Flash Fiction: Watch Me Burn – Part 16

This entry is part 16 of 16 in the Flash Fiction: Watch Me Burn

Written in 60 minutes.


Robin’s Apartment: Living Room

“Oh—” Emily’s thoughts scattered for a moment when Patrick pulled open the door to Robin’s apartment. “I wasn’t—I was looking for Robin—”

“I’m just—” Distracted, Patrick raked a hand through his dark, messy hair and disappeared behind the door. Emily followed him. “Robin’s at her uncle’s. I’m just here to get some things together for her.”

“Oh. I was coming to check on her.” Emily closed the door. “But it’s good that she’s with her uncle—”

“Mac was at the police station when I left, but Robin’s with Maxie—” Patrick exhaled on a sharp breath. “Look, can you help me put her bag together? I started to and it was my idea, but now—I don’t know. It doesn’t feel right to go through her drawers when we’re not dating. Hell, even if we were—”

“Yeah, sure.” Emily followed him into the bedroom where a duffel bag was open on the bed. “I’d ask how she’s doing but it’s a stupid question.”

“Holding together,” Patrick said, shoving a pair of jeans into the bag. “She was trying to track down her mother—and Georgie’s parents, I think. She said it could be a few days—”

“Yeah, Frisco Jones works for the WSB, and I guess Felicia does now, too.” Emily tugged open a drawer and drew out the first few bra and panty sets she found. “Robin is at her best when she’s got a list to complete or people to take care of. Maxie and Mac won’t have to worry about anything.” She carefully arranged the intimates in the bag, reorganizing the mess Patrick had made of the clothes inside. “That’s why I paged you. I could see the news wasn’t really hitting, but when it did—”

Patrick fisted his hands at his waist. “I hate when she cries,” he muttered. “She doesn’t do it much, so I never have any experience with it, but, Christ, Emily—Georgie was just a kid and she’s gone. Just like that.”

“Just like that. Life is fragile,” Emily murmured. “I went to dinner at the hotel, and my father was there for another reason. And then he was gone. We never get all the time we should. There’s no promise in any of this. Robin’s going to boss people around, take control, and that’s how she copes. But she needs someone who didn’t lose Georgie the same way. You know? I mean, you liked Georgie, but you’re not her sister or stepfather. She needs someone to make sure she eats. And rests. And doesn’t take on the weight of the world—”

“Emily, we’re not dating anymore—”

“No, I know that. And that’s between you and Robin.” Emily took the sweater he was holding and put into the duffel bag. “But you didn’t break up because you argued. Because someone cheated. You just want different things.”

“Yeah.” Patrick went back to the closet and found two more shirts which he dumped into the bag. “Well—”

“The love isn’t gone, is it?”

“No.” Patrick sighed. “It’d be easier if it were,” he bit out. “Because then I could just get over it. But she wants a family, and I—” He pressed his lips together. “I don’t know if I’ll ever get there. And even if I did, what kind of father would I be?”

“Fathers…” Emily zipped the bag. “That’s a funny thing. You mostly learn on the job if you’re willing to make mistakes and try better. The most important part is showing up. And you know how to do that.”

“Why do you say that?”

“You and Robin aren’t dating anymore. You could have called anyone to take care of Robin. She’s got lots of people who love her. But you’re here. And I don’t think it’s just because I paged you.” She looped the straps of the bag over her palm and held it out to him. “You’re showing up, Patrick, because you love her. Because she needs you.”

Morgan Penthouse: Living Room

The tension in Jason’s shoulders vanished the moment he pushed open the door to the penthouse and found Elizabeth on the sofa with Jake in her lap and Cameron playing with a handful of toys in the space between the coffee table and entertainment center against the wall.

He was so used to coming home to an empty silent home that he almost stopped in  his tracks, only jarred back to reality by Spinelli bumping into his back.

“Everything good, Stone Cold?” the tech wanted to know, sliding around Jason, his tired eyes lighting up at Cameron on the floor. “Hey, Little Dude, you’re still here.”

“Grammy bought me stuff,” Cameron said. He smiled as Spinelli sat on the floor next to Cameron and picked up one of the fire trucks. “That makes sounds! Press this—” Cam touched the button, and Spinelli’s face lit up when the sounds of the siren echoed in the penthouse.

Elizabeth winced and got to her feet, cradling Jake against her shoulder. “I’m going to need ear plugs,” she said with a good-natured wince, approaching Jason, brushing her mouth against his. Jason caught her at the waist, held her close for a long moment. “How did it go?”

“Okay, I guess.” Jake reached for him, so Jason lifted his son into his arms, pressing his cheek against the baby’s soft forehead. “Is there somewhere we can talk?”

“Yeah. One second—” Elizabeth turned back to Cameron and Spinelli. “Hey, Spinelli, we got sanwiches for lunch and there’s orange soda. Would you entertain Cameron for a bit so Jason and I can put Jake down for a nap?”

“Sure thing, Fair Elizabeth.” Spinelli climbed to his feet. “Wanna find some cartoons? The Scoobs is a personal favorite.”

“Scooby is the best.”

“Guess there’s a side benefit to having someone in the house with the same tastes and hobbies as my three year old,” Elizabeth said wryly as she followed Jason up the stairs and down the hall into the master bedroom. “Before you go in—”

He paused when he saw a suitcase by the door and stared at for a long moment before turning back to her, quizzical. “What’s going on?”

“I realize I’m rushing things a bit,” Elizabeth said, her cheeks flushing. She picked up the handle of the suitcase and moved it closer to the bed. “And you really just asked for me to hang around today because Cam keeps Spinelli happy—”

“That’s not why—”

“But I guess I decided to take you literally this morning.” She bit her lip. “When you said you’d ask for forever if I was ready. When you left, when I had time to sit with everything that’s happened—God—” Elizabeth sank slowly onto the edge of the bed. “She was just a baby. Her whole life ahead of her and it’s gone. There are no more tomorrows for her. No more one days. It’s over. Georgie really was the sweetest girl, you know? I mean, of course, you know. But—” she sighed. “I asked myself what if I was staying at my grandmother’s because I didn’t feel ready or if I thought the rest of the world wasn’t ready. I didn’t want to rush into anything, but—” She made a face. “I’m not explaining this well.”

“It’s okay.” Jason sat next to her, looping one arm around Jake’s waist to secure the infant. “You’re doing fine.”

“It’s not like you and I haven’t known each other for years, you know? We’ve seen each other at our worst, and we’ve been through so much. And I don’t know…it just seemed so silly to pretend that every minute I’m back at my grandmother’s, I’m not thinking about being here with you.”

With his free hand, Jason laced their fingers together, their eyes meeting. “We can always re-evaluate in a few months,” he told her. “If you want more time.”

“Five years ago,” Elizabeth said, searching his gaze, “I walked out of this penthouse. I threw away the dream I had of what we could be. I’ve had all the time I need, Jason. But if you want it—”

“I meant what I said this morning. Waking up with you laying next to me, with Cam and Jake at the breakfast table, it’s all I want.” He kissed her, then Jake batted his fists, bumping in between them. “Hey, you want some attention?”

Elizabeth smiled, stroking Jake’s back. “How did Spinelli do at the station?”

“Held his own. I, uh,” Jason grimaced, “I had words with Lucky after the questioning was over. Just—when it comes to this investigation with Georgie—I’ll cooperate. But it’s not changing anything. We’re going through with the paternity filing this week. I…I told him he wouldn’t get the chance to hurt Cameron again.” He grimaced. “I know that’s not my place—”

“I’ll call Diane in a bit to finalize the addendum to my petition to the family court. I’m not backing down. No matter what Lucky thought he was doing yesterday, he walked away while my son was screaming for his father. He doesn’t get to pick and choose when to show Cameron love. That’s not how it works.” Elizabeth laid her head on Jason’s shoulder. “And what you said about sharing Cameron, I’m thinking about that, too. He’s not ready for that kind of shift, but I know you already love him. And that means the world to me.”

Spencer House: Porch

“I thought you’d come back to the island tonight,” Nikolas called from the driveway. He closed the door to the Jaguar and sat next to Lucky on the top step. “But Mrs. Lansbury said you hadn’t caught the launch.”

“Wanted to stick close to town with this investigation.” Lucky stretched out his legs. “Bit of a holding pattern right now. Waiting on some tests, some records to come back.”

In the horizon, the sun was sinking low, and daylight was crawling away, overtaken by the creeping shadows. “Hell of a thing,” Nikolas murmured. “Murdered right on campus like that.”

“Thinking about what Mac is going through. And Maxie,” Lucky added almost absently, “but Mac—you know I forget a lot of the time that Mac isn’t Georgie’s father. That he’s barely anything to them. Mac and Felicia have been divorced a long time. But Mac’s raised them since they were babies. Losing Georgie this way—” Lucky shook his head. “Thinking about this summer. Long stretches when I worried about Jake. Thought he might be dead. Christ, the best case scenario was hoping someone had taken him to raise him. And now…”

He looked across the street, his gaze distant. “And now it’s another kind of death,” Lucky murmured. “Jake is alive, thank God. But he’s never going to know me. He won’t have any memory of being mine. Of the months I’ve spent with him. The sleepless nights, hoping he’d just give me and Elizabeth an hour of a rest…” He looked at Nikolas. “I’m right, aren’t I? You don’t have any memory of Mom being in Greece.”

“No. I don’t. Lucky—”

“I know everyone thinks I should throw in the towel. Especially after yesterday. Christ. What the hell was I thinking?” Lucky muttered. He put his head in his hands. “Walking away from Cameron—I should have snatched him up, held him tight, told Elizabeth I was taking him for a while—why didn’t I just hold him, Nikolas? Tell him I loved him?”

“You’re the only one who knows that.”

Lucky exhaled. “He was there. Holding my son, sitting with my family. And he’s always been there, you know that, don’t you? Always lurking in the background so I’d never forget Elizabeth settled for me.” He gritted his teeth. “And in that moment, I hated him more than I loved my son. I just saw red. I wanted to hurt her. To hurt him. To hurt them all.” He squeezed his hand into a fist. “And the anger won. I couldn’t put Cameron first. Just like Dad couldn’t do put any of us first. He couldn’t put you first, either, you know. He never saw you. Only how you got to be.”

“You made a mistake—”

“A mistake I’m going to have to pay for, I guess, but—” Lucky got to his feet. “I’m not going to stop fighting for my sons. I don’t care what anyone says. Even if I lose. One day, one day, I want someone to be able to say that I made mistakes, but I never stopped fighting. Until there’s nothing left—”

“It’s a mistake, Lucky—”

“I’m good at those,” Lucky murmured. He looked out over the lawn, at the memories of a happier childhood, at the brief happiness he’d had here with this summer with his boys. “It’s a mistake I have to make, Nikolas.”

Comments

  • Thanks for the update. I can’t wait for Lucky to lose and for Jason, Liz, and Spinelle to be a family to Jake and Cam. My heart is breaking for Georgie. I can’t wait to find out who is doing the killing.

    According to Shelly Samuel on December 18, 2022
  • I hope that Lucky doesn’t drag this custody out in court at least for the boys sake. It makes my heart happy to see Jason and Elizabeth finally take a chance to be a family.

    According to Becca on December 18, 2022
  • Lucky isn’t going to win and he didn’t put Cameron first. How often did he do that? I’m glad that our couple talked. I’m still upset about Georgie.

    According to arcoiris0502 on December 18, 2022
  • Spinelli and cam crack me up. I love it when they hang out.
    I’m sooo happy to see Jason & Elizabeth get it together finally as it should be…although I’m glad lucky getting a bit of an epiphany of how much of an asshat he can be, he can still take a hike imo.

    According to Brittany on December 18, 2022
  • I am glad that Jason and Liz are finally trying to make a go of their relationship. Pretty soon the two of them will get married. Spinelli is a great big brother. Lucky is going to learn the hard way that what he did to Cam will come back and bite him in the butt.

    According to Carolyn Grandchamp on December 19, 2022
  • If Lucky was really sorry, he would give up Jake and Cam. I am so glad Elizabeth was waiting for Jason to come home and wants to stay.

    According to Carla P on December 19, 2022
  • love this story it is sad and sweet.
    I could almost feel sorry for Lucky if he had treated Cam better.
    Glad Patrick is helping Robin.

    According to Pamela Hedstrom on December 20, 2022