THE BIONIC WOMAN
Be Still My Soul
by the lurker
It was late fall, and the morning air, crisp. She shivered inside her coat, and the solitary white rose clutched in her hand, quivered slightly. A gust of wind rushed toward her, cutting through the fabric of the coat. Her large black hat threatened to flee in a direction of its own. She held onto it as tightly as she was holding onto her emotions; both efforts seeming to be in vain.
Be still my soul.
That is what she kept saying to herself. Enduring with dignity was the only thing that she could offer him now. Her eyes glanced downward, catching a glimpse of the large rectangular hole in the earth; she quickly looked up at the chaplain reciting a text she couldn't focus upon. There was no comfort anyone could extend, that would ease her pain.
An empty grave in an unmarked cemetery in Sterling, Virginia: after years of dedicated service to his government, that was the way they saw fit to honor him. She had listened to all of the reasons, it was nothing she hadn't heard before - National Security, no family, the way he would have wanted it - it was all NSA bullshit.
She felt the tears well up in her eyes once again, and she pushed against them, hard. He would hate for her to cry, here, now. But how she wanted to cry out loud; to tell him all of the things she left unsaid, to scream at the unfairness of it to any deity who might listen.....
There would be no moments of expressed grief, no heartfelt good-byes. He was gone. They didn't even recover his body, just a small amount of DNA. And it was the tiny glass vile containing his DNA that was being buried today. It was all that was left of the man they knew. She had insisted - no, she had fought - to have a casket. The NSA was going to put the vile in a vault and be done with it; with him. He deserved more, and for whatever reason, the OSI stepped in, and placated her by going along with her request for a burial.
She looked at the man standing directly on her left; deep down, she knew he had something to do with the OSI's acquiescence. She wondered what he might have said to them. Did he tell them she would have a breakdown if they ignored her? She knew the truth was probably closer to him arguing logically with them: they all needed the closure that a memorial service would bring. Rudy caught her staring at him, and he gently extended his hand; Jamie took it, grasping its warmth, and the solace it contained.
She glanced across the open grave at the woman in the black suit with the short blonde hair, whose tears rolled unchecked down her cheeks. It would have hurt him so much to see the pain and grief his death had caused among those he cared about. He had always been extremely fond of Callahan, but Jamie doubted he had ever told the petite secretary how much she meant to him. Peggy looked into Jamie's eyes and for a moment, a slight smile appeared on her tear-stained countenance. Jamie smiled back, grateful for the effort.
She heard a stifled sound of grief from the man to her right. She reached out and pulled him into her shoulder. He made not another sound, but she could see the anguish in his heart, had shaken him to the core. Oscar had been Steve's best friend for as long as any of them could remember. Jamie knew that for as much heartache as she carried, Steve's was that much more.
It was something that they all knew could happen; something Oscar had tried to prepare all of them for in his own way over the years. But it hadn't lessened the hurt, nor the shock of the truth when they were told. The Director of the NSA had gathered them in a room, and as soon as Oscar was conspicuous by his absence, they knew. But they had been there before, and Jamie and Steve had managed to bring him back from a certain death sentence.
The difference was that this time he was already gone. There was nothing to bring back. It had happened in an instant, and he had felt no pain - at least that was what the NSA had maintained. Jamie wasn't convinced that it was necessarily true, but for now, she had to hold onto it; the idea that he might have suffered was unbearable. They said that the bomb which caused the plane to explode had been planted by a fanatical European faction which had been after Oscar for some time. He had apparently been aware of their desire to kill him, but had chosen to live his life, instead of giving in to the fear.
Be still my soul.
Jamie almost chanted it to herself as the sadness began to close in on her quiet sorrow. She had to stay strong. She needed to be the anchor for all of them now. She had always understood that it would fall to her, that somehow, becoming the rock beneath all of them would be her duty when the time came. But how she was to accomplish that in the midst of her own mourning, she did not know. She only knew that she had to try.
The strong hand holding hers squeezed gently, and she realized that the chaplain was no longer speaking. She took in a slow breath of air, in an attempt to steady her heart, which was suddenly pumping in her throat. Jamie gently broke away from Steve, and with a nod of confidence from Rudy, she walked slowly to stand by the head of the casket. She had thought long and hard about what she was going to say; she had written it down and practically memorized it. And now it seemed all wrong.
She took a slow breath, as she looked around at the faces gathered there. Some she knew, some she didn't, and others were like family. There was no easy way, so she let out the breath she was holding and plunged forward.
A part of me hoped this day would never come. Another part of me actually believed it wouldn't. And there's a part of me that knows the day has come, but can't accept it. There are no words that'll make the hurt in any of us disappear. I know that Oscar was many things to many different people. I can only speak about the Oscar I knew.....
Jamie paused for a moment, trying to contain the tears which were threatening to fall, after a moment, she continued, I worked for Oscar, but he was never a boss to me. Sometimes he was a parent, sometimes an advisor, and other times he was a teacher. Most of all, he was a loving friend, who was there when I needed to lean on him. What I'm going to do without-- She looked down, then back up as she reformed the words, What any of us will do without him, I don't know. What I do know, is that Oscar would want us to move forward. He would want us step up to the plate, be there for each other, and keep moving forward.
Oscar wasn't one to delve into emotions; at least that's what he wanted all of us to believe. The truth is, the Oscar I knew was a very sensitive man. He always appeared tough, but underneath the gruff exterior was one of the biggest hearts you'd ever find. He would try to fool us with the business tone and the matter-of-fact face, because he knew he was sunk the minute any of us learned the truth.
I know how much Oscar loved all of us....how much he-- Jamie's voice broke, but after a moment, she pushed on, How much he loved me. I hope he knew how special he was to all of us, and how much we loved him.
Jamie carefully placed the white rose she was holding on top of the casket, and leaning in, she gently kissed the polished wood. Others moved forward to follow suit, as Jamie made her way back toward Rudy, who was standing with his hands in his pockets, watching her. As she approached, he held his arm out, and she curled under it, allowing him to pull her close. She wiped the quiet tears streaming down his face, and smoothed his hair back.
Rudy kissed her forehead, He knew, Jamie, Oscar knew.
It was in that moment that her grief bubbled up. A sob escaped her lips, and Rudy responded by quickly turning her into him, and enclosing his arms around her.
He held her close, rocking her gently, Shhhh....okay, it's okay.
After a few minutes, the onslaught of emotions abated, and Jamie pushed slightly away from Rudy, who kept ahold of her arms, making sure she was all right.
I'm sorry, Rudy, I didn't mean to--
--Hey, you have nothing to apologize for, Jamie. It's okay to grieve for him. And if you need someone to lean on, I'm here.
Jamie hugged the doctor once more and kissed his cheek. Over the past few years, she had come to depend upon her men' as she liked to think of them, more and more. But now the one she had thought of as a father was gone. Her mind turned to Steve, and she glanced in his direction. He had moved off a bit, away from everyone else. She thought about approaching him, but knew he needed to be alone with his thoughts.
Reading her look accurately, Rudy put an arm around her and starting moving toward the parked cars, C'mon, Steve needs a little time, let's wait over there.
A few moments of companionable silence ticked by as they walked, each thinking about what had been lost.
Jamie spoke then, her voice soft like velvet, I'm going to miss him so much....
We all are. He paused for a moment, considering his words, then, You know there's still one piece of business left....
Jamie stopped and looked into his eyes, Rudy.....do it without me, okay? Please? He stared at her, and she continued, I just can't take watching a tape right now.
He gently took her hands in his own, I'm not talking about the tape that the NSA took from the office. Her eyes flicked up to meet his, and he continued, It's something Oscar's attorney was holding.
What is it?
A large envelope.
What was in it?
Rudy looked down, fighting off the emotion which threatened to insinuate itself into his calm.
Jamie touched his arm,
He looked up at her after a few minutes, The letter was.... personal.
Her eyes flashed hurt,
He grasped her hands again, Jamie......hey....There were things he needed me to know; things that are for my eyes only. Please don't be offended if I keep it that way.
Jamie knew she was overreacting, I know.....I'm....I just feel so disconnected from him now.
It's okay, Rudy placed a light kiss on her forehead, then continued, There were three other envelopes in the large one.
Jamie looked at him with new tears forming in her eyes. Rudy ran a gentle hand through her blonde hair as he spoke to her.
He always knew Jamie....he knew that it would probably happen this way. His attorney's had this envelope since shortly after Oscar was abducted by Dr. Franklin.
What's in the other envelopes?
Personal items he wanted each of you to have I suppose; I don't know.
He held a hand up, stopping her, Jamie, they're sealed, and they're addressed to you, Steve and Callahan respectively.
What about you?
A wistful smile appeared on Rudy's lips, and for a moment, he had to look away, in an effort to keep his emotions from seeping out. Then he looked into Jamie's eyes, his own glistening slightly, as he reached into his pocket, extracting a round silver item. Wordlessly he handed it to Jamie, who carefully accepted it. It was beautiful, and very old. She opened it at the clasp, and saw that it was a compass. Jamie looked up at Rudy, a question in her eyes.
Turn it over, was all he said.
She flipped it over and on the bottom side was an inscription, which read:
William S. Goldman, US Army, 1915.
Her eyes flicked up to Rudy's, Oscar's father?
Rudy nodded, Yes, he served in World War I....he used the compass in Europe. When Sam didn't return from Pearl Harbor, he gave it to Oscar.
They smiled tightly at each other, trying to contain the pent up tears.
In his letter to me, he told me he hoped it would keep me from getting lost in my own bathroom.
Jamie couldn't help but laugh; it was typical Oscar.
Rudy hugged her tightly for a moment, needing her comfort. Then he put his arm around her and once again moved her toward the car, C'mon, we have a wake to attend.
Col. Steve Austin's Residence
Jamie was exhausted. There had been many people to greet and each had a story about Oscar to impart; it left her feeling drained. Quietly she moved toward the door leading to Steve's study. She opened it, and went inside, closing the door silently. She leaned her forehead on it, her eyes closed.
Be still my soul.
She tried so hard to calm her aching heart, but it was a losing battle. The tears began to flow freely and a soft sob escaped her lips. As the sobs began to build, she felt strong hands grasp her upper arms and pull her into a familiar body.
His voice whispered warmly into her ear, Let it go, Jamie. I'm here.
She leaned into him and her emotions poured out in waves of sorrow that threatened never to stop. He just stood with her, trying to give comfort where he knew it could not be felt. His own heart would never be the same, and neither would hers. He gently guided her to the couch, and pulled her close to him, allowing her to bury her face into the crook of his neck.
After what seemed like an unending flood, there was a soft knock upon the door, then it opened carefully. Rudy stuck his head around it and looked at Steve, the question in his eyes, clear.
Steve's voice was soft, It's okay, Rudy. Too many people out there for both of us, I think.
Rudy nodded, Can Callahan and I come in?
Rudy entered, and held the door for Callahan, who moved past him into the room. Rudy closed the door behind them with a quiet click. Callahan stopped near Jamie, until the latter held her arms out to her friend. Peggy sat on the couch next to Jamie, and the two women held each other for a long moment. Rudy sat in front of the three of them, on the coffee table.
He reached into his pocket, and pulled out three envelopes, As long as it's just us for a moment, I have something for each of you from Oscar. Rudy handed the corresponding envelope to each recipient, As I already explained to Jamie, he knew the probability of his sudden death was high, and I guess he wanted a chance to have the last word.
Callahan smiled through slightly moist eyes, This is really from him?
Absolutely. I have no idea what's in any of your envelopes, and if any of you wants to open yours alone, I think each of us will understand.
I think I'd rather open this with all of you here. I'm sort of nervous....
She opened the envelope and pulled out a folded letter that was thick with something else. She unfolded the thick papers first, and her eyes grew large as she took in the contents.
Callahan looked at Jamie with incredulous eyes, I can't believe he did this.....
Steve questioned her gently, Peggy, what is it?
It's the deed to my apartment building. She scanned the letter for an explanation, He says that since I know how he always felt about paying rent versus a mortgage, I shouldn't be surprised that he decided that my monthly payments should go toward owning the building. His accountant will continue to collect everyone's rent and make the mortgage payments until the building is paid for.
Tears slid down Callahan's face as she read the rest of the letter to herself, the unabashed emotion in it striking a chord within her heart. She refolded all the papers and stuffed them back into the envelope wiping the tears from her face.
Her voice was almost a whisper of sadness, I don't think I ever told him how much he meant to me.
Rudy placed a calming hand on her shoulder, He knew, Peggy. I'm sure of it.
She grabbed hold of Rudy's hand and held it tightly, I hope so.
Steve fingered his envelope for several minutes. Then carefully, he opened it, extracting the letter and a large class ring. As he read through the letter silently, his eyes filled with moisture at the words he found there. After a minute of composing himself, he folded the letter back into the envelope and placed it in the inside pocket of his jacket. He slid the class ring onto his right hand ring finger; it was a perfect fit, just as the letter had suggested it would be.
He looked up at the questioning faces, and knew they wouldn't ask, but waited patiently for him to tell if he so chose.
Sam's college ring, Steve said finally. He had given it to Oscar to keep for him while he was serving in the Navy. Oscar said he could never bring himself to wear it, but that it should be worn by the man who had become his brother....
Steve's voice broke, and Jamie couldn't take it. She stood up and ran from the room, clutching her envelope tightly in her hand. She had to escape from the emotions, and the pain.
Steve and Callahan started up, but Rudy's voice stopped them, Let her go. She needs to open hers alone.
Do you know what's in it?
No idea, Steve.
Educated guess, Rudy?
He looked at Callahan, Something a father would give to a daughter, I would think.
Jamie had stopped running somewhere before the border of Steve's property, but far enough away that unless using her bionic ear, she could no longer hear the people in the house. She used her sleeves to wipe her tear stained face, and sat down on an old log which was lying under a large elm tree. She stared at the envelope for a long time, trying to build up the nerve to open it.
Be still my soul.
But she couldn't be still, she wouldn't be. She was angry. She was angry at god, at the world, and at Oscar. She wasn't ready to let go of him yet. He was the person she leaned on the most, and she still needed him. Jamie had suffered loss before, and she knew that there would be an empty void in her heart that would never be filled.
The day evaporated into twilight, a deep chill coming on with the dew of fall: and still she sat there. She began to shiver, having run out without a coat. She stared at the envelope in her lap, but couldn't bring herself to open it. In her mind, she could hear his voice chastising her, and she could almost see him standing before her.
What are you afraid of, Jamie? Open the damned thing.
Her voice was a mere whisper of response, I can't Oscar.
I just can't.....
Jamie.....you can't bury the fact that I'm gone by not opening the envelope. It won't bring me back.
Why the hell did you leave me, Oscar? I wasn't ready yet--
--Bullshit. You've been ready to face your bionics, your work for the OSI and anything else life throws at you, for a long time. And don't flash those big blues at me, it will get you nowhere. You know I'm right. Come on, open it.
Her hands shaking, she picked up the envelope, and slowly, with the utmost care, she broke the seal. But she couldn't do it. She put the open envelope back in her lap.
Jamie.....I taught you better than that. I know you have the courage to face up to this.....
In a quick motion, she pulled the paper from the envelope. Enclosed in the one page letter, was a small diamond engagement ring. She slipped it onto her ring finger, it was slightly big. In the fading light, Jamie read the hand-written note:
My dearest Jamie,
There is nothing I could say now, that will make up for the fact that I'm gone. I know what it is to lose someone you love without having the chance to say good-bye, and I'm sorry that it turned out that way. I want you to know that it's okay to be angry with me, as long as you remember later on, that I wouldn't have left you this way by choice.
Enclosed in this letter, you'll find a diamond ring. It belonged to my mother. It was my father's mother's ring, and has been in our family for generations. The tradition was for each eldest son to give it to the woman he married; but Sam didn't live long enough to get married, and well, you know I wound up being married to the OSI. Jamie, you are my family, and I want you to have the ring. Someday, when you have children of your own, maybe you can pass it on to your eldest son or daughter, as the case may be. Know that you'll always be in my heart babe, because I love you.
If I had a daughter, I would have wanted her to be you.
Jamie's heart shattered with the emptiness she felt, and the stark honesty of his words. She dropped to her knees, sobbing. She couldn't move for the longest time, despite the fact that the cold was closing in around her. She wished she could tell him how much he meant to her, and how much she loved him. But it was too late for that.
She had no idea how long she had been curled up on the ground, in a ball of sorrow, when she felt the warm blanket being wrapped around her. Through her tears, and the darkness, she recognized Rudy, but how he had found her, she didn't know. Gently he helped her to stand, as he wrapped a protective arm around her. She was still clutching the letter in her hand, but he didn't say a word.
Quietly he walked her back to the house, and in through the kitchen door. Steve and Callahan were sitting there, drinking coffee. It was late, and Jamie had no idea what time is was until she glanced at the clock on the wall; it was well after midnight. Steve and Peggy stood, and moved toward her, but Rudy waved them off, and nodded toward the door. They took the hint, and left the room.
Rudy guided her into a chair and poured her a steaming cup of coffee, This should help warm you up.
They were the first words he had spoken to her since finding her under the tree. She lifted the cup with a shaking hand to her lips and sipped the coffee. Rudy stood behind her, and rubbed his hands up and down her arms, trying to warm her up. After a minute or two, he wrapped the blanket tighter around her, and took a seat next to her at the table.
Wordlessly, he reached for the letter and envelope she still gripped in one hand. For a moment, she glared at him, and didn't let go, but she could see in his eyes and knew in her heart that she could trust him. She let go of it. Without looking at the letter, he folded it and replaced it in the envelope, setting it back on the table near her.
He took her left hand into his and rubbed it, noticing the ring on the fourth finger. His eyes flicked up to hers, the question obvious.
Jamie looked down momentarily before answering, It was his mother's.
Rudy's timbre was as soft and gentle as she had ever heard it, It's beautiful.
Be still my soul.
Jamie had to close her eyes for a second to steady her emotions, and then realization took over. Oscar had known all along. He had known better than she, what was in her heart. She opened her eyes to find Rudy's intense brown ones staring at her.
A slight smile pulled at the corners of her mouth, I'm okay. You were right, Rudy, he knew how we felt about him. And I realize now that he'll always be with me, she placed her hand over her heart, in here.
Rudy squeezed her hand gently, You already knew that Jamie, he just reminded you. He reminded us all.