David slipped out of the house and into the garage, his steps fast as he climbed the steps to his eldest sister's apartment. So far he had tried to get a hold of his parents, sister Lucy, brother Simon, and brother-in-law Kevin to no avail, which left him to handle whatever the problem might be.
As one of the youngest Camdens, it was something he was unaccustomed to doing.
Reaching the top of the stairs, he went to the door and opened it. Stepping inside, he pulled it shut behind him. "I know you said we didn't have much time, but come on Toby!" Donna called from the back of the apartment.
"It's not Toby," David said as he moved towards where her voice had come from, frowning slightly when he didn't see her.
"Oh," she sighed not looking up from the jewelry box she was shifting quickly through in her closet. "Where the hell did I put it?" she muttered to herself.
"What's going on?" David asked as he took in the open suitcase on the bed, clothes spilling haphazardly out of it.
"What?" Donna asked distractedly. "Ahh, there it is! I knew it was in here!" she cried in relief as she started to put the old watch on her wrist.
"Tella? What are you doing? Where are you going with that jerk?" he demanded.
"Toby's not a jerk," she answered without looking at her brother as she closed the jewelry box and moved out of the closet and pulled open a dresser drawer, "now where did I put that bag," she muttered as she started to shift through the contents.
"Come on, he has you all in a tizzy."
"Tizzy?" she laughed. "I didn't know people still used that word. Oh, here it is," she sighed in relief as she pulled out the small velvet bag and opened it, "good. I did put it all in here," she exhaled as she crossed to the bag on her bed and carefully but the bag in a zippered compartment. "Now let's see. What else do I need?"
David shifted uncomfortably and blew out a breath. "He upsets you and you're packing to go somewhere with him. That's not good. You're smarter than that," he tried to reason.
"What?" she asked as the realization that her brother was there finally made it into her consciousness. "Oh, David, I didn't realize you were there."
"You're been talking to me," he said worriedly.
"Have I?" she asked as she cocked her head slightly to the side. "I thought I was talking to myself. Old habit. So, what do you need?"
"To know why you're going with that guy and where you're going."
Donna sighed as she stopped folding the shirt in her hand and let it fall into the suitcase: "to see an old friend," she answered.
"That's the only answer you ever give when you go somewhere," he said defensively.
"That's usually where I go. To see old friends," she answered as she went back to her packing.
"If they're all like him, I don't know why you bother," he said tensely as he leaned against the wall.
"OK, the protective little brother act so isn't working right now," Donna chided as she moved towards her bathroom. "Besides, I don't have time for it."
"Tella, you can't just go off somewhere. Who's going to watch the kids?"
"Toby said he's taken care of it," she answered as she came back into the room and dropped shampoo, conditioner, and a small cosmetics bag into the larger suitcase.
"You can't just leave them with strangers!"
"Well, you're here," she sighed as she looked around the room. "I should probably take my laptop. Means, I need to take the plug too, but I don't have an adapter. . .I'll just borrow Toby or Will's if I need to," she muttered to herself as she returned her gaze to the suitcase. "Guess it doesn't matter how messy this stuff is. I don't have time to make it nice and tidy, but not a heck of a lot is."
"Tella, you're really acting weird," David whined as he bit his lip in concern.
Looking up as she zippered her suitcase, she smiled slightly at him: "I'm fine, really."
"He made you cry."
"I misunderstood what he wanted to tell me, that's all," she reassured as she bit a finger in thought. "Where did I put that bag? I promised I'd bring it. . ." she sighed as she moved to the closet.
"If it's no big deal, then tell me where you're going."
"I already told you, to see someone."
"Not near here."
"I figured that out. I heard you talking about passports. How can he get you one without your permission anyway?"
"I doubt that was Toby's doing. Would've had to have been Russell. Then again, he wouldn't have thought of it. So probably Ellie or Will instead," she answered as she bent under the bed and pulled out a dust covered book bag, smiling absently as she ran a hand lovingly over it. "Wish I had time to clean it. Then again, he never did," she sighed.
"Tella, I think this guy's dangerous."
"Who?" she asked as she unzipped the front compartment and reached inside, her head down as her hand shut over a velvet box.
"Toby," David huffed.
"He's harmless. Really. He's just gruff," she answered absently as she opened the box and frowned slightly.
Shaking his head, David moved over to her and stared in confusion as he took in twin wedding bands just before she snapped the lid shut and sighed. "What are those?"
"Rings," she returned as she closed the box and put it back into the compartment, lowering her head more as she looked into it and muttered to herself: "I know I put it in here… Ahh, huh, there it is."
"There what is? What's going on?"
"Nothing. Everything," she answered as she put the bag back on her lap while pulling out a second ring box and opening it. Smiling this time, she took the ring out and put it on.
"That's not an answer. You haven't answered one question I've asked," he whined as a knock sounded on the door.
"Come in. We're in the back" Donna called as she moved the bag to the bed and stood as a young black man entered and moved towards where they were.
"M'am, we need to get going. Do you have any bags that you want me to take down for you?"
"A couple," she answered as she cocked her head to the side. "You look familiar. Have we met?" she asked as she moved to pick up the bag that held her laptop.
"Yes M'am," he answered.
"Clear to elaborate?"
Looking up as he started to pick up the suitcase and duffle bag next to it he gave a slightly embarrassed smile. "My name's Anthony. I. . ."
"Was Charlie's 'little brother,' and before that Simon's. I remember you know," she answered with a smile as she picked the book bag off the bed.
"Yeah. So, this all you taking?"
"I need to grab a couple of books. I think I left them in the house. But other than that yeah. I think so."
"Then I'll bring them down. Where are your books, I'll get them and bring them to the car as well."
"Front hall table," Donna replied as she moved towards the door. "My purse is there too. I'm going to need that, aren't I?"
"Probably'd be a good idea to take it," he said as he started towards the door.
"Yeah," she said on an exhaled breath as she looked at David. "I think I have everything. Apologize to Lucy for me, and tell Mom and Dad I'll call when I get the chance, not that I'm sure when that will be. And keep an eye on the apartment. And the mail," she listed quickly. "And my plants, OK?"
"I don't like this."
"Duly noted," she laughed.
"Tella, you haven't said. . ."
"I'm taking a trip to the past, ok?" she asked.
"I don't understand."
"But. . ."
"You wouldn't understand even if I had the time to explain. Of course that would mean I had enough understanding of the situation to understand, which I don't," she rattled off as she went to the door.
"You're making a mistake," he warned as they started down the stairs.
"No, I'm not."
"But. . ."
"For the first time in a long time things are going to be OK," she said, then paused slightly. "Unless the curse of Bass rears its head again," she added less unsure as they exited the garage.
"Would you stop with the curse of Bass already?" Toby grumbled from near the door. "Stupid ceramic cat was all it was."
"Right," she said with a good natured roll of her eyes.
"Can we get going. They're not going to hold the plane, and we have a connection we have to catch as well," he chided.
"Yes we can."
"Tella. . ." David called as he watched his sister walk towards the car and hand the two bags she carried to the black man.
"But. . ."
"It'll be OK," she added as she slipped into the car. "It will finally be ok," she whispered under her breath as she looked with a bittersweet smile at the ring that now readorned her hand. . .