A/N: Welcome to my next attempt to "fix" the latest damage the writers are doing to Jolie over on GH! I guess I should make it clear that I don't actually watch GH on a regular basis, but every couple of weeks (or when someone tips me off to something happening) I troll the net to find clips of what they're doing with John and Natalie and Liam. Obviously, as a Jolie fan, I was NOT happy to see that letter Natalie sent to John a few weeks ago. However, as soon as I saw John read that letter, I felt like something was wrong - no matter how angry she was, the Natalie we all knew would never force John to stay away from Liam.
Almost as soon as I heard John read the letter to Sam, the initial idea for this story popped into my head, and it's been growing ever since. I'll confess, I have a secret hope that if Melissa Archer were ever to come to GH, something like this would happen to explain away all the out of character behavior they've written for Natalie!
Those of you who read my first story, Back to You, the epilogue for that story will be posted this week, I'm just making a few final tweaks, but I wanted to get this first chapter up since it was finished. You may notice that this first chapter is a bit shorter than my usual chapters - not to fear, the rest will be longer, but this one is intended to just set the stage and get things rolling.
So, enough of my ramblings, let's get on with this story...
Natalie Banks paused with her pen hovering over the single sheet of paper. Looking up, she frowned at the woman standing above her, calmly pointing a handgun at her forehead.
"This will never work," Natalie insisted. "John will never buy this."
Natalie sighed and turned her attention back to the page, her hand shaking slightly as she wrote out the lies - that she didn't love John anymore, that she had moved on, that she'd fallen for someone else. When she felt the gun press into the side of her head to encourage her to write faster, she got some small satisfaction in thinking that this would be just one more clue for John to use in his search for her, one more sign that things weren't right. Natalie knew John McBain would never believe this of her, especially the bit she'd been ordered to add at the end.
P.S. John, if you care about Liam, you will respect the restraining order and stay away from us.
Despite her flaws, despite everything that had or hadn't happened in their relationship over the years, Natalie was certain that no matter what she might write, John would never believe her capable of keeping their son away from him. Even if he believed the rest of the letter, Natalie hoped that John knew her well enough to know that she wouldn't deprive Liam of his father, especially not after everything they'd been through. If he hadn't figured it out already, this would be his clue that something was desperately wrong.
"When can I see my son?" Natalie asked, pausing before finishing the letter.
"Stupid girl," the female voice taunted from behind her. "I already told you, you don't get to see that little brat anymore."
"I've done everything you asked of me," Natalie said, struggling to keep her voice calm. "I just want to see Liam. I need to know he's safe!"
"The boy will be taken care of. Now sign the letter."
"No." Natalie set the pen down defiantly. "Not unless I get to see my son."
"Sign the letter." Natalie winced as the gun was pressed into her temple again. "Or your parents will find your body on their doorstep and all your precious son will know of his mother is a box of ashes on the mantle."
Natalie bit back a sob as she picked up the pen and signed her name at the bottom of the page.
John McBain sat on the edge of his hotel bed and looked down at the sheet of paper in his hands. He didn't even need to read it at this point to know exactly what it said, but he still felt as though he couldn't believe it without actually seeing the words on the page in Natalie's handwriting. Even as he read them, he couldn't quite make sense of them. They'd been through so much together, from Cristian's return from the dead to Mitch Laurence's torments to Natalie nearly marrying the wrong man less than a year earlier. After everything they'd survived, John couldn't quite wrap his head around the fact that a single kiss had been their undoing.
He knew the kiss had been wrong, of course, but was it enough to throw away their entire relationship without so much as a conversation? He'd been so sure that she just needed time to cool off, to let her anger fade. She just needed time, then she'd reach out and they'd start to put the pieces back together. When he'd seen that letter in Sam's hands, he'd been absolutely certain that that's what it was - the first step toward getting his family back.
Instead, the letter had ripped his son further away from him, and that was something John knew he couldn't stand for. Natalie was moving on. He didn't like it, but he knew in time he might be able to accept it. But there was not a chance in hell that he was going to stand by while she brought in someone else to play daddy to his son. If Natalie or Clint thought that that was what they were going to do, John was determined to make sure they had another thing coming.
With a heavy sigh, he picked up his phone and dialed Alexis' number.
"It's me," he said when she finally picked up. "I'm done playing around, Alexis. It's time to go to war."