31 - Reunited: Day Sixteen

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As the week passed, each member of Melanie's family was forced to return home for work and other family responsibilities. Joan had had to coax her sons to go back, convincing them that Melanie would have wanted them to if she was still herself. Paul had missed two races and was at risk of having to forfeit the season if he missed any more.

Alan had gotten on a plane earlier that morning, his allotted days of from work expired, and Joan was also struggling with having to go back to work to avoid losing her job. She desperately wanted to take Melanie home with her, but with Otis and the rest of the cult's court date approaching, Melanie was not allowed to leave the country. They'd been told that Melanie wouldn't have to appear in court due to her mental state, but she still needed to be accessible in case anything changed or her presence was suddenly required.

There had been very little evidence found in Otis's cabin apart from a few samples within the cupboard Melanie had been locked in. Without Melanie's testimony, there was little information to go on to charge the men appropriately and none of the men were admitting to ever having seen her. Otis was claiming he hadn't known Melanie had been in his basement or how she'd gotten there, suggesting that she'd sneaked in through the window in search of somewhere safe to stay and hidden in the cupboard.

Wanting Melanie's friends to be prepared to take care of her once they were back in England, Joan and Dennis arranged to meet with Simon and the girls to create a plan for their daughter. They had discussed her prognosis with Lucy and the best approach to attempt to get Melanie's memory back. Joan had vehemently protested against Melanie continuing with any of her Spice-related activities, but eventually relented once Lucy had convinced her that participating in familiar activities and being in familiar settings was the best way to stimulate Melanie's memory. Lucy had spoken with Simon as well, discussing the best way to get re-introduce Melanie to everything involved with being a Spice Girl.

They all gathered in the penthouse suite and everyone squeezed into the sitting room, apart from Brian, AJ, and Victoria, who were sitting at the dining table, not wanting to add to the congestion of the packed sitting area. Melanie had been taken to one of the spare bedrooms to nap while the group was meeting. They didn't want to overwhelm her with the large group and Melanie's doctors had recommended she sleep often while she was still recovering.

"You can continue the tour without her if you'd like," Joan announced apologetically. "I can arrange to have her gran come stay with her if you think she'll be in the way."

"She won't be," Emma quickly protested. "We can take care of her."

"We've already talked about postponing the tour," Geri added. "We can keep doing the album promotion here in America until the trial as over and figure things out later. We're not just going to abandon her and if being with us can help her remember things, then we want to help."

Joan dabbed her eyes with a tissue and squeezed Dennis's hand, trying not to break down in front of everyone. She knew the girls would be supportive, but it was killing her to have to leave.

"We'll call you every day to let you know how she's doing," Victoria suggested. "Or we can show her how to use Skype. We'll keep her safe and happy."

Joan nodded, leaning against Dennis as he wrapped his arm over her shoulder.

"I'll leave it completely up to you to decide how involved you want her to be," Simon assured her. He retrieved his itinerary and set it on the table for Melanie's parents to look at. The entire month had been crossed off with red ink, indicating interviews, performances, and photoshoots that had been cancelled while Melanie had been missing. Joan and Dennis looked at the pages in awe. They knew the girls had been kept busy on tour, but they hadn't realized how gruelling their schedule had actually been. Every hour from sun up to sun down was filled, leaving very short breaks for meals.

"The schedule is completely clear until Sunday," said Simon. "All the promo for next month is on hold. We can call and cancel or reschedule any of them." He pushed the itinerary for the following month closer to them. "Everyone is waiting for confirmation, so we can pick and choose what you want Melanie involved in and I can either cancel the rest of send a few of the girls on their own."

Joan scanned the plans for the following month and sighed. It was a difficult decision to make. She knew if Melanie was herself, she'd want to be involved with everything, but at the moment Melanie was terrified of everything and anything she was forced to participate in seemed so traumatic for her.

"Why don't we say all performances are out for the first two weeks?" Simon suggested as he pulled the itinerary back in front of himself and crossed off all the scheduled performances. "That eliminates a few hours each day."

Slowly, they began creating a new schedule, having Melanie behind the scenes at first then gradually working toward being involved in photoshoots, interviews, and performances.

"I think this looks good," said Dennis. "And we'll feel it out as we go along. If she's comfortable doing more, then she can do."

Simon smiled and nodded, taking the documents and excusing himself to begin making arrangements with the media.

"This will be good for her," Dennis assured Joan as he squeezed her hand. "Once she gets back into the swing of things, stuff will start coming back."

"I hope so," Joan sighed, pushing herself on the couch and squeezing Dennis's shoulder. Dennis smiled sadly and watched as Joan made her way down the hallway to the room she'd left Melanie in. She quietly pushed the door open and looked at the bed, expecting to see Melanie where she had left her. She shook her head and sighed, finding the bed empty.

She padded lightly into the room, looking for the spot Melanie had decided she felt safe. Once she had found Melanie tucked away in the corner behind a lounge chair, she slipped back out of the room to get Dennis to move her.

"She's on the floor again," she announced tiredly.

"Can I move her?" AJ asked, looking and Joan and Dennis hopefully. He and Brian hadn't been able to interact with Melanie at all since her return and it was killing them.

Joan smiled and nodded, following as both Brian and AJ quickly made their way to the bedroom. Joan pointed them toward the chair and stood quietly at the door, watching as Brian carefully pulled the chair out of the way so AJ could get to Melanie. AJ gently lifted her into his arms, freezing as she stiffened momentarily and whimpered. He waited until she relaxed against him, not wanting to move for fear of waking her.

Brian was watching anxiously, knowing she was likely to freak out if she woke up to find herself so close to the boys. He gently took her arm and set it on her stomach to keep it from dangling uncomfortably, then he pulled back the blankets on the bed and stepped aside so AJ could set Melanie on the mattress.

"No," she whimpered, haunted by her experience even in her sleep. She curled into the fetal position and had a pained expression on her face. Joan quickly approached the bed, trying to determine if Melanie was about to succumb to a night terror. Both boys stepped back toward the door, ready to run into the hallway if Melanie woke up. She whimpered for a moment before settling back down and slipping deeper into unconsciousness.

"I'm sorry, sweetheart," Joan whispered apologetically as she pulled the comforter over Melanie and kissed her cheek. "Everything's all right."

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