner so fast I thought you were gonna take off. I’m really proud of you son….” Jack paused as his laughter soon turned to tears, and he swallowed deeply, desperate to fight them off. “He also had a word with the kid’s Dad that day to and he never bullied me again. In fact he ended up needing braces a few months later, something Dad was really stoked about.” Jack laughed again, trying to desperately to focus on the good memories with his Dad, it’s something he’d been doing since he heard that he’d died because he knew he couldn’t break down, he knew he had too many people to support. “That’s just the kind of man my Dad was, he wasn’t just a father, he was my best friend to. He gave up his whole life and dedicated it to Lucas and I when our Mum died…not a lot of guys would do that. I really don’t know what I’m gonna do without you Dad” Jack whispered, finally gaining the courage to turn to Tony’s coffin and look at it directly. He moved towards it and placed a hand softly on the top of the oak wood case, swallowing back further tears as he heard everyone silently stand up, their heads bowed in respect.

“Hey” Martha smiled as she spotted Rachel sitting on the floor directly outside the Church, her head leaning against the other door. As she went to close it shut, Rachel pushed her hand in between the gap, forcing her to leave it open slightly.

“I want to hear the rest of Jack’s speech” Rachel smiled sadly, as Martha realised that she had been listening the whole time. “It was a really good story, sounds just like something Tony would do” she cried, no longer bothering to wipe her tears and instead allowing them to crawl freely down her cheeks.

“Rach, I’m so sorry” Martha apologised as she sat the other side of her and held out her arms.

“Please don’t Martha, I’m already crying” Rachel waved off, her head tilted in the opposite direction towards the open door. “I’m sorry” she whispered, hoping she hadn’t offended her friend.

“Don’t be” Martha smiled weakly, despite knowing Rachel wasn’t looking at her. “I’ll just sit here and if you want to talk you can” she added, placing a hand tentatively over, unsure whether she would take it. Rachel looked down slightly and held on to the tip of Martha’s fingers, grateful for the slight comfort she could take from having someone sitting with her. She wasn’t ready to talk; there was nothing anyone could say that would bring Tony back. But sometimes just knowing she had friends that were there when she was ready to, made her heartbreak a little more bearable.


“Belle told me I’d probably find you here” Mattie smiled as she approached Lucas amongst the sand dunes along the beach front.

“Mattie” Lucas exclaimed as he jumped up and threw his arms around her. “I thought you weren’t coming” he rambled, sitting back down with her.

“I wouldn’t miss it for anything” she smiled sadly. “I’m so sorry Luc.” Matilda noticed how the immediate reference to his father made him retreat into a ball and he wrapped his arms tightly around his legs, clenching his fists. “Life sucks” she added, hoping that it would remind her friend/brother/ex boyfriend that she understood exactly how he felt; that he wasn’t alone. “The funeral was…beautiful” Mattie assured, hoping that even though he wasn’t responding, he was listening. “There were so many people there, it shows how much he was loved…”

“Stop” Lucas shouted, his fists clenching even more as he flexed them and squeezed them tight again.

“Luc, I know you’re hurting, trust me I do. But your Dad wouldn’t want you to…”

“I said stop” he screamed, jumping to his feet and taking two steps forward as he ran his fingers through his hair. So much anger was building inside him that he didn’t know how to control it, he felt like he needed to scream, needed to throw something or hit something; anything to release the intense emotion ravaging his body.

“I’m sorry” Matilda apologised, taking a step forward and placing a comforting hand on his shoulder. “Why don’t you come with me? If were quick we’ll still be in time for the burial”

“I don’t want to go Mattie” Lucas screamed back, shrugging off her hand. “Why can’t you just accept that, why does everyone have to keep going on at me? I hate him, I hate what he did to me, I hate that he left me when he said he wouldn’t. Why would I want to say goodbye to him when I’m so angry with him?” Lucas breathed deeply, his bloodshot eyes focused on Matilda’s frightened face. He quickly retreated and ran past her, feeling completely ashamed of what he’d just said. Matilda tried calling after him, even attempted to run after him but she realised quickly that she wasn’t fast enough. A single tear rolled down her cheek as she realised she wasn’t able to help him like she’d hoped and her heart broke for the pain he was feeling. “Come on Tony, help me out here” Matilda shouted out to the sea as more tears followed, running down her neck. “You can’t just go and leave us to sort all this out” she added. “We need you.” She laughed ironically at herself, did she really think Tony was going to answer? Checking her watch, she realised she should probably be heading back to the cemetery and so jogged back up the beach to her boyfriend who was waiting patiently for her in the car.


“I’m sorry for your loss” a middle age man who’d introduced himself as Jonathan muttered monotonously to Rachel. She shook his hand and forced a polite smile but in reality she was absolutely exhausted. She hadn’t slept at all last night and had spent most of it lying in bed running her speech over and over in her head. And now she was standing in her living room playing host to a large bunch of people she’d never met before in her life. They introduced themselves as old friends of Tonys, from school, from his teaching job back when the boys were little and she tried desperately to be courteous but she just wanted to be alone. She just wanted to sit in a corner of her room, wearing Tony’s favourite jumper and be allowed to cry; she’d been holding it in for far too long already today.

“It’s Rachel isn’t it?” a voice called to her and she turned around to find yet another man she’d never met before standing in front of her with a sympathetic smile on his face.

“Yes, hi, you must be an old friend of Tony’s?” she smiled through gritted teeth. She couldn’t imagine that Tony had ever really been friends with these people; they were the showy type of men who’d turned up in designer suits and sat in a corner with each other competing over who had ended up with the most financially successful life. Tony wasn’t like that; he’d raised his boys on a minimal salary, just managing to make ends meet and yet it was clear to her that he’d turned out the best one of them all.

“Yes I am” he nodded, stroking his tie proudly. “I just wanted to give you my condolences, I’m very sorry for your loss.” There it was, again Rachel thought and her mind wandered to where Jack had disappeared to. She resisted the urge to yawn as he began telling her how Tony was a great man and a great father and how he’d done reasonably well for himself. How would you know she resisted spitting out, he probably hadn’t spoken to Tony for years. She smiled politely and made her excuses, heading towards the fridge. She’d had enough of this, she was sick of having to talk to these completely bigoted men who meant absolutely nothing to Tony. Her eyes widened with happiness when she saw a bottle of wine that hadn’t been opened chilling in the door and she grabbed it carefully, stuffing it inside her jacket in case anyone was watching and headed towards her bedroom.

She slammed the door firmly behind her and leant against the back of it, breathing a sigh of relief that she’d finally managed to escape.

“Hey” a voice whispered through the darkness and she shrieked, turning towards the direction that voice had travelled in.

“Geez Jack, you scared me half to death” Rachel breathed, thankful that she had managed to keep hold of the wine in her terror. “What are you doing in here?” she gasped, still frozen in her spot.

“Same thing as you by the looks of it. Hiding ouuut” he explained. He was slumped against the wall surrounded by something which Rachel couldn’t quite make out and sporadically brought a can of beer up to his lips.

“Why here though? Why in my room?” she quizzed.

“Because…I wanted to be closer to Dad” he timidly explained. “I’m sorry I shouldn’t be in your, in your room” he apologised as he tried to clumsily stand on his feet. Rachel noticed that he was slurring his words slightly and struggling to stand by himself.

“Jack it’s okay, sit back down. I’m sorry I didn’t mean to make you feel bad I was just surprised that’s all” she rambled, noting the relief on Jack’s face when he realised he didn’t have to move after all. “And you were right” she smiled weakly, shocked at the state he was in. “I was hiding out…”

“Sick of hearing people telling you how s,sorry there are?” he questioned, making it obvious to Rachel that she wasn’t the only one who’d had to endure it.

“Yer, something like that” she laughed weakly. “Mind if I join you?” she asked.

“Now you see that depends” Jack answered, waving his finger at Rachel. “It depends on…what it depends on” he stuttered, trying to get his words out. “It depends whether you have some more of these” he finally muttered, holding his beer can in the air like it was a trophy.

“I have wine” Rachel timidly offered, resisting the urge to laugh at Jack’s drunken state.

“That willll have to do” Jack mumbled, nodding his head decisively as he cleared some room for Rachel to sit down. As she moved closer to him she noticed that the mess around him was a pile of empty beer cans.

“Jack have you drunk all of this” she exclaimed, her eyes widening in horror as she sat down next to him.

“Don’t worry it’s not all gone” he mumbled. “I’ve got a whole case left. It’s Dad’s favourite.” The realisation made Jack break down in tears much to Rachel’s surprise and he began howling with pain, his beer falling from his hands and spilling all over the carpet. Rachel hesitantly wrapped her arms around him, surprised at his outburst and held him tightly, trying to stop him rocking so much. His screams were so loud that they sent chills down her spine and she suddenly felt a rush of guilt force its way through her. She thought he was coping well, he’d been so strong; she’d never once asked him how he was feeling, if he was okay.

“I am so sorry Jack” she apologised once his cries had softened. “I never once considered what you were going through, I’ve been so selfish.” Tears began to fall as she wondered what Tony would think of her, he’d have wanted his boys to be looked after and she’d been doing an awful job. “I’ve just been focusing on my own pain and leaning on you for support” she cried “I should have been here for you like you have for me, I’m so sorry.” Jack lifted his head and pulled her in for a hug as they wrapped their arms around each other.

“We need to go through this together” Jack suggested as Rachel nodded eagerly, his break down seemingly having the ability to sober him up. “Now Dad wouldn’t want us to sit here crying, you know what he’d want us to do?” Jack asked.

“Please don’t say he’d want us to go out and mingle with those awful people because I don’t think I could take anymore” Rachel pleaded.

“Hell no” Jack exclaimed. “He’d want us to drink” he added, smiling mischievously as he held a beer out for her.

“I think I’ll stick with the wine” Rachel laughed, unscrewing the cap on the top and taking a swig from the bottle. “So this helps does it Jack, the alcohol?” she asked, the conversation turning serious again.

“For a bit” he answered, “it makes you feel numb.”

“Sounds good to me” Rachel replied, gulping down as much as she could in an effort to wipe the pain. “Sounds good to me.”


Martha is furious when she finds Rachel and Jack

Rachel has a present for Lucas

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Thank you so much Red Ranger and Barbara :D I really appreciate your responses and always and it really helps me when you pick out the bits you particularly liked so thank you :)

Martha breathed out a sigh of relief as she rested the heavy box of beer which she’d carried from her house to Rachel’s on the kitchen table, arching her back in order to release it from the cramp which her muscles were instigating on her.

“I think that should be enough now love, people are starting to gradually leave” Irene suggested as she helped Martha to move the bottles from the box to the large bucket of ice water.

“Thank goodness, I don’t think I could do another thing” Martha tiredly exclaimed. She’d been run off her feet all day; she knew neither Rachel nor Jack were in the right frame of mind to be able to organise things so she’d taken it upon herself to ensure everyone was happy.

“You’ve done a good job darl, I’m sure Jack and Rachel are very grateful” Irene soothed, patting Martha’s back sympathetically.

“I wouldn’t have been able to do it without you Irene so thank you.” Martha took a quick glance around the room in search of her husband and was disappointed when she

couldn’t see him. “Actually talking about Jack I haven’t seen him for a while, do you know where he is?”

“Can’t say I do love, I saw him headed towards the bathroom but that was a little while ago. Maybe he’s just gone for a lie down?” she smiled, trying to sooth Martha’s obvious nerves.

“Maybe” Martha drifted off. He’d been so quiet all day and apart from his speech, he hadn’t said a word, maybe he’d be ready to talk to her now the funeral was over? She moved towards the back of the house and checked through all of the rooms, looking in Jack’s old bedroom first. Feeling frustrated she decided to give up until she heard a noise coming from Rachel’s room; like someone was crying? Feeling a pang of sadness for her she knocked softly on the door; if she wasn’t able to comfort her husband then maybe she’d at least be able to help Rachel she thought. Thinking she hadn’t heard her Martha opened the door.

“Hey Rach…Jack” Martha froze as she realised that the sound wasn’t that of Rachel crying but she was actually laughing…with Jack.

“Martha heey” Rachel beamed, excited to see her friend. “Would you like a erm, a drink, I’m sure we’ve got one left don’t we…Jacky” Rachel’s frantic search for a spare beer turned to hysterics as her and her drinking companion fell about laughing at the mention of his name.

“What is going on in here?” Martha asked, her hand on her hip and her eyes wide with fury.

“Jack here was, he was just telling me this really, really funny story” Rachel gasped in between her fits of laughter; “did you know Martha, that my Tony he used…to…I can’t even say it” she giggled.

“I don’t think my Martha is very am, amu, amused” Jack struggled to say, smiling proudly as finally got his words out.

“No your wifffe doesn’t look happy” Rachel agreed.

“Of course I’m not happy” Martha seethed. “Look at you both, do you have any idea how disrespectful this is?” She glared at them both as they looked back at her confused. “Rachel this is your fiance’s funeral today, Jack, your Dad’s. Tony deserves far more than you two just using it as an opportunity to have a party and get wasted. What the hell is wrong with you?”

“No, no that’s not what…” Jack attempted to say but he didn’t have the energy or mental capability to carry on; he was far too intoxicated.

“That’s exactly what it is Jack”” Martha screamed back. “I came looking for you because I thought you might need me, because I thought you might be hurting. But instead you’re in here completely wasted on the day of your father’s funeral.” Martha breathed deeply, allowing Jack a chance to respond but he stayed sitting, his eyes fixed to the floor, bloodshot from the amount of alcohol he’d consumed.

“How can you? How can both of you do this?” she continued, her gaze flitting between her husband and friend. “What do you think Tony would say if he could see you right

now, if he could see you laughing and making jokes on a day when you’re supposed to remember him.”

“Today’s not the only day I’m going to remember him Martha, I’ve got the rest of my life to do that…” Rachel mumbled, lifting the wine bottle to her mouth, desperately trying to retrieve the tiny drops sitting at the bottom.

“You look pathetic Rachel” Martha screamed, utterly frustrated that neither of them could understand how disrespectful their actions were. “Tony would be ashamed of you, ashamed of both of you.”

“What right do you have to judge us?” Rachel yelled back, throwing the wine bottle across the room, not caring when it smashed against the radiator next to her bed. She desperately clung to the side of her dresser and pulled herself to her feet, finally snapping. “You have absolutely no idea what it feels like to lose the man you love. Martha I will do anything…” The mix of anger, shame and drunkenness brought tears to her eyes and her voice began to shake as she finally opened up about exactly how she felt. “Absolutely anything to get rid of the pain that I feel right here, every single moment of every single day.” Rachel moved her hand to her heart and ignored the tears cascading down her cheeks. “It hurts Martha, it hurts…so…much. Each day is a battle just to get through and I am trying to do the right thing but I’m going to make mistakes. It’s okay for you, you get to go to bed with your husband every night and have him hold you when you’re hurting and tell you that everything is going to be okay but I wont ever get that anymore. Not from the one person I want to hear it from so don’t you dare tell me that I am grieving in the wrong way or that Tony would be ashamed of me because he wouldn’t, I know he wouldn’t. And he wouldn’t ever be ashamed of Jack either, he loved him so so much. And if you’re not going to understand that and just let us cope with this in our own way then you can leave my house right now.” The tension in the room was fraught and all that could be heard was the gentle sound of Rachel’s soft cries.

“I’m sorry I didn’t mean to upset you” Martha apologised, slightly stunned at Rachel's sudden outburst. She looked at Jack for support but he was just glancing down at the floor, his head slightly waving to and fro. Trying to get out of the awkward situation she'd put herself in Martha crouched down in front of Jack and began to help him to his feet. She savoured the feeling of him wrapping his arms around her and leaning on her for support as it was something he hadn’t done ever since Tony died. As she entered their room and helped Jack into bed she suddenly felt guilty for her outburst and knew that what she had said wasn’t really what she felt.

“I’m sorry for what I said Jack, I didn’t mean it, I know how much Tony loved you” she whispered, noticing that whilst he was lying down his eyes were still open wide.

“Why did you say it?” he mumbled, a lump forming in his throat at the idea of his Dad being ashamed of it.

“I just wanted you to talk to me Jack, I hate that you keep pushing me away and when I saw you having fun with Rachel, I guess I got jealous and angry. Why can’t you talk to me about how you feel? I lost Tony to, I know it’s not the same but he was like a father to me Jack and everyone keeps forgetting that I’m hurting as well. We can go through this together” she sobbed, placing her hand in his until she noticed that he had fallen asleep.


Rachel groaned as she opened her eyes and felt a searing pain shooting through her head. Her back was aching and she had a cramp in her neck which twinged every time she tried to move. The room was spinning slightly in front of her and she tried desperately to recollect why she was lying on the floor, propped up against her dresser. Try as she might, she couldn’t remember much at all from the day before except from realising that the funeral was over and she briefly wondered what that meant; did it mean that if she wanted to talk to Tony she had to go to where he was buried or would he be able to hear her wherever she was? Or maybe he couldn’t hear her at all. The latter scared her too much and therefore she decided to discard it and instead focus on the possibility that he might be with her right now. She’d read stories about people who knew when those that they loved who’d died had come back to be with them because they could sense them, feel a shift in the room or maybe even try to hold them. But she’d never felt that with Tony and it scared her; she’d never once felt like he was in the room with her; it just felt empty. Realising that she was desperately thirsty she attempted to stand up, holding onto objects in her room so that the dizziness couldn’t overpower her and pull her to the floor. As she reached the kitchen sink, she wondered what the time was, it was still dark outside so it must still be pretty early in the morning she decided. As she reached for a glass she noticed a small box on the windowsill and after placing it in her hand, she suddenly recalled what it was for. As the memory gradually came back to her she realised that she hadn’t even checked that Lucas had got home okay last night; or if she did, she didn’t remember doing it. She crept over towards his room and slowly opened the door, praying that he was tucked up in bed fast asleep. Instead she found him sitting on his bed, a torch in one hand and a photograph in the other; he was crying and the sight broke Rachel’s heart.

“Oh Lucas I’m sorry, I didn’t mean to intrude I just wanted to check you were home safe” she explained quickly, hoping that he wouldn’t be angry with her.

“It’s okay” he shrugged, desperately wiping the tears away and conspicuously tucking the photo under his pillow in an attempt to hide it from Rachel.

“Did you want to talk sweetheart?” she offered, hoping that she would be able to form some sort of relationship with him.

“No” he answered pertinently, making it obvious that he just wanted to be alone.

“Okay, you know where I am if you do” she replied sadly, wishing there was something she could do to help his anger. “Actually, I’ve got something to give you, I took some of the dirt from your Dad’s grave yesterday and I thought you might want it. When you’re ready you can maybe go and spread it back on there.” She held the box in front of her but when Lucas made no reaction she tiptoed over and placed it on his bedside unit before slipping quietly out of the room. She desperately hoped that in some way it would help Lucas to cope and lead him to Tony’s grave.


Martha and Jack have a heart to heart

Rachel experiences a damaging confrontation with Lucas

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Thank you so much Kirsty, Barbara and Red Ranger - it's really nice to see people interpreting the storyline in different ways! I hope you enjoy the next chapter :)

Martha ran her fingers lightly through Jack’s hair as he lay sleeping next to her, snoring gently. She hadn’t slept all night; she’d been too upset about what had happened, about what she’d said to Jack. Her heart broke as she saw the slight frown in his mouth and the way his forehead was creased with anxiety and pain; even in sleep she knew he was hurting.

“Hey” she smiled brightly as she noticed him begin to stir, his dark eyelashes fluttering as his eyes adjusted to the light.

“How long have you been watching me for?” he blushed whilst trying to figure out why his head hurt so much.

“All night” she whispered in reply, running her thumb over his cheek. “You must have a pretty bad hangover huh?” She watched as his eyes widen, the memories of the night before flooding back to him.

“I’m sorry about what I said” Martha apologised again, knowing that no matter how many times she said it, the guilt wouldn’t fade. “I’ll go and make you some breakfast, get rid of that nasty headache” she grinned, kissing his head softly.

“No wait Martha” Jack interrupted, taking her hand in his. “I’m sorry that I’ve been pushing you away so much – I didn’t mean to” he began, propping his head up on his hand. “It was easier to talk to Rachel because I thought that she understood what I was going through better but, I guess I forgot how close you and Dad were. And I know now that I’m not going to be able to get through this without you. You’ve been my rock and I don’t want you to think that I’m taking you for granted because you have no idea how much your support has meant to me these past few weeks.” He smiled as Martha wrapped her arms around him, relieved that he’d finally been able to ask for her help and open up to her. He thought he’d never be able to do it but he’d just had a dream; it was kind of hazy but he remembered that Martha had left him. He’d felt so lost, so alone and flashbacks to their wedding day had reminded him how much he missed her. Maybe it was a warning from his Dad he wondered. Perhaps he was giving him a kick up the butt, telling him it was time to move on and embrace the good things he had in his life; like his wife. Silently thanking his Dad he hoped that Lucas would receive the same contact from him; if anyone needed it more it was his little brother.


Rachel shuffled slowly and carefully along the beach, enjoying the feeling of the sand seeping between her toes. She’d gone for a walk in an attempt to clear her head and the constant nausea she had sitting in her throat; having already been sick three times that morning she tried not think about how much she must have drunk last night. Her head still felt like a brass band was playing inside and the bright sunshine beating down on her wasn’t exactly helping but just being able to feel the cool breeze brushing past her made her feel a little more alive. She made a promise to herself there and then; she was never drinking again. Looking out across the horizon a pang of sadness hit her as she was reminded of how much Tony loved the sea, how he used to get excited when the waves were really good and he could take his board out to surf. Hearing the close shrills of people having fun on the beach, her attention was turned towards them and she noticed that her friends were playing with a football up ahead of her. They were all there; Charlie and Angelo, Belle and Aden, Mattie and Ric. All couples. She forced herself to smile briefly and waved as Belle started to walk towards her.

“Hey Rach, it’s nice to see you out” Belle called out as she jogged towards her, fastening her pace. Rachel, despite wanting to meet her half way took delicate steps in order to not upset her stomach.

“You guys look like you’re having fun” Rachel replied softly. “Whose winning?”

“Well us girls are but if you ask the boys I’m sure they’ll have a different answer. They’re accusing us of cheating every five minutes but I know it’s really because they’re just embarrassed to be beaten by girls” Belle laughed, giggling as she turned back and saw Aden and Charlie having a disagreement over whether her tackle should have been allowed.

Rachel smiled politely, imagining that Tony would have probably been exactly the same; he was extremely competitive about his sport. Of course Rachel was very stubborn so it made it extremely difficult for them both of them to agree on something.

“Rach?” Belle prompted, placing her hand on Rachel’s forearm.

“Sorry, what did you say?” Rachel asked, realising she’d been daydreaming again.

“I asked whether you wanted to join us” Belle replied, a worried expression upon her face. “Or you could be the referee if you don’t want to actually play, I wouldn’t blame you, the guys can be quite vicious. Look what Ric did to me…”

Belle’s voice drifted off as she began modelling the jagged cut on her elbow but Rachel wasn’t really listening. She’d been distracted by watching Ric and Matilda in the distance, playfully tackling each other before Ric tripped on the ball, dragging his girlfriend down with him. She smiled sadly to herself as she saw Matilda jump up and playfully push Ric, pretending to be annoyed before he wrapped his arms around her and placed a kiss on her neck; making her melt straight away and turn to hug him. It reminded her so much of how her and Tony were, particularly at the beginning of their relationship; before the wedding stresses had caused conflicts that Rachel so deeply regretted. Whenever she was angry with him or annoyed by him, she could never act that way for long because he knew exactly how to get around her, how to make her laugh so much that she couldn’t even remember why she was upset with him in the first place.

“So….do you think I should cover it up or let the air get to it? It’s still bleeding a little bit…”

Rachel noticed Matilda look over at her with a suspicious gaze. She waved slowly trying to catch Rachel’s attention and it was only then that she realised she was staring at her. She saw Matilda begin to walk towards her, her hand firmly entwined with Rics.

“No I think I’ll sit the match out. Thanks anyway” Rachel mumbled before walking towards Matilda.

“Hey Rach” she greeted, a guilty smile on her face. “I’m sorry I didn’t invite you out this afternoon, I wasn’t sure if you were up to…”

“Oh don’t worry about that” Rachel smiled weakly, “I don’t think I’d have been much help.”

“How are you holding up?” Ric asked after a momentary pause.

“I’m okay” she mumbled in reply, knowing she was lying through her teeth. “Listen, I meant to catch up with you both at the funeral yesterday, there was something I wanted to say to you.”

“Sure” they both replied in unison, unsure of what to expect.

“Don’t ever…” Rachel paused as she felt a single tear slide down her cheek. “Don’t ever leave the house angry with each other” she begged. “Don’t ever go to sleep on an argument or fight without making up straight away. It’s not worth it, you just, you don’t know what’s around the corner.”

“We wont, I promise” Matilda smiled, her eyes blurry with tears of her own. She felt Ric place his hand on her shoulder and she leaned closer to him, dreading the thought of ever losing him.

“Good” Rachel choked, looking away as she felt more tears cascading from her eyes. She hated crying in public, it made her look weak and that was one thing she always tried to avoid doing. She was a professional figure in the community, she wanted people to think she was strong and independent and that they could always trust her to come to. The only person she would ever show her vulnerable side was Tony…Out of the corner of her eye she spotted a figure sitting by the shoreline, not even reacting when the waves washed over their lap.

“Is that Lucas?” Rachel enquired, bringing her hand to her mouth as the sudden movement caused her to feel bile to move to the back of her throat.

“Yeah” Matilda nodded sadly. “We tried getting him involved in the game but he started shouting at Ric so we decided to leave him. He said something about how he didn’t understand what he was going through; maybe it would help if he spoke to you Rach?”

“I don’t know if I’ll be any help” Rachel exclaimed but she saw the desperation in Matilda’s eyes and her heart broke when she considered how Tony would feel about his

son hurting so much. “I’ll definitely try though” she smiled, saying her goodbyes to them and slowly wandering towards what would have been her stepson’s lonely, broken figure.

“Hey Luc” she whispered as she crouched down slowly beside him, “you’re getting wet, why don’t you come and sit over here…”

“Don’t tell me what to do” he seethed in reply, “I just want to be left alone.”

“I know what you’re going through…I know how much you’re hurting”

“Do you really” he sarcastically replied. “You know what it feels like to be an orphan do you? To lose a Dad?”

“Maybe not in the same way” Rachel agreed, “but I know what it feels like to lose your Dad. It really hurts.” She noticed him squeeze his eyes tightly together and she didn’t know whether it was because he was angry with her or just because he was upset and trying to stop the tears like she’d been doing so often lately. “My Dad wasn’t anything like yours Luc, he never looked out for me, never sacrificed anything for me or put me first. You were lucky to have a wonderful father like him; maybe focusing on the time you had together will help you through this…”

“Wonderful father” Lucas mocked, “if he was so wonderful then why did he leave me? How do you answer that one doc?”

Rachel was taken aback by his response and stuttered in her reply. “Do you honestly think he wanted to leave ? He would have given anything to be here for you boys Lucas, he loved you so much.”

“You just have no idea do you” he spat in return, picking up a nearby rock and throwing it viciously into the sea.

“Luc” Rachel started.

“My name’s Lucas…”

Rachel paused, trying not to be hurt by the way he was speaking to her. “Your dad would hate to see you so angry…”

“My dad isn’t here” Lucas screamed back, the veins in his neck bulging. “And anyway who the hell do you think you are, coming over here and trying to tell me how I should be acting…”

“That’s not what I’m doing” Rachel interrupted, her cheeks flushing with embarrassment as Lucas began releasing a tirade of abuse against her.

“You aren’t my mother Rachel so don’t even try acting like it, you aren’t even my stepmother. You’re just some person that my Dad cared about and now that he’s gone you aren’t part of our lives anymore, I don’t even know why you’re still hanging around, still living in his house…” Lucas emphasised.

“What do you mean” Rachel struggled to say as tears began trickling from her eyes.

“What I mean is you were never married, it’s not your house, it’s Dad’s. And now that he’s dead it’s mine and Jacks. You’re not welcome in it anymore Rachel, you’re not part of my family so why don’t you just leave and get on with your life? You can’t keep crying about Dad forever, it’s not going to bring him back.” Lucas’s voice became raspy where he was screaming so much, his eyes bulging in anger. However when he noticed everyone who was playing football had begun to jog towards them, curious about what was going on he started running away, his body shaking in shock at the confrontation he’d just had. He hadn’t meant to be so horrible but it was like she’d hit a soft spot and he couldn’t control his anger anymore. He didn’t want to hear people try to tell him how much his Dad loved him because he knew it wasn’t true; he was always the runt, the child that was never wanted. No-one would ever understand how much he’d gone through in his life. His Mum had left him before he even got a chance to know her and now his Dad was gone to. He was envious of his brother because he’d always got on with their Dad so much better and it left him with no-one to talk to, no-one to understand him. He was all alone.


The residents discuss their guilt

Martha and Jack enjoy some alone time

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Thank you so much Barbara, Kirsty, Red Ranger and Danni, your comments make me smile :) This update is a little filler before the next one which is more dramatic. Nevertheless I hope you enjoy!

“Do you think one of us should have gone after Rachel and made sure she was okay?” Charlie questioned as she sat down in the diner and took a sachet of sugar from the middle of the table.

“I tried but she said she just wanted to be alone” Belle replied. “She looked really upset, I wonder what Luc said to her?”

“Whatever it was, it looked pretty intense” Aden replied, sipping some water from his bottle.

“Hey baby, you okay?” Ric questioned, noticing how quiet his girlfriend had suddenly become. Her eyes were downcast and she hadn’t touched a thing off of the plate in front of her.

“I feel so guilty” Matilda whispered quietly, her voice cracking. “I should never have asked Rachel to talk to Lucas, I’ve just made things worse.” A single tear dropped onto her lap and she buried her head into Ric’s neck as he wrapped his arms around her. This whole situation brought back so many memories of how she felt when her Mum died; she was desperate to be able to help Lucas but she didn’t know how. She never felt that angry when Beth had died, just really, really sad.

“You can’t blame yourself for this, it wasn’t your fault. You were just trying to help Luc, he’ll understand that one day you’ll see.” Ric attempted to comfort his girlfriend but knew there was nothing he could say to make her feel better; she felt guilty because she was a good person and cared about other people. He knew that deep down she was having to relive her mother’s death all over again but typical Mattie; she pushed that aside and was just trying to be there for Jack and Lucas.

“I’m worried about Rachel to, she’s not herself Ric.” Matilda ran her fingers through her hair and rested her elbows on the table, visibly shaken by the emotional overload she was experiencing.

“When I was talking to her earlier…she wasn’t really listening, it was like she was in another world” Belle interjected.

“Yeah well you do tend to ramble a lot babe” Aden joked, nudging her ribs.

“No I think someone should definitely talk to her. I don’t think she’s coping at all” Matilda insisted, the worry invading her nerves.

“Well it’s still early days” Angelo pointed out. “She did only bury Tony yesterday… But if you are worried, why don’t you speak to Leah?” he questioned Charlie. “She’s only over there, if anyone’s going to understand what Rachel’s going through it’s her right?”

“Yer that’s not a bad idea, you actually are smart sometimes” Charlie smiled, pushing her chair backwards and squeezing her boyfriend’s shoulder gently before walking over to her housemate. “Leah hi, can we talk? It’s about Rachel.”


“No Jack stop!” Martha giggled, struggling for breath as her husband pushed her to the sandy ground and began tickling her relentlessly.

“Not until you say it” he sang, enjoying the moment he was sharing with his wife. It had been so long since he felt he could laugh; he still missed his Dad terribly and knew that life would never be the same again. But since the funeral he felt like he was able to move on partly, or at least see a future for Martha and himself; there was so much they could do together that he had to look forward to and he knew his Dad was watching on proudly somewhere.

“Okay, okay” Martha gasped, “Jack Holden…you are without a doubt the best, most wonderful, kind and caring husband ever.” Martha emphasised each and every word, desperately trying not to sound too sarcastic.

“Hmm” Jack hummed, his hands still poised over her rib cage. “I think you missed a few things..”

“Jack, I’m starving. Can we please go and get some lunch now?” Martha begged, trying to model the puppy dog eye look she’d been practising all throughout their marriage.

“What about charming? I’m pretty charming, I open doors and stuff” Jack considered, clearly not taking any notice of his wife’s hunger.

“Okay you’re charming and…funny and…”

“Handsome….” Jack offered, stifling a laugh as he watched Martha become more and more agitated.

“You my gorgeous husband are dashingly handsome and I have never been more attracted to a guy in my whole entire life” Martha gushed, wrapping her arms around his neck and pulling him in for a kiss. She was so happy to have him back again, to have him feel like he was actually enjoying being with her. “Now can we go??” she whispered.

“Fine” Jack smiled, rolling his eyes and offering his hand to pull her up. “But after lunch I want to take some flowers to Dad’s grave is that okay?”

“Absolutely” Martha smiled back sadly. “I’m just glad we can do this together.” She slid her hand behind his back and held him tightly to her side. She knew things wouldn’t be perfect for a long time yet but things were definitely improving; just having him talk to her was enough. The rest would get better with time.


Leah is terrified when she sees the state Rachel is in

Will Elijah agree to Leah's request

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Thank you so so much Red Ranger, Danni, Kirsty and Barbara, you're all such faithful readers and I really appreciate it :) Danni I'm the same :lol: Everytime I write a new chapter or update or read your comments I start singing it :lol: I hope you enjoy this next chapter all :) It's a rather long one sorry!

“Rach?” Leah called through her best friend’s letter box, knocking as well just in case she hadn’t heard her. When she received no response she moved over to the window and peeked through the gap in the curtains, squinting against the dark and dingy atmosphere inside the house. Just when she was about to give up, she noticed Rachel walk through from the bedroom and place a large holdall on top of a collection of other similar sized bags she hadn’t noticed before. Leah tapped on the glass loudly, waving tentatively when she caught Rachel’s attention. Moving closer towards the door, Leah resisted the urge to cry when she saw the state her best friend was in. Despite an obvious effort to smile when she greeted her, Leah noticed how lifeless her eyes were and her cheeks were bright red where she’d obviously been crying.

“Let me guess, Matilda sent you round” Rachel whispered weakly, the strain and effort taken for her to talk strikingly evident to Leah.

“Everyone’s just worried about you” she smiled sadly in return. “I heard that you and Lucas had a bit of a run in at the beach today.”

“It was nothing” Rachel waved off, tugging her cardigan tightly around her and swallowing hard as the nausea hit that certain point in her throat again. “He’s just struggling that’s all.”

“He’s not the only one” Leah probed gently, following Rachel as she drifted towards her bedroom, tiptoeing over the clothes and boxes were which littered across her floor.

“I’m okay” Rachel choked, her back purposely turned in an effort to compose herself. She’d start packing up her stuff, just as Lucas had asked. What he’d said had made her realise that she didn’t actually have any right to be living there anymore - her and Tony were waiting until they were married to sign her name onto the house so that she didn’t have to go through the paperwork of changing her surname – and therefore the house would go to his next living relatives; his sons.

“Rach sweetie, I know that everyone grieves differently but” Leah held her breath and bit her lip gently, hoping that what she was about to say wouldn’t upset her “don’t you think it’s a bit too early to be packing up Tony’s things? It’s only been a few weeks, there’s plenty of time to do that.”

“It’s not Tony’s stuff” Rachel breathed, “it’s mine.” She turned towards Leah and attempted another smile before slowly making her way to the floor to start emptying the final drawer of clothes.

“I don’t…I don’t understand” Leah quizzed, her mind whizzing as she tried to contemplate what her friend was saying; “you’re moving out?” she stuttered.

Rachel nodded, unable to even say the words. “Lucas asked me to.” She tried to focus on the regimental routine of picking out her clothes, folding them neatly again and placing them in her bag in order to stop her crying but it couldn’t block out all of the pain. “He said that…it’s not my house now that Tony’s…I have to respect that.” She felt tears slide down her cheeks which only multiplied when she felt Leah place a comforting hand on her back. She tried desperately to swallow the tears and breathed deeply but all it did was cause the nausea to become worse.

“Have you spoken to Jack about it? He can’t kick you out” Leah insisted, feeling shocked that Lucas would be so callous.

Rachel didn’t respond, it was like all her senses had shut down and she couldn’t hear what her friend had said. She knew she was sitting next to her but it was like she’d gone into a frozen like state and she couldn’t snap herself out of it; she was numb. Suddenly the nausea became overwhelming and she knew she wasn’t going to make it to the toilet so she jumped up quickly and raced to the bin on the other side of her bedroom. She heard Leah call out in surprise and come running towards her but all her attention was focused on making sure she didn’t vomit on the floor.

“Here, take this” Leah offered as she held out a handful of tissues and held her friend’s hair back for her. Seeing Rachel curled up over the bin made her realise how frighteningly thin she had become, she could see her spine protruding through her top and when she rubbed her back she could feel her ribs prominently.

“Thanks” Rachel whispered weakly as she moved away from the bin and reached behind automatically to get the glass of water sitting on the windowsill, something Leah eyed suspiciously.

“Why am I getting the impression that this isn’t the first time you’ve been sick?” Leah probed, raising her eyebrow as she saw Rachel look up from behind the glass she was sipping from. “Okay when was the last time you ate something?” Rachel continued not to respond, partly because she was too tired and didn’t have the energy to talk but mainly because she didn’t know the answer to Leah’s question. “Sweetie you’re making yourself ill” Leah choked, the visual realisation of how much her friend was suffering suddenly becoming painfully evident to her.

“I just want Tony” Rachel finally spoke, her voice gaining a louder tone as the pain she’d been trying to hold in spilled out.

“I know you do sweetie…”

“Where is he Leah?” Rachel cried, tears dripping onto her lap as she allowed herself to open up. Her eyes were darting around the room as if she was expecting him to walk in at any moment but she didn’t move, instead subconsciously picking at the tissue clasped in her hand.

“He’s gone Rach…” Leah gently answered, placing her hand on Rachel’s. She could see why Matilda was so worried now; it was like Rachel was falling apart, bit by bit losing touch with reality.

“But where” Rachel screamed, her face becoming red with frustration. “I just need to know where he is Leah, is he here right now? Can he see me or hear me? Is he still in pain from the burns? Is he safe?” She kept her eyes focused on Leah, expecting her to have the answers she needed to hear.

“He’s not in pain anymore, that much I can tell you” Leah finally concluded.

“How did you do it?” Rachel blurted out, her head shaking in disbelief. “How did you go through this twice. I can’t even…breathe without it hurting.” Leah considered the question herself, wondering what she could pull from her experience to help Rachel.

“I had to” Leah breathed through tears. Just thinking back to how she felt when both Vinnie and Dan had died caused a deep pain in her heart and the grief came flooding back. She suddenly realised deep down that the only reason she’d got through it was because of her son but that was something she couldn’t say to Rachel; not when her and Tony had been trying so desperately for a baby. It broke her heart to think that they’d never get to do that together; VJ was such a gift to her, a real little miracle and she knew how excited Rachel had been when Tony first suggested they start trying. “Things will get easier to cope with I promise you” Leah assured, hoping Rachel would believe her.

“Without Tony, I have nothing” Rachel mumbled, her eyes glazing over as she stared into the distance, her grief overwhelming her completely to the point that she couldn’t even move.

“That’s not true” Leah soothed; her voice cracking as she attempted to comfort her friend. “You have so many friends and we’re all here for you, you have your work…you have Brad.”

“I just need to know that Tony’s okay” Rachel answered, her voice monotone, almost robot-like. Leah watched her and became panic stricken, it was like the life inside her was slowly ebbing away and she didn’t feel like she could cope with it on her own. She watched as Rachel’s eyes began to roll gently and she shouted out her name, hoping to break her from the grief that had taken hold of her. Rachel flinched but didn’t speak and continued to stare across the room.

“Rach, I’m just going to call Elijah okay? You can talk to him” Leah explained, believing that he was the best person to help her. As she fumbled through her bag she screamed in annoyance when the memory of her leaving the phone next to the cooker at work came back to her; in her hasty rush to get to Rachel, she’d forgotten to pick it up. She considered running over to the Church to get Elijah but she didn’t want Rachel to be left on her own, she was worried that she was having a breakdown of some sort. She wondered whether anyone was home next door and after reassuring Rachel that she’d be right back – even though she got no response- Leah darted out of the house and breathed a sigh of relief when she bumped into Jack and Martha walking up the stairs to their house.

“Hey, you look like you’re in a rush, everything okay?” Jack asked; his smile dropping and his brow creasing in concern.

“Erm..yer I just” Leah stuttered as she reconsidered whether she should be upsetting Jack by letting him know the state Rachel was in. “I wondered if I could talk to Martha?”


“Elijah, she just needs to hear from you that Tony’s okay” Leah begged, her hands clasped tightly together in front of her.

“Sweetheart, I’m happy to talk to her if you want me to. But from what you’re saying, it seems like she needs something more than just talking to the local vicar” Elijah argued, the knife waving in the air with his hand as he buttered his toast.

“Hey” Leah prompted, pulling the knife from his hand and placing her hands on his hips; forcing him to turn towards her. “If I wanted her to just talk to a vicar, I’d have taken her to the Church. Elijah you are the most comforting person I know, not just because of your faith but because you have such empathy and an amazing way with words; I really think it will help Rachel just to know that Tony is in a better place. She’s wracked with guilt and I’m worried sick about her. Please.”

“Of course I will” Elijah smiled, kissing the top of her head. “Lets go now.”

“Thank you so much, you’re the best” she beamed, wrapping her arms tightly around his waist. She felt so lucky to be with a man who would drop everything to help out someone in need; she couldn’t have asked for anyone better.


“Hey, how is she?” Leah asked with baited breath as Martha stepped out of Rachel’s room and closed the door gently behind her.

“I didn’t realise she was this bad.” Martha was in shock, her hands shaking gently as she realised the enormity of the situation. “I have to tell Jack, he would want to know, he’d want to be here.”

“That’s up to you” Leah replied, grateful that she didn’t need to be the one to make the decision. “I just didn’t want to worry him unnecessarily. Thank you for sitting with her though.” She smiled as Martha left the house and led Elijah into Rachel’s bedroom, holding his hand tightly and praying silently that he would be able to help her best friend. She’d tried to brace herself but was still shocked when she saw Rachel again; sitting in the corner of her bedroom with her knees drawn tightly to her chest as she rocked back and forth. She felt some resistance from Elijah as she moved towards her and knew that he wasn’t very confident in his abilities to help her.

“Hey Rach” Leah smiled brightly, being careful not to sound too sympathetic. She knew Rachel hated people pitying her.

“Hey” she mumbled back timidly, the tear stains still imprinted on her cheeks.

Leah crouched down in front of her and placed her hands over Rachel’s, the sense of touch causing her to jump and turn her head towards her. “Elijah’s here, I thought he might be good for you to talk to, to ask all those questions you had earlier.” Rachel slowly look towards him and studied his face, as if she was trying to work out whether she could trust him enough to open up.

“Are you going to tell me that Tony’s up there somewhere, sitting on a fluffy cloud and frolicking with the angels?” Rachel whispered, her finger pointed towards the ceiling and a hint of sarcasm evident in her voice.

“I’m not here to preach you Rachel, just…lending an ear. Leah said you had some questions and maybe I can answer them for you.” Elijah knelt awkwardly on the floor, despite his muscular frame still towering above her and placed his hands in front of him, patiently waiting for her to talk.

“Surely you’ve finished work already it’s pretty late…”

“I’m not here as a vicar. I’m here as a friend.” He watched as Rachel smiled gently and turned her eyes to her hands in front of her, the shredded tissue still gripped in her fists.

“There’s just…” Rachel paused as she prepared herself to ask the question that would make all the difference to her; that would determine what she did next. “There’s just one thing I want to know.”

“Go on” Elijah encouraged, praying desperately that he would have the answer to help her.

Rachel breathed deeply and her eyes brimmed with tears as she began nervously picking at the tissue in her hand. Her lips began to quiver and a tear slid down her cheek, which she wiped away immediately before bracing herself for what she was about to hear. “Am I going to see Tony again?” she cried as she looked at Elijah, her eyes full of hope. She watched as he breathed deeply and she began furiously picking off more and more of the tissue, never taking her attention off of him.

“In my honest opinion? I believe you will, yes. Not right now mind but…the Bible” he paused briefly as he realised that he’d brought his religion into it, something he’d promised not to do. He couldn’t help it, it was instinct but as he read Rachel’s expression he could see that she was willing him to continue. “It teaches that when we die, our bodies remain here but our souls live on and that one day we will all be together again.” He could see that Rachel was attempting to consider what he was saying but the reality of it was almost too impossible to believe. He decided it might be easier for her to contemplate if he related the situation to real life experiences. “I was once asked to attend to an older lady, she was about sixty years old and had terminal cancer. I sat with her whilst she talked to me about her life, she mentioned her job and her family but what she most wanted to talk about was her husband; his name was William and he’d passed away ten years previously in a motorcycle accident. When her breath became shallow, her eyes glazed over and she had this bright beaming smile on her face and reached her fingers out in front of her. When I asked her what was happening, do you know what she said?” She nodded weakly, her eyes wide as she held her breath anxiously, desperate to hear what Elijah was going to reveal. “She said William’s here, he’s come to get me…she’s not the only person I’ve seen that happen to Rachel. And that is why there is absolutely no doubt in my mind that you will see Tony again, one day.” He placed his hand comfortingly over hers and squeezed it gently as she smiled back gratefully at him, tears streaming down her face. She sobbed gently as Leah sat beside her and wrapped an arm comfortingly around her.

“Thank you so much Elijah” Rachel whispered. “You’ve helped me more than you will ever know.”


Angelo has a special surprise for Charlie

Lucas makes a disturbing discovery

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