DISCLAIMER: Don't own 'em. Willing, ready and able to stage a coup.
NOTES: I've only been working on this for six months now. The upcoming premiere motivated me to get it done! Oh and the police work and forensics is incredibly unrealistic, I know. Call it creative license which, were I being paid for this, I wouldn't do, but given I'm not…well, do the math.
DEDICATION: Those of you who so kindly feedback my stories. I appreciate it tons and tons. J/W fans will like the way this one turns out – after a lot of twists. Scout's honor!
I Know You're Out There Somewhere: Empty Streets
"Is she okay?" Garret Macy's voice was controlled and low, his face a mask of rock.
Nigel looked up briefly, from the computer comparison he was running. "I don't know what you mean, Dr. M."
Macy came closer. "Yeah, you do, Nigel. Is Jordan all right?"
"I don't know where she is."
"I didn't ask if you knew where she was. I asked if she was all right."
Nigel started to protest again.
"Cut the crap, Nigel. I know you've been in contact with her." Garret took a deep breath. "Look, I'm not going to tell Detective Simmons or the D.A. anything. I swear."
Nigel's blank expression faltered for a heartbeat. His eyes revealed his fear and concern, his mouth opened and closed as his face paled, stricken.
"I just need to know if she's all right."
The Brit swallowed. He glanced around them and then, keeping his voice low, replied. "She's okay. Not great, but okay. Safe. For now."
Macy nodded. "Don't tell me anything else, okay? I don't want to know." He gave his criminologist a significant look.
"Yeah. Right, of course."
Macy turned to leave and then swiveled back around. "Nige?"
The taller man looked up.
"When you get the chance, tell her I miss her." He let out a breath. "And that we are going to prove she didn't kill Pollack."
The first e-mail had come about four months ago, three days after Woody and Nigel had found Jordan's abandoned cell phone. Nigel had tracked its location using the GPS locator chip embedded in the device. For a few long moments, he and Woody had stood on that darkened corner in one of Boston's less desirable neighborhoods looking flummoxed. Because the signal was stationary they'd assumed she'd gone to ground in some cheap motel. Instead they'd found the phone in a trash can and any trace of Jordan long gone.
Woody had logged the phone in to evidence and then asked Nigel to go over it for anything that might help them find their fugitive. Not that Woody had called her that. He, like everyone at the morgue, had avoided that term assiduously. Nigel had later told Woody that the phone had given him nothing.
That wasn't quite the truth.
Nigel had, on a hunch, turned the phone off and then back on. The start up message had been changed. Unless it had always read "Check dark e-mail." And Nigel strongly doubted that it had always read that, nor did it read that way for long, as he quickly changed the message back to its factory default.
He kept a number of very private e-mail accounts, ones under a variety of aliases and set up so as to be virtually untraceable. In point of fact, Nigel was rather confident that the only person in Boston, who worked with law enforcement, who could trace them was – himself. He'd once mentioned it to Jordan and, given how much he trusted her, had gone so far as to give her one of the addresses. After all, with Jordan, one never knew what she might get herself into.
It seemed he'd been a smart man that day.
It had taken three days for her to get in contact with him. In the intervening time, he'd checked the "dark" account every time he could do so safely. He never utilized the Morgue computers, nor, when he used public access machines, did he use the same one twice. It paid off on the third day though. The message had been short, asking him – almost begging him – to do whatever he could to throw the police off her trail and to help her – to continue to help her – find out who the real killer was. It had also asked him to set up a way so that they could communicate securely.
Nigel had done just that. After that first message sent from a nondescript Hotmail account, he'd fashioned a system which allowed her to contact him each week. Every mail he sent went to a new account weekly and each response came from yet a different one and went to new aliases he devised for himself each week. In the seventeen weeks since she'd run, he felt he was getting to know most of the cities copy shops that had computer accents, not to mention the public library branches and, once, the terminal in a nearby hotel's lobby. And though he hadn't told Dr. Macy, he did actually know where she was and how she was getting by.
What he didn't know – couldn't know - was about the dreams that woke her up each night. The same dream really. What he couldn't even guess was that when the dream changed, everything else would as well.
Jordan wrapped her hands around the coffee mug and stared out the window in Mrs. Allington's kitchen, watching the sunrise over the mountains. The summer had been cool and up here, perched just above the Shenandoah Valley, the leaves were already turning. Gaudy golds, fiery reds, opulent oranges, even burnished browns clothed the branches in a transient cloth of glory. Each day a few more of those leaves drifted silently to the ground below, lying in tattered heaps. Soon the trees' coats of many colors would be stripped from them and they would spend the long winter cold, twisted, and skeletal under grim, bleak skies.
Jordan grimaced at herself. She had way too much time to think. She smirked to herself. Maybe when this is all over I can write one of those inspiration books. Chicken Soup for the Fugitive's Soul. Yeah, that'll be an instant classic. She snorted and then sipped the strong coffee.
Victoria Allington lived in the town of Staunton, Virginia. Widowed and living on a pension, she took in boarders in her old, lovingly maintained family home in the historic district, proudly noting to one and all that Stonewall Jackson had once eaten dinner in the dining room. The woman's effervescence and sparkling, mischievous eyes had drawn Jordan in when she'd arrived at the door with the recommendation of Darlene down at the Jackson Café; the inexpensive weekly rent – which included breakfast and dinner each day – had sealed the deal.
By the time she'd arrived in Staunton, Pollack had been dead over two months and, from her weekly e-mails with Nigel, Jordan knew little progress had made about finding his real killer. Lu Simmons was far more interested in finding Jordan. The on-the-run M.E. had planned on staying only a week or two, as she'd done in every other place, but fate stepped in. For once, that was a good thing.
Vicky – as she insisted Jordan call her – mentioned a brother who had a "little place" right downtown. "A bar, my dear," the lady had added, her voice low, a mixture of mild disapproval but stronger amusement. "He's in need of help." Vicky had dropped her eyes. "Not that you would ever have-"
"Oh, no, actually," Jordan had said in a rush. "My – uh – my uncle had a bar. In – um – Bar Harbor. I used to help out."
Mrs. Allington smiled. "You do look like a girl who enjoys a bit of an adventure, a challenge in life."
Jordan had smiled wryly, the look never touching her eyes. If you only knew….
A month ago, Vicky Allington had approached Jordan with a proposal. The old lady took twice-weekly trips into Washington D.C. As she explained it to Jordan, the drive was not a terrible one, but at her age, making the round trip in a day when the time in between was spent in classes was taking a real toll. When Jordan had given her a blank look, her landlady had laughed. "Didn't I mention I'm getting my Master's degree?"
Jordan began to hope she had half as much energy left when she reached the ages of the sister and brother who seemed to have adopted her. She also hoped for half their zest for life, though the outlook on that seemed bleak. She had readily agreed, not only because she really did enjoy her landlady's company in spite of the circumstances and did appreciate the way the woman had sheltered her, but because Pollack had been working on a case in D.C. when she'd called. He'd been working on that corruption case when he was killed. In Jordan's mind "corruption case" and "D.C." couldn't be a coincidence. She saw it as a twice-weekly chance to do her own investigating.
Thus far it hadn't helped her much. She'd had little to go on, no focus to speak of
Then her recurrent dream of Pollack had changed last night. Her fingers tingled and she rubbed them absent-mindedly.
"Problem, my dear?"
Jordan grinned. "No, Vicky. Why?"
The older lady shrugged. "You were rubbing your thumbs."
The M.E. gave a quizzical look.
"Ah, your generation doesn't know your quotations as you ought."
Another perplexed look.
Vicky's eyes got that mischievous sparkle Jordan so enjoyed. "Shakespeare, dear girl. By the pricking of my thumbs, something wicked this way comes."
Was something wicked coming? Or coming to light maybe?
Jordan smiled Cheshire-like. Yes, maybe with her dream-clue something wicked would indeed be coming to light today. Probably only a small part of the wickedness, but part nonetheless. She grabbed the car keys and suggested they hit the road.
END Part One