All Without A Trace characters belong to Hank Steinberg and the folks with Jerry Bruckheimer Television in association with Warner Bros. Television and CBS Productions. I'm borrowing them for a while; no infringement is intended, and no profit is being made.
Thanks to TAE for her beta work and support. Follows Unseen, three weeks later.
Jack entered his apartment and dropped off his electronics and weaponry. He continued to his bedroom and changed his clothes to a t-shirt and sweatpants. Limping on his cast back to the kitchen, he poured himself a glass of water and then sat down in the living room. It was only four in the afternoon and yet he was exhausted and soon fell into a deep sleep.
He woke up feeling too warm in the apartment. Slowly, he stood and walked to the window. Opening it four inches; he smiled as the cold air came in. He looked at his watch and went to the kitchen to start dinner.
Anne slipped the key into the hole and walked in. She had smelled the remnants of dinner as she came up the stairs. The apartment was dark, only the desk light and an under counter light in the kitchen was on. She saw him, hunched over his desk, writing. Quietly, she hung up her coat and then walked to him.
"Hi," she said, putting her hands on his shoulders.
He leaned back into her touch, his hands covering the letter.
"Hi, your dinner's in the fridge; five minutes in the microwave."
"Thanks, but I ate earlier. I'm sorry, I should have called."
Jack was silent, staring straight ahead at the photos lining the rear edge of his desk.
"I…I had a panic attack at work and went to a session."
Jack turned in his chair, the concern on his face apparent.
"I'm fine. I just need to go to sleep," she said, trying to calm him.
"Okay, honey, whatever you need," Jack replied, trying hard not to badger her with questions.
"Goodnight," she said, kissing the top of his head.
"Night," he whispered to her back as she walked away.
He looked back at the letter he was writing. Taking a sip of his drink, he resumed his task.
Finally, he set down his pen and cracked his neck. Putting the letter in a worn folder, he finished his drink and then slowly got to his feet and walked to the kitchen to put the glass in the sink. Jack turned off all of the lights and walked in the darkness to his bedroom. He stopped when he saw the guestroom door shut and his bedroom door open. Sighing, he walked into his bedroom, turned on the light, and closed the door.
Glenn had warned him to take it slow. In their sessions, they talked about what Anne was going through. Jack put no pressure on her, but it was taking a toll on him. He was going through his own problems. Not being able to talk to her about the miscarriage was very difficult.
Jack walked into the bathroom and took a Melitonin. He found that, most times, it kept his dreams in check. Slowly, he took off his sweatpants and t-shirt. He walked back into the bedroom, and opened the window a crack before getting into bed and turning out the light.
Softly, she crept into his cool bedroom. He was on his right side and he was dreaming. The bedding was on the floor. She pulled up the sheets and blanket to his waist and got into bed behind him. He settled a bit when he felt the sheets so she took a chance and put a hand on his shoulder. He calmed totally at her touch. Anne moved closer to him, sliding her left arm under his. Soon, she too, was asleep.
Jack rolled over, stretching gently. He got out of bed and started his morning ritual. Thirty minutes later, he was dressed and walked out to the hallway, where he stopped. The guest room door was open, the bed was made, and the apartment was silent. He walked to the living room and it was empty, as was the kitchen. Standing in the kitchen, he saw a note leaning against the coffee maker. He opened it and started to read.
I'm sorry. I need to get away for a while. I'm not in New York. I'm taking a leave of absence from the Bureau. It's just too much right now. I hope you understand. I love you.
The tears started and at first, he couldn't stop them. When he could, he picked up the phone and placed a call.
"Hey, it's me. Uhm, I'm not comin' in today."
"Are you all right?"
"No, yeah; hell Viv, I don't know. Anne's gone."
"What do you mean gone?"
"She left me; I dunno, I just…I just found out. I can't come to work. Can you tell them? I just can't."
"I'm so sorry. I've got it, Jack. I'll handle it. Don't worry."
"You're most welcome."
Jack hung up the phone and went back to his bedroom. He tugged off his tie, tossing it on his bed, and then went to the kitchen to make coffee. While it brewed, he reread her note. The tears started again as he leaned against the kitchen counter. He tried to keep control, but it wasn't easy. The coffee maker gurgled and he poured himself a fresh cup. Slowly, he walked to the living room and sat in the leather chair. He sipped his coffee and tried to figure out what he had done to drive her away.
Jack stood suddenly and gathered his keys, Metrocard, IPOD, wallet, and sunglasses, before heading out of the apartment. Setting his IPOD to ' Just Yo-Yo', he walked to 6th Avenue to start his subway journey north, ignoring the bitterly cold wind as it lapped at the lapels of his jacket. Forty five minutes later, he was outside of St. Germaine's. Jack turned off his IPOD and waited a few moments. He walked in, crossing himself with the holy water, and then walked halfway into the church before he sat down, his elbows on his knees, his head in his hands.
As the morning wore on, the organist rehearsed, different parishioners came in to pray, and a maintenance man swept in silence.
"Jack?" a familiar voice called.
He didn't move.
The tall priest went into the pew in front of him and sat down, turning to face him.
"Jack?" he asked again.
Jack looked up at him briefly; his eyes were wet with tears.
Jack shook his head slowly, moving his arms to encircle his body. Father Walker waited patiently.
Jack could only nod.
"Come on, then."
Slowly, Jack got to his feet and followed Father Walker to the confessional. When they were both seated, he began.
"Father, forgive me, it's been three weeks since my last confession."
"Go ahead, my son."
"I don't know what to say. I've done what everyone has asked. I've cut back my hours. I've listened to Anne and haven't asked or demanded anything of her. But she left and I don't know why. She told me she wouldn't leave, but she did. I must have done something. I just don't know what," he finished in a whisper.
Sean listened to the pain in Jack's voice and sighed. He had thought that Anne was going to be his grounding rod, but it seemed he was hers, instead.
"What did she say, exactly?"
"She didn't; she wrote a note."
"What did she write, exactly?"
"She said 'I'm sorry. I need to get away for a while. I'm not in New York. I'm taking a leave
from the Bureau. It's just too much right now. I hope you understand. I love you.'"
"Okay, but Jack, she's not saying you did anything."
"Why else would she leave?"
"She's had a huge physical and psychological trauma. You know that. She's just trying to deal with it."
"She had a panic attack at the office yesterday."
"Well, I'm sure that's part of it."
The cubicle opposite was quiet.
"Yeah, I'm here, sorry, just thinking."
"Do you have anything else to confess?"
"Jack, you beat yourself up more than the Lord could ever do. I want you to take care, and continue to consider St. Germaine's as a haven. I have to go teach a class. I have lunch at 11:30 if you're still here."
"Thank you, Father."
"You're welcome, my son."
Father Walker left the confessional and five minutes later, Jack did the same.
Samuel White, a seminarian, walked into the Parish Hall, finding Father Walker looking out the window at the clear cold day.
"Father, there's a man in the back of the church. He seems cold and upset."
"Black suit, no tie, dark hair?" Father Walker asked, not turning to face the younger man.
"Is he a parishioner?"
"Sometimes; he comes here to work things out. He's all right, Samuel. I'll take care of him. Thank you."
"You're welcome, Father."
Sean collected himself and walked back through the sacristy into the transept and then back to the nave. He spotted Jack after a few moments, sitting in the last pew, in a shadowed corner. He appeared to be shivering, leaning over, his elbows on his knees, his hands folded.
"Come on, Jack. Let's warm you up."
Jack looked up at him and paused before slowly getting to his feet.
"You do realize it's only nineteen degrees outside?" Sean remarked softly.
Jack followed him silently; listening to the various sounds of the church and his cast foot on the stone floor. They walked into Sean's office. A modest couch with a green crocheted throw lined one wall and a book case lined the other. The desk was battered but neat. There was a hotplate and a small microwave in the corner. Sean put the kettle of water on the burner and pulled two mugs from a cupboard.
"I hope you don't mind teabags. They're faster than properly steeping it," Sean commented as he set bags in the mugs.
Standing opposite Sean in a corner of the room, Jack dug his hands into his trouser pockets, aware of the cold then for the first time.
Three minutes later, the tea kettle whistled and Sean poured the boiling water over the bags. Walking up to Jack, he handed him his mug. Sean sat at his desk and sipped his lemon tea while Jack stood with his hands around the mug, feeling the heat through his cold fingers. Finally, he sat on the couch and took a sip of the hot liquid. He closed his eyes as the taste set off a childhood memory; his grandmother Malone used to love chamomile tea.
"Jack, are you hungry? I'm going to the cafeteria before the boys come in."
"No, thank you."
"Well then, you're more than welcome to stay here and warm up. I'll check on you after I have my soup," Sean said, standing.
Jack simply nodded as he thought again that he was alone. The last thing he wanted to do was to go home to his empty apartment.
Sean left him sitting on the couch; his head resting in his left hand while he sipped his tea with his right.
Sean walked into his office to pick up his Bible and join the noon mass. Jack was stretched out on the couch; his cast resting on the far arm. Reaching over him, Sean lifted the throw and covered his sleeping friend. He picked up his Bible and quietly left the room.
Walking in from the sacristy, Sean sat at his desk and started to write his Sunday sermon on Matthew 18:21-35; the unmerciful servant. From time to time, Jack would say something in his sleep, but it was garbled and soft. Finally, at five, he woke up. Pushing the throw away, he sat up and rubbed his hands over his face, blinking several times.
"Feeling any better?"
Jack looked over to the source of the noise and smiled slightly.
"Yeah, a little; what time is it?"
"Five-fifteen, you're welcome to stay, but after the six o'clock mass I have to head down to the men's shelter on Christopher Street."
"No, I've taken up too much of your time. I'll get going," Jack said, slowly getting to his feet.
"Do you have enough money to catch a cab?" Sean asked, standing behind his desk.
Opening his wallet, Jack saw a twenty and two tens.
"Yeah, I'm good. Thanks again, Sean."
"Take care, Jack," he said, extending his hand.
Jack took it in his and looked him in the face. Sean saw Jack's eyes were clearer now and there seemed to be a calm that wasn't present when he had arrived at the church that morning.
Walking through the sacristy and then through the rest of the church, Jack stepped outside into the winter afternoon. Ten minutes later, he was in a cab on his way downtown.
Jack walked into his apartment, dropping his electronics on the small hallway table. He locked the door and walked straight to his bedroom. Hanging up his suit, he put his shirt in the laundry bag. His sweatpants were hanging on the back of the bathroom door. He slipped them on and then padded back into the bedroom to pull a fresh t-shirt from the dresser drawer and dragged it on. Walking back to the kitchen, he saw that he had voice messages. Instead of listening to them, he poured himself a scotch and soda. He sat at the breakfast bar, took a huge sip of his drink, and then pressed play.
"Jack, it's Glenn. Where are you? You're missing your session. Please call me."
Wednesday 9:02am the machine said.
"Jack, it's me. Just checking in to see how you are. I'll try your cell."
Wednesday 12:00pm the machine said.
Jack smiled at Viv's message and took another sip of his drink.
"Hi, uhm, it's me. Are you there? I tried the office but they said you were taking the day off. Your cell went to voice mail. Jack, I'm truly sorry. I just can't go forward until I come to terms with the past. I know I hurt you, Jack, but right now, I've got to concentrate on me. I hope you understand. I love you. Please don't ever doubt that. Take care."
Wednesday 4:00pm the machine said.
Blinking back tears, Jack took another sip of his drink as the machine continued.
"Hey, man. It's me. Look, a lot of people are worried about you. You're not answering any of your various communication devices, plus you took the day off. Seriously, Jack, call me."
"Wednesday 5:30pm the machine said.
Jack looked at the machine and realized that was the last message. He turned his gaze to the photo of himself and Tyler on the fridge, when they had graduated from Columbia. He sipped his drink and coasted, and then the phone rang.
"Jack, it's Steve Siegel. How are you?"
"Did you cut back your hours?"
"Getting more sleep?"
"Alright, anything else you need to tell me?"
"Not really, Steve. The cold weather wreaks havoc on my left knee and now my wrist and ankle. I just take a couple of aspirin and continue."
"Sometimes that's the only thing to do. Remember, you've had pneumonia twice so keep covered up from the cold."
Jack looked at his bare feet and his ersatz pjs in the cool apartment.
Jack dialed another number from memory.
"It's me. I left my cell at home. Sorry."
"Jack, it's okay. I guess it's the mother in me; wanting to take care of you. How do you feel?"
"You sound tired."
"I guess I am. I don't know. I had a nap for the better part of the afternoon."
"Have you eaten anything today?"
"No, no appetite."
"Viv, I will eat. I promise you."
"All right, goodnight, Jack."
Refreshing his drink, he dialed a number from his call sheet.
"Jack, what's going on? What happened to you this morning?"
Pausing before continuing, Jack swallowed a mouthful of his drink.
"Anne left me; she took a leave of absence from the Bureau."
"Ah, Jesus. Okay, I understand. How are you feeling now?"
"I guess I'm numb, right now. I'm cold and tired."
"Have you been writing your letters?"
"Yes, but she trumped me with a letter of her own."
"I'm sorry, Jack. Can you come in tomorrow?"
"Yeah, how's eight?"
"Bye, Jack. Take it easy."
Jack pressed the bar on his phone twice to get a dial tone before hitting a speed dial number.
"Hey, Malone, where the hell have you been? Viv called me when she couldn't get a hold of you," Tyler said, pausing for a moment. "I'm sorry about Annie."
"Yeah, me too."
"So where'd you go today?"
"I went up to St. Germaine's to see Sean."
"Good, okay. How are you feeling, now?"
Jack stood, carrying his drink and the phone to the sofa. Tucking the phone under his ear, he reached down to his cast and set it on the telephone book, which was in the middle of the coffee table.
"Jack, you still there?"
"Yeah, sorry, my ankle began to throb. I had to elevate it."
He paused again.
"I feel empty, Tyler."
"What did Annie say to you?"
"She wrote that she was taking a leave and that she had to work some things out."
"Ouch, sorry, I just assumed that she – well, at least she said leave instead of quit. That means she's coming back."
"Yeah, intellectually, I understand that. But, it still hurts. We can't even talk, anymore. It all seems to come back to the miscarriage. Her doctor told me not to speak to her about it. I don't know, Tyler, I just don't know."
"One day at a time, buddy. You knew that in the hospital."
"I guess, but she promised me she wouldn't leave."
"Jack, it's almost seven. Why don't you make something to eat and go to bed early?"
"Call me a couple of times tomorrow. Let me know how you are."
He hung up the phone and set it on the sofa next to him, resting his head on the back cushion of the sofa. The drink rested half-full on his chest and he fell asleep.
Jack woke up when the phone rang beside him.
"Hi," Jack replied, taking a sip of his drink as he listened intently to the voice on the phone.
"Oh, Jack, I'm sorry. I didn't want to leave you. I need you so much. It felt so right when I got into bed with you this morning."
"You came into bed with me?"
"Yes, for a few hours."
"But you left…"
"I…I know. I went back to work too soon; that's part of what triggered my panic attack. I'm at a hospital of sorts. And no, I don't know how long I'll be."
"One day at a time," Jack murmured.
"Yes, I guess so."
He listened to her breathe for several minutes on the phone, unwilling to say anything.
"I have to go, Jack. Take care."
"I will, and you too. I love you, Anne."
"I love you too, Jack."
He hit the bar and hung up the phone. Up, now, he gently put his cast foot on the floor and stood. His stomach rumbled softly as he walked to the kitchen. Opening the fridge, he took out Anne's dinner and put it in the microwave. Setting the timer, he hit start and then walked to the kitchen to pick up his glass. He walked back and refreshed his drink, while he waited for his dinner. Picking up his IPOD, he plugged it directly into his stereo. When everything was turned on, he pressed the center circle. Soon the dark full sounds of Yo-Yo Ma filled the apartment as he walked to the window and looked out on the cold night. Sipping his drink, he just tried not to think about Anne so much. Instead, he listened to the music.
The microwave beeped and he walked slowly to the kitchen to remove his dinner. Carrying his cocktail and his plate, he headed to the dining room table. It was still set up from the night before. The lemon glazed chicken with couscous and asparagus still tasted good as he ate slowly. The music washed over him as he continued with his dinner. Soon, he was through, and walked back to the kitchen to put his dirty dishes into the sink.
Finishing his drink, he turned the lights off and headed for bed. He turned on the bedside table light and saw the photograph that Hanna had taken of him and Anne the previous fall. As he pulled off his t-shirt and sweats, his eyes kept drifting back to the photograph and soon he felt silent tears streaming down his face. He got under the sheet and blanket, curling up on his left side, the tears sliding onto the pillow, until he fell into an exhausted sleep.