Chapter 10: Surprising Family - the final chapter
A/N: Friends, thank you for your incredible support for this story. I don't write much fanfiction, so the comments and feedback have meant so much to me. My writing energies have been spent elsewhere for the last year. Know I've been meaning to finish this story in now a GH Alternative Universe. I may be one of the few fans who are still hoping; Nina had twins, and Willow was one of them. Anyway. I'm going to complete this story for now. I am sending you all my love and good thoughts.
"What a day?!" Willow laughed heartily as she and Chase waved good-bye to Nina and her unexpected passenger in the rented Jeep Wrangler as she pulled out of the driveway that evening. Willow thought back on how the rest of the day had flown by in an unexpected way. She made lunch with Chase, which was, for the most part, uneventful, aside from Chase managing to spill salad dressing all over himself.
Willow and Chase snuggled a bit as the food heated up, and then Willow remembered that Nina had volunteered to do their shared laundry from the incident at the store. Willow was pleased her appetite had come back so quickly and hoped Nina would feel the same way. Willow had made a lunch plate for Nina and cautiously ventured into the laundry room, which Nina had quickly transformed into a makeshift Crimson satellite office.
Willow held back a laugh at what she saw and heard from Nina. Nina's voice was sharp and direct and speaking in perfect French, "Ce n'est pas juste!" Nina had said in a firm voice on her mobile phone, "La séance photo doit être refaite! Crimson ne paiera pas pour un travail médiocre et non professionnel."
Willow's French was a little rusty, but she could tell Nina was not pleased with a photo shoot, calling the work poorly done and unprofessional. She saw a smile and acknowledgment in Nina's countenance when the tray was laid before her.
Chase and Willow had then sat on the couch for a bit, the beaten-up copy of Moby Dick in Willow's arms and Willow leaning on him. She felt at ease in Chase's presence, and Chase was simply so happy to have Willow with him. He didn't need anything to do but enjoy caressing her sea curled hair. They could hear the waves in the distance, and it wasn't long before Chase had fallen asleep.
Willow had continued reading Moby Dick and was a little disappointed with the novel. It was going from moments of frantic action to long passages of esoteric and philosophical rantings. She would finish it this weekend, but not because she liked it. Willow always liked to finish what she started. Willow's mind had drifted away, and she, too, had become tired from the ocean air, falling asleep in the safety and gentle embrace of Chase's arms.
Hours later, when Nina emerged from her makeshift office, clean laundry in tow, she found both Willow and Chase fast asleep, leaning into each other. The couple looked so peaceful and happy. It was moments like these where Nina, the fashionista of Port Charles, was at her most awkward. She didn't want to seem weird staring at the two sleeping young people, one of whom was her own. Nina thought for a moment, and then the decision was taken from her hands with a sudden knock at the door.
"Hallo!" Nina jumped at the same time Willow and Chase did from the couch. Knock Knock Knock! "Guten Abend! Is my nichte Nina here?"
Nina and Chase knew that unmistakable voice. They responded, "Dr. Obrecht?" and "Aunt Liesl?" in perfect unison. Chase remembered Dr. Obrecht's arrest during his and Willow's first date. This weekend was quickly getting out of hand.
"Yes! It is I! I've come to meet my new family member," Liesl hollered from the door. Chase, Willow, and Nina stood with their jaws on the floor.
Without acknowledgment or prompting, Dr. Liesl Obrecht opened the door herself and rushed past Nina to Willow, grabbing her into an unexpected hug, "I knew you resembled my Britta, your first cousin, and have meine kleine nichte's Nina fire! Welcome, Willow! I am so happy to meet you! And bonus, you and Maxie's little ones are second cousins! I wish Nathan could see this day." Liesl's voice was gentle and loving.
At the call of the name Maxie and Nathan, Willow leaned into Liesl's hug. Willow's detective work had been correct. Nina's brother was Liesl's son. Willow's head began to swim. A new mother was one thing, but extended family?
Liesl abruptly stepped back, continuing with her monologue but in a more scheming tone, "I'd hurt your grandmother Madeline if she wasn't already dead for keeping you from us…" Willow made a mental note to ask Obrecht about Madeline when they weren't on Nantucket.
Again in unison but for different reasons, Nina and Chase "Aunt Liesl!" and "Dr. Obecht!"
Liesl didn't seem to notice and continued, "I did learn that your father Douglas was a good man, and it appears Harmony finally did the right thing…. now, for Shiloh…what shall we do with this swine?!"
Willow jumped in and put her hand up, "Dr. Obrecht! Law enforcement will handle that swine." She looked back at Chase. He smiled back in admiration.
Liesl spoke again, "Call me Aunt Liesl, or if your German is good—"
Willow interrupted, "I only speak English and a little French. Let's not get ahead of ourselves. The DNA hasn't come back yet. How did you know we were here? How did you know, did Nina call you?!" Willow glared at Nina.
Nina was bewildered for a moment. "No….no I was doing Crimson business, I haven't told anyone —."
Willow took a deep breath and relaxed her posture a little bit, "I'm sorry, Nina, I jumped to conclusions."
"No apology necessary, Willow. I have a lot of work on myself to do before you can give me any benefit of the doubt." Nina smiled and nodded.
Chase, who had been silent for the most part up until this point, stepped in, "Liesl, Nina, while I'm so happy you both showed up unexpectedly here, this was meant to be a weekend for Willow and me to enjoy Nantucket. The island is supposed to be…you know, a bit of a getaway from Port Charles and its inhabitants."
Liesl eyed Chase with a bit of a smirk. She was about to say something when Willow jumped back in.
Willow put her hand on Chase's chest but turned to Liesl and Nina, "Chase, thank you for what you said and for planning this weekend. Before we say good afternoon/night to my newly discovered relatives, I want to know how Aunt Liesl found us?"
Nina's heart skipped; Willow seemed genuinely interested in her "relatives." Who knew that all that was needed were a few of her exuberant aunt's antics.
Liesl stood back with pride and a smile on her face, "Okay, nichte Willow." She smiled again and gave Chase a once-over look top to bottom. She approved her new grand niece's taste in men, "I will be brief. May we sit."
Chase rolled his eyes a bit but then gestured for Nina and Obrecht to sit on the love seat facing Willow and him. "Should I start a fire?"
Liesl looked at Nina and smiled again, "No need, Detective Chase, Nina and I will not be long, and you may want it for later."
Chase didn't know to be relieved or uncomfortable with Willow's new family. Dr. Obrecht seemed to be judging him with her eyes. At least Willow seemed more like herself as the weekend progressed. If Nina and Obrecht helped Willow heal with their unexpected arrivals, then he would call this weekend a success.
Chase, Willow, and Nina listened intently as Liesl explained that a little birdie in Pentonville had shared some exciting news. Being the distinguished scientist she was, she had done her own DNA test using Willow's saliva left on a teacher's note in Charlotte's possession and her own DNA. Chase was confused because it wasn't possible to get any information from a sample that small. Obrecht had shared that she was on the "cutting edge" and had no doubt that she and Willow were blood relatives. She had then used "non-illegal means" to figure out where Willow was and coordinated travel arrangements.
Chase shook his head, "well, Willow, if this turns out to be true, I can see the resemblance through Nina and Liesl's sheer resourcefulness. You also have that trait." He poked her nose playfully. Willow smiled and then took a deep breath. Her face became somber again. She turned to Nina and Obrecht. She tried to speak, but words were hard to share. An unexpected tidal wave of emotions flooded her chest.
Nina's and Chase's hearts sank as they saw Willow back in a place of sadness and pain. Tears started to well up in Nina's eyes, mirroring Willow's own.
"Willow," Liesl interrupted with a graceful gentleness, "Willow. If anyone knows the unimaginable pain you are going through it's Nina and me. When we lost Nathan, it was devastating in many complex ways."
Obrecht took another breath and looked at Willow with care in her face, "I know from my research on grief that healing will take time. You are powerful, and whatever you're feeling, know that it won't break you. It won't. I did a little reading on your father, Douglas." Liesl's voice had a touch of sadness and kindness when she said the name "Douglas."
Liesl continued, "Your father, Douglas was a good man. He raised you with so much love, and he would be proud of you…You've lost so much in the past few years, especially losing a little one. There aren't words to describe what you are going through. Your grief will be complicated."
Willow repeated the words, "Grief will be complicated. I learned that as a teacher, and cognitively I understand. But the tears keep coming." Willow looked at Chase, then Nina, and finally at Liesl.
Liesl took one of Nina's hands and gestured for Nina to offer her free hand to Chase. Chase seemed to understand, holding one of Nina's hands and one of Willow's. Liesl held Willow's free hand and looked at her intently, "Willow, I couldn't protect my dear Nina from her own mother, but I will protect her now." She paused and took a breath, glancing quickly at Nina and then back at Willow, "In addition to my Britta, Nina is like a daughter to me."
Nina gasped a bit, shocked and deeply moved at her Aunt Liesl's words.
Liesl continued, "That makes you like my granddaughter. Let me be your stand-in Ouma. Let us be there for you as I was for Maxie when she lost our dearest Nathan. We are officially family as of today, and that means we will love and stand by you during this difficult time."
With Liesl's words, there were tears in everyone's eyes. Even Chase sniffled a little bit. He was oddly grateful at these two unexpected visitors who could remind Willow that she was deeply loved and that she would have support.
Willow squeezed Liesl's hand, acknowledging her words. She was in an unfamiliar place. For the first time, there were women around her who reminded her of her own strength and capabilities. She had sparred with Nina earlier and succeeded, and now her new aunt or Ouma or whatever had reminded her of her roots. She would be okay, maybe not this moment, but she would be okay.
"Wow…" Willow took in a sharp breath, wiped the tears from her eyes, and stood up with a smile. "This might sound weird, but who's up for a group hug?"
Willow's suggestion took everyone by surprise, most of all Chase, who backed away. Willow laughed at him, understanding his embarrassment to be to the only male in a group of strong, capable, sometimes criminal women. "Okay, Liesl, Nina, let's bring it in. Chase is going to get started on dinner." She gestured playfully, and the three women shared a warm embrace.
"On that note," Liesl made her smirky face again, looking towards the kitchen, "Nina and I will take our leave of you…Nina, I imagine you've booked a hotel room that I can crash in tonight?"
"Yes, I did," Nina looked at her aunt suspiciously, "How'd you know?"
"Nina, like I said, you are like a daughter to me, I know you…now let's go, let's give the die Jungen their weekend back."
Nina looked at Willow and then at Liesl and back again at Willow, "Willow," She took her daughter's hand, "I know I have so much work to do, but I am grateful for you and for this time today. I was planning on leaving Nantucket tomorrow, but I can stay if you want. Or can we connect when you're back in Port Charles? Your call, I'm open to whatever."
Willow, to own her surprise, was a little sad Liesl and Nina were leaving. Still, she was looking into the kitchen, seeing her devoted Chase hard at work, and she knew she was in good company, "Nina, Liesl, how about we get together later this week – we should be back by Wednesday. Can we do a girls' night? Maybe invite Maxie and Britt? It's both strange and exciting to have this surprising family of strong women."
Nina smiled, and Liesl spoke, "It's a date." The women embraced again, and just like that, Nina and Liesl were on their way to Nantucket's most exclusive bed and breakfast. Chase and Willow could decide if they wanted to grab brunch in the morning or continue to have a romantic couple's weekend, as Liesl continually suggested as she was leaving. Chase, for his part, was both amused and a bit concerned by Liesl's interest in their relationship.
That night, when Chase and Willow were finally alone, and Willow had beaten him at Scrabble again, this time by almost 200 points, he decided to broach the topic, "Willow, this weekend was not the Nantucket getaway I expected? Do you want a do-over?" He laughed to himself.
Willow sat pensively for a moment. Her countenance seemed lighter, and she was much more relaxed from the day before, "Maybe not the weekend getaway we expected, but the one I needed. Chase, I started out today questioning my purpose and sanity. It then went to anger with Nina. At one point, I got puke on her…and then to me being related to former criminal mastermind, reformed scientist Liesl Obrecht. I couldn't have made this story up if I wanted to…" She paused for a moment, "Hmm…I guess what I'm trying to say is that as crazy as this day has been, it's reminded me of how much I'm loved…and despite the hole in my heart and the waves of grief, I know one thing's for sure." She paused again.
"What's that?" Chase hung on Willow's every word.
"The one thing I know for sure is I will get through this…and," she paused and smiled, "I guess I know two things, the other being that Harrison Chase is that you are a keeper. Who else would put up with these potential in-laws?" She laughed, "Also, I'm exhausted…let's go to bed, my love."
Chase's heart skipped a bit with the words "potential in-laws,"… which meant that he and Willow had a future. He didn't argue with her last sentence either.
Later that night, for the first night in over a week, Willow slept in Chase's warm embrace and did not have a nightmare. Her dreams were comically hopeful. She knew she would continue to live and see what life had in store for her, Chase, and her new, surprising family.
A/N Thank you for reading Not the Nantucket get away they had originally planned. I'm sorry it took me so long to complete. Please feel free to share feedback and reviews. I am always looking to improve my writing and your acknowledgment helps me get better.