"Looking for a Dead Man"
Recommended Song for this Chapter: "Life Boat" Early Morning Rebel
"Damnit!" Jack cursed, in an instant his fist going through the drywall in his apartment. He could already feel small amounts of blood tracing down his hand, the sting from the hairline fractures causing him to grit his teeth. With a soft thump he laid his head against the kitchen wall he would have to fix tomorrow.
"Jack! Are you okay?" Renee said rubbing his shoulder lightly. Her touch was anything but comforting, and he tensed under her hand. "I… no I'm not" She looked at him with those big blue eyes; they seemed so blue, so intense. So wrong.
She bent down, slowly kissing him on his shoulder bone. "It'll be okay" she whispered. He breathed in slowly, letting his lungs fill with air. He let it out as Renee moved behind him, her kisses finding his neck as she wrapped her arms around him. One. He did it again, moments from earlier flashing in his head as her tongue found his ear. Two. Her hands found his belt buckle and he turned to face her after pulling his hand from the wall, bits of the drywall falling to the floor. Three was all he got to before he couldn't control his breathing any longer "Renee…"
He had prepared for a situation where she was involved with another man; had prepared thousands of ways of winning her back.
He hadn't prepared for this.
"Audrey wait, let me take you home" Mike said running after her as she made her way down the street, walking as fast as she could, her heels making clicking noises against the pavement. If she had known this would have happened she would have worn different shoes, but her apartment was close enough, and she liked the air on her face, knowing that the longer it would take her to get home, the less time she would have to spend there alone. "I feel like walking"
"Then let me walk you! Audrey come on, stop" Mike got in front of her trying to halt her movement, but she only paused as she moved swiftly around him. There were few people on the street who turned and stared, waiting to see what she would do.
"Audrey! Look I know your mad at me, we can talk this out!"
Audrey stopped dead in her tracks turning around "you had no right! You shouldn't have said anything to him Mike, you should've just kept your mouth shut"
"I thought I was helping you! I got confused. But he deserved it anyway and you know it!"
Audrey turned around leaving Mike behind her. He had gone too far this time. Mike caught up to her again, taking off his coat in the meantime, and wrapping it around her.
She tried to take it off, but he held her shoulders stopping her. "You have every right to be mad at me, but I'm not going to leave you on the side of the road at this hour by yourself and I'm not going to let you freeze" She didn't know what to say so she stayed there staring at his blue t-shirt, watching the goose bumps form on his arms. She should give him his coat back she thought, but Mike didn't seem to notice the cold as he picked up her chin drawing her face closer to his. "You told me that night at the bar that you were messed up, but you're not messed up. You're heartbroken. When my wife left me, I was confused and lonely, self-destructive, tired, everything and everyone reminded me of her and for a very long time I didn't think I would be okay again" His hand traced up along her cheek, threading through her hair. "There will come a day when you'll be okay again. It won't hurt less, but you'll have grown so used to the pain that it becomes just a dull feeling. And I know things are different between us now that he's back, I know that all the old feelings and emotions feel like new again, I know that it hurts, so bad. Whether you decide someday to go back to him, or to stay with me, I want to help you till then. I want to be there for you, because I care about you Audrey"
He wiped away a tear she hadn't known had fallen. "… I don't know what to say" His dark brown eyes stared into her, serious and lovingly. "You don't have to say anything, just let me walk you home" She finally nodded, letting him wrap his arm around her shoulders.
As they arrived outside her apartment, she thought about the dark, lifeless walls that lay ahead. Picking up some courage she turned to face him. "Mike…" she closed her eyes, breathing in deep "stay with me tonight?" Before she could change her mind he followed her up the staircase, helping her take off both their jackets. They went into the kitchen and Audrey offered him something to drink but he declined. They stood there quietly for a while, each with their own thoughts until Audrey looked at him nervously. She knew Jack may not be in his office on Monday after tonight, that he might quit to get away from her. She deserved it after lying to him. Mike really was a good guy she thought, and last night had actually been good. Maybe she could move on. "I'm gonna go to bed, um, if you want to…" she didn't finish but he understood. "I'll come" he followed her into her bedroom, taking off his shirt and pants and getting into bed. Audrey hesitated with taking off her clothes. "It's not like I haven't already seen you" Mike said, putting one arm behind his head. She nodded, turning her back to him, slipping off her clothes, and replacing them with an old black t-shirt. She was so used to wearing it she didn't notice the mistake she had made until Mike had said something. "I didn't leave that here did I?" She turned the light off quickly, burying herself under the covers. "Um no I had it", she felt like she was going to be sick as she thought about where she got it from. They were facing each other, adjusting to the darkness, "It'll be okay" he whispered, and in a second she was crying, harder than she had in a long time.
Jack was beyond angry, he was pissed. As he shoved a twenty onto the bar he had half a mind to slam Mikes head into it as well, but he had to let him go. Audrey would pull even further away from him if he hurt Mike, it was Paul all over again.
His mind was still debating the whole thing when he looked up to find her just coming in. Again there was that look in her eyes, pleading with him not to ask, not to know, but he did know. He thought of Mike touching her soft ivory skin as her head fell back, her blonde hair cascading over the pillow as he kissed her lips…
"Did you think I wouldn't find out?" Jack said harshly just loud enough for her to hear. Audrey could see the coldness in his eyes, the anger. She was re-learning how to read him, but this was too easy. This was the side of Jack she had never truly seen until the day she was captured, and the fact that it was now directed at her scared her. "I don't know what you're talking about" She went to leave but he moved in front of her resisting the urge to grab her, and bring her back to his apartment to talk some sense into her. "We could've put an end to this fighting weeks ago, and this never would have happened" Audrey could see Mike and Gregg at the bar watching and talking. "What me finding out about your girlfriend?" She said, still hurting, and not yet ready to give in. Jack responded angrily speaking low. "No me finding out about yours, and you running to him because you saw me with Renee." He knew. Audrey stared at him, not knowing what to say. "He just told me all about last night, with you"
Jack walked past her then, out through the door out into the parking lot. He left Audrey standing there shocked and afraid of what to do next, until Mike made his way quickly by her too. She called out to him, but he didn't stop.
Mike came up behind him. Jack didn't spot him until the last minute, "You son of a..." His fist connected with the Jack's jaw, sending him staggering. Mike waited for him to retaliate, the adrenaline pulsing through him. His fist hurt now that the initial impact had worn off, but he clenched it tighter in response. He swung again at Jack, but this time he dodged it, he swung a third time, and Jack caught it, sending him backwards. There was blood coming from the man's lip, and as he went to wipe it, he saw his chance tackling him to the ground; he punched Jack a few more times in the face, splitting his lip more, but Jack barely tried to defend himself.
He heard Audrey calling his name, begging him to stop but the man deserved it. As far as Mike was concerned, someone should have done this the second he had gotten back. The fact that her friends stood by and let him come back into her life was ridiculous. Finally someone pulled him off, his knuckles bloodied. "You're kidding me right? You come back after all this time, after everything you did to her, and you think you can just walk back into her life? You can fuck off"
""Mike…" She had that frightened look in her eyes that he hated, that he would do anything to make disappear.
"No Audrey, I just can't, I won't let him hurt you again" He loved her, and he knew she cared about him.
Jack leant against one of the street lights in the parking lot, as Jen helped him up. He could tell he would have a few bruises and at least one black eye, but as he wiped his chin surprised to find so much blood from his lip. His hand was shaking as he stared at the crimson red liquid, a warning sign, but he didn't care. Jen caught sight of this but didn't say anything. It had been a shock to see Jack laying there on the ground, not even trying to get Mike to stop hitting him.
"She doesn't need you or anyone else to make decisions for her" Jack snarled. All the old feelings of anger and hurt came out once again.
He saw Audrey hesitantly move closer to him, staring worriedly at his face, and the blood coming from his mouth. His eyes locked with hers, and he could see fear similar to when he had first seen her after her capture. It stopped him for a moment, and all he wanted to do was take her in his arms. Audrey came to him slowly still trying to figure out what had happened. He straightened himself up, his hand coming away from his mouth.
"I'm fine... Audrey..." she stepped closer out of habit, and then she couldn't take it any longer. Her hand reached up, her fingers lightly tracing the bruise that was beginning to form.
"You could use some ice" She said letting her hand linger against his face, loving the feeling of the familiar stubble against her skin. "Stay away from her!" Mike yelled struggling against Gregg as he continued to hold onto him.
Jack's arm wrapped around Audrey, protectively pulling her behind him. "No, I'm not going anywhere unless she tells me too. If you can't handle that, then that's your problem"
"Right and I'm just going to stand by and let you knock her around some more? I don't think so"
Everyone stopped shocked. Gregg let go of Mike who immediately got in Jack's face again ready to hit him. Jen looked at Audrey, her eyes wide with shock. No one was more surprised than Jack who immediately let go of her, taking a few steps back. Mike's words hit him straight in the chest, as memories of her interrogation came into his head.
He had always regretted pushing her against that wall, holding her there, but he thought she understood how much he hated that. He couldn't let Karen see he was going easy on her, or they would rip him out and administer their own interrogation, but in the end they did anyways.
"I never wanted to, I had to, they wanted to send in Burke…" Jack said quietly, his hands shaking more. She stared at him confused. He had never 'knocked her around' so why was he admitting to it.
"Oh please, don't start making excuses. Things weren't good between you so you hit her" Mike said getting in his face, ready to hit him again. "You disgust me"
"Mike shut up!" Audrey said finally having enough. "What the hell are you talking about?" she said directing her attention back to Jack.
"Your interrogation" Jack said shamefully. "Oh" was all Audrey responded. She didn't know what to say. It had been hard to be on the receiving end of Jack's gaze over an interrogation table, but she trusted him completely and in the end it had been Jack who had saved her from Burke.
"You interrogated her?" Mike asked becoming even angrier. He had read his file before, about how he was famous for his interrogation methods, mostly because they involved torture.
"Isn't that what you're talking about?" Audrey replied
"No I didn't even know about that"
Audrey glared at him. "Then why would you make up something like that?"
"I didn't make it up! He's your ex right? The one who "died" and was in China"
Audrey glanced at Jack before she could stop herself. He was still bloody and angry, but she could tell he was also still thinking about the interrogation. "well…"
"The husband you separated from because he got drunk one night and hit you! And now he's back to what? Win you back?"
Audrey visibly paled under the spotlight. It seemed like so long ago… she had almost forgotten…
Jen stepped in seeing the look on Jack's face, and the danger it held for a man who was already dead. "Mike, you've got the wrong person…"
"No I don't, her ex that died. I don't understand what's going on here"
Jack however was quick to catch on, directing his anger to Audrey who was refusing to look at him. "You lied to me. The entire time. Not even when… and before that when I let you walk into that hotel room"
"He slapped me once that was all, and I left, and then I met you. I didn't want to make a big deal out of it"
"It was a big deal! You told me he wasn't violent, that he wouldn't hurt you, or anyone else. It would've been my fault if something had happened to you, you were my responsibility! And then… you almost went back with him"
"I was confused…" Audrey started but Jack cut her off.
"No you were afraid, of me" Jack shook his head his eyes looking up at Mike. "So you went running back to someone more familiar, even though they hurt you, even though you knew you wouldn't be happy"
Audrey stepped in front of him, looking up at him again for the first time, wanting so badly to convince him otherwise. "That's not true"
Jack stepped back putting space between them, shaking his head again. "I wish it wasn't" Turning his back to her, he turned to walk back to his car when Renee appeared, having parked only moments before. "Hey what's going on?" she asked as she came up next to Jack. "Oh my god Jack, what happened! Were you in a fight?" Renee asked concerned, reaching to tilt his head so she could see but he pulled away. She saw Audrey watching intently, and their eyes met for a moment, sending daggers at each other. Jack looked back at her one last time. "I was just leaving"
"Want a ride?" Renee asked. Jack nodded and they made their way to the car. Audrey watched until they drove away, and then she started walking, she didn't really know where at first until she realized her apartment was a few blocks down. Mike had followed close behind, trying to convince her to come back.
"He didn't take that well" Jen said, leaning against her husband in the car. Their date night had ended early by the fight, and they had already arranged a babysitter. "Did you expect him too? You know how he gets about her" Gregg said coming to a stop at a red light.
"I know, that's why I didn't think he would ever find out"
Gregg leaned his head back. "It was my fault, I told Gregg they were involved, and that he was the one in China, I thought he should know what he was up against, but apparently he made the wrong connections"
"Jack would've found out eventually"
There was a quiet in the car for a moment, and then Jen turned to him. "He barely even defended himself"
"Maybe he thought he deserved it?"
"His hands were shaking, he looked terrible"
The light turned and they moved forward, Jen watched the buildings go by for a moment before she spoke again, almost in a whisper as if she feared what she had to say herself. "You don't think the reason he came back was because he's sick right?"
Gregg didn't say anything, but he didn't have to. They both knew the answer, even without knowing it. And if they could see the changes in Jack, then Audrey most definitely could. So then maybe she knew too, maybe she always did.
"I've been walking on a tightrope falling, and I've been looking for a life boat for you, I've been looking for a light left in your eye"
Okay so I've been doing a lot of behind the scenes work, which basically means I've written a few things in advance. I want to thank EVERYONE for their amazing comments! You guys keep me writing, and that's always a good thing because I don't write nearly as much as I probably could.
So keep up the great reviews!