This is NOT a tragedy. It is a hurt/comfort fic, and BB.
The shadow of goodness covers the tear.
Takes the step to the one found.
Peace may rock the cradle to sleep.
Hope remains, a way to love.A way to a deep freedom.
Oasis – Tarja Turunen
It was raining; cold hard shards that dripped off the branches and pooled in the dips and hollows of the rolling landscape. The drops landed on her bare head like a sodden judgment, drenching her in pain and pasting her hair and clothes to her body with icy fists. The ground where she kneeled was unforgiving; hard, muddy grass. It had rained last year as well – though her mind was mostly numb, unable to process data - she remembered that. The rain was good – it kept people away, so she could be alone. She remembered everything about this place. She allowed herself this one day, each year. It looked the same, even though two years had passed – some things changed with time, but not this. It would be the same tomorrow, and five years from tomorrow. She would attest to that; she would be its narrator.
The flask of scotch was frozen to her hand, her hand frozen to her arm, her arm to her shoulder. Someday she would be as these before her, little more than a memory. A memory. That was why she was here. So she could remember. She didn't ever want to forget. The small patch of grass within the endless patches of grass, each patch marking…what? She didn't know anymore. She used to know, before. Before he'd come. Ashes to ashes, dust to dust. The one biblical verse that had made sense to her until she knew him. There had to be more. If nothing was left when he was gone, then nothing would be left of her. An empty husk, hulled out the moment he left her. The writer waiting for the next line to be written for her, by the man who was the author of her heart.
The bottle lifted, tipped, sliding more anesthetic into her even as the rain sliced harshly into her face. She ignored them both, turning away from the pain and numbness. She was blurring, slipping away. If only she could fade completely, disappear from view, perhaps she could move on. She chuckled, the brittle noise issuing forth from her throat sounding more like a sob. Move on. She came here so that she wouldn't, couldn't move on. She lived a good life; a very happy life. Except for this day. For this day each year, time sped backward to the day when she'd lost everything. She never intended to forget.
She gulped at the scotch, the fiery liquid cascading down, both scalding and cauterizing her aching throat until there was no more to drink. She needed more. Last year she'd only had half of a glass, and it hadn't been nearly enough. If she drank it all, maybe she could make herself be happy like he'd been, smile like he had the night they'd spent together at the Lincoln Memorial. The night he'd leaned on her, his face so open and pure. He was pure. Why had it taken her so long to realize it? Nothing he'd done or thought or said mattered; not one thing could change the purity of his heart. Of his soul. At long last, she had faith in that now, in him. She believed in the soul – all it had taken was one bullet to his chest, and she'd been converted. She'd finally been convinced of the existence of the soul by the absence of his.
This was wrong. Her bleary stare took in the rows of identical white granite markers, stretching away down the knoll, as far as she could see. He shouldn't have been here. Just one of many. Special, but not unique. He was so much more, so much more. So much more than she was. Why hadn't she told him? Why was she never able to tell him how extraordinary he was? Would it have hurt her that much, to say the words? She drew her knees to her chest, falling sideways until she was curled into a tight ball of shivering hurt on the wet grass. His eyes. She would never forget his eyes, how they'd flickered with fear, and dulled as he looked up at her. Like he was saying goodbye. She hadn't been ready for goodbye. She had felt him slipping, and knew that all those things she'd wanted to tell him would never be told. She'd needed more time – and he was out of time. She'd never wait, never again. Ignoring her painfully stiff limbs, she turned her face to the weeping sky. That was where Heaven was supposed to be, he'd said. But she knew it wasn't true.
The purr of a vehicle sounded, growing louder as it approached. They wouldn't bother her. They knew her, here. By nightfall she'd be gone, not to appear until next year. She'd return to her normal life, no one remembering the anniversary that had passed. The vehicle drew near, pausing close to her, engine running. But they'd leave her alone. They always did, recognizing her anguish, her desire to be alone.
She slowly looked up, just able to discern the tall figure striding toward her through the rain and fog.
He struggled with the traffic, the rain causing an endless snarl of vehicles that clogged the arteries of the city. Struggled with his mounting impatience. She'd slipped from the apartment this morning, early, before the dawn. As she'd done exactly one year ago. Her cryptic note today had merely suggested some special work that needed completing. Finally, through a friend, he had word. Her car had been spotted. She was there. And he was stuck here, trying to get to her.
The first time it happened, she was gone for the entire day, and he'd been unable to find her. She wasn't at work, having taken a sick day; nor was she in any of their usual haunts. She hadn't answered her phone. He'd been unable to avoid worrying, his eyes scanning every room he entered, hoping for a glimpse of her. But he'd never located her. By the time he returned home at the end of the day, frustrated and scared, her car was in its appointed spot, and he'd fought against the urge to run, to race to her side and make sure she was alright. The warm scent of dinner had teased his nose before he even entered the apartment, and as he'd swung the door open, her smiling lips had met his. She would answer none of his questions, simply saying that she'd had some old business to attend to. He'd carefully hidden the hurt her lack of response had brought. On that day of all days, when he knew she would need comfort the most.
Searching for any sign of trauma or emotion, he'd watched her carefully throughout the evening. Her eyes were shadowed, but her smile was real, and he was confused. He thought he smelled alcohol, but it might have been his imagination. She loved him; that was evident. She was very open, now, more than she'd ever been. And she was safe. But he'd wondered at her mysterious behavior; puzzled over it for days afterward, when he remembered feeling, upon entering the bathroom that night, the dampness in the air that gave evidence of a last-minute shower. And the pile of soaked clothes carefully tucked away in the hamper. They'd never spoken of that day.
Now it was happening again, but this time he'd been prepared. He'd awakened as she crept from the bed without turning on the light, and lay quietly, listening to her careful preparations. The minute he'd heard the bedroom door shut he was up, dressing hastily in last night's clothes, still crumpled at the foot of the bed. Although he'd been only minutes behind her, by the time he'd reached the garage she was gone, and he'd peeled frantically out onto the streets, scanning the traffic. He couldn't find her. He'd searched again, all the usual places, because he had to, but once again she'd simply disappeared. Finally, hours after he'd first begun searching, he'd realized how much time he'd wasted, and picked up his phone. He'd had no choice but to make the call.
Now, as he finessed his way around traffic jam after traffic jam, the sense of urgency inside him was growing stronger by the minute. If he could walk there quicker, he would be out on the street in a shot. He had to get to her. Knowing where she was, he now knew why she was. He'd been amazingly stupid, to not realize he should've looked there. Should've started there. People were always drawn to places where they'd had to say goodbye.
Acquiescing to her unspoken wishes, once they'd discussed what had happened that day, he'd never mentioned it again. He hadn't wanted to hurt her any more than she'd already been hurt. Now, he realized what a fool he'd been, how naïve they'd both been. The wound she'd suffered that day had never healed, and by ignoring it, they'd only made it worse. She was happy – they both were happy. They loved each other, had made a commitment to one another. They had wonderful, fulfilled lives. Clearly, though, she had some unaddressed issues. He would make sure she – no, they – dealt with them. He wouldn't allow her to mourn anymore. She was too important to him.
The Lincoln Memorial flashed briefly in his vision as he sped up, the traffic beginning to clear. Heading over the Potomac, his stomach and jaw clenched at the sight before him. It was staggering in its impact, both physical and emotive. No one could come here and fail to be affected. As it was, he felt the sorrow of thousands when he threaded his way around the circle and at last entered the cemetery. Driving slowly on the more slippery side avenues, he worked his way past the mansion, circled around the amphitheater. Finally, he broke through the wooded area and headed up one last, memory-full hill. And, pulling onto Miles Drive, saw a single car. Her car. His friend had happened to be on duty today, and, knowing their connection, had contacted him directly after hearing the bulletin go out. She'd been here the entire time.
Pulling up behind her rear bumper, he yanked his slicker hood up and, leaving the engine running and kicking the heat up to full, opened his door. Long legs carried him swiftly across the wet grass, the downpour deadening all sounds of his passing. Then those same long legs faltered and stopped as he saw her, coatless, a tight knot on the ground at the very spot his casket had lain. His throat closed, snapping shut spasmodically at the display of grief before him. He hadn't known. Had never thought it would be this bad. Damning himself, he began to move more quickly toward her, the physical action finally freeing his larynx. "Temperance."
Booth. It wasn't him. He couldn't be here – couldn't see her like this. Brought low, in pain. Lost. She wanted desperately to run, to bolt into the trees, take the coward's way and flee. But she'd been motionless in the rain and cold for too long, and her body would not move, save for a feeble stirring. Even that small motion caused her head to spin and her stomach to lurch, and she paled, fighting for stability. Then he kneeled before her, and the battle was lost. She retched at his feet, her body ridding itself of the toxic liquid she'd so carelessly ingested. Even in her misery she was conscious of him kicking the bottle aside, his arm around her, his hand holding her sopping hair. The minute she was done she sobbed, turning her head away in shame. But his hands came to her again, turning her toward him, and he whispered in her ear.
"No more, Temperance. No more. No more pain. No more secrets."
She couldn't answer him; she was too cold to do anything but cry. As if from far away, she felt his arms tuck her against him, and she was floating, he was taking her away from the spot where her heart had been broken. She wanted to go with him, but part of her - the weaker part of her, the part she hated - wanted to stay. Then a warm blanket of air washed over her, and she was surrounded by him. She hoped he never let her go. She hoped he would never go. She began to stutter an apology, but he shushed her, his arms wrapping around her tightly. She hoped he would never go.
He held her as she heaved and twisted, his heart twisting in aching symbiosis. His poor Temperance, out here all alone with her pain. No one to help her, to hold her. When she was finished she burst into tears, each sob ripped from her with a violence that stunned him. He spoke softly to her, wiping her face and tucking her into him. He had to get her warm. Lifting her, he carried her across the grass, away from the spot that had borne witness to her anguish.
Bringing her to the truck, he settled in the passenger side with her on his lap. She was still crying; the brutal day having finally taken its toll. But her arms were around him, and he held her tighter, his own tears blending with the raindrops. She was soaked through from the rain and the sickness. Her body was so cold her skin felt like plastic. But she was here, and he was with her. Always with her. He would never let this happen again. Dismissing her apology, he pressed his forehead to hers, taking in the sight of the love of his life. Not lost anymore. He rocked her, slowly, giving her time. Giving her as much time as she needed.
Outside the vehicle, no sound was heard but the pounding of the rain, and the mist slowly thickened and settled along the lane, until the car disappeared, and the truck hazed and vanished, a silent oasis in the fog.
I loved writing this, and I hope it made an impact with you. If so, I'd be so happy if you let me know.