Written in 62 minutes.
Lexington Avenue: Driveway
If anyone had told Jason Morgan after his accident that he’d find happiness in the small details of life, he’d have rolled his eyes and flipped him off. The man he’d been then had wanted to live fast and dangerous, the adrenaline pumping through his veins as he crept up on an enemy or took turns too fast.
Not that the adrenaline didn’t still flow just fine these days, but Jason also liked the little things about living in a house and raising a family. A wife who loved him (all the parts of him, including his job), three wild and rambunctious boys who never remembered their chores, and the swirling excitement that he’d get to do it all from the beginning. In just under seven months, a new baby would come home that would start the chao all over again.
It was the third time in as many weeks that Cameron had forgotten to take out of the trash, but Jason decided that he wouldn’t bother to remind him. He’d gone upstairs to sulk after dinner, and they’d heard him strumming on the guitar he’d gotten a year ago for Christmas. Jason knew something about heartache and that he hadn’t quite hit the mark on their talk earlier, so he and Elizabeth split up — she went talk to their son and Jason took on the chores.
As Jason settled the cans at the edge of the driveway and removed the plastic tops to store in the garage, he saw a car zip down the street and slide into the driveway directly across. He smiled faintly. Robin had always driven just a bit too fast.
“Hey!” The brunette waved at him, stepping out the car. She glanced back and forth down Lexington Avenue to assure herself there was no car on its way, then crossed the street. “I haven’t seen you since Elizabeth told me the news.” She hugged him tightly. “Congratulations!”
“You, too.” He held on for just a moment longer, then drew back.
“Seems crazy to me,” Robin said. “How far we’ve all come. Remember? When we were kids and neither one of us thought there’d be kids in our future? You’re about to add number four, and I’m on to two—”
“You always wanted it. I’m glad there’s a way for you to have it.”
“You, too. Especially—” she sighed. “With how things Michael ended.” Robin wrinkled her nose. “Sorry, I’m just feeling nostalgic, I guess. Looking through Emma’s baby things. Did you hear our kids are having their first fight?”
“Yeah, and it’s not over yet,” Jason admitted with a wince. “I tried to help today, but I’m not sure I did any good.” He shoved his hands in his pockets. “I don’t think I was supposed to agree with Cam.”
“But you do,” Robin finished with a grin. “So do I, actually. Patrick was horrified when I told him, but—” she shrugged. “Cam’s a boy. A great kid, but still just a boy. He doesn’t get the dance thing, and Emma should have just told him how much it meant to her.” She tipped her head. “But I am fascinated that you agree.”
“Why not?” Jason shrugged. “She’s mad. Cam doesn’t know why. She should tell him.”
“I just think it’s funny that you, Jason Morgan, want someone to use their words,” Robin teased.
“Ha,” he muttered. He sighed, looked back at the house, at the light shining from Cameron’s room. “Elizabeth explained it to me, and it made more sense. She wants to feel special, and it’s not the same if you have to tell someone you’re special.”
“Oh. Well, yeah, from that perspective.” Robin nodded. “Emma’s…she’s a dreamer. I think I’ve forgotten what that’s like. I’m too serious for that kind of thing.”
“You had your moments.”
“So did you.” Robin smiled at him again. “It’s nice, isn’t it? After all we’ve meant to each other, that we get to stay friends. I’m glad we got here.”
“Me, too.” He kissed her cheek, and they both returned to their respective families.
Morgan House: Cameron’s Bedroom
Elizabeth knocked lightly on her son’s door. “Cam, you got a minute?”
“Yeah,” came the glum reply. She edged the door open, then closed it after herself. Cameron was hunched over the side of his bed, the guitar in his hands. “I was trying to write something to tell Emma I was sorry but it’s not working.”
She sat next to him. “I talked to your Dad.”
“Yeah, I felt better after I talked to him, but then I thought about telling Emma she was wrong—” Cam winced, looked at his mother. “I don’t know a lot about girls, but that’s probably not a good idea.” He made a face. “You’re on her side, aren’t you?”
“Well—” Elizabeth hesitated. “Yes and no. I understand your point of view, Cam. I do. It’s hard to know you’ve hurt someone and not understand why. Because then you’re sorry, but you can’t really apologize. How do you stop yourself from repeating the mistake if you don’t get it?”
“Yeah. But if you’re on her side, can you maybe tell me why I’m wrong? Because I’m okay with being wrong.” Cam unhooked the guitar and set it on the stand, then sat cross legged on his bed. “I don’t care anymore. I just don’t want her to be mad at me or break up with me. That would be the worst.”
“Well, before I give you my perspective, let me ask you something to see if it confirms what I think.” Elizabeth tucked one leg underneath her body and turned so that she faced Cameron. “Was the fight the first time Emma mentioned the dance?”
Cameron screwed his face up, thinking over the question. “We talked about it when school started and we got the fall schedule. I was looking at the soccer schedule, and she said something about Spirit Week. It was going to be fun because it was our first high school dance—” He stared his mother, then put his head in hands. “Oh, shit.” Then winced. “Sorry, Mom.”
“No, I think it’s an oh shit moment.”
“She didn’t mean our first dance because, like, chronological. But, like our first dance. Couple first. She was telling me it was special but like, I didn’t hear it.”
“Well, you did, baby. You’re remembering it now. You just didn’t make the connection.”
“Crap. I’m an idiot.”
“But I’m still an idiot!” He groaned and flopped back on his bed, his arms spread out at his sides. “Prettiest girl in the entire grade picks me and I can’t even ask her to the dance right.”
“No, listen.” Cameron sprang back up, his blue eyes hot. “Listen. Maybe I’m a kid, but I love her. And I know that means. I know what love is, and I love Emma. But I hurt her, and she’s really mad. Why didn’t I just see it?”
“Because you’re just a kid,” Elizabeth said gently. “And you weren’t wrong to think maybe she should have told you. But she’s just a kid, too.” When he scowled, she added, “And I don’t doubt that you love her. But love isn’t easy. It doesn’t run smoothly, you know? Youre going to hurt her again. She’s going to hurt you. It’s just being human. You didn’t see it, and she couldn’t explain it because you needed to have this fight. It’s how you build life experience.”
“I don’t get it.”
“Well, if Emma decides to forgive you,” Elizabeth said gently, “will you ever, in your life, forget to ask her to a dance?”
“Lesson learned. And Emma might think to be more clear in the future. Maybe,” Elizabeth added. “That one’s a harder lesson. Because she wanted to be special to you, baby, without being having to tell you.”
“And I don’t doubt it. But sometimes we don’t see our own worth,” Elizabeth told him. “I wasn’t always sure your dad loved me. And he wasn’t sure I did. We didn’t know how to show it, and we didn’t always say it when it mattered. I’m sure you show Emma in a lot of ways how you feel about her, but she might not see it. And she shows you in lots of ways you might not realize.”
“Yeah. Your birthday party last year. We were going to do something at the house, but Emma said we should have it at the soccer field so you could play a game. She knows how much you love it.”
“I didn’t know that.” Cameron frowned. “She never told me that.”
“Because it’s not a scorecard. Not at first,” Elizabeth admitted. “You do things for each other that maybe they don’t notice. But they feel it. She saw how much fun you had. It was all she needed. Your dad? Left work early today to grill because I mentioned I had a craving. And he took out the trash for you.”
“It’s the little details. They add up, and they make someone feel loved. But if you ignore them, it creates a debt. And that adds up, too. Your dad isn’t much for grand gestures, so I used to think that meant he didn’t love me. But his love was always in the details. And that’s so much better. The every day stuff to make you feel special.”
“Yeah.” Cameron exhaled slowly. “You’re right. It would have just been a small thing. Hey, Emma, you want to go to the dance with me? Just a question. But I didn’t do it, and it just got bigger.” He looked at his mom. “I love her, Mom. I don’t want to hurt her. It’s not a stupid crush or whatever.”
“I would never be one to knock first love,” Elizabeth told him. “First love can, and does, last forever. It’s just harder. People who fall in love at your age still have so much life to live, so much growing to do. And if you don’t grow together and in the same direction, it’s harder to harder hold to. I’ve been there, baby. And holding on to something that doesn’t fit who you are can hurt so much.”
“You’re talking about Lucky,” Cam said. “Because you guys got together when you were my age.”
“A little older, but yeah. If that fire hadn’t happened, I like to think we would have grown together. But it took us too long and caused too much damage to see that we hadn’t. I want you and Emma to be happy. Whatever that ends up looking like.”
“Now that I know what I did, I won’t do it again.” Cameron looked more confident. “I can fix this, Mom.”
“I have no doubt. I’ll leave you alone to work on that.” She squeezed his hand. “I love you.”
“Love you, too.”
She left him scribbling in his notebook and went down the living room where she found Jason explaining for maybe the millionth time that the night they’d been able to play video games upstairs had been the exception, and not a rule change.
“Ugh.” Jake flopped onto the sofa. “This is like prison.”
“You’d better never get arrested if you think that,” Elizabeth said, passing behind the sofa, and ruffling Jake’s blond hair. She grinned at Jason. “Dad can tell you about that when you’re older.”
Jason left Jake and Aiden arguing who would take the first turn and followed her to the kitchen where she was pouring herself some water. “Everything okay?”
“Yeah. He’s writing her a song to apologize,” Elizabeth said. “And he’s sorry about the trash.”
Jason shrugged, sat at the island and took the beer she handed him. “It’s fine. I ran into Robin. He’ll remember next week. Probably.”
“Probably not.” Elizabeth came around the island and stepped between his legs to put her arms around his neck. “I love you.”
“I love you, too.” He tipped his head. “You okay?”
“Just reminded of all the ways you show me how me how you felt. I was afraid when we got back together,” she admitted. “That it wouldn’t last. But we’re still here.”
“I’m exactly where I want to be,” Jason told her. He set the beer aside and drew her closer. “I don’t blame you for needing time to believe that.”
“Well, I do.” She kissed him, long, lingering, sliding her fingers through the nape of his hair. “How long before bedtime?” she murmured, his hands stroking her spine.
“Too long,” he admitted. “But we’re pretty good at pressing pause.”
“Good. Because I have plans for you later.”
Scorpio-Drake House: Backyard
The next day, Cameron walked his brothers home from the bus stop, a few steps behind Emma who ignored him and flounced off across the street.
“Man, you really screwed up,” Jake said, watching her go.
“Shut up,” Cameron muttered. He took them into the house, and went upstairs to get his guitar. If this didn’t work, he was going to ask his mother for a script because he didn’t know what else to do.
Patrick opened the door, eyed the guitar, then nodded. “Excellent choice. She’s upstairs.”
As Cameron started up the stairs, Patrick called up. “Hey, leave the door open!”
Emma was at her desk and turned with a scowl as Cameron knocked. “What?”
“I figured it out.” Cameron came in and set down his case. He took out the guitar, and her eyes widened. “I, um, don’t really know how to say it, but I did this. So I hope it explains it.”
He strummed a few times, then started to sing.
You’re my light when I’m lost
You’re my warmth in dark
I feel you after the sunlight is gone
You always bring me back home
When I’m lost on the road
My heart is wherever you go
Because you are
My north star
He didn’t look at her, couldn’t, so he just stared down at the guitar, until it was over. Then he looked up. Emma was staring at him, tears streaking her cheeks.
“Oh, crap. I made it worse—”
“N-No—” Emma’s lips trembled. “Did you—is that—I mean, did you write that?”
“Uh.” He unhooked his guitar and set it down. “Yes. Last night. For you. Mom—I mean, I get it now. You told me the dance would be our first high school dance. I heard it when you said it, but I didn’t, like, hear, you know? But I get it. And you need to know you’re special. And I didn’t show it. But I am now. I think. I hope. I tried.” He smiled, but it felt a bit lopsided because it was pounding so hard.
Emma flew across the room and hugged him so hard that Cameron had to take a step back. So relieved he was almost dizzy, Cameron hugged her back. “You’ll go to the dance with me, right? I wanna take the prettiest girl, and that’s you.”
“I’ll go. Will you—will you play it again?” Emma asked, drawing back her eyes shining. “I wanna hear it again.”
Outside, in the hallway, Patrick edged away and pulled out his phone to text Elizabeth and let her know the crisis had passed. It was painful to admit his little girl was growing up, but, oh man, if she had to fall in love and leave him, then Patrick was grateful it was with someone who treated her right.
That same night, across town, Tom Baker whistled as he reached into his pocket and drew out the photo that Patrick Drake had once hung in his locker. Pretty little Emma and her family. Shame he didn’t have one of her with his first sweet girl, but there was always time for that.
And eventually, soon, he’d get to have that first taste. He’d been thinking about it for years and just hoped it would live up to the first time.
Song is William Lipton’s North Star. He’s Cam on the show, so I couldn’t resist. Couldn’t find lyrics online while writing, so had to transcribe from the song while listening. Please excuse typos.