Chapter Seven: The Realization

For the second day in a row, John awoke in a fog. As he squinted and felt a sharp pain shoot through his head, he realized that he was in his own room. At first, he didn’t quite remember what had happened, but as his eyes started to focus and he surveyed his apartment, he saw a glass of water and a pair of aspirin on his night stand and he also saw his watch. As he slowly sat up to grab the water and aspirin, he spotted Evangeline sleeping peacefully on the couch. It brought a smile to his face. Seeing her there slowly brought back the events of the day and night before. His head still felt like it was full of cobwebs, but he knew that he’d talked to her, even if he couldn’t remember everything he had said. He decided to take a shower before he woke her up. It was only 6:30 am.

After slowly maneuvering his way around the edge of his bed, he walked into the living room and touched her cheek. I’ve really missed this, he thought. He missed waking up and feeling her there. He missed touching her whenever he wanted. He resolved within himself right then that he was going to come to terms with his hang ups about Caitlyn.

Evangeline was awakened by the sound of water falling. It’s the shower, she thought. She looked toward the bed and realized that John had awakened. Evangeline saw that the aspirin were gone and the glass of water was empty. As she sat up to put on her shoes, she heard a knock on the door. She opened the door to the smiling face of Michael McBain.

“Hey,” Michael said cheerfully, a hopeful expression covered his face. “Did you stay here all night? Did you and John get back together last night after I left?”

As Evangeline welcomed Mike in, she said, “Yes, I stayed here last night. I stayed on the couch because John was in a really bad way and he asked me not to leave. No, we didn’t get back together last night.”

In a despondent manner, Mikey said, “Oh. I can always hope, can’t I?”

Evangeline smiled as she said, “Yeah Michael. You can always hope.”

Mike had brought a mega size cup of coffee for John. He apologized to Evangeline for not bringing her coffee too. “I just didn’t expect to get the nice surprise of seeing you here this morning.”

“It’s okay,” Evangeline assured him. “I’ve got to get going anyway. I have a lot of work to get to today. Can you tell John goodbye for me? Can you tell him that I hope everything is better for him today?”

“Sure Evangeline,” Mikey replied. “I can tell him, but don’t you want to stay and tell him yourself?”

“I don’t think that’s a good idea,” she said. “I don’t know how he’s going to feel about me witnessing him in one of his lowest moments last night.” With that said, she gave Mike a hug and left.

John came out of the bathroom as excited as he could be with the mammoth hangover he had. He was anticipating seeing Evangeline still lying asleep on his couch. To his dismay, he was greeted with the smiling face of his little brother.

“Where’s Evangeline?” John inquired of Mike.

“She had to go to work,” Mike replied. “How are you feeling? I brought you a huge cup of coffee.”

“I’m fine,” John answered. In a confused state, he said, “Why did she leave? Was she so disgusted with me that she couldn’t take facing me this morning?” He grabbed the cup of coffee from Mikey’s hand and took a sip.

“Actually,” Mikey countered. “She was worried that you’d feel self conscious seeing her this morning after she saw you at your worst last night. Once again, she was putting your feelings first. What exactly happened between you two anyway?”

John squinted in pain as he recalled what happened. He said, “I asked her why almost everyone I love and care about leaves me. I remember saying that. I also remember begging her not to leave me last night and that she stayed and rubbed my back until I fell asleep.”

“Whoa,” Mike replied. “She must still love you a lot.”

“Why do you say that?” John asked.

“Are you blind big brother?” Mike retorted. “She stayed here last night and cared for you when you were at your lowest. As a matter of fact, she didn’t hesitate to get you home last night when I asked her to, even though you had just asked her if she was sleeping with that Lucien Teng guy.”

“What?” The sharp turn of his head reminded John why he shouldn’t make any fast movements today. “I asked her that?”

“Yeah,” Mike answered with a little sarcastic laugh. “To be quite honest, you didn’t ask her if she was sleeping with Teng, you almost accused her of it.”

“Damn it,” John said. “Why did you let me talk to her at all, Mikey? I thought you had my back.”

“I do, big brother,” he said. “I had to leave you at the table for a moment and I didn’t want to leave you alone. I guess I didn’t realize how bad off you were until I heard you accuse her of that. It’s weird, John, but you seemed to be worse off yesterday than I’ve ever seen you before. I thought you’d be getting better. What else is going on?”

With a sullen look, John said, “I was worse off last night than I’ve ever been before. Not only was I mourning losing Caitlyn, but I was also mourning the loss of what I had with Evangeline. I saw her and Lucien in the park making out the day before and it hurt more than I can say.” At saying this, he looked away from Mikey feeling too vulnerable after expressing his feelings to his brother.

“Gosh, John.” Mikey implored, “While you can’t get Caitlyn back, you can definitely get Evangeline back, if that’s what you really want. You know she left Lucien at Rodi’s last night to bring you home. She even spent the night. I’m telling you that she still loves you. The question is do you love her? Or better yet, are you going to come to terms with the fact that you do love her and let yourself express that love to her verbally? She’s right there waiting for you, John, and you just have to figure out if you can fully love her the way she needs to be. You also have to figure out why you keep letting Natalie come between you guys.”

“I know Mike,” John conceded. “I know you’re right and I guess I have a lot to figure out. Thanks little bro. I’d never admit this in public, but you’re alright.”

“I love you too,” Mikey responded. “I have to get to the hospital. Are you sure you’re going to be okay?”

“I’ll be fine Mike. Just go. I’ll talk to you later,” John said.

After Mike left, John sat on his couch drinking the rest of the coffee and contemplating his whole relationship with Evangeline. “Do I really let Natalie come between us?” he thought. Evangeline has mentioned it too many times to count and Mike is beginning to say it more often too.

“I can’t believe I let Christian talk me into making that promise to him,” he fretted. “When you add that to the obvious guilt I have about ruining Natalie’s life and my obsessive need to protect her, no wonder Evangeline, Mike, and Natalie for that matter think something more is going on here.”

“Has it really been that bad?” he pondered. “When have I really put Natalie before Evangeline?”

As he thought back in chronological order from the beginning, he started to see a pattern forming. “There was the time when Evangeline lost her first case, but I was out arresting Natalie, Paul Kramer and that pain in the butt Rex. Evangeline really needed me then, but it took a while for me to find her.”

“I’ll never forget the look in her eyes when she saw Natalie sitting on my bed when she came back a day early from California. She tried to tell me that she wasn’t hurt, just disappointed, but she really came close to giving up on me that time.”

A pain shot through John’s temple as he had a flashback of Natalie kissing him outside of Rodi’s one night. “Geesh!” he thinks to himself, “Evangeline told me later that she saw me come in to protect Natalie and she really pushed me hard to tell her my true feelings for Natalie. That was another time she almost walked away.”

“Let me think,” he constructed the time frame in his mind. “I catch the SOB that attacked Evangeline and she feels strong enough to go back to her own place. Almost in the same sentence as I tell her that I’m not leaving her that night, Natalie calls and right away I go into ‘Natalie protector mode’. Was that the beginning of my systematically putting Natalie between us?”

“There was the digging up Judge Hernandez’s grave debacle. Evangeline and I have an argument about it and when we are just about to talk it out, I leave her standing in the police station to go talk to Natalie. My God, no wander she tried to walk away then.”

“On Thanksgiving night, when I tell her that I want to spend the whole day, just the two of us, I run out after a call from Natalie and find out that Christian is still alive.”

He reminisced, “I completely forget about a special dinner Evangeline has planned for her and me as I go to the park and have a burger with Natalie. As soon as I told Evangeline, I instantly saw that disappointed look in her eyes that I’m now realizing that I put there a lot.”

He winces when he remembers how he made Evangeline go to the Love Center Christmas party alone. He ends up inadvertently kissing Natalie again. He can still see the ever growing familiar disappointed look in Evangeline’s eyes when he told her what had happened.

“New Year’s Eve,” he thinks back, “I call her for a date last minute, and the whole time at the party, Natalie is staring over at us. When Evangeline leaves to go to the powder room, Natalie makes a beeline for me. Evangeline returned to see Natalie all up in my face, but she smiled and asked me to dance with her. Mid-dance, I leave her again to go to Natalie’s rescue.”

There was Evangeline’s birthday where once again, Natalie interrupted us on one of her rants. “However,” he thought, “Evangeline did seem truly touched by the pearls I gave her.” It hit him like a bolt to the heart when he also remembered that Evangeline had returned those pearls to him.

“To top all of that off,” John remembered remorsefully, “I forgot all about Valentine’s Day. After Evangeline poured her heart out to me in that very touching song, Natalie kept calling me non-stop.”

“When you add to that the whole key thing,” he critically thought, “was there anything else she could do, but walk away?”

“What the hell is wrong with me?” he questioned himself in all earnest. “What is really going on with me?”

John lay on his couch for the rest of the day contemplating how patient, concerned and loving Evangeline had been to him and what he was going to do to get her back and to deserve her.