Coming Home

By BillieK26

"If you need time, Iíll give it to you, but I wonít see you while you figure it out. I understand that youíve had a shock with Cristian coming back and I donít want to be around to confuse you more," Evangeline said in response to Johnís comment that he did have feelings for Natalie and wasnít sure what they were.

"Evangeline, I donít want to stop seeing you. I just need to figure out whatís going on with me," he said. He hadnít expected her to back off while he figured everything out, but he could tell by the look on her face that she was not going to change her mind.

"I know that and thatís why Iím giving you some time, but John I wonít be second. I will not be your backup plan. If you want me, itís got to be me you want and not because you canít have Natalie," she said, kissed him on the cheek and left him in the diner thinking.

After sitting in the booth for a while, heíd gone back to the station and put in a leave slip for the rest of the week.

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After a couple of days, John was no closer to figuring out how he felt. He wondered what Evangeline was doing. Heíd found himself thinking of her more and more when she wasnít with him. Since he couldnít call her, he decided to call Michael. John knew that Michael was still dealing with the fact that heíd suggested that he and Marcie slow down. Maybe they could commiserate with each other.

The two brothers met at Rodiís and over fast food and beer, Michael shared his disappointment over where he and Marcie were and John told Michael how he really felt. Michael was glad that his brother trusted him enough to tell him what was going on with Natalie and Evangeline. Michael felt like they actually bonded and were more than brothers, they were friends.

"What do you want John?

"Michael, I want Natalie happy. Iím glad that her husband is alive and that they can be happy together."

"What do you want for you, John?"

"I guess I want to be happy too."

"Did Natalie make you happy?"

"No, she didnít."

"Does Evangeline?"

"She makes me feel a lot of things Michael. I donít know. Sheís so different from any other woman Iíve ever known. She keeps me on my toes. She pushes me. She listens to me. She supports me in my job. She understands how important it is to me. Sheís amazing. I mean sheís reading a book to learn football so that when we go to another game sheíll understand the plays? Sheís so independent and still so vulnerable. Iím happy when Iím with her," he said with a bemused look on his face. He didnít even notice the grin on his brotherís face.

"Iíd say that you arenít confused, just an idiot."

"What is that supposed to mean?"

"You already know how you feel, but youíre afraid to admit it for fear of losing it."

"What? When did you become Dr. Phil?"

Michael laughed and shook his head, "I donít have to be Dr. Phil to read the look on your face when you were just talking about Evangeline. Youíre really in love with her. I donít know why you havenít seen it."

"I donít know what youíre talking about," he said and shook his head.

"Big John McBain has fallen in love, maybe for the first time in his life, because I donít remember you even talking about Caitlin like this."

"I did love Caitlin."

"I know you loved her and I donít discount your relationship with her. I was there. I know how hard it was for you to get over her death, but I think you might have unconsciously remembered things a little differently than they really were. You never had the look in your eyes when you were with Caitlin that I just saw. Maybe youíre scared youíll lose Evangeline if you finally admit to yourself and to her how you feel. I donít know."

John just stared at Michael thoughtfully, before looking away and saying, "Maybe I just think she deserves better."

"Well, after having met her she probably does," he said smiling at the look his brother flashed him, "Okay, Iím joking, but regardless of what you or I think, donít you think she should be allowed to decide what she wants?"

"But what if she doesnít want me after all the drama Iíve introduced lately?" he asked quietly.

Michael was surprised by the question, because his brother hardly ever expressed any insecurity, "Well, thatís a possibility, but what about the alternative? I personally think that she loves you too. You can see it in her eyes when she talks about you."

"When has she talked to you about me?"

"Wouldnít you like to know?"

"Yes, I would."

"Well, youíll have to ask her. Iím in her confidence and Iím not risking it."

"What kind of brother are you?"

"One who loves you and wants you to be happy. You do deserve that."

"Thanks."

"So, do you think the Eagles are going all the way?" Michael asked changing the subject.

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After talking to Michael, John went back to his room and had a chance to put his past and present relationships into perspective. Because he had spent most of his life taking care of everyone around him, he had never taken the time to fully realize what he wanted out of life.

Caitlin had been the first woman heíd ever allowed himself to really care about. She had been needy and now he knew that that was his modus operandi. When his father died, heíd taken care of his mother, his brother and everything else. He was a protector by nature and somehow, heíd forgotten that he was also a man with needs and wants of his own. Heíd taken care of Caitlin, just as sheíd wanted him too. Did he love her? Absolutely, but now he questioned whether heíd ever really been in love with her. Sheíd accepted him as he was and never truly made any demands on him. He had wanted her happy and for some reason he did that for her. She had been easy.

Natalie had been the first woman since Caitlin that heíd let himself have feeling for, but that was because he felt guilty. He related to her loss and knew how hard it was to live without someone that you loved. He had believed that sheíd lost her husband because of something that heíd gotten them involved with. Never mind that neither the husband nor the wife followed the instructions given by the FBI agent. He had seen Caitlin in her. Just as he felt responsible for Caitlinís death, he felt responsible for Natalieís life.

Now, Cristian was back and John was relieved. While Cris was still angry at him for what he believed John had done to him, John was glad that heíd gotten him involved with Flynn. If he hadnít Cris would have been killed for sure, because had Tico known that Cris was still alive he would have kept making attempts on his life. He was glad that Natalie had her husband back and he hoped that they would be happy together.

Then there was Evangeline, the woman who was unlike anyone heíd ever known. She was so fixed on being the best that she lost sight of the fact that she was human. She forgot sometimes that she needed people and it was difficult for her to admit that she couldnít handle everything by herself. She was independent and stubborn and so absolutely supportive. The fact that she believed in him was surprisingly reassuring.

The talk with Michael had obviously been good for him, because he had his first night of restful sleep since Evangeline had walked away from him. The next morning, he decided to go for a drive. Although it was cold, it was a beautiful day. Heíd ended up at Lincoln Financial Field, the stadium where the Philadelphia Eagles played football. Once there, he decided to buy tickets for the Eagles game against the Cowboys. The game was the week before Christmas and maybe that could be part of his gift to Evangeline.

He hoped he could convince Evangeline to go with him. She could put her new found knowledge of the game to the test. She was determined to learn as much as possible about the game without any help from anyone, including him and he was impressed. How could he have not realized how important she was to him? I am an idiot. What was I thinking? I care for Natalie, but I love Evangeline. With that realization, heíd headed back to Llanview.

When heíd gotten there, heíd stopped by her office, but she wasnít in. Her assistant, Adrian, had informed him that Evangeline had taken a few days off, as well. Sheíd only told him that she needed a couple of days and she wouldnít be taking any calls. His first instinct was to call her, but her cell phone was turned off and the voicemail came on at her house. His next try was Nora. Surely she would know what was going on with Evangeline.

"Hey, John. How are you? Whatís up?" Nora responded to his greeting.

"Nora, Iím fine. Iím looking for Evangeline. I need to talk to her."

"Well, she, uhÖ"

"Nora, I really need to talk to her. I need to clear some things up."

"Sheís staying at the palace for a couple of days. She decided to treat herself and get a much needed break from work."

"Thanks, Nora."

"JohnÖ," she called as she realized he was about to hang up the phone.

"Yeah?" he replied.

"It's almost Christmas. This is not the time for breaking hearts. Donít hurt her or youíll answer to me."

"Nora, I plan on it being a wonderful Christmas for both of us. Iíll take good care of her," he said and ended the call.

When he got to the Palace, he talked to the manager and had to flash his badge to get the information he needed. As he made his way to the room, he ran through what he planned to say to her. He knocked on the door and waited. She opened the door without checking who was there.

"You know thatís dangerous. Donít ever open the door with out checking," he said looking his fill. He had missed her. More than he realized.

Upon hearing his voice, she glanced up, "John, what are you doing here? How did you find me?"

"Iím a cop. Itís sort of what I do."

"Well, what can I do for you Lieutenant?" she said in her most professional voice, not inviting him into the room.

"You know I had this played out in my head," he said looking at her. She had a confused look on her face but didnít make a comment, as he continued, "I was going to tell you that," he swallowed, "I want you and it doesnít have anything to do with anyone else. That you make me happy, but it all comes down to the fact that I love you."

She looked at him with incredulity in her eyes. He knew that she was having a hard time believing what heíd just told her. He couldnít believe himself that heíd admitted it, but now he recognized that he would have to convince her.

"I know that I was confused, but Iím not anymore. You are the person I want."

"What about Natalie?" she asked with some skepticism.

"I donít want Natalie. I never really have. I related to what she was going through and I got confused. I care about her the way I care about Shannon. I would do whatever I could to see that she doesnít get hurt and I do want her happy, but she doesnít make me happy. Only you do that. I love you."

"What made you realize that you love me all of a sudden?"

"Football."

"Football?"

"Today, I found myself driving to Philadelphia and decided to buy tickets to the Eagles-Cowboysí Game this weekend, so that I could talk you into going with me and you could test your new knowledge of the game. I thought that could be part of your Christmas present. As I was buying those tickets, it hit me that you were all Iíve ever wanted and have been afraid I could never have. You are the woman I want. You said if there was a chance, youíd stick with me forever. If you meant that, then you have to believe what Iím telling you right now. Before, I asked you not to give up on me. I told you that weíre worth fighting for. Those words still apply. I know that my inability to express what I feel has been frustrating for you, but what I feel for you is more than I ever thought I could feel."

"I donít know what to say," she said softening to him.

"Michael said I needed to take a note in being selfish and not try to take care of everybody else all the time. Well, Iím doing that now," he said and kissed her with all the pent up emotion that he was feeling. He felt her relax into him and wrapped his arms around her, holding her to him. When he pulled away, he rubbed his nose to hers and sighed, "I feel like Iíve finally come home. All my life Iíve been floating with no place for myself except in my work and now Iím here with you. What a wonderful Christmas this is gonna be. How did I get to be so lucky?"

"I donít know. Maybe you just have angels watching over you," she said with a smile, pulled him into the room and leaned in to kiss him once more.