"I want the truth," Felicia fired at Cass before he'd even crossed the threshold of her home. "Did you know Lucas was alive months before he finally came to me?"
"Yes," Cass said simply, having decided on his way over that there was no benefit in going with anything short of total honesty at this point.
"Yes?" Felicia repeated in disbelief. "All you have to say to me on the subject is yes?"
"Nothing I say will, can or should excuse what I did."
They both knew it was true, but still Felicia felt like he could have respected her enough to put in a modicum of effort, nonetheless. "How could you keep something like this from me? When you know...when you saw how much I suffered all those years ago, thinking I'd lost him forever."
"Because I didn't want to see you broken like that by Lucas again. I couldn't tell you the truth until I knew for sure he wasn't going to hurt you."
"How could Lucas being back hurt me?"
"The man who popped up in Bay City last year was not the same one you mourned. The things he'd done..."
"The things he was forced to do! Because of Donna! After the hell you went through with Cecile, you of all people should understand that!"
"I do. I did. But much as I sympathized with his plight, my loyalties and concern were, first and foremost, for you. Considering what you were going through with Jenna "
"I could have used the support of her father!"
"You needed stability and a modicum of peace amidst the other madness. The shock of his return "
"Would not have broken me," Felicia hissed. "How could you harbor so little faith that you'd think Lucas returning would make me fall apart? It would have been exactly the opposite!"
"You've fallen apart over him before," Cass reminded. "Twice, he abandoned you. Twice, he's broken your heart. Factor in the sorts of people he was now beholden to, and all the signs pointed to Lucas needing to make a third, quick exit, either through dying for real this time, or simply fleeing to avoid it. After what you'd already been through, I wasn't about to let that happen! So I told him to stay away. To give you some space."
"How dare you! Who the hell do you think you are? "
"Someone who loves you."
"You crossed a line, Cass. I am not a child, nor am I an invalid. I don't need to be taken care of or protected from my husband. By you or anyone else."
"You're wrong. This is what we do, you and I. We take care of each other, we protect each other. We stay the course, even when the other person is kicking and screaming in protest. I told Lucas to keep away not only until you were better able to handle his return, but also until I was satisfied he wasn't a threat to you."
"So Lucas had to obtain your permission to come back to me? How did that work, exactly? What sorts of hoops did you make him jump through?" When Cass didn't immediately answer, Felicia barked, "What did you make him do?"
"I told him if he helped me with Cecile," Cass blurted out in a single breath. "I wouldn't stand in his way. I'd support your reunion."
"You traded on our relationship to get Lucas to do your bidding." Felicia stared at Cass, disappointment and hurt streaking her face. "I had just gotten him back and you turned around and nearly took him away from me again! He risked prison because of you and your... my God," Felicia gasped as another thought hit her. "I've been blaming Lorna for all of it. You stood back and let me blame my daughter for something you did!"
"Don't touch me!" Felicia shoved him away, Cass grunting in pain as her fists rammed into his chest. "There is nothing you can say or do to make this right again. You betrayed me. I won't forget it. And I will never forgive you, not for the rest of our lives."
"Okay, in descending order of scientifically-proven effectiveness," GQ proceeded to set up his bottles and jars in a tidy row alongside Jen's bedside table. "Motrin, Tylenol, Bayer, Afrin, Vics, generic acetaminophen, generic ibuprofen, generic aspirin, generic hydrochloride spray, generic goo, homeopathic zinc lozenges and Echinacea tea."
"You're thorough," Jen commended while blowing her nose and sitting up in bed.
"Well, I kind of step up my game where you're concerned. Afraid there might be a test."
"Don't," Jen begged sincerely. "Please don't treat me differently than you would anyone else."
"I was just kidding," he told her gently. "You're smart, Jen. Scary smart. And good at pretty much anything you try. I'm just a little in awe, that's all."
"That's what I meant. Don't be. I've got plenty of people in awe of me. And plenty of people scared of me. And plenty of people who think I'm a freak. One of the things that I love about you is how you treat me like a normal person. Most of the time."
"And here perusing Cosmo and its ilk had me convinced that women want to be treated special. A creature unlike any other, to quote... somebody."
"Other women, maybe. When you know you're exactly like everyone else, when you know you're normal and you don't have to worry, it's probably fun or flattering or... I don't know... to hear how you're unique and there's nobody on Earth exactly like you. I know how weird I am. My idea of a compliment is a guy pretending not to notice."
"I'm not pretending," GQ sat on the corner of her bed. "I mean, I would be pretending if I said you were like everybody else. You're not."
"What gave it away?"
"But I like you the way you are, Jen."
"And I like who I become when I'm with you," she confessed.
He cocked an eyebrow. "You mean you're somebody else the rest of the time?"
"You and me, we have nice, normal conversations. We have nice, normal days."
"Really? I'm going to court next week to fight for custody of my son, not from his baby mama, which would be bad enough, but from a whole other innocent couple. That's your idea of nice and normal?"
"Yes! It is. You're a father who wants to raise his son. What could be more normal than that? This is the kind of thing real people go through and real people talk about. The last guy I went out with, he wanted to invent his own international language."
"What's wrong with Esperanto?"
"Seriously? You want to know? 'Cause we could call him. He'd be happy to tell you."
"Don't you see, GQ? Before I met you, I thought there were only two kinds of guys, the ones who lived normal lives like regular people and didn't know what the hell Esperanto was. And the ones who didn't... and did. Guess which kind were attracted to me?"
"So now I'm the freak?"
"No! You're perfect. You're everything I always knew I wanted. I'd just given up on ever finding it, that's all."
"I got Lorna an iPod of her favorite songs." Jasmine, who'd finally worn Matt down and gotten him to drive her to the hospital to visit Jamie, shyly offered her uncle the lovingly compiled gift. "I thought you could put the buds in her ears so she could listen. Kirkland said you told him she might hear stuff."
"That's very sweet of you, Jazz." Jamie skimmed through the playlist, his eyes widening as no end appeared to be in sight. He asked, "How many songs did you put on here?"
"Seven thousand and four," Jasmine replied confidently.
"And these are all Lorna's favorites?" Jamie couldn't help smiling as he wondered.
"Well, only the top seven thousand."
"Some of The Grateful Dead live versions were really long. Took up a lot of room."
"Thank you so much, sweetheart," Jamie gave her a tight hug and a kiss on the cheek. "She's really going to appreciate these. I wouldn't have known what to play."
"Is Lorna going to get better soon, Uncle Jamie?"
"I hope so."
"Because now you're taking care of her, right? That's what you went to court for?"
"I'm doing my best." Jamie attempted another smile, but couldn't quite pull it off. He realized his hands were shaking and stuck them into his pants' pockets. That somehow only seemed to exacerbate the problem, though, yanking his arms and shoulders into the act until he found himself shivering madly. Jamie tried to stop, but found he couldn't.
"What's wrong?" Matt asked, concerned. "Are you okay, Jamie? Do you need me to call somebody?"
"I'm fine, I'm fine," he insisted, teeth chattering as if he were suddenly freezing.
"Jazz, do me a favor," Matt directed. "Go to the Nurse's Desk and ask them to page Dr. Alice Frame, so she can take a look at your Uncle Jamie."
"I'm okay," Jamie insisted even as Jasmine scurried off. "I'm just exhausted, that's all."
"Because you've been running yourself ragged."
"What choice did I have?" Jamie snapped.
"You could have let other people help you. We all wanted to, we all offered."
"Lorna needs me."
"I'm not saying she doesn't. I'm simply saying I bet she'd prefer to wake up and find you not twitching like you've been hooked up to an electrical socket."
"I just need some water," Jamie lunged for the pitcher, taking several frantic gulps. "My electrolyte levels are probably a little off."
"You're killing yourself."
"So what?" Jamie crumpled the paper cup and flung it into the trash. He missed. "So what if I am? Everybody's telling me to keep myself together so I can be there for Lorna and the baby when they get better. What if Lorna never gets better, Matt? What if our baby is never born? So what the hell then?"
Matt opened his mouth, then closed it impotently, unable to think of a single thing to say.
"Every minute I sat in that courtroom, I kept telling myself: Just let me get this. Just let me be allowed to take care of her, and then everything will be okay. Well, guess what? It's not okay. Not a single, damn thing has changed. I was deluding myself thinking that it would."
Over the hospital P.A., they both heard Alice being paged. Good girl, Jasmine.
The fight draining out of him in one swoop, Jamie whispered hoarsely, "I thought once the case was settled, once Lorna had proof of how much I loved her, how I was willing to fight for her, no matter what, that I wasn't angry... I thought then..." He shook his head, humiliated by his own pathetic, desperate, magical thinking; medical degree be damned. "I thought that would somehow make a difference."
"Lorna knows how much you love her," Matt seized on the one detail among the rest that he had no reservations about.
"I didn't tell her." Jamie turned to meet Matt's eyes.
"What? No. Come on, bro, I know you. I know what a romantic sap you are, forgive the expression; it runs in the family. No way you weren't constantly letting Lorna know "
"The night of her accident," Jamie cut him off. "The resident was wheeling Lorna up to Radiology. To get her the MRI that I... never mind, that's not important. The last thing she said to me, she said, "I love you." She looked right at me, and she said, "I love you." And I didn't say it back. I didn't say it back, Matt."
"That that's... so what? So you didn't say it then. You've said it a million times before."
"I don't even know why I didn't say it. Maybe I thought it would be unprofessional. Jesus, I was thinking about coming off as unprofessional while she was about to be "
"You didn't know what would happen."
"And that's another thing. I should have known. What's the point of wearing that white coat, if you can't protect the people you love?"
"Lorna knows that you love her. Hell, she practically beat me over the head with it, gloating, every time she saw me."
"That sounds like Lorna," a hint of a smile twitched the side of Jamie's face.
"And come on, man, let's be real: I offered her this," Matt mockingly swept his hand from head to toe. "And she still preferred your old, wrinkly, saggy biceps."
He sniffed hard. "That's because my girl is sensible."
"And smart," Matt agreed. "She knows what she's got. You think some bump on the head is going to make her forget it?"
"You win," Spencer told Carl as they met at the outdoor boundary line that connected their respective properties together.
"I usually do," Carl agreed. "But would you care to be more specific?"
"I'm in," Spencer informed him tersely.
"Are you now? And what if I counter that my offer came with a finite expiration date?"
"I'd say shove it, Hutchins. You got what you wanted. Try and keep the strutting to a minimum."
"Finally understood where your bread is buttered, did you, Harrison?"
"I finally understood I don't have what it takes to go against you anymore." In response to Carl's self-satisfied smirk, Spencer enlightened, "It has nothing to do with you. My son and I spent the bulk of yesterday afternoon discussing how we might eliminate you once and for all. Believe me, neither of us suffered an ethical qualm about it."
"And yet, here I am, still breathing."
"We realized we couldn't do it. He couldn't do it to Kirkland, and I couldn't do it to Alice."
"Pity," Carl observed. "It appears you are unable to credit your wife with capacity to understand the nuances of a complicated situation in the same manner as I do mine."
"Well, my wife doesn't share Rachel's breadth of experience with moral compromise."
"How fortunate that Alice was able to rectify that shortfall through marrying you."
"So what next?" Spencer demanded.
"Most eager to commence all of a sudden, aren't you?"
"I'd prefer our association over with as soon as possible. If you don't mind."
"Not at all, not at all. I daresay, you've come to your senses at precisely the correct time. I was just putting the finishing touches on my strategy. I can think of several points at which you might come in most handy."
"So what are we doing?" Spencer braced himself.
"A whole host of devilish things. But, the piece de resistance to the whole arrangement I think you'll appreciate this is that, if executed properly, which I have every intention of doing, naturally, the blame for our actions shall fall utterly and entirely on... Donna."
"I understand that we my family, that is owe you a debt of gratitude," Amanda told Kevin when she and Allie arrived at his office for their final meeting before the custody trial resumed.
"You mean Jamie?" Kevin shrugged. "It's what I do. It's about the only thing I do well. Besides, Stacey Winthrop made it easy the minute she couldn't keep Morgan from going off on a personal tangent on the stand. Once the case stopped being about a simple legal issue, everything was fair game. And I'm real good at playing the high-drama card."
"Well, even if she hadn't, I'm sure you would have thought of something."
"True. But I might have needed to break a sweat." He smiled, indicating for them both to take a seat. "Most important thing is, I took the case to make up to Jamie my actions regarding Kirkland. That's done. Now Alice doesn't have to worry about the two of us growling at each other across the table at family gatherings."
"I thought you said there was nothing personal in your working for Grant?" Amanda reminded. "So why would you need to make anything up?"
"I lied," Kevin said. "I'm good at that, too."
"Not as good as you think," she corrected him cryptically.
He turned his attention to Allie. "How you doing, kiddo?"
"I'm fine," Allie said.
"You realize that when GQ's lawyer puts you on the stand, it might no, scratch that it most definitely will get very, very rough."
"I know. Everything that happened was my fault. They should all be mad at me."
"It's a little more than mad, Allie. You committed fraud. You lied about who Hudson's father was, and, worse, you signed documents to that effect."
"But, they can't prove that I knew for sure, can they? I mean, even GQ, he took one look at Hudson and he thought.... Maybe I just made an honest mistake."
"You've been doing your research," Kevin commended.
"Actually, my friend, Sarah, she did it and told me."
"Well, your friend, Sarah, is right. Except for the fact that, if Mel Boudreau asks you flat-out on the stand whether you knew that GQ was Hudson's biological father "
" That's perjury. And it's also a crime. I can't advise you to do that."
"What about pleading the Fifth?" Amanda interjected, desperate. "Can't Allie refuse to answer on the grounds that it might incriminate her?"
Kevin shook his head. "She's not on trial. She's a witness. Doesn't apply."
"There is nobody who can prove I didn't just make a mistake," Allie insisted. "Because of what Hudson looked like when he was first born. He had blue eyes. I thought that was impossible when one of the parents has brown. I thought brown was always dominant."
"Is this even relevant now?" Amanda demanded. "I mean, have either GQ or the Bauers said they intend to sue Allie or have her charged with anything?"
"No. But, if either party does decide to do so down the line, testimony from this trial will be considered admissible. That's why I want her to be very, very careful."
"What about you, Kevin?" Allie spoke up.
"What about me?"
"Are you going to get in trouble for helping me?"
"Like, what kind?"
"Frankly, at the conclusion of these proceedings, I fully expect to be disbarred."
"Kevin!" Amanda gasped.
He pointed out, "I stood by and allowed a fraud to be perpetrated. I'm an officer of the court. That's a big no-no."
"Why did you do it?" Allie wondered.
"I've been asking myself the same thing," he admitted. "Maybe I did it because I agreed with you; Hudson is better off with two adoptive parents than with his single, biological father. Or maybe it's because I wanted to show off for my mentor and demonstrate how I could work a miracle for Mike's nephew when other lawyers came up short. Maybe GQ's right and I am a closet racist it would make sense, considering my own situation with Jenny. Or maybe I did it to get into your mom's... good graces." Amanda gasped at Kevin's admission and the implied double entendre; but he ignored her and kept on talking. "But, mostly, I think I just thought I could get away with it. I let my ego take over, and now I'm going to pay. Big time."
"I don't want you being disbarred because of me."
"I just told you, Allie, that was my mistake, nobody else's."
"But, the first mistake, the one that started this whole mess, that mistake was mine. Which means it's also my responsibility to fix it. Any way I can."
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