January 4th 2014

Carly~

AJ's dead. He died saving me. The last words one his lips were "I've always loved you" and they were spoken to me as he died in my arms. The bullet that was mean to kill me bled the life from him in less than two minutes. I try to block out the mental image of his dead body lying in my lap and focus on what I'm going to tell Michael, well how I'm going to tell Michael that the father he adored was dead and all he was left with was me. I know that he's going to wish that I died instead of AJ and that knowledge makes me want to cry and wish that I had. I close my eyes and lean my head back into the soft cushion of the white couch and remember….

"Carly" he calls out to me, I hate to respond we always seem to fight and I know most of the time it's my fault.

I turn and he jogs to catch up to me, AJ has just improved with age, the lines I worry about simply make him look more distinguished and handsome. "Yes?" I ask him curtly, trying not to admire the cut of his suit, which made him even more appealing.

"About Michael's birthday…" he begins, but I of course cut him off

"What about it? I invited you, your parents, Emily and her annoying brats what more could you want."

"I just wanted to say thanks Carly, it meant a lot to me. It was he second birthday I actually got to celebrate with him on his birthday. It really meant a lot to me, I just wanted to say thanks."

"Oh" his statement confused me, he was thanking me not yelling at me, I'd forgotten he could be nice "You're welcome."

"So how's he liking the cars?" he said with a smile

"I can't believe we did that." I say laughing, Michael now had two cars a silver BMW convertible from his father and a black Pathfinder from me.

"I can, you know we should probably discuss major purchases like that."

"Oh and ruin our son's joy over having two really nice cars before he even has a permit."

"He's spoiled."

"He's an only child with divorced parents, he's supposed to be." I smile as I say this; IMichael is the farthest thing from spoiled./I

"He reminds me of Jason at that age."

"Does he?"

"Yea mature and responsible way before his time, how is he our son?"

"Jason had him that first year, he rubbed off on him I guess." We're still smiling, Ithis is so unnatural yet it's feels so familiar, so right. /I

"Probably" he says with a nod of his head "look I was wondering do you mind if I take Mike to get his permit tomorrow?"

"Actually I was planning on it" my voice kinda falls, I know he would rather go with AJ "but you can take him."

"No, no I couldn't." he looks at me for a minute, I oddly enough don't feel uncomfortable under his gaze. "How about we let Mike take off school tomorrow, I'll pick both of you up and we'll do a "congratulations you're growing up lunch" with both of his mature parents and then we take him for his permit and we'll let him drive home."

"Drive home? You've been teaching him on the grounds haven't you?" I smile teasingly

"And you've been teaching him when you go out to the cabin. You're point?" he smiles back, he has such a beautiful smile, wait what the hell am I thinking? I don't look at AJ like this; I also don't act like this, yet the last thing I want to do is fight.

"You think we could do it?"

"Do what?"

"Be mature adults? Spend the entire day together without causing our son to need therapy for years?"

"I think we can manage it."

"Okay then."

"Hey I need to go, work calls."

"It's Sunday, you know day of rest?"

"Day of rest? Ha I wish, not for a CEO. So how about I come by around eleven?"

"Sounds good"

"Bye" he says then turns to leave

"Bye" I say back he turns and smiles, but then his smile is quickly replaced by one of fear. The next thing I know he has me in his arms and we are falling to the floor then I feel a weight hit us. I hear more bullets being fired by Robert and the gunman, I look up once the exchange is over and I see the man that tried to kill me lying dead on the floor. "AJ" I say as I shake him, "It's over." He groans and I turn him over, his white shirt is already covered in blood I look down so am I, the wood is absorbing it at a rapid rate. "AJ" I say as I shake him again, I may have never been a real nurse, but I know when a wound is serious.

"Wanna stop shaking me already? It kinda hurts." He says weakly with humor in his voice

"Oh AJ" I say as I hug his body "Why the hell did you do something as stupid as that?"

He looks straight into my eyes and without blinking or any humor in his voice he says, "Because I love you."

"What?"

"I love you, Carly. Did you miss that? I couldn't just let him shoot you. God what would Michael have thought about his father then?" the humor has returned, but his breaths become more shallow, I've seen death before, I know it's coming even though I don't want to admit it.

"You don't love me you hate me, we fight all the time."

"I only fight with you because it's the last thing I have left. Is it supposed to hurt this much?"

I smile at him "Loving me or being shot?" I know he's dying, I feel his pulse fading the pressure I have on his wound is not enough to make the bleeding stop.

"The being shot. I've loved you for over sixteen years I know it's supposed to hurt." He smiles back up at me.

"Yea that's supposed to hurt."

"I'm sorry"

"For what?"

"For the baby…I really am, I don't think you ever believed me before. I don't know if I said it before, I always meant to we just always fought, I never really said I'm sorry."

"It was an accident and it's the past. Think about the future. Think about our son."

"I always am. It's gone" he returning his focus to me as my tears start to fall upon his face, they well up in his eyes

"What's gone?"

"The pain"

I start to cry heavily, I knew what that meant, death "Oh god" I say as I shift his body closer into mine

"Tell Michael I love him?" I nod as I look into his eyes and I stare into his face. Suddenly I see my old friend, I see him playing with Michael, I hear him defending me to his family as I listen through a shut door, I see him as he surprises me with a gift, how his face used to light up.

"Please… Please don't make me have to tell him…He needs to hear you say it."

"I can't, I'm sorry. You're so beautiful, have I ever told you just how beautiful you are? There's this light around you, it's so bright, you're so beautiful."

"I never thought you cared about me, only Michael."

"I've always loved you" those were the last words that came out of his mouth

Just before he took his last breath I found myself saying similar words "I love you too" and I placed a small kiss upon his smiling lips and then he was gone.

"Mom?" I turn quickly brought out of my memory by Michael standing in the doorway looking at me in shock.





Part 2

"Mom?" Michael said quietly, he opened the door to their penthouse to see her crying, her tears muffled by her hands, as she cupped her head.

"Michael, oh god Michael." She stood quietly and brushed the tears away from her face and composed herself she hadn't wanted him to find her this way.

"What's wrong Mom, is it Sonny?" the love he had for his on and off again stepfather was clear in his voice, the anger and the resentment he normally had for his mother was vacant.

"No," she said shaking her head "it's your father."

"What about Dad?" he said with all emotion gone from his voice, nothing could be wrong with his dad that was never a possibility that entered his mind, it was HIS DAD, nothing could be wrong.

"Uhh…Why don't you come and sit down and we can talk?" She said gesturing to the sofa, how could she tell him this?

"Mom, I can hear perfectly fine from here, so what is it already?" He didn't want to know, he could see it in her eyes, but he didn't wanna know, he didn't wanna hear the words come out her mouth, then it would be real and not and not a fear his over active imagination had conjured up.

Carly heard the tone in her son's voice and knew she had no choice but to tell him straight out "He's gone"

"What do you mean gone Mom? Gone away on a trip? Rehab? Jail? What exactly Mom?" His voice was near yelling and tears started to slip down both of their cheeks

"No" a sob overtook Carly for a moment and she paused to catch her breath "he's dead." She collapsed onto the couch "I'm sorry, I'm so sorry. I know how much he meant to you."

"No, no he's not dead. You're lying." He said yelling at her and he started to go to the phone "I'll prove it to you."

"Don't honey, don't try to call him, I was there as he died, I held him until the ambulance came. He's dead he died in my arms."

"No, now I know your lying. You'd spit on dad not hold him."

"Honey" she said standing back up and she started to walk to her son and take him in her arms, but he backed up

"NO…No get away you're lying, Dad's not dead. I would know if something was wrong."

"Michael, please stop. Listen to me? Your father and I were talking down by the docks. Talking, laughing, joking not fighting. We were laughing over the fact that you have two cars before you even have a license because we didn't bother to talk to each other over something as major as a car." She stops to smile. "We'd just said good-bye…we were gonna take you to lunch…the next thing I know he's knocking me to the floor and I'm hearing bullets." She starts to cry heavily "he died saving me… I thought he hated me, I thought for so long he hated me, I thought I hated him, he died because of me."

"No" Michael said shaking his head "No." Carly started to go towards him again, but again he backed up and then he ran up the stairs

"Michael please!" Carly caught out after him

"No, just stay away, just stay away. You never loved him, you did this to him, you killed my father."



Part Three

"Hey Carly" Sonny said as he entered the small den she had created on the second floor of the penthouse. He looked around suddenly remembering the wallpaper with the small teddy bears, not the pale green stripe. He shook his head warding off the memory of a life long since past.

"Hey Sonny" she said not moving from her position on the eggshell colored couch

"So I heard you've been having a bad day.," he said taking a seat next to her on the couch. He couldn't deny that he was worried about her. Robert had called him about the hit and then the subsequent bout she had with Michael.

"Oh you could say that" she says shaking her head, but there was no smile to go with her semi sarcastic statement.

"Wanna tell me about it?" He said leaning back into the couch, turning so he could face her better.

"Not really, well what's there to tell? AJ's dead, killed by a bullet that was meant to hit me, my son hates me and wishes me dead and I don't blame him." She said it all so matter of factly, she was completely devoid of the emotions her guards and the house keeper had described.

"I'm sorry" what else could he say to her? It was the only thing that came to his mind, he didn't know what she was feeling.

She turned to him and asked "Why are you sorry?"

"Because they were probably going after you to get to me."

"It's not your fault, I've always known the risks, I chose to be your partner. Then again who would have thought coffee would be so dangerous." She smiled just a bit with her last statement.

"Yea but you'd feel better if you blamed me" he gave her a dazzling smile which normally made her lose all of her senses, but today just left her feeling more empty, more alone.

"Nah, been there done that." She said with a sad smile "You know I always thought I'd been screaming off the rooftops the day AJ died." She turned away from him, she sat straight on the couch, looking as if she was watching TV, but she wasn't she was remembering, then she remembered he was still there and started to speak.

"It was different though, we were getting along." She looked at him in shock "We were laughing, we made plans to take Michael out to lunch. I was looking at him Sonny and I was think how handsome he was." Sonny raised an eyebrow at her "I know, that's just it, I know how odd that sounds, but it was so right when it was happening." She turns away again as another memory assails her. "Then there was just so much blood and he was trying to make me laugh instead of cry. There was just so much blood and then he was gone, it just happened so fast."

Suddenly Carly looked at Sonny his face had gone ashen. "Oh Sonny, I'm sorry."

"Why are you sorry?" he said trying to block the memory from his mind

"I'm making you think about her"

"I think about her every moment of everyday, I always will. But I can handle it I swear."

"Yea right" she said smiling

"You know me too well"

"Two marriages will do that" she says smiling, the pain has lessened for the moment.

"Yea I guess it does."



A few moments pass in silence the Carly speaks again "He said I love you"

"What?" he looks back over at her in shock

"He said that he loved me, that he'd always loved me…and I don't know as he said it I saw that guy who would listen to my problems, who would stop by to just say hi and to see how I was feeling…I dunno I suddenly remembered all the good things, I suddenly realized so many things, I saw things in a different light…I said I love you back." Her words were choppy, but that only conveyed more meaning to Sonny and he looked at her even more so in shock "I know and the funny thing is I think I meant it. I did love him once and it was still hiding somewhere in the back of my mind…the back of my heart for all these years."

Sonny closed his eyes for a brief moment as he watched the first tears escape her eye and fall down her cheek. He hated seeing her in pain like this, he still loved her deep down, he always would, it was just different now, but he still couldn't bear to see her cry. "It's okay Carly, I promise you it will be okay." He said as he took her in his arms, but he knew he was lying. It would never be okay, not when someone you love leaves you so suddenly, it could never be okay.

Flashback four years ago:

"Bren" he cried to her as he stroked her face, he hated crying but he just couldn't stop, not since the moment the doctor said she was losing blood too fast and that he didn't think they could save her.

"Sonny" she said weakly, turning her face to him. Tears were falling down her cheeks too, she had waited for this moment for so long and now that she finally had all of her dreams come true her life was coming to an end.

He looked at her for a moment, the fear in her eyes was a mirror of his own. They didn't know how to live without each other, they were soul-mates they weren't supposed to ever be without each other. He didn't know what to say to her, but he knew his words had to count. "I love you," he said wiping away her tears "I've always loved you. From the moment you ran away from me on the docks."

"I didn't run" she said interrupting, of course she would do that up until the end

"You ran," he said smiling "you ran from me for a long time but I never gave up chasing you."

"I'm sorry" she said, her voice barely above a whisper, they were both oblivious to the doctors and nurses around them.

"No" he said shaking his head "no regrets. It may have taken us a while but we finally have everything we ever dreamed of. That little girl that just took her first breath is proof of that."

"Maddie" she says closing her eyes, remembering the brief moment they let her hold her daughter before they realized something was terribly wrong. "You'll make sure she knows how much I wanted her, how I loved her long before she was even conceived." Her words grow strong, her last bits of strength are being used.

"Bren" he doesn't want to accept that fact that she won't be by his side raising their daughter.

"No Sonny, promise me that you'll tell her. Promise you'll never forget how much I love you, how this doesn't change that." She can feel herself going, but she doesn't want to, she doesn't want to leave him, to leave their daughter, their life, this world. It couldn't be over this soon, it isn't fair! "Doesn't change." She said repeating her final words.

"Oh god, I love you." He cried to her, pressing his face into her neck and she smiled, they were the last words she heard as she slipped into oblivion. She died with a small smile on her face and stains of tears on her cheek; they were both hers and Sonny's.

"Sonny?" She drew him out of his memory, she had seen him lapse into it a million times

"I'm sorry," he said visibly shaken "Let's get you to bed. You still have those sleeping pills the doctor gave you." She nodded.

He escorted her to her room and brought her a glass of water and left her to get unchanged. He only left because she asked him to go talk to Michael and swore to him that she would be fine on her own. She didn't even remember her head hitting the pillow.





Part Four

Suddenly Carly opens her eyes and she's face to face with AJ, not the AJ she had just held in her arms as he died but a younger AJ.

"You all right?" he asked

"Yeah, thanks." She took in his image and wondered what kind of cruel dream this was

"Sure. I know it's hard seeing the baby like that." That's when it hit her she was reliving the day she'd left town right after Michael was born, the day AJ told her that he wasn't Michael's father.

"Jason says he's getting better?" she said, she didn't know where the words were coming from, they just flowed from her mouth

"He is."

"Were you there to visit?"

"I was saying goodbye. I don't know if they told you, but the baby's blood type is B+, same as Jason's. He's the father."

Carly looks away in shock, she didn't want to relive this, the words "I told you" were about to flow from her mouth when she stopped herself and changed the future. She turned "You love him don't you?" she asked even though she knew the answer

"Yea even though he's not mine, I still love him." he said shaking his head, he had wanted that little boy to be his more than anything.

"So do I, I'm really sorry about everything I did. Everyone just wanted to take him away from me…before he was even born…"

"Yea I might have gone a little overboard, but at least I didn't drug you." He stopped being angry about it for a moment and smiled.

"So I'm a little over protective of my son." she said with a shrug of her shoulders

"Carly that's not overprotective that's criminal." He was still joking about it and he was smiling at her, the hatred was suddenly gone from him.

"I think I can hold him now, will you take me back there?"

"Maybe you should give it some time, Jason will take you when he gets back."

"I'm ready now, please don't make me wait to hold my son."

He stopped and looked at her for a moment and she pleaded to him with her big brown eyes, they transfixed him and he was under her control "Let me get a wheel chair. I don't want you to pop those stitches."

"Thank you" she said quietly

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

He returned quickly and lifted her into the chair, she groaned in discomfort

"See you need to be in bed." He said ready to remove her from the chair

"No I just don't need to bend quite so far, C-section remember?" she said with a smile

"I can't believe I'm doing this. Let's go."

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

The nursery:

"You sure you wanna do this?" AJ said to Carly one last time as he helped her into the paper gown.

"Yes, I'm positive. Now put on yours."

"You want me there?"

"I need help with this."

"Okay" he said with a nod of his head and proceeded to slip his arms into the gown

"You're back already" they both turn their head to the grating sound that was Amy's voice

"Yes Amy, do you have a problem with that?" AJ asked

"No, not at all" she said remembering her manners "Good luck Carly"

"Thanks" she said with a weak smile

"Shall we?" AJ said extending his arm for Carly

She smiled "Yea"

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

They both stand over Michael, Amy had left them alone.

"So I should probably be picking him up?" Carly said nervously, she didn't know why she felt like this. She had dreamed a million times of holding Michael again when he was a baby.

"Yea I think that's the idea, but take your time, if you're not ready we can just go back."

"No we can't go back, I have to do this." Carly knew what lay before her if she returned to her room, she knew the future that followed it. The image of AJ lying dead in her arms, Michael as he ran up the stairs crying, it was a future she didn't want and if she could just stop it in her dreams at least.

"Okay how about I pick him up and we'll take it from there...wait till you get more comfortable."

"Okay" she nodded

AJ then gently picked up the boy he believed to only be his nephew. As the little boy started to fuss, AJ shifted him in his arms and whispered "Hey, it's okay, it's just me" the infant became quiet again.

Carly lifted up her hand and placed it on her son's chest and she felt his heart beating strong. "He's gonna be okay isn't her?" she said as tears welled up in her eyes. She didn't know where all these emotions were coming from; this was only a dream wasn't it?

"He's gonna be fine Carly, he's gonna grow up to be strong just like Jase."

"I know" she said as she slipped her hand down to his little hand with her other hand resting on AJ's back.

"Look he smiled" AJ said himself smiling

"It was probably gas" she said smiling at his delight

"It was a smile, wasn't it little guy?"

"Look at his hands…they're so perfect, everything about him is just so perfect."

"You won't be saying that at twelve and then two then maybe you'll get lucky and he'll wait till five before getting you up again." He said trying to lighten her mood, it looked like she was about to start sobbing."

She smiled "Probably not" she continued to stroke her son

"Okay come on, I know you wanna hold him" he said as he began to shift Michael for the switch into Carly's arms

"I don't know…" she said as he began to lower their son into her waiting arms

"Yes you do, I see it in your eyes, this is what you want."

(This isn't only what I want) she thought as she looked up into his eyes as he gave her Michael. She had to force herself to look away from AJ's smile and down to Michael.

"Hey there little guy, I'm your Momma." She resisted the urge to call him Michael.

"I think he knows that, after all he did spend nine months with you." AJ says still smiling

"Stop being a smart @$$ in front of him, he might pick it up."

"And he won't pick up your cursing?" They're both smiling at each other

"I should probably stop that?"

"Yea, might be a good idea."

Carly leaned against AJ and he held Michael's hand and then she said, "This feels so good"

"Holding him?"

"Everything. For all the fighting to be over, you and me getting along even if it is just for the baby's sake."

"Carly it's not just for the baby's sake and you know that. We were friends once weren't we?" he says raising his hand to her shoulder.

"Yea, I guess we were."

"I want us to be friends again, I wanna be his uncle."

"You can't be," she says shaking her head "you're his father."

"What?" he says turning her around. She felt the shock of saying those words coursing throughout her body, but she didn't let it show as she looked him straight in the eye.

"I never even slept with Jason, well I did but it was when I first moved here." She turns her eyes away a bit "I just got so scared, everyone was threatening to take him away from me, so I told Tony that Jason was the dad and then I begged Jason not to say different."

"But he's B+" he says confused

"A child can get the blood type from one parent and the Rh factor from the other."

"You're serious aren't you?"

"Yea you're this little guy's daddy."

He just continued to look at her, what was he supposed to say to that, then he looked back down at his son, their son and he knew exactly what to say "Thank you"

"For what?"

"For telling me, but most importantly this little guy." he says as his hand rested on the baby

"Michael"

"What?"

"His name, as long as you don't object."

"No, no Michael is fine. Michael Jason Quartermaine." He said as his son took his finger and held it.

"Jason?"

"No matter what Carly, he's my brother and I'll always love him, not to mention he saved Michael's life and I'm sure you roped him into the whole fake fatherhood." He made his last statement with a smile

"Well I got him to stay quiet, which was hard enough I've got to admit. Doesn't he ever lie?" she says shaking her head

"Nope, he's always been like that. Kinda sick isn't it?"

"Yea" Carly said looking up and nodding in agreement "We should probably start practicing that, you know whole good role models for Michael."

He smiled down at her, "How about we just let him spend a lot of time with Jason? Maybe he'll rub off on him."

"Maybe" she said with a smile "maybe" she repeated her statement, she leaned back into his arms once again and smiled, she hoped this dream would never end, she didn't want a reality without AJ. She frowned realizing that soon she would wake up and this would only be a dream and that he was gone forever.



Pt5

January 5th 2014

Carly~

I hear the alarm go off, but I don't want to get up. I pull the blanket over my head and press my face into the pillows hoping the noise will go away.

"Mom" Michael shakes me and hits off my alarm

"What?"

"Come on you promised we could get my permit today."

"I hate to shock you kid but the DMV isn't going anywhere."

"Mommmmm" Michael starts to whine

"Five minutes Mike, just five minutes." I beg and demand at the same time

"Fine" he drags his feet away in defeat; I can't help but smile to myself. My son may be incredibly responsible and mature most of the time, but sometimes just sometimes that little boy in him comes out.

I roll out of bed and stagger into the bathroom where I brush my teeth and pull my disheveled hair into a ponytail. Still in my pajamas I start to the door and down the stairs. I pause on them as I see Michael flop on the couch next to Justin. "Give me the remote" Michael says to him

Justin turns to his brother "Why should I do that?"

"Because I'm older."

"By two and a half years, big whoop" Justin says not even bothering to turn to his brother

"Come on" Michael starts to complain

"Hell no" he says simply, ignoring his brother and turning his attention back to the TV.

Just then Michael smacks his brother on the top of his head causing the longish light brown hair to go flying. "Hey" Justin cries out as he begins to attack his brother.

"Hey guys," I hear AJ call out, his voice makes me smile "guys, break it up." I see him walk into the room carrying Caitlin, our now two year old surprise. She shook her head and blonde curls went tumbling about as she attempted to get the last drops of juice from her sippy cup. Then as she realized there was no more, she turned it upside down just to make sure and then dropped it on the floor. "Hey Cait come on." He said as he bent over to get it. He's so cute when he's starting to get frazzled, I guess I slept later than I thought.

"Tough morning guys?" I call from the top of the stairs

"Oh thank god Mom, you're finally up." Michael says standing, my son has no patience.

"You can just sit back down mister we aren't going anywhere for a while." My son drops to the couch, not wanting to fight, because he wanted his permit today not when he was thirty.

"Oh thank god Mom you're up, have you seen my blue top." Samantha says rushing out of her room at thirteen she was 5'3" and had long dark blond hair that fell to her mid-back, like her twin she had greenish blue eyes.

"Blue top? Gee you only have thirty or so."

"Fine light blue, three quarter length sleeves, has the little angel in the corner. Ring any bells?"

"I would say front hall closet," I say pointing down the stairs "I picked it up from the dry cleaners yesterday."

"Ahh, thank you. You have got to see the skirt I got to go with it when I went to the mall with Maddie yesterday." She ran back into her room and soon she returned with a brightly patterned mostly blue skirt, it had jagged slits on the slides, I just couldn't for the life of me understand fashion today.

"It's nice honey." I lie not wanting to seem old

"I know, Maddie found it for me. Oh that reminds me Brenda gave me pictures from New Years and Mike's birthday, I kinda forgot yesterday." She runs back into her room as I stand on the stairs and my mind drifts to a memory of Brenda.

"You know he's the right one when you close your eyes and try to imagine a future without him and all you want to do is cry." I say, knowing the love she had Sonny had, remembering the pain her death had caused him, it was a future I never wanted either of them to experience.

"What happens if he doesn't want you any longer?" she asks as she looks up with her huge brown doe eyes

"You fight him with everything you've got, you follow him to the ends of the earth until he realizes that love is the only thing that matters."

"Easier said than done."

"Here you go" Sam says thrusting the pictures into my hands as she runs down the stairs to get her top.

I start to walk, but then pause as I see a picture of the midnight peck Michael had shared with Maddie. I smile knowing my son would never admit his feelings for the lowly freshman, but how he looks at her says more than his words ever could.

I continue looking at them walking down the stairs, I come across a picture of Brenda with Sonny and their three children. They all had curly dark brown hair, Madison, Michael's crush was a near replica of Brenda, I can't help but smile again as I remember when she was just his baby sister in another world. Then came Christopher, he had just turned 10 and then Matty, their baby was turning five in a few weeks. Sonny and Brenda were the strongest couple I knew, they had been from the moment they reconciled that night of the fire. I'll never forget the look on Sonny's face as Brenda ran into his arms, pure love and utter amazement, he'd still had the same look on his face whenever he looked at her. I always saw that look in their eyes when they spoke of each other, despite the fights, the breakups, the separations that made them swear their marriage was over. I wonder if people could see that in my eyes when I spoke of AJ.

"Hey Mom" Mike's calls to me

I lift my head up from the pictures "What?"

"Don't forget that we have an early dinner over at "The House" you know how Grandma gets when we're late."

"I won't"

"Should I just go with Robbie since I'm going over to his house after school?" Justin asks me

"That sounds fine. Is Robin picking you guys up from school?"

"Nope Uncle Jase we're gonna go pick out a new bike for Ceara since hers got stolen."

"I still can't believe a seven year old got her bike stolen what's the world coming to"

My kids look at me like I'm insane, I'm getting rather used to getting this look for they give it quite often. My stomach growls and Mike gives me another desperate look so I head into the kitchen. "Morning handsome" I say kissing my beloved husband of fourteen years on the lips, it's amazing how quickly a wedding can be arranged once you learn you're expecting twins and you already have a one year old running around.

"Morning sexy."

"Ah good morning my little angel" I say as I take Cait from his arms

"Morning" she says with a yawn and nuzzles in close to me.

"So who's going to your parents exactly?" I say opening the fridge door.

"Um well there's our clan"

"Obviously"

"Then Jason, Robin, Robbie and Ceara. Em and Krista."

"What about Nik?"

"London? No Sydney, business. Your mom, Tony, Lucas and Maxie. Brenda, Sonny, Maddie, Chris and Matt. Who am I forgetting? Oh yea Ned, and of course Lois, Brooke and Eddie."

"Quite a gathering."

"Well what do you expect it's my mother and this is the sixteenth anniversary of the first day she held her grandson. The day I found out I was a father."

"That was a good day wasn't it?" I say as I kiss his lips

"One of the best. Now go and get ready before Mike has a heart attack." He says as he takes Caiti from my arms and gives me a banana.

"Oh we are so totally stopping at McDonald's on the way over there." I say as I leave the room

"Only if you hurry"

"Me hurry ha" I call back out

My banana is finished by the time I get back up to our room, I'm just coming out of the bathroom after my shower, I've already put on my makeup when I pause at the sight of the first picture we had taken as a family. AJ and I were both in paper gowns and we smiled as we held our son, we were unsure of the future, but that didn't matter for that moment everything was perfect. Had it been sixteen years already? How was that possible? It seemed like yesterday. I stopped wondering about what happened that day a long time ago, I can't let my mind dwell on it anymore. I don't know what happened, I doubt I ever will. Maybe I took too many sleeping pills and never woke up and this is all just a dream. Maybe I was the one shot, not AJ and I pledged my love as the life bled from me not him, maybe this is my afterlife. Maybe those sixteen years were just a dream I had, yet how would that explain the things I knew in advance. Maybe I just finally woke up and saw that all I had ever wanted, I had needed had been in front of me the whole time. I woke up to AJ's love as I looked into his eyes and he asked me if I was alright and I finally was because I was with him. I don't care what happened as long as I don't wake up one day and find out that this has only been a dream. "Mom" "Carly" I hear AJ and Michael shout, no this hasn't been a dream. Sixteen years ago I woke up, this is my reality "Hold your horses!!!!!" I scream at it. Life is too precious to waste.