Parting of the Ways Part 2- John the Dad

As much as I hate to admit it, this universe evolved to be more than just the Finn Family itself and is now an ensemble story rather than a singular story. I prefer ensemble movies and TV shows as they prove to be the most creative as the plot can evolve greatly. This bled over into the Winnisimmet Tales universe as the family expanded and more were added yet things stayed the same. I know it's confusing but I would rather characters be as close to normal as possible so a group of solid friends and family, even if large, is needed. Sorry.

This is John's first major spotlight in a long time. Donald's frank discussion in "Starting Anew" and the confrontation with Roland in "A New Finn" featured him helping out directly but this is the first time he has been the sole focus since at "New Beginnings".

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The countdown to Jaimie's surgery was happening fast but before the family could fly west out to California Jaimie had to fly out to Kansas City three days earlier. Rick, John, and Valerie joined her for the flight while their sons JD and Logan and daughters Cat and Ella stayed with their best friends/cousins for the weekend. The four kids were told why they were flying out with all four feeling bad that they couldn't join their family in order to ease Jaimie's nervousness.

This was an extremely important visit as it was Jaimie's second opinion. She needed the approval of another gender specialist before she was allowed to undergo her surgery and it was felt that given her notoriety among doctors in the New England region she would get a fairer assessment from the doctor who originally diagnosed her over six years before out west.

Dr. Robin Wiles had initially examined Jaimie and determined that she was suffering from gender dysphoria when John first took her into his care and gotten her a mental health assessment for other issues such as depression and PTSD. Dr. Wiles had treated her for two months before the family moved east following John being falsely accused of abuse for allowing Jaimie to wear a dress.

Seeing Dr. Wiles brought up old memories about her old hometown that she hadn't addressed in years, not since her grandparents moved east. She had visited once before when she helped move her uncle Mick's family east two years before but this was different, this was even more personal. She still had festering feelings about the place that hadn't been addressed but she had never told anyone about.

During her exam, Jaimie happily told Dr. Wiles about her life since they left and at the love she had for Rick. Even though it was supposed to be a second opinion the two treated it like it was old times as to Dr. Wiles in a way it was. Jaimie was honest but the longer it went on the more open she started to become and the deeper Dr. Wiles dug, breaking down Jaimie's armor and showing the real Jaimie.

Dr. Wiles discussed every possible aspect of her life from her sexual orientation to her feelings of intimacy to her feelings about her penis. She didn't hold back and asked tough questions that Jaimie wasn't ready for but tried to answer fully and without holding back. Dr. Wiles knew what she was doing, but to Jaimie it felt like she was trying to trip her up and it was working.

Dr. Wiles spent two hours grilling Jaimie about all aspects of her life and her deepest feelings. Just when Jaimie started to feel like this was all for nothing Dr. Wiles grinned and announced they were finished and she had done just as she had hoped Jaimie would do. She handed Jaimie a special sheet of paper with her signature already filled out and hugged her, telling her she was proud of the woman she had become and admitting that she feared that Jaimie would use her father's money to get around the system to get what she wanted not what she truly needed.

Jaimie felt like she was betrayed but Dr. Wiles confessed "I had to be thorough with you for your own benefit. I talked with your previous therapist, Dr. Eliza, and we agreed Dr. Eliza is so close to you that she felt that you should have a complete and utter inside and out grilling to ensure that nobody could claim we were just rubber stamping your surgery. I am proud of you, I was sad that I lost you as a patient but I was glad that you found a doctor who cared enough about you to ask that you make a trip halfway across the country to get a second opinion when you could have just as easily ask her colleague Dr. Bell or even Dr. Allen, who I believe was hoping got the call."

Jaimie had to remember Dr. Allen, Dr. Wiles just grinned and pointed out "I know it was a long time ago but she's the doctor who confirmed my diagnosis and who recommended you for immediate transition at home. Apparently, she has kept tabs on your family through her wife, Martha Perez."

Jaimie's eyes shot open at the name. Dr. Wiles nodded but explained "she went into private practice and met Martha when her ex-husband fought her over her children. Martha sided with her and after a chance meeting at a restaurant a few nights later fell in love and married. It was her departure that allowed Dr. Eliza to be hired and from what they told me the rest is history."

Dr. Wiles gave Jaimie a big hug as she escorted Jaimie out. Rick saw the tears in Jaimie's eyes and hugged her while John thanked her for helping out. Valerie kept quiet before thanking her for the time and patience to help her daughter twice.

Dr. Wiles smiled and told them "if she wants to repay me she could always name her firstborn after me." Jaimie and Rick both shot back "gladly" with Jaimie adding "believe it or not Robin was Rick's grandmother's name." Dr. Wiles was only joking but the two were more than willing to do just that even if it was a very slim chance that they'd ever had the chance to do so.

The four left with Jaimie feeling especially happy. She asked that they make a special stop before the flight back which John and Valerie had no choice but to agree to. Rick was puzzled to which Valerie mournfully explained "she is going to visit her friend Sylvia Palmer's grave. Sylvia was special to Jaimie as she was the first person to show compassion to Jaimie after her parents were killed. She was close friends with Jessica and was interested in dating Scott before he fled east."

The visit was somber with Rick placing flowers while Jaimie asked that they do something to give her a better burial than the pauper's grave her mother put her in. Valerie made a phone call while John kept the two distracted knowing full well that Valerie was going to ensure things went her way quickly. After a few minutes, Jaimie was told that Sylvia would be given a proper burial close to her father and the county would be paying for it due to them not giving her a proper one in the first place. I declined to do that, they are paying for the exhumation but your dad is paying for the proper headstone and new plot in a private cemetery near St. Louis."

It was a small token but it meant a lot to Jaimie. Rick asked if her father knew getting a somber "he was unaware of it and was going to pay for it but this is something we had to do for her. I couldn't put him through this pain again, he doesn't deserve it. He has given the name of the nearest cemetery which was all he needed to do."

On the way back to the plane Jaimie told Rick stories about the duo leading to more stories with Jaimie feeling better and getting a lot of anxiety released that she had been holding back all visit. Dr. Wiles' letter hadn't fully relieved it, but talking about good times that she hadn't thought of in years exercised the last of her demons from Missouri.

The foursome arrived back in Massachusetts the next morning and prepared for their flight the next day. The others were already ready but the youngest Finns waited until the last minute to finish packing as they wanted John and Valerie to give the all clear. The two saw right through it, they wanted their parents to think about something else after knowing it was very taxing out in Kansas City, they knew their family all too well and it was just what the three needed at that time.

The flight was easy and quiet as the family didn't say much. Ella and Logan stayed close to Jaimie, both knowing this was major surgery and wanting to keep her from feeling bad about it. JD and Cat normally did this for Jaimie but saw the younger cousins and knew to keep them occupied while letting their older siblings help directly as well as allow them some special bonding time.

John was a nervous wreck. He was the one who was taking the surgery the hardest as he hated seeing his kids in the hospital. Jaimie was his darling, seeing her hurt always caused him to revert to being the timid, scared, crying child he had been for years and even though he had months to prepare he couldn't stop himself from feeling terrible about the whole situation.

No father wants to see their child in pain. Even if it was for a good reason he still hated to think that she was stuck in bed for a few days and had to deal with pain and discomfort. He barely endured his daughter Ella being in the hospital for three days, Jaimie being in the hospital for a week and recovering across the country from him was almost too scary to comprehend.

Mid-flight, their plans for the week were discussed among the adults. The teens had their list of places to visit while the kids had one and only one place on their list: Disneyland. The adults smirked as the teens would enjoy that as well but they'd never allow themselves to admit it to their parents.

Valerie thought something over and asked Lupe Toro to lead the shareholders of "Jaimie's Place" to visit the location. "Jaimie's Place" was a home that Jaimie, Reyna Toro, Deborah Peterson, and Kylie Pena had opened as a haven for families in crisis, in particular ones with children like themselves. None of them had a direct hand in its operation, it was overseen by trusted friends and hired social workers.

She asked that they visit the house so they could see how it was doing. Lupe was a bit reluctant but Deborah agreed to do it with all seeing that it wasn't an option. Lupe agreed but had them know that she wasn't happy to visit a place that held so many painful memories even if it was to help out so many more people. They needed to do it, but she feared that things may not have changed.

John was stoic about the planning. He volunteered to take the kids while the ladies dealt with "Jaimie's Place". It was clear why he wanted to take the kids but it was also good reasoning and hard to refute, he needed the distraction and the kids were best at getting him distracted especially Cat and Logan.

The plane landed and saw the group heading off to their hotel in several buses. The kids marveled at the LA County sights as they drove on, noticing just how different they were compared with London or Boston. The only ones not interested were those who had been there before or who lived there: Deborah, Reed Pena, Miles, Patrick Peterson, Lupe, Reyna, and Tyler, Willow, and Lindsay Reagan.

John talked with the teens about their plans and as expected they wanted to visit mature sights but weren't opposed to Disneyland, they knew he'd expect them to say it as it was one of the most famous landmarks in all of the LA area and was a place that had things that they could enjoy as well as be alone with their significant others without getting too intimate. The usual LA locations of the Hollywood Sign, Griffith Observatory, and the Walk of Fame were mentioned with John agreeing to all of them but asking that they space them out over the week. He did ask that they not overdo things just to keep their minds off of Jaimie which was met with a shared look of humor as they knew John was doing the very same thing.

The family split up for the night with John knowing that the next day was the most critical part of the entire trip- Jaimie's final examination. There was still a slim chance that she may be refused surgery if the doctors felt that she wasn't ready or the letters weren't enough. He hated to think of that, it was everything she wanted but until the signatures were on the paper and the pre-surgery instructions printed she was still at the mercy of the doctors.

John took the 22 younger kids out for the morning to a nearby amusement park. It was small and had a unique theme but it was what he needed at that time. The teens and tweens opted to go with most of the adults to Venice Beach and attend a TV show taping at one of the studios. John had Willie Pena, Dan Lopez, Mike Daniels, Mick Jones, and Jake Bollinger with him making it a lot easier on John as their wives opted to give them father-child time with their kids especially as the youngest rarely had the chance and John was most at ease around them rather than the other adults.

John was the lead and chose the park specifically because it had just about everything a kid from the youngest toddler up to the 11-year-old kids could enjoy. The total theme of it was magic with several specific parts devoted to a single story or character but all having an interconnected magic theme. The teens and tweens knew who they were and laughed as the stories were often revolved around changing genders both accidentally and intentionally. John chose it because it was a subtle reminder of why they were there and with Mia Flynn, Trinity Eliza, and Kylie among them it was a big help to be in a trans-friendly environment even if they never told anyone they were transgender while there.

John refused to enter the "Bikini Beach" area of the park, telling the kids he wasn't about to tempt fate and earning himself a big laugh as the other dads went inside. John simply watched the kids run themselves ragged while enjoying the fun. It wasn't until he had to change Brent Jones' and Marcus Sylvester's diapers that he snapped out of his trance but the smiling boys were just what he needed to not dwell on the reasons for being there in the first place.

As he sat outside with the two toddlers he talked with other parents who were waiting for their kids to tire themselves out inside the water park. The parents were surprised at how well he was able to manage the kids and the other dads but John admitted it was just a fact of life with having so many kids close to one another, directly related, or sharing a strong friendship. Brent clung to John and fell asleep while Marcus grunted and looked at other people getting snickers at the antics of the two as they seemed to know he was talking about them even if they weren't being talked about.

Marcus seemed to nod at the attention but kept stealing glances at John to see if he was paying attention showing it was all a game to him which the others gathered immediately. John happily explained that Brent was his only niece or nephew who ever gave him any kind of attention while Marcus was true to his family's tradition of ignoring John until he was old enough to want him to buy him things. He carefully explained about being an uncle to both but that the two weren't directly related but were both his nephews.

Two of the mothers casually asked if he was aware of the number of transgender kids in the park, seeming to test John's reaction to the kids. John knew this and casually added "I do and I actually have several among my group who are transgender. I may be the unofficial leader of my group but I am not afraid to admit that we are part of the number of transgender kids who have been welcomed here today." This caught them off guard but it smoothed over any potential awkwardness.

John sighed and added "we are out here in California due to my daughter having her gender reassignment surgery in two days. Her final consultation is occurring right now which is why my family is at the park. She is the young lady who pretty much caused our family to come together over the past six years and who has changed the lives of dozens if not hundreds. Most of the kids in my group are here because of the ripples she has caused, all of which are positive with some of the ripples being caused due to themselves being transgender like her."

The kids were seen playing with various kids, several of whom were clearly just starting their transitions. John smiled at seeing that, the girls were smiling and the boys acting like they were any other boys. John couldn't help but feel pride at them making the other kids' day by simply being themselves around other kids.

A little boy and girl came out looking for their mother and saw her talking with John. They smiled at him with John smiling back. The kids were energized and their mother happily told John "this is the best they have felt in a while." John added "the kids noticed right away she was just starting out, they have been there before and wanted her to enjoy herself. I just hope she isn't too energetic later."

More kids came out causing the impromptu gathering to break up as the kids went to their parents. John's group were reluctant to leave but they were reminded about the other attractions in the park getting them to finally exit. The girls and boys thanked them for being nice to them, getting happy smiles and thanks from the kids for doing the same showing the parents that John wasn't kidding about the kids being used to others like themselves.

The kids asked for and were given permission to visit the "Spells R Us" store to pick up a gag gift for the tweens and teens. John couldn't resist a joke and the elderly man who served as both mascot and cashier was happy to play the part for the kids especially when he heard why they were there. He was sympathetic to Jaimie but happy that the family was doing something for her that he had seen so many kids unable to do before especially young ones with families who didn't understand their need to be their true selves.

Lunch was in the "Eerie Saloon" with the kids enjoying the fun atmosphere of the Old West as well as some of the actors and actresses working the stage show. The kids giggled as the adults drank birch beer, sarsaparilla, and root beer and treating them as alcohol. The place was a nice respite from the normal park restaurants and was true to the magic and gender change theme of the park.

The longest amount of time was spent in "Cynthia's Storyland" that was based around the "Cynthia Chronicles" by Portia Bennett, a personal favorite of John's and who had purchased copies of her books for Ella for summer reading. It featured a fun house, miniature golf, tunnel roller coaster, and teen magicians performing simple tricks while dressed as characters from the stories. The youngest kids were thrilled more with the magic tricks than with the rides but at that point they were tiring out fast and had trouble keeping from getting into trouble with the three two-years-olds getting into a slap fight.

The day was a rousing success with John happy that the kids were acting much better. The only hiccup was Logan keeping close to John after they left with Logan refusing to let him out of his sight. Ella kept to herself but she could tell what was bothering Logan and while refusing to tell John what his problem was she did make mention that it was a good feeling, not a bad one.

At the hotel Logan and John sat in the suite and watched TV while resting up for dinner. John sensed Logan needed to talk so he tried hard to bridge the subject with him. Logan tensed up and asked timidly "why are you avoiding Jaimie? You should have been there with her today but you didn't go? Why?"

John felt shame at the question and fought for the right words. He finally looked down at the scared Logan and confessed "I can't see any of you in pain and even though I know Jaimie needs to have her surgery it hurts me to know that she will be put under for a while and no matter how good the doctors are there is always a risk that she may never come out of it. I am scared that I could lose her just as I was scared I could lose Ella back in April. I love you kids with all my heart but it's something no parent wants to see- their child being put under for surgery."

He hugged John tight. He was in tears as he confessed "I hate it too. I don't want to lose any of you. She is the best sister and I can't see her hurt."

The two hugged tight. Ella herded Cat and JD out of the room so they could calm themselves. Even though she was two years younger than her brother she still knew when to leave him alone and seeing their dad in tears it was something they both needed to get out of their system. The twins understood, hugging her for showing she cared and not saying anything further.

John led Logan out to where the other three were and ushered them downstairs to dinner. The rest of the family noticed Logan and John's closeness and shared a knowing nod that the two were closer than anyone would care to mention. John was glad nobody asked how he was doing as he didn't have the heart to lie nor did he want to be asked that as he knew they'd start keeping a closer eye on him as they usually did when he started to show signs of anxiety attacks.

Valerie and Jaimie were the last to enter with Jaimie all smiles as she hugged John and Logan. She knew they were waiting for her to tell them how the appointment went but it wasn't the right time or place to do so. Valerie just gave a subtle nod to John which he understood to be that it was all set, relieving some tension but creating more in him.

After dinner Valerie and Jaimie told the two about the appointment. John was fearful but kept himself together while Logan hugged her tight, whispering "please wake up, I don't want to lose my sister." John gave her a glance that told her to not dig further, it was something he needed to say but digging deeper would do more harm than good.

Once the kids were in bed Jaimie hugged John tight as he explained why Logan said what he said. She confessed that she was scared too but Logan didn't deserve to be scared that way. John tried his hardest to hide his expression but she saw that he was the one who initiated it and was feeling the same way.

Valerie gave them some privacy so they could talk. Jaimie hugged and kissed John and asked that he stop thinking that way, she didn't want him or Logan worrying about something they couldn't help no matter what. John tried hard to fight her words but her tears started flowing which always caused him to lower his guard and give in to her requests.

Once he calmed down she confessed that she was happy that he loved her that much. She feared the worst but hoped for the best. She would have Rick by her side and if she died she would die having done something she needed to do. It was the truth and no matter what she would always be his first child even if she wasn't the oldest.

Jaimie left to go to her room and ensure that Cat and Ella were asleep. John hugged and kissed Valerie, then shed tears as he asked her to ensure that Jaimie came through. Valerie didn't respond, she let him fall asleep knowing that nothing she said could cause him to calm down and see reason. He loved the kids too much to let himself see anything except the worst until Jaimie was out of the hospital and entrenched in her temporary lodgings at Miguel Toro's home.

The next morning John had to go out for the day with the kids to keep himself from getting too anxious. This was the big visit for all of them as it was the trip to Disneyland and even Jaimie was going along. John could barely hold himself together but Logan kept him occupied all day as the two walked around the park and rode as many rides as possible with the intent of keeping the other from overthinking about the next day.

Their closeness was surprising to much of the family until Jaimie told the others that they were trying their hardest to keep from breaking down over her surgery the next day. John's past behavior was well known but Logan being the same way was a shock. Ella groaned and told them all that he was like that all the time but nobody ever noticed it, causing most to cringe at them not knowing all too much about the real Logan that only his sister knew but it was forgivable given that they had only been part of the family for four months.

Logan was a little reluctant to take pictures with the various mascots especially Cinderella and the other princesses. Ella teased him about his crushes with Logan blushing deeply over it. John casually asked Ella if she still had a crush on Mickey Mouse or Goofy which immediately caused Cat and JD to snicker as Ella fought for a comeback and to hide her deeply blushing face.

John seemed to calm down with Logan around him just as Logan did the same around John. It was odd but Valerie sensed that the father and son may have shared more than just a last name. They may not be genetically related but the way both acted it was closer than any of the others, even closer than John had been to Michael and Jaimie before the twins were born and Miles joined the family.

Valerie smiled at the thought. Logan was John at age 10. He was a reflection on John's past, nobody except John could understand Logan's thoughts and nobody except Logan could break John's angst-hardened exterior. JD may be John's son biologically but he was acting more like Michael and Valerie than John, Logan though was fast becoming how John was when she first met him seven years before.

Michael and Miles had kept away from their parents but seeing Logan and John being so close caused both to feel like they were being replaced. Cat shook her head at them talking and grumbled "Uncle Louis said he is just like daddy. Mommy said Logan is acting like him as a kid. Maybe daddy needs Logan so he doesn't get sad with Jaimie in the hospital."

The youngest Finn had gotten her older brothers to think deeply about the scene. Cat didn't understand what was going on but she did know that the two were acting differently and she remembered John acting upset when Ella had her surgery in April. In her nearly 5-year-old mind, John and Logan were doing what dads and sons did.

JD was close to Jaimie as Cat talked with the boys. JD looked at Jaimie with concern and asked: "why is Daddy so scared?" Jaimie did the only thing she could do, she told the truth. She carefully explained "Daddy is scared about the surgery. He is always this way whenever one of us is sick. He was this way when Nichole was hurt, when Reyna was hurt, when Cat was sick, when Ella had her surgery, even when Daisy had her surgery and when Miles ran away. It's just Daddy being Daddy. He loves us more than we will ever know and it's part of being a dad to worry about your kids when they are sick or hurt or have surgery."

JD asked why he never acted like that towards him, feeling left out. Jaimie shook her head and had to tell him "you are lucky, you haven't had that kind of attention yet and I hope you never do. You have been the one who always kept us and him distracted and forced to think clearly. It's what Logan is doing, but Logan is like daddy so they are helping each other. They love us, it hurts a lot to see a loved one in pain especially when you know you can't help them."

John was the one person everyone looked up to. JD saw him and Logan talking and walking silently, they were closer than the others were so it made sense to JD. He had always had Miles helping him and most recently he had his cousin Julio as a close friend so it was understood. He smiled at knowing his dad cared so much about them especially now that he had someone closer than anyone else.

The family spent hours inside the park enjoying the various rides and attractions. It was tough keeping the youngest kids from overexerting themselves as they rushed from ride to ride. The teens mostly kept to themselves during the day and kept Jaimie occupied whenever she wasn't having alone time with John or her younger siblings.

After dinner that Jaimie was sadly unable to eat and a fireworks showcase that made the youngest kids silent in awe, the family left the park for the hotel. Jaimie was silent throughout the drive back, knowing that in just a few hours she would be getting ready for her long anticipated surgery. John himself had to fight back tears as he saw Jaimie contemplating the significance of this night, the last night anyone could ever claim that she was male due to a piece of useless flesh between her legs.

The group was met at the hotel by Melanie and Leslie, having just flown in that afternoon. Marcus bounced wildly in his carriage as he saw his mother while Julio and DJ Lopez rushed to their mother's arms. The kids' older sisters didn't say a word about their actions, they were relieved to have them taking the kids off their hands for the weekend even if only for a few hours.

Jaimie tearfully hugged both as they led her inside with strict instructions to get to bed. The others followed behind, with the youngest kids thinking that it was meant for them as an order even if it wasn't. Their parents were relieved, the teens simply sat around the lounge in quiet contemplation until the kids were asleep and everyone was back outside.

John kept to himself as the others watched. He was in deep thought about the next day's events and was recalling all of the memories of Jaimie he could think of. Melanie came out and hugged him tight, her embrace and kind words of encouragement about her being fine calmed him a bit but not enough to keep him from fearing the worst.

Logan had the same embrace from Leslie. She sighed at the sight, Logan was following in John's footsteps and if not for the family things would have been terrible for the little boy. The two were of one mind and that mind was focused solely on Jaimie.

The others started to trickle upstairs to their rooms leaving John and Logan alone. John embraced Logan who himself was trying hard not to appear scared but failing badly. John could only muster a timid "she's going to be fine, we just have to give her space and let the doctors help her. Olivia will be there to help out as will Rick. She wouldn't want you thinking the worst, she wants you to see it as a good thing for her."

Logan nodded silently while hugging John. The two were led upstairs with Valerie putting both to bed. John was going to be the first one awake no matter what but she still had to ensure he was asleep. Logan wouldn't be far behind him, but she knew John would take Logan out for a bit so they wouldn't dwell on the surgery yet.

Valerie's prediction was true as John was the first one up followed closely by Logan. The two were dressed and eating when she stirred. The only surprise was Logan and John unintentionally dressing the same with the same t-shirt and shorts as well as similar sneakers. It was sweet and went even further to the point of proving that Logan was taking after John in multiple ways.

Jaimie was next to awaken and had to stifle a laugh at the two. Miles and Michael saw their outfits and shook their heads at the unintentional similarities. Cat and JD snickered at it with JD happily hugging the two, knowing they needed one. Ella shook her head and grumbled at them being too alike.

The group went down to breakfast and had all eyes on them as John and Logan were in sync to the point of being robotic. Leslie and Melanie nodded to one another, they were unintentionally helping the other avoid breaking down. The dads caught on quickly and kept the kids from saying anything about them with the usual jokers specifically being told to not talk about it due to the importance.

The combined Finn/Lopez/Jones/Sylvester/Peterson family drove to the hospital that Jaimie was going to undergo surgery at. Jaimie had her final meeting with her surgeon followed by a nurse helping her prep. She had Rick by her side throughout with Valerie, Melanie, Lilly Peterson and Leslie ensuring she followed all instructions thoroughly.

Outside John waited for the all clear to see Jaimie one final time before she was wheeled away. He had to endure Sarah Jones and Alison Eliza telling him she was going to be fine but despite hearing two doctors assure him she was alright he still couldn't shake the feeling that something was going to happen. The duo knew best not to try to reason with him while he was that anxious, they instead kept him focused on paperwork and double-checking to ensure everything was filled out properly.

Finally, they were told they could come inside. Jaimie was in a gown and laying on a gurney but had a huge smile on her face. John shed a tear at the sight, hugging her tight and telling her to please not overdo things. Logan cried openly, hugging her tight as he saw her.

It was a touching sight, the two strongest of them broke down at seeing Jaimie. They were led out by Lilly and told to enjoy themselves that day, they needed to do that for everyone else or the others would start to worry. They led their cousins out with all feeling like this was going to be the toughest day they ever had.

Before leaving John made a personal stop. He entered the hospital's small chapel and knelt down to pray. It was something that nobody had ever seen John do and given his penchant for avoiding religion, it was thought that he may be an atheist.

John knelt down and asked that the higher power please not take his daughter from him yet. She had a lot to give the world, she didn't deserve to go when so many who had wronged the world did. He never said a word, he let his mind do the speaking as in his view you didn't need to speak with your voice when a higher power already knew what you were going to say and the true intent of your words.

Logan entered behind him and did the same, not saying anything to John but offering his own silent request that his deceased mother, surrogate uncle, and aunt try to keep Jaimie from joining them. He shed a tear, it was hard to do but he didn't want to lose his new sister especially as it would hurt his new family more than any person could ever hurt them.

The two got up and left, with John making the sign of the cross as he had been trained to do as a child before his anxiety and depression forced him to give up on religion classes. Logan did it out of respect to what John did, knowing that if John did it then he should do it too even if he didn't know why. It was touching and John felt a strong sense of pride seeing his son trying hard to follow him, it was a simple act but it meant more than Logan would ever know.

The group left the hospital in silence without anyone making any mention of the stop. Ella tried to ask what happened but neither said anything. Dan offered a quiet "it's a private thing" which she seemed to get the gist of. The others left it alone, the kids knew not to ask and the twins were content to let it go.

John led the group to their destination, the LA Zoo. The teens weren't keen on going until they learned that it was near the Griffith Observatory so it wouldn't be too bad overall. It was better than doing a boring studio tour, and staying close to the younger kids kept the teens from thinking about Jaimie.

John and Logan walked through the zoo and marveled at the different animals with each finding ones they liked. Ella was getting annoyed at the attention John was getting until Michael and Miles told her why they were so close that day. It made her feel terrible but it was what she needed to hear, they were worried sick and without the distraction they were going to think the worst about Jaimie's surgery.

The two kept close as the family finished their lunch and drove to the observatory. The kids were happy to take pictures of the surrounding landscape and Los Angeles itself. The fact that they were able to see one of the most famous landmarks in all of Los Angeles, the Hollywood Sign, made it worthwhile for all of them.

The family spent the day at the two sites and finally returned to the hotel in the late afternoon. John was eagerly awaiting word from the hospital but hadn't gotten a phone call yet that Jaimie had awoken. He wasn't told anything from his wife, sister, or sisters-in-law.

He spent the evening getting more and more anxious. His mother-in-law and father-in-law were having trouble keeping him settled down and feared the worst themselves. John tried to remain stoic but everyone knew he was broken up inside and fighting breaking down completely.

Finally, the call came from Valerie. Jaimie hadn't awoken as she should have. She was still under and they feared she might have had a bad reaction to the anesthesia. Her heart stopped twice while under and they feared she might have slipped into a coma. Jaimie was fighting for her life.



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