Written in 65 minutes.
Patrick’s Condo: Living Room
“That’s the last one, I promise,” Robin said, watch Patrick grimace and drag the last suitcase in from the hallway. “I don’t even know why I packed everything — I won’t fit into it in a few months. And I could have helped—”
“No.” Patrick closed the door. “It would be just my luck that your dad and uncle would get here with the boxes and they’d see you lifting something. They’d never find my body.”
Robin furrowed her brow, but realized he was only half-joking. “I’m barely two months pregnant,” she protested, following him into the kitchen where he got a glass of water. “You have to let me do some things.”
Patrick leaned back against the counter. “Hey, if you really wanted to carry a suitcase, it’s not like I tackled you.” He smirked. “Admit it, you kind of like it when I force you to take a break.”
She pursed her lips, narrowed her eyes, then sighed. “Yeah, maybe a little. You’re the only one who does.”
“See? We understand each other.” He brushed a kiss against her forehead, his lips lingering. “Are you hungry? Or tired?”
“You’ve been reading the books again, haven’t you?”
“Week 9, fatigue and cravings set in.”
“Just a walking encyclopedia,” she grumbled but he wasn’t wrong. She opened the fridge and searched until she found the strawberries she’d stashed earlier. “Um, so about Thursday. I know I sort of told you that you had to go, but I know it’s not really your thing.”
“No, but I’ll remember this when I want you to go to a NASCAR race,” he quipped. “As long as your dad doesn’t pull out a shotgun, we’re good.”
Robin bit her lip. “Yeah, so about that. Dad didn’t really ask me anything when I told him, but if he brings it up—” She fumbled for a knife to slice the strawberries. “Um, we haven’t talked about it—”
“It’s an option that’s on the table if you want it.”
Her fingers stilled, and she looked over at him. “What?”
“But that’s not a proposal,” Patrick continued. “If you want us to be married before the baby’s born, that’s okay with me. But I know it’s not what you want. To be married because of the baby. And I know you’re still unsure about all of this, about me, so I’m not going to ask until you are.”
“Who are you and what did you do with Patrick Drake?” she asked suspiciously. “You couldn’t run fast enough when I started talking about kids—now you’re talking about marriage without having a panic attack—and you probably know more about what’s going on in my body than I do—”
“There was a moment,” Patrick said quietly, “that night when I thought you were the other victim.”
She closed her lips. “Patrick—”
“They said it was two women. And I knew you were going out that night. I knew you and Emily were together. I couldn’t wait for an elevator, and even the stairs wasn’t fast enough. I was convinced that I would get to the lab and you’d be gone, and then someone would tell me you were dead.”
He cleared his throat. “And then I saw you, and you were alive. After that, everything I was worried about—the future—it just seemed like it was stupid. I didn’t want to fall in love, but there you were and I did. And I didn’t know if I’d be a good husband or a father, and you deserved both, so I thought, I’ll let her go so she can be happy. Because that’s what I wanted.”
He hesitated. “But then that moment came, and I realized that I wanted you more. And if I could learn how to be in a relationship, I could figure out how to be a father. I know it feels like I changed my mind overnight, but I’d been trying to think through it since we broke up. Elizabeth can tell you I was already halfway there before I found out you were pregnant.”
“Why was that night different from the hotel?” Robin asked. “I almost died six months ago.”
“I don’t know. Maybe because I knew the whole time you were alive. You were hurt, and I couldn’t be there. But I didn’t know you weren’t laying dead in a parking garage until I saw you.” He sipped his water. “But like I said, I know this is happening fast for you. So until you’re sure, we’ll hold off. But in the interest of keeping your uncle and your dad from going for the shotgun, maybe you could just tell them I asked.”
“Yeah. That seems fair.” She slid her arms around his waist and leaned up to kiss him. “I love you. I know that much.”
“I love you, too.” He kissed her again, cupping her chin. “And the rest of it? We’ll get there when we get there.”
Morgan Penthouse: Living Room
Watching Cameron race around the room, chasing an opponent only he could see, no one would believe he’d woken in the middle of the night with a sick stomach.
“Should we be letting him run around?” Jason asked, appearing in the kitchen doorway, Jake in his arms. “Maybe he should rest.”
“I was just thinking that, but he woke up without a fever. And he ate every bite of breakfast.” She made a face, then turned to face him. “And we’ve never been that good at getting him to take it easy.”
“No, that’s true.” He went back into the kitchen to set Jake into his high chair. The infant had woken late and was just showing signs of watching something to eat. “Spinelli was out of here early.”
“Yeah, I think he was worried we’d ask him to do more laundry.” She smirked and went over to sink to rinse the breakfast dishes and stow them in the dishwasher. Then her hands hesitated over the faucet. “Did you have a chance to talk to him last night?”
“No, I got in too late. And we only talked for a minute in the laundry room. Why?”
“He came in from Kelly’s and went to lay down in his room. He was quiet and upset. He, um, had a run-in with Sam at Kelly’s.”
At the mention of his ex-fiancée, whom they hadn’t spoken of since Halloween, Jason froze, looked at her. “What?”
“I don’t know much about it, other than Spinelli felt in necessary to clarify to her that they weren’t friends anymore. Um, it just…I guess, after Halloween—” Elizabeth shrugged. “I just wondered why she’d bother with Spinelli when she hasn’t in months. At least that I know about.”
“I don’t know.” Jason sat down next to the high chair, twisted the top from the jar of baby food. “I forgot about that night,” he admitted.
“Yeah, so did I.” She sat at the table, watched him feed their son for a minute. “It got lost in all the rest of it. What—um, what did you say when you got rid of her?”
“Same thing I told her in August. To back off you and the boys.” Jason glanced at her, then focused on Jake again. “And maybe I suggested no one would look that hard for her if she went missing,” he admitted.
Elizabeth blinked, stared at him. “Oh.” That was certainly something she hadn’t expected. “Um—”
“I wouldn’t—” Jason grimaced, and she knew it was because he hated talking about of anything. He didn’t want his work in their home, and he didn’t like that she knew anything about that side of him. “I wouldn’t. Unless I thought she was a threat.” He winced. “Not that she isn’t—”
“She’s looking to cause trouble,” Elizabeth said. “Which isn’t the kind of threat you need to worry about. I get it. She tried to latch on to Lucky—which explains why he was going so hard at the beginning. With her in his ear, yeah. But I guess he backed off, and she’s angry about that.”
“She’s also pissed because of the trial and Diane’s cross-examination. I wasn’t interested in protecting her. Not after Jake.” Jason met her eyes. “I don’t know how to make her stop bothering you or Spinelli. I’m sorry.”
“We’ll just take it one step at a time. I just thought you should know she’s still around.” She rose, kissed the top of Jake’s head. “I’ll go do the dishes.”
PCPD: Squad Room
“Good work,” Robert said, sitting next to Lucky’s desk, peering over the list. “Ten names is a great place to start.”
“I tried to eliminate more of them, but based on the DMV database, these ten fit the profile you put together. They’re average height and build, and they all have a connection to the hospital and the campus.” Lucky leaned back in his chair. “Most of them work for the security company. The hospital and PCU contract with the same one, and once we got the subpoena for their employee information, it went faster.”
“What about the rest of them? What’s the connection?”
“They’re outsourced employees for the security. Most electronics. I put them last,” Lucky continued, “because access to the cameras and how they work wouldn’t mean they know the layouts of the crime scenes.”
“No criminal records?”
“No. Nothing more than bumps or scrapes. At least that I can find. I, uh, thought you might have some contacts at the FBI and WSB that would know more.” Lucky paused. “Do you think our guy is on this list?”
“I think it makes the most sense. And if we can get this list down even further, we can follow them. Try and get some DNA. All it takes is one thrown away cup or bottle.” Robert scrutinized the list again. “It’s good work, Spencer. Ten names is better than the hundred or so we started with. I’ll see if we can knock it down some more.”
Robert rose and headed down the hallway towards Mac’s office, and Lucky breathed his first easy sigh in a weeks. He hoped like hell he’d done something right and that they’d find this guy before he struck again.
Kelly’s: Dining Room
“Hey!” Robin grinned as she returned from the bathroom and found Elizabeth at the counter. “What you are doing here?”
“I called in an order for dinner,” Elizabeth said, smiling as the doctor slid back onto the stool. “Patrick let you out of his sight?”
“Ha. You joke, but it’s not that far off,” Robin muttered. “He got called into surgery, and I had a craving for Ruby’s chili. How are you? I feel like we haven’t seen each other since…” She trailed off.
“Good. Things are—we’re managing. I think it’s going to get harder with the holidays coming,” Elizabeth admitted. “I can almost pretend it isn’t real because we didn’t always see Emily every day, but Thanksgiving at the Quartermaines without her? She’s never missed a single Christmas Eve with Cameron, and—” She shook her head. “I don’t know. I should ask you the same.”
“Yeah, it’s the holidays that are bringing it back. Just when you think you’ve got a balance and you’ve come to terms with it—” Robin swirled her spoon in her chili bowl. “It hits you all over again. And it shouldn’t still feel fresh. But it does.”
“You forget for a few moments, and when you remember, it’s like it happens all over again.” Elizabeth tucked her hair behind her ear. “Cam still asks for her sometimes. He looks at her picture on the mantel, and asks. But I’m glad. I know one day—”
“She won’t be more than a picture to him. Yeah, that’s how I feel about this baby and Georgie.” Robin smiled wistfully. “She’d be such a good aunt, you know? She’d balance Maxie.” She took a deep breath. “But I try to focus on what I have. Patrick keeps surprising me. It’s like maybe he secretly wanted a kid all along and now he gets to show it.”
“I think it’s freaking him out how much he does want it,” Elizabeth told her. “It’s like he spent a decade telling himself he wasn’t into monogamy and kids and love — but it’s almost like that player personality he moved here with was just a shield, you know? Because it’s been you for him since the beginning.”
Robin bit her lip, then smiled. “You’re not wrong.”
A waitress came out with Elizabeth’s order and Robin asked for her chili to be wrapped up. “I’ll walk out with you,” Robin said, and rose.
The bell behind them jingled, and they both turned to see Sam coming in, sliding past another customer. Elizabeth grimaced. The last thing she needed.
Sam’s face lit up when she spied them at the counter and sauntered towards them. “Well, hello. Isn’t this great timing? All of Jason’s exes in one spot. The brunettes anyway.” She raked her eyes over Elizabeth, then Robin. “He sure has a type, huh?”
“I don’t know. I think Carly and Courtney would have something to say about that,” Robin said dryly, taking her bag from the waitress.
“Oh, God, don’t remind me about either of them.” Elizabeth wrinkled her nose. “Do you have any idea how much grief I went through with Carly? Not as much as you.”
“I still have nightmares about her,” Robin said.
“Well, you know, maybe Jason was just searching for someone who could actually have children,” Sam retorted, clearly irritated that her dig hadn’t landed.
Robin furrowed her brow. “That one doesn’t make any sense. Carly and Courtney had kids. I’m pregnant. Aren’t you the only barren one here?”
Sam’s nostrils flared. “How dare you—”
“I wouldn’t start with that one, Sam, since you were clearly showing my HIV in my face with that kids crack. Shows how much you know. Not very bright, is she?” Robin said to Elizabeth, who tried not to snicker.
“Sam, can you just get to the point?” Elizabeth said. “I get it. You hate me. You hate my kids. And you want Jason to be miserable. Message received. Have you thought about getting a life?”
“You think this is over because you’re wearing his ring?” Sam spat. “I was engaged to him, too. It’s not hard to get him to do that—”
“This is really sad, you know that?” Robin made a face. “It kind of reminds me of every time Carly tried to corner me about being the only one who really understood Jason. At least she’d do it in private.”
“You, too, huh? Man, she’s really predictable.”
“I hope you both choke on your self-righteousness,” Sam spat. Then whirled around to leave.
“She is a deeply unpleasant woman,” Robin said, watching her go.
“You have no idea. Let’s wait a few minutes,” Elizabeth suggested. “Make sure she’s gone. I really don’t want to deal with her in the parking lot.”
Kelly’s: Parking Lot
He’d slipped out of the diner just as Sam McCall had entered, ready to make his move. He’d waited for days until both his targets were in the same place — in the right place — and now they were leaving together — it couldn’t be more perfect.
He lingered just behind the brick wall separating the parking lot from the courtyard, listening for the telltale jingle of bells, knowing his quarry were on their way out.
He heard the footsteps, saw the dark hair woman walk past him. He leapt out, his crowbar raised to crack her across the face. She never saw him — but when she slumped to the ground, and he turned to get the second woman —
There was no one. She was alone.
He hissed, turned back to the woman and kicked her until she fell onto her back, her face visible in the moonlight. She was already coming around, her word slurred. “What—what—
She wasn’t the right woman! Damn it—his targets were still on their way out, and now he had a witness—
Well. Not for long.