"The baby isn't yours," Morgan said. "It's mine."
Jamie raised his fist and sucker-punched Morgan in the jaw.
Morgan staggered backwards, losing his footing and going down, landing hard on his already injured arm, clenching his teeth to hold back an expletive, prompting a horrified Felicia to kneel beside Morgan in the same instant as Lucas grabbed Jamie from behind, preventing him from doing it again, and Abel leapt between them.
"Get... out," Jamie glowered down at Morgan, his breath coming in harsh gasps, but his tone perfectly measured and in control.
It was Felicia who, while gingerly helping Morgan up, trying not to jostle his arm more than absolutely necessary, asked, "What are you talking about? Will someone please tell me what exactly is going on here?"
"He's a liar," Jamie said evenly, wrenching out of Lucas' grasp, holding both arms up to show Lorna's father and Abel that he wasn't about to attack for a second time. "And he's got no business being here in the first place."
Jamie turned his back on them all, rubbing his bruised knuckles with the opposing palm, struggling mightily to keep his litany of demons on the issue of violence and loss of control from rising up and overwhelming him. Not now. Not when Lorna's life was at stake. Not when she was counting on him.
"I'm telling the truth," Morgan faced Felicia and Lucas, but made sure his voice carried over both of them to Jamie. "And I can prove it."
"How?" Despite Jamie's best efforts, he couldn't help whipping around, incensed, furious, confronting Morgan, daring him, knowing that there was no possible way...
"Lorna and I," Morgan took a deep breath, letting it out slowly before completing his thought. "Lorna and I are... married."
Steven glanced from a fuming Jen to a defensive Allie, both of them standing rigid in the center of the Quad, glaring silently at each other, ignoring his perfectly polite request for an explanation, and wondered, "We going to do this in mime?"
"Tell Steven what you tried to do," Jen seethed.
"Why?" Allie challenged. "Because you said so?"
"Because he's going to find out anyway, and this might be your one chance to put your own, pathetic, self-serving point of view out there."
"Oh, so now you're looking out for me, is that it?"
"No," Jen swore. "Rest assured, that misguided portion of my life is over for good."
Steven stepped in. "This is fascinating. Like a David Mamet play without the profanity. But, I have class in a few hours. Anyone going to tell me what's going on, or should I just wait for the Cliff Notes version?"
"Don't bother," Allie said. "Jen's being all Drama Queen-ish. This doesn't even have anything to do with you."
"He's GQ's friend," Jen reminded. "And he's one of your fellow defendants. What affects one, affects us all."
"Is this about Gregory's case?" Now Steven was more than peripherally interested. "What did you do, Allie?"
"She went to Hamilton and tried to blame the entire escapade on GQ," Jen corrected. "I.e. in her world: Nothing."
"Why the hell would you want to do something like that?" Steven kept his voice low; letting his words perform the virtual yelling for him.
"So that Hudson could stay with Rick and Mindy."
"GQ can't sue the Bauers for custody if he's in jail," Jen added a few details Allie had somehow overlooked. "If Hamilton hadn't thrown her out for coming in without a lawyer, GQ would probably be under arrest right now."
Steven leveled a preternaturally calm look at his cousin. "Is she telling the truth?"
Allie shrugged and held her ground. "I did it for Hudson."
"Stop it," Jen warned, fed up and no longer caring who overheard. "Stop using that kid as an excuse for what you're doing to GQ."
"What I'm doing to GQ? How come it's always about what I'm doing to GQ? What about what GQ did to me? He dumped me, not the other way around. None of this would have had to happen if "
"There it is!" Jen whooped triumphantly. "Finally!"
"What are you talking about?"
"You just admitted that every action you've taken since, what was, it? Two Halloweens ago? Has had nothing to do with Hudson and what's best for him, and everything to do with you being pissed that GQ dumped you."
"You don't know anything," Allie's voice quivered.
"I know that you've flounced around, preaching the gospel on the subject of how brave and strong and mature you've been in dealing with Hudson and Gregory, and facing the fall-out from your decisions."
"Don't talk about Gregory," Allie warned. "You have no right to say anything about me and him."
"What would Gregory think about what you tried to do to GQ? We all went out of our way to help you two, and this is how you say thanks?"
"I said, stop talking about Gregory!"
"Fine! I'll stick to you. You and what a petty, vindictive, spoiled child you've been; you and your never-ending temper tantrum, stomping on anyone and everyone in your path all because poor Allie didn't get what she wanted. For once. You're pathetic."
"Quit it, Jen," Steven put a hand out to touch her arm, and Allie looked at him gratefully, her expression souring when the next words out of Steven's mouth were, "You might as well save your breath. She's convinced herself she's right. Nothing you say will make any difference."
"Are you taking her side?" Allie huffed, disbelieving, shaking her head in disgust. "Sure. Fine. Why not? It's not like we're family or anything."
"You mean like you looked out for me when you and Sarah made a bet which hinged upon messing with my head?"
"That... That was nothing. It was stupid. A joke. You can't compare... I just wanted to teach you a dumb lesson."
"Like how blood isn't really thicker than water? Consider it learned. And implemented."
"What's the matter with you? Now who's being petty and vindictive? To tell you the truth, I didn't think you'd care what we did. I didn't think you'd notice. You're always tooling around like some emotionless robot, acting like nothing bothers you. How was I supposed to know you were harboring a smidge of feeling, after all?"
"An irrelevant and erroneous testimonial for the purposes of this conversation," Steven replied calmly.
"Wrong!" Allie snapped. "Because if you," she indicated Jen too with a sweep of the arm, "Either of you, were actually capable of feeling things like normal human beings, then you'd understand why I did what I did with GQ."
Jen opened her mouth to rebut, but Steven cut her off, informing Allie, "Merely because I don't over-emote on cue and/or to your satisfaction, does not mean that I am incapable of comprehending things like loyalty and betrayal and love."
"Sure. If they're SAT words."
Steven ignored her to continue. "If I didn't love you, Allie, I doubt I would have hiked in a freakin' storm in the middle of the night to get help for you and Hudson. If I didn't feel loyalty, Gregory most likely would have died in a hospital, hooked up to machines and out of his mind on drugs he didn't want, and you and I and Jen and GQ and Sarah wouldn't be looking at prison time. If I didn't feel betrayal, I never would've broken up with Sarah after I learned she'd been playing me for over a year, because I wouldn't have cared, and just continued sleeping with her, like she offered. Sorry to disappoint you and knock your handy rationalization out of the park, but, I do feel things. For instance, right now, despite me not foaming at the mouth or having a vein pop out on my forehead, I am looking at you and feeling disgust, disappointment, and pity. Because you are not the person I've known and loved my entire life. You're someone else. Someone that even Gregory would be ashamed of."
"I told you to stop it," Allie screamed at them both. "You want to come down on me, you do your worst, I don't care. But, you don't get to say a word about Gregory."
"Why not?" Jen demanded. "Is it because you finally realize how disgusted he'd be with you currently? Honestly, I'm surprised Gregory didn't see it earlier. You truly had him fooled. Everything you did, all those sacrifices you supposedly made for him, they were all just a way to keep Gregory quiet about Hudson's true parentage in order to further your revenge against GQ. That's the only thing Gregory ever meant to you. It's obvious now. You never loved him at all."
"Crap," Amanda, perched cross-legged on a chair inside Kevin's office, looked down at the traffic-camera photo of Alice's car.
Kevin, sitting across from her, elbows on his knees, head down, palms massaging his temples, could only concur. "My sentiments exactly."
"How damaging is this?"
"It's not good."
Amanda handed the picture back to Kevin. "Hamilton's a bastard."
"Hamilton is just doing his job. Albeit with unadulterated glee."
"Are you really going to kibosh his and Doug's adoption plans?"
Kevin leaned back in his chair, head dropping in the other direction as he contemplated the ceiling and, disgusted with himself more than anyone, admitted, "No. Doug called me after Hamilton and I... chatted. Gave me a whole song and dance about how Chase is really a good guy, he's just so damn passionate about what he does, so committed to truth, justice and the American way, it makes him a little overzealous at times." Kevin snuck a sideways peek at Amanda, "Sound like anybody you know?"
"Not at all," she deadpanned.
"Besides, I had a file cross my desk the other day. Three year old girl; been in foster care for eighteen months already, Spanish-speaking. Wouldn't you know it, Chase and Doug are both fluent. They have a summer home in Mexico, and a massive extended family that's been vociferously demanding grandchildren for a while now. It's a perfect fit."
"Are you going to..."
"Filed the papers this morning."
"You're a good guy," Amanda told him.
"Oh, yeah. Let me count the ways. I can't keep your daughter, or my daughter, or my grandmother out of jail. I cheated on my I cheated on Lila, and I used you like a "
"We've both made mistakes," she cut him off, reluctant to hear the descriptive he'd pick.
"You're being very gracious," he noted.
"I tried the alternative," she told him honestly. "Didn't get me anywhere. And, in any case, my mother already all but called me a selfish, self-centered brat. Didn't feel like hearing it again."
"I gather things haven't settled any better at home?"
"You've got Jen and Alice, I've got Mom and Allie. We're the sandwich generation, I've written about it. Big story. Cover."
"Hey! My daughter and my grandmother like me. For the moment, anyway. I'm the one letting them down."
"You won't," Amanda reassured. "I won't let you." She reached again for the Discovery file he'd shared with her, leafing through the mass of papers for the umpteenth time in the futile hope that something useful might actually leap out at her on this go-around.
"Kevin..." Amanda began cautiously.
"How did... Why did the police think to focus on Alice as a suspect?"
"What do you mean?"
"She's not an obvious choice." Amanda tapped the evidence report with her finger. "I've been a journalist for a long time. I know how to research. You start with the obvious. Alice isn't obvious. If I were trying to guess who'd supplied the kids with morphine for Gregory, I'd think Jamie, first, because of Steven. Then, maybe Russ he's Sarah's grandfather. John, even. It's possible he was just covering. At the time this happened, Jen and Alice barely had a relationship. At least, not one that anybody knew of. Why go after Alice?"
"Oh, that." Kevin sighed. "Anonymous tip. Check the last page, it's only a scribble; the entire transcript barely takes up a paragraph. But, it was enough for them to pull Alice's prescription records, her schedule for the day, and then the photo of her car pretty much clinched it."
"Who do you think made the call?"
"That's the Anonymous part, Amanda."
She stuck her tongue out at him. Kevin grinned in return.
"I bet I could find out who it was," she ventured. "One of my regular reporters covers the local crime beat. He's got good sources."
"What would be the point?"
"I don't know," she admitted. "But, I'd rather have too much information than too little."
"Too much can be distracting," Kevin warned. "Send you off on an irrelevant wild goose chase."
"I'm feeling lucky."
He smiled at her again. Amanda smiled back, the two of them sharing a tension-free, united moment for the first time in what seemed like forever.
It felt nice.
Too nice to last.
Kevin's phone rang. He checked called ID and apologized, "I'm going to take this."
Amanda nodded and discretely commenced studying her cuticles.
Hey," he hailed Lila. "What's up?"
"I'm sorry to bother you," she began. "I seem to have a bit of a situation on my hands. The District Attorney just dropped by the house. He says it's for an informal, friendly chat. But, he also recommends I have an attorney present."
"This is... unreal." Dean shook his head in disbelief at Cass, the older man returning his gaze with a drained, determined smile. "You... here...Jesus."
"I did the crime, I'm doing the time."
"After everything Cecile did to you and Frankie, the bitch deserved it."
"After everything Donna did to you and Jenna, I bet you think Donna deserves to be six feet under, too. But, she's not. That's the difference between your side of the glass and mine. Knowing what's important, and not crossing that line between right and wrong."
"Thanks for the advice, Dad."
"Dad?" Cass couldn't hide his glee at seeing Dean again, despite the situation. "Hell, no. I see you more as the hotheaded, impulsive, moody little brother I never had."
"Name Morgan ring a bell?"
"I haven't seen much of Morgan since I got here. He didn't approve of... Doesn't matter, long story. Thanks for coming to see me, Dean."
"Anything, man. Anything for Lori Ann's dad."
Cass shook his head. "You're her dad. It's a terrific gig. You're going to love it."
"And you're... okay with it?"
"It doesn't matter. Lori Ann will be much better off with a father who can be there for her on a daily basis. She might not have Jenna in body, but you'll make sure she has her in spirit. You can give Lori Ann a stability and wholeness that Frankie and I simply can't. Certainly not now. Maybe not ever."
"Did you tell Frankie this?"
Cass nodded, forcing himself to relive the memory of his wife's distraught face. "When Lori Ann came to us, Frankie and I had just gotten back together. We were still trying to figure out whether we were picking up where we left off, or starting over again. Frankie missed so much of Charlie's life; the baby she left behind was now a teenager. Those years had been stolen from her. With Lori Ann, it seemed so right, so perfect. Frankie and I would get a chance to raise a child together. Your daughter would help our family heal and finally become what we always imagined it could be."
Dean closed his eyes, crushed. "And now, I'm..."
"Absolutely right. I didn't tell you this to upset you. I told you so that you might have a better notion of where Frankie is coming from. She's fighting so hard to keep Lori Ann, because Lori Ann was part of our dream for a second chance. But I told Frankie, and I'm telling you: That dream is over. Not because of you and what you're doing, but because of me and what I've done."
"You were just trying to protect your family."
"Nobody cares, Dean. Our illustrious D.A.-turned-Mayor-Elect has made it impeccably clear that he doesn't give a damn why anybody does anything, only what, where, when, and how. I did what I thought was best for my family, and now you need to do what's best for yours. Right now, Frankie, I'm sorry to say, isn't thinking about what Lori Ann needs. Frankie is thinking about what she needs."
"That doesn't sound like Frankie."
"I know. Probably why she doesn't see it."
"And you enlightened her?" Dean winced. "You're a braver man than I am."
"Kids make you brave. You'll discover that for yourself, soon enough. No matter how much I love and adore and they haven't coined enough verbs yet for what I feel about Frankie, I would be letting down Lori Ann if I allowed my devotion to Frankie to cloud what I know is best."
"And you really think that's me?" Dean felt compelled to double-check.
"Yes. What is more, I really think she is the best thing for you. She's going to save your life, Dean. Make it worth living again. Worth enjoying again. Same way Charlie did for me. I wouldn't take that experience away from you, not for anything."
"I I don't know what to say, Cass..."
"Say you understand that, as much as Lori Ann needs her father, she also needs Frankie and Charlie. She loves them, they love her. They're family. Say that you'll allow those relationships to continue."
"Of course. Totally. I wouldn't have it any other way. I won't let you down, Cass. I promise. You won't be sorry you believed in me. I'm the one who's sorry, for coming between you and Frankie like this."
"Don't be. Frankie's and my issues are nobody's fault but our own. No, strike that. They're my fault, through and through. I was arrogant and blind, and blind and arrogant way too many times to chalk it up to mere coincidence. You focus on our little girl. I'll focus on making things right with Frankie. She and I have survived death, right? More than once, too. How hard could this be?"
"Go to hell," Jamie directed Morgan, much calmer now. If this pathetic lie about being legally married to Lorna was the best Morgan could do, then, really, the conversation wasn't even worth Jamie's time.
"What?" Felicia gasped, while, unnoticed by everyone else, Lucas stifled a groan at the truth coming out like this, right now, at quite possibly the worst possible time.
"It's true," Morgan told her, half-apologetic, half-defiant. "Lorna and I got married six years ago."
"Right," Jamie scoffed. "And she just somehow forgot to mention it to her family." And the implication hovered in the air, unspoken him.
"We had our reasons," Morgan pleaded to Felicia. "But, I swear to God, Lorna and I are married. I am her husband. Which means any decisions that need to be made regarding her treatment, are going to be made by me."
Jamie turned to Abel, giving up on the rest. "The hospital isn't seriously going to buy this pack of bull, are you?"
"I have our marriage license at home," Morgan said. "I'll go get it. I'll be back in a few " He turned toward the door, only to stop in his tracks due to the pain radiating up and down his arm. "Damn it, I can't drive."
"Isn't that convenient?" Jamie wondered why he seemed to be the only one seeing through this farce.
"I'll take you," Felicia spoke up, grabbing her purse and striding to meet him by the door. "On the way there, you can explain to me about your... reasons."
"You got it," Morgan swore, following her out, glancing briefly over his shoulder, meeting Jamie's eyes, his expression resolved and... regretful.
"Why haven't you destroyed me yet?"
Languidly completing his Tai Chi routine in the small patch of afternoon sunshine he'd managed to locate amidst the dozens of mighty oaks guarding the perimeter of the Cory estate, Carl didn't even break stride as he smiled placidly and asked Donna, "Is that a genuine question, or merely a request?"
"You haven't done anything," she accused him, as if that were, in fact, his most grievous offense. "Save for several, random menacing interludes served with hissed words and murderous glances, you've stayed bewilderingly benign. Why?"
"I am a reformed man of nearly two decades, Donna," he chuckled. "I have long ceased succumbing to my impulses for vengeance and retribution."
"Alright then. Perhaps I dutifully heeded your warnings. You did, after all, caution me with my own wife as witness that any unfortunate occurrences that might befall either you or your family would result in vaguely worded unpleasantness for me."
"You're making fun of me. You're toying with me, I'm no fool, I can tell."
"If my protestations of reform are doomed to fall upon deaf ears then tell me, Bella, why are you here? Shouldn't you be cowering for your life in a safe room somewhere?"
He had her there. Donna stammered, "I merely wanted to inform you that I know you're planning something. The Carl Hutchins I married "
"No longer exists."
"Transformed by the power of love." Now on firmer ground, Donna felt no qualms mocking, "Yes, I'm familiar with your epic tale of redemption. Save it, why don't you, for Cory and Elizabeth's bedtime stories. And Rachel's, as well. Surely, no one else would ever accept them at face value. As if the evil that resides inside you could ever be expelled by nuclear weapon, much less something as fictional as true love. Your genuine nature still thrives inside you like maggots feasting on a rotting corpse. If you were capable of change, then Perry or Ryan or your first great love, the late, lamented-by-no-one Justine Kirkland, should have been the catalyst a long time ago for your metamorphosis into the jolly butterfly you say you are today."
Carl looked at her in amusement. "Jolly butterfly? Are you in need of a refresher course in Entomology? Or perhaps merely a new thesaurus?"
"Keep making fun of me," she dismissed. "But, no matter how you try to play it off like I'm the one who's delusional, you'll never convince me I was wrong for keeping Jenna's existence a secret from you."
"Did I imply any such thing?" Carl cocked his head at the suddenly faltering Donna. "Oh, my, dear me, has someone managed to seed the folly of your deception into that muddle you call a mind? When you aren't tragically misplacing it, of course?"
"Don't be ridiculous."
"You're here to provoke me!" Delighted at having finally broken through to the heart of the matter, Carl even ceased his exercising, feeling most proud of himself and his powers of deduction. "You've come in a desperate attempt to affirm yourself. That's it, isn't it? Alas, in order to afford substantiation that I was indeed a threat to you then, you need to corroborate my being a threat to you now. Am I correct? I am! Tell the truth."
"Go to Hell."
"After you, my dear...."
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