A/N: I have had a HARD day, so you can have a chapter as part of my attempt to banish it from my memory.
"You're late to your own celebration dinner!" Glenda teased her granddaughter as Katy walked into Walford East that evening. She pressed a kiss to the younger woman's cheek and unceremoniously pushed her into her chair. "Some things never change."
"Alright, alright!" She laughed, winking at her sister across the table. "I'm sorry, OK?"
Before she could open her mouth to say she had no idea, the man himself appeared, holding up his hands in apology and sliding into the seat beside his girlfriend's. Squeezing his thigh apologetically as Glenda immediately began questioning him about his lateness, Katy did her best to distract everyone by asking Ricky whether he liked the present the girls had brought him back from Spain.
"When are we going on holiday, Dad?" Amy asked suddenly. "You said you were going to take us to France to see Penny. We haven't seen her in ages."
"Can we go and see Aunty Penny too, Mummy?" Ruby asked hopefully.
"You've literally just got back from two holidays in Spain." Katy pointed out, shaking her head and chuckling.
"But don't you want to see Aunty Penny?" Her daughter pressed, apparently hoping it would be the way to convince the older blonde. "She is your sister and you haven't seen her for years."
"There's a reason for that." Katy muttered under her breath, before shrugging. "Maybe we could go at half term? Or Christmas? I don't know, sweetie… Penny's probably really busy, too."
"If Katy's going then I want to go." Amy told her father firmly.
"And me." Ricky agreed quickly.
Amy screwed up her face and looked at Jess as though she was stupid. "Katy's your mum… she's not just going to leave you behind, you idiot."
"She might." Her niece argued petulantly. "Grandma and Aunty Roxy did."
"OK." Jack jumped in quickly, sensing the mood dropping spectacularly at the five-year-old's comment. "So, let's make a toast. Katy… we're all so proud of you and we're all delighted about your test results. We knew you could beat this."
Smiling at him across the table, Katy couldn't help blushing slightly as the rest of her family raised their glasses in a toast to her. She was relieved when they broke off into their own conversations, turning and fixing Isaac with an exasperated expression. He grinned at her, leaning in to kiss her quickly before pulling back, aware of the eyes burning into the side of his head.
"Mmm…" She nodded quickly. "I feel a little bit of a fraud, you know? All this just because I had good news from the doctor?"
"They love you, babe." Isaac reminded her with a chuckle. "They're relieved. Glenda was sure it would be bad news."
"Past experience, I think."
Rolling her eyes, Katy shrugged. "She always thinks the worst."
"So… I was thinking…"
"Dangerous." Katy teased, reaching for her wine glass. She hesitated for a moment, staring at the liquid indecisively, before taking a sip. "You wanna watch yourself doing that."
"No, I'm being serious for a minute." He told her with a grin. Leaning closer, he lowered his voice. "I'm gonna be back at work in a week."
"Yeah… and the kids will be back at school, thank god."
"I was thinking–"
"So you said."
He ignored her interruption. "We ain't gonna be able to see much of each other when we're both working… so why don't I move in?"
"What?" Katy furrowed her eyebrows. "You wanna move in because we won't see much of each other?"
"We won't see each other at all unless we live in the same house." He pointed out. "I mean I practically live with you anyway so why don't we make it official?"
Katy hesitated for a minute, considering the logic behind his words. She briefly considered refusing, pointing out that it was probably a terrible idea. Then she met Ronnie's curious eyes across the table and shrugged. "OK. Why not?"
"Should we make an announcement?"
"No time like the present, I suppose." She agreed, clutching her wine glass tightly. Katy could just imagine how the news would go down with her family.
She watched silently as Isaac cleared his throat and broke the news. Ronnie's face twitched for a moment, before she painted a smile on and congratulated them warmly. Glenda and Roxy seemed genuinely happy by the announcement, while Jack's expression didn't change at all. When Denise dug her elbow into his side, he jumped a little and held out his hand to shake Isaac's.
They sat through the rest of the meal and, for once, nothing terrible happened. Katy couldn't help watching the dynamic between her parents and Denise, wondering whether she was still suspicious about their relationship. Sure that she was the only one who was unconvinced by their occasional sniping at each other, Katy found herself having to bite her tongue not to spill their secret to the whole family.
"When's Isaac moving in?" Ruby asked as they all left Walford East together and headed slowly towards the gardens.
As all eyes turned on the couple, her mother shrugged. "Before term starts. It'll be easier to move when he's not working."
"I haven't exactly got that much stuff," he reasoned with a shrug, "so as soon as possible."
"Yeah, why not?"
When Katy said goodnight to the girls on the doorstep, Isaac turned to look at her questioningly. She smiled weakly, pressing a quick kiss to his lips and turning to head in the direction of Turpin Road. Hearing the front door closing behind her, she paused for a moment, inhaling sharply before pulling herself together and striding up Bridge Street.
"I thought you had the night off?"
"A couple of hours." Katy told her mother with a weak smile. "Wasn't fair to land the whole night on Tina."
"She's assistant manager, isn't she? Isn't it her job to cope when you're not there?"
"But you would prefer to be there than at home?"
Katy shot her a look. "It's not like that."
"I'm guessing that charade was his idea?"
Rolling her eyes, the younger woman huffed. "Why can you never be happy for me?"
"Because I know you and you are just like me." Ronnie told her bluntly. "Have you thought about this properly or was it just another one of your knee-jerk, thoughtless reactions to something? Has something happened? Is there something you're not telling me?"
"I love him, Mum." Katy snapped at her. "I love him and I'm having…" She inhaled sharply. "I'm having a great time with him and he's moving in. It might work out and it might not. I don't know. But it's happening. End of conversation."
"Did you really get good news at the hospital?" Her mother demanded suspiciously. "Or is this some misguided attempt to get the girls a reliable dad before it's too late?"
Turning, the younger woman started stalking away along the street, leaving her mother staring after her. The sharp tapping of heels told her that Ronnie was following her and she stopped abruptly, wheeling round and scowling at her.
"What do you want?"
"I want you to stop acting like such a spoilt, entitled little brat and actually think about what you're doing for once."
"So the other day you were mad at me because you thought that the consultant would tell me I was dying and I wouldn't take that seriously. Now you're mad at me because I'm not dying and I've decided to take a step forward with my life. I mean, isn't that exactly what you wanted me to do?"
Ronnie grasped her daughter's face tightly. "I hate seeing you get hurt."
"So why do you keep doing it, then?"
As the older woman's arms dropped heavily to her sides, Katy turned and walked away under the bridge. She closed her eyes as she rounded the corner, leaning heavily against the wall for a moment. It would only be a moment or two before Ronnie caught up with her, so she pushed away from the rough surface and headed into R&R, smiling at Nick as she passed and making her way straight up to the office.
She longed for the relationship she'd had with Ronnie before everything had gone wrong. She missed her mother and was worried that things had changed irreparably. It felt as though the past few years had altered her beyond recognition, but Ronnie couldn't seem to see or understand that and expected her to be exactly the same as she had been before they'd vanished. Katy, too, wished that she was still that person but the effects of a few hard years had made that impossible.
Deciding that she had already spent too long dwelling on her fractured relationship with her mother, Katy forced herself to concentrate on business related things instead. She had her head buried in the accounts when a light tap on the door preceded Tina letting herself inside. Spotting the exhaustion in her friend's eyes, the brunette laid a hand on her shoulder and urged her to go home.
Guilt suddenly surged through Katy as she remembered the decision that had been made that evening. "T… Look, I don't want you to think it means you have to move out – in fact, I really don't want you to move out – but Isaac is moving in."
"Honestly, T, it doesn't mean anything for you apart from the fact he'll officially be there rather than just… being there."
"You really want me hanging around being a third wheel?"
"T… it's your home for as long as you want it to be." Katy promised her. "Honestly, I… I want you to stay."
Tina arched an eyebrow at her. "Seems a bit weird, mate. Your boyfriend is moving in and you want me to stay?"
"It's not weird." The blonde retorted defensively. "It's… it's selfish. I'd miss you."
"And my babysitting?"
Laughing, Tina shook her head and shoved her gently in the shoulder. She repeated her suggestion that Katy should go home, earning herself a tired smile and a nod of the younger woman's head.