This is for Phillip.
"...If our hearts had never broken, well there's no joy in the mending. So much this hurt can teach us both.
There's distance and there's silence, your words have never left me . They're the prayer that I say everyday..."
Audrey sat slumped against the wall of her hotel room. The sunlight was coming in through the blinds, onto the bed, but it had yet to reach her. Stiff from sitting on the floor, she rolled her neck, feeling the soreness. Their flight wasn't for another four hours, it was only four something a.m., she had time. Maybe she'd get up and sleep in the bed for a few hours, or take a shower.
Or maybe she'd do what she had been debating for the past two hours and find out where Jack had gone after he had left her apartment. Maybe she would find his door open and run and jump onto his bed, into his arms and kiss him, tell him she was sorry, that she loved him, that she wanted him back.
Because there was no denying that now. Not after last night.
Six Days Earlier...
Two day after the fight, Monday, Jack wasn't talking to her. He had snubbed her that morning when she had gone into his office to make peace, telling her he didn't want to hear it. He wouldn't look at her either apparently. She felt sick.
Friday he had left with that woman once again, and had probably spent the night with her. Audrey wondered if Jack felt what she was feeling, when he had found out about Mike. The sharp stabbing pain in her chest, it was terrible, and she deserved it. She knew she did. Even though she had found that sleeping with Mike was far from pleasurable. That was her fault too. It had been fine at first; she was a woman on a mission, determined to sleep with him whether he liked it or not. Seeing Jack with another woman was an old insecurity brought to life, highlighted by the fact that he had lied to her, told her they were just friends.
Yeah well Mike was a friend too she thought as she took his shirt off and started unbuckling his pants. Her therapist would say this was a self-destructive action used as a blocking tool to keep her from facing unwanted emotional feelings. It was odd to be thinking about Sue as she let Mike kiss her neck, let him trail his hands all over her. When he started to lift up her shirt, she went still. Bile had risen to her throat as waves of bad images surfaced. She could feel herself start to shake and tried to focus on something else, like the image of Jack kissing that bitch. Mike stopped and asked her if she was okay, she nodded and he kept going. It was a relief, she wanted this over with, and talking wasted time.
If it had been Jack, he never would have kept going. But Jack wasn't here. As Mike removed her shirt he paused again. "Shit" was all he said in a whisper, before bending to kiss down to her breasts. As he came close to one of her scars she jerked away from him, letting him know they were off limits.
Even though Mike had slept in her bed, she barely shared it with him. Instead staring out her living room window through most of the night. Everything Jack had said to her was playing in her head leaving her restless. Not to mention the sex she had just had with one of her only friends, that had left her regretting it the second it was over.
Jack was right, she had been running from him and still was. God if only she were still the same woman who had fiercely tracked him down while he was missing, she never would have let him out of her sites let alone this situation they were in.
But she was more afraid now than ever, and he knew it.
Now she was here wanting to explain, to apologize, to give in, and he wouldn't hear it. Great she thought. It was all her fault.
Jack and Audrey barely talked until Thursday morning. They worked together, many times even in the same room alone, but the conversation never strayed. They were like strangers again, or at least co-workers with nothing more to say to each other than when to get the next proposal out. Jack was still mad at her, and growing impatient as the days went on especially when he saw her with Mike which was almost always now. He hated seeing him touch her, and probably would have given up broken hearten if he hadn't caught her in those rare moment after Mike had left her, looking almost tired from the act he knew she was playing.
So many times when they were alone, Audrey had opened her mouth ready to say something, anything but she didn't. She was afraid of being rejected, of hearing him say the words "too much has happened." This was worse than sleeping with Henderson she decided sometime between Tuesday and Wednesday, much worse.
Then on Thursday her boss had decided to send both her and Jack to New York together for a conference.
Alone for an entire weekend; they glanced up at each other.
"I don't think you should go" Mike said standing by her as he watched her type.
"Don't make it seem like I want to go, you know I don't" Her voice was calmer than she felt. In fact she did want to go, wanted it more than anything. Maybe it would give her the chance to talk to him, at least make him not hate her.
"Then stay home with me, I'll tell Dave that Jack will have to go alone, I'm sure he won't mind" Dave loosened his tie, putting his hands on his hips. He wouldn't tell her but he didn't trust her alone with her ex. The guy was intense and had complete control over Audrey, even if she didn't realize it.
"Dave wouldn't be sending both of us if he didn't have to"
"Audrey… it's just that every time your near him even for a little bit, you not alright after. I don't want him to keep hurting you."
Audrey stood up walking around her desk to lean against it. "I know, I can' t change that though, I don't know how to. You've been really great to me, I can be hard to deal with sometimes, so if you really don't want me to go then I'll tell Dave I can't make it."
He leaned forward kissing her softly.
The next morning the a small black limo was outside Audrey's house waiting to take her to the airport. As she gave her bags to the driver and got inside, she was surprised to find Jack already sitting there, his suit neatly pressed, and his beard shaved for the first time since he had been back. It captivated Audrey seeing him looking more like the Jack she used to know, but also saddened her. It took a while for her to figure out it was because she had always wondered what it would be like to kiss him with a beard.
He caught her gaze, looking up from the paper he was reading, and instantly she felt the warmth in her cheeks. "Good Morning" he said in that soft but raspy morning voice, before nodding his head to the coffee waiting for her in the cup holder. "Morning" she replied picking it up and sipping it, once again surprised that he had gotten it right.
Besides that the drive to the airport was mostly silent, letting Audrey's mind go off, thinking of other times they had taken this trip. Once at the airport, they wasted no time, walking straight up the steps to a smaller plane that would be taking them to New York.
It was then that her mind wandered to different things, to their brownstone that they had loved so much in the beginning. Coming home each night she could look at it and almost laugh, at the thought that they had actually made something of themselves after college. The dean that caught her and Paul together, drunk and making out in the bushes outside one of her classroom buildings, had told them that they would forever be dependent on the wallets of their parents, that they would make nothing of themselves. Then as the years went by she came to start hating coming home, seeing that house where inside may or not be her absent husband. Even if he was there it was always a gamble as to what mood he would be in. She took off her reading glasses now letting her head fall back against the seat closing her eyes for a split second before opening them again to stare out the window at the clouds.
Her talk yesterday with Sue had brought up a lot of old memories; memories she had almost forgotten. Paul had taken so much from her, that she didn't think she'd ever find anyone else again. And yet she was wrong. She found Jack. The man she had fallen in love with so quick and so fast it had scared her. She had never felt as strongly about anyone as she did him.
And now he was sitting across from her and she had nothing to say.
Jack watched as she bit her lip, her fingers playing with her suit coat. She was clearly anxious about something and if he had to guess it would be because she was stuck here with him. Maybe this weekend, without all the other distractions, they could at least talk. "What" he asked, ready to make the most of their weekend while he had this chance.
She wondered if she should tell him what she was thinking but decided against it. Chicken, just tell him her inner voice called, but she couldn't. "Do you have the reports from this morning?" she asked covering for herself. He nodded and handed them to her across the limo.
Twelve hours later Audrey sat at the hotel bar by herself, a glass of wine in her hand as she stared off into the many bottles of alcohol on the wall. It had been more than a long day, and she needed something to calm her nerves before she went up to bed.
"'hey" she heard from behind her, just as he sat down on the stool next to her, still dressed in his work clothes himself."Whiskey please" Jack ordered as the bar tender turned his way.
It was quiet for a moment, neither finding anything to say. In the background, TV's over the bar played a basketball game. It was a small bar in the hotel and almost empty.
"You remember the last time we were here?" Audrey asked tentatively. It was bugging her. She hoped he remembered. The night Paul showed up, god she remembered it like it was yesterday. After Paul had finished his tirade when she had refused to move back home, she had opened the door finding Jack staring out into the night. She could feel his hurt, it reverberated through her body. Paul was always a sore spot with him, she tried not to bring it up in front of him, but sometimes it couldn't be helped. She wondered if he felt guilty for sleeping with her, or nervous he was going to lose her. Sometimes Audrey even attributed it to him missing his wife. Her insecurities were always poking their way out in these moments, breaking into her carefree life with him, complicating things. Funny even then she was scared of him leaving.
"Of course" he answered, sipping the whiskey the bartender had brought back. That night, they had made up in each other's arms for hours. Audrey felt her face turning red and changed the subject. "Do you think Reynolds is going to listen to us?"
"He did last time"
"Right, I think we should start off telling him that the costs of the bill will diminish in time and…"
But he cut her off. "We're going to talk business?"
Audrey was taken aback. His tone was harsh and it threw her off. She was still getting used to seeing him without the beard she had come accustom to over the last couple weeks. It had made him seem calmer, safer in a way. Now clean shaven, he was back to looking like himself, and a pissed self at that. "That's why we're here" she said weakly.
Jack glared at her. His blue eyes were so intense they were hard to look at. She felt small under his gaze. Jack could tell he had caught her off guard. He hadn't wanted to be so harsh, but he was frustrated after she had brought up last time. "No that's why we're meeting with Reynolds, right now we're just having drinks"
There was silence, Audrey waited to see what he would do.Here it is she thought.
"Why didn't you tell me before about Paul" Jack finally asked under his breath.
Audrey averted his gaze. "Because it wasn't important" she said honestly.
"It was... it is to me. And I had to find out through your boyfriend..." he said with a nasty snarl.
"If you don't like him so much why didn't you hit him back that night outside the bar? You didn't even try to defend yourself" It had been bothering her all week, the image of his bloodied lip and black eye, his hands shaking.
"You're upset I didn't hit your boyfriend? This is a change" He hadn't really wanted to say that but his anger got away from him.
"Is this still about Paul?"
Jack stared at her for a moment before answering. "You were going to go back with him, even after he hit you and cheated on you. I know I wasn't the best person back then, but I had never done anything to hurt you, You still chose him. I'm just the one you got stuck with" with that he threw a twenty on the bar and walked off, leaving Audrey staring after him. Her heart was begging her to run after him but she felt frozen by his words and the hurt there.
The next day went by with one meeting after another, with little time for Jack and Audrey to talk about anything non work related. By the time nine o'clock came around, they both went off to their rooms, unfortunately in the same hallway, without saying a word.
It was well past midnight, and Audrey laid restless in bed, trying unsuccessfully to find sleep, when someone knocked at her door. She was startled at first, why would anyone want to see her this late? Whoever was there knocked again making her jump. She looked through the peephole and found Jack standing outside in dark jeans and a clean white shirt.
Taking a breath of relief she opened the door, not bothering to put shorts on.
He was surprised how fast she had gotten to the door., but surprise faded into something else when he realized she was wearing one of his old t-shirts and not much else. He could pick her up in an instant and bring her to the bed, let them start to fix this fucked up mess they were in once in for all. It was tempting.
His intense eyes met hers, and she felt almost threatened by the look he was giving her. His fore arm was against the door frame as he leaned into it, making him almost face to face with her. His other hand was in his pocket, but she could tell he was tense just by his expression.
"Um hi" she spoke softly, but it was barely even a whisper.
In silence he moved forward, backing her into the room until he could close the door behind him, sending them both into darkness.
It took a while for her eyes to adjust and when she finally could make out his face clearly she found his expression hadn't changed. She was holding her breath, wondering what he was going to do.
Again he moved towards her, backing her up until she felt the wall behind her. He put both hands up next to her head, framing her face and bending so that their noses were almost touching.
His hand moved against her cheek, feeling her soft skin before coming to rest in her hair. In the same moment his forehead was against hers in an all too familiar gesture.
There was no air left in the room, she was starting to suffocate with him so close, her nerves all on end. Then their noses touched and for a moment she thought he might kiss her, they were so close.
"Hi" he finally said. He wanted nothing more than to reach his hand down to her hips, to lift his hand up underneath her shirt and feel the smooth soft skin of her stomach. It was killing him, it had been too long.
Her hand slowly moved up, cautiously, unsure. She didn't know what she was doing, and halfway to him she stopped and was about to draw her hand back when he took her wrist and guided her hand to his shoulder. Feeling him under her hand felt surreal. He seemed a little thinner than she remembered, but as muscular as ever. She let her eyes meet his, forcing herself not to look away. Silently she told him she was done with the fighting, with the games. She was his now. She jerked her head towards him, in a nod like gesture, almost touching his lips with her own.
He let go of her immediately, taking a step or two back. She was confused, hurt even. Was he screwing with her now? Was that how he was going to get back at her?
"I don't want you to see Mike anymore" his voice cut through the darkness of the room. They were going to solve their problems by talking to each other this time round. As much as he wanted her, he wanted it to work between them and there was just too much that needed to be said on both sides. They couldn't just get lost in each other anymore, the wounds were too deep for that and in the end it would only self destruct them.
She felt a rage boiling inside her. How dare he? "Oh really? Too bad".
"Stop playing this game. We both know you don't want to be in that relationship. Don't keep getting his hopes up. Break up with him."
"Break up with your girlfriend" she countered. She knew he was right, too right.
"Damnit Audrey, she's not my girlfriend. How many times do I have to say it? I know I've screwed up, I should have told her from the beginning I had absolutely no interest in her. That was my fault. She got the wrong idea and kissed me, but after that I set her straight. , Geezus I don't know how you can be so blind sometimes, so insecure"
"Insecure? Of course I'm insecure. The day you came back from the dead, I had to interview the woman you had been living with. That's how they described her. Then you come back again... Do you honestly think I didn't know how long you've been in D.C.? All these months you've been there with her. Is this Starting to sound familiar?"
Jack didn't know how to respond to that. "I have never cheated on you."
"Yeah well neither have I, doesn't make it hurts less does it?" Audrey yelled at him. They were both so angry now, even though only a few minutes ago he had had her pushed up against the wall.
As the minutes passed by they said nothing, each deep in their own thoughts. Audrey was now sitting with her back against the wall, while Jack sat across from her against the back of the couch.
It was a long time before Jack slowly picked himself up. "It's your move sweetheart" was all he said when he left her alone and tired on the floor.
"If you were here beside me, instead of in New York, if the curve of you was curved on me,
I'd tell you that I loved you, before I ever knew you, 'cause I loved the simple thought of you"
-New York, by Snow Patrol