Strength to Endure

By: Amy Jonas

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Rating: PG 13

Keywords: Jimmy Bond, Yves Adele Harlow

Archieve: If you want it; take it just let me know

Disclaimer: The Lone Gunmen are owned by Fox and 1013. The title Strength to Endure is from a song by The Ramones

Summary: A long way from home, Jimmy finds the strength to go on.

A/N: In Jump The Shark, Jimmy told the guys he spent a year looking for Yves. The first thing I thought of was that Jimmy would have been overseas alone when 911 happened. This upset me a great deal and thus the idea for this story was borne. I had no intention of writing it but it kept bugging me. I just couldn't get it out of my mind and three years later...here it is. Of course if it hadn't been for entities named Frances and Jeanne (boo hiss) it would have been finished long before this.

A/N: Special thanks go to Magsrose; my beta supreme for her awesome beta and encouraging me to finally write this; You are the best. And Scanner just because.

A/N: To New Yorkers who found the strength to endure and of course to my fellow Floridians who made it through 4 major hurricanes in 6 weeks and are fighting to get their lives back to normal. To Charlie, Ivan, Frances and Jeanne....I say this. Viva la Florida!!!!

Walking through the cross fire heart

Feeling heavy and hopeless

Wondering how I ever will see through this darkness

Strength to Endure by the Ramones

September 11, 2001

9:07PM Malta time (9:07am EST)

He followed her smoke-thin trail first to Yeman and then again to Malta. It was there Jimmy learned a woman matching Yves' description had frequented a bar for three nights straight. Haunting the bar, he claimed a table in the back that allowed him a view of the entire room. He waited, hoping against hope that today his search for her would end.

When the waitress checked on him, he decided he would show her Yves' picture and see if she recognized her. Slipping the 3x5 from his shirt pocket, he gazed at it. It's edges were worn from frequent handling; the paper no longer crisp and fresh.

He didn't care. He had come to love this picture of her. In it she stood before the warehouse door; a hand on one leather clad hip; her head tilted so she looked directly at the security camera; her coal black hair tumbling down her back and one bare shoulder.

Even in the picture she exuded the cool confidence and strength he remembered and admired.

As his search for her turned into months and he traveled from one country to another; her picture gave him hope when he became despondent; courage to continue when he felt lost which if he admitted, in these strange lands, he felt more and more often.

He thought of one of the many times he showed her picture; asking, "Have you seen this woman?" The man growled something in another language that could only be interpreted as an obscenity spitting out the one clue that might help him find her.

Yves' real name. Lois Runtz.

He flipped the picture over, glancing at the name in his scribbled handwriting before returning to consider the woman. He spoke the name softly as if testing it for authenticity. It was the first time he spoke it aloud; it sounded strange and foreign and he thought it didn't fit the woman in the photograph and yet it did.

It was another piece of the puzzle that he wanted to ask her about.

A disturbance at the bar distracted him from his thoughts. People gathered around the ancient television talking in rapid French. He would have ignored it, passing it off as another cultural thing he didn't understand but there was something in their tone that made him tuck Yves' picture in his pocket and abandon his post.

The other customers stared at him then fired off garbled words while motioning to the TV. Realizing it was a mixture of French and English, he glanced at the screen. Buildings...no not any buildings; The World Trade Center towers were collapsing.

Jimmy wondered why a movie would create such a commotion. He moved closer. He heard them whisper, "American," before parting for him. The camera work was terrible and...

His mouth went dry.

He recognized one of the newscasters.

The towers collapsed again. And again. And again.

He heard glass shatter and then blood rushing in his ears.

Click click click. Jimmy groaned, rolling away from the persistent noise, wondering how the sound of one of the guys' typing could reach all the way to his room. He wished it would stop. His head felt as if the entire NFL was scrimmaging in his head and his mouth was fuzzy, tasting of old gym socks. He hadn't partied this hard since his collage frat days.

Click click click. It wasn't going to stop anytime soon. He sat up and his stomach did an excellent impression of a roller coaster . He leaped out of bed, running to the bathroom where he fell to his knees, heaving; a reminder of why frat parties weren't always such fond memories.

He got to his feat a little unsteady but his brain was clearer. His mouth still tasted of gym socks. Really old gym socks. He quickly grabbed the toothpaste and toothbrush off the vanity and flooded his mouth with cool mint. Afterwards he splashed his face with cold water than looked at his reflection. Pale skin offset by bloodshot eyes and a five o'clock shadow.

How long had he been asleep? Checking his watch he was stunned to discover it was after 6PM. He couldn't have been asleep for almost 20 hours. could he? He searched his memory, the alcoholic haze slowly lifting from his brain.

He wasn't at the warehouse. He was in Malta searching for Yves. The memory of the towers collapsing, punched him in the gut. He fought a wave of nausea, swallowing the bile that rose in his throat.

There was a faint impression of someone holding him as he blubbered like a little kid until he fell asleep. Flashes of dark hair. The scent of perfume.

Jimmy's heart stuttered. Had she shown up at the bar? He stepped into the bedroom which was obviously a hotel suite and heard once again the click click click of someone typing. Was she really here?

He barely noticed the setting sun; more proof that nearly a full day had elapsed.

He wiped his palms against his jeans; forcing himself to walk into the next room.

Yves was sitting at a small table working on a laptop.

"You're here," he whispered, incredulous.

She looked up at him; her expression indecipherable then glanced away. He followed her gaze to the television. The sound was muted but it didn't matter. His stomach clenched as he saw the towers collapse again. The number of suspected dead scrolled across the screen.

It all came back to him. The desperate attempts to make transatlantic calls to his parents; his mom worked in the city. To the guys who were so close to D.C. and the Pentagon....and only getting busy signals then dead air. The alcoholic binge that failed to numb the pain and fear. Yves arriving and taking him to this hotel where he fell apart, knowing he wasn't alone amongst strangers.

"The phone lines in New York are overloaded which is why you couldn't get through." Her soft lilt cocooned him in comfort. "The borders are closed. All air traffic has been suspended until further notice."

He couldn't go home. He couldn't find out if his family; his friends were safe. The TV demanded his attention. He didn't want to watch the carnage but he had to. It was his only link to his loved ones.

He sensed her at his side and then the gentle pressure of her hand on his forearm. "Jimmy." When she spoke his name he turned to look at her; fresh tears stinging his eyes. "I've been online most of the night searching for someone who could tell me information." She paused, a smile hoovering over her mouth. "Lord Manhammer was online as well. Without revealing my identity I managed to learn he and the boys are fine. They were in the warehouse when it happened. Your family took longer but I was able to confirm your parents and sister are well and at home."

The relief punched through him like a gale force wind. He sank down onto the couch; forcing himself not to cry with happiness. It didn't seem right with so many dead. Instead he watched the TV. It felt so unreal, like a bad dream he wanted to be over.

Yves sat next to him. He could smell her perfume; feel the warmth of her skin on his arm. Together they watched the reports of the rescue attempts and the towers collapsing again.

Someone knocked on the door. Jimmy spared a glance from the TV. When had Yves ordered room service, he wondered.

"Jimmy come sit at the table."

He shook his head. "I'm not hungry."

"You need to eat something," Yves insisted. "We can watch the reports while we do."

He didn't have the energy to argue so he did as she said though he knew he wouldn't be able to eat. She convinced him to take a bite of something she said was a native dish. It was good and he was surprised to discover how hungry he was. The food and strong coffee revitalized him; making him think clearer. He watched Yves sip a mug of hot tea. It felt weird to be sitting at a table with her; eating. After the last few months these moments with her felt so normal.

Confused, he suddenly stood up; stalked to the TV and snapped it off. "I. I just need a break from all the death," he replied to her questioning look. She just nodded, watching him carefully. She probably needed the break too, he thought.

The realization hit him suddenly. If it hadn't been for her he would have been utterly alone in a strange country; cut off from information about his family and friends. He swallowed the lump in his throat. "Thank you," he said with deep feeling, "for everything." Yves painstakingly set her cup on the table, her expression carefully guarded. "I would never have gotten through this without you." He choked back a sob.

She stood up and went to him, pulling him in a tight embrace. It startled and confused him but he quickly returned the hug; enjoying the feel of her in his arms.

When she pulled back, her eyes met his. Jimmy saw a longing that tore at his heart. He had been so wrapped up in his grief before but now he looked at her; really looked at her. Loneliness had always been a part of her. It was something he suspected she accepted about herself as natural as breathing. Except now it was more pronounced.

After so many months of searching for her; of being several steps behind her, he wondered if she was using the terrorist attack as an excuse to reach out. For Yves who prided herself on not needing anyone, it made a weird sort of sense.

He reached out and stroked her hair; the tips of his fingers caressing her face. Her gaze never left his. Her breath became shallow. Her palms traveled slowly over his chest, exploring.

She stopped, a puzzled expression filled her face as she dipped slender fingers into his pocket, seizing the small picture of herself. She glanced at it a moment then turned it over, stilling. Her long, thick lashes lowered as she stared at the name on the back.

After what seemed like an eternity, she raised her eyes to him. He wanted to ask if he should call her Lois but when he opened his mouth to do so, she pressed a finger to his lips.

The picture fluttered to the floor.

She cradled his face and kissed him. Her lips were so soft and warm he thought he had died and gone to heaven. Kissing her was better than anything he could ever imagine. Trembling, his hands wandered down her spine before folded his arms around her. He felt her shiver at his touch.

When they parted, her eyes were the color of melted caramel.

"Take me to bed," she whispered.

He woke to the sound of the newscasters steady voice. Sunlight streamed through the bedroom window; the door to the balcony which had been closed before was now open; the curtain billowing from the warm breeze.

"Yves?" Even before he climbed out of bed and pulled on his jeans, he knew she was gone. Jimmy checked the bathroom anyway, just in case she was taking a shower despite the distinct lack of sound.

He checked the living room next; hoping she was watching the news. Another disappointment. The reporter was talking about The World Trade Center. He stood transfixed, watching the towers collapse again then teams of firefighters and police search for survivors. There were interviews of people desperate for news of loved ones.

He noticed for the first time his cell phone on the coffee table though he didn't remember it there last night. A breath shuddered through him as he snatched it up as if it were a lifeline. He punched in a number waiting; his heart racing in anticipation as the phone on the other side rang once, twice...

"Hello?"

"Mom!" Relief crashed through him at the familiar voice.

"Jimmy?" Disbelief and then joy to match his own. "Thank God! We were so worried. Where are you. Are you ok?"

"I'm in Malta. I'm ok." He heard his sister's voice in the background.

"Your father wants to talk to you." His mother's voice broke than was strong again. "I love you." Before he could echo her sentiments his father was on the line.

"As soon as the airports open. Get the first available flight home."

Jimmy had gone back to the bedroom to get his shirt. Spying it, he scooped it up off the floor and started shrugging into it. "I..." he started to assure his father he would when he stopped; his attention riveted to the small, worn picture of Yves lying next to the bed. Picking it up, his gaze was drawn to the rumpled bed and the obvious indentation made by him and Yves last night.

He touched the pillow, remembering how they had undressed each other with an aching slowness; exploring each other's bodies. He could still smell her perfume in the air; the scent of their lovemaking clinging to the sheets.

They had needed each other but he knew their joining had come from more than grief and loneliness. With each touch; each kiss there had been tenderness, intimacy and passion.

And love.

"Jimmy?"

His father's voice interrupted his thoughts. He closed his eyes, swallowing the guilt that lodged in his throat. "I can't."

"If it's about money..."

"It's not," he said quickly. His family was safe and together and while he dearly wanted to be with them there was someone else he needed to be with more. He stared at the picture remembering how perfectly they fit together. "It's about Yves; that girl I mentioned before. She's...I think she's in trouble. I need to find her."

And he did. To help her; somehow. To tell her he loved her.

There was silence and then. "Be careful." In those two words was a father's understanding.

"I will." Jimmy hung up the phone. He collected his meager belongings then strode to the door. He stopped and scanned the room, making sure he hadn't forgotten anything. It was a pretense he didn't realize until he saw the emptiness of the room.

He had always been surrounded by other people before but now it was just him. He never felt so alone. What lay ahead of him was daunting and terrifying and for a crazy moment he wished he could go back. Back to when he hung on the guys every word; listening as they explained some complicated theory while Yves watched on pretending disdain.

But he couldn't. Not anymore.

He realized he didn't want to either. He had chosen this path; at first because he thought it was exciting; a chance to help other people and make a difference.

He just hadn't realized how much of a difference this path would make in his life.

Tucking Yves' picture safely in his pocket, he left, closing the door behind him.