LOVE FOR A CHILD
Okay, I have been working on this fic since December and it is NOW OFFICIALLY DONE. And, I mean, really, my chapters had to be divided into chapters. This is that epic fic of epicness I've been mentioning sporadically over the months. It's set in 2011/2012, but it takes certain liberties (Maxie and Spinelli were never really together, Jason turned Sonny in during the FBI stuff in early 2009, various other little stuff, too. Any questions, just ask, kay?) This is the last part of the fic, I am both sad and delighted to say. I am considering a sequel, mostly for my own entertainment. All in all, characters you recognize are not mine, but the new characters are mine. Enjoy! Thanks for sticking around to read (and hopefully review!!!)
-PART 5: Chapter 1/1-
October 9, 2012
The night before the meeting that will officially make them Sadie's parents arrives after months of waiting and countless meetings between lawyers on both sides – theirs and Diana's because if they are doing this, then they are going to do it right. They've gone through home visits and narrowly passed background checks. All so that Raynor, nor anyone else, can ever claim that Sadie is not in any way theirs. Tomorrow is a big day.
Neither of them can sleep.
Even Sadie is being particularly fussy, undoubtedly picking up on the anxiousness that Jason and Spinelli seem to be giving off in waves. She cries and wails from the pink room until she spurs her almost parents out of their room and to her side.
Spinelli is more than happy to oblige the now ten month old baby, collecting Sadie and carrying her downstairs, where Jason has already headed in his sleeplessness.
"Guess we're not the only ones worried about tomorrow." Jason says from the direction of the pool table, as he lines up a shot, quite content in his usual stress-relieving activity.
"So it would seem." Spinelli agrees, sitting on the couch with Sadie safely curled up in his arms. It is then that he realizes that she also seems to be less active than she usually would be, even for this late hour – if she's awake, then she's awake; if she's asleep, then she's asleep - there's not really an in-between level of consciousness with her. "Stone Cold," He calls, wondering how yet another disconcerting fact had escaped him upstairs. "She's… quite warm."
Pool game immediately abandoned, Jason jogs up to the bathroom to find the baby thermometer, returning just a moment later to sit beside Spinelli on the couch. "100.6." Jason says, once the thermometer supplies him with the number.
Before Spinelli can comment on that alarming readout, the previous silence of the room is abruptly shattered by a very cranky, very sleepy, crying Sadie. "Should we take her to the doctor?" Spinelli prompts, knowing that doctor means hospital, because Sadie's pediatrician, is, like most sane people, asleep. The baby in question continues her siren like wailing and buries her head against Spinelli's chest in frustration.
"I'll call Robin. You get the diaper bag?" Jason compromises, and wrangles the clingy child into his own arms.
Spinelli nods his agreement with that plan of action and races upstairs, hearing mumbles of the conversation Jason is having below as he goes. Only a short moment later, he hurries back out of the room, eager to get to the hospital if that is indeed what is necessary. "Alright. If it gets any higher, we'll bring her in." Spinelli hears Jason agree as he descends the stairs, fully stocked bag slung over his arm. He sets it down and approaches his lover and their baby, waiting patiently for the phone call to end. "Thanks, I'll talk to you soon."
"Does Doctor Robin advise that we make for the hospital post haste?" The younger inquires.
Jason shakes his head, careful not to displace Sadie where she clings to his neck. "If it gets any worse, yeah. For now, we should just give her some baby Tylenol and keep an eye on her." He explains, and continues the rhythmic pacing that has lulled Sadie into a state of almost sleep.
Spinelli returns to his place on the sofa, after heading back upstairs to fetch the medication, watching the two of them intently as Jason paces around the room and bounces the grumpy child. "Do you think this will really be it, Stone Cold? That we'll… be done with all this bedlam and chaos after today?" He asks, his nerves over the seriousness of the meeting coming to the surface.
"I don't know about 'done with'. Hopefully it will be less crazy after today." Jason amends, but seems considerably less stressed out than Spinelli does – then again, how often does Jason actively betray his anxiety?
"But, what if something goes wrong?" Spinelli continues, fidgeting anxiously. He bites his lip and goes on, despites Jason's attempts to cut in. "What if Diana changes her mind? Or the Judge-"
Jason sits down beside him and leans over, cutting him off with a quick kiss. Sadie, soundly asleep now, just cuddles against them, settled comfortably against their pressed together shoulders.
"Or..." Spinelli stops his attempt at continuing his panicked ramblings at the pointed look he receives from Jason.
Another quick kiss to ensure that Spinelli won't be trying a third time to alarm himself into a full on anxiety attack, and Jason finally feels it's safe to speak. "Don't… don't do that, okay? We can't think like that. Yeah, there is a chance things could go wrong today." He can't even begin to think of life without Sadie around. He looks down at the sleeping baby and continues. "But, we have Diana on our side. We have Diane there to deal with anything the Judge or anyone else throws at us. We just have to show up, answer some questions, and show everyone how determined we are to keep her."
Spinelli leans his head against Jason's shoulder, bringing a hand up to run through Sadie's hair. They fall into a companionable silence as the sickly Sadie drifts off to sleep against them, sans occasional coughing fits that lead to walking her around for a few moments before she settles down again.
By three o'clock, Sadie's medicine has kicked in and the baby is pretty soundly asleep. Even still, Jason and Spinelli stay downstairs with her. Jason's sitting on the couch with Spinelli's head in his lap; hand running through his hair not unlike Spinelli's has been running through Sadie's. The princess in question is curled up on Spinelli's chest, snoozing.
"Spinelli?" Jason whispers, quiet enough that it won't wake up Sadie.
The hacker makes a soft 'hmm' noise as a form of acknowledgement and raises his eyes to meet Jason's in the darkness. But a moment passes without any answer from Jason and that worries Spinelli. "Stone Cold?" He whispers back, just as quietly.
Spinelli's eyes visibly widen as the two simple words process in his half-asleep mind. If Sadie were not sleeping soundly on his chest, he likely would have sat bolt upright in his surprise at the unexpected proposal, but as it sits, he remains stationary, settling instead for gawking up at Jason as if he'd just suggested that there was no difference between Mac and PC operating systems.
The silence that follows – a speechless Spinelli, always a strange thing – concerns Jason enough to make him press further. "Spinelli? You okay?"
It takes a few attempts at opening and closing his mouth before Spinelli finally manages to form words again. What he manages to get out is a garbled and stuttering reply. "Pardon? I fear that I may have misheard…"
"Marry me." Jason repeats simply, grinning like a fool. "I don't mean right now, or anything… But, once we get through this, once Sadie is ours, would you want to?"
This time, he gives up on his un-moving approach. He doesn't want to wake Sadie, but... Jason is proposing to him! It's not an event that happens every day, nor one he ever actually expected to occur. He carefully shifts Sadie in his arms and manages to keep the sleeping child asleep somehow, sitting up to face Jason. "I… I… Most assuredly, Stone Cold!" Spinelli declares as loudly as he dares. "Your Jackal would be most honored to tie the proverbial knot, as it were."
Jason laughs – it wouldn't have been an affirmative without a helping of Spinelli speak. "C'mere." He smiles back, using one hand to carefully draw Spinelli closer – ever cautious of the slumbering Sadie – so that he can press his lips against his newly-proclaimed fiancé's.
It is then that Sadie's sleepiness wears off, and she comes back to consciousness with a loud wail that promptly separates Jason and Spinelli from their brief celebratory kiss.
"We should really be accustomed to that by now." Spinelli jokes, bouncing her softly as she cries into his t-shirt.
"We should." Jason echoes, and wrangles the baby into his own arms before he stands and walks her around as they've been taking turns doing all night. It only takes a few moments of pacing to knock her out again and Jason passes her back to Spinelli. Once again they settle themselves on the couch, and this time, they all manage to stay asleep.
The seven o'clock alarm blares from Spinelli's watch what seems like seconds later, causing Sadie to cry and Jason and Spinelli to blearily startle themselves awake again. "Huh, what?" Spinelli mumbles, trying to ascertain where the obnoxious sound is coming from.
Jason easily catches his wrist and presses the button that will stop the noise from further assaulting their ears. "Morning?" He grumbles, just as exhausted as Spinelli is.
"Is it?" Spinelli idly wonders, and indeed the sunlight streaming in through the balcony windows seem to corroborate the unfortunate truth his watch had previously claimed. "Certainly doesn't feel like it." He adds, through a wide yawn.
The elder is in the midst of his own yawn when Spinelli untangles himself from their spot on the couch. "You ready for this?" He asks, hoping that maybe what they talked about last night helped at least enough to get them through the next few hours without any full blown panic attacks.
Spinelli shrugs and Jason can tell he's trying to play it cool. "As ready as possible, I would suppose." He checks his watch again to figure out how long they have before they have to be on their way to the courthouse for the meeting. About an hour, it informs him. "Would Stone Cold like to take a quick shower first, whilst I feed Princess Sadie?"
"Yeah, sure." Jason answers, ruffling Sadie's hair, and offering Spinelli a short kiss as he passes them on his way to the stairs.
"Well, then, Sadie Baby, I suppose we should get you some breakfast and check your temperature, yeah?" Spinelli says, bouncing her absently on his hip as he relocates the thermometer. They're in the kitchen by the time it beeps in announcement, the readout displaying a much less worrisome 99.1 degrees. Barely a fever at all. "That's certainly an improvement."
"DaJa?" She asks, as Spinelli deposits her in her high chair.
Spinelli laughs. He and Jason are still getting used to her new name. Previously they'd both been 'Dada'. Now Spinelli is 'Dada' and Jason is 'DaJa' and they still have no idea how she came up with it, though he silently suspects a collaborated effort from Diana and Maxie – the two of them had certainly found the moniker amusing enough. He sets her up with a helping of Cheerios and a Sippy-cup of juice. "DaJa will return soon." He assures her, pouring some orange juice for himself and Jason.
It's just a few moments later when Jason appears – clad in dress pants and an as of yet unbuttoned dress shirt, and he's still towel drying his hair. "Hey, how's the fever?"
"Significantly decreased." Spinelli answers, seated beside Sadie. "We were just talking about you, DaJa."
Jason shakes his head and laughs. "I guess that one's gonna stick, huh?" He claims the only other chair, catching the baby's attention.
"DaJa!" She exclaims, offering him a Cheerio.
He accepts, popping the piece of cereal into his mouth. "Mm. Yum. Thank you." He says, and then the clock on the stove catches his attention. "You should go take your shower." He prompts Spinelli. "We've got to get out of here soon." He leans across the table to press his lips to his lovers again.
"Indeed we do. And you taste like Cheerios." Spinelli notes, having lost track of time himself. They do need to get moving. He's up and out of the room just seconds later.
Jason sits with Sadie for a few more minutes, until she's finished her cereal and juice. He listens contentedly to her never ending stream of mostly indecipherable baby talk, commenting occasionally.
"All done?" He asks, and she enthusiastically nods her head and giggles at him as she raises her arms in signal of what she wants now. "C'mon, baby girl, let's get you all dressed up." They head upstairs to the pink room and she immediately hones in on her moose sitting where it was left last night in her crib.
The phone rings while Jason's in the process of dressing Sadie for the day's events, and, as he is otherwise occupied, he doesn't bother answering it. The machine catches it after a few rings and Jason intently listens for the beep.
"Hey Jason, Spinelli, I just wanted to wish you luck for today. Hope everything works out. I guess I'll talk to you guys later. Bye." It's from Cody – now entirely in charge of the organization. He'll have to remember to call the new leader back later.
But, Sadie is getting impatient. Now clad in a dressier purple shirt with a butterfly nicely embroidered on it and plain black pants, he sets the baby on the floor with her toys and offers her the beloved moose. And he sits down with her until Spinelli makes his return not long after that.
Spinelli's dressed similarly to Jason, only he is the processes of securing his tie.
"You about ready?" Jason asks, gathering up Sadie and her moose and a few other small and quiet toys to stow in the already packed diaper bag that's sitting downstairs.
The younger nods, and just a scant ten minutes later, they are on their way.
The meeting, to be held in a small room at the courthouse, is quite the official affair. Lawyers – Diane on their side and Alexis representing Diana, a couple of close friends, their representative from Child Protective Services, Tyler Lowe, who'd helped them with the proceedings of meetings and home visits, and the honorable Judge Kimberly Roberts make up the attendance.
"Are we ready to begin?" The Judge inquires, upon entering the courtroom.
Sadie, sleeping soundly against Jason's chest, is the only one not looking nervous. Heads nod all around.
The show begins, bringing on a lot of formal legalese amongst the two lawyers and the judge about what the situation exactly is. Before too long, the questions change direction.
"Ms. Spinelli," Judge Roberts begins, looking to Diana. "The child's father is not present, I assume?" She inquires, rifling through the piles of paperwork for a brief moment. "Christian Hardison?"
Diana nods. "No. He has been informed of the situation, but he has decided that doesn't wish to be involved in Sadie's life."
The judge scribbles that down on her notepad. "And you, Ms. Spinelli?"
"I believe that my daughter will be better off with my brother and Mr. Morgan." There is not an ounce of hesitation in her voice as she speaks, smiling proudly at the two men, and at Sadie, still sleeping soundly, but now in Spinelli's arms. "They love her, they can provide for her and give her all the things she deserves to have, better than I can. I'm fully prepared to terminate my parental rights to make these proceedings go as smoothly as possible for everyone. Especially Sadie."
The judge seems to accept her answer, quietly taking in all the information provided her in the reports on the various home visits and background checks. "That is, indeed, a very honorable, and no doubt difficult decision to make, but there is still the matter of the criminal records that both Mr. Spinelli and Mr. Morgan seem to possess." She says, directing her attention now towards the couple.
They don't know what to say to that. It's not like they can deny their involvement on the wrong side of the FBI, it's all right in front of her in black and white. This is the main potential sticking point of this whole thing.
Diane takes over from there, going on about the FBI's exploitation of her clients, the only tactic she can really use. It's not going to work, they both know. Treason is on the list of potential FBI charges, no way is that magically getting ignored. Pleading with the judge that yes, they did kind of do all of that, but they're done now, they won't ever do anything illegal again because they won't ever endanger Sadie, it's not going to work. It's just not… possible.
"Judge, if I may?" An unexpected, but not unfamiliar, voice comes from the back of the small room, turning several heads.
"And you are?" Judge Roberts inquires.
The man who'd spoken moves forward, standing beside where Jason and Spinelli stand with Sadie. "Federal Agent Thomas Raynor." He answers, producing identification to prove it. "I'm here about Jason Morgan and Damian Spinelli."
Jason feels Spinelli's hand find his and squeeze, obviously even more disconcerted by Raynor's unanticipated presence. With their history, it's likely that the FBI Agent is here to arrest them for something and make them look even worse.
"Have they done something wrong?" Diane asks, on instinct.
"No." Raynor answers, surprisingly. "I'm here to speak on their behalf."
If anyone hadn't been surprised before, they definitely were now. Jason and Spinelli exchange entirely baffled looks, wondering what the guy is up to. Diane stares at him impatiently, as if waiting for the catch. "Oh?" She ends up saying, with such an inflection that suggests that she is certainly not convinced as to the purity of his motives.
"Yes. Your Honor, may I speak?"
The woman nods, watching the various reactions with piqued interest.
"The involvement of Mr. Spinelli and Mr. Morgan with the Federal Bureau of Investigation has been a mutually beneficial one, though it was not at first. In order to… persuade… them into aiding us in our investigation of Sonny Corinthos, certain aspects of their past careers," He stresses the word 'past' a little more than strictly necessary. "Were used to pressure them. Perhaps somewhat prematurely. The FBI, as it stands, has no evidence to support any of the threatened charges against the two of them, nor did they ever."
The Judge hums, surprised by the revelation. Government types are not known for their tendency to admit fault. Especially in cases where it could get them in serious trouble. "I see."
"And," Diane cuts in, picking up on the only matter at hand that remains. "With regard to the charges prior to the arrival of the FBI against Mr. Morgan: Charges were dropped or he was found innocent in a court of law by a jury of his peers. My clients' pasts' are in their past. There will be no more charges against them, I can guarantee you."
"I am inclined to believe you." Roberts agrees. "Without the potential for federal charges, and the, ugh, relatively… clean records otherwise, I can find no reason that this arrangement will not work out well for everyone. As Ms. Spinelli wishes, her parental rights will be terminated and transferred to her brother. From there, Mr. Morgan can go through the process of adopting the child as his own, as well."
And that's all Jason and Spinelli need to hear. That's it. It worked. She is theirs.
With Sadie balanced between them, the two hug, a huge sigh of relief escaping between them.
"She's ours, Stone Cold. She's really ours."