Chapter 7

Marlena walked into the room and frowned when she saws the look on John's

face.  "Now what?" she sighed as she put down her shopping bags.

"Brady's not answering the phone," he sighed as he put down the receiver and

ran a worried hand through his hair.

"He's probably out gallivanting."

"In his wheelchair, right?" John asked sarcastically.

"What would you rather I say? That he's probably doing it on purpose so

you'll get so worried that you'll go back and check on him?" Marlena asked in

a tone mixed with exasperation and anger.

"I'm not going to do that," John sighed.  "But I feel like I have a right to

be worried.  You know I didn't like the idea of leaving him alone."

"The idea was that we'd have time to work on our marriage without his

interference.  But I guess he'll always be in the way."

"Is that how you see him?  As being in the way?" John asked tensely.

Marlena inhaled sharply at that, "You're twisting my words."

"Am I?" John asked.  "Funny, I'm not so sure.  Maybe you're just finally

saying what you mean.  Maybe he's been right all along."

"What's that supposed to mean?"

"That you resent him."

"How can you say that? I've never been anything but good to him.  I've

treated him like one of my own."

"But he isn't, is he? And that's your problem, isn't it?"

"What do you want me to say, John? Can you tell me that? Before Brady came

back we were happy.  We were fine.  But now. . .Now we're far from it.  Do I

resent that? Yes.  Yes, I do.  But him? I don't know," she shot back.  "If

I'm starting to resent someone, it's you!"

"Why? Because I care about my son?"

"Because you think I don't! I was there when you were too busy chasing after

Kristen! I was the one who was going to take him when they were going to

execute you, but none of that matters now, does it?"

"Don't Marlena, OK, because that was then and this is now."

"What is that supposed to mean?"

John sighed, "it means just that.  Don't you think I know he was 'easier'

then? That you were there for him then? But now. . . Now it's like you're one

of the problems."

"Excuse me?!?!?"

"That's what I'm talking about.  No one can say anything to you! You make it

sound like I abandoned my son and you saved him when we both know that that

wasn't necessarily true and I stay calm and I listen, but you. . .Not you!"

John shot back.  "Our feelings don't matter.  G-d forbid something upsets

your perfect world.  That's what Brady's done!"

"Things weren't perfect.  Your secrets kept them from being that!"

"You're the one who didn't want me learning about my past, but that's not

what you mean, is it?" John asked, suddenly growing tire.  "You're talking

about me and Hope and the fact that JT is mine."

Marlena rolled her eyes skyward at the mention of the 'other son,' "John can

we just stick to the issue at hand?"

"Funny, I think that's part of the issue.  Brady isn't what's ruining our

marriage.  Neither is what happened between Hope and myself, or even JT, you

are.  You and your own insecurities."

"I am not insecure!"

"Right, Doc," John said on a half sigh.  "Because I know why you're doing it.

 Why you hate him so much."

"I don't hate Brady."

"Well, then his presence," John answered evenly.  "Why you didn't before."

"Oh really.  Why don't you enlighten me?" Marlena asked through gritted teeth.

"Because then he didn't know."

"Know what?"

"About Isabella.  Yeah, I'd shown him a picture or two, but I never taught

him about her.  I thought he was too young, but now he knows.  He's learned

about her.  Lord only knows how since I've never been able to bring myself to

talk about her to him, but he does, and he knows you're not half the woman

she was!"

"Excuse me?"

"You heard me.  When I thought I was Roman and was raising the kids she never

tried to be a replacement.  She never tried to eradicate your memory."

"I've never done that! I named Belle after her for Pete's sake!"

"I never did understand why you did that!" John sighed.  "But I know this

much, if she was still alive this wouldn't even be an issue."

"Oh really?"

"Yeah because we'd still be together and no matter what happened we'd be

there for our son.  No matter what he did, we wouldn't turn our backs

on him."

"It's easier when it's your child."

"My point exactly.  You've never seen him as yours."

"You've never allowed me to.  Not really!" Marlena sighed.  "It always came

back to you two.  About the wishes and dreams you had for him.  About how

things should've been.  Well, they weren't like that and he's not some

precious reminder of her! He has emotional problems and needs someone to

realize it and fix it.  He's destroying our family and will eventually

destroy himself.

John shook his head tiredly, "That's what it all comes down to, doesn't it?"

"What?"

"The problems are always theirs.  Brady. . . Sami. . . Eric. . . they're

never ours.  You ever think we might have caused them?" John asked before

going to get his coat.  "Three out of five, some track record, huh?" he asked

before walking out, leaving him to drop tiredly onto a nearby couch.