What's So Good About Goodbye by musingonsoaps

Chapter 11

What I Want/What I Need

Evangelineís soft voice calling his name snaps John out of his reverie, looking across the room at her he prepares himself for a long and difficult conversationóone his future happiness he felt sure depended upon.

"Where were you just now? Iíve been trying to get your attention for more than a moment."

"I saw my mom recently, just thinking about my visit with her; thinking about our time togetheróyours and mine, I mean. Do you think about it? Do you think about me, us. Evangeline?

"Didnít we just hash this out before we got you some coffee? Iím not changing my mind; I refuse to give my energy to you in hope and no need for you to change. You canít express your love or any deep-seated feelings in a meaningful way that works for me for the long haul. If you want to change I canít actually perceive it so it still leaves us with nothing left to say on the relationship front."

He was unnerved that she wasnít undone on any level he could detect. She wasnít trying for cruelty or guilt. Evangeline was matter-of-fact, there was no hesitation, she was almost off-hand. Her doeís gaze was clear, focused and unflinching as she watched him absorb her meaning: they were through, she wouldnít come back and it didnít matter what he had to say.

"I was just thinking maybe out of curiosity you would want to hear from me about my feelings, why Iíve done these stupid and foolish things."

Sighing she turned away and headed across the room saying over her shoulder "Will it REALLY make a difference? Doubtful that it will for me. Although it may make a world of difference for you since confession is supposed to be so good for the soul. Maybe, saying it out loud will help you begin to heal and be a bit more whole for the next woman who comes along to try to claim and save youÖfrom you."

Evangeline sits in an overstuffed chair meant for two to cuddle in, pulls her legs up and hugging her knees to her chest gives John a placid look of acceptance and waiting. "Go ahead and spill, Iím willing to listen."

Utterly thrown and disconcerted by her attitude John found himself floundering with his words again. He had convinced himself that his words, the right words could still draw her back to him. He anticipated it would be slow going to regain her trust and love but now he wasnít at all sure he would ever have them again.

"Itís been going on for so long now itís hard to separate it all out in my head. In my mind itís mixed up and tied in with my dad, how my mom dealt with it, his murder. The perp never brought to justice and then Caitlinís murder. Never wanting to feel that helpless and lost again; never wanting to feel again EVER. I told you Iíve spent years pushing down my feelings and completely disconnecting so Iím canít be hurt by all the death around me ever again."

John walked over to the footstool in front of Evangelineís chair and sits down steepling his fingers over his nose and mouth, "Have I told you how much I hate that you made me come alive and feel again? I hate you for that Evangeline. I was so comfortable in my dark solitude and aloneness and I told myself, TOLD myself not to go down that road again, it was just a one time thing and to leave it there like that with you. But I couldnít. You gave me hope, belief, and miraculously your love. Then you snatched it all away and left me in this half-light which is much worse than total darkness. Eyes adjust to the dark; the body finds instinctive huddled and tight positions to protect itself against the pain of bumping into things. Eventually the dark wraps easily around you and a person knows how to navigate in it. But in half dark and half light? Constantly having to adjust to the changing conditions? Thereís no comfort zone to find, no peace no path back and no way forward because what am I going forward to? Certainly not to your arms. Youíre with Jax, getting on with your life; youíre sleeping with him arenít you?"

Placing her hands on the arms of the chair Evangelineís legs swing to the floor "I donít recommend we discuss who is or isnít in our bedrooms. Youíre not in a strong position and it will only make me angry. Hell Iím pissed right now, how dare you?!!" her voice escalating in volume as she pushes to a standing position, but her next words are cut off by the ringing door bell. Throwing John a glare Evangeline marches to the door belatedly looking at her watch and realizing itís probably Jax back for their date.

"Hey, I didnít know what you wanted to eat soÖ" Jax stops as her tension hits him and rolls over him, he wonders if she found out heís investigating McBain then sees John from the corner of his eye, "Lt." he asks wearily "arenít there people out on the street who need your attention? Youíve been here for hours who knows what the bad guys have been up to in your absence."

"Evangeline, we need to keep talking."

"John I was expecting Jax not you, and really youíre stepping hard on my last good nerve. Thereís no chance this conversation will end well, leave it. Weíre done. Goodnight and goodbye."

"No, Evangeline, thereís so much more to say."

"I told you I didnít really care to hear it. Iím going back to that; tell it to the next woman in your life. Please leave."

Swinging the door all the way open Jax gives a florid sweep of his hand waving John to the doorway, "Out. Now. The ladyís had enough of your company."

Stepping onto the landing John pauses in front of Jax as their blue eyes lock, "Weíre not done here and weíre not over, Iím just tabling it for now." Glancing over Jaxís shoulder John looks at Evangeline, "I know you had plans tonight so weíll continue another day."

"Even if I donít want to?"

"Donít you? You always want the whole story, you hate those annoying loose ends and youíre relentless until you get closure. Thatís part of what makes you a great attorney. Iím offering that to you, if you want it, only if you want it." And he quietly closed the door behind him leaving Jax and Van alone.

Nearing the elevator John stops and slumps against the wall overtaken by fear that she truly was fed up and had completely turned away, never to look back again and wonder and long for what was once between them. He suddenly knew that time wasnít his ally anymoreóshe had loved him deeply but Jax wanted her very much and the look as their eyes clashed told him that here was the man that could take her heart. Jax would cherish the love Van would give to him and revel in it in a way he, John, felt too unworthy to even try to do. Jax would say sweet words and back them up by flashing his considerable cash. Jax would say "I love you, Evangeline" over and over without hesitation, without reservation, without his past wrapping around his throat and cutting off the oxygen to his brain before the words are formed.

Jax watches with concern as Van walks to the row of windows in the living room rubbing her temples, her back rigid with disgust. "Do you want me to leave?" Leaning her forehead against the cool glass sheís silent for minutes then slowly shakes her head Ďnoí turns and faces him, "Please stay, although I havenít had a momentís peace since you left to think about, much less plan for, our evening. I apologize."

"No need to apologize, I just need the truth. Iíve ridden in on my steed to save the damsel from the wrong man once too many times and always, always my heart gets stomped on. I really canít do this again. If youíre not over McBain, canít get past the heat with him or whatever you two sharedÖ." Jax sits down on the footstool John had just used, "Look, at the time I meant it when I said we could go back to being bed buds and never mind anything else. But I donít feel that way anymore. I want everything, I want it with you but Iím not going to wear you down and then wonder all my life if youíre moaning his name in your dreams. I need to be first, I deserve itóso do you by the way, but Iím out of the saving game, Iíve been left on my ass once to often. Do you want us? And by Ďusí I mean sharing our lives, home, marriage, careers, our own children some dayóeverything. I want everything. Donít you? Or should I walk away quickly before Iím decimated again from loving a woman whose head tells her Iím a good man but her heart only wants the man who will destroy her?"

Nodding solemnly Van takes a deep trembling breath and shakes her whole body as if a sudden chill had passed through her, "This time with you has been so wonderful Jax. Youíve reminded me how much fun life can be, should be especially when youíre really into someone. It doesnít have to beÖnonstop hard work; always trying to gauge the other personís feelings, analyzing every nuanced moment for hidden subtext. It can just be happiness, face value full-blown joy. Yes, I want that in my life."

Reaching for his clenched hand Evangeline pulls Jax up and slowly peels back each finger from Jaxís palm then brings his hand to her mouth kisses it, and turns her face into the palm of his hand and rubs her cheek against his open hand. Jax remains still trying not to let her know the depths of her effect on him; wanting her in his arms but giving them time. She needs to know her own heart and be sure, very sure. Van steps into his space and brushes her lips lightly against his cheek down his neck to his collar and Jax canít contain the low moan of desire as his mouth betrays him and his hands pull her nearer to his heat and his heart.

His arms cushion them as they sink to the floor and he tries to remember he was supposed to be giving her space and time to think about themó"maybe sheís already thought it through" is his last coherent thought until he hears her give a short gasping laugh, "Jax, are you really that glad to have me on my back or is your cell on vibrate?" It takes him a few seconds to process her words then he lifts up and pulls the phone from his pocket, glancing at the number heís about to shut it off and toss it on the couch when the number registers on himóGeneral Hospital, no way this is good news.

Two weeks later John is waiting for Evangeline in her office; he knows Jax left town quickly on the same night John last saw Evangeline. He prays they had a major blowout fight and he can now recapture her full attention without that distracting Aussie cluttering up her space.

"John, I wasnít expecting you. You shouldíve phoned for an appointment."

"Itís not work-related; we, I need to finish what I started to say at your place before we were interrupted."

"WE were not interrupted. YOU were the interruption to my evening with Jax."

"I havenít seen him around; did Asa send him packing?"

Cocking her head Evangeline captures and holds his eyes clearly conveying her displeasure and something more indefinable but definitely not welcoming of him, "I hear Asa approached you with the offer of an alliance. You pull me from Jax, hopefully distracting him enough to blow the takeover of BE and Asa would rescue you from the needy clutches of his barely-acknowledged-as-family little niecey. True?"

"Asa made a suggestion that I didnít take or follow through with; yes he hoped I could be the disruption big enough to shift Jaxís focus away from business to saving his personal life. How did you hear about this and where is Jasper Jax anyway?"

"He had a personal emergency in Port Charles; Iím going back there tonight."

"Back? Is that why I couldnít get a hold of you, youíve been out of state?" shifting uneasily on his feet John forces himself to push ahead saying his thoughts aloud "Do you have any time for us to get together before you leave? I, I just want to clear the air between us if we can."

He notices that Van is looking more gloriously beautiful then ever with her arms folded across her small waist and her hands lightly tugging and smoothing the front of her dress over her flat stomach in what he recognized as small signals of distress. How many times had he kissed her smooth expanse of skin or laid his head on her tummy as she stroked his hair? Her eyes shifted between luminous and clear to undercurrents of anger maybe even despair. Mostly though she was radiating from the inside out the way she did after they had an especially satisfying time in bed or he had opened up unexpectedly and told her about himself without her prompting him.

"Yes John, one final time to clear the air. Letís start and end with youíve known Christian Vega was alive for a year, told no one, did nothing. Oh, now, wait. You did do something; youíve been having sex with his wife. You turned her into a two-time adulterer, without asking if she wanted to wear a scarlet letter. You let her have a fling with Paul Cramer and now sheís in your bed. Shall we discuss that?"

"I donít wantÖhow? Who told you? Itís not what you think, Cris made me promise to keep the truth to myself. If this was about Natalie I wouldíve gotten with her the minute they shipped him off to prison. He wanted to spare her, everyone he loves."

"THIS is your line of logic?!! Come on John, Quantico taught you better I know!!"

"This doesnít have anything to do with us; with what Iíve been waiting to tell you, say to you. Evangeline, listen to me, to your heart."

"I am and itís finally free of you and the dreams I had for us. Even before I found out about this, thisÖinsanity on your part, this totally deceitful behavior I made a commitment to Jax, to our future." Looking into his shattered eyes Evangeline saw John shutting down totally and sinking into a place where only demons tread. She grimly acknowledged to herself heíd have to walk that path without her. Shock that he would sink down to this made her wonder: maybe she hadnít done absolutely ALL she could to save him but Van knew she had done everything humanly possible for someone who had long ago made himself comfortable embracing pain and loneliness. She couldnít do anymore for him unless she wanted to end up in a padded cell her own damn self.

"The John McBain I thought I knew would NEVER take such an easy way out of his guilt over the death of an innocent man. To not tell Antonio, Bo, Carlottaósheís his MOTHER!! To hell with Ďprotectingí Natalieósheís making victim her lifeís workóthanks in no small measure to your auto-pilot response when she gets herself jammed up. The man I fell for wouldnít let a violent amnesic go into the prison system without any mental health attention; the man I feel in love withÖ.doesnít actually exist."

Stepping to her office door, Van opens it slightly when he stops her, "Listen to me, please. Itís not what you think, I told you I wasnít worthy of your love and when you stayed in my corner through so much and then just dumped me....I told you being with Natalieís easy because she asks nothing of me; because if I canít have you I donít care, really, who I lie down with. I know when I close my eyes itís all you."

"You should go now, thereís nothing left for us to say."

Arguing back and forth neither heard the quickly stifled cry of pain or the fast retreat of feet as Natalie fled down the stair case.

"I know youíre angry, hurt and disgusted with me."

"You donít know anything, John, really youíre clueless. Hereís the last thing I have to say to you today and for a long time to come until I see you in court,"

"Court?"

"Yes, Iíve spoken to Cris and reviewed his case. I know thereís a very good chance I can get him the help he needs and OUT of jail. Iíve taken his case; youíll have to testifyóas a hostile witness if necessary, so you can now officially kiss the tortured hero routine bye-bye. See you in court."

"Evangeline, I messed up I know but now a big part of the truth is in your hands. If you let us we have a chance, all I want is to know thereís a chance, and I can wait out your anger and disappointment in me. Iíll wait forever if you say thereís a chance. Iíll stick by you forever, as you once told me."

"Donít wait on me, John. Once Iíve overturned the conviction and set Cris up in some sort of regular counseling Iím moving my practice to Port Charles, Iím partnering with Alexis Davis. Iím not trying to be cruel here; this decision was made before I found out about this incredible deception on your part. In light of what I now know I suggest you and Cris enter into joint therapyóa kind of Ďcouplesí therapy if you will. The takeover of BE will be final in a few weeks, then Jax and I will be gone. I want the life Jax is offering me; I will be loved without having to wait you out for it. When I say those three little words to Jax, Iíll hear them back without the sound of years of baggage shifting around."

John immediately seized his last chance "So you havenít said those words to Jax, he hasnít told you he loves you. Iíll wait for your anger and pain to subside: 6 months, 16 years more, I donít care. You know Iíve mastered waiting silently. I wonít bug you, call you bother you. Iíll just wait."

"No. I wonít let you wait and put it on me."

"Come on Evangeline, you loved me once, I believe underneath it all you love me stillóat least a little bit. Why else would you have put up with me for a year when Iím so messed up and you can have anyone? Just tell me what you want me to do and Iíll do it."

"I want a man who shows that heís happy to see me, lets the world and me know that I have all his love and attention, it doesnít matter how many women look at him or his history with one personóweíre together and I know it so Iím calm within that love. I want a man whoís doing the heavy relationship lifting right there beside me. Who shares his secrets, his pain, and his joy. I want a man who believes heís worthy of my love and accepts my love. That man is not you. I want Jax and Jax wants me."

Evangeline tries not to show her alarm over the quick deterioration of Johnís demeanor and the pain oozing out of all his pores while at the same time realizing the agony was all that was keeping him in an upright position. "This news is going to hit pretty fast so you should take this time to try and begin to set things right before people find out some other way that Cris is sitting in Statesville. I still wish you happiness, real happiness, joy and love John if only youíll let yourself have it. This is probably one of the last times weíll see each other outside of a courthouse so, be good to yourself and take care of you. I have an appointment; please lock the door when you leave."

Hours later Evangelineís overnight bag is sitting by her front door as she rummages through her briefcase and realizes that all the files and information she needs to get some work done while sheís with Jax are still waiting for her at the office. The original reason she had stopped by work and ended up having the face-off with John. "Damn, I donít feel like swinging by there, itís not on the way to the airport."

The buzz of the intercom propels her to the speaker "Itís alright, just send him up for my bag." she responds without waiting for the visitor to be announced. Jax had insisted she get used to the chauffeur-driven life especially as she multi-tasked her way through the weeks leading up to her move to Port Charles. Cracking open the door so the driver could take her bag and briefcase Van heads for her handbag and continues to shift items from the bag on the floor to the one on the couch.

Belatedly, it occurs to her that it might be John not the driver showing up at her door, in her haste she hadnít listened for a formal announcing of the name. The tentative knock on the door told her it was an unexpected guest as she quickly stepped to the door preparing herself for another go-round with McBain. Pulling the door completely open her stiffened spine becomes more rigid with shock

"Lady Jane! Mrs. McBain! What are youÖI mean welcome; please come in I didnít know you two knew each other."

"Oh, we donít," Lady Jane states airily "but we were getting acquainted on the ride up to the penthouse."

"Well then, let me introduce you: Lady Jane Jax this is Eve McBain, Mrs. McBain, Mrs. Jax. Can I get you some tea?" Say yes, say yes Van prayed silent and insistent, I need to call Jax and find out why his motherís here, I need to get Mrs. McBain alone somehow and find out what on earth sheís doing here. I have to phone the pilot and tell her Iím going to be delayed. What on earth are these two women doing up in my living room?