She Died in His Arms Tonight

~As my life flashes before my eyes
I'm wondering will I ever see another sunrise?
So many won't get the chance to say good-bye
But its too late to think of the value of my life~

Natalie's eyes filled with tears as she looked frantically from Brody, who cradled Liam with one arm and used the other to train a gun on John. "Your call, Natalie. Liam or John. You want OUR son back, and then you agree to never go near McBain again."

Natalie swallowed back the panic she felt clawing at her. She knew the statistics for this type of situation from her forensics courses all too well. Out of the corner of her eye, she caught John's minute signal, as if he had even had to give it. They both knew what the answer would be. Liam was the important one, and John knew she would do anything to save their son, just like she knew he would. Liam was their priority. "You know my answer, Brody. How can you even question it? Liam.
Liam is my priority.
He always has been.
If I need to leave Landview, go to London like I initially planned to do that night and take Liam with me to prove it to you, than I will do that," Natalie said, her voice trembling slightly.

Brody looked at her with pained filled eyes: "right. That was why you were with me, right?
The fake family?
The mother, father, kid, even the dog eventually?"

"House with a white picket fence," Natalie sighed with a watery smiled. "It was a dream we both wanted because it was something neither of us had, Brody. We wanted better for Liam."

"Now he doesn't get it" YOU ruined it!" Brody accused her as he looked angrily towards John.

"Can you just give Natalie Liam, Brody? Then… Then… you… you do… you do whatever … just let her get Liam out of her…to safety… so neither of them have to see…." John started only to stopped, not wanting to put ideas he wasn't sure were in the other man's head there, even though he knew his history with Rex and Shane.

"I haven't lost it this time, McBain!" Brody struck out. "But maybe I should do to you what I did to Rex. Make Natalie watch. Tear her heart out like she did mine!"

"Wait!" Jessica said bursting into the room, surprising all the adult occupants, and startling Liam enough for him to start to wail. "Brody, don't do this! They're not to blame, ok? I knew… I knew for over a month… I should've told and I didn't… I didn't want Natalie to have a happy ending when I didn't."

"Shut up Jess! Shut up and get out," Natalie warned her, seeing her chance of getting her son back unharmed- of walking out that way with John, and now Jessica- crumbling. Someone was going to get hurt, but her mind couldn't process the odds and information quick enough to figure out who.

"No. I was quiet too long!" Jessica told her sister haughtily. "Brody," she continued, turning her attention back to her ex, "we can have our happy ending after all. You didn't and don't love Natalie like you do love me. You, me, Bre, and Ryder can be the family we were supposed to be before she ruined it!"

Brody shook his head: "You are a piece of work. You and Natalie aren't interchangeable. Neither are Ryder and Liam!"

"You thought they were…"

"Take Liam," Brody ordered shortly, then when Natalie went to take a step forward, added crisply: "No, John."

At Natalie's nod to John, he stepped carefully forward with his hands placed palms up in front of him as he approached the younger cop, stopping carefully in front of him to make the exchange. John held his breathe until his son was placed in his arms then looked at Brody: "now what?"

"Hold him, with both arms," John shifted him to his shoulder and did just that, eyeing him as he listened: "go back to Natalie. Stand in front of her so she can see Liam, and he can see her. Don't give him to her. Stand next to her, but no touching. Either of you."

John nodded his ascent as he took in the longing look in Brody's eyes as he walked backwards to his space next to Natalie, not wanting to turn his back on Brody. The blonde man smirked in recognition of the technique. Once John was in place near Natalie, Brody turned his attention to Jessica: "You slept with Ford?"

"It doesn't…."

"You did."

"You weren't exactly celibate. Ford and I have a son together. We were forcing something. Same as you and Natalie were."

"That was different."

"Riiiight," Jessica sighed rolling her eyes.

"Remind me again, whose fault was this again, Jess? Mine and Natalie's?" Brody baited.

"We no longer have to assign blame, Brody," she said condescendingly. "We can get past it now."

"You threw me away. I was in pain. She thought she was thrown away. She was in pain. We made a mistake. We thought we made a child."

"But you didn't…"

"No… No… Liam's John's," Brody sighed. "Your best friend changed the tests results to screw with your sister.
To screw with him.
She didn't think about what it would do to you- or me.
HER you forgive, right?
You knew what she did.

You helped her- or one of your alters did- and we forgave you.
You knew.
You lied.
You wouldn't accept it- us.
A mistaken one night stand.
I accepted your one night stand with Ford.
I accepted Tess and every horrible thing she did.
I accepted your kids as MINE.
Tell me, Jessica, why couldn't you accept my mistake? MY child?"

"Brody- my sister- you… the covering it up… how I heard… finding you two in bed… I might have… I asked you…" she babbled.

"No.
No.
No!
You don't get an out!" he said raising the gun and pointing it at her: "not for ruining my life!"

"Brody, don't! You don't want to do this!" Natalie called in a panic.

"Stay out of this, Natalie. This is between me and Brody!" Jessica yelled at her sister.

"Yeah, Natalie, stay out of it," Brody said with a dangerous glint in his eyes, his voice bordering on sing song.

"John," Natalie said in a slight panic, leaning into him.

"Back waistband," he said between his teeth, eyes fixated on the couple in front of them and the drama playing out as he cradled their son.

"You took both my sons.
My daughter," Brody accused, growing more agitated, then shifted his attention to Natalie as he caught her slight moment out of the corner of his eye: "No touching!" he called out, his gun now trained on Liam.

"Sorry," Natalie gulped, jumping back, disheartened that she hadn't gotten the gun quickly enough.

"As I was saying," Brody continued, shifting his focus back to his blonde ex, who glared at her sister for her stupidity. "You ended our family.
Gave up on us.
You wanted another man.
Another family.
First Christian.
Now Ford.
Admit it!
Say it!"

"Brody, I love you!"

He laughed: "how much?" he pushed, cocking the gun and aiming it at Liam's head.

"Jess!" Natalie called out instinctively, her arms wrapping around herself to keep herself from grabbing her son from John's arms and possibly making things worse.

"Fine," Jess started in a huff.
"There's something about Ford that intrigues me…" she admitted, more out of not wanting to be blamed for the death of a child than out of love for her sister or Liam.

"Yeah, he reminds you of Nash," Brody said hatefully.

"No!"

"Admit it! For once be honest with me!
Be honest with yourself!" Brody ordered, pointing the gun at her, his agitation growing as he started to rock back and forth on the balls of his feet.

"All right!
Maybe you're right. Maybe on some level he does remind me of Nash, or maybe he reminds the part of me that is Tess of him.
I don't know…" Jessica said. "I'm confused.
Can't you give me a chance to figure this out?
Give us another chance?"

"I'll give you a chance," Brody smirked.

"I knew my SEAL wouldn't let me down," Jess said slightly condescendingly, then threw her hair back as she looked sideways at Natalie and John, shooting them a look that conveyed a message that she had saved the day.

Brody's face darkened, but Jessica didn't seem to notice or care as he said in a soft monotone: "walk back in my arms. My life, Jess."

"OK," she agreed, as a chill ran down Natalie's spine and from the look John gave her she knew he was thinking the same thing she was- if only it was just them; if only she'd gotten Liam out before her sister's arrival.
If it were just them he would've taken a bigger risk.
She would've.
Anything to protect Liam.
But it wasn't.
They had almost been able to talk Brody down and into protecting Liam… but the turn of events… swallowing, Natalie couldn't help but have a flashback to Jess being thrown into the room with her and Flynn.
Antonio and Chris had had their backs along with John, even if they hadn't known John had been there to protect them then, and they had lost then.
She suspected that Jessica didn't give anyone a heads up of where she was going so there would be no additional back up….

Natalie tried to come up with a plan of action; read John's mind via his eyes and slight movements, but time was slowing to a crawl, and she was starting to have trouble processing things, even as she watched them unfold in front of her.
As her heartbeat started to race, she knew that at least one of them wouldn't walk out of there alive.

"John…" she pleaded, uncertainly.

"Stay calm.
Don't move.
Wait.
I know you want to protect her, but Liam is our priority.
I'll get us out.
One way or another, Natalie.
I promise…" John said in a rough whisper as he watched the scene unfolding, not liking it, and not quite sure what he'd have to do to keep his promise. He needed a chance to pass Liam to Natalie if he had a shot of taking out Brody before he could hurt either woman…

Brody watched Jessica coming towards him, his gun lowering to his waist, but still pointed at his ex, not trusting her, but more focused on her then John and Natalie, knowing that Natalie wouldn't allow McBain to do anything to him as long as their son and her sister were in danger.
A part of him wanted to laugh, because as much as he loved Jessica, he knew it was more than she would do for her sister.
His eyes locked on hers and he took in her demeanor as he was trained to.
For the first time, Brody felt that he truly saw her.
As Jessica took each step towards him he took in what he always had thought of as confidence and now saw as ego and selfishness, with a touch of manipulation. He could see now why Todd was her favorite uncle, she was like him in many ways. Just like she was like her two best friends- willing to hurt people to get what she wanted and screw whoever she had to so they would tow her line, and when that didn't work use her children to keep them in line.
There was coldness there.
An emptiness.
He could almost see the wheels turning in her head on how she would spin this to her advantage, make herself out to be the hero, and then eventually cast him aside to bed Ford, or just stay in Ford's bed till he wasn't needed anymore and she could be the victim of some sort.

Well, she wasn't the victim.

Jessica and her best friends had made sure that he, Natalie, and John where the victims in this and only Kelly had even tried to make amends.
He had lost control and slipped down a slope he had never wanted to again.

No he hadn't shot John like he had Rex.
Maybe it was because they had been friends.
Maybe it was because this time he always knew this day would come and he had become a perpetrator in this hoax.
Maybe it was because he always knew this day would come; and unlike with Gigi Natalie wasn't in on the lie. She had always wanted John to be her son's father and a family with him. She had asked him to step in a take on the role of father to Liam because John had disappeared. John had walked because of the false paternity test and his pride and he had stepped in because he had just wanted the family that was stolen from him.

Now he just wanted someone to feel the same pain he was feeling…

As Jessica came to a stop in front of him, a smile shining on her face, but not quite reaching her eyes, he looked down at her: "Before you step back into my arms, remember one thing. I have always loved all of you."

"I know.
You have been a source of strength for me through so much.
Even through my confusion I know I love you. I will always need you, please believe me."

"I believe in this moment, you believe it, Jessie, and that's what counts," he said simply. "Now walk back into my arms where you belong," he added as he pulled her to his chest with one arm, his other lifted as she smiled into his shoulder.

"This is where I belong right now. We can go home to our family… start over," she started to babble. "You just have to let Natalie and Liam go.
I'll make sure they're not around the house.
Mom will understand.
They won't be welcomed in our family's home.
Natalie's presence is just too destructive," she told him, leaning back to look at him, happily, the wheels in her head turning to displace her sister from the family as Brody was now starting to recognize as a pattern for her. Jessica would always be Natalie's victim. Mrs. Banks would always take her side, and Natalie would always have to grovel for crumbs of her family's attention and love and Jessica's forgiveness. Natalie would always be the wrong one and Jess the bigger one for forgiving the transgressions of her sister.

~And you can see my heart beating.
No, You can see it through my chest.
Said I'm terrified but I'm not leaving no
know that I must pass this test.
You can see my heart beating.
Oh, You can see it through my chest.
I'm terrified but I'm not leaving no
know that I must pass this test.

So, just pull the trigger~

Brody kissed her forehead: "We won't have to worry about Natalie and John being in our lives anymore. About where we live.
Our future is clear.
I have it all planned out," he said as he pulled the gun higher between their bodies and pulled her closer, the gun pressed now against her chest, as her eyes widened, he shot off a single round into her chest.

Lowering her to the floor, Brody looked over towards where a shocked Natalie stood and was being handed Liam as she was shaking, tears falling freely down her face as she took her son on autopilot. Smiling sadly at the family, Brody watched as John reached for his gun in his back waistband: "I'll save you the trouble, John," he told him sadly as he placed the muzzle to his head. Gently, he leaned over a barely breathing Jessica who mouthed a why as he covered her lips with a kiss as he pulled the trigger, placing a bullet into his brain as John tried to shield his family from the picture that the tragedy presented….

*song credit Rhianna- Russian Roulette