Premise: Jordan and Rafe go on the run following the revelation that Jordan killed someone.
A/N: This is a short story based on the writing prompt at the Jafe forum: "… You have a bounty on your head. ONE wrong move and you've fuckin' doomed us both, got it?"
"We were best friends, Jordan!" Sheryl cried. Tears were percolating in the depths of her deep brown eyes and Jordan's heart was breaking for the other woman. "How could you just leave me like that – without saying a word? You knew I had a lot on my plate at the time and –"
"And you think I didn't?" Jordan said, tears filling her own eyes. "Do you honestly think I would have run away – left my home and everything I knew and loved – if I had any other choice?" A little sob burbled up in her throat and it was all she could do to hold it back. Everything was falling apart before her eyes, and fast too. Kate Roberts was breathing down her neck. It was only a matter time before she knew – before everyone knew the truth about her. Rafe, what would he think of Jordan? Maybe he'd hate her as much as she hated herself. If that were even possible. She had lied to him so many times just by pretending to be something that she wasn't. She hadn't wanted to but that didn't matter in the end.
"Why did you run?" Sheryl asked. "Why?" She dabbed at a tear as it rolled down her cheek.
"Does it matter now?" Jordan asked. "Look, I've got to go."
"Go where?" Sheryl asked. "Are you just going back to your apartment or are you going-going? Like running off again?"
Jordan paused in her tracks. "I can't stay here anymore."
"Why not?" Sheryl asked and she reached for Jordan's sleeve, holding her in place. "Why the heck not? What are you running from?"
Jordan didn't look at her. "I can't tell you, okay? You'd never understand. No one would."
"You heard me. Talk to me, Jordan. Tell me what's got you acting like a scared rabbit in the headlights." Sheryl laughed bitterly. "You have me so upset that I'm mixing up my metaphors... Just come on, Jordan, explain everything."
"Sheryl, I can't tell you. For your own good. I can't."
"God, you're acting like you committed some huge crime. Did you kill someone?" Another bitter laugh escaped Sheryl's lips. She stared at Jordan who shrunk before her very eyes. "Ohmigod, you did! You - you killed someone!"
"Be quiet," Jordan hissed. "You don't know what you're talking about."
"Who did you off?" Sheryl asked. Her expression softened. "Who, Jordan? And why couldn't you confide in me instead of running off? We could have figured it out; we could have made things right somehow."
"I killed a man," Jordan hissed. "You don't just get forgiven for that." Tears ran down her face as she tugged her sleeve free of Sheryl's grasp. "I'm sorry I hurt you. I am sorry I hurt everyone. Just please do me a favor."
"Oh this is rich." Sheryl crossed her arms. "Fine, what?"
"Tell Rafe 'goodbye' for me? And that I'm sorry I dragged him into my drama."
"You're really leaving town?"
"I have no choice," Jordan said. She looked at Sheryl sadly and then hurried off.
Rafe was sitting in his apartment after a long physical therapy session. Pete had just left and Rafe was still sweaty from all the exercising he had done. He felt stronger though - day by day, bit by bit, he was getting better. He had to thank Pete for that but he also had to thank Jordan. She had pushed him forward so many times when he'd thought about just giving up completely.
He smiled as he thought of her. He started to reach for the telephone to call her when he heard frantic pounding on his door. He had no clue who it could be. He started to climb to his feet. It wasn't quite as hard to do that anymore. He grabbed for his walker as the hammering on the door continued.
"Okay, fine, I'm coming," Rafe called back. "Hold your damn horses."
He opened the door to find a breathless woman standing there, holding her heaving chest. He recognized her as that Sheryl woman Lucas was always hanging around with, the one who seemed to make Jordan so anxious. "Rafe!" She gasped out.
He peered down at her. "Yes?"
"I came here as soon as I could. Can I please – can I please talk to you? In private?" She was already pushing her way inside the door. Rafe moved back to let her enter and he shut the door.
"What's going on?" he asked. Truthfully he wanted to ask how the hell she got his address but he resisted.
"It's Jordan!" Sheryl said.
"Jordan?" Rafe's chest tightened, seeing the look in Sheryl's mocha-brown eyes. This wasn't going to be good. Not good at all. "Is she okay? Tell me she's okay, alright?"
"No, no she's not alright." This time Rafe's stomach clenched painfully. "She's –"
"She's not – she's not actually de-"
"No, not dead. Though it's interesting you use those words. Since someone –" She broke off as Rafe stared at her in frustration. "Sorry. Jordan though – she's panicking right now. She's running. She's leaving town. She's scared of what she did. You have to stop her, Rafe; you have to make her stay."
"Wait, where is she going?"
"I don't know but she could disappear like she has done before. This time we won't find her, I just know it. You have to stop her. I believe you're the only person who can help her now."
"Okay, okay. Explain in the car. Cause you're driving me to her place." Rafe was already grabbing for his jacket and moving to the door as quickly as was possible. He would run if he could. He seriously would. But he could walk faster than before so he would move even if it killed him.
Sheryl shut the door after him and then hurried ahead, leading her way to the car which was idling at the curb. She hurried to open the passenger door and helped Rafe inside. He shifted on the leather seat uncomfortably as she ran around the other side of the hatchback and climbed in. She gunned the engine and they were off.
Rafe looked over at Sheryl. "So details. Don't leave anything out."
"This is my fault," Sheryl cried. "If I just wouldn't have kept pushing and pushing her, trying to punish her for just leaving me behind –"
"You lost me."
Sheryl wiped at her watery eyes as she piloted the car. Rafe wondered if they would make it to Jordan's in one piece given how erratically she was driving in her emotional state. Rafe reached out and touched her arm. "Look, calm down. Focus on driving. Explanations can wait. As long as we actually make it alive to Jordan's and stop her from leaving town, that's what counts."
"I hope we can stop her, Rafe," Sheryl said. "She doesn't want to leave. She doesn't want to leave you, I can tell that. She just feels like she has no other choice."
Rafe nodded and stared out the window. What was going on? What had spooked Jordan? She had always been secretive and somewhat distant but he had never foreseen anything like this happening. He was scared. Scared to lose her when she didn't even know how much she meant to him.
Jordan made it back to her apartment downtown on foot and immediately ran to her room. She pulled open the closet and yanked out a gray duffel bag. She kept it packed for this reason. She had known eventually that she would have to pick up and leave, adopt a new identity, though she hated to do it now.
Her heart was breaking. It was hard moving from place to place before but now it physically felt like her chest was caving in from the weight of her grief. She would miss Salem; she would miss having friends and most of all, she would miss Rafe. She had never expected to care about him – hell, love him – the way she did and it was hurting her to have to leave him, especially without saying goodbye.
She dropped onto the bed, allowing herself one good cry because if she didn't, she would never make it out of here before she could be caught. Sheryl knew the truth about what she had done – or most of the truth anyway. And it couldn't be long before everyone else knew too. It was dangerous to hang around and ask Sheryl to keep her secret.
"This was never your home, Jordan," she admonished herself through tears. "This was never a life that really belonged to you. Just remember that and that Rafe was never yours and you'll make it."
The tears kept coming even as she tried to stop them. Fifteen minutes must have passed before she could even halfway get a hold of herself. She sighed and grabbed for the duffel bag. She unzipped it and looking through watery eyes, she pulled out her collection of IDs. Which person would she be now? She wondered. Marie Guthrie sounded okay though she really didn't care for it either. She liked Jordan Ridgeway, her own name, and the name Rafe knew her by. She liked the way her name sounded on his lips. But she had known this day would come and it had. She was running away and she wasn't coming back.
She tucked the ID back in the bag and rezipped it. "Alright, Marie," she said. "Let's go." Her stomach was all twisted up in knots but she had no choice but to go. If she stuck around, she was going to lose everything anyway and this way, she wouldn't have to see the disappointment in Rafe's eyes when he realized who she was and what she had done.
She pulled the strap of the duffel over her slim shoulder and then started for the door. She would take the back way out, go down the fire escape. She would escape somehow though she would always feel tethered to her past.
She went to the refrigerator and grabbed a few bananas and a bottle of water for the long drive and was then ready to go. As ready as she could possibly be.
"Marie Guthrie, be Marie Guthrie," she whispered. "Jordan doesn't exist anymore." She was heading to the window to pull it open when the doorbell suddenly rang. She paused in the middle of the floor like a deer caught in the headlights. "Ohmigod!" she whispered hoarsely. "The cops. Sheryl must have called them."
The doorbell was ringing continuously as if someone was leaning heavily on it. "Jordan!" Rafe's voice came through the door. "Jordan, hey. I need to talk to you. It's really important. If you're in there, open up please."
Jordan was caught between wanting to run away from Salem and wanting to run right into Rafe's strong arms. Her heart was playing with her head and she didn't appreciate it.
She knew she couldn't do this to him though. That he deserved better than to be wrapped up in her dramas.
She made a dive for the window and in the process knocked over a lamp. She jumped back in surprise. She hadn't been stabbed by a broken shard but the noise was unmistakable. Rafe now knew for sure that she was there!
"I'm coming in!" Rafe said. "Don't make me kick down the door because I will if I have to."
"Rafe!" Jordan cried in exasperation. It slipped right past her lips and she shook her head. He was the most infuriating man she had ever met. Even when she was trying to run away, he was there pulling her back.
"Open the door, Jordan," Rafe said. "Come on. We need to talk."
"There's nothing to talk about. I'll see you later. I am uh, naked."
"Great. Open the door."
"Ugh!" Jordan snapped. She then moved to the door and yanked it open. Rafe stood there looking at her with concern on his face and she almost fell apart.
"You're not naked, Jordan," Rafe said.
"Disappointed?" She snarked as she held back the door so he could come in. She would speak to him briefly and then she'd show him out. Then she would leave Salem forever.
"Am I a red-blooded man?" Rafe asked. He shook his head. "As nice as the mental picture is, that's not why I'm here."
"I figured. What do you want? What do you so desperately need to talk to me about?"
Rafe's eyes moved to her shoulder. He had noticed the duffel. "Going somewhere?"
"Yeah, uh to the gym."
Jordan looked away. She had lied to him before but this was much harder somehow. "Yeah."
"Look, Jordan, I'll be honest with you if you'll be honest with me. I'm here because your friend Sheryl-"
"No!" Jordan practically howled. "No. She didn't tell you. She wouldn't – why?"
"She didn't tell me anything. Except that you're running away."
"I'm not running. Except to the gym. I need that workout really badly," she said lamely.
"Come on, Jordan. Be real with me. What's going on?"
"Does it matter?" That was the second time she had said that phrase today and it was ironic because all of this really did matter so much.
"Hell yes it does. What are you running from, Jordan? It's time to be real with me here. I want to help you."
Jordan shook her head sadly. "You can't. No one can."
"Let me try."
"Where's Sheryl now?" Jordan asked, avoiding the question.
"Giving you time to be honest with me."
"So you walked up here all by yourself?"
"I took the elevator."
Jordan felt new tears threatening. "I can't tell you. I can't tell anyone. So now if you'll excuse me…"
"You're not excused!" Rafe snapped. "Talk to me and talk to me now. Come on. I can stand here all day if that's what needs to happen."
"You shouldn't. You need to rest and –"
"Always the Coach, huh?" Rafe smiled a bit.
"Don't call me that."
"Fine, Jordan… You've helped me so much. Now it's my chance to return the favor."
"That's a nice sentiment but it won't happen."
"Jordan, please. I am asking here on almost bended knee."
"You'd never understand. No one would."
"Give me a chance." Rafe moved forward a bit and reached for her hand. Her fingers tingled where he touched. "You're scared but whatever happened, we can figure it out together."
"I wish that were –" Jordan broke off as there was suddenly loud pounding on the door.
"Sheryl?" Jordan whispered to Rafe.
Rafe shrugged. That's when they heard a voice shouting through the door. "It's the police. Open the door!"
A/N: Oh snap! So that's a wild start to my new fic, huh? Who did Jordan kill and why? Was it accidental or not? Share your thoughts. I love feedback. Thanks!