December 22nd, 2004
Disclaimer: Obviously AMC characters are copyright their respective creators/owners.
Title: Wishful Thinking
Author Notes/Summary: Meant to be read with slash-tinted glasses, though it's not blatantly slashy at all, and could be read with an entirely non-slashy view of things. Completely spoilery for 12/21/04's episode. This takes place after Jamie leaves Babe to get her surprise. I am not a huge Jamie fan, but it really made me sad to hear him talking about JR and his past christmas. I thought, how could he not feel guilty or sad or regretful, even a little? So this explores that maybe he did.
ETA: Well, I just watched today's episode and clearly the writers wanted to negate everything I hypothesized here.
"Surprise, Babe. I'm calling JR." Jamie wondered briefly how Babe might react if he actually said that to her. She'd probably stare, Jamie supposed, blinking her big eyes at him and holding baby James tight against her chest all while asking him if he was crazy.
Maybe he was crazy, although he wasn't sure about which part yet. Crazy about some girl he fell in love with after one night. Crazy to be carrying her off into the sunset to god knows where. Crazy to have not told Bianca the truth from the very beginning. Crazy to have fucked over his step-brother to the nth degree.
At least he didn't feel badly about the last part. As far as Jamie was concerned his brother was dead and he didn't care about the pod-person who now stood in his place. Or maybe he did. After all if he didn't, he probably wouldn't have been punching in the area code to Pine valley right then, or dialing the final digits to JR's cell phone.
It rang and Jamie thought that Babe would probably ask if he was stupid too, because it was stupid to be calling JR. It was stupid and dangerous, but Jamie figured that since Tad hadn't told JR about the baby yet and Bianca was still in a coma, he had a little time left before he'd need to tell Babe they had to get moving again.
Fifth ring and Jamie almost hung up the phone until he heard JR's voice on the other end, distinct with its slightly pinched note of condescending.
"JR," he said, forgetting the usual meet and greet of hellos and how are yous.
"Jamie?" There was vague amusement in JR's voice but more so disgust. "This is a surprise. So tell me, Jamie, how's my wife doing? I certainly hope she's made this little getaway of yours worth leaving your family and betraying everyone who matters to you."
Jamie could perfectly picture the bratty smirk forming on JR's face. On a different day, Jamie would have simply hung up the phone. Then again, he probably wouldn't have even called. But Christmas was coming and it made everything different.
"Save it, JR. That's not what I want to talk about," Jamie told JR briskly. Nostalgia was nice but it hadn't given Jamie enough patience to put up with JR's bullshit.
"Oh?" JR asked, his interest piqued but soon his tone settled back into the bored drawl that so perfectly emulated his father. "Oh, I get it. The little bitch has spent all your money already and you need more. Well, honestly, Jamie I think I've paid quite enough -"
Jamie rolled his eyes. "JR, just shut up for a second. Do you think you can do that, or is it just that now that you lost all your friends, you've gotten used to talking to yourself?"
"Fine, Jamie, I'm listening," JR conceded. "But if you say one thing about Bess not being my little girl than I promise you, you'll wish you hadn't woken up after the last time I saw you."
He should say something about Bess, Jamie supposed. It probably would have been the right thing to do for all the good it might accomplish. JR was still obviously mad with denial despite Jamie's attempts to beat it into his thick skull. But this time Jamie opted out of pushing the issue. Perhaps it was the easy way out, because he was suddenly starting to feel guilty about how he and Babe were trying to lead JR to believing his baby was dead.
"See, there you go again, off on your crazy ranting and raving, and now I'm completely off the subject again." Jamie sighed, and he waited for JR to butt in again, only this time JR said nothing. He was quietly obedient for the first time, and so Jamie continued. "JR, do you remember that Christmas we spent in some pigeon hollow with Dad and Dixie, that Christmas when Dad gave me..."
"The pig-dog and we spent more time making barfy noises than singing Christmas carols?" JR cut him off, sounding impatient. "Yeah, I remember Jamie. What about it?" Reminiscing hadn't seemed to tug the heartstrings of JR the way it had in Jamie, but then, Jamie concluded, JR probably no longer had a heart.
"I don't know, JR." Jamie felt defeated. Somehow between leaving Babe in the other room and dialing JR's number he had forgotten why he called and so he rambled on without direction. "I guess for some dumb reason when I was telling Babe about that day I thought of you, and somehow I couldn't imagine a Christmas without you. It felt wrong and I -"
"Yeah, it does to me too." JR went quiet again, like he had fallen into melancholy or just into a deep thought. It almost made Jamie feel badly again. In fact, it struck Jamie that maybe the reason he'd wanted to call JR in the first place was to confirm what an ass he was, to justify what he was going to put JR through in order to save baby James. Only JR wasn't being a jerk and so talking to him wasn't helping. JR was back to being old JR, and Jamie was back to square one, knee deep in nostalgia and feeling like maybe he'd made a bad decision somewhere down the line.
But JR was still talking, oblivious to all that Jamie had thought or done. "For a long time I used to think that no matter what happened we had a bond that couldn't be broken, just like when we were kids. When it was just you and me..."
"And my dad," Jamie said automatically.
"I can't count on him." JR was still bitter. "Tad betrayed my mother when he cheated on her."
"And didn't I betrayed you too when I -"
"You could still come back, Jamie." JR insisted, and Jamie wondered if JR would argue so passionately if he knew what Jamie had done and was still doing. "It's not too late. I know the way Babe can influence people and turn you around until you don't know what's up or down anymore."
But for now, Jamie realized, it seemed that JR still loved him a helluva lot. Maybe more than he had ever loved JR because somehow life was never fair about those sort of things, and regardless of all the times he'd practically spit in JR's face, JR was ready to forgive him the second Jamie decided to leave Babe behind. He still saw in Jamie the kid he'd spent countless Christmas's with, and he was still hanging on to that memory. But Jamie was not the same. JR in the present was not JR of the past. He was someone who'd been corrupted by Adam, and he'd done things that Jamie just couldn't accept or forgive. Because if things had been reversed he could not do the same as JR was doing now, reassure him that things aren't too late, and somehow that angered Jamie as much as JR's words about Babe did.
"Stop it, JR. Just stop it. I didn't call to talk about her or even to talk about us. I just called to say..." Jamie's words were skidding across his tongue in the heat of his annoyance, but he forced himself to calm down. "Merry Christmas. That's all. So Merry Christmas, ok?" It was all Jamie could manage to get out.
"Merry Christmas, Jamie." JR replied, and he sounded boyish again when he added, "I'm glad you called."
"Me too." Jamie said feeling numb. "I gotta go."
Jamie hung up the phone, and he stopped for a second when he picked up a piece of mistletoe that he meant to give to Babe. It brought him back to a time when he and JR were boys - messing around with mistletoe, wrestling by the fireplace, Dixie and his father laughing in the distance. It stung again, somewhere in the deepest part of his heart. He'd tried to cut himself off from feeling since the first day he decided he'd protect Babe no matter what the cost, but once again it was enough to make him wonder if he'd done the right thing. It bothered Jamie to be questioning his decision. He preferred things to be simple and straightforward, and all stark black and white so he didn't have to worry about the in betweens, like acknowledging that some part of himself still cared about JR.
But Babe's voice interrupts his thoughts, "Jamie, come on! I can't wait anymore."
He pushed his doubts back again because he knew that he needed to be there for Babe, unquestioningly, because that was what you were supposed to do when you were in love. Into the bag, he dropped the mistletoe and then a small figurine with a face like Bianca's, and he didn't think of JR again until later that night after him and Babe start working on their promise cards. When Babe wasn't looking, Jamie wrote a Christmas wish for JR on green construction paper full of memories of old and conversations lost.