Disclaimer: All characters are property of ABC/Disney. I'm using them for my enjoyment-hope you will to and put them back when finished. ;)

A/N: Usually I can tell you a specific scene that get the muse to write a story. This one doesn't really have that. When Nora came back on GH last time she mentioned something that made me want to branch off of that. Hope ya'll enjoy this-I've had fun writing it so far. :) Until next time-PCGirl.


John sat in the chair with his head in his hands. The past week had been rough, and he wondered if it was going to get easier any time soon. He had to laugh-life with Natalie was never easy. There were more hills and detours in their relationship that some interstates, but he knew she was always the destination. And she still was-this hadn't changed anything, if it did it just made him want her more.

Hearing footsteps near him he looked up and gave a slight smile to Jessica-she looked just as tired as him, "How is she?"

"Angry. Wants to know where he is. I lied and said I didn't know," she said as she sat down in a chair kitty corner from him. "She tried to say that I should know what this feels like-compare this to Antonio and Nash. And I guess in a way it is."

"You aren't helping me feel good about the end result in all of this, Jess."

"Natalie's going to pick you. She always does, doesn't she?" she asked and then was quiet until he looked her in the eye and gave a nod in response. "You ready to see her?"

"Honestly, I'm not sure," he said as he stood up and paced the visiting area of Saint Anne's. "Not long after I came home there was a night we stayed up talking about this whole process-and Natalie explained how she didn't want me here the first time because she thought it would give her more power to stay in control. What if that's still the case? What if me being here does nothing but keep her in control and Natalie tucked away in some recess of her mind?"

Jessica looked up to the man that she knew had held her sister's heart for so long and could tell how conflicted he was, "It was hard when I had to go toe to toe with her before. When I had to fess up and ask for forgiveness for letting Tess out to kill Natalie. But I got through it with Tricia and you can too."

"What do I say to her to make her give in to doing the integration again?"

"She didn't choose to come out this time, John. Remind her that. Remind her that you and Natalie were having your happily ever after."

"But she thinks she can get that happily ever after with him."

She couldn't help but laugh, "For over ten years I've watched you time after time go against psychopaths-why would you let an alter scare you away from what you really want?" John was silent again so she stood up and patted him on the shoulder, "I'm going to call Mom and Dad and check on the kids. Just remember what I said when all this started-when you look down deep you'll see a lot of our Natalie."


One Month Before

"Now that wasn't too bad, was it?" said Natalie quietly as she walked out of the pediatrician's office at the hospital holding her four-month-old. Running a hand over the strawberry blonde locks she kissed her on the side of the head, "I know-shots suck, but you'll be ok," she spoke and saw someone walk around the corner just now. She couldn't but let the growl out of having to see that woman walking around free and her mind went back to the news John had given her the month before.

Hearing the front door open Natalie walked from the kitchen and out to the living room to see John coming in and shutting the door behind him, "Hey-you don't usually come home for lunch. Everything ok?"

"Yeah-where's Riley?" he asked, surprised that she wasn't in Natalie's arms.

"Upstairs asleep. What's going on?" she asked as she watched him come to terms with something he needed to tell her.

"This morning Patrick Thornhart and Marty Saybrooke walked into the police station."

"Oh, that's nice," she said as she tried to keep herself calm at the thought of the woman being back in town. "Is she down in holding now?"

"No."

"You didn't send her to Statesville already, did you?"

"We let her go, Natalie."

"What?" she yelled. "The woman threw me off a building-she nearly killed Kelly in your hotel room! She kidnapped our son, not to mentioned changed his paternity test results. Why the hell would you let her go?"

"Can you please come sit down," he said calmly as he sat down on the couch himself. He knew this was going to be a tough conversation-that's why after talking it over with Bo he'd come home for the day to tell Natalie and smooth things over between the two of them.

"No, I will not sit down," she said as she stood in front of the fireplace with her arms crossed ready to attack.

"Apparently, she's been under care of a psychiatrist the whole time she's been with Patrick."

"Did she kill them too?" snarked Natalie with a raised eyebrow.

"Will you let me finish?" he asked, and when he got silence in response he continued. "She was found to be under a severe psychological break. She knows one hundred percent exactly what she did and why it was wrong on all counts. This is all documented in paperwork from the shrink that's care she has been under. Before you ask-yes, I already verified the legitimacy of the paperwork and the shrink. My entire morning has been doing that and spending time with Nora and a couple other ADA's."

"And?"

"We've decided at this time not to prosecute."

Natalie let out a roar of laughter, "Are you kidding me?"

"There are stipulations, if it helps."

"Not really but go on."

"She cannot practice any psychiatry in the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania. She is to stay away from you and the kids. If she does anything seen as a threat to your lives or well-being the charges from before will be brought up. And there will be no leniency given."

"John, I know you two shared a child, but you seriously can't be ok with this. With them living here and her being free to do whatever she pleases."

"No, I'd rather they be living anywhere else on this earth than here. And whatever I may have felt for her disappeared that night," he said as he got up and put his arms around her. "You are one of the victims in this case, and I hate this agreement. But I'm going to protect you and our family with my last breath," he said as he leaned down to kiss her. The kiss was soon broken when a baby's cry filled the room. "She has the worst timing."

Natalie laughed and started for the stairs, "Yeah, she does."

So far Natalie and Marty had seen each other in passing around town, but usually it was with Patrick in tow and the man seemed to always steer Marty away from her. Sighing at the flashbacks of the roof and then the fear that she'd taken off with Liam she gave Riley a kiss on the temple, "Come on sweetie. Let's drop you off at Grandma Viki's for a bit. Mama needs to go to work for a bit."


John closed the file and put it on the stack of ones to take back out front-he looked at the picture on his desk and couldn't help but smile. It was taken in the hospital with Natalie holding their newborn daughter. Her's and John's eyes were locked onto each other while Liam was leaning over John and looking down at his little sister.

Natalie hated that picture, said she looked awful, but he couldn't think of a more beautiful sight than his family. He hadn't known this was what he wanted until it was in front of him, but he couldn't think of anything better.

The ringing of his office phone pulled him back to the present, "McBain."

"John-hey," said Oliver as he scratched the back of his head while standing on the side of the road.

"Fish? Where are you?" he asked, taking note of the background noise.

"Kyle and I had taken Sierra Rose up the mountain for a picnic. On the way back we saw a car pulled over with its hazards on and stopped to see if we could be of assistance."

"Ok?" he asked and could hear Fish talking, though it sounded like he had his hand over the receiver. "Fish?"

"Sorry, I'm here. Do you know where Natalie is?"

"Why? Who is it?" he asked as he got up and began to grab his cell phone to slip in his pocket.

"It's Jared."