Chapter 16: Genetics Plus a Little Spin

"Well I didn't think breakfast was that bad," PCPD Lieutenant Cruz Barrett-Rodriguez said as he wiped a sponge across the countertop.

"You can be honest," his wife, Brenda Barrett-Rodriguez said.

"I am being honest. It could have been a lot worse. She ate what she needed to. We're not wearing the first attempt at getting that into her. There are a lot of positives here, honey."

Brenda reached down and turned on the dishwasher. "So much for not understanding the concept of spin there, dear."

"Listen, I completely understand that you are scared. I am too. But I think you're right and we need to give her a chance to do this at home, with us, first. Sending her somewhere, right now when she's still so fragile, will probably just make it worse."

"You can be so calm about this because it's not your fault."

"No, I can be so calm about this because it's what she needs me to be. You did not cause this. You are not to blame for this and I cannot let you blame yourself this way, Brenda," Cruz said as he leaned back against the counter and pulled his wife into his arms.

"But she's my sister," Brenda said weakly.

"Yes, and you love her and we're going to get through this. So maybe she inherited the same genetic predisposition to cope with stress by not eating that you did. She didn't inherit that gene combination from you. I wish she hadn't as much as I wish you hadn't, but reality is what it is. We all get some of not the greatest genes in there, but things have a way of working out. I mean look at Mac Scorpio, a little challenged in the fashion department; but Maxie can work with that. Ok, now when Garcia upended his suitcase, we had a little crisis. Maxie packs his clothing in coordinating order, since they no longer make Granimals in his size. But, hey, we did make it through the wee kend, and did not win the worst dressed commissioner award."

"Granimals?" Brenda asked.

"Probably a little more middle class than your upbringing. Basically, you could match the animals on their tags to find coordinating outfits. Totally saved my dad a bunch when my mom went back to Puerto Rico to care for her mother for three weeks in kindergarten."

"That sounds cute do they still make them?"

"I'm not sure. I guess we could explore that since we will have a child of our own soon. Although, unlike Mac Scorpio, I do grasp that maroon and red are not the same color and are also not complimentary colors."

Brenda laughed.

Cruz stroked a finger across her cheek. "See there's that smile I love. Maybe more to the point, although I wish you had never had to struggle with any of this, maybe because you have you can really help Bree. You've found other ways to cope with the stress, and you understand that you can't get away with skipping meals. In many ways, you probably get this in ways I never will completely."

"Maybe," Brenda said uncertainly. "I don't want to send her somewhere either, not even to Rose Lawn, unless we really can't do this. I honestly think Dr. Lawrence just recommended it now because she feels like she messed up; the more I think about it I'm not sure she didn't. Although I guess I could have demanded she do labs and an EKG."

"That isn't your responsibility. You don't get to feel guilty about that either. She got the help she needed and that's what matters most right now. I think letting her see Emily and Monica is a good idea, they seem to have a plan. It may not seem like it right now but it's going to be ok eventually," Cruz said as the doorbell rang.

"I wonder who that is; Emily is on call today. Thanks, Cruz," Brenda said as she extricated herself from his arms.

"Why are you thanking me?"

"Because you love me and it makes all the difference."

"Well, then thank you because the feeling is mutual."

Brenda turned back into his arms kissed him quickly and then as the doorbell peeled twice more in quick succession started out of the kitchen towards the door.

Cruz followed her. "Someone needs to be a bit more patient. Fortunately, Frank is away on holiday," he said, referring to their neighbor's dog who did not like doorbells.

"You know maybe we should just get rid of the doorbell. Although I'm not sure he would do much better with knocking," Brenda said.

"You never know," Brenda heard Cruz say as she pulled open the front door to find herself staring at Clint Buchanan.

Brenda took a deep breath. "Mr. Buchanan, well I must say this is a surprise." In a way it was, she really hadn't expected Clint to show up on her doorstep, but she had a pretty good idea why he had.

"May I come in?" Clint asked.

"Of course," Brenda said before she nervously stepped back slightly and reached for Cruz's hand. As she shut the door behind Clint, she took another deep breath. She supposed it was what she and Ned had been afraid of, but somehow, she had thought maybe they had a little more time.

"Cruz, this is Clint Buchanan, he was an old business associate of my sister Julia. Clint, this is my husband Cruz Barrett-Rodriguez."

"Yes, we've met," Clint said tersely.

Brenda looked at Cruz and wondered what the story was there. She was almost afraid to ask, especially when she thought about a few of Julia's stories about Clint and Cooper's stories about Sarah.

"There was a little incident where someone landed the Buchanan Jet on the PCGH Medflight air strip. Ms. Sneed got a bit irate and called it in as a terrorist attack," Cruz said.

"I'm not sure why New York residents seem to think they cornered the market on 9/11. Anyway, that isn't why I came and I left my plane at the airport this time," Clint said with a laugh.

Brenda forced a nervous laugh even though she didn't quite see the humor. "Well, that's good our driveway isn't very big. Why don't you have a seat and I'll fix you some tea," she said as she led Clint into the living room. She was sure Clint probably saw her actions as a stall tactic. She wouldn't even argue against that, but she really just needed a minute to think, and maybe two minutes to call Ned. Although she wasn't sure if she could, or should, really pull him away from his daughter. Brooke Lynn was much better but still in the hospital.

"Do you need any help with that, Bren?" Cruz asked.

"Sure, sweetheart, that would be great. Excuse us just a minute, Clint," Brenda said before she escaped to the kitchen with Cruz.

XXXXXX

In the backyard, Bree and Cooper sat on the swing in the garden watching the cardinals at the birdfeeder. "You know I really like snow," Bree said.

"Then I guess it's convenient you no longer live in California. You have an entire backyard full of it," Cooper said.

"You don't like it?" Bree asked.

"It's ok."

"Cruz likes to ski. If I get better, he's going to teach me."

"Yeah, skiing is cool."

"You know how?"

"Yes, surprisingly, my mom was into it," Cooper said. His words were met with silence though. At first it didn't surprise him. Talking about his mom with Bree was so awkward, because Bree really had never known her, and Cooper wasn't sure whether it was better for him to help her understand who her sister had been or if that just made her feel more rejected. But when he looked over, he noticed she was sitting completely motionless.

"Bree?" he asked.

"I don't feel very well anymore," she said very quietly.

"It's ok, let's get you inside. Come on, put your arms around my neck. I've got you it's ok," Cooper said. He picked her up and started back into the house.

XXXXXX

Inside, Brenda brought a tea tray into the living room, and set it down on the coffee table in front of Clint. He seemed deep in thought which she didn't consider a good sign. She sat down on the couch opposite Clint and reached for Cruz's hand again. She took another deep breath and was about to say something when she heard the back door close and turned to see Cooper walk in carrying Bree. "Oh no, what happened? Cooper, you're not supposed to be lifting things, Alan said! Cruz. take her!"

"I'm ok," Cooper started to protest but he let Cruz take Breanna from him.

Cruz started towards the stairs and Brenda saw new concern in Cooper's eyes as he realized who they had been entertaining. She suspected he was imagining that something horrible had happened to Sarah but she was quite certain that Clint's visit had nothing to do with that. "Coop, do me a favor and tell Bree I'll be right up ok?"

Cooper looked back at her warily for a few moments but then he took a few heavy steps towards the front stairs.

Brenda waited a few moments until she heard footsteps on the stairs then she turned to Clint. "I'm sorry but Bree hasn't been well and I need to go deal with that. Cooper's first question is going to be what happened to Sarah but I don't think that has anything to do with why you're here does it?"

"In a way it does," Clint said.

Brenda felt the warmth leave her face. Maybe she had totally missed the point. "What happened to Sarah?"

"You don't think it's a problem that she's dating her uncle?" Clint said.

Brenda presumed he wasn't referring to the kissing Joey incident Ned had referenced before but she wondered why Clint presumed she was dating Cooper. "You know what, we can't even begin to sort that out now because I have to deal with Bree. All I'm asking is if she is physically fine now?"

"Yes, but," Clint started to say.

"Sorry, I really don't mean to be rude, but we're going to have to do this later," Brenda said. She stood up and ushered Clint to the door.

"You can't just ignore the issue, Brenda. Your sister's insistence to do that is what got us in this whole mess in the first place," Clint said.

"We can talk about this later. I'm sorry, Clint, but I really have to check on my sister," Brenda said handing Clint his coat and opening the door.

Clint glanced at her as if he wanted to protest but somberly, he just filed out.

Brenda closed the door, leaned against it for a moment summoning strength, and then started towards the stairs. When she stepped into Bree's room Cooper looked at her warily.

"Why was Sarah's grandfather here?" Cooper asked.

"He had a question about your mother. Sarah is fine," Brenda said. Cooper's face showed that he was considering her words carefully and she felt uncomfortable because although she hadn't technically lied to him it was perhaps the closest she had ever come to that.

Clint did have a question about Julia though; had she lied when she apparently told him repeatedly, he wasn't Cooper's father? The answer to that question was no, but Brenda knew it wasn't going to be that simple. It had actually surprised her slightly that Clint had left without more production. But then she recalled something she had overheard Julia saying on the phone a few years ago. When will Asa learn? When Buchanans try to play hard ball with Barretts they will always lose!

At the time, she hadn't thought much of the conversation. She was in the habit of ignoring Julia's business calls that could not be put on hold for family vacations. But with her more recent understanding of some, of at least the business, aspects of her sister's life; she suspected that Julia had been talking to Cord around the time that Asa had tried and failed to overtake Norscott. She had also come to understand that Cord and her sister had certainly been more than just business partners by that time and that technically Cord was as much a Buchanan as Julia was a Barrett, at least biologically even if he refused to take the last name.

Shaking her head Brenda made her way across the room and sat down on her sister's bed. "So, what's wrong?"

Bree looked back at her with wide brown eyes but not the terror she had seen almost two weeks ago. "Maybe I'm just tired."

"Ok, but being too tired to walk is a problem," Brenda said.

"We probably shouldn't have gone outside. That's my fault, I'm sorry," Cooper said.

"We aren't going to debate fault or blame here, Cooper, because that isn't going to help. We're going to work together and solve the problems ahead of us as a family, because that's what we are. Monica is supposed to be calling us back as soon as she gets out of the cath lab by the way," Cruz said.

"Thanks. Do you feel like you're going to pass out Bree?" Brenda asked.

"Not always."

"Meaning, yes, right now?" Cruz asked.

"You know this was easier before when no one cared," Bree said.

"I'll believe it was easier for you to starve, but I love you too much to let that happen, Bree. You can get better and you're going to. Whatever we have to do for that to happen we will do," Brenda said.