Lucas asked Jamie, "Are you going to tell the police about my involvement with Cecile's death?"
"You said it yourself, I don't have any proof. Carl would never implicate you on the record. It would mean implicating himself. As far as admissible evidence goes, I'm still the most likely suspect."
"Raising the possibility might be enough to suggest reasonable doubt, though," Lucas pointed out.
"Are you actually trying to talk me into this?" Jamie wondered with a curt laugh. "Here's the problem with that scenario. At worst, it puts my mother's husband and my brother and sister's father on the hot seat instead of me. At best, it makes my mother and my brother and sister think that I would falsely put their husband and father on the hot seat to save myself. Lot of options. None of them particularly good."
"I never meant for this to happen," Lucas swore. "Carl and I were after Donna, no one else."
"I believe you. Not that it does me very much good, but I believe you." Jamie flicked the switch unlocking the passenger side door. "Go home, Lucas. We're done here."
"Where are you going?" He asked, climbing out.
"Down to the station. To turn myself in. About twenty-four hours too late. We'll see how they like that development."
"Why are you doing this, Jamie?" Lucas wondered.
"Because, again, I don't have a shred of evidence beyond this conversation. And because Lorna spent her entire life looking for a father. It's what drove her to Carl in the first place."
Jamie reminded, "She was devastated when she lost you seventeen years ago, just when you'd started having some sort of decent relationship. You coming back was the biggest miracle of her life. I have no right to deprive her of it now. Remember what I said about the possible scenarios with Carl? It would be even worse for Lorna."
Jamie raised a hand in half-wave, and pulled away from the curb.
Lucas watched him go, a myriad of emotions flickering across his face before settling into grim anger. He pulled out his own phone and punched in a number.
"I have to see you right away. Carl's ratted us out."
Marley didn't even make a token effort at suppressing her exasperated groan as Grant breezed past her into the Love house. "Why?" was all she asked.
"Because. Despite my better instincts, I heeded your advice to leave Kirkland to you last night and allow him some space as he adjusted to his new surroundings. But today is a different story. It's his birthday. Sixteen! That's a very big deal. I want to see him."
"I sincerely doubt Kirkland's in the mood for any kind of festivities. Even if there is a shiny red sports-car involved."
"There is indeed a shiny red sports-car involved," Grant confirmed to the accompaniment of another exasperated groan. "I will not allow Jamie's inability to accept his circumstances like a man disrupt Kirkland's life any longer."
"Fine," Marley stepped aside, figuring they might as well get this over with. "Go upstairs. Wake Kirkland up. He spent all night waiting for news of Jamie. But I'm sure he'll appreciate being force-fed birthday cake while you lob presents at him."
Grant fumed, "It's inexcusable what that coward has done. Tormenting Kirkland emotionally like this, ruining his birthday..."
"Oh, cut it out. We both know that as soon as you heard Jamie was a fugitive, you danced a jig at the thought of his dropping even lower in everyone's eyes, especially Kirkland's. 'Look son, not only is Jamie an admitted murderer, but now he's an admitted murderer on the run!'"
"Tenor, Marley, not baritone, I keep telling you," he reminded. The look in his eyes suggesting that Grant also remembered exactly under what circumstances he'd last instructed her. In so much more than how to imitate his voice correctly.
Marley chose to ignore the prompt. Or, at least, she chose to try and ignore it. "You'd probably break into a full-out Riverdance if, God forbid, the worst happens, and some cop with an itchy trigger-finger gets to Jamie first."
"I have no desire to see Jamie dead," Grant corrected.
"Of course not," she quickly realized the error of her ways. "You don't want to compete with a martyr. Prison is plenty sufficient for your purposes.
"You said it, I didn't." Grant paused to observe. "You look exhausted."
"I look like crap," she snapped. "Coincidentally, I feel like crap. I have a mother in a mental institution, an ex-husband on the run from the law, and a nephew whom I haven't the faintest idea how to help."
Grant lifted his hand to stroke her cheek. "What can I do to make this better for you?"
Marley jumped as if burned. "Don't do that! Don't you dare tend to me. You and I are nowhere near that level."
"Then where are we? We're certainly past the dancing around each other stage. You know that I care about you."
"You care about what you can get out of me."
"I can see that you're in a great deal of pain. I want to help."
"I know what form your help tends to take. And while I'll admit, you are adept at distracting me from my crappy life for a few hours; ultimately I just end up right back in my crappy life. It's hardly worth it."
"I can be more than a physical comfort, you know. I can be a friend."
"Jamie was my friend."
"Jamie was your crutch," Grant hissed, causing Marley to laugh and him to demand, confused, "What?"
"That. That right there is why you'll never be anything but a miserable, poisonous, God-forsaken bastard. Not everything is about you. Or your enemy du jour. Or this need of yours to blame and destroy anyone who threatens you."
"How was my offering to "
"I'm hurting, Grant. Kirkland's hurting. But all you can focus on is how you can make yourself feel better by playing the hero without actually being a hero. Because being a real hero takes real sacrifice. It means putting yourself aside for once and doing things, accepting things, listening to things that you may not like. Because it's what the other person needs." Marley took a deep breath. "Jamie was my friend. Accept it. I'm scared for him. Accept that, too. And while he and I may not be what we once were to each other, I still care about him. Even after what I did. Even after everything he did. I would never wish him any ill will. His going to prison, or worse? I hate it. I hate myself for the part I played in it. And I hate you for lighting the match that started it all."
"Aunt Marley!" Kirkland's hammering footsteps down the stairs competed with his shriek bouncing of the high-ceilinged walls. "He's back! Dad's back! Grandma called. He's turning himself into the cops right now."
"I know." Marley turned her back on Grant to focus on her nephew.
"You what?" Grant did a double take.
She told Kirkland, "Jamie called me earlier this morning, as he was on his way in."
"He did?" The boy's stunned expression now matched Grant's. "Why didn't you tell me? Why didn't you wake me up? I wanted to talk to him, too. Come on, let's go. Take me to see Dad."
Grant shook his head. "I'm afraid that's not a very good idea, son."
"I don't care what you think. I'm going to see him."
Marley cut in front of Kirkland, blocking the door. "No, you're not," she said regretfully. "It's why Jamie called. He knew you'd want to see him, but he thinks it's for the best if you don't."
"My client made a mistake," Mike reasonably and calmly informed Chase Hamilton as the two of them, along with Jamie, sat across from each other inside a private room at the Bay City courthouse. "He went on a bender and lost track of time. As soon as he realized what had happened, he called me and made arrangements to return to Bay City."
"I'm afraid your client's made one mistake too many. Murder being the more egregious one, I grant you. Unfortunately for him, I can't stand it when a gift is thrown back in my face. It really hurts my feelings. Deal's off the table."
"You can't be serious," Mike barked. "I am trying to explain to you that "
"Just because I do not care, does not mean I do not understand."
"The Simpsons," Jamie explained in response to Mike's utter confusion. "He's quoting Homer Simpson."
"Thank you," Mike told him dryly. Then added, "You're lucky I happen to be very fond of Alice. Or else I'm not sure you'd be worth my trouble."
"How fond of Alice are you?" Jamie inquired. "Because, I got to tell you, the guy she's seeing now, I'm not particularly fond of at all."
"Do you think your client might begin taking these proceedings seriously anytime soon?" Hamilton inquired of Mike.
"I'm not the one quoting The Simpsons," Jamie pointed out.
Hamilton did not appear amused by Jamie's observation. He did, however, presumably stifle the urge to utter, "D'oh." Instead, he asked rhetorically, "How can I convince the voters of this fine city that I am tough on crime if I were to let Dr. Frame break the law and get away with it, scott-free? How would that make me look?"
"Not tough on crime?" Jamie guessed.
"So help me, Jamie," Mike began. "If you don't keep your mouth zipped... "
"Relax, Counselor. Dr. Frame can't really make his situation any worse than it already is. Unless, of course, he decides to turn down my generous deal altogether and instead asks for a trial, during which I would hang him so high he'd be irrevocably guaranteed of spending even his afterlife in an orange jumpsuit. Which, in my humble opinion, would clash something awful with the surrounding fire and brimstone decor."
"In that case," Mike slid a document across the table to Hamilton. "I'm sure you'll find everything in order."
He skimmed it quickly and groaned, "Oh, come on. I waved the allocution, and now you're asking for one? This is a bid to get a reduced sentence, isn't it? Must we go through the drama?"
"We must. We really must."
"The hand wringing? The endless testimony?"
"Testimony?" Jamie cut in. "What testimony? Who "
"It'll only be a couple of days, Mr. Hamilton," Mike reassured. "Three, four tops."
"You think you can get that many people to testify on your client's behalf?"
"Jamie is a popular man. And if it pisses you off, I'll feel like I've earned my fee."
"Suit yourself. It won't change anything." Hamilton stood, bobbing his head on the way out the door. "Gentlemen, it's been... interesting."
"What testimony?" Jamie pressed the minute their D.A. was out of hearing range, his manufactured good humor from before utterly spent. "Whom do you plan to "
"Anyone and everyone who can testify to your good character. Your mother, your siblings, Alice, colleagues from the hospital, maybe a few former patients "
"Steven, Kirkland "
Spencer told Alice, "After Grant won his Senate seat in 1991, he made a very inspirational speech, thanking me for everything I'd taught him, for all the values I'd instilled in him. I admit it; I filled both my boys' heads with very noble ideals. Fair play, compassion, charity, justice. All the things I preached, but didn't practice." He rushed to add, "I always meant to practice them, I really did. I knew they were the right ideals; otherwise I wouldn't have stressed them so hard to Grant and Ryan. But, I never seemed to quite find the time to implement them. I constantly told myself that I would change my ways, become the man I always intended to be. Just as soon as I made enough money so that I wouldn't have to worry about it anymore. Just as soon as I closed that deal that would insure I could never, ever end up back on the streets. I kept waiting for that magic number to appear in my bank account. The one that would finally let me relax and know I'd made it, time to go legit. Time to really become the person that my children already thought I was."
"Did it ever come?" Alice asked, knowing the answer full well.
He shrugged, half-smiling and shook his head. "Of course, immediately after that stirring victory speech, I was arrested for fraternizing with Carl Hutchins."
"You were covering for Grant."
"I was covering for Grant, yes. He, too, apparently, hadn't quite yet found the time to become the man he was pretending to be." Spencer sighed. "Ryan, on the other hand. Ryan was everything I'd ever preached. He was honest and he was stalwart and loyal and incorruptible. He was good, truly good, not just going through the motions. Ironic, isn't it, considering who his biological father turned out to be?"
"You admired him," Alice ventured.
"I admired the hell out of him. Even as, in a thousand different ways, I made it clear, day after day, that Grant was the son I preferred, that Grant was the son I'd pinned all my hopes on, I admired Ryan. He was a genuinely decent person. A class act. Like you."
Alice warned, "Please don't put me on a pedestal, Spencer. I've been there. I didn't like it."
He went on as if she hadn't spoken. "A few months ago, Grant asked me: Why Alice Frame, Dad? She's so different from the previous women you've been with. His mother, Justine. Iris. Donna. Rachel. I told Grant that, after a lifetime of Justines and Irises and Rachels, an Alice Frame was exactly what I needed. What I didn't tell him then, was that my entire life I'd corrupted anything I came near; Grant only being the most prominent and obvious example. Even Ryan. Even he eventually ended up turning in his police badge because of me. I didn't set out to do it, mind you, it just seemed to happen. Which was why, after a certain point, I limited myself to women whom I couldn't tarnish usually because someone else had beaten me to the punch. Until you came along. And I couldn't resist. I did promise myself that things would be different this time."
"I'm sorry I haven't lived up to your expectations," Alice told him wryly.
"That's not what I'm saying and you know it," he thundered.
She bobbed her head apologetically. "You're right. You didn't deserve that."
"I love you, Alice," Spencer said. "I'll be damned if I could have chosen a more inopportune or awkward time to say it, but that's the way it is. I love you. I would like to think that you care for me, too. And not merely as a means for settling some decades old score with Rachel. The last thing I want in this world is to, inadvertently or not, change the person that you are. And the last thing that I could bear would be for you to use me for precisely that purpose. I am not a social experiment, and I am not a tool. Not even for you."
"Mike shouldn't have let you in here," Jamie glared at his attorney at the same time as he tried to keep his anger under wraps for his son's sake.
"Would you rather I left Kirkland out there so he can hound the officers with his puppy dog eyes?" Mike stepped out of the room, ordering Jamie, "Talk to your boy."
"Yeah, Dad," Kirkland said. "Talk to me. Are you okay?"
"I'm in one piece," Jamie shrugged. "You?"
"Been better," Kirkland plopped into the empty chair across from Jamie with all the world-weariness of someone three times his age.
"How did you get here? Did Marley bring you? I told her "
"Marley doesn't know."
"Grant got me a car for my birthday. I took the keys. I got in. I drove real fast."
"Oh, God, Kirk, it's your birthday." Jamie mentally added yet another transgression to his infinite list, fighting the urge to smack his head on the table. "I am so sor "
"Forget it. It's not important. What I don't get is, why would you... you scared the crap out us, Dad."
"I know. I'm sorry," Jamie repeated. "I... it was stupid. There's no excuse for what I put you and everyone else through."
"Well, as long as you're okay, it doesn't matter, I guess." Kirkland reached into his pocket and pulled out a sheet of paper. "I made a list."
"A list? Of what?"
"Of everyone who also had a motive to kill Cecile."
Stunned by his son's obstinate loyalty, Jamie shook his head. "Kirkland, we've been over this. I don't want you to "
"But I can help you fix this!"
"My situation is not in any way your job to fix."
"Yes, it is! It's my fault you're in here. It's my fault you're going to prison. If I hadn't let Grant think I wanted him around, he wouldn't have pushed so hard for custody. You wouldn't have had to go to court, and that woman wouldn't have thought about coming to town and trying to blackmail you."
"It doesn't work like that, Kirk," Jamie begged his son to understand. "You cannot take sole responsibility for a series of events and decisions made by other people, or for the choices and mistakes that we all made which predated you. No one person is to blame. And if anyone were forced to choose the guiltiest party, the finger would be pointed at me. Not you. Never, ever at you."
"I don't want you to go."
"I don't... I don't want to leave you, either."
"Then don't. Don't let them take you away. We can figure this out, we can find "
"No," Jamie reached over, gripping Kirkland by both shoulders, shaking him just enough to get through. "It's time to let go. You are not going to have any kind of a life obsessing over this... over me."
"If I were the one going to jail, you'd never give up on me, I know you wouldn't."
"You're my son. It's different."
"You're my dad. It's not."
A knock on the door, and a bailiff poked his head in. "Sorry to interrupt. Is there a Kirkland Harrison in here?"
"It's Kirkland Frame," the boy spat back furiously. Even when he saw an obviously crushed Grant standing right behind him.
Kirkland's two fathers exchanged a long, tense look. Right before Jamie hissed, "Take your son home, Grant. Don't let him come back."
Kevin knocked on the door and waited for Allie's "Come in," before stepping inside.
"Hey," he offered, then looked around. "I thought your mom would be here by now. When I spoke to her on the phone, she said she was on her way."
"Probably got stuck at the office," Allie said, her tone indicating it wasn't the first time.
"What about Gregory? Is he around?"
"I sent him home. He was exhausted. I don't care what he says about not being the one who had the baby. He did the real work. I just screamed."
"I'm sorry you had to go through that," Kevin said sincerely.
"Probably served me right," Allie mumbled, then promptly changed the subject. "Why are you looking for my mom and Gregory?"
"Oh," Kevin explained. "It's just that, I thought you could use some support. Rick and Mindy are here."
"Have they seen the baby?" She couldn't keep the anxiety out of her voice. "Do they still want him?"
Kevin nodded. "I saw him, too. Wow. Not what we were expecting."
"Gregory says genetics is crazy. You never know what you're going to get."
"Do Rick and Mindy want to take Hudson right away?"
"They'd like to. As soon as the doctors certify him fit for discharge." Kevin pulled up a chair and sat next to her bedside. He said, "Listen to me, Allie. Up to this point, it's all been theoretical. But this is it. This is where you decide if you really want to go through with the adoption. If the answer is yes, we can do this any way you're comfortable. You can see the baby, you can hold him, you can feed him, you can have as long as you like to make up your mind. You can hand him over to Mindy and Rick yourself, or you can just say the word, and they'll check him out without even coming to see you. The law stipulates that you have up to six months to change your mind, but I am telling you from a lifetime of experience, you do not want to do that. You don't want to do it to the Bauers, you don't want to do it to your baby, and you do not want to do it to yourself. The best thing for everyone is for you to be certain now. And if the answer is no, nobody will judge you. You can tell me you've changed your mind and I will turn right around, go out there, and break it to Rick and Mindy. You don't need to be scared. If you want to back out, I will make certain you never have to see or hear from them again. I will take care of everything. But you have to tell me what you want. Which means you have to choose what you want. The sooner the better."
Jamie wondered if it was possible to put in a request for solitary confinement while still sitting at the courthouse, because his morning just seemed to be filled with unwanted visitors.
Well, not exactly unwanted. More like... unappreciated.
He'd barely gotten over the sight of a stricken Kirkland wiping his eyes with the back of one sleeve and grudgingly leaving with Grant, before Lorna was in Jamie's face, dismissing the bailiff who'd brought her in like he was a personal servant the bailiff grinning in idiotic delight at the opportunity; she did have that effect on men.
"I'm sorry for leaving the way I did," Jamie rushed to insert in order to keep Lorna from turning the force of that... personality... his way. "And I'm especially sorry for leaving you with Carl."
She didn't say a word. Just stared at Jamie until he felt himself simultaneously boiling and freezing, desperate to turn away and yet utterly unable to. Lorna had that effect on men, as well.
On some level, he'd been expecting her arrival for hours now. Giving up gracefully had, after all, never been Lorna's forte. He'd prepared for this. He'd steeled for this. Jamie understood that his only chance for getting through the quicker the better was to cling to his lies with a vengeance.
"I appreciate everything you've done, Lorna." He might as well have been a Human Resources manager handing out severance packages. "You'll never know how much it meant, having someone believe in me the way that you did. Thank you."
Still no word.
Lorna waited, arms crossed. Finally, when nothing else proved forthcoming, she demanded, "That's it?"
"Pretty much," Jamie reached for the door, figuring the bailiff was bound to still be loitering in the vicinity. "Unless you want to have a perfunctory argument that ultimately still leads to you telling me I'm an idiot and storming out?"
Lorna mimed smacking herself on the side of the head. "Was the conversation we had last night just a figment of my imagination?"
He sighed, resigned. "Ladies' choice: Perfunctory argument it is."
"I thought we were on the same page, Jamie."
"You gave me your thoughts on the matter. I listened. But, after a lot of deliberation, I decided that my original course of action, for lack of a better phrase, was the right one. I only went with you to Carl's because I didn't like the idea of you being alone with him. Especially considering the state you were in."
"Where was this chivalrous concern of yours when you left me alone with Carl this morning?"
"He promised he wouldn't needle or provoke you."
"And we all know what Carl's word is worth."
"On this, I believed him."
"What else did he get you to believe? Come on, Jamie, obviously you two had a little mano-a-mano tete-a-tete while I was sleeping. What did you chat about? What did he say that made you change your mind? Did he threaten Steven or Kirkland?"
"Rachel? Matt and Amanda? Cory and Elizabeth? A puppy I don't know about?"
"Carl didn't threaten me. We mostly talked about my mother. I asked him to help her through all this. She acts tough. Well, she is tough. But I suspect having her firstborn end up in prison for murder has been an abnormally tough pill to swallow. Even for her. Now. Are you ready to leave?"
"What?" he all but bit the word in half.
"Are you here because of... me?"
"Not unless you killed Cecile and framed both Donna and I for the crime."
She took a wild guess, while suspecting it wasn't really all that wild. "You left this morning because whatever Carl dropped on you, you didn't want to share with me. Or discuss with me. Hell, you didn't want to face me."
"That's not true, Lorna. You know everything."
"I did. Last night, when you were holding me, when you told me that you trusted me with everything there was to you... "
Jamie stifled a groan and turned his head, wondering how much more he was expected to take.
"Last night, I knew everything. Which means whatever Carl said to make you leave, it couldn't have been about you." She was thinking out loud now, hating the pain she was causing Jamie, but forcing herself to persist, because it clearly meant she was on the right track. "If it was just something that concerned you, you'd have told me. But if it concerned me.... Me or... my father..."
Jamie flew across the room in two quick strides, pulling Lorna to him and kissing her harder and more fiercely than he'd ever dared to before. He told himself that it was only to distract her, to get her to stop talking, to keep her from saying the words and having no option of ever not knowing again. He told himself that if he believed that, then he probably also believed that the only reason she kissed him back just as fiercely, practically inhaling Jamie with one passionate breath, was to be polite.
"Stop," Jamie finally managed to croak, uncertain what precisely he was asking her to stop. Everything. Nothing. This.
No, not this.
"Stop." The second order was for himself. Jamie pulled back, his fingers still tangled in Lorna's hair, her hands still clutching his shoulders. "I don't know where you got the idea "
"Carl told me." Eye to eye, Lorna dared Jamie to deny her.
He couldn't do it. He had to look away. And step away. And let her go. "Carl lies, this we've already established. He lies for his own purposes, and he lies to turn people against each other for no reason save his personal amusement. I have no intention of playing any part in that. This is where I draw the line. And this, Lorna, is where you leave." Just as quickly as he'd approached her, Jamie now headed for the door, knocking hard, expecting the bailiff to be prompt. "Because there is nothing more to be done and nothing else left to say."
He ducked out the door even as she moved, too late, to stop him, leaving Lorna with no option save impotently watching him depart. And, a moment later, spotting her father approaching from the opposite direction.
Lucas skidded to a halt; his eyes briefly darting to the side, evaluating the possibility of slipping right back out again. Obviously, he had not come to see her.
If Lorna had been harboring any lingering convictions that Carl was lying, that Jamie had been duped, and that she was a fool who'd betrayed her own father by so much as allowing herself to suspect his involvement in Cecile's murder, they were promptly dashed the second she absorbed Lucas' grim, apologetic expression.
"We need to talk, sweetheart."
"Yeah," Lorna swallowed hard. "I guess we do."
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