Fandoms: Wings, Private Practice
Characters/Pairings: Pete Wilder/Joe Hackett, Brian Hackett, Casey Chapel, Helen Hackett, Addison, Violet, Amelia, Pete/Violet, Joe/Helen, Brian/Casey
Word Count: 2,160
Disclaimer: I don't own Wings or Private Practice. No copyright infringement intended.
Summary: AU. Joe Hackett ran after Helen died and changed his life completely. Fifteen years later, Pete Wilder's past finally catches up to him.
Pete Wilder hadn’t thought about his previous life in a few years. Occasionally, it came rushing back, like after his heart attack, but for the most part, Joe Hackett was dead and gone. It was just easier that way because then he didn’t have to think about Helen. To do so, he buried himself in work and Lucas. His son was the most important person in Pete’s life, and he wasn’t about to let him go.
Don’t get him wrong, Pete loved Violet (had loved Anna, too) but they weren’t Helen. It was his problem, not theirs, but he couldn’t explain that to either of them. They wouldn’t have understood. (Or at least that’s what he convinced himself of.)
All in all, Pete Wilder had done a pretty good job of burying Joe Hackett – Until his past walked through the doors of Oceanside Health and Wellness and his life came crashing down.
When saying goodbye to a patient, Pete walked into the lobby and stopped dead in his tracks when he saw Brian and Casey. He contemplated bolting because it seemed like the best plan, but they spotted him before he could run. “So, we finally fucking found you.” Brian was obviously pissed, and Pete (Joe? Was he Joe again?) couldn’t blame him.
“What are you doing here?”
“What am I doing here? What the fuck are you doing here, Joe? We’ve been looking for you for fifteen fucking years!”
“Brian, you promised not to yell!” Casey looked up and smiled at Pete. (Joe? He was floundering now, having a hard time deciding who he was.)
To make matters worse, that’s when Violet walked up and introduced herself. “Hello! I’m Violet Turner, Pete’s wi... ex-wife. Soon to be ex-wife anyway. Are you friends with Pete?”
Pete (Joe?) cringed because he had a feeling Casey and Brian wouldn’t react well to his remarriage. “It’s nice to meet you, Doctor Turner. I’m Brian Hackett, and this is my wife, Casey. I’m “Pete’s” brother.”
“Oh. Pete never mentioned that he had any siblings. It’s nice to meet you!” Violet sensed the awkwardness and wanted to leave, but she wasn’t sure how to escape this conversation.
“I bet he didn’t. We need to talk – It’s important.” Casey tapped her foot and waited impatiently.
“What is it you want? I’m fine – I have a life here, a job, and a son.” He was aware he was being standoff-ish, but he honestly didn’t care. He was on the defensive.
And Joe’s world dropped out from underneath him and his whole body went numb. With those words, Pete was gone for good and Joe had fully taken his place again. He was vaguely aware of his surroundings, but didn’t realize he was having a panic attack until he was rushed over to a seat and told to put his head between his knees.
“Come on, Pete, you need to breathe. You can do this.” Violet was terrified he was going to have another heart attack and she needed him calm.
Joe listened to her and slowly started to calm down. It took him about ten minutes before he could form words. “What are you talking about? I buried her body! I identified it! Helen is dead.” He couldn’t believe it – How could she still be alive? It wasn’t possible.
“Turns out that the hospital fucked up – You remember how the body was burned beyond recognition? Well somehow, Helen’s identity and the other woman’s got mixed up. By the time they figured out what had happened, you had already taken off and we couldn’t find you. Helen was comatose for about thirteen months and then she had amnesia. It took her a long time to get her memory back. And we’ve been looking for you ever since. It didn’t help that you changed your name, but the private investigator finally found you here.”
Violet was extremely confused. “Wait, what is going on here?”
“But the baby. Helen was pregnant when she got into the car accident.” Had their child died?
“She survived and she’s healthy. She was premature, but she’s a thriving teenager now. Her name is Lola, and she’s very excited to meet you.” Casey knew that Joe would probably have some issues with the teenager once she returned, but they’d be able to overcome any issues that popped up.
“And Helen?” She had to hate him for abandoning her. Why would she ever want him back? Joe didn’t think it was possible.
“She still loves you, Joe. In fact, she’s the one who pushed for the private investigator. Helen doesn’t blame you at all for this, by the way.” Brian was so pissed he could barely see straight, but Helen had forgiven Joe. If their positions had been switched, she probably would have run, too.
“Would someone tell me what the hell is going on here?” Violet was tired of listening to this and she didn’t understand what was happening.
“You should probably gather up everyone else. I have something to tell everyone, and I’d rather not tell this story multiple times.” Joe numbly stood up and headed towards the conference room, Brian and Casey following him.
One by one, his friends and co-workers filed into the room and waited expectantly for Joe to start talking. “Okay, I had hoped this conversation would never happen, but it’s here. My name isn’t really Pete Wilder – I’m actually Joe Hackett. I grew up in Nantucket, and was a pilot. And I lost the love of my life – or at least I thought I did – and I ran. Changed my name, became a different person. Forgot my past because it was just easier that way.” He continued to explain to them about his past, and they interrupted only a few times to ask questions.
A crying Addison stood up first and hugged him. “You go find that Helen and introduce her to us. She sounds like a wonderful girl that I’d love to meet.”
Joe smiled at her and hugged Addison back, grateful for her kindness. “Thanks, Addie.”
“I’m not sure if I can forgive you,” Sam admitted. How could he trust Pete (Or Joe, couldn’t forget that part) again? His best friend had lied to everyone for years about who he truly was.
“It’s okay. I don’t expect forgiveness from anyone.” Joe was starting to get more and more worried about seeing Helen. How would she react to the fact that he had a son? How would Lola react? He had missed out on so much for nothing.
“We’ll talk later in private – Don’t think you’re getting away from this.” Violet wanted to see how he was doing with everything because Joe’s life had just been turned upside down.
“Okay.” Despite himself, Pete laughed and then watched as his friends walked away.
“So, are you ready to go see your wife and daughter?” Brian was still pissed, but he couldn’t wait for his brother and Helen to finally reunite.
“Of course I am.” He was lying – Joe was stressing out so much he was secretly worried about another heart attack.
Casey rolled her eyes, but didn’t call him on the lie. Joe followed his brother and sister-in-law out to their car and got in the backseat. His heart pounded the whole way to the hotel and his palms got sweaty. He was worried he was going to throw up, but luckily that didn’t happen. When the door opened and Joe saw Helen for the first time in fifteen years, he let go and burst into sobs. Within a few minutes, Helen was crying herself and hugging her husband. The two cried all over each other before Joe pulled away and noticed the girl crying on the bed.
Helen beamed through her tears. “Joe, meet your daughter, Lola Josephine Hackett. Lola, this is your father.”
Lola shyly waved at her father. “Hi.”
“Hi.” Joe wasn’t sure what he should do – Hug her? Because he desperately wanted to do that, but wasn’t sure if he should.
“We’ll be over in our room – Casey and I have a lot to tell you.” Brian and Casey exited Helen and Lola’s room, leaving the three alone. They were going to try to eavesdrop through the walls of course, but Helen, Joe, and Lola didn’t need to know that.
Helen laughed nervously, while Joe stared at the wall, unsure of how to proceed in this conversation. “So…”
“How are you, Joe?”
“Good. Helen, I’m so sorry, but I remarried. I have a three year old son, Lucas. You probably hate me for that.”
“How could I hate you? And I already know about your son – I hired that private investigator, remember? I even know about your second wife, how you lost her.” Joe winced – Although he and Anna hadn’t been happy, her death had sent him spiraling into the headspace he had been in after Helen’s supposed death. Only work and his friends had pulled him out of his grief.
“I love you so much.” Joe brushed Helen’s hair off her forehead and kissed her. It got heated, but the two were interrupted by a cough in the corner. When they pulled apart, Lola was rolling her eyes at them.
“I love you, too. Don’t ever leave me again.”
“I’m not planning on it.” Helen giggled, and then urged Lola to go see her father. The teenager and her father began having a slightly awkward conversation.
The next day, Joe brought Helen and Lola by with him to work. “We’re renewing our vows once the divorce with Violet goes through,” Joe explained to a curious Amelia.
“Oh. Well that’s sweet. You doing a Vegas wedding or what?”
Joe shrugged. “We haven’t talked about it yet. There’s been a lot on our mind.” The depression that had invaded his life after he got the news that Helen had died was slowly starting to fade away, but he’d hate himself forever for running. How could he have been so stupid? They had lost fifteen years because of his behavior, and he’d never forgive himself for that.
“I’m looking forward to meeting that little boy of his. I’m sure he’s adorable.” Helen wanted to be angry at her husband, but she couldn’t because she understood that grief did terrible things to a person.
“Lucas is so sweet.” Addison liked this Helen – She and Pete (sorry, Joe) seemed like a perfect fit. And for once, Joe seemed at ease in his life. She had never seen him this happy before.
Violet observed their behavior and couldn’t help but smile. Despite her own hurt and feelings of betrayal, she was happy for Joe. She could tell that he really loved Helen. “Okay, let’s go into my office. I want to talk to you two.”
“How are you dealing with everything? It’s probably a shock to see your brother and sister-in-law show up here yesterday.”
“Surprisingly okay. Helen’s keeping me calm. She freaked out on me when she found out about the heart attack.” He was looking forward to her comfort and care, though.
“I just want to understand why you ran after you thought Helen died. Why’d you change your name?”
“Because it hurt too much to be Joe Hackett, and it was just easier to self-destruct. Violet, I am so sorry for hurting you – I never meant to do that. I let my issues fuck things up. I do want you to know that I will always love you, though. Don’t ever doubt that.” Joe hoped she accepted his apology.
“Joe, it’s okay. I will forgive you – It’s going to take some time, but I can do it. And I’ll always love you, too – I won’t keep you away from Lucas. Quick question – Are you going back to Nantucket?”
“We’re still discussing that – Joe loves California, and it is pretty nice. But all our friends are back in Nantucket. Then again, all of Joe’s friends are here. And I don’t want to uproot Lola, but of course, Joe can’t leave Lucas. We have a lot to talk more to talk about.” Helen squeezed Joe’s hand and he kissed it.
That night, Joe’s friends joined the Hacketts for dinner. “So, you got married with your hand in the toilet because it got stuck?” Cooper stared incredulously at his friend as everyone laughed.
“Yes. It was a comedy of errors, but it was worth it. And then we came back from our honeymoon to find that Brian and Casey burned the house down.”
“You burned ours down, too, so you can’t play that card anymore!” Brian laughed at the look on his brother’s face.
Joe and Helen, along with Brian, Casey, and his friends at the practice had a lot of issues to work through, but they’d be fine in the end.
Joe and Helen Hackett were soul mates, and nothing would ever be able to come between them in their life together. They could get through anything.