Story Notes: As a viewer of OLtL and a one time Evangeline and John fan it was hard to understand TPTB transitioning from J&E to J&N. They had given us a whirlwind year and a half showing John’s unspoken ILY to one woman and his we’ll never be more than friends to the other.
But with all things in TV land TPTB have control and I do not. So as a viewer it’s either I deal with the change, watch something else or do the next best thing, write what I wanted to see. I said all that to explain this missing scene. The words/conversations in italics that are not character thoughts have been taken from the OLtL episodes8-23-05 and 8-25-05; those words belong those writers. Everything else belongs to me.
Disclaimer: All publicly recognizable characters, settings, etc. are the property of their respective owners. The original characters and plot are the property of the author. The author is in no way associated with the owners, creators, or producers of any media franchise. No copyright infringement is intended.
“Can we stay up and watch the sunrise?” Natalie asked barely awake.
John tightened his grip on her hand. “Yeah. We can watch the sunrise.” “Now, rest.”
Watching her sleep his thoughts wandered to their earlier conversation after her family and friends had finally left them alone. Grateful to be alive, and with him, Natalie had on impulse kissed him. She had tasted of fear and longing; emotions he understood. Her words following the brief contact were filled with regret. “I’m sorry. I promised myself that if I ever got out of that pit, I would stop doing things like that.”
His smiled at her statement, the only reassurance he was completely comfortable giving in that moment. “Funny, because I promised myself that if you made it, I’d start doing some things differently, to.”
As Natalie slept, John sat at guard by her side. Absentmindedly his fingers rubbed against the back of her hand. The skin felt thinner than he remembered. It was broken in places where he imagined it has rubbed against the side of the pit as she had tried to climb out. Seeing her hand, seeing her like this added to his mountain of what ifs. What if, he had not become one of the targets of Barber’s mania? What if, Barber had not connected Natalie to him? What if, it had been Evangeline dumped in that pit waiting to him to save her, instead of Natalie?
His deeply rooted sense of right and wrong, obligation and compensation prodded him to keep the pledge he had made during the hours of Natalie’s rescue. But underneath his good intentions was also the nagging demand that he first dismantle and destroy past promises. Leaning over the sleeping woman he kissed the bandage on her forehead as he whispered, “I’ll be back before you wake.”
Across town - Evangeline Williams’ Apartment
Evangeline entered her apartment with an assurance that was part bravado and larger part martini. Dumping her purse and briefcase on the closest chair, she took a deep breath before talking to her sister.
“Long day?” Layla asked feeling the tension in her sister.
“Yeah. They found Natalie Vega alive. She's at the hospital.”
“Is she going to be…“ Putting down the papers in her hand Layla gave Evangeline her full attention.
“Yeah, yeah, she's going to be okay.”
“That's great, right?” Layla moved closer.
“Yeah. Yeah, yeah, we were all relieved that they found her.”
“So when you say "they," don't you mean John?”
“Fine, John saved Natalie. Are you satisfied now? Is that what you want to hear?” The bitterness in her words echoed around them. She turned to Layla feeling guilty about her outburst. “John was the wrong dream, Layla, and I would just like to forget…”
Waving away her apology Layla continued. “I know you don’t want to talk about him. But I can see what you’re going through and it breaks my heart.”
Grateful for her sister’s understanding, Evangeline gave her patented I’ve got a handle on everything, line. “I’m fine.”
Layla watched her sister pick up her belongings and walk to the bedroom. Her gaze lingered until Evangeline was behind the solid wooden door. Loosening her grip on the back of the chair in front of her she took a deep breath surprised that she had remained silent even though every cell in her was screaming, “no you’re not fine. You’re in pain and its John McBain’s fault!” With the quiet click of the lock on Evangeline’s bedroom door, Layla grabbed her Coach and walked out the front door deciding that more comfort food was going to be needed before their night was over.
Hours later in an Impala parked in front of the Williamson’s Apartment Building
John leaned forward until his forehead rested against the Impala’s steering wheel. He has intended to drive his own car but he had left it at the precinct in the rush to reach Natalie. So here he sat in Michael’s ride. He shifted several times the plush leather seating feeling unfamiliar to his rear-end. His eyes searched the surroundings taking in the seeming normality. A couple arm and arm walked past him and around the corner. Barks of male laughter drifted on the wind from the nearby park. The lights of an approaching car washed over him, lighting the interior of the Impala for a second before moving on, the sound of a car door creaking open. He knew he was vacillating, postponing the one thing he had promised himself and her that he would never do…that unspoken guarantee between them. That he would never, abandoned her.
In the weeks before Natalie had been kidnapped he has worked diligently at being the person he was before Christian Vega’s return from the dead. But again he had allowed circumstances to destroy a future he believed he wanted. From where he sat he recognized Layla walking toward the building’s entrance. He watched as she shifted the shopping bags in her arm before keying the door.
He signed deeply, “damn, both of them, I have to face both of them.” A grimace shaped his lips for a moment before becoming a small smile. “At least their mother is not here.” He felt very grateful for fate’s small nod his way. Feeling like a fraud for hiding in the dark, he pulled the keys from the ignition, opened the car door and stepped out.
Inside the Williamson Apartment
From her place on the sofa Evangeline watched Layla walk past the living room toward the kitchen. A tightening in her stomach and chest warned her that something unknown was about to happen. Her eyes closed and she mouthed a quick prayer that ended as the doorbell chimed. It sounded again and to her the last notes seemed to linger in the room, adding to the weight crushing her chest. After the third chime she took a deep cleansing breath, forcing the fear into a manageable size. Readying herself to face what was on the other side of the door. Soon enough of her was ready. The part of her that had already shed tears for the lost joy and possibilities, the part that remained determined to be her own person. From somewhere deep she could hear a voice she recognized as a combination of her mother and great aunt. “Get up! Let the asshole in and then you can kick him out.”
“You want me to answer the door?” Layla asked, standing with a bowl in her hand.
Evangeline met Layla at the corner of the wall leading to the kitchen. Placing a hand on each of Layla’s shoulders she turned her back toward the kitchen. “Don’t help.” Layla nodded her understanding.
“I’ll have the broom and dust pan ready to pick up the pieces.” Layla quipped as she disappeared.
Walking slowly to the door, Evangeline gathered what strength she had left. Opening the door she found what she expected, John McBain standing on the other side.
“How is Natalie?” She asks in a rush.
At a lost John, pushed his hands deep into the pockets of his pants. “I left her sleeping. She was dehydrated and has a sprained ankle, so they’ve decided to keep her overnight for observation.”
“Good to know there is no permanent damage.”
Evangeline’s grip on the door tightens as she waits for him to sense that she needs him to go away. Now! Leave so that she can wrap her hair, get into her favorite pajamas, fix bowl of chocolate chip ice cream and wallow in her self-pity until she’s strong enough to think about tomorrow.
He doesn’t leave and a sense of defeat fills her. Once they were close enough to understand the unspoken signals. Now the hurt and disappointment has wiped all that away. She realizes in the silence growing between them they are each functioning on their own separate wavelengths totally out of synch. Her eyes leave the spot over his shoulder and with a sigh she moved away from the door allowing him inside. She leaves it open. Not out of modesty but knowing that when he’s finished his say she’ll be too spent to get up and let him out. From the corner of the sofa she watches as he walks back and forth until he stands in front of the credenza. He moves the various items across the polished surface. A small framed picture of herself, Layla and their mother, a paperweight with the logo of the Pennsylvania Bar Association, and a pen he gave her. He moves closer to stand at the end of the credenza. Close enough that she can see the tension in his shoulders. He smells of dirt, sweat and hospital disinfectant.
He looks over at her. He begins slowly, quietly. “I need you to know that everything we had together was real. I meant every kiss, every moment of laughter.” He paused watching her reaction. “I was with you because I wanted…no I needed to be there. Maybe…one day I will understand why I couldn’t say the words you deserved to hear or love you the way you needed.”
As he speaks she relived part of her earlier conversation with Layla.
“So John's with Natalie now?”
“Don't know, don't care.”
“And I don't believe you. You just broke up.”
“What am I supposed to do, force him to say what I need to hear or feel what I want him to feel? Look, either I have to accept what he has to give me or I have to let him go, so I let him go.”
Don't hate me for saying this, sis, but it doesn't look like you let anybody go.
Nothing's ever hurt worse. But I'm not going to do one thing to stop it. Because if I have to do something more than tell him I love him to -- to keep him away from another woman, then he's not the one for me. Now, I'm moving on, and I'm going to prove to you and to everyone in this town that there was life for me before John Mc Bain, and there will be a damn good life for me after him.
John watches the tears shimmering in her eyes and even though he’s hurting her, he admires her strength and ability to survive the rough times. “Maybe,” he thinks “that’s why I’m leaving you behind. Because the woman I’m returning to in that hospital bed can’t stand on her own yet.”
In the growing darkness filling the apartment Evangeline watches John walk out of her apartment and her life.
Disclaimer: All established characters and the premise of OLtL belongs to Agnes Nixon and ABC, Inc. No financial copyright infringement is intended. Not one petunia has exchanged hands. I just wander into the same playground from time to time and humbly ask to be allowed to play.