I'm technically proficient

...despite certain attitude issues

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phoning home [RP for Lee]
standing in the elevator
After three hellish days in detox, Abby is finally feeling well enough, relatively speaking, to settle into a routine of sorts at the inpatient rehab center she's checked herself into. Throughout the detox process, throughout the tremors, nausea, debilitating headaches, and insomnia, all she's thought of (other than having a drink) is Lee and Lily. She's cried more than she'd ever admit, missing her husband and daughter and home almost to the point that she feels it physically. She almost regrets saying she needs to do this alone, but knows she'd never be able to do it if this wasn't her decision and hers alone.

But she still needs them. More than she's ever admitted to herself before. She takes a shower, subconsciously wanting to be fresh and clean for her first allowed phonecall after a successful completion of the detox process. She makes her way from her room to the main floor where she waits, impatiently, for her allotted time slot to begin.

When she finally gets on the phone, she freezes for a moment, her fingers forgetting what to do, what numbers to dial. When she shakes herself and dials the familiar numbers of Lee's phone, she can feel her heart banging around in her chest. What can he think of her now? Maybe he won't even want to talk to her. Maybe he's relieved to be rid of her and the mess she's made of her life. She wouldn't blame him, and she can feel her palms sweating as she listens to the phone ring.

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I *am* being honest. She lets out a breath. I want you to come, but not if you don't want to.

Why wouldn't I? He would love to know how she comes to these conclusions sometimes.

I wouldn't blame you. She says quietly, thinking of how angry he'd been at her for drinking, the things she'd said to him, how she hadn't been a good mother for Lily.

He sighs, runs a hand over his hair. I'm not angry at you, Abigail.

Why not? She really does want to know; she doesn't understand. She's still angry at herself.

He doesn't answer right away, taking time to pull Lily away from the Christmas tree first. Can't really get angry at someone for being sick, can you? I realize that alcoholism is a disease, Abigail. I'm not angry at you for that, I never have been. I know I lost my temper a few times ...He bites his lip, thinking about their arguments and what fueled them. I was frustrated. Angry at myself too. And if we're being honest here, it hurt to see you like that. A lot.

She's never viewed her alcoholism as a disease in the way his cancer is. She lets out a wavering breath, his words making her feel more guilty. I'm sorry...

I know you are. He nods, wishing they didn't have to have these conversations over the phone. It's frightening to see someone who is alway so in control just...not.

She hugs her knees to her chest as she sits on the bench with the phone cradled between her shoulder and ear. She hesitates before answering him. I hate it, too. Being out of control.

He can't help but feel like he's let her down somehow, letting her backslide so far. I didn't know what to do.

She shakes her head. You couldn't have done anything, Lee. She sniffs, wiping at her eyes again.

He bites his lip, hearing the sniffling on the other end of the line and knowing she's crying tears at him in the worst way. I love you...

She nods and looks at her watch; she's out of time. I...I have to go. Give Lily a kiss for me?

Yeah. He nods, hating that she didn't acknowledge his 'I love you' and wondering for a brief second if maybe she doesn't feel as strongly for him any more. Of course I will.

Thanks. She hesitates. And thanks for...talking to me. She still wouldn't have been surprised if he'd refused.

He hangs his head, let's out a slow breath, not wanting her to know that she's stung him. You're welcome. Abby...I'll always talk, you should know that.

I know. She swallows hard, her voice dropping, quieter. I love you.

Relief washes over him in a palpable wave as he hears her quiet words. Call me when you can, baby.

I will. She nods, having trouble convincing herself to hang up.

We'll see you soon. He assures her, not wanting to say good bye.

Okay. She nods again, biting her lip. Bye, Lee...

Bye. He hangs up the phone and sets it on the floor, looking at it for a long moment before pulling the baby into his lap for a hug.

She sits there with the phone in her hand for several moments before hanging up and standing, knowing she has a group meeting soon, though she'd have rather just stayed on the phone with him.

As he promised, several weeks after that first phone call from Abby, he and Lily are on their way to see her at the rehab facility. This is certainly not how he'd imagined spending this Christmas, then again nothing about this year has been anything he's envisioned for them. Once more, he's grateful that Lily's still so young as he watches her in the rear view mirror of his car. She's a bundle of joy in her overly insulated winter coat and mittens, happily babbling to no one in particular as they sit in freeway traffic.

For her part, Abby is tense, nervous, on the morning of Lee and Lily's visit. She has an early group meeting, then an appointment with her counselor, and she's distracted and fidgety through both. When she's finally free of her requirements, she goes back to her room, gathers her things so she can take a shower.

Once she's showered and dressed again, Abby sits in one of the common rooms of the facility, waiting for her family. Various other families are there, too, and she anxiously watches the door. She regrets that she has nothing to give her daughter and husband for the holidays, and she's glad Lily won't remember this when she gets older.

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