John entered their bedroom quietly in case Evangeline was asleep, Eve and Celeste met his inquiring gaze from a sofa near the balcony’s door, “She’s outside, she’s been there for awhile. We’re giving her room to just think and feel.”
“Mom thanks for watching over her, and Celeste for making sure no one tried to disturb her in our bedroom. I really appreciate all you’ve done for us, the support; you know what I’m saying.”
“Sure, baby, don’t worry about anything else, you take care of your family and yourself. Dina and I will deal with the rest. Is Stefan still out there?” Celeste asked.
“No, he’s gone. All the way back to Russia and running smack into another revolution I hope, or at least Greece. I guess I’ll live with him being in Port Charles.” Rubbing his eyes and temples he smiles tiredly at them, “Mom, you’re welcome to stay tonight if you want, actually, please do stay. Michael’s coming back tomorrow morning as soon as he’s done with his next rotation; and Shannon said to set a place for her for breakfast. I think we really need our family closely around us.”
“I’ll stay. Goodnight, you and Van sleep well. Don’t let her worry this too much. John, why didn’t you tell me how unnerved she was about pregnancy and becoming a mom? “
“The plan was once we announced the baby to near and dear ones that Dinah and Celeste would clue you, Nora, Dorian and Blair in and ask for ongoing support for my wife. Alexis was hoping to be here but it didn’t work out; she’ll provide long distance reassurance for her sister for now. I had no idea all this would hit tonight.”
“Well, it’s done and Laurence and Dina’s father are quite aware of what happened here tonight. There’ll be unpleasant repercussions to say the least.” Celeste states, “I think I’ll e-mail Alexis tonight and bring her up to speed since it’s too late to phone.”
Left alone John steps onto the balcony looking around for Evangeline but she’s not in sight, walking in the direction of the living room’s balcony John pauses as he sees Van leaning against the wall, using it as a lifeline. The soft illumination from the balcony lights gives John a chance to see the weariness and resignation in his wife’s face, when she turns to him the exposed agony almost takes him to his knees.
“Come to me; let me hold you we don’t have to talk if you don’t want to.”
Sobbing quietly she walks into his embrace and holds on as he kisses her lightly in her hair, on her face and neck murmuring reassurances. Rubbing her back he implores her “Just let it out, baby, it’s alright love I’m here, I’m here. Just let it all out.”
Shaking her head against him, trying to fight the urge to wail and scream he hears her choking on her misery. “Please Evangeline, don’t hold onto to this. Crying when your mother is so hateful and hurtful doesn’t make you weak; longing for a different kind of life as a child is understandable, even with all the advantages you had. Your mother is…well, she’s Dina.” John finished with a deep rumble of disgust.
“This isn’t bad crying. I’m trying to come to grip and let go of all my fantasies of what I always wanted and hoped my relationship with my mom would someday be. You know, I went into the same business and became successful not to punish her but to have her notice me, be proud that I enjoyed something she loves to do too.”
Sniffling Evangeline tries to pull herself together looks up at John and gives him a half-smile, “I want you to know I want this baby, I do. I’m still scared but I had a good talk with Eve and Celeste and I know I can do right by our child. I will do right by her.”
“I know, hon, I never had any doubts.” Smiling he asks, “So you feel it’s a girl too?”
“EVERYONE tonight said we’ll have a daughter, who am I to disagree?” Van asked and shook her head grinning.
“I just want us to enjoy the rest of this pregnancy; the baby will be here before we know it.” Moving out of his arms Van goes to the balcony’s railing and gazes around as John crowds her space wrapping his arms around her so his hands press lightly against her stomach, “We’ll be parents soon.” He murmurs into her hair, “A new life we created, a total change to our world. It’ll be so great, you’ll see, we’ll have everything, all I’ve ever dreamed for, wished back in the days when I did that sort of thing. This must be what paradise is like, this feeling I have for you and our child.”
“And my step-monster?”
“In spite of tonight’s outburst I believe Stefan’s truly looking out for you and his niece, he’ll let us know if Helena’s got a plan.”
“Yeah, I do. I’m not letting down my guard, but annoying as he is with his condescending old-world view and style I’m sure your brother’s got your back.” Running his fingers through his hair, then lacing them with hers John sighs “I hate to admit it but where your safety’s concerned, I trust the guy.” Tugging at her hands John leads her back to their bed.
It was early afternoon by the time Evangeline got up and stayed out of bed; she had been up and down a good portion of the night. Waking John each time and he quietly watched over her until she managed to get comfortable and close her eyes for minutes at a time. In her half-awake and aware state Evangeline felt John silently at her side, the love and security she was able to give herself over to because of her husband was the driving factor in her forcibly changing her parenthood views.
Evangeline would no longer act the part of happily infantcipating, she decided to actually embrace being happy with impending motherhood. She needed to do this for John, for their child and for herself. To let her family issues become the subtext that rules and ruins her life at this critical point just wasn’t acceptable to her—she was Evangeline Williamson Cassadine Parker McBain. And the McBain part was the most important part of her life; John had become her true world. They had leapt over a lot of hurdles to be together she’d let nothing and no one destroy them, not even herself.
Showered and dressed Van headed down the stairs and was delighted to hear all the happy laughter from the living room. Standing in the alcove she saw a tableau of love and family and knew she, John and their child were the heart of it. Eve and Dinah had their heads together chuckling as Michael and surprisingly, Marcie, teasingly fought over the television remote unaware of anyone else until Shannon leaned over and neatly snatched it out from their hands and turned off the tube, earning shouts of loud protest.
“Oh, why did you do that? I was going to take bets on who would end up with the larger half when it broke it two.” Celeste laughingly called to Shannon.
“Delayed gratification is always a good thing for the McBain boys; and Marcie was losing.” Shifting on the sofa with a defiant toss of her hair Shannon tucked the control under her cushion and sat firmly on top. “Now try and take it!” she challenged as John and Michael converged on her each grabbed an arm and lifted her as John started to flip the cushion. Hearing the peel of Van’s laughter John looked at her and his heart soared at her beauty and eyes glistening with joy, “Hey! Put her down McBain, I’m sure you and Mikey have ruled the set since you got up. As the expectant mom my wishes rule, the women are overdue relief from all sports all the time.”
“What?! The rule sleepy-head is the first up gets to choose. Michael was up first.” declares John.
“No not up first, he came here from the hospital and hasn’t slept yet so that doesn’t count.” Marcie responds.
“I don’t count? I don’t count to you? My feelings are hurt, come here I’ll show you who and what matters.” Lunging at Marcie he begins to tickle her and put her in a head lock.
Sighing dramatically Eve looks at Celeste and Dinah “Yes, alas, this my brood. I tell you I don’t know where I went so very wrong. I taught them to be gentlemen and respectful of women.”
Laughing Dinah inquiries “Yes, but did you teach them to be properly deferential to women? They may need a refresher course.” Switching focus she watches as Evangeline and John embrace and kiss waiting for them to remember not to put on an impromptu show as the kiss goes on and on.
“My eyes, my eyes! I’m too young to witness this aren’t I Aunt Eve?” Shannon says covering her eyes as John and Van quickly break apart and become transfixed with staring at the floor.
“Okay, okay, I’m just letting my well-rested wife know I missed her company.” John says glancing around at the suddenly very straight faces watching him and Evangeline. Then everyone started to laugh and the day went on filled with good times and for Evangeline a sign that discarding her fears was the absolutely right thing to do.
In the early morning hours of a never-ending shift John and Bo are in Bo’s office briefing the DA and Nora on the circumstances and steps taken surrounding the arrest of several key offenders in a string of especially violent truck hijackings. The long and painstaking set-up and eventual bust had taken up most of John’s time over the months since their baby announcement party. He was looking forward to getting back to a regular home routine with Evangeline. He knew she was silently worried about the possibility of injury or worse happening to him when she needed him the most. But she had learned to be a cop’s wife and voiced her concerns only to the wives and girlfriends of his co-workers.
Now nearing her eighth month of pregnancy Van’s doubts were a distant memory that had taken a far back seat to the overall discomfort she was in each day; she was beyond ready to reclaim her own skin. But now Evangeline wanted the pregnancy over to meet the person forming inside of her. Her qualms hadn’t vanished but they had subsided enough for her to enjoy much of the pregnancy and the solidarity of other women who had children but had started off with serious doubts about their mothering skills too. As abrasive as Dorian could be she had been compassionate and incredibly helpful, connecting Evangeline with women she could relate to that weren’t intimidated by her fame.
“John, it’s time to call it ‘case closed’ you go home and get some rest and see to your wife.” Jerking his head up to meet Bo’s eyes John realized he’d zoned completely out of the conversation and Bo was well aware that his thoughts had strayed to his Van. “Delegate what’s left and I don’t want to see your mug in here for at least two days. Get all the sleep you can now because soon you’ll have a natural little noise-maker keeping you up.” The merriment in Bo’s eyes also held a touch of sadness. Bo hadn’t ever had the opportunity to hold his new-born child, tend to the baby’s cries or watch in wonder as his sons made a new discovery on their own. Drew was a grown man when Bo met him; Matthew well into his childhood before it was revealed he was Bo’s son.
“Hey, I intend to call you for those 3 am feedings and ALL the diaper changes!” John teased, “But you’re right I need to get home to Evangeline, we’ve been working 72 hours to finalize and execute this arrest and I’ve barely been able to touch base by phone. You get some rest, too.”
Glancing at Nora’s drawn face he says “Nora, goodnight. I’m glad I was wrong and RJ wasn’t involved in any of this.”
Too tired to muster up a glare Nora shrugs her shoulders “It’s morning John, a new day and like I’ve said all along a new RJ. I would never be involved with someone on the wrong side of my beliefs. Give Evangeline our best.”
Stopping by his office to drop off files and give a few last instructions John is startled and spills the contents of several files when Antonio bursts in not stopping to knock, “John, Marcie just got a call for you to go the hospital right away!”
“What??! It’s too soon for the baby!” he says his voice panicked as he stuck his hands in his pants pocket looking for his keys.
Holding up keys Antonio states “Bo said not to let you drive. I’ve got a squad car outside; we’re doing sirens, lights and everything to get you there.”
Mercifully, the media hadn’t caught the scent of a breaking celebrity story yet so the hospital personnel were quietly and efficiently doing their jobs. Evangeline’s OB doctor was in route and Dorian had been in her office when staff alerted her that her famous patient was coming in.
Michael was pushing through the doors of the emergency room when John and Antonio arrived and all three started speaking at the same time with John shouting for answers, Tonio asking questions and Michael shushing them “Pipe down, Van might hear you or do you want her to panic, Johnny?” Hearing the fear in his brother’s voice Mikey tried to give some reassurance “A lot of women have false labor pains but it’s prudent to come to the hospital and have a professional say it’s nothing.” He put his hands on John’s shoulders, “Relax a little, bro, as soon as I know you’ll know what’s going on with your wife.”
Forcing himself to breathe normally John’s voice shakes as he asks “Can I see her? Just for a moment? Michael, you know she’s hospital phobic, she’ll feel better seeing me.”
“I agree, but I’m not in charge and until her her doctor gives the okay you can’t see her.”
“Do you know what happened, Michael?” asked Antonio.
“I’m not sure, I know the housekeeper called for an ambulance, said Van was doubled over with pain and was crying.”
“Evangeline doesn’t cry in front of strangers. She barely cries in front of me.” John stated flatly.
“Which lets us know she was in serious pain; Johnny sit down. Antonio get him some water, he definitely doesn’t need coffee and as soon as I can I’ll tell you something.”
“Will you stay with her?” John asked his brother softly, “Don’t leave her alone with strangers, Mikey, be with her.”
“I’ll stay with her until they throw me out.” Michael promises his brother and with a last clasp on the shoulder walks rapidly back through the ER doors.
“Should I call someone John? Evangeline’s family? Your mom and cousin?”
“No, not until we know something I don’t want to worry anyone if this is just routine contractions, she is eight months after all; we’re closing in on the due date.” John says absently then straightens in alarm to see more people rushing toward the doors Michael disappeared behind.
Six hours later Bo and Nora have joined in the waiting when Michael and Dorian enter the visitors lounge and stop in front of John. To Dorian’s eyes John has pulled so completely inward to prepare for the worst that he was barely a shell of a man, dull eyes looking up at her and trying not to hope. “They’re in Intensive Care, weak but stabilized.” Dorian says as she stifles an impulse to gather McBain into a reassuring hug, “We’re not sure what happened but we’ve done tests and we’re waiting for the results, and we’ve earmarked other tests to run to pinpoint what happened here.”
“Evangeline’s alive? You’re sure?” John’s words were rough with the effort to hold back his emotions, “And the baby? Can she still carry to term?”
“John, your daughter is here she couldn’t wait to meet you so she arrived a bit early. She’s in an incubator, very, very weak but fighting hard for life—she’s a McBain after all.” Michael says softly as he sits next to John and tries to signal Antonio and Bo with his eyes.
Clearing his throat Bo tugs on Antonio’s jacket “Maybe we should get John some coffee and food.” Turning to leave Bo raises his eyebrows to Michael who gives a faint shake of his head as they go.
“Listen Johnny, I’ve called mom and E’s family to get here and meet the newest member of the family.” Meeting John’s eyes Michael sees the husband recede and the former FBI agent and current Chief of Detectives emerge in front of him, “What aren’t you two saying? This isn’t just a premature birth it’s something else, isn’t it? They’re going to die.”
“We don’t know that, so you can’t know that.” Dorian states firmly, “we’re doing lots of tests to determine what’s going on. I said they are both very weak, weak is far from dying or dead. But you should know that the word has leaked out and the hospital’s getting calls from the press; so you know they’ll start to show up in person soon. Why don’t we go to my office where we’ll have more privacy?”
“Michael? The truth.” John says standing and facing his brother.
“Dr. Lord’s told you the truth to the extent that we know it right now. As soon as her docs give the okay I’ll take you to see E, even drugged she’s been saying your name.”
“Dorian, can I see my daughter?”
“Yes, as soon as she’s completely settled into the unit. In order to run certain tests we’re taking a few more samples from your daughter and frankly, it’s distressing for staff and horrifying for parents to see a needle and other objects going into the flesh of a tiny, newborn. Wait. Dr. McBain will take you to see your family.”
Dropping her administrator and professional demeanor Dorian puts her hands on John’s face and looks into his eyes, “You and Evangeline have a gorgeous daughter; if you look at either of them with defeat in your heart and eyes…well, that’s not the outcome we’re expecting here so don’t make it a self-fulfilling prophecy, John.”
Bo returned with coffee, Nora joined by RJ following with bags of food from Capricorn. Antonio gathered the coats as they headed for Dorian’s office to wait for more news. As everyone piled into one elevator car John took hold of Michael’s arm and kept him from entering. “We’ll catch the next one.” Michael calls as the doors closed, “John, “
“What happened to them Mikey, don’t you put me off any more!” John's jaw muscles were twtiching as Michael tried to pull out of his tight grip and away from the despair in John's voice.
“Truly, we don’t know,” hesitating Michael searches John’s eyes and shakes his head “I’m not her doctor and I, you know, I can lose my job behind this but…we think, well it doesn’t track with a natural occurrence in the body so now we’re exploring if she was exposed to any toxins, poisoned in some way by something, maybe. And I know what you’re thinking: Helena Cassadine.”
“Yes, Helena or Dina to force a miscarriage; I want to know everything the tests show before the doctors know Michael. I know what I’m asking of you but this is family, this is Evangeline and your niece.” John says forcefully his grip cutting off the circulation in Michael’s arm.