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Jack balanced some files and documents in one hand while holding a cup of fresh coffee and some faxes in the other. He opened the door to Elizabeth's office with the elbow and pushed it open with his back.
As he turned around, he couldn't believe his eyes. “What a pitiful sight.” he muttered.
Elizabeth's upper body and head were still resting on the table and she slurred, “Over... it's all over...”
Jack put his load on the desk and took the glass from the blonde's hand, sniffing on it. “Yuck. Why are you drinking? The filming has started and we have more work than ever.” He stepped behind her and lifted her up, carrying her to the couch. “You are the one, who said that. And you expect everybody to give their best. You even said that overtime at night is necessary and then you go and do something like this.”
Elizabeth blinked and looked at him. It seemed as if she noticed him now for the first time. “Jack... what...”
“Here, drink the coffee... maybe it will make you a little bit more sober...” He shook his head as he saw her try to scramble up.
She took a tiny swallow of the hot brew and then rubbed her temples. “Owww, my head...”
“You deserve it. What's wrong, Lizzy? Is it because of the articles and pictures in the newspaper about your relationship with Sam? Don't take it to your heart. They don't know anything...”
Elizabeth stared at her lap and quietly said, “What relationship?”
“Oh no, don't tell me...”
She nodded. “Sam moved out. She's living at Karen's house for the moment.”
“Now, that's a surprise.”
“I ended it,” Elizabeth confessed.
“That's an even bigger surprise,” Jack mumbled.
At the hospital, Sara turned nervously to the housekeeper. “Rose, you can stay here at the cafeteria. I'll go and look for a doctor.”
Rose didn't like the idea. “No, no. That's out of the question.”
“I'm not discussing this with you any longer, Rose. I'll go by myself and nobody will have to know about it.”
With a sigh, the older woman gave in, because she knew, she wouldn't stand a chance against Sara's stubbornness.
Inside the elevator, Sara took a couple of deep breaths and wiped at the tears that were running down her cheeks.
The doors closed slowly.
‘Oh Jack, I need you so much right now.' She thought. ‘But I' can't be weak, not yet. I have to be strong for you to be able to support you with all my might. I know, it was a very stupid idea of me for you to make up with your family. But, I want them to come to our wedding and I want us all to celebrate without nasty things disturbing the mood. I pushed too hard and was too demanding and now the old wounds have been torn open again. I'm so sorry that they don't want to talk with you.'
“I'm not,” she replied immediately, denying the obvious. “What are you doing here?”
He smirked. “I asked you first.”
Rolling her eyes, she said, “I'm here for an exam. Nothing special.”
Richard leaned against a wall and crossed his arms in front of his chest. “You are here because of the dizzy spells and stuff... smart decision.”
Sara glared at him. “I'm only doing this because of Rose. She gave me an ultimatum because next week is my wedding day.”
He felt a painful tug at his heart. “The wedding?”
“Well, I guess Jack made sure that I wasn't invited.”
“Why?” she asked, frowning. “I was the one, who sent out the invitations.” Her eyes widened then in realization. “I forgot! Shit! Damn it! Nobody would have come because I forgot to send them.”
Richard stepped behind her and massaged her shoulders. “Why don't you hire a wedding planner?”
Sara turned around and looked at him. “No way. I'm a nervous wreck as it is. Besides, I want it to be personal. It will be a small wedding but that's no problem. Only the closest friends without much pomp or circumstance. We will just get married. Jack and I have waited a long time for that.” She drew her brows together as she saw his shocked expression. “Why are you staring at me like that, Ray?”
Richard wiped two fingers under her nose and pulled them back.
Frightened, she looked at the blood that was on them. “Th-there... I'm sure there is a very normal ex-explanation for th-that...” she stammered. She held a tissue to her nose, but couldn't hold back the tears. Something had to be wrong with her and it scared her.
Consoling, Richard pulled her into an embrace and gently stroked her back.
The elevator doors opened on the next floor and Victoria entered. Her face hardened as she recognized the others. “You... and you... I always knew you were not good enough for Jack!” she spat. “I will tell him everything about you.”
Fearful, Sara and Richard looked at each other.
Karen told Samantha to hurry and gently shoved her into the passenger seat of her car. “Come on, come on. My babies are waiting for their Mommy. Finally, I get to take my sweet boys home with me. It's just too bad that Chris always has to be on business trips when important things happen.”
She sat down behind the steering wheel and started the engine. “I'm sorry that I'm talking like a waterfall, Sam. For the moment, family is the most important thing.”
Samantha nodded and repeated in a small voice, “Family is always the most important thing...”
Karen wanted to slap herself for being so insensitive. “I'm really sorry, I didn't mean to make you sad. I...”
“I will fly with Michiru to New York City to find out something about my family,” Samantha responded firmly.
“Yes. I got some hints referring to a hospital I could have been born in.”
Karen smiled. “That's great. Does Liz...”
“NO,” Samantha cut her off quickly. “Liz doesn't know anything about it.” Then she added, sadly, “And she shall not find out about it.”
“But don't you think she would be happy for you?” Karen inquired.
The brunette shook her head while a lone tear rolled down her cheek. “No. I want to keep the distance that she feels she needs.”
Karen sighed and turned her eyes back to the road. She didn't know what to do or say.
“Please, don't let my dark mood spoil your fun or take away the happiness of getting to take the twins home. I am looking forward to seeing them too and I'm sorry that I'll have to leave you for the weekend.”
“Don't worry,” Karen laughed. “I'm sure there will be other volunteers that will help me for a couple of days. Taylor for sure and maybe Richard.”
“That's right,” Samantha replied and a small smile formed on her features. “Taylor has some time off now to gain some strength for the training sessions that will prepare her for the Olympic Games.”
“Yeah, our little ice princess has some vacation time and she really deserves it after winning the gold medal.”
Samantha nodded. “And here we are... the hospital.”
Karen found a parking space and climbed out of her car, grinning broadly. “Finally, finally, I get to take my sweet boys home.”
Some hospital employees stared irritated at the elevator as the doors opened to reveal three wildly arguing visitors that stormed out of it.
“I really can't believe it!” Victoria hissed.
“You are getting this all wrong,” Sara tried to explain.
“Pah, I know what I saw. The situation was quite clear to me!”
Sara scowled. “What are you talking about? The thing is none of your business. Mind your own shit!”
“Please, Sara, calm down,” Richard chimed in. “She isn't worth it.”
“What?” Victoria exclaimed. “Jack isn't a thing and he sure is my business.”
Once more, Richard tried to step in and calm them. Unfortunately, he wasn't very successful. At least, he managed to keep both women away from each other before they would try to claw each other's eyes out or get involved in a real cat fight.
In that moment, Karen and Samantha entered the hospital corridor, followed by a swarm of photographers and camera teams.
“Oh, hello Richard!” Karen called out happily. “And Sara... and Vicky... nice to see you all. Isn't this a great day?”
Victoria and Sara were still yelling at each other, not paying attention to their surroundings. “Jack is absolutely taboo for you! Get that into your head and leave us alone!”
“Never!” Victoria roared. “If you are cheating on him... I have to tell him!”
Sara lost her patience. “I can't believe it. You stupid bitch!”
They didn't notice that Elias had appeared. “It's enough!”
“But...” Sara tried to talk back only to be cut off immediately.
“I said, it's enough!” Elias demanded. Then he turned to Victoria. “I thought we would have our first session tomorrow?”
“What?” Sara asked shocked.
Victoria fled into an embarrassed smile. “Uh...”
“Will you two stop now?” Richard wanted to know. “Today is Karen's big day. Her sons will be released from the hospital.”
“Ohhh...” Victoria and Sara said at the same time, both of them feeling ashamed for their inexcusable behavior.
“Dr. Lewis will bring them to me,” Karen announced, beaming happily.
While they were waiting, Rose made her way through the crowd of press people and disturbed the reporter in the front, who was about to ask Samantha some questions about her relationship with Elizabeth.
Relieved, Samantha hid behind Rose and then stepped behind Karen's back, peeking over her shoulder.
“What's going on here?” Rose asked.
The whole group felt a bit out of place aside from Karen, who for once enjoyed being the center of attention and bathed in the flashlights of the cameras.
Sara and Victoria were still trying to pierce each other with hateful glares, which Elias studied with great interest.
At the same time Rose was talking to Sara, while Richard tried to keep the housekeeper off the young woman's back.
A bit forlorn and lost, Samantha looked around and Karen was about to jump for joy as finally Dr. Lewis appeared, holding her babies.
She gave them to their happy mother and again the cameras flashed.
One of the reporters called out, “Can I please have a group shot of Mrs. Stuart with all her friends? Yes, just surround her... wonderful... now say cheese... great picture!”
***** THE NEXT DAY *****
Loud, spiteful laughter erupted from his chest as Alexander had a look at the ‘L.A. Morning Post' and saw the group picture from the hospital. “Oh man, their expressions are just priceless. I think, I'll frame that picture and hang it up on the wall in my room. It's just great.”
After his outbreak of extreme happiness had lessened, he skimmed over the article that belonged to the picture. “Mrs. Karen Stuart, wife of artist Christopher Stuart... takes home... The twins were named after their grandfather Colin Stuart, who died 12 years ago in a tragic car accident (see picture below), and their father, Christopher Stuart.”
Alexander looked at the picture of Colin Stuart and his mind began to work feverishly. “Wait a second. I've seen this guy before... and his name is Colin...” He continued to read the article. “Colin Stuart became famous as an extra-ordinary dancer before he met his wife Mary-Ann and together they founded the movie company ‘Stuart Films'. With ‘Parker Enterprises' as partner, they began business in movie making...”
Alexander slammed the newspaper on the table. “PARTNERS?” he exclaimed in disbelief. “I didn't know...” Then his eyes widened in sudden realization. “Oh my God... Mom had to have contact with Colin Stuart. Is it possible that... no, never... or maybe he is? Could this Colin be Vicky's father?”
Tired and exhausted, Michiru leaned against the wall in pediatrics of the New York hospital. “I think we should have gone to the hotel first instead of racing here immediately after arriving at the airport,” she mumbled. The coach was dead on her feet.
Nervously, Samantha drummed her fingers on the front desk, barely listening to Michiru's words.
“Sam, we left in the middle of the night and it was a long flight. We should get some sleep first and then come back here tomorrow, when we are both somewhat rested.”
Samantha hit the desk with both fists. “NO!” Then she turned to the old nurse, who was doing paper work not too far away from her. “Excuse me, Ma'am. Maybe you can help me. I really need some information...”
Without looking up, the nurse responded, “Now, listen, sweetheart...” She glanced briefly over the rim of her reading glasses. “...if everybody...” Suddenly, she stopped and stared directly into Samantha's desperate face. “That cannot be...” the nurse whispered.
“What?” the brunette wanted to know.
“Oh nothing. You just reminded me of somebody, but that is past.”
Tears welled up in Samantha's eyes. “Yes, my past. It could be my past!”
Michiru walked over to her and stroked her back calmingly. “Shhh.”
“Please, tell me, who do I remind you of?” Samantha begged
The nurse answered quietly, “Kayla Parker.”
Samantha buried her face in her hands and sobbed.
“You look so much like her,” the old woman added.
“Can we go somewhere and talk?” Michiru asked, since Samantha wasn't able to form words at the moment.
The nurse nodded. “My shift is almost over. We could meet at the little café that is across the street.”
Michiru nodded. “Alright. Till later.” She took Samantha's arm and carefully led her out.
Karen unlocked the door to the Stuart house and entered, followed by Richard, who put down the carriers that held the sleeping twins.
“Hey, where is the whole gang?” Karen asked, as nobody came to greet her. She had a quick look into the garden and discovered Dorian, who was packing up his things. “Oh, Dorian is there. I'll go and ask him. Maybe he knows, where the family is hiding.”
“Okay,” Richard replied. “We boys will wait here for you.”
Karen entered the garden through the patio doors. “Hey Dorian. What are you doing?”
He looked up from his task. “Oh, hi Karen. I'm packing up my things and then I'll be gone from here. My dig is finished. But, you'll get the garden back... nicely turned over.” Dorian grinned. “That means, I'm not going to disturb the Stuart family any longer.”
“You know that you are always welcome,” Karen said. “Where are you going now? I thought you said that you didn't have money for an apartment?”
A bit embarrassed, the young archeologist rubbed the nape of his neck. “Well, it's not official yet... but... I'll be moving in with Victoria.”
Karen blinked in surprise. “Victoria Parker? Vicky and you are a couple?”
“Yes, but that doesn't mean that I will rely on her forever. I want to get a job to make money on my own. I always had to fight to survive and I really do want to stay here in the USA.”
Karen nodded. “That's a big thing and I wish you luck. I also hope that you know that you can always come to us... if you need anything.”
Smiling gratefully, Dorian responded, “I really appreciate it, but I want to stand on my own two feet.”
“I really like your attitude,” Karen answered. “Now, I've got a question. Where is the rest of the family?”
“Taylor is hanging out with Sara, taking care of little Sakura. Liz is at work, like always. She and Jack are under a lot of pressure and they are working like crazy.”
“On the weekend too? They already work the nights away. I guess this also means that Liz has forgotten about our brunch. I wanted her to meet Colin and Chris jr. outside of the hospital.”
Dorian beamed. “Did you bring the little rascals with you?”
Karen laughed. “Yes, they are in the living room with Richard. Would you like to see them?”
“Of course! I love children.”
“Great. How about we have that brunch then?”
“Sure. I won't say no.”
Taylor and Sara strolled along the wooden bridge, pushing the buggy in which Sakura sat. They enjoyed the fresh breeze that drifted over from the sea.
‘Next week at this time, I'll be Mrs. Jack Carpenter,' Sara thought to herself.
Taylor bought for Sakura a big heart-shaped balloon. A tiny hand reached for it immediately and the teenager grinned broadly as she saw the look of utter happiness on Sakura's face. Then she turned to Sara. “It's a good thing you mentioned the date when you called me. Else, I would have thought, I wouldn't be invited to your wedding.”
“You wouldn't have been the only one, who would have thought that,” Sara sighed. “Lately, I'm so tired and forget a lot of things.”
Both their eyes turned to Sakura, who chose that moment to squeal in delight as she saw a woman who led a puppy dog on a leash.
“When they are that young, they get excited about every little thing,” Taylor commented, smirking.
“Yes, and they are so sweet when they are that young. Colin and Chris jr. yesterday looked so cute while they were sleeping. Too bad that you couldn't be there. But the press people were horrible.”
Taylor shrugged her shoulders. “It's not my fault that I couldn't be there. I was tested for doping stuff. Now tell me, what are the plans for your wedding next week?”
Sara smiled. “I want it to be very romantic. We will do it at the beach behind the house, with as less expenditure as possible. The only thing I really want is...”
“Jack,” the teenager finished for her and waggled her eyebrows.
“Ha hah, no... I mean, yes, that too... what I meant to say is that I really hope we will get to spend some time together after the wedding ceremony and during the honeymoon. If I wouldn't have a picture of him, I wouldn't even be able to recognize Jack on the day of the wedding. We just don't see each other often, now that he is so busy.”
Taylor cleared her throat. “Yeah, it's really bad how Liz pulls all the others into the same state of uncontrolled ‘work fury' as she herself is in.”
“I agree. I don't think it's very healthy. And what about Sam? That poor woman looks like pure misery.”
The teenager nodded. “I know. What they did was just crazy... breaking up like that...”
“Yeah, it's horrible,” Sara responded. “Everybody could see that they belong to each other.”
“I believe it was fate that they found each other.”
“But now, the dream burst like a bubble.”
Taylor exhaled sharply. “It's just so sad. They were perfect for each other.”
Jack was overlooking several PCs at the same time, observing the programming at the flickering screens.
Elizabeth came in with a load of files and discs. She dropped it on the nearest free space on his table and declared without beating around the bush, “Here is the set up for the special effects concerning the battle scenes at the ‘black castle'. A few of them need to be redone. I will go down to the studio now and see how the filming is coming along.”
Jack rose from his chair, quickly grabbed the blonde's shoulders and pushed her down on the seat. “Time out, Liz. Time out. You need a break!”
“We don't have time for breaks,” she argued. “We are already behind schedule with ‘Lords of the Darkness'.”
“Liz, you can't go on like this,” he pointed out. “You need to find a different outlet for your pain and your sadness than work.”
“What... what do you mean?” Elizabeth asked, drawing her brows together.
“You know exactly what I mean,” Jack replied seriously. “I'm talking about Sam.”
She tried to keep the hurt she felt from showing on her face as the name fell. “This has nothing to do with Sam. The movie has to be a success. This would enable us to enter the league of big movie companies.”
Once again, he grabbed her shoulders and this time he shook her a little bit. “Wake up, Liz! Of course it is about Sam.”
Elizabeth tried to shake his hands off. “No, no...”
“Don't you want to know how Sam is doing at the moment? Don't you want to know what she is doing? She was and is a tremendous part of your life. Accept that! Nothing, nothing at all could be more important than your happiness, no matter how hard you try to hide behind work.”
“Do you know something?” she inquired in a small voice.
“Sara told me that Sam flew to New York City.”
Elizabeth pricked up her ears and asked frightened, “To New York City? Why?”
Jack wanted to explain everything to her. “Well, Sam and Michiru flew there to...” He was unable to finish because the blonde jumped off the chair, angrily.
“I knew it... I knew it...” she hissed. “That Michiru....”
“I wasn't finished,” Jack interrupted her.
Elizabeth stormed to the door. “I don't want to hear anymore! I knew it from the beginning. I knew that there was more between them than simple friendship.” A sob escaped her throat. “I didn't think that Sam would console herself that quickly...”
She raced out of the office, even though Jack called after her, “They want to find out something about Sam's mother!” Elizabeth didn't hear him.
Jack pulled at his hair. “Damn it, Liz, what kinda crazy thoughts are you having?!”
It had started to rain in New York.
Samantha sat trembling at a table in the small café.
Michiru, who sat opposite her, held her hand.
“So, there was a Kayla Parker in that hospital,” Samantha muttered, almost inaudible.
“Please, Sam. Don't get your hopes too high,” Michiru said carefully. “We don't know if that Kayla is the same one from your medallion.”
The old nurse appeared and took a seat next to Michiru. After she had ordered herself a coffee, she introduced herself. “My name is Laura Emerson. Today was my last day of work. Starting tomorrow, I will be retired.”
Michiru shook hands with her. “I am Michiru Kasawaki and that is my good friend Samantha. We came all the way from Los Angeles.”
For a long time, Laura just stared at Samantha until she asked, “What do you want?”
“Please, have a look at this medallion,” the begged and then placed it into Laura's wrinkled hands.
With the greatest of care, the nurse pressed the tiny button and the lid opened. The dreamy melody sounded out and she read the inscription out loud. “For my beautiful Angel Kayla. In love, J.” Quickly, she closed it again and gave it back to Samantha.
“Did you recognize it?” the young woman asked, expectantly.
“I am guilty of a horrible crime,” the nurse replied.
“What?” Samantha was shocked.
Michiru looked at Laura. “Tell us, what secret are you keeping?”
The old nurse fixed her eyes on the brunette in front of her. “Samantha. You look exactly like her. I mean Kayla Parker... your mother.”
Samantha's eyes widened. “My mother?”
“Yes,” Laura nodded. “I remember this medallion. It belonged to her. She told me that her beloved husband had given it to her on their wedding day.”
“Their... their wedding day... what is... what is with my mother?” Samantha stammered.
“May she rest in peace,” Laura said and crossed herself.
“She... she is dead...” the brunette whispered, crestfallen.
Michiru frowned and asked suspiciously, “How did it happen? How did she die?”
“She died in the hospital... after giving birth to you, Samantha. I was the midwife.”
“Tell us everything, Mrs. Emerson,” Michiru demanded.
The old nurse hesitated. “It's been so long...”
“Tell us everything,” the Asian woman repeated.
“Mrs. Parker came to the hospital. She was all alone. There are no documents concerning her person. The bills were paid anonymously. Every day, she was waiting desperately for her husband but he never came. Then came the day of the birth. She was weak, so very weak. We had to do a Caesarean operation. After that everything seemed to be fine but a few hours later they found her dead in her room. I couldn't explain it. Nobody had an explanation.”
“What about me?” Samantha inquired.
“You had disappeared.”
“What?” Michiru exclaimed in shock. “Why wasn't the police contacted?”
The old nurse shook her head. “I don't know anything about it. The head of the hospital demanded that the case was kept quiet. There was talk that some people had gotten money from an unknown person to ensure silence. Don't tell anybody you got that information from me. Please, it's been so many years and I really don't know anything more. I'm very sorry. Goodbye.” Laura rose without finishing her coffee and hurried out of the café.
Everything she had just heard left Samantha feeling empty and numb.
Michiru watched her with concerned eyes.
Since Sara was feeling a little ill, Taylor had decided to take Sakura home with her.
Now, the young photographer lay on the bed and stared in boredom at the ceiling. Her cell phone rang and she quickly pressed a button as Jack's name flashed over the small display in the lid. “Hey baby,” she greeted him.
“Hey sweetie, you sound sad.”
“I'm just feeling a little bit weak.”
“Keep resting then. I'm calling because my boss Liz allows me five minutes of break time.”
“You poor guy,” she cooed.
“I miss you.”
“I miss you more and I want you to be here with me right now.”
Jack sighed. “You do know that that is impossible at the moment.”
“When will I see you again?” she whined, not caring that she sounded like a spoiled brat.
Jack was silent for a second and then he replied, “I think, I'll sleep at the office since I have to work tomorrow too.”
“Sara please,” he begged. “I know that it is hard but I can't change it.”
“I know, my sweet one,” he answered, sadly.
She swallowed to keep the tears at bay. “It's okay.”
“I'm sorry. I gotta go. I love you.”
He had already hung up and didn't hear her whispered reply. “I love you too, Jack.”
Unseeingly, Samantha stared out of the window of their hotel room, not moving at all.
Restlessly, Michiru paced the room, mumbling under her breath. “Nothing. No valuable trace that we could follow. Nothing. Even though a mysterious crime happened but everything is hidden in the shadows of the past.” She crossed her arms in front of chest and continued to rave, “And the name Parker... Parker... there are millions of people with that name. It's hopeless.” She looked at Samantha and sorrow filled her heart even more. “I am so very sorry, Sam. I know, you had high hopes when we came here.”
The brunette was still staring out of the window. “What more can I do here...”
Michiru gave her a consoling hug and stroked her long, black hair. “I'll draw you a nice warm bath, then you can go to bed and tomorrow we will fly back. Back home in L.A., you will recover.”
Absent-minded, Samantha repeated, “Back home...”
“Please Sam, don't give up. You'll make it through this.”
“I'm feeling so lost like I never did before,” Samantha admitted and couldn't hold back the tears any longer. I don't belong anywhere. I belong nowhere.”
“My mother died under mysterious circumstances and my father could be anywhere in the world. He could also be dead. Maybe he has something to do with my mother's death. I have so many questions and nobody will ever answer them for me. I don't have a family...”
***** ONE WEEK LATER – WEDDING DAY *****
It was still early morning at Matthew's house in L.A. and the sun was just about to rise. Sara and Jack were in Sara's room, enjoying their togetherness in peace and quiet.
“Hmmm,” Jack hummed, “I'm so glad that you insisted on me coming over yesterday evening, my sweet.”
Sara snuggled closer to him. “Yeah, and it was great to watch you climb up to my window. Maybe you should become a stuntman. If you would have only worn a loincloth, I might have thought Tarzan would be coming for a visit.”
Jack snorted. “Is that so? Well, I think I've got more muscles than that jungle boy.”
“You think? I wish he were here to compare.”
He rose and put on his sweats, while Sara kept laying in her pajamas. “You are so funny,” he told her. “I better go before your Dad makes an appearance. Besides, I need to dress up for later.”
“Okay, but be quiet when you leave,” she whispered and then sighed. “I really am glad that Dad and Rose took over for me and planned the rest of the wedding.”
“I don't care,” Jack responded. “I go along with anything as long as I can marry you today.”
Sara waggled her eyebrows. “Surprise, surprise, you can do that. But now you have to go.”
“May I please have one last kiss?” he begged.
Their lips melted in a gentle kiss until Sara pushed him in direction of the door.
After Jack had left, another spell of dizziness overcame the young woman. “No, not yet...” she gasped. The whole room became blurry in front of her eyes. Waving her arms to find something to hold on, her hand connected with the nightstand. Instead of finding a sure grip, she managed to tear down the small table cloth and the lamp that stood on top of it as she fell to the floor.
Grinning, Jack crept back into the room, whispering, “I forgot my car keys...” His eyes widened as he recognized his soon-to-be-bride laying unconscious on the floor. “SARA!”
While Taylor was doing the ‘Bungee Ballet', Samantha sat in a corner of the Dojo and played with Sakura.
Michiru stood a bit away and closely observed all three of them. ‘The only one who seems to be truly happy is Sakura.' She thought to herself. ‘Taylor seems to be bothered by something. Her movements are not graceful today, more jerky and cramped. And her concentration is off completely. And Sam... poor Sam. If only I knew what to do to take away your desperation and soothe your soul's pain. Ever since we returned from New York, you are only brooding and you miss Liz. I know that bothers you the most.'
Michiru heard how someone entered the Dojo and saw that Samantha lifted her head.
Elizabeth had stepped into the hall.
Samantha watched her, strongly fighting the urge to jump up and race over to her beloved angel. She longed to wrap her up in her arms and to never let her go again. For weeks, she hoped that the blonde would change her mind and would give herself and Samantha the chance for a happy life together, but that never happened.
Friendly, Michiru greeted the her. “Hello, Ms. Stuart. What can I do for you?”
One glance at the other woman was enough to make the green-eyed monster rise inside Elizabeth. “Nothing!” she grumbled. “I'm here to pick up my sister.”
Michiru was a bit taken aback about the tone Elizabeth used and also about the way she scowled at her. On the other side, Elizabeth completely ignored Samantha and didn't spare her a glance. Michiru went over to the ‘Bungee Ballet' and freed the teenager from the ropes.
Impatiently, Elizabeth tapped one foot and looked at the watch. “Hurry up, Taylor!” she snapped. “Or else we will be late for your friend's wedding.”
“Yeah, yeah,” Taylor replied annoyed. “What nasty mood are you in today again, huh?”
Elizabeth chose not to answer, turned around without saying goodbye and left the hall.
Shaking her head, the girl turned to Michiru and Samantha. “Bye. I'll see you later at the wedding.”
After she had gone, Michiru looked at Samantha, whose eyes were glistening with tears. She stared longingly at the place where the blonde had stood only a moment before. Reaching out a hand, she began to tremble and a word escaped her throat, but it sounded more like a tortured sob. “Liz...” One lone tear fell out of a blue eye and inaudibly rolled down a pale, soft cheek.
Matthew and Rose burst into the hospital room where Sara lay. Jack and Dr. Lewis stood beside her bed.
Immediately, Matthew stormed to his daughter. “Oh, my precious,” he said softly. “Just what are you doing?”
“I don't know,” Sara answered quietly and truthfully. She really didn't have any idea about what was going on with her. “I think, I'm having too much stress lately.”
“Awww, my poor baby...”
Gillian frowned as she went over the sheets of paper that a nurse had filled out.
Jack saw that and inquired, “What is wrong?”
“There are a few unsettling symptoms. I would like to make sure that it is nothing serious.”
“What will you be doing?” Rose wanted to know.
“I would like to do some more blood tests.”
Sara protested. “No, that really isn't necessary. I'm feeling much better. I want to go home. Right now!”
“Don't get upset, sweetheart,” Matthew tried to calm her down.
“I am the epitome of calm,” she shot back, getting more upset with each passing second. “I really want to leave this hospital right now and get ready for MY wedding!”
“Darling, please, there is no need to yell,” Jack told her, tenderly rubbing her arm. “Let Dr. Lewis do the tests. Only to ensure that really everything is fine.” He looked deeply into her eyes. “You gave me a big fright this morning,” Jack confessed.
Rose nodded in agreement. “Yes, please, listen to your husband.”
“He isn't my husband yet, because constantly something is coming up to prevent that from happening,” Sara growled. She looked from one face to the other and exhaled sharply. “Alright,” she relented in the end. “If it will make all of you feel better, I'll let Dr. Lewis impale my body with another needle so that she can draw another gallon of blood from me. Satisfied?”
Jack kissed the back of her hand. “Thank you, sweetheart.”
Michiru parked her car in front of Karen's house. She switched off the engine and faced Samantha, who had sunken deeper into the passenger seat. “Are you sure that you don't want to come to the wedding?”
Samantha just nodded and unfastened her seatbelt.
Michiru sighed. “I know the earlier situation with Liz really hurt you but...”
The other woman laughed bitterly. “What situation? She didn't even look at me. She acted as if I wasn't even there. There is no way I will go to that wedding. The woman I love more than anything in this world... for whom I would give anything to be able to hold her again in my arms...” Samantha broke off as the ever present tears welled up again. “I just can't stand to see her so cold. She is so different. She is not my Angel anymore... I don't think that she will ever be again.” Reaching into the pocket of her jeans, she brought out a tissue and dabbed at her eyes. “I can't! I just can't go to the wedding if she is there too. The pain in my heart is just too much. Please, tell Sara, I'm sorry. I just can't.” With that she left the car and disappeared into the house.
Gillian went to the front desk and talked with the nurse. “Are the test results from my patient back?”
“Who do you mean?” the nurse inquired.
“Oh yeah, they just arrived.” The nurse gave her the papers.
Skimming over them the doctor's eyes widened. “Shit! I had hoped that my supposition was wrong...”
“What is it, Dr. Lewis?”
Not answering, Gillian hurried off and went straight to Sara's room. She stopped in front of the door, closed her eyes for a second and took a couple of deep breaths. “Sometimes I really hate my job.”
Four pairs of eyes were firmly fixed on her as soon as she entered the room. “I have the results,” Dr. Lewis announced quietly.
“So? I bet everything is just fine,” Sara grumbled. “Am I right?”
“I'm afraid it's not like that,” came the answer.
“Then just give me some pills to make me better,” the young woman demanded. “I want to get out of here!”
“Sara!” her father admonished and bestowed a harsh glare upon her. “Would you please stop acting like that?”
Defiantly, she crossed her arms in front of her chest and glared back.
“Her condition is very serious,” the doctor said.
“What's wrong with her?” Jack asked.
“Sara has leukemia.”
Deadly silence fell in the room. All of them just looked at each other in disbelief.
“What?” Matthew choked out.
“I'm very sorry, Mr. Jones. The results are clear. Sara has acute lymphatic leukemia.”
Not wanting to believe what he had just heard, Matthew shook his head.
Rose burst into tears, Jack was so shocked he could only stare at Sara, who sank boneless back into her pillows.
“I really am sorry,” Gillian said once more. “We will do what we can.”
The wedding guests started to become a bit restless and impatient, because there was still no trace of the couple or the bride's father.
In that moment, Taylor's cell phone rang and she went outside to take the call.
She returned five minutes later, looking as white as a sheet and trembling all over.
“Taylor? What's wrong?” Elizabeth asked, greatly concerned. “Who was it?”
“It was Mrs. Jefferson... she was crying... I could barely understand what she was saying...”
“There will be no wedding.”
“What? Why not?”
“Sara is... Sara is...”
Elizabeth put her hands on her sister's shoulder. “What's wrong with Sara?”
“She is... she is at the hospital,” Taylor answered haltingly.
Elizabeth raised her eyebrows. “Good God... did they have an accident on the way here?”
Meanwhile, it had become very silent in the small chapel and everybody was looking at Taylor.
“Tell me, sweetie.”
The teenager swallowed hard. “She has... Sara has... Sara has leukemia...”
Sounds of shock, disbelief and concern rang out.
“We will drive to the hospital right now.” Elizabeth decided. “Why? Just why does horrible stuff always happens in moments of absolute happiness and bliss?”
Jack and Matthew sat in the cafeteria of the hospital, having a coffee.
Sara had been given a shot to calm her down and Rose was with her, sitting beside her bed, holding her hand.
Matthew rubbed his temples. “I can't believe it. I don't want to accept it! Just why is fate so cruel? When Sara was a little girl her mother died from leukemia... and now I'm going to lose my precious daughter to the same horrible sickness.”
“NO!” Jack yelled and hit the table with his flat hand. “Stop saying things like that. Sara will not die!”
“My boy, you have no idea what you are talking about,” Matthew pointed out. “I already saw what this sickness can do. I know how horrible it is!”
Jack shook his head. “Dr. Lewis is going to save Sara. Medicine has taken big steps in its development. I refuse to believe in anything else than a complete recovery for my Sara.”
“From your lips to God's ear,” Matthew replied dejected. “I'll pray that you will be right... I don't know what I will do if I also lose Sara.”
Jack stared into the brown depths of his coffee cup. “Yes, I wouldn't know what to do then either. But like I said, it's not going to happen. Sara will get well. If we really believe in that, then it will come true.”
A small smile formed on Matthew's features and he looked at the man opposite him. “You really are a great young man and I'm proud that I can call you son soon.”
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