"Why not?" Brian asked, confused.
It was November 25th and AJ was calling from the flight. It was eight in the morning, and Leighanne was in the kitchen trying to find their best plates to keep aside for dinner the next day. She'd sent Brian into the basement to find the extra leaf for their table to extend it. Brian was poking through an assortment of crap that they'd stored away - skis they used once, old boxes of stuff they probably didn't even need anymore, a cot, several old dog crates, Baylee's crib...
"Because... well, I hope it's okay, I didn't even think. I probably should've called first..." AJ was talking quickly, speaking over the ends of his own sentences.
"About what?" Brian asked. He moved an old bedframe and a ton of dust flew up his nose. He coughed.
"You okay, Rok?"
"Yeah, sorry. Dust. Looking for the table leaf thingy," Brian explained. "You were saying?"
"Rochelle and I are back together."
Brian dropped the grip he had on the bedframe and it crashed back down on top of the other piece. He jumped back just before they fell and landed on his feet, kicking dust up everywhere. He covered his mouth and ducked back to the stairs to escape the dust storm he'd created. Mentally, he jotted down a note to clean the crap out of the basement at some point. Then, the words AJ said fully sank in.
"You're back together?!" he cried, excitement in his voice, "How did.. how.. when??"
"Yesterday, last night, now..." AJ answered, his voice climbing.
"How!" Brian asked again.
AJ laughed, "I found this picture of us... the one of her on my lap..."
"Your favorite," Brian said, nodding although AJ couldn't see him.
"Yeah," AJ said. "So I called her, and I apologized, and we went out to dinner last night and..." Brian could hear the smirk in AJ's voice, "She spent the night, and we're getting back together. We're going to renew our vows... veto the divorce..."
"That's awesome, Aje," Brian said, "I'm so happy for you."
Behind him, the basement door opened, "Dad, mom wants to know if you found the table thing yet?" Baylee called.
"No, not yet Bay," Brian called up the stairs.
"NOT YET MOM!!!!" Baylee yelled, still standing in the door. He looked down at Brian at the bottom of the steps, "You're probably not going to find it if you just sit on the steps on the phone, though, dad, just so you know..." Baylee floated away from the door.
"There was dust!" Brian called after him, rolling his eyes. He turned back to the task at hand, groaning as he stood up. "Sorry," he said to AJ. "I'm trying to find the table leaf thing and the basement's a freaking disaster, I have no idea where it is, and apparently its absolutely imperative we have it..." He moved to pick up the bed frames and stand them upright.
"No prob Bob," AJ said, cheerfully. Brian smiled, he hadn't heard AJ's voice cheerful since he'd broken up with Rochelle. That was a long time to be sad in AJ world. In any world, actually, but especially in AJ world.
Once upon a time in AJ world, sad usually didn't last more than twenty minutes.
Shifting the bedframes, Brian spotted the leaf and stretched, reaching for it. "I'm glad - to hear ... you sounding so happy," he said as he stretched. He pulled it out and dragged it to the stairs, looking up them.
"I really am." AJ's voice was warm and sincere. Brian could tell he must've been looking into Rochelle's eyes as he spoke the words. They were so gonna make out the second AJ got off the phone, Brian just knew it. He pitied whoever was sharing a row with them on the plane.
Brian's basement stares looked like a daunting mountain. "Well, AJ," he said, "Have a safe rest of your flight... and we'll see you here, when, about noon probably?"
"Yup," AJ agreed shortly.
"See ya then, then," Brian said, smirking.
"See ya 'Rok..." AJ hung up.
Brian smiled to himself thinking of AJ being happy again. Rochelle was a gift of God's to AJ, Brian knew. She alone would be able to complete him, and fill the void that had been left in his heart by Howie's death... just as Leighanne had been the only one to fill the void left by Nick's absence.
But there was still a void.
There always would be.
Just as there always would be in AJ for Howie.
Brian looked at the table leaf. "BAYLEE!" he yelled.
It took a few seconds, but Baylee finally came to the door. "What?" he asked.
"Help me get this thing up the stairs, will you?" Brian asked, gesturing to the leaf.
Baylee groaned, "Daa-aaad," he whined, "I was in the middle of something."
"Oh, okay. Well, we'll just return those presents we got, because we don't need to be interrupting you while you're in the middle of something to do something as stupid as opening presents..." Brian said.
Baylee thundered down the stairs.
"That's more like it," Brian said, smirking.