A/N: April, Jackson, and Alex (and everyone) in the aftermath of 8x24 Flight. Trying my hand at writing Japril. And writing an April that's religious(ish). Also, I'm experimenting with different POV's for this story that I haven't in the past. Seeing how it all goes. Usual disclaimers. Let me know what you think.
When something bad happens, the first night is always strange. Your mind is still trying to process, and in the face of tragedy, you'll find that are far from able to fully comprehend it all. Usually, there isn't much you can do either. You can wait. Hope for the best. Worry. But, it doesn't really make you feel better. You pray that this first night is as bad as things will get.
It was supposed to be a celebration. A happy time. But they never got to eat the damn duck.
For a while, the dinner was good. Jackson, April and Alex sipped wine, laughed, ate rolls, and listened to Dr. Webber tell stories about his youth, and the old days of medicine. It was nearly enough to make Jackson forgive, if not forget their issues. (After all, if he was really honest with himself, his mother was the likely instigator of the whole thing anyway.) It was almost good enough to make him forget his confusion about April, San Francisco, his confused feelings, and her God. Enough to make him feel less sick over leaving.
Of course, the evening was never fully free of a sense of unease, and even irritation. They sat for hours, but it was like the dinner never really began. Because of the two empty seats across the table. But looking back, Jackson didn't think any of them had been too worried just then. It wouldn't be the first time Grey and Yang were late for something. So Webber just kept on talking, and April kept on smiling politely, while Jackson sipped his wine, and Alex buttered another roll.
They waited. And waited. And waited.
They were just late, Yang and Grey. Just late. The idea that things had gone horribly wrong had never entered Jackson's mind. Only in hindsight did it seem like it should have. If only to spare them all the shock of finding out about the plane crash as they had. They found out on a fluke, and it hit Jackson with the swiftness of a punch.
It was nearly 8 o'clock, and Webber was in the middle of another long story when April's cell phone rang. The fact that it was her phone could also have given them all a heads up that things were serious. Because lately, her phone ringing never brought any good news.
But Jackson hadn't thought of that. Instead, he laughed with Karev over something Webber said, and reached for the bread, as April wiped the corners of her mouth with the edge of a cloth napkin as she lifted the pink cased iphone to her hear. They'd all thought it was nothing, insignificant. At first, the men barely listened to her call. Maybe it was her family, or a non-surgical job offer. Possibly their absent friends calling to complain about flight delays or traffic. Even a wrong number. Nothing worth paying too much attention to. They'd expected something ordinary.
"Hello?" April answered politely. "This is she."
Jackson carefully buttered a piece of bread, Webber continued talking and Alex loudly chewed a crusty piece of roll.
April's brow furrowed, "Um, yes I did...No, her father is supposed to pick her up tonight. He's not there yet? What about Dr. Grey?"
Jackson didn't register anything about the conversation in that moment. The old chief had gone off on a tangent, and Karev had smirked across the table, mutually agreeing with Jackson to let the old guy say what he wanted to. Maybe if they let him tell enough stories, he'd cave and finally let the waiter bring out the damn duck already. Just because Meredith and Cristina were late didn't mean they should all suffer.
"Uh, I'm sorry...what?" Looking back, Jackson thinks there might have been something in her voice at that moment. Confusion laced with panic.
"C-could you repeat what you just said? You h-heard from this from Chief Hunt?"
April's face went pale, and she lifted her hand to cover her mouth. For a split second, she'd looked like she was going to be sick. That was what caught Jackson's attention. He couldn't stop himself from turning to her, face full of concern. Or stop himself from resting a hand on her shoulder. He couldn't remember if he had the urge to touch her so much before they'd slept together. He couldn't remember why he was afraid this mattered.
"S-sure. Absolutely, I can," April nodded on the verge of tears, hanging up, and fumbling around for her purse as she moved to rise.
Alex's mouth was still full and he gave Jackson a questioning expression. Jackson had shrugged, still not considering the call very much. He was worried she didn't feel well.
Webber was the first to ask, "Dr. Kepner? What's going on?"
That's when Jackson saw her visibly pull it together. April swallowed and carefully slid her phone back into her small purse. She bit her lip and looked at them solemnly, her voice thick with tears and filled with surprise.
"I-I have to go get Zola. The...the-their plane...is missing. Hunt just found out."
"What?" Alex spit out a mouthful of bread. "You're not serious?"
But of course she was, April wouldn't make jokes like that. For a split second it felt like the world had shifted on its axis. Up is down, and left is right. Planes don't just go missing. Webber was already on his feet, and halfway to the parking lot before the gears in Jackson's mind to finally clicked. He could hardly breathe. Hardly process the ramifications of what he'd just heard. So much for being happy tonight.
The plane. Their plane. Missing. Sloan. Lexie. Yang and Grey. They weren't late. Meredith, Cristina and the rest of them. They never made it to dinner, because they never made it back to Seattle. Planes don't just go missing. It's not like they could just take a wrong turn. Use mapquest and end up at the wrong airport or something. No, a missing plane was probably a downed plane. And downed planes...
Richard was a law abiding man. He typically obeyed traffic laws, yielded for pedestrians, drove the speed limit and stopped at red lights. Not tonight though. Tonight he found himself careening through the streets of Seattle at breakneck speeds, and zipping through empty intersections, regardless as to what color streamed from the light bulb suspended in the air above. Richard knew it wasn't the safest thing in the world to do. At his age his reflexes weren't what they used to be.
But he was desperate to get back to the hospital. He had to find out what had happened to his residents.
And that was true. They were special. Meredith Grey, Cristina Yang, and Alex Karev. They were his. That's why Richard had saved their resident dinner for last. You weren't supposed to have favorites; every resident in the program was supposed to be equal. And they were. Everyone had promise, and they had all come a long way since their first days as interns. But Richard still couldn't help but consider himself closer to some than others. Those three fifth years in particular. And Avery and Kepner too. though to a lesser extent.
Maybe it was because of the shooting. Or his past with Ellis Grey. Or the years of dealing with the messes they somehow got themselves into and out of. Maybe it was because he'd picked a favorite resident in Miranda Bailey years ago, and these were her 'babies'.The reason didn't really matter. What mattered was that these were the closet things to family Richard felt he had. Especially now that Adele no longer remembered him. His residents and his attendings. That was all that mattered. They were his family, and he had to do everything in his power to find out what happened to them.
Reaching the hospital in record time, Richard burst in and immediately headed to the conference room where he knew Hunt often did work, since he foolishly abolished using an office. He found the other man slumped at the far end of the conference table, with a hand held over his mouth, staring blankly at the phone in front of him.
"Dr. Hunt?" Richard asked urgently. When the distraught man in front of him didn't reply he moved closer, placing himself directly in Owen's line of sight.
"Owen?" he prodded again hoping to pull the man out of his reverie. Richard couldn't exactly blame the other doctor for his shock. Whatever had happened, Yang was Hunt's wife. The man was bound to be overwhelmed. Still, Richard needed to know what was happening. And sooner or later, wife or no, Hunt would need to pull himself into some semblance of a leader to see this through. But maybe he just needed a minute. And someone to pull him back.
His face softened and Richard tilted his head to one side as pulled out the sliding chair closest to Hunt. Richard reached one hand to Owen's arm gave it a reassuring pat, finally drawing Owen out of his trance like state.
Hunt blinked slowly and words fell from his mouth in a breathless rush, "Webber? I-I...the plane...and I haven't taken my calls...and...oh God."
Richard schooled his features to remain calm, despite his desperation to learn more. "Chief," he began deliberately, emphasizing Hunt's position in the hopes that it would pull Hunt away from his fears. "What's the situation?"
Owen sighed and shook his head, "The FAA said that the plane lost contact with them sometime this morning...and they didn't make it to Boise. A search has been underway since this afternoon, but so far..."
"They haven't found them," Richard finished the other man's sentence.
Taking a deep breath Richard thought about what that meant. It was very likely that their people were dead. A terrible prospect, but one he knew they might have to face. On the other hand, Richard wasn't quite ready to think the worst.
"They haven't found them," he parroted, flattening his hands on the cool surface of the conference room table.
"Yet," Richard corrected himself, and hoping that the confidence in his voice would somehow translate into something good for his missing poelpe. "They haven't found them yet."
Alex couldn't really see straight on the drive back to the hospital. Alex was glad that Avery took the driver's seat in their little carpool. Because all he could do is dial Torres over an over. Just answer the freakin' phone already. He knew why she wasn't answering. Her expectation for the evening involved her wife, a bed and...whatever. Not an FAA search, or a missing plane.
Robbins was in his seat. She hated flying. But she'd ended up in his freakin' seat. He should be missing. He should be with his friends, wherever they were. With Meredith and Cristina. Robbins should be home with her wife and baby.
No one said anything much on the drive back to the hospital. Except Alex was pretty sure Kepner was talking to herself. He glanced back to her in the backseat and saw she had her hands clasped in her lap. She was mumbling. Crazy chick. He dialed Callie again and waited through the five rings it takes before he gets bumped to voicemail.
"Come on. Come on. Pick up," he whispered, desperately hoping that this time he'd be able to get through to Torres. When he heard her voice telling him to leave a message yet a again, he snapped. "Damn it!"
This isn't the kind of thing where you could just leave a message.
And April was still back there whispering away like a lunatic. He just couldn't take it. Not when Callie wasn't picking up her stupid phone.
"What the hell are you doing?" Alex demanded, making no effort to conceal the edge to his voice.
"Hey!" Jackson glared at him, jumping to Kepner's defense, just like he always did, in every hospital squabble, lunch time roasting or household debate over chores. As if April talking to herself wasn't something that bothered him. Then again, Alex figured, since Avery willingly spent a lot of time with Kepner, he must not be bothered by a lot of her crap. Whatever.
April jumped slightly, lifting her wide eyes to his in the rear view mirror. She stared at him a long time before setting her jaw and saying defiantly, "I'm praying. I'm praying for them."
Now Alex could probably add 'Jesus freak' to the long list of reasons why he thought Kepner was a pretty odd duck. Another day, another time, he would. Maybe, though considering the circumstances, praying might not be such a crazy response, even if you weren't a freak. Alex wouldn't go for it though. Usually. Except...right now...The plane was missing. The plane that carried basically the most important people in his life. It was missing. Missing. He didn't have that many people. Maybe April was on to something. Praying seemed like the thing to do. If you believed in that crap. Even if you didn't. It couldn't hurt.
"Oh," Alex repeated, chastened. He blinked numbly for a moment before turning around to look her in the eye. "Don't freakin' stop."
Kepner nodded earnestly and looked back down to her hands, beginning her soft mumbling anew. Alex sighed and frantically dialed Torres the whole rest of the way to the hospital. She never picked up.
By the time they made it to the hospital, the three young doctors found that Webber had actually beaten them there. The old dude had probably sped or something. He was already talking to Hunt behind the conference room door. Alex ran his hand down the back of his head and dialed Callie again, as he and Avery peered in through the conference room blinds while April scampered off to get Zola from the daycare.
Webber's head snapped up, spotting them in the hallway and he beckoned them into the room. Feeling his frustration and anger build, Alex didn't waste a second, and burst into the room, heading straight to Hunt, "Can you tell me what the hell is going on?"
Somehow, Owen looked older than Webber. The lines in his forehead seemed like they were chiseled, and his eyes seemed hollowed. Cristina is his wife. He had a lot to lose on the plane too. Still, Alex was mad enough at the situation that this realization did little to cool his emotions.
Hunt massaged his temples and looked up, "I don't know. I don't know. They never made it to Boise-"
"They didn't get there? They should have been there this morning! How long have you known about this? You just let us all go home? Without saying anything? I mean Torres-"
"I-I didn't find out until tonight...the FAA mounted a search this afternoon when they failed to arrive...they are still looking..."
"And we find out because what? No one picked Zola up? That's crap. You should have freakin' paged us! You should freakin' page Torres and Bailey 911! Right now! You should have-"
Webber raised his hand and interrupted, "Calm down Karev. No one is happy about this. We need to keep it together."
Whether or not the old guy still held the title of Chief of Surgery, Webber was still the center of things. The leader. His words grounded Alex somewhat and he took a few deep breaths before speaking again.
"Well what do we do now? There has to be something we can do."
Owen just put his head in his hands and shook his head. Webber pursed his lips and looked Alex in the eye, "We wait. That's all we can do. Let the FAA do their job, and hope for the best. Wait news."
Alex let out a frustrated sigh. He wanted to do something. He should have been on the damn plane. The least he could do would be to...what? Did he think he could just charge of in the general direction of east and find them? No one even really knew what the hell had even happened. Still, it made Alex feel power less.
He glared and crossed his arms, "This freaking sucks."
Webber nodded, "It does."
Everything felt surreal. One minute Owen had been firing Teddy. The next he had been doing paperwork. And the next...everything just fell apart. He'd listened to message after message from Boise, the airplane charter, and the FAA. The tinny sound of each voice, puncturing through his haze with a chilling efficiency. Something was wrong. The plane never arrive. It lost contact with the tower. A likely crash.
Cristina, his wife was likely in a plane that crashed. Crashed. She could be dead. They could all be dead. Owen still hadn't quite computed the whole thing. It felt like...like after an IED went off Iraq. Your ears rang, and your mind seemed to process things in slow motion. Your head hurt. Time stopped moving evenly,and it felt like someone had a vice grip around your heart. Owen had experience explosions before. That's exactly how he felt now.
Suddenly Webber was there, and then Karev and Avery. He relayed what he could, but Owen knew he wasn't exactly leading anything right in the moment. He was failing. Just like he had for everything lately. He was failing at being a chief, just like he'd failed at being a friend to Teddy. A mentor to April. A husband to Cristina. He'd failed at being a good an honorable man. He felt like he'd failed himself.
Owen ran a hand down his face and tried to figure out just where things in his life had gone so spectacularly wrong. He was dimly aware of Alex shoulding at him, and Jackson standing quietly in the background. He tried to explain. He hadn't known. It wasn't his fault. Not all of it. Because surely Owen checking his messages sooner wouldn't have made much of a difference. Right? At least, he needed to believe it wouldn't.
The Chief, the real chief, stepped in and calms Karev down. Owen held his head in his hands.
"Oh God," he murmured.
When he looks up, Kepner is there, carrying a sleepy looking Zola. When Owen looked up, he met her sad gaze. Her eyes quickly darted away from his. Owen sighed. He hadn't seen April since he told her he wasn't going to hire her next year. The hadn't spoken since. They didn't now.
Webber has well and fully taken charge, "No one can do much of anything until we know more about what's going on. I can stay here and help Dr. Hunt contact everyone's...next of kin. And Dr. Bailey. You folks can go."
Avery finally uncrossed his arms and spoke, "So you're saying what? We just go home?"
"Right now, that's all we can do. Until the FAA knows more..." Webber replied. "Take this little one home. Get some sleep. We'll probably need it."
"Screw that!" Karev said, turning to leave, stomping angrily toward the door. He paused and looked to April and Jackson, reaching a hand out to Zola's cheek, "You guys okay with her?"
They nodded. Owen wasn't sure where Karev was going. He could see it being self destructive. Binging on alcohol or something like that. It made sense. Alex had been slated to go on the plane to Boise until the very last minute. He probably felt guilt. Alex had proven to be self destructive in the past.
"What are you doing Alex?" Webber asked gently, seemingly on the same train of thought at Owen. He'd managed to articulate things first. Like a leader. Owen sighed and shook his head. He hated today.
Alex stopped short of the door, and spun back on his heal, "I'm gonna go tell Torres! Least I can do is make sure she finds out in person."
Callie stretched and slowly rolled out of her bed, realizing that she must have dozed off. She rubbed her eyes and tried to figure out what had woken her. Not a screaming Sofia, apparently. Probably just Arizona coming home from Boise. Rolling out of the bed, Callie looked down at her 'sexy' attire with chagrin.
Maybe she was being too optimistic about this evening. Hell, she knew she was being too optimistic about the whole thing. Not with Arizona's childhood friend Nick's prognosis, and the reminder of Timothy's loss, and finding out about Alex going off to Hopkins. Callie knew her wife wouldn't be in the mood. But maybe that was the point. Callie wanted to get Arizona's mind off of everything, if only for a minute. Because even with the sadness, Callie knew that things in their life were actually pretty good.
They'd come through a lot. It was worth recognizing.
A loud banging noise interrupted Callie's thoughts. That's what had woken her up. Arizona surely wouldn't knock on the door of their own home. Especially knowing Sofia was asleep inside. The pounding persisted. Callie hopped up from the bed quickly, hurrying to stop the noise before it woke up her sleeping child.
When she reached the door she peered through the peephole. Who the hell would be knocking at this time of night? She saw Alex Karev and angrily swung open the door, ready to give him an earful for potentially waking Sofia. He could have just called! Well, she'd been asleep but...
Callie's blood ran cold when she opened the door and saw the look on Karev's stricken face. He hung his head, and his brow was furrowed. Something was wrong.
"What happened?" she demanded immediately.
"You should sit down."
"The hell I will!"
"Alex! You better tell me what's happening. Right now."
Karev's expression became pained, and he rubbed the back of his head. Finally he winced and began, "You know all that stuff you said about life turning on a dime? I think we just got our 10 cents."
"And on that farm there was a..." April yawned and shifted the fussy toddler in lap, struggling to think of another animal to add for what felt like the 100th verse of the song. She was sitting on the floor next to Zola's port-a-crib with her back leaning up against her bed. She could see that the digital clock on her night stand read 2:11 am. It was way too late for Zola to still be awake. She was being a terrible baby sitter. Not much of a surprise. April wasn't good at much of anything anymore.
"Uh, giraffe," she continued singing plaintively, catching sight of Zola's beloved stuffed toy. "E-i-E-i...oh."
The little girl was unimpressed and only continued to squirm and cry big hot tears. She struggled against April's grip and flailing and sobbing. At this point, April kind of felt like crying herself. Zola had slept for only a few hours after they'd brought her from the hospital to the apartment, and had woken up around midnight unhappy. Last night baby sitting her had been such a breeze.
"Well Zola," April whispered. "We never had any giraffe's on our farm, to be perfectly honest..."
Then again, April realized that Zola's discomfort was partially her own fault. The baby's routine was messed up. Another example of her spectacularly poor decision making skills. Yesterday, she'd spent the night at Meredith and Derek's, and Zola had slept in her own crib. But tonight...April had gone to the house to pick up a few supplies, and the place had just seemed creepy. April just couldn't bring herself sleep there again, even if it was probably a good idea to maintain Zola's normalcy. It reminded her too much of the way her old apartment had felt after Reed died. It was too empty with no one home. Erie because they really had no idea what had happened to Derek, Meredith, Lexie and the rest of them.
This situation with the plane was just another item on a long list of bad things that happened to people connected to Seattle Grace Mercy West Hospital. April didn't understand why things were this way. Shootings, car crashes, and all. She couldn't understand much of anything these days. Least of all herself. April didn't know who she was anymore. She wasn't sure she'd ever really known.
She'd thought she'd had it figured out after boards. About God, and how everything should be. Sure, April had lapsed in her church attendance after med school, but she thought she remembered enough from her childhood. Though, she'd spent a lot of Sunday's with her little Webster's Child's Guide to Anatomy carefully tucked in her bible's book cover, she'd thought she learned enough from listening. It was all like a balanced math equation. You sinned, and God punished you. You learned to be better.
It had made a sort of stinging sense. April's life had been falling apart because of her own sins. She was the one who had stopped going to church. It'd been partly a rebellion thing, going against 18 years of going with her family. And once April had left Moline, it became clear that religiosity could be a liability in her line of work. She already had a hard enough time making friends. Life in the big city away from home had been exceptionally difficult. Her relationship with Jesus seemed just like yet another trait on a long list of reasons people wouldn't like her. Right up there with annoying voice, rule abiding, and passive aggression. So April had let it all fall by the wayside. And it had been easy. She had wanted to be liked, so she'd strived to become a likable person. To become what she hoped people would like.
April had figured her next mistake was that she'd felt pride. For being smart. Finishing college. Medical school. For becoming a doctor. For making chief resident. For getting out of freaking Moline. It made her feel better about herself. Better than her sisters. Superior. She'd carried it all in the three ringed binder that was her resume. A lot of good that had done her.
And then April's worst sin had been her lust. She'd lost control and acted on her long held crush on her best friend. The one truest closest person she had in her life. And she'd ruined everything because she'd wanted to know what it felt like. To be the kind of girl Jackson wanted. The kind of woman he kissed. The kind he touched. The type of person who let herself be touched.
But April knew that Jackson would never really see her that way. And her actions had compromised their friendship. And on the off chance that April ever was lucky enough to get married, it had ruined her purity. The whole thing had been selfish. Because, even now, she couldn't say that she fully regretted losing her virginity. To Jackson. It had felt so good. She was selfish. Then again, that shouldn't have surprised her. When April had looked down the barrel of a gun, she'd chosen to plead for own her life rather, than pray. And then she'd run away from an injured man. Now she'd screwed up her friendship, and her purity, just because she wanted to be someone else.
It'd all made sense. Her three sins were terrible. God had every reason to take her down a few pegs. To make her life fall apart. She'd failed and lost her job offers. Her Jackson was off to New Orleans. She'd messed up, and Jesus was showing her the error of her ways. It sucked, but it had made sense. April was the common aspect in everything that had gone wrong. She was the problem. She'd always been the problem. Rather, the person she tried hard to be was the problem. So she'd made the decision to stop hiding herself. To stop trying to fit the mold. Even if no one but God liked her, at least she'd have that, right?
"It's okay, pretty girl. It's okay to sleep," April made quiet murmuring noises, and lifted Zola to her shoulder, rubbing the child's back soothingly. The little girl finally seemed worn out enough to settle down.
The state of her life had made some sense, until now. Until the plane went missing. Nothing like plane crash to put your own issues in perspective. Now, April wasn't sure she understood God, Jesus, or the sin equation anymore. If she ever did. Maybe that's the problem. Why she kept messing up. She'd always been drawn to science. She'd probably never really understood, but had always believed. She wished she had paid more attention in Sunday School.
Zola finally seemed to be dozing off, her warm breath tickling April's neck, "It's okay. I've got you."
How could God do something like this to Zola? She was only a year or so old. She'd been an orphan in Malawi, and now both her parents, her aunt, and her godmother were missing somewhere on a plane. Potentially dead. What sins could possibly warrant little Zola losing two families in the short time span of her life? And Sofia? A child lucky enough to survive being born way too early, who was also fortunate to enough to have the love of three parents. Why would God take two of them away? What could either baby have ever done to deserve this? Nothing. Absolutely nothing. It was all a crap shoot. Utterly random.
And what did that say about April's own mess? If God wasn't punishing her for her sins, then there was no grand plan for her. No lesson to be learned. It meant that she really was well and truly lost. It was a notion April found both terrifying and liberating. And yet a part of her still believed that her prayers might help her friends. It was a paradox.
April was pulled out of her thoughts when she heard her bedroom door open, and Jackson quietly made his way to her side, sitting down with his back against her bed. Both her body and mind were acutely aware of his proximity to her, as they sat next to one and other. She could feel his body heat, especially where his leg was next to hers.
"I-I'm sorry we woke you," April stammered, keeping her voice soft so as not to wake the little girl sprawled awkwardly in her arms.
"You and Zola aren't what's keeping me up," Jackson sighed, leaning his head back against the bed. He didn't need to say it. April could guess. He'd probably had a nightmare. He had them after the shooting.
April gulped and furiously worked to keep her gaze fixed forward, denying herself the opportunity to admire Jackson as he sat next to her clad in only a ragged pair of sweat pants. That was the thing now. A problem she'd made for herself. Now, April didn't have to just imagine what Jackson looked like; she knew exactly what he looked like. She knew what he was like. And there was no way she could unsee him. Unfeel him. She didn't want to. But Jackson was leaving. And April was going to be devastated. There was no point in indulging in fantasy and memory. It would only make things harder. And more painful.
"Don't look so grim," Jackson continued quietly, unaware of her internal struggle. He reached out one hand and began tracing small circles on the edge of her knee, sending chills across her body and making her cheeks flush with embarrassment. She held Zola a little closer. On the other side of the coin, Jackson now knew exactly what she looked like. What she was like. Only he wasn't fantasizing about it. Or remembering it. She wasn't someone people did that over. Jackson only felt guilty. And that was April's fault. She knew. The whole thing was her fault.
"Right now, they are only missing. We...we don't know for sure the plane crashed. Maybe it's all just a big mistake. Misunderstanding," Jackson said unconvincingly. He was trying to make himself be positive.
April pursed her lips and gave him a look. Yeah, sure. Maybe the plane had just flown the wrong direction. That happens all the time.
"You really don't believe that, do you?"
Seeing the sharp glint in her eye Jackson smiled and blinked teasing, "What happened to your optimism?"
"It failed it's boards," April snapped in reply. She hadn't meant to. She felt sick when she saw Jackson's face fall. She already hated that he felt bad. And now she'd made him feel worse. Awesome.
He swallowed, tilting his head to one side, and beginning to speak in a rush, "I should have stayed with you. I know you said you wanted me to leave, but it would have been better if I-"
Jackson was really going there. Talking about the elephant in the room that they'd basically just skirted over as a topic since returning from San Francisco.
"You don't know that," April cut him off. "And I did tell you to go. You were just listening to me."
"Okay. Well, then I shouldn't have turned around. In that bathroom, I should have just-"
"You never said anything! Anything about your religion. Not even to me? Why couldn't you have just-"
"We're not going to talk about this now!" she interrupted in a whisper harsh enough to made Zola stir slightly. So not the time or the place. Not that there would ever be a good time or place, but while waiting for news of your friends missing plane and caring for their potentially orphaned daughter was definitely not the way to go. April rocked a little from side to side and flicked her eyes from Jackson to Zola, hoping to bring home the point.
Jackson sighed and moved his hand from her knee to Zola's back, "You're right. Now is not the time."
He scooted closer to April, making her gasp as he slid one arm behind her back and pressed his body close. He scooped Zola's legs onto his lap, so that the slumbering girl was stretched out more comfortably between them.
"We should try to get some sleep. Zola's got it right," Jackson squeezed April's shoulder slightly and she let her head rest on his shoulder. It felt safe. Warm. Loving. She sighed. If only. She closed her eyes, and felt him lower his head to hers. They both began to relax, slowly surrendering to sleep.
"But we do need to talk, April. Even if you don't want to."