A/N: My very first OLTL story! I've been writing for a while, but have never thought of sharing my work with anyone else. Recently I was really missing my favorite soap, and in my quest to relive the memories through clips and write-ups online, I discovered all of you here, keeping this great show alive.
This story is basically current with what the writers have done with John McBain since he moved over to GH. I am a big Jolie fan, so obviously this story is going to go in that direction - but even if you're not a huge fan of the pairing, this story will also feature significant appearances by many other core Llanview residents, both past and present.
I hope you enjoy! Please read and review to let me know what you think!
Natalie Buchanan Banks slowly picked up her water glass, pausing with it halfway to her lips before letting out a weary sigh and returning the glass to the table without taking a sip. Across the table, her sister frowned and shook her head as she watched her.
"You know you have to actually get it all the way to your mouth to drink it, right?"
Natalie looked up in confusion at the sound of her sister's voice.
"What?" Jessica Brennan shrugged at the look on Natalie's face. "You've picked up that water glass half a dozen times since we sat down to eat dinner and it hasn't touched your lips once."
"I guess I'm just not that thirsty," Natalie said.
Jessica shook her head. "I don't buy that for a second. Something is obviously bothering you, and I'm guessing that something has a name that starts with John and ends with McBain."
"I think Liam misses him."
Jessica arched an eyebrow skeptically.
"What?" Natalie asked defensively. "I think he misses his daddy."
"Oh, I have no doubt that he does," Jessica said. "I just think Liam might not be the only one."
Natalie sighed and shook her head sadly. "I never said I didn't miss him, Jessica. But I can't…after what he did, I don't even know if I can be in the same room with him."
"Do you even know what he really did?"
"What do you mean? You saw the picture."
Jessica nodded. "Yeah, I saw the picture. John kissed another woman. But have you given him a chance to explain? Maybe there was something else going on? I mean, consider the source…I love Uncle Todd, but the man's not exactly John's biggest fan. Maybe you ought to at least hear what John has to say about it?"
"There's nothing he could say to make it better."
"Natalie, I get that you're hurting, but don't you think you should at least talk to him? If not for your sake, then for Liam's. How long are you going to punish John by keeping him away from his son?"
"I am not punishing him, I'm protecting my son."
Jessica shook her head. "Are you sure about that, or is that what Dad told you?"
"Dad's only trying to protect Liam and me," Natalie said defensively. "He doesn't want either of us to get hurt."
"Do you really think John's going to hurt Liam?"
"I don't know. I don't think so," Natalie admitted. "But then again, I never thought John would hurt me, either."
"Maybe he made a mistake," Jessica suggested. "It's not like you and I don't both know all about those."
"Hold on, whose side are you on, anyway?"
"Yours, of course," Jessica assured her. "Look, Natalie, if I thought for one second that John McBain would ever intentionally hurt Liam…or you, for that matter…I would be the first in line to kick his ass. And I get that Dad's trying to protect you, I really do, but I think he's wrong here, Nat. Liam needs his father, and you and John need the chance to talk about what happened so that you can at least parent Liam together. And I think if you really think about it and listen to your heart, you know that."
Natalie hesitated for a moment.
"Natalie Banks, I swear to God, if you make me pull the 'my babies don't have their fathers anymore so don't deny yours his' card, I will hurt you."
Natalie smiled guiltily. "Liam really does miss his dad."
"Maybe you should have John come by and see him this week. You don't even have to be here if you don't want to see him yourself," Jessica offered. "Just call him and set it up. And, uh, make sure it's before Dad gets back next week."
"You don't really think he meant it when he said he'd shoot John on sight, do you?"
Jessica grinned and shook her head. "I'm not sure it's a chance I'd want to take if I were you."
Natalie laughed as she pulled out her phone. "I suppose not."
"Good luck," Jessica said, offering up an encouraging smile as Natalie stepped out of the room to call John.
"Something tells me those two are going to be just fine once Dad butts out," she muttered to herself, standing up to clear their dinner dishes. She had just deposited the glasses in the dishwasher when she heard Natalie come back in. Looking up, she frowned at her sister's tear-stained face.
"Natalie? What's wrong?" she asked in concern. "Did you talk to John?"
Natalie shook her head.
"Why not? Did you leave him a message?"
Again, Natalie shook her head, running a hand through her hair as she tried to steady her breathing.
"Nat, what happened?"
"I…I called his cell," Natalie said. "She picked up."
Jessica gasped. "That McCall woman? Are you sure it was her?"
Natalie nodded. "I asked…when she said her name, I just hung up. I couldn't…I can't hear another excuse, Jessica. If it didn't mean anything, why the hell are they together?"
"Oh Natalie," Jessica sighed, wrapping her arms around her sister and rubbing her back gently. "I'm so sorry."
"Yeah." Natalie pulled back slightly and gave half a nod. "I, uh…can you watch Liam for me? Just for an hour or so?"
"Where are you going?"
"I just…I can't be here right now," Natalie said tearfully. "I need to clear my head, go for a drive or something. I promise, I won't be more than an hour, and Liam's already asleep for the night, so…"
"Go," Jessica said, squeezing her sister's hand gently. "I'll be fine with the kids. You call me if you need me, okay?"
Jessica groaned as the sound of a screaming baby woke her from her sleep. Rolling over to glance at the clock, it seemed as though the numbers were mocking her as they flashed 2:15. Slowly, she pushed herself out of the bed, pausing just as her feet hit the ground. Tilting her head to one side, she sat for a minute listening to the cries.
"Nope," she muttered under her breath as she lay back down in the bed. "That one's all yours, Nat."
Closing her eyes, she tried to shut out the noise and fall asleep again, certain that her sister would be in the nursery any second now to soothe her child. When the crying continued unabated, she cracked open one eye and looked back at the clock. 2:19.
"Damn it, Natalie," she sighed, rolling out of the bed and grabbing her robe from a nearby chair. "You so owe me for this."
Making her way down the hall, Jessica glared at Natalie's door before passing it and carefully pushing open the door to the nursery. Peeking into Ryder's crib, she said a silent prayer of thanks that Liam's cries had somehow managed to not wake her son. Turning around, she put her hands on her hips as she spotted Liam standing in his crib, his hands gripping the rail as he stared at her, his eyes red with tears.
"What has gotten into you, little man?" she whispered, taking a step forward and lifting him into her arms. Settling him on her hip, she grabbed a nearby spit rag and wiped the tears from his cheek. "You always sleep through the night, buddy. Are you getting sick?"
Liam buried his head in her shoulder, uttering a sound that Jessica was sure was his version of Mama.
"Okay, okay, let's go wake up Mommy, alright?" Jessica smiled and kissed his forehead as they headed out of the nursery and back down the hall to Natalie's room. Opening the door, she flipped on the light and stepped inside.
"Alright, Natalie, up and at 'em, your little…"
Jessica's voice trailed off as she looked around the room, her gaze settling on the empty, neatly made bed.
"Don't panic," she instructed herself quietly, adjusting Liam on her hip. "Okay, Liam, let's go downstairs. Mommy must have fallen asleep in the library."
And yet despite repeating "don't panic" so many times that she thought the phrase might be burnt into her tongue, Jessica found herself standing in the middle of the kitchen fifteen minutes later, her hands shaking as she dialed the familiar number and pressed the phone to her ear.
"Uncle Bo, it's Jessica. I need your help."