|When Two Harts Become One
Author: Jennifer Hart PM
Jonathan is forced to match wits with a lunatic — and solve the murder he hoped he'd never have to investigate.Rated: Fiction T - English - Tragedy/Suspense - Jonathon H. & Jennifer H. - Chapters: 11 - Words: 31,305 - Reviews: 90 - Favs: 9 - Follows: 14 - Updated: 11-01-10 - Published: 07-26-10 - Status: Complete - id: 6177861
|A+ A- Full 3/4 1/2 Expand Tighten|
Title: When Two Harts Become One
Disclaimers: The closest I am to owning anything Hart to Hart are the DVDs and two scripts from Ebay.
Spoiler Warnings: I know the series is an old one, but just in case there's anyone else like me out there who's new to it and hasn't yet seen all of the episodes, I do reference the following:
Season 1: Pilot Movie, Death Set, Passport To Murder, You Made Me Kill You, Raid,
Season 2: This Lady Is Murder, Murder In Paradise, Operation Murder, Getting Aweigh With Murder, The Murder Of Jonathan Hart, What Murder?
Season 3: Hart of Darkness
Season 4: Hunted Harts
Season 5: Hostage Harts, Two Harts Are Better Than One, Pandora Has Wings
Summary: Jonathan is forced to match wits with a lunatic — and solve the murder he hoped he'd never have to investigate.
A/N: This is a storyline that it would have been logical for Stephen Edwards to be included in, however at the time I was writing this I hadn't actually seen those episodes. So for this story's purposes, he died the August following the Season 5 finale (1984) and this story itself is set in May, 1985.
H2H H2H H2H H2H H2H H2H H2H H2H H2H H2H H2H H2H H2H H2H H2H H2H H2H
Chapter 1: Hartbreak
"Mr. H?" There was no response and Max took a deep breath, then stepped out of the kitchen doorway and onto the back patio. Jonathan had been sitting at the patio table for the past hour since he'd gotten home, his arms folded on the table in front of him, simply staring into the backyard. Reluctantly, Max approached him and placed a gentle hand on his shoulder. "Mr. H?"
"Quite the contrast, isn't it?" The words were dull and so quiet Max wasn't sure he'd heard correctly.
Jonathan nodded towards the rich golden flames of the sky that lit up a strip between the shadowy forms of the trees behind the house and the approaching cloud cover above. The effect was stunning: a thick, dark curtain cut in two by a momentary glow of beauty.
"That." Jonathan didn't look up, but kept his eyes trained towards the trees at the far end of the yard. "We were stuck at the airport for an hour because that dust storm was so thick you couldn't even see anything. Now everything looks so clear you can't even believe it happened."
Truthfully, Max saw more of a contrast in his old friend's voice. While talking, Jonathan had sounded almost distant, as though both his thoughts and he himself were far removed from the conversation. Throughout the years Max had stood by as a witness to many of Jonathan's conversations, taken part in even more, and had also frequently just served as a sounding board. During all of it there had been one near constant that had almost never changed: the direct, purposefulness of Jonathan's tone of voice. Even when thinking out loud he'd almost never sounded less than deliberate and focused on what he was saying. Never distant.
Max didn't voice these thoughts though; instead responding, "I've seen it like this on other nights, too. Never really get used to it, though."
For the first time Jonathan looked directly at him. "You're not talking about the weather," he said softly.
The older man shrugged. "You weren't either."
For a few moments, neither man spoke. Finally, Jonathan drew in a shaky breath. "The police?"
Max nodded. "On their way up."
Jonathan exhaled slowly and got to his feet. "Okay," he said simply.
The officers were already at the door by the time the two men re-entered the house. Max ushered them into the living room: Detective Morgan, an auburn-haired man in his early thirties, and his younger partner Detective Bresling, a petite blonde woman. After the initial formalities, Jonathan cut to the chase. "What do you know so far?"
The two officers exchanged glances. "Not a lot," Detective Bresling said carefully. "The preliminary indication is that a gas main malfunctioned."
Jonathan's response was immediate. "Sabotage?"
"Too soon to tell," the other officer replied.
"What can I do to help?"
Detective Bresling's voice was sympathetic. "Why don't you start with walking us through how this day started?"
A series of images cascaded through Jonathan's mind, and he slowly sat back. "From the beginning?" The officer nodded and Jonathan closed his eyes briefly.
"Jennifer hadn't been sleeping very well the past few days," he said quietly. "I don't know what was going on, but she hadn't fallen asleep before 4:00 in the morning for the last week. She finally managed to drop off at two last night and I wanted to let her sleep in as late as she could."
H2H H2H H2H
"Darling." Jonathan gently smoothed back his wife's hair. "Darling, it's time to get up."
Jennifer opened her eyes to see her husband sitting on the edge of the bed beside her. She smiled sleepily at him. "What time is it?"
She blinked. "Your flight leaves in an hour, doesn't it?"
He nodded. "I wanted to let you sleep."
Jennifer groaned. "I don't even remember when I was finally able to turn the light off last night."
"You didn't," Jonathan said dryly.
"I woke up at three. The lamp was on, your book had fallen on the floor, and you were out cold." They both chuckled, then Jennifer's expression turned serious.
"You're still planning on flying home tonight?"
Jonathan nodded. "The meetings won't go past 5:30 and that's Arizona time. I'll barely be late for supper."
Jennifer smiled ruefully. "Good. You know, we've really got to do something about this—you heading off to one location for business at the same time I'm on assignment for an article. What is this, the third week?"
Jonathan winced. "Fourth." His wife groaned. "This is the one about that hidden room they found in the basement of that college library, right?"
"Yeah, Tormandyne Academy. You know, I still find that the weirdest thing, California's oldest ladies finishing school—now college—and nobody knew about that room before now. Not to mention the headmistress specifically requesting me personally for the only article they're officially releasing."
"Hey, you're a great journalist and people are taking notice," Jonathan said with a smile. "Enjoy it."
"I guess." Jennifer still sounded hesitant.
Jonathan caught sight of the bedside clock and grimaced. "I really hate to say this, but I've got to run." He leaned in and kissed her, a kiss he would later remember as being all too short. "I'll see you later," he whispered.
She smiled at him lovingly. "Count on it."
He was almost at the door when the sound of her voice stopped him. "Jonathan?" He turned back. "I mean it—I want to sit down and coordinate my article assignments with your business schedule. It's driving me nuts."
They exchanged a long look and Jonathan nodded firmly. "It's a date. He started to turn around, then paused. Jennifer was sitting up in bed, wearing his white pyjama top, and the morning sunlight was shining against her hair, giving it glowing amber highlights. Part of the sunbeam was streaked across her cheeks, highlighting her freckles and lighting up her eyes and smile. Watching her in that moment, Jonathan wondered if he'd ever seen her look more beautiful. "I love you."
Jennifer's smile widened and her eyes shone even more. "I love you, too."
H2H H2H H2H
He was walking through the Tucson airport when he saw it. He and one of the other arrivals for the meeting, walking past a TV in one of the lounges. The flaming building on the screen caught their attention. The headline said something about an explosion at a California Ladies' college. Then Jonathan caught the name.
Jonathan never remembered what explanation he gave his companion, or whether he'd even said anything at all. All he remembered was bolting back towards the gate he'd just come from as fast as his shaking legs would carry him, and repeating the most frantic prayer of his life.
H2H H2H H2H
Max was waiting on the Tarmac with the car when the Hart jet touched down. The minute the plane stopped Jonathan was down the stairs and running towards the car.
"Max!" His friend looked older than Jonathan ever remembered seeing him. "Max!"
"Mr. H." The words were barely audible and he gripped Jonathan's shoulders tightly.
"Is Jennifer with you?" The older man shook his head, unable to speak. "Have you been to the scene?" Max didn't answer. "Has Jennifer tried to call? Have you heard anything? Is...Is she..." Jonathan's voice shook. "Is Jennifer all right?"
Max looked at him for several seconds, then simply answered, "Jonathan."
It was all he needed to say.
H2H H2H H2H
Max silently pulled the car into the parking lot of the Hattman Funeral Home. Knowing the sight of his wife lying in the cold city morgue would be too much for Jonathan to deal with, Max had made arrangements for Jennifer's body to be sent directly to the mortuary. The woman in charge, a woman in her twenties with dull blonde hair, gently greeted them and ushered them towards one of the back rooms.
"I have to warn you, I haven't had much chance to clean her up yet, so her appearance could be hard to see," she warned them. "They found her before she could be badly burned, but there is a severe head injury."
Jonathan's face paled slightly, but he managed to reply. "It's all right, Mrs. Rosser, I just...I have to see her."
The woman nodded. "I understand."
"That was the cause, then?" Jonathan's voice sounded faint even to his own ears. "The head injury?"
Mrs. Rosser nodded again. "Probably from flying debris. If it's any comfort, she probably died instantly, with very little pain."
"It's not a comfort," Jonathan answered.
The woman smiled apologetically. "Of course. Forgive me." She opened the door in front of them. "This way."
Although there was a bank of mortuary drawers on the far wall, Mrs. Rosser led them to a table near the entrance of the room. Jonathan felt his stomach clench at the sight, but he forced himself to walk forward.
"There's a stool at the head of the table if either of you need it," Mrs. Rosser told them as she reached for the sheet. "Are you ready?"
Jonathan didn't think he'd ever be ready, but he nodded mutely. Mrs. Rosser carefully pulled back the sheet.
"Jennifer!" The broken gasp slipped out of his mouth before he could stop it, and he was dimly aware of Max's hand tightening on his arm. He gratefully collapsed onto the offered stool, as silent sobs shook his body.
Jennifer's face still showed smudges of the smoke from the explosion and there was no missing the ugly gash on her left temple. However her expression was surprisingly peaceful, reminding Jonathan of when he'd woken her up that morning. Too much like when he'd woken her up that morning. He looked up at Mrs. Rosser, struggling to find his voice.
"Please...Please, can I have some time...alone?"
Mrs. Rosser nodded understandingly. "Of course. Mr. Brenner?"
Max looked at Jonathan for conformation and, when he nodded, followed the funeral home director out of the room.
When they were gone, Jonathan gently took his wife's hand and stared down at her face, trying to reconcile his brain to what he was seeing. Jennifer was still wearing the clothes she'd been found in and part of her shirt was visible above the line of the sheet. Jonathan recognized it; a white, shortsleeved blouse with tan trim decorating the collar, sleeve hems, pocket, and neckline. It brought back how he'd last seen her that morning—smiling and wearing his white pyjama top with the sun shining onto her hair. Instinctively he knew he'd never be able to wear those pyjamas again.
The sunlight in her hair that morning had been replaced with blood, matting the strands against her forehead. Jonathan reached up with his other hand and gently smoothed it back. "Oh, Darling," he whispered. "I am so sorry."
He squeezed her hand, even though he knew she couldn't feel it. "You know, these last nine years—they've been the best in my life." A sob caught in his throat again and he sighed. "I can't believe I'm actually doing this. I keep thinking I'm going to wake up any second with my heart pounding and look over to see you sleeping next to me and realize this was all just a really, really sick nightmare."
He squeezed her hand again. "Or that I'm about to wake you up, and insist on taking you to Arizona with me and under no circumstances let you go near that college." His voice broke, and he leaned his head against Jennifer's shoulder, unable to hold the tears back any longer.
After several long moments, Jonathan brought his head up again. "Darling, I promise you, I am going to find whoever did this to you...whoever..." He drew a shuddering breath. "Whoever took you away from me." He leaned over and kissed Jennifer's forehead. "You have my word."