A/N: This first scene I struggled with for a long time-the second one has been written for months. Hopefully now that we are over that hump we can get this story finished up. Until next time-PCGirl.
Jessica walked into the room and her eyes began to water at seeing her sister there, lying in the bed with her arms strapped down like she was a danger to others. She remembered before-when it was her in that bed after Chloe had been born. This was all so unfair-Natalie and Tricia should never have been put in this situation, they had been so sure before that once the integration was complete they might never see the two separated again.
Walking over she began to undo the buckles on the arms without saying a word.
"Why are you doing that?" asked the quiet voice and she looked to see Tricia's eyes were open, but the fight that she'd once seen at the ranch was gone.
"Because you are not a danger to anyone. Not like me-or Tess," she said quietly as she finished one arm and walked around to the other side to loosen the strap there. "How are you feeling?"
"You should know how I'm feeling. I mean this isn't much different than Nash and Antonio, is it?"
Jessica paused, realizing what Tricia was getting at, "I suppose so, but you and Natalie have to make that choice together. That was where I went wrong. I tried to fight what Tess wanted-tried to pretend I didn't have the feelings I did for Nash."
"You really think Natalie is going to choose Jared after this?" she asked with a raised eyebrow and Jessica wanted to almost smile at seeing Tricia beginning to act like herself.
"She's forgiven me for a lot worse-including nearly killing her. You don't know what her thoughts are unless you go through with this."
"This? You mean the integration?"
"It's more than just the integration," she said as she sat down on the edge of the bed and was surprised when Tricia let her hold her hand. "It's healing, Tricia. How you came out this time caused a lot of trauma. Not just for Natalie, but you as well. You both are going to have to work through that before the integration can happen. That means at some point you will have to give up control to Natalie."
"I know," she said quietly for a moment. "Do you know where Jared is?"
"No, I don't," she said quietly, hoping Tricia didn't pick up on the lie. "I'm going to go tell the doctors I undid your straps because you are not a danger to yourself or anyone else. I'll see what I can find out about Jared," she said as she got up and left the room.
Tricia didn't say anything else as Jessica left. Rubbing her wrists, she knew Jessica was lying about where Jared was. And she was also pretty sure that the next person to walk in that door was not going to be Jared.
As John walked towards her room his mind went back to when Natalie explained what had happened before-and he hoped that maybe he could get through to Tricia and have her agree to integration again.
"Can I ask you a question?" asked John as they sat on the couch alone, having put Liam down for the night a while ago.
"Sure," she said, feeling nervous about his question.
"What was it like? The integration and all?"
Natalie thought for a moment, trying to articulate the whole experience, "The first session he had me think of a moment in time-a moment where I felt fully in control and to hold onto that."
"What did you pick?" he asked as he tried to come up with his own moment and his mind landed onto them bringing Liam home from Michigan. He had a son after all, and though their stubbornness kept it from happening for a couple months longer than he had liked, he got to have a family with Natalie.
"Bringing Liam home from the hospital," she smiled. "Even though I was still holding the paternity secret it was still this perfect moment in time. So, I would hold onto that memory and allow Tricia to come out. She would have conversations with Dr Jamison and then him and I would have conversations about it afterwards. Once she talked with Roxy about what happened to cause her to exist and another time she talked to Jessica about what happened in the basement."
"And the actual integration?"
"It was weird-I was able to take this partial step back and speak with Tricia. We talked about Liam. How he needed his mom and he needed her whole. She loved him-she wanted to protect that little boy."
John smiled, "I'm glad she listened and cared enough about him to agree to this."
Opening the door he saw her sitting there in a chair by the window-not reacting to the door opening or his steps across the floor as he came closer, "Tricia," he said softly, hoping she would finally acknowledge him.
"Why are you here?" she asked, her voice laced with an anger that he wasn't used to hearing from Natalie.
"To tell you I'm sorry."
"For not protecting you from Jared."
"I don't need protecting from my husband, John. The person I did need protecting from was Marty Saybrooke-and you failed at that. How the hell was she allowed to be free after what she did to us?"
"You're right-she shouldn't have been. The second she walked into that police station she should have been arrested and arraigned on two counts of attempted murder. But Jared didn't protect you from her either, did he? He just handed Natalie over to her-to force you to come out when you weren't needed."
"I'm not needed?" she asked with a raised eyebrow and hurt in her voice.
John mentally cursed at his use of words, "You will always be needed, Tricia. But your coming out this time was not of your own choosing because Natalie needed protection. It was because Banks is selfish and thinks by you being here that somehow he's getting his happily ever after with Natalie. But he's not."
"Because you are going to force Natalie and I to reintegrate."
"I want you to be whole, Tricia. I want you to be safe and be loved."
"With Jared we are."
"Safe-perhaps," he said with a shrug. "But if he truly loved you would he put you through this-make you split when everything is going right in your life? I don't know what that is, but it sure as hell isn't love."
"He does too love me," she yelled, and he took note of how her eyes were burning with rage at him right now. John couldn't help but give her a smirk, Jessica had been right earlier. Because there she was, the woman he would always go toe to toe with any day of the week.
"He loves someone, yes, but it's his wife," he said and saw her opening her mouth and held up a finger to finish. "Jared doesn't understand what parts of Natalie come from you."
"And you do?" she asked with a laugh.
"I know you are the reason she loves mustard on her fries. And it was your strength and bravery that saved you both until I could rescue you from that pit. Thank you for that," he said as he reached over and pushed that damn lock of her hair out of her face, feeling a calmness at her allowing him to touch her.
"You are also the reason Natalie can walk into a crime scene and take it all in within minutes. I wonder-if the girl that sat in the bar watching for predators also watched some of the better pool players and that's how you became so good at the game," he said and watched a look go over her face. "What is it, Tricia?"
"You. You said you."
"Because that is a part of Natalie just as much as it is you. And another thing you share is your love for your children. Natalie's told me how much you cared for Liam when you came out before. He's missing his mom right now. And Riley needs her mom too-and that's both of you. I know you love them, Tricia."
"What about you? Who is it you love?" she asked as tears began to fall.
John took a deep breath as he placed his hands on each side of her face and wiped away the tears with his thumbs, "I love all of you-both," he said as he pressed his lips to hers and felt her begin to kiss him back. When she stopped he pressed their foreheads together and got his breathing under control.
He heard the softness in her voice and felt tears come to his eyes-hoping this wasn't a trick, "Yeah?"
"Look at me," she said, with a stronger tone to her voice.
Pulling back, he looked at her and smiled. He could never explain how he knew he wasn't looking at Tricia anymore-he just knew, "Natalie?"
She couldn't speak, just put her hands over his and nodded. "It's me. She-she wants to see Jared, but I think it's over."
"Is that safe though?"
"Dr Jamison will make it safe. She's choosing us John-she's choosing our family. You, me, Liam, and Riley."
John let out a deep breath and taking Natalie into his arms he held her tightly. Nodding he kissed the top of her hair and let out a reassuring sigh, "Ok. Whatever it takes."