Adventures in Odyssey fanfiction

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I listened to Wooton and Penny's wedding today and it was perfect for them. I wouldn't want a huge extravagant wedding either. It's for the people getting married, the others don't really care (to that extent) so you should do it for you.

It reminded me of Jason and Connie's wedding. It was kind of last-minute too! It wasn't planned. But ended up being wonderful. (if only! :)

I'm going on vacation for 2 weeks so I probably won't be around much since I won't have consistent internet. Goin out west! :)

Chapter 3
Jason woke next to her, the blanket soft beneath him. Sunlight played across her face, dappled with shadows from the willow leaves. He'd had good dreams, all about Connie. Except—toward the end, there had been a feeling of dread…an echo of his past that he struggled to keep away. The feeling lingered, casting a shadow across the daylight. He didn't want anything to taint his time with her. But as much as he hated the idea of it overwhelming him, dragging him back down into the darkness, he couldn't bring himself to consider a worse possibility. That it might have something to do with their future.

She awoke, and he slipped his fingers into her hair, banishing those thoughts.

He was hers. She was his. Now was all that mattered.

They swam for a while, then they met out in the water.

"You are stunning," he said. "Don't ever stop."

"Stop what?"

"Being you." He picked her up, kissing her under the bright sun, water dripping off of her in a ray of sparks.

On the way back into town, Jason pulled up at a gas station. As he waited for the car to fill up, Connie went inside. A truck stood on the edge of the parking lot, flowers spilling over the edge. Jason walked over to the truck, and picked out the most beautiful bouquet, along with two boxes of strawberries. He handed the man some cash, and then walked back to the car. Just as he got inside, Connie came out with a plastic bag in her hand. She slid in beside him.

"Wow, those are beautiful!" she said, taking the bouquet. She grasped his hand, smiled, dimpling one cheek, as if she had a secret tucked there. "I got you something, but it's not so spectacular." She handed him a grape pop bottle. "You like that kind, right?"

"Thanks. What else do you have in there?"

Her eyes widened a little; she shrank back, shielding the bag with her hand. "Nothing. I mean—" her hand darted into the bag—"Want some chocolate?" She held up a chocolate bar.


She handed him a piece, but he wondered if there was anything else in the bag she was keeping from him—and why.

"I got some strawberries too," he said.

She turned around to look in the back seat. "Ooh! You're amazing. Let's go home and eat them. Maybe we'll eat them all."

He started the car. "Maybe not all. Unless that's what you want for supper."

"Come to think of it, I would kind of like to go out for supper, if you wouldn't mind."

"I'd like to take you to the fanciest restaurant in town."

"How about La Chalet? I mean I normally don't like French that much but I feel like being fancy. Dressing up, sharing the very best with you."

"I'll always try to give you the very best, Connie."

"I just feel like we should go all out. It's kind of a change of heart, I know, and maybe once I get home I'll feel like staying there and eating strawberries."

Jason drove home. He almost automatically turned down the road to his old apartment, but then kept going. He still couldn't believe they shared a house together, a special place to make their own. He'd been on his own so much—independent, bouncing from one thing to the next—but now, even if they moved, he'd always have a home with the woman he loved.

After parking the car, Jason stepped inside, carrying the strawberries. Connie arranged the flowers in a vase, while Jason set the strawberries on the counter and opened the fridge. There wasn't a lot in it, since they hadn't really gone shopping yet. He shoved one of the boxes on the top shelf, and shifted some things around to make room on the bottom shelf, leaving just the middle for odds and ends like mustard and relish and some possibly two-week-old applesauce.

When he shut the fridge door, Connie was nowhere to be seen. His heart flipped; he hadn't been out of her presence for days. Nothing could have gone wrong, but he still felt a sense of panic. And an acute sense of separation. To be out of touching distance—his skin ached for her touch, for her fire to snap through his veins—

He sat down on the couch. It's probably even worse because of what we went through. How I almost never saw her again. I would have loved her just as much, but it would have been agony to be separated—worse than any torture they could conjure up. I would have remembered every look, every gesture…But now I'll get to make a lot more memories with her. I'll never let anything separate us again.

Maybe she's getting ready to go out to eat. I should get ready—but then, it won't take me very long. I'll go upstairs and get started, and see how she's doing.

He headed upstairs. The bed room door was closed. Maybe she wanted her privacy—although he didn't know why she'd want to hide anything from him.

He knocked on the door.

Silence. Then, "Yeah?" Her voice sounded strained, almost as if she'd been crying.

"Are you okay?"

Another moment. A quiet, almost strangled, "Yeah."

What could be wrong? Had he hurt her feelings somehow? If so, he'd make it up to her a hundred times over—

Footsteps. The door clicked open. She stood there in the dim light, holding something in her hand. Her hair was ruffled, and tears streaked her cheeks.

"Connie, what happened?"

"Oh, Jason, it's—I don't know what to do, it's—" She shook her head. "I can't believe it!"

"What is it?"

"I just got it on a whim just in case and—" She threw her arms around him. He wrapped his arms around her, as she shook with sobs or laughter, he couldn't tell. Her cheek pressed to his, damp with warm tears. She kissed his lips, looking up at him with eyes alight with joy—

She held up something in her hand. A pregnancy test. "Look at this, Jason. Do you know what this means?"

His heart flipped. "You're pregnant?"

"Yes, Jason. We're having a baby!" She tackled him again, nearly slamming him back against the wall. He could barely stand up as it was. Could hardly get his mind around it. He'd wanted a baby but never imagined it would be so soon—

His vision wavered, the room spinning. He maneuvered to the bed and sat down. She sat down beside him, arm wrapped around his. "You're happy, right?"

"Of course I'm happy. I just—can't believe it."

"Me either. I just saw the test in the gas station, and I picked it up on a whim—I was overdue, but I heard somewhere if you're stressed you skip a month so I wasn't worried about it, but after how we talked about a baby I thought, I might as well. I mean, just in case. I probably wasn't—but then—these things are really pretty accurate and—I still can't believe it. I'm pregnant! That even sounds weird." She pressed a hand over her stomach. "It's not just a vague hope. It's real! Now I've got so many things I have to do—and we've got to tell everybody! Do you think we should go over right now and—"

"Maybe we should keep it a secret that we share with each other, just tonight."

"Yeah, maybe so. But I'm going to be bursting to tell someone."

"We can celebrate at the restaurant."

"I might as well eat good food while I can. I'll probably get weird cravings too. That'll be fun."

"I'll bring you whatever you want, day or night."

She smiled. "What if I want chocolate from Spain?"

"I'll try to get it. I do have ways of finding things, you know. Secret agenting does have its perks sometimes."

"I'll send you out on missions for exotic food in the middle of the night."

"You will be the most beautiful boss I've ever had."

She wrapped her hand around his, and he pressed his hand over her stomach.

He looked into her eyes and kissed her, the wonder of it creeping up on him, though he could still hardly grasp what had happened. That he was a father. That, in nine months, he'd be holding their own little baby in his arms.
Avatar by Laura Hollingsworth (thesilvereye)

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Chapter 4
At the restaurant, Connie sat at the table, still in a daze. She didn't know if she could eat, she was so excited. But she tried to look through the menu, even though the French words blurred together. This was their time to celebrate—their honeymoon, being with him, and the baby. Our baby. She couldn't get her mind around it—that a little person was growing inside her, even as they waited for the waiter to return with their drinks.

Jason sat across from her, resplendent in his dark suit and tie, a nice little lock curling over his forehead. Adorable—she wanted to brush it back and kiss him there. Never stop. They shared something else now. How could this be possible? After all that had happened, how could she have so much joy?

No, don't even think about the past, she thought. Don't let it shadow this. Our future will have none of that in it. Our baby will grow up in a happy home, free of fear and anything horrible—I will protect him with my life.

I can't keep thinking of it as a boy, though. It might be a girl—and I want that just as much. But for some reason, it seems like a "him"….

The waiter returned with a sparkling juice bottle. He poured it into long-stemmed glasses. Then he asked for their order.

"I think we'll need a little more time," said Jason, looking at Connie. Connie nodded.

"I can't decide. Is there anything I'm supposed to eat, or not eat?"

Jason's brow furrowed. "I'm not sure. It's been like a whirlwind—but I should've found time to look up something like that."

"We didn't know we were going to have a baby so soon. Now we'll have to cram on everything. I want to do everything I can to make sure this baby's healthy. There's so much I don't know about babies and being a mom! I can still hardly believe it—our baby. How beautiful she'll be. If it takes after you, anyway."

"With you as the mother, it couldn't be anything but beautiful. If anything will ruin the baby's looks, it'll be me."

"Oh, stop. You know that if it's a boy, the girls will be fainting over how cute he is."

"And if it's a girl—I'll have to scare away any potential suitors."

"Till she's old enough. Like twenty."

"Or older. I'll still have some agent skills by then, hopefully—at least I'll scare them off the porch with my shotgun."

Images of her child when grown flashed across her mind—vague pictures of a belle in a gown with flowing brown hair, or a young man in a suit, heading to prom...

"Maybe it will be twins."

"It might be kind of nice for the babies to have someone to play with right away. A boy and a girl…." She was hardly hungry at all; all she needed right now was to imagine their child—their beautiful baby—with him. But she reluctantly turned to the menu.

"I think I heard somewhere that protein's good for growing babies," said Connie. "Maybe I should have steak."

Jason took out his phone, flipped through it. "Yes, you're right. Protein's a big one. So's calcium, iron, vitamin D—"

"Hm. What food has all of those things in it?"

"I think whatever you pick should be okay."

"Should. You don't know. What things are bad for a baby?"

Jason looked through his phone some more. "It looks like raw meat or eggs could carry salmonella. And you can't have cookie dough because that has raw eggs in it."

"There goes my favorite food. Oh, well. I hope I don't start craving cookie dough ice cream.

"Hm. I think I'll start out with a salad. And some salmon. That's supposed to be good for babies, isn't it?"

He nodded.

"Sorry—I think I'm getting paranoid. I'm already turning into one of those moms that get hyper over everything and overdo it—but it's better to be on the safe side. I don't want to risk anything that happens to this baby. No stressful adventures for a while. That goes for you, too."

"I'm not going anywhere. It'd have to be the end of the world—and even then, I'd stay by your side."

She reached across the table, felt his warm hand clasp hers. Her thumb rubbed the smooth surface of his wedding band…Till death do us part…and even then we'll be side by side in heaven….what will I do on earth if he leaves me first….and why am I thinking about that! This is hope, this is about our future—

A thought struck her. "Jason—what about Hope? I mean, for the baby's name. Or middle name. I just want something to show how everything's brought us to this—she's our hope that came out of the darkness of the past…"

"Only if it's a girl."

She smiled. "Of course. June Hope…could work." Her throat constricted at the very mention of her mom's name. "For a boy—Jeremiah Christian?"

"Has a ring to it," he said. "But it'll be a long time before we even find out if it's a boy or a girl."

"We have a long time to think of names. Do you think we should find out from the ultrasound, or wait and have it be a surprise?"

"I'm not sure….To be honest, I haven't quite gotten over the surprise of finding out you're pregnant. It doesn't…seem real to me yet."

"I feel that too. But at the same time, I can almost feel the baby inside of me, even though it isn't moving or anything…it's there, it's a life—I love her or him so much already."

"That's the advantage of being a mother. I have to experience things from a distance."

"You'll be glad when it's time for me to go into labor. I can't even think about that right now. Times like this I wish Mom was with me….she could give me advice…tell me what it was like. You and Whit will be with me, and Penny… but none of you have experienced having a baby."

"I wish I could share it somehow. Not just to take away your pain, but to experience the…joy of it. Something fathers can never really be a part of that a mother can. It's special."

She smiled. "That makes me feel better. But you better watch out, I heard somewhere that men can gain sympathy weight and get morning sickness."

He paled. "I kind of hope that happens….and kind of don't."

The waiter came and took their order. When he left, Connie asked, "When should we tell the others?"

"How about tomorrow morning?" he said. "We can go over to Whit's End."

"I'd like that. I haven't been there since before we left. I'm kind of homesick for it. I don't want to go back to work yet, though. I don't want our honeymoon to end."

"As long as we love each other, it doesn't have to end."

"Well—it'll be forever then." She looked around the restaurant. "I'm really glad you dragged me out of the house. As long as I'm with you, I'm happy. I don't know what I'll do when we have to do things on our own."

"We'll have to get used to that."

"After all we've been through—I don't want to let you out of my sight."

"I don't want to have to think of it yet."

"You're right. There's a lot we're going to have to get used to….I can't even imagine right now."

"I have a feeling I'm going to be paranoid, too. I won't want you to go anywhere dangerous. I'm not the old restless Jason anymore. I'm settling down. This is the adventure that I want—you, me and the baby growing up in Odyssey."

"Me too." She grasped his hand. Smiled.

"You are so beautiful," he said. "I like that dress."

"Thank you."

She blushed, and looked at him in his suit—how handsome he was. Suddenly she couldn't wait to get home again….

The waiter came with their food, and as they ate they discussed what they'd do tonight and tomorrow, and about the new and wonderful future ahead of them.

Back at home, she looked up into his eyes. Their blue facets glittered in the dim light. She reached up and swept back the curl from his forehead. Ran her hand down through his hair, down to his neck, trembling with love for him, and drew him down to her. His lips pressed to hers, soft as satin, tasting like salt.

He pulled back as a sob trembled through him. "I'm sorry," he said. She brought her hand through his hair down to his face, wet with tears.

"What is it?" Alarm shot through her; she didn't know what was wrong.

"It's just that—" he replied, still not facing her—"I'm finally realizing what's happening. That the darkness is over—and we've come through into the daylight—I'm married to you, and we're going to have a baby, and we're going to start a family. I can't believe that I can have such joy—but it's just hit me that this is our new life—and all that came before is nothing compared to the joy I feel with you, and the new baby that's ours. I don't want any more than this."

"I love you, Jason," she said.

"I love you, my Connie." He laced his hand in hers. "I just can't help thinking that happiness can't last. I don't trust it anymore—even though I need to trust it."

"I don't think it will go away anytime soon," she said, and caressed his cheek. "But even if it does, we can't let anything intrude on our happiness now. Don't think about it."

He smiled. "Okay." And he swept her into his arms with a kiss, and they immersed in each other, their joy and their never-ending love.
Avatar by Laura Hollingsworth (thesilvereye)

My book, Justice Lost, is on Amazon Kindle:
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Chapter 5
Connie leaned against Jason in the cold of the early morning, wrapping her arms around him. They stood on the front steps of his dad's house, because they couldn't wait to meet him at Whit's End. "Are you ready?"

She nodded, trembling with the excitement that ran through him like electric current. I'm a father! he thought. I can't wait to hear what Dad's reaction will be! He probably wondered if I'd ever give him a grandchild.

He kissed her forehead. She turned, and her eyes met his. Then she pressed her lips to his; they tasted like strawberries. Reminding him of the heavenly breakfast they'd made together—strawberries, pancakes and whipped cream.

He pressed the doorbell.

Heard the muffled "ding-dong" inside.

A moment later, the door opened. Whit stood there. His eyes lit up, though he looked a little bewildered. "Hi, Jason. Connie. What brings you here at this hour?"

Connie looked up at Jason. Then she burst out, "We have some good news! We—"

"Why don't you come inside."

They followed him into the house. They sat down on the couch, and Whit sat in the rocking chair. Jason wondered if he already knew—it probably wasn't hard to guess.

Jason let Connie tell him, because she couldn't stand to keep it in. Jason might have drawn it out a little more….

"What news do you have?"

Connie's warm fingers pressed into his. "We—oh my, I can't—I don't even know how to say this! Whit—we're having a baby."

Whit's face spread into a grin. "That makes me happier than I could have imagined."

"We found out yesterday—and I could hardly keep a secret for that long. We wanted to keep it to ourselves for the first day, make it just between the two of us."

"Me and Jenny did that," said Whit. "For Jerry. Of course, we didn't know anything about what the baby will be like—it's going to be amazing journey, discovering more about the baby every day."

"I keep thinking it's a boy," said Connie. "Maybe we'll have three, like you did. A Jerry, Jana, and Jason."

"Triplets?" said Jason.

"Triplets…" said Connie. "That would be another crazy surprise if it turned out like that….I don't know if I could handle it. I'm just so—it's all so new. I feel so strange, and crazy, and happy—I hardly know how to feel or what to do! I'm probably going to start babbling at some point if I'm not already."

"I feel the same way," said Jason. "It's all so surreal—but I'm so happy. We're starting a new chapter of our lives, and I have to just—let myself be happy for once. Without expecting anything bad to happen."

"Tomorrow has enough troubles of its own," said Whit, "but I hope it won't. You two deserve a long break." He smiled. "It goes to show that what's bad can give way to what's good. You can't really expect that there will be no trials, but you have to take each day as it comes and trust God for it. Previous trials don't preclude future ones."

"We've kind of experienced that," said Connie. "But God has to know that we can't keep going on like this. We need at least a few years before anything bad happens." She smiled, though Jason knew she was more than half serious.

"Sometimes trials multiply, but they don't last forever. Just if it comes again, know that it doesn't mean God has abandoned you—like in the book of Job."

Connie laughed. "I hope that's not what our life will be like."

"Even he had it good in the end. All he had was restored to him."

"But ten of his kids died. Ten more kids couldn't replace them."

Whit nodded, sadness in his eyes. "That's true. But it didn't mean the children they had didn't give him joy. He probably appreciated what he had more than he did before. Previous sorrow doesn't mean you can't be restored—God will give you joy and hope even if your past has been filled with darkness."

"Maybe what's happened makes me appreciate this more—but I don't want to think about any future sadness. I want to think of this as our happily-ever-after phase."

"I want to dwell on the present joy, too. I just don't want you to be taken off guard if something does happen."

"Let's just talk about the good things from now on. I am a new mom and I order it." She folded her arms. "This baby will have a wonderful, bright future without any pain."


"I know, I can't make that happen. I've got to trust God for his future. But at the same time, I'm going to make sure I do everything I can to make this baby have a good start in life."

"Me too," said Jason. "I'm going to protect him or her with my life. If any danger does come, I'll do anything to protect the baby, and his mother."

"I will do everything I can to help you in every way," said Whit. "It will be nice to have a grandchild close to me."

"He can go to Whit's End every day!" said Connie. "I can't imagine a better childhood. I wish I'd have had a Whit's End when I was a kid."

"With Kendall and Whittaker blood, and Dad around, I'm sure he'll be at Whit's End all the time. He'll be the quintessential Whittaker."

"I can just see him running around the shop," said Whit. "I'll teach him the ropes—if I'm still around."

"Whit!" said Connie. "Don't say things like that!"

"I'm not getting any younger, you know."

"Is there anything we should know about?" asked Jason, a twinge of fear in his heart. Too much happiness was too good to be true.

His father shook his head. "I'm fine. I'm just being realistic."

"Well, cut it out. We're trying to be happy here."

"Sorry. I want to be a part of your baby's life. But you never know; it's all in God's hands whether I live past one hundred or die today."

"Oh, you're living past one hundred," said Jason. "It is kind of my fault that I didn't have a kid sooner—but then, I wouldn't have had Connie. I should have fallen for her sooner though—we could have been married for years by now."

"We had a good run as best friends," said Connie. "We still are."

"And we always will be." He kissed the bridge of her nose.

"As long as I'm here," said Whit, "I'll be with you every step of the way. I don't want to miss a day of this baby's new life."

"I'll need plenty of advice on being a father," said Jason. "But then, I've had the best role model around. I'll never be able to live up to you."

"I don't know about that. You're shaping up to be pretty amazing yourself." Whit smiled. "But you don't have to be like me—it's good that you're different. You'll have your own unique take on being a father."

"I'll try to keep the baby from turning out like me. He is part Connie. And with you around, Dad, there won't be too much danger of that."

"Adventurous, strong, virtuous, brave—I'd say you're a pretty good model to follow."

"I'd rather he didn't make the mistakes that I made, though," said Jason. "And avoid the pain I have had to go through."

"Mistakes and pain are both a part of life."

Jason nodded. "I'm going to count on you to keep him or her grounded."

"I'm probably not the best with that either," said Connie. "I'm going to want to protect him from everything—and that's not practical. He has to learn to do things on his own—but it'll be so hard to let him go. Let him ride his bike and fall….just be there to put on a Band-Aid."

"That's a lot of what being a parent is," said Whit.

"I just wish I had my mom around to ask, like Jason has you. Plus there's the whole childbirth thing."

"You're right, I can't help you with that. I know some things vicariously—but I'm not Jenny, or June. There's no replacement for someone who's been a mom."

"I've picked up some things. But I wish I had Mom by my side. I could ask her things—and she could just be there for me. Penny, Joanne, Katrina—none of them have been moms."

"Perhaps you could ask some of the moms at church. Like Mrs. Washington or Mrs. Parker."

"I'm just not as close to them. I could though."

"I think I heard of a young mother's group," said Jason. "Maybe you could join them."

Connie nodded. "That sounds good. We'll all be in the same boat. And one of the older moms can be a mentor. You two are all I really need, though. And the baby. And I'll be trusting God through all this—it'll be an interesting adventure, that's for sure. It'll be so fun getting to know him and carrying him for nine months and then—well, the next part won't be fun but then I'll have the baby and it'll be in my arms and I'll be able to kiss him. And then we'll curl up together and I'll get to hear his first word and see him start to crawl and walk and watch Jason play with him and teach him and you'll teach him, Whit, and we'll do things together and go on adventures and—I just can't wait." She smiled.

Jason wrapped his arm around her. "I can't wait either." He kissed her temple. "But I'm going to savor each moment. Each step of the journey, I'm going to love, and walk with you, and never take anything for granted. That's one thing the darkness has taught me. And I'm going to be the best father I can be. I love you and the baby with all my heart and I'm going to never let you down and serve you for the rest of my life, no matter what the sacrifices I have to make. We've just started out, but we've got so much ahead of us. So much that's beautiful to discover together."

They stood, and wrapped in an embrace. Then they headed over to Whit's End.
Avatar by Laura Hollingsworth (thesilvereye)

My book, Justice Lost, is on Amazon Kindle:
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Chapter 6

Connie walked with Penny down a path at the edge of town. Penny held a picnic basket, and Connie could see the diamond ring sparkling on her hand. Connie was so happy—for Penny and Wooton, and for herself and Jason and the new baby. She couldn't wait until she could feel the baby kick, but she was only two months along.

The sun shone high in the brilliant cloudless blue as they made their way along the path, the apple trees in early summer overflowing with leaves, tiny green apples peeking out from beneath them.

They stopped beneath a tree at the edge of the field. Penny set down the picnic basket and Connie helped her spread out a blanket on the ground under the tree.

She sat down, her legs curled up underneath her, the blanket soft against her skin. She took out a turkey sandwich and bit into it. As much as she was glad to have time to do things with Penny, she wished that Jason was here. But he was on a business trip for Whit. Whit had fallen a few weeks ago, giving them a scare, but he'd only bruised a rib and sprained an ankle, giving Connie and Jason more time to help out in the shop. Usually that meant they were together—though it was hectic—but she wished she could be with him all the time. Their honeymoon had officially ended almost two months ago, but she loved him with just as much intensity—she didn't know if it would ever stop and didn't want it to.

"It's nice to have a picnic with just the two of us," said Connie.

"I'm no substitute for Jason."

"Of course not. But it's nice to get some girl talk in. Especially when Jason's gone."

"When's he going to be back?"

"In two days. I think. I miss him, especially since we've been together so much—I've been spoiled. Working with him at Whit's End—we were hardly ever apart ever since we were married. We haven't gotten tired of each other yet! Every moment he's away from me I can't wait to get back with him….But maybe he needed to get away from me for a little—that's why he accepted the business trip."

Penny's brow furrowed. "I'm sure that's not why he did it."

"He did it for Whit, I know. I know Jason loves me. I just can't believe I'm as interesting and fun to be around as he is."

"You're always interesting and fun!"

Connie smiled. "Yeah, but try being around me 24/7! You might want a little space. Sometimes I do give Jason a little space, because I know he needs it. But then we always end up back together again, like we're magnets or something….we can't help it." She laughed.

Penny looked at her, eyes bright. "I hope me and Wooton have a relationship like you and Jason. Yours seems perfect."

"Not perfect….we've had our share of troubles. You know."

Penny nodded somberly.

"But—so far God's granted our prayers. Ever since we've gotten back to Odyssey, it's been amazing—perfect—everything I could ask for. The shadows of the past can't darken our happiness anymore. I haven't even had any morning sickness yet! Maybe it'll keep going like this, so we can have a good, stable life for our baby."

"I hope so," said Penny. She reached out a hand, and grasped Connie's, who pulled her into a hug over the remains of the food.

"Want to go for a walk?" said Connie.


They packed up their food and left the picnic basket under the tree. Walked down the track of a vehicle that had trampled the grass. A tree stood further out in the field, beyond pink, purple and yellow flowers. A gust of warm wind blew past, and she felt like running with it.

She raced the wind, everything she'd done with Jason over the past few months flooding her mind and heart, aching with the joy of it—of all they'd shared, all they would share.

I need you back, Jason. Two days is too long….but when you get back, we'll do something special—

She ran faster toward the tree, hoping Jason was okay, knowing he probably was—it was just a trip for Universal Press—not the NSA. Still—if anyone could get in trouble—

No—I'd better not think that way. She ran faster shedding those thoughts, immersing in joy—running through the flowers, racing Penny to the tree, laughing, the sun kissing her cheeks, the purple pink and yellow flowers streaking past—grass rustled against her legs, so tall it reached her waist—

Her foot caught on something hard beneath the grass. She tried to catch herself but all she grabbed was air—grass slashed at her face as she plunged to the ground, landing on her stomach.

Blackness splattered across her vision.

She gasped, pain shooting through her ribs. She tried to take a breath, but it'd been stolen from her. Finally she gulped air and a dart of fire shot through her stomach. A cry tore from her throat. She tried to call Penny but she still could hardly breathe.

She tried to move, to get up, but the pain stabbed her. The baby! The thought doused the pain. He has to be okay….

"Connie!" Penny's horrified face appeared, looking down through the frame of grass. "Are you okay?"

"I—I don't know," she managed. She took another breath—it hurt, but at least she could breathe. Penny reached down. Connie tried to get up but a cry escaped her lips.

"Oh, Connie! I'll call 911."

"No, I'm fine. I'll be okay….I have to be." She forced herself onto her hands and knees.

"If you're hurt you should go to the hospital."

"It's probably nothing—it can't be. My baby…."

Penny's mouth dropped open. "Oh! Maybe you should go to the hospital to check on him, just in case."

Connie nodded. If anyone could help if something went wrong, the hospital could. "I just don't want to tell Jason. In case it's nothing." She grasped Penny's hand and climbed to her feet, hunched over, her hand over her stomach. Her ribs throbbed, but not the sharp pain of before. "See, I'm all right." She straightened—or tried to. A dagger stabbed her side. "Maybe not…"

Penny supported her as she crept back at an agonizing pace. Back to the apple trees, careful not to move in any way that would hurt. It felt like a knife was embedded in her side, stabbing her every time she breathed. Maybe it was a broken rib. She'd take anything but the alternative….

I'd rather hurt myself a thousand times than hurt you, she told the baby. I need to protect you with my life, not fall right onto you. You're fine, aren't you? Maybe my ribs took the impact and kept you protected.

They reached the car. Penny helped her inside, and went back to grab the picnic basket. Slammed the door while Connie leaned her head in her hand, sickness clutching her.

Penny slid into the driver's seat. "Are you okay?" She put her hand tentatively on Connie's shoulder. "Maybe I should call an ambulance."

"No—I'll be fine. Got to drive to the hospital either way, so…."

"I'll try to drive fast."

"Not too fast."

"Yeah, I don't want a policeman to pull me over." Penny twisted the key in the ignition, and it roared to life.

"Sorry about this."

"It's not your fault! It was that stupid rock's fault. You couldn't have known it was there."

"Yeah….I just should've been looking where I was going. I hope the baby's all right…."

Penny nodded, looking worried. The car rumbled down the gravel road, each bump hurting her side. It did feel more like her side than her stomach…. Maybe she was worried about nothing, because she'd been so careful till now. She focused on breathing, praying constantly.

The pain began to numb as they sped out onto the highway.

A sharp ache twisted deep in her stomach.

Panic clutched her. "Penny—can we go just a little faster?"

Penny, grim-faced, nodded, and pressed the gas pedal, nudging the speedometer up to 80, only slowing down when they reached town, the towering white stone of the hospital looming into view.
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NO! The Agony! WHAT HAPPENS?! I'm dying Ameraka! Post more soon, please!
"Let me get this straight. I bet all those non-friends of yours try to embarrass you about your love for that stuff, right? So, you almost feel like you have to hide your treasures away and can only take them out in secret on rainy days when your mom goes to the store to get more liver and nobody is around to berate your sensitive spirit. Is that what you’re saying?" -Jay Smouse
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Ok! I'll post the next one.

Chapter 7

Jason's phone rang in his pocket. He was just exiting the building on the way to his Chicago hotel after a long UPF meeting. He picked up the phone as he stepped through the revolving doors into the cool breeze of a Chicago evening.

The number: Connie's. His heart leaped. He hadn't heard her voice all day….

"Hi my beautiful."

A silence. Then, "Hi. Um…this is Penny."

"Oh. Is Connie okay?"

The next bit of silence stabbed fear through him. "Yes," Penny said, "but she….fell."

Jason stopped dead on the sidewalk, heedless of the people walking past.

"She's in the emergency room now. She didn't want to call and worry you but then when she went in she changed her mind. She fell over a rock when she was running. She says her stomach hurts. It seems like her ribs or something."

He gasped. His Connie—alone, hurting—in the hospital—"I'll take the first flight back I can. Thanks, Penny."

Jason headed to the parking garage and jumped into his car. Sped onto the highway, calling the airport. They had an early evening flight to Odyssey.

Two agonizing hours till he was by her side.

He rushed into the hospital, into the waiting room where Penny and his father sat. "How is she?"

"The doctor told us she has a broken rib," said Penny.

"Can I see her?"

"They haven't let us in yet," said his father.

"But—it's been two hours. It's just a broken rib. Unless—something else is wrong." Fear crept up on him.

"I think they've been doing tests. To make sure the baby's okay."

"Oh." Fear struck his heart. During the plane ride, he'd wondered about the baby, but had assumed Connie's injury wasn't serious enough to threaten it. "I'm going to ask if I can go in."

He went to the reception desk. "Can I see Connie Whittaker?" he asked the nurse. "I'm her husband, Jason."

"Just a moment. Let me check." She called Connie's doctor. "Hm. Yes. All right." She looked back at Jason, a spark of sympathy in her eyes. "Yes, you can go in now. Room 303."

He walked down the hallway, his heart beating hard against his chest.

Room 303. A nurse stood inside, writing something on a chart. She left just as he entered. Connie was lying in bed, curled up, her back to him. He walked over to her. Touched her shoulder.

She turned to face him, sliding to sit up a little against the pillows. Her face tearstained. Infinite sadness in her eyes.

"Connie—" His voice choked in his throat. He didn't want to know what that sadness meant.

"Jason—" She reached for him and he grasped her hand and sat down on the bed beside her. She struggled to speak, the pain in her face unbearable. "Jason, I—I lost the baby." A tear slipped down her cheek. "Oh, Jason—I lost the baby!" A sob wracked her body. She grasped his shoulders, pulling him to her and, shocked, he pressed his cheek against hers. Her hot tears met his cheeks.

He wanted to help her, comfort her, while he could hardly take in what had happened—how could it be true….their baby—the baby they'd had so much hope for—


Pain pierced his heart and tears flowed down his face, mingling with hers. He wrapped his arm around her, consumed in grief.

They cried together until the tears subsided, leaving a hollow deep ache, his body numb….

She flipped over, facing him. Her face pale, freckles standing out in sharp relief. Her eyes reflected the pain that tore through his heart with every breath. "I'm sorry," she said.

"It's not your fault."

"I shouldn't have been running—and I fell—I hurt the baby." Her breath hitched, threatening tears again.

"Is that what the doctor said?"

"No…she said that a fall at this stage doesn't usually cause…a…miscarriage. But how can it just be a coincidence? I can't help but think it's my fault, Jason!"

He brushed a strand of hair back from her cheek. He had to be there for her now. No matter what he might feel, he couldn't let it cut him off from her. He wished he could take away her pain…but the best he could do was help bear her burden in any way he could. As much loss as he felt, he couldn't imagine what she did—feeling so close to the baby, carrying it for two months….

"If the doctor said it wasn't your fault, then there wasn't anything you could do."

"Maybe I did something wrong…should've done something differently…even though I was so careful."

"Connie, don't blame yourself."

"Who am I supposed to blame? God?"

"No… Maybe God has a reason—"

"What reason could there be for this? After all we've gone through, how could God do this to us? Why, Jason?" A sob caught her throat again. She turned away, tears trickling down her cheek.

Pain stabbed his heart—for the baby he'd lost, and for the agony she was in. "I…I don't know why. We might never know….We just have to trust that God has a purpose in everything he does."

"But my baby! Jason, I loved him. I loved him so much…I had a name for him. Jeremiah Christian. And then, last week, we heard his heartbeat. It sounded healthy. So small and tiny…but he was there and he was mine and now he's gone….I already loved him so much…." She sobbed, leaning her head against his chest. Hot tears soaking into his shirt. He stroked her hair, at a loss at how to comfort her, tears streaming down his face.

God, why? After all we've gone through, to give us such joy—only to take it away—I can't see what kind of purpose there could possibly be for this. I know there is one, I just—

I loved my baby too. So much.

Connie's sobs subsided and she lay against his chest, still, unmoving. He still ran his fingers through her hair, the motion comforting him. Numb except for the dull ache squeezing his heart….

"I can't cry anymore," she said softly. "It hurts too much. But the only way to stop is to…stop thinking about him. I don't know if I can do that…I…don't want to just pretend he didn't exist…like nothing happened and get on with our lives."

"We shouldn't do that. We have to remember him. I'm going to be here for you no matter what. He was my baby, too."

She stirred. Lifted herself up, and gave him a kiss on the cheek. "Let's go home."

"Okay. They'll let you go, right?"

"Yeah, their tests are done. I just…didn't want to tell the others. I wanted to tell you first…but saying it somehow made it more real and—" She shook her head, fighting tears. "I need to go home."

"I'll take you."

He helped her out of bed. She gasped, doubled over a bit, hand on her side. Her arm in his, he helped her slowly out to the waiting room.

She told Whit and Penny what had happened. They cried, embracing her carefully. Then, Jason drove Connie home, a late spring rain lashing against the windshield like a storm of tears.
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Ameraka, this is as heartbreaking the second time as reading it the first.
The emotion is so vivid and strong...excellent work!
I consider that our present sufferings are not worth comparing with the glory that will be revealed in us - Romans 8:18

It’s not enough to be against something. You have to be for something better. – Tony Stark
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I'm crying... Thanks Amereka, that was beautiful.
"Let me get this straight. I bet all those non-friends of yours try to embarrass you about your love for that stuff, right? So, you almost feel like you have to hide your treasures away and can only take them out in secret on rainy days when your mom goes to the store to get more liver and nobody is around to berate your sensitive spirit. Is that what you’re saying?" -Jay Smouse
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GJFH wrote:Ameraka, this is as heartbreaking the second time as reading it the first.
The emotion is so vivid and strong...excellent work!
Thanks GJFH! Thanks for reading again and commenting!
PennyBassett wrote:I'm crying... Thanks Amereka, that was beautiful.
Thanks Penny! I actually cried as I wrote this. Even reading it a second time, it was hard to see the characters go through this (even if it didn't happen "in real life").
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Chapter 8

Connie lay in her room, the rain dripping down the window pane, leaves trembling in the wind against the dark. The sounds soaked into her, soothing her, drowning out the pain.

Don't think, she told herself. Don't let it in

But the horror and sorrow slammed back full force and she curled up, crying, trying to shut out the pain but she couldn't because it was burning through her heart, ripping through every nerve.

Why? Please, God, why? she screamed inside.

Emptiness screamed back.

The baby, gone. Little Jeremiah… the one she'd loved. His absence made a mockery of her and Jason's love.

A creak behind her. She didn't move. A body slid onto the bed beside her.

"Connie, can I do anything?" A hand touched her shoulder. She flinched. The hand withdrew.


"How's your side?" Jason settled in beside her.

"Can't feel it."


"I'd rather feel that than…this." A sob tore from her throat.

He slid his arm around her, sought her hand. She didn't lace her fingers in his; she couldn't make herself move. She could do nothing but ache. She didn't want to forget her baby but she longed for oblivion. The end of the horrible empty feeling eating her apart.

It was her fault. They'd just said the accident was unrelated to keep her from feeling guilty. It couldn't just be a coincidence.

"It's my fault," she said.

"No, it's not." He traced her cheek with his finger, twined it in her hair.

"Yes, it is, Jason! I killed him. I killed my baby. It's my fault!" A sob wrenched her stomach and she turned toward Jason, grabbed his shirt, sobs wracking her body, tears drenching the fabric beneath her. His own chest shook and he stroked her hair as she cried against him, grief and horror spilling through her, pain shooting through her heart like a constantly twisting knife.

And finally, her body spent, she fell into welcome darkness.


She woke against his chest, his breathing steady beside her. The room was dark and still. For a moment, she remembered nothing. Something nagged behind the blank wall in her mind, but otherwise she felt calm, tired….had something happened? Perhaps it had all been a dream.

She laced her fingers into his hair, traced his features in the moonlight. Jason…my love. We will have our baby in a few months and then—

It slammed into her like a bolt of lightning. A cry tore from her throat.

The baby. Gone.

She shook with unshed sobs and turned toward the window. Curled in on herself, shutting out the world. Shutting down the pain.

No more. She could stand no more.

She reached for darkness, and let it pull her under its numbing waves.

She awoke to a fiery knife stabbing her side with every breath. A groan escaped her throat. Jason's eyes opened, catching hers. "Connie! Are you okay?"

"Side—hurts." Her stomach hurt too, reminding her of what had happened, but that pain was behind a blinding veil of physical pain.

"I'll get your pills." He reached for the bottle on the lampstand. Shook a couple pills into his hand and lifted the water bottle to her mouth.

She hesitated. To dull the pain would be to feel the black, ripping emptiness. She'd rather feel this. She deserved to feel this for what she'd done. For hurting her baby. For killing him.

I should feel all of it. But I don't know if I can bear it….

She shook her head.

"Connie, you have to take your pills. They'll make you feel better."

She let him pour some water into her mouth, and slip the pills in one at a time. She swallowed them, her mind separate from what her body was doing.

Jason slid out of bed. "What would you like for breakfast?"

She had no idea. She didn't really want to eat anything. "Don't care."

He frowned a little. "I'll get you something. You should eat." He disappeared through the open doorway.

The pain in her side dulled till it was nothing more than a pulsing throb she could almost ignore. She let the pain build up in her heart, the hollow ache burning through it, till it raged into an inferno eating her inside out. She gasped, hid her head in the pillow but the pain followed her….

Dear God, please help me, she prayed. Help me not to feel this… give him back to me. He was our hope, our light after all that darkness and you took him from us! Why? I would have broken myself for him, given myself up if only it meant saving his precious little life.

Sobs ripped through her. Hot tears drenched the pillow beneath her cheeks. She rolled over, seeking some refuge from it, some way to numb—

The white pill bottle stood there like a lighthouse in a storm. She snatched it, grabbed the water bottle. Shook some pills into her palm. Stared at the pile of small white disks. Blank eyes, drawing her to them.

Kill the pain, she thought, and tipped them into her mouth.

Just as Jason opened the door.
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Chapter 9

Shock ripped through Jason's heart. At first he wasn't sure what he was seeing, then he charged over and grabbed the water bottle.

"Connie, what are you doing?" He snatched the pills and took the pill bottle, and went into the bathroom and threw the pills into the wastebasket. The pill bottle he still held in his hand, not sure what to do with it.

Shock still trembled through him. He'd never have thought—his Connie—was she in that much pain? He was devastated too but he hadn't considered—that. He'd never even thought that she'd ever want to...leave him.

He put the pill bottle in the bathroom cabinet behind some cleaning supplies and went back into their room. Sat down on the bed. She was staring into the distance, as if she didn't even see him.


Her eyes focused on his, so full of pain he could hardly bear it.

His hand crept to hers, pressed it gently. Her skin was cold. Tears glistened on her face, stained her pillow. His beautiful Connie. He stroked back some of the damp, messy hair from her face.

"Why did you take them?" he asked.

"I don't want to feel. It's too much." Her voice was hoarse, shaky.

"I know. But you shouldn't—I mean, I don't want you to leave me."

Her brow furrowed. "Not going to leave. Just need to sleep…."

"You can't take those pills for that." Relief swept through him it didn't seem like it had been her intention to end her life; she just wasn't thinking clearly right now. "You can't take more than a couple at a time, or it could hurt you."

"Oh." She flipped onto her stomach, buried her head into the pillow. He sat down next to her, laid his hand on her shoulder. Rubbed her back up and down, trying to comfort her, not knowing how.

"I—made some breakfast for you," he said tentatively. "Pancakes and cherries."

She didn't answer.

"Do you want some?"

"Nnn," she said. It sounded like a no. He lay down beside her until soft sobs faded into heavy, steady breathing.

Then he went downstairs and cut into the cold pancakes, stuck a piece into his mouth. It was rubbery, tasteless. He threw them all into the garbage and shoved the plates into the sink—one of them chipped but it didn't matter.

He sat down at the table in the late morning sun, his heart aching for Connie, for the baby they'd lost.

Dear God, he prayed, what do I do? How do I help her?

When no answer appeared, he lay down on the couch. The ache in his heart until he felt it would tear a hole there, but still he couldn't cry.

He woke up in the late afternoon, red-gold sunlight slanting through the window shades. He sat up, his body numb and sore, his old wounds aching.

One word blazed through his mind. Connie.

I can't leave her alone like this.

He dashed upstairs, tripping and nearly falling on his face, and encountered her lying on her side, staring out the window. She wasn't moving. His heart stopped. Then he saw the slow rise and fall of her chest. Her face was rumpled from the covers, tearstained. He sat down beside her. Tried to meet her eyes. Laid his hand gently on her cheek. She didn't move.


She didn't answer.

His hand crept into her cold one, her fingers like ice. Her hand warmed against his, but she didn't respond. Didn't move.

He stayed there like that, his hand in hers, until the sky blackened and filled with a kaleidoscope of stars.

The next day, he bound her ribs. Administered medicine. Helped give her a bath. She only moved when he helped her up, and didn't look at him, staring off into space as if she'd become catatonic. Worry cut through him. Should I take her to the doctor? he wondered. Or is it just a part of grief….Should I be feeling like she does if I miss the baby? Or do we have different ways of dealing with it….

I'm not sure if I am dealing with it. I don't really—it hasn't really sunk in, like I couldn't get my mind around the fact we were going to have a baby. And now—she's so close to it, closer even than I am, so it makes sense. I just—have to focus on taking care of her. I don't really want to stare it in the face. I don't want to know—for sure—the baby isn't going to come, ever.

Pain pierced his heart, and a sob shook him as he walked through the hall, carrying a damp Connie in a bathrobe. He steadied himself against the doorway. Then he laid her into bed, and tucked the covers over her. She snuggled into bed as if it were her only solace. The only way she could find peace was in the oblivion of sleep.

How can I help her? he thought for the hundredth time. I can't make it go away, I can't erase what happened and make everything all right again—so what else can I do? I'd sacrifice my life for her. To get the baby back. But it doesn't work that way.

Didn't I love him enough? Is that why I'm not devastated like she is? I just—can't believe he's gone—

The ache hit him then full force and tears spilled onto his cheeks. He lay down beside her, wrapped his arm around her, laced his hand in hers. "Connie—my Connie—I'm so sorry!" It wasn't his fault but he felt responsible in a way—he should have been there for her instead of gallivanting around the country. He should have never left her side and then she might not have fallen—he might have caught her in his arms and everything would be all right—but he couldn't do anything now, so maybe it wouldn't have made any difference. He was failing her now, as he had then. He could do nothing to help her, nothing to protect her, nothing to bring the baby back—precious little Jeremiah—tears streamed down his face, dampening the pillow, his heart aching beyond repair.

The phone rang, awakening him into the bluish dusk of early evening. He grabbed it from the nightstand. Connie stirred, just a little, then dove back under the covers.

"Hello?" said Jason. He got up, slipped out of the room, shutting the door open just a crack.

"Hi, Jason," said his father. "Do you or Connie need anything? Everyone's been sending condolences but they don't want to bother you if you don't want it."

"Oh. Yes. I'm sorry—I've just been—"His voice caught. "It's Connie. Dad, I don't know what to do."

"What's wrong?" Alarm sprang into Whit's voice.

"She's—she's not eating anything. She's not moving, not doing anything. I try—I touch her, and she's cold—should I take her to the doctor? Is it—normal?"

"I think, if this keeps up for much longer, you should take her to the doctor. The death of a baby can hit very hard. I—" Whit stopped. "I never told you this, but Jenny had a miscarriage. She responded a lot the same way. For two days, she didn't eat, didn't sleep….Then on the third morning she got up and fixed breakfast. We all go through grief in different ways. I—didn't even know about the pregnancy beforehand but it hit me hard when it happened. How are you holding up?"

"Okay. I need to be here for her—I try not to think about it—but then, I shouldn't be okay. Shouldn't I react more like her?"

"Like I said, we go through grief in different ways. The distance we fathers have can be hard in its own way. It can be harder for you to face what happened. Make sure you're not just taking care of her needs; you're taking care of your own. She's relying on you—if you can't deal with it, she won't be able to."

"I know. It doesn't really feel like she needs me. She doesn't even—she doesn't even look at me, Dad." His voice broke. It occurred to him that she might blame him.

"Even though she can't tell you, she appreciates what you're doing for her. You're there for her. That's what matters, whether she shows it or not."

"Yeah. I just wish I could do more. I wish I could take away her pain…."

"It's important for us to feel the pain, to go through it, not avoid it. And don't forget, God's with you too. You can rely on him to take you through this."

"I know. He feels…kind of faraway right now."

"But he's there. He can do more for you than I can. If you need anything, Jason—"

"I can't really think of anything. I don't know if she wants company right now. But if I need to take her to the hospital—"

"I'll call tomorrow, make sure everything's all right."

"Okay. Thanks, Dad."

He hung up, feeling emotionally drained, but his spirits lifted a little bit just by hearing his father's voice. A voice that was somewhere beyond this dark house filled with pain…..

He cuddled up to her still, cold form, and wrapped his arm around her shoulder.

God, please give me the strength to go through this, to not avoid the pain but live it, get past it eventually even though part of me wants to feel this way…to not forget him. Help me to give her the support that she needs. As much as it hurts, I want to bear the burden with her. Let her know she's not alone. I miss him too. So much….Somehow, I need to hope that it can get better. That Connie will be herself again, even if our baby can't be with us….

He laced his hand in hers, and sleep enveloped him in darkness.
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Chapter 10

Connie awoke to the smell of flowers. She opened her eyes. Flowers of all colors lay beside her. Water droplets sprinkled over the petals and leaves. Sunlight created prisms, rainbows dancing, flickering across the covers. She drew in a breath; she had never seen something so beautiful. She touched satiny petals. Took a delicate stem, drew it toward her; a yellow stamen tickled her nose.

She lay back with the flower pressed to her heart, her eyes closed. Sunlight drenched her as she breathed. The deep aches in her body kneaded through her, unfurled….some of them disappearing into the air.

A kiss pressed to her forehead. "Connie," said a voice. She looked up to see Jason gazing down at her. He seemed distant, somehow; his face vague, unfamiliar, as if he were a stranger. She shrank away from him; hurt flashed in his blue eyes. She felt a twinge of guilt, but went back to looking at the flowers. Their beauty. Any pain at all was too much right now.

"Would you…like some breakfast?" he asked.

Her stomach rumbled. She was hungry. She wanted to eat—maybe pleasure would put some distance between her and pain.

She nodded. His eyes lit up. "What would you like?"

"Pizza. And watermelon."

His brow furrowed for a second. Then he smiled. "Coming right up." He left the room.

She lay there with the flowers while the sun shone brighter through the window. She crushed a few of them to her chest, in order to have something, anything to hold. Kissed their petals as if they were the soft skin of a baby.

The baby she'd never have.

Pain cut through her again. She sat up. No more pain. I've got to think of something—anything else. Maybe keep these flowers from dying. The remainder of them, anyway.

She climbed out of bed shakily. Tottered to the bathroom, found a large cup by the bathtub, and filled it with water. The gentle rushing sound washed over her; she closed her eyes and let it fill the cup, till it spilled over onto her hand, cold, fresh, numbing…..

Absently, she turned the faucet off and went back into her room. Stuck the flowers in the cup on the bedside table, and sat back against the pillows, exhausted from that little bit of activity.

Jason came in, the room filling with the smell of pizza. He laid the pizza cardboard on the bed. "All yours," he said. "I'll go get the melon."

She nodded. Stared at the pizza as if it were a foreign thing…it looked like a massive amount of food. But she took a piece, pulling it away with long strings of cheese, and tasted it.

A blend of cheese and sauce and spices burst onto her tongue. She devoured it without stopping and then grabbed another one. She took a bite of the triangle end and then stopped, feeling sick. Gobbling up the first one had been too much at once. She flopped the piece back onto its cardboard.

I need distraction, she thought, fighting waves of nausea. I need something to do to keep me from thinking of it…burying myself in this hole just makes it worse. I should've known that; I'm not the kind of person who can stay still very long.

She leaned her head over her knees; the waves of sickness dissipated.

"Are you okay?" said Jason as he came back in.

She sat up. "Yeah. Just—ate the pizza too fast, that's all."

"Oh. Maybe pizza wasn't the best thing…."

"Well, it was what I wanted." She grabbed for the bowl of watermelon.

"Sure you should eat that?"

She popped a sphere of melon into her mouth in answer. The cold chunk nearly melted in her mouth; she ate it slowly, lusciously. After a couple more, she ventured to eat some more pizza again, this time not so fast.

Jason sat down beside her and took a slice. The pizza crunched into the silence.

Between them, they finished the whole pizza except for one half-slice that Connie couldn't eat. Jason took it and the bowl of leftover melon downstairs.

She sat there, looking at the flowers, till he returned and lay down beside her.

He caressed her cheek; she flinched away.

"What's wrong?" he said.

"Sorry. It's just—I've been alone so long."

"I never left."

She searched his eyes. So earnest, full of love….but something was missing. A disconnect, between his eyes and her soul…a hollowness that made him seem distant, like someone she vaguely knew.

He had been there all along. But he could never really know. Never share her pain—the horror she'd been trapped in the last few days (or weeks? Months?). He'd never know her guilt, or the connection she'd felt with the little life that had been cut off. Looking in his eyes, she knew this, and could not bear it. Her pain was not his; she'd always have to bear this burden alone.

She turned over, her back to him. Sleep crept up on her and plunged her into its infinite depths.

She awoke, numb. The flowers fluttered in a soft breeze from the window. A petal flicked off and floated toward her, landing on the bed, a bright red tear. She picked it up and felt its velvet between her thumb and forefinger.

Jason's arm crept over her waist. He kissed her cheek. Something in her rebelled against his touch. She sat up, her head whirling. This sterile, sick room, pain shadowing the corners. She had to get out of it, or she'd be sick again.

She climbed out of bed, and Jason helped her downstairs. He brought her some clothes, which she put on in the downstairs bathroom, and then, shaking from the exertion, she sat down on the couch. He sat down beside her and turned on the TV.

TV. Perfect.

Programs drew her in, taking her from one emotion to the next, rolling over her pain like waves, burying it. She absorbed herself in shows till she could hardly feel her own body, and she loved it. She only drew herself out of it to eat; Jason brought her whatever she wanted.

She watched long into the night, the blue light flickering against the shadowed walls. Finally she fell asleep.

She awoke late in the afternoon. Jason brought her breakfast, and she immersed in more movies and shows. In the evening, he said, "Maybe we should turn it off for a little bit."

"No!" she said, grabbing for the remote like an addict for drugs. And the programs swept her up in their manufactured emotions again.

In the brilliant white light of morning, though, their novelty faded. She wanted to get up. Do something. So Jason took her for a drive. They went out in the country past Trickle Lake, up into the hills, and she gloried in the beauty of the outdoors—the trees, the sky—had they been so beautiful before?

They ended up at Whit's End. "Sure you want to go in?" said Jason.

She nodded. He helped her inside, and they sat in a corner booth. Whit, keeping the kids away, came over and asked for their order. She ordered pizza and a strawberry shake.

When they were almost done, Whit came back over and sat down with them. "So how are you doing, Connie?"

She sipped a cold bit of shake.

"Good," Jason answered for her. "Much better than…before."

Whit nodded, sadness in his eyes. She couldn't bear it. Didn't want anyone's sympathy. Just wanted to get back to normal. Do things. Forget. But her body and mind wouldn't quite cooperate….

They talked together of inane things, circling around the central issue. A scream built up inside her—she had to distract herself somehow—

She ran outside into the glow of the sunset. The orange and gold drenched the sky, melting its fading warmth into her. Jason wrapped his arms around her shoulders as she stood on the steps, and a cold wind blew by, the colors fading into purple and blue as if the whole sky was bruised.

He took her home and she huddled down in the couch covers and watched TV all night. She only fell asleep after the sun began to paint the sky gold again.

Slowly but surely, life flowed back into her veins. Beauty transported her; TV numbed her when the pain got too much. Jason was always with her, giving her what she wanted, helping her even when she didn't need help.

At last her mind and body caught up with her desire to Do Something, and so one morning she bounced up off the couch while Jason was showering and sprinted off down the sidewalk. She settled into a brisk walk, enjoying the midsummer morning, the smell of freshly mown grass, the sound of cars rushing by, the cool wind on her cheeks, blowing back her hair.

Her side didn't hurt anymore; the bindings felt restrictive, and on the edge of town she unwound them and left them on the side of the road. Then she walked off into the country, past choruses of flowers, their scent suffusing the air.

At last, tiredness caught up with her and she sat down by a stream in the woods, enjoying the chatter of birds in the leaves, the sunlight flickering, the soft gurgling of water over stones.

She lay back in the grass. When she awoke, the sun slanted down toward the horizon. She sat up and stretched, a little sore from lying on a poky rock she hadn't realized was there.

She climbed to her feet and sauntered back to the road, enjoying the beauty of the day. Finally feeling more than just half-alive. Shoving down any semblance of pain—living in the moment. Worrying about nothing.

A car screeched up to her. She stopped, startled out of her reverie.

"Connie!" said Jason, leaning out of the window. "Where have you been?"
Last edited by Ameraka on Fri Oct 07, 2016 10:05 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Ameraka, I am not a Connie+Jason fan, but...this is wonderful! :clap:
"I was born with white vans on"
"Vans weren't even popular when you were born"
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Didi wrote:Ameraka, I am not a Connie+Jason fan, but...this is wonderful! :clap:
Thank you! You made my day. (though everyone should be a Jason/Connie fan ;) ;) )
Avatar by Laura Hollingsworth (thesilvereye)

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Chapter 11. I don't describe more than kissing in this chapter, implying anything else but just a heads up. It is in a spoiler too. But tell me if it's ok.
"I was worried sick about you!" said Jason, his heart pounding with relief and anger. It poured through him and before he could stop it he swore. He instantly regretted it. "Sorry," he said.

"That's okay." She stepped up to the car. "You didn't have to worry."

"Not have to worry! Connie—after all we've been through—" He checked himself. He shouldn't be angry; he should be happy that she was feeling good enough to go off on her own. Without him. He couldn't expect her to be acting totally normally yet….

"Well, I'm here now. It's fine." She climbed into the car and shut the door.

"I just…I couldn't help but think something had happened to you."

"I said I was fine. Just—forget about it."

"I can't. I—" He shook his head. At least she was safe. "Where did you go, anyway?"

"Just for a walk. I fell asleep by a stream. It was so pretty out, I just couldn't help it. And I wanted to do something."

"You could've told me."

She shrugged. "I didn't think about it. Besides, I'm a grown woman. I don't have to tell you where I am all the time, do I?"

"Well, no, but we're married, and considering what our lives have been like…." He turned the car around in a driveway, and drove back toward town.

"I needed this today. I needed to just—walk out of there, without thinking, without looking back."

He nodded. He understood. At the same time, he couldn't help but feel a little hurt. She hadn't even thought to ask him along. He was the man she loved…or used to. Now….it seemed something had shoved a distance between them, and despite her recovery, they couldn't seem to get back in sync. Could they ever? Or had the…miscarriage torn an irreparable hole in their relationship? Was there something he could do? He overflowed with love for her, but she shrugged it off. Her touch was cold. Her eyes weren't full of fire for him; they were shadowed, full of mysteries he'd never know.

She was drawing away from him, and he didn't know how to get her back. If she even wanted to come back.

How can I be okay with this? he thought. But I can't make her do something she doesn't want to do…. I'm near her, but I'm not hers anymore. We're living in the same house, more like roommates than lovers.

I want to give her every expression of my love. But she won't let me in. She puts up a hard edifice every time I try to get close, and….

Maybe that's what I'll have to do from now on. Love her from afar. I don't like it, but I'm not going anywhere. I'll help her, protect her, love her in the limited ways that she'll let me

He pulled the car up in the driveway. She got up and strode back into the house. He followed. She turned on the TV and went to open the refrigerator, digging in it, muttering.

"I can make something," he said. "Or we can get takeout."

"Naw, I think I'll just heat up this leftover macaroni." She picked up a Tupperware square from the fridge and stuck it in the microwave, sitting against the counter while she flipped through her phone. Her hair, longer now, hung over her face like a curtain, the blue of the phone screen lighting up her face.

The microwave beeped. She took out the macaroni, grabbed a spoon from the drawer, and sat down on the couch. He absently fixed a bologna and mustard sandwich. Took over a bag of baby carrots and sat down beside her.

Some romance from the Edwardian era or something like that was on. He never paid much attention to romances, but made an effort to get into it. To try to be a part of her world as much as he could.

When they were done eating, he brought the dishes over to the sink and washed them quickly, then rejoined her. He was used to doing most of the chores now; he didn't mind, as long as he was helping her.

The couple onscreen kissed. Something stirred in him. He missed Connie's kisses. He missed those days—over a month ago, now—when she'd smothered him with her love.

Her hand lay on the couch beside him. Longing to feel her skin against his, he inched his hand over to hers. Laid it over hers, and squeezed it gently.

She squeezed back. Didn't move otherwise, not even looking at him.

He waited a few agonizing moments. Then, he leaned over and kissed her cheek. At first, she didn't react, then she leaned away from him and scooted down the couch an inch or two.

Pain cut through his heart. Perhaps she didn't want him. That was okay. He settled back to watch the movie with her.

The movie ended, a blue flicker in the dark. She turned off the TV. They sat there in silence, the old house creaking.

Then, she shoved toward him, her hip pressing against his. Her fingers brushed his cheek; a thrill spread through him. Her eyes caught his, fire blazing in their blue depths. They sparked against the fire in his soul and it roared to life, raging hot between them, and he pressed his lips to hers.

Her soft lips met his like exquisite petals. He'd been starved for her and hadn't even known how much, but didn't want to rush through this in a torrent of desire. She was finally back with him, loving him, and he didn't want to take it faster than she wanted. He only wanted to go as far as she did.

She grasped the back of his neck; her eyes tore into his with passion so intense he had to look away. There was something in them he didn't quite get…something dark, something he hadn't seen from her before, akin to her grief but rougher, more insistent—

Her kisses intensified. In a way, he needed her more than he ever had. To be absent from her, but so close to her, knowing what her love was like, was a torture he never wanted to experience again.

Just as he returned her kisses, matching her in intensity, she drew back, a playful smile on her lips. He trembled, grasped her waist to steady his hands, hardly able to contain his passion but letting her work her magic.

Grasping her waist, he drew her to him.

"Where's your—" he could hardly speak—"bandages?"

"I didn't need them anymore. You don't have to be careful with me. But we can take it slow." She kissed his cheek. "If that's what you want."

"This is good."

She laughed and kissed him on the lips. He wanted this to last forever. At the same time, he needed to let love consume them until there was no more distance between them, diffusing their souls inside its infinite wonder and glory.

He kissed the top of her head; her hair smelled like wildflowers. He lifted her chin gently and gave her a soft kiss on her lips. She closed her eyes, and he lingered there, reveling in her, in the perfect moment. Just this far would be enough.

Desperation screamed inside him—she was everything that he was not, she completed who he was—he hadn't even realized how much he'd been missing until he found her. And then he thought he lost her. And now—

He trembled under her touch. Her fingertips gave him everything, yet made him yearn for more. She cupped his chin, shadows raging against the light in her eyes. Then she swept forward kissed him in a frenzy that shocked him. It took him a moment to respond. He crushed close to her, the fabric of her shirt rubbing against his chest and stomach. Knives of longing slashed through him, his heart throbbing in time with hers.

A sharp pain pierced his lip; he gasped.

"Ooh! Sorry," she said, drawing back a little. He didn't care about pain—he needed her, as close as they could possibly get. He wanted her to burn him to ashes, blaze through him with incredible love.

"That's okay." Something warm trickled over his lip; his finger drew away a smear of blood. "I've had a lot worse."

"Yes, you have. You sure you wanna keep going?"

"You're amazing. I missed you so much, my love."

She smiled and stood, her hair falling enticingly over her shoulders. Awe poured through him at her beauty; he gasped at how incomparably stunning she was. Just to be in her presence was enough, but for her to give him so much of who she was….He sprang forward and pulled her to him.

Pain sparked in her eyes and it took him aback. He had tried to be so careful—but had he hurt her by accident? Was she ignoring it for his sake? His pain was nothing, but hers, he could not bear.

"Connie," he said, leaning back, his hand on the side of the couch. "Are you okay with this?"

"Yes. Keep going." If anything, the pain in her eyes intensified.

"Your ribs—do they still hurt?"

"No, I told you, I'm better." She pulled on his neck, trying to draw him back toward her. He couldn't resist. But he couldn't ignore the look in her eyes either.

"I don't want to hurt you."

"You're not. I've had too much pain and I need to erase it. You can help me do that, can't you? You're better at that than anything I know." She smiled.

"Just so you're sure."

"Of course. Now come on, Jason. Love me like only you can." So enticing, irresistible. So beautiful, wonderful, and warm—her amazing self, giving it all to him, as he gave it to her—

He could hardly think to speak but he whispered to her, "We can make a new life again."

She pressed her hands hard against his chest, crying out as if in pain. He gasped, shocked, aching, horrified he might've hurt her.

"Connie I'm so sorry!" With effort he withdrew and she scrambled over to the side of the couch, grasped her knees.

"Did I hurt you?"

She didn't answer.

He hesitated, then shuffled over to her, covered her with a blanket. She looked at him, her eyes accusing, hurt.

"I'm so sorry, I—" He ached, trembling, wanting her and yet burning with horror and shame.

"W-what did you mean by that?"


"'A new life'."

He hardly remembered—it'd been his last thought before nearly giving himself over to throes of passion.

"I just meant…we can start over again. Get back to how things were."

"Have another baby?"

"If you want."

"I don't."

"We don't have to think about that for a long time yet, if you don't want to."

Pain shot through her eyes. "I don't ever want a baby."

"What? Connie, are you sure? You loved Jeremiah so much and—"

"I loved him, Jason, I loved him." Tears rolled down her cheeks. "That's why—I can't go through that again."

He wrapped his arm around her shoulder. "Maybe next time the baby would be perfectly healthy and—"

"I can't." She leaned into his shoulder and he held her as she sobbed, tears falling hot onto his chest.

"I know. I know." He rubbed her back, holding her, his cheek against her hair. Shock and sorrow poured through him for her, for the baby they'd lost, for the baby they might never have. Did she really mean she didn't want to have a family with him, or would she want to try again after a year or two?

Her sobs subsided. She leaned back, wiped away her tears. "I wasn't thinking," she said. "I just wanted to feel the most amazing thing I've ever felt again—but it's not disconnected from—that. It's been so long that it didn't even cross my mind—but I can't risk another baby. We were so careless with life before."

Her words cut through him like a knife. He trembled, trying to pull himself together. He needed her. After being separate from her so long, living in the same house but hardly ever touching, it was like offering a few drops of water to someone thirsting to death. It wasn't her fault. She was physically healed, but she hadn't yet recovered from the horrible blow of losing the baby. Of course the first time after the long hiatus would be difficult. He'd been prepared to take it slow, and then he'd accepted her frenzied pace, and now he had to readjust again….

She curled up on the couch under the blanket, staring off into space. He said goodbye as he stepped out the door, and she waved absently, not looking at him.

When he returned, she was lying down on the couch, the blanket wrapped up to her neck. Her eyes flicked toward him as he approached, then down again, her brow furrowed. He knelt down beside her, put a hand on her shoulder. She flinched. He withdrew as if he'd shocked her. He hoped she hadn't relapsed completely—he couldn't help but feel guilty, though he wasn't totally sure what he'd done….He might have to completely start over with her. He could hardly bear to think of that, but he would tread carefully.

"Do you need anything?" he asked.

Her pain-filled eyes seared his. "It was my fault, Jason."

"No, it wasn't."

"I was being careless. I—" Her voice caught. Tears shimmered on her cheeks. "Even if it wasn't because of the accident, there's no way to know if something's not…permanently wrong. I might kill a baby again. They might not find the cause and—I just can't go through that, Jason. I can't risk it."

He made her some peppermint tea and brought it over, steaming hot. He was gratified to see her sitting up again, and she took the mug from his hands. He sat down beside her, under no illusions they could go back to the way it was before.

He wondered if she would stay this adamant about a child. That she'd always bear this fear and guilt because of what happened. Whether their dreams of having a family together would disappear, some of their hope darkened forever. Some of the beautiful dream of their life together, broken beyond repair.

Perhaps I should resign myself to that
, he thought. But he couldn't. Not yet….

She sat in the low light, the swirling steam from the tea half obscuring her face. Such a beautiful face, shrouded in mystery, a strand of hair falling in front of her cheek….He almost tucked it back behind her ear but restrained himself. She was here, beside him. He wasn't even worthy of that, much less of touching her, of going any further than that. For now, loving her from a distance, supporting her in whatever ways she needed, was enough.
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Chapter 12

In the dark, Jason reached for her. She lay there, cold, still, letting his hand roam over her hair, face, and neck. But she couldn't respond. She couldn't give him what he wanted. She felt numb; she couldn't feel toward him like she used to. After that night, something in her had broken. Though she loved him, she couldn't be with him, not in that way.

Every time he touched her, it reminded her of the life she'd lost. Not just the baby, but the children they'd never have. Somehow she couldn't divorce his touch from what it could never mean again…. blocking off any chance of future children. Oh how she longed for them. To hold them, to kiss their tiny fingers, to look into their innocent eyes. To see her features and Jason's mingled in theirs. But that could never be. It was as if a life she'd hardly even known she'd wanted had been stolen from her. No matter how much she might long for it, life could never return to normal. She couldn't pretend she didn't care she'd never have a child with Jason. It wasn't like it was the only thing she wanted from him. But a barrier had shoved between them. Her thoughts would always stray to that night and how she'd almost let another child be conceived only to be killed, just for the sake of forgetting. She could never let her guard down again. Could never get close to him without the sorrow coming crashing through and stripping her of her desire for his touch…. She couldn't try to make sensation erase sorrow. It didn't work that way. She had to get through this, day by day, and maybe, someday….he could touch her, and she could respond. But not yet.

His hand withdrew. She pretended to be asleep. She couldn't turn to him and face the hurt in his eyes, the hurt she'd seen a thousand times whenever he came closer and she drew away.

Guilt tore through her at this but there was nothing she could do about it. She could only take small steps forward, trying to find some semblance of happiness, some parody of normalcy. Do things with him that she could, let him take care of her, and sometimes, escape altogether, out into the wild, Jason never begrudging her her freedom, except a little fear and a little sorrow in his eyes every time she ventured out on her own.

It was still dark out. Not yet time to wake up, face the day. She turned onto her stomach and sought the comfort of sleep.

A baby's cry pierced the night. She climbed out of bed, a little disoriented. Baby needed to eat. She shuffled into the nursery, little fists waving between the bars of the crib as he cried. She hurried to him, lifted him to her chest. Such a soft, warm bundle. She kissed his cheek, and then sat down in the rocking chair, the baby nestled to her, safe and warm. My baby. She could hardly believe he was real, such a tiny, precious thing, hers and Jason's—

Something struck her mind. She couldn't quite grasp the reason—something was wrong. The baby? No, he was here in her arms, making soft contented noises. Jason? He hadn't been in the bed beside her, come to think of it. Her heart thudded hard against her chest. A huge, hollow emptiness roared before her, an abyss where someone used to be—

Jason. Gone.

Not—dead. She felt that in her heart at least. But…gone. The ache tore a hole through her chest as it flooded back to her—she tried to ignore it but the memories poured through—

He was missing. How had she forgotten that? The dream she had—the dream she could hardly remember now—had been so intense, so vivid, it had erased for a moment the reality she'd rather forget. How Jason had been with her in Paraguay, and then he'd gone to find some terrorists, but he'd disappeared. Tasha had tried to track him down but even her Agency contacts had come up cold and he'd vanished completely into the shadows. They were still trying to find him, Tasha assured her almost daily, but the trail was getting colder and hope was diminishing every day.

He wasn't dead. She could feel that. But he was in pain. Every day his soul cried out in anguish, desperate, nearly crushed with horror…it tore her apart that she could do nothing. She'd been in Paraguay for months looking for him but had to come back here to have their baby without him.

The baby seemed to sense her distress; he cried again, his little body contorted.

And then shock blazed across her mind like a comet. How could she forget? This wasn't a boy, it was a girl, Jenny. How could she forget that? That had been some disorienting dream. Perhaps a result of her increasing horror every day that she could not find Jason. He was helpless, in pain, and no one could rescue him. Every day it pounded into her more that she might never see him again.

"My Jason," she breathed, and a tear slipped from her eye to fall on the baby's cheek.

Little Jenny didn't seem to notice; in fact, she was lying back, her eyes closed in contented sleep. Connie carefully got to her feet and laid the tiny baby back into her crib, then covered her with a soft pink blanket.

She padded back to her room—the room she would have shared with Jason. But the only time they'd shared a bed had been in their hotel in Paraguay. A bright spot in her mind that she hung onto whenever she plunged into despair, until it got too painful to think that she might never hold him again….might never feel his skin against hers, his kisses, hear his voice as he tenderly whispered his love…

She curled up in bed and drew her covers up over her shoulders, attempting to go to sleep, but a sick feeling twisted in her stomach. He might never come back to her.

At least I have little Jenny, she thought. When he comes home, we'll be a family together. Only half-comforted by that thought because she knew it might only be a chimera, she let sleep wrap its tendrils around her and drag her toward numbness.


She jumped. Grabbed the phone on the nightstand.


"Hi, Connie, it's Tasha."

"Tasha! Have you found him?" Her heart leaped.

A hesitation. Then, "Yes. But—"

A chill raced through her. "He's—he's not dead, is he?" She dared to say the horrible words she'd thought for months, although it was always contrary to what she felt deep in her heart.

"No, no. But…in some ways, it would have been a mercy."


"I'm so sorry to have to tell you this. It was a shock to me, and I've seen the cruelty men can do to men."

"What? What is it?" A horrible sick feeling twisted in her stomach, but at the same time she felt a flicker of hope.

"He's not the Jason you know, Connie. He won't let anyone touch him. I don't blame him after what was apparently done to him."

"My Jason…." she whispered, her throat constricting.

"He doesn't have as many injuries as one might expect from his reactions. But they are still substantial. His wrist was broken. His leg was broken. Some of his teeth….I'm sorry. I can't say these things like he's just any victim. To see him like this…I'm not sure if you should come down here. Not yet."

"I have to see him."

"It'll be a shock. He's been through something so traumatic we can only guess—and I'm not sure if I even want to go there. But we have to, in order to heal him."

"I have to see him, Tasha. Maybe I can help."

"Maybe. If you can't get through to him, I don't know who can. But I warn you, it could take a while."

"Where is he?"

"In a private Agency hospital near DC. I'm thinking I should bring him to you, though."

"Will that hurt him?"

"He can't be hurt worse than he has already."

After telling her she could expect Jason back in Odyssey in a few days, Tasha hung up. And Connie sat back on the bed, feeling emotionally wrung out.

Jason. They'd found him. But he was not himself. What had someone done to him to get him in that state? And why? How anyone could hurt her Jason…her wonderful beautiful Jason with such a strong, compassionate soul….

A few days later, a small private plane arrived at the airport and hustled a broken man to the hospital under guard. Tasha led the way, shielding him from any scrutiny.

She called Connie when he was sedated and Connie left the baby with Penny and raced there in her car.

Her heart pounding hard, she stepped up to the door of Jason's hospital room and knocked. Tasha opened the door and stepped out, a serious look on her face.

"Can't I see him?" said Connie.

"I just want to prepare you. I couldn't say much on the phone."

"He's not—in danger of—"

"No, no, we've stabilized him. Otherwise he wouldn't have been moved. We can only partially piece together what happened over the past nine months, and he's not exactly what you'd call cooperative."

"How did you find him?"

Tasha looked at her sternly. "I'm not sure if you want to know that."

"If there's any way I can help him, I have to know as much as I can."

"We found him in an alley as if someone had just dumped him there and left him like a piece of garbage. He had open wounds and healing scars…and he was unconscious. That was good in a way because when he awoke in the safe house he nearly escaped, even in his state."

Her heart broke for him. She wasn't sure if she could stand this, but she had to, for his sake.

"What chance does he have to get better?"

"That's just it, I don't know. We've got psychologists working on it but with cases of abuse this severe, sometimes the person completely dissociates and never goes back to how they used to be. He's gone through some terrible things in the past, but none of that compares to being held for months in confinement, near-constant torture and deprivation, dehumanization and cruelty. The nearest we can tell, he was forced to work by human traffickers."

Shock tore through Connie at this. She forced herself to stay standing. She couldn't comprehend all he'd been through but she had to be strong, for him.

Part of her didn't want to face this. Part of her wanted to turn around and walk away, pretend this wasn't happening. Imagine Jason as he used to be, not the broken man he was. But she could not abandon him, not now.

"I want to see him."

"You're sure."

"I love him."

Tasha hesitated. Then she opened the door. "So do I." She laid a hand on Connie's shoulder as she stepped inside.

Jason lay on his back, covered by a sheet to his neck. At first she thought he was asleep but then she realized he was staring at the ceiling. A doctor and a nurse stood a few feet away from his bed, going over a chart.

Connie stepped cautiously forward. At first, he almost looked normal. He'd certainly looked worse. But then as she approached she noticed how pale he was. He wore a bandage on his left temple. And beneath his bandaged wrists, bruises and redness showed.

Other than the bandage, the only mark on his face was a bruise on his cheek. She reached out to touch him, let him know she was there and everything would be all right. He flinched and turned onto his side, his back to her.

"Don't touch him," said the doctor.

"I'm his wife." It felt strange to say that. They'd barely been married before the unthinkable.

"It doesn't matter. If he reacts violently, he could re-injure himself."

She stood there for a moment, not sure what to do.

She'd have to take this slow, she realized. Maybe the abuse had torn from him all the memories they'd had together. For him to lose that made her nearly collapse in despair. But maybe she could help him remember. It had to be there somewhere. Something would spark the memory, and then he'd be hers again.

She knelt beside his bed. He stared off into the distance, his eyes unfocused. Still such a beautiful blue, though shaded with infinite pain.

"It's me, Connie."

His eyes focused on her, his brow furrowing. "You…shouldn't be here," he whispered.

"It's okay, Jason, you're safe. You're home."

He shook his head. "They're here. They won't leave."


A look of horrible pain seized his face; she had to force herself not to look away. "Their voices, their faces—I can't—" He turned his face toward the pillow.

"They're gone, Jason. I'm here now." She reached toward him, not sure if she should touch him. At least it seemed to recognize her, but he hadn't acted happy to see her. As if he had lost all feeling for her beneath the pain.

"We have a baby together, Jason. She has your eyes. You should see her." Connie couldn't imagine someone seeing Jenny and not adoring her, and when her father saw her, he would love her at first sight.

Love would burn all pain away.

She touched his face. At first he didn't react.

Then he jerked away from her and scrambled up out of bed, the sheet dropping to the floor, revealing the cast on his leg.

"You shouldn't stand on that!" the nurse said, handing him crutches. He slammed his arm into them and they clattered to the floor.

His eyes blazed into hers. "I can't get rid of the voices—the horror of it—it's gone but in a way it's more real and it's still here." He pointed to his head. "I'm not him anymore—they tore it from me. I'm nothing—I'm less than nothing, pathetic, useless. If you touch me, I will contaminate you. Connie, please go away. Please just leave me, I'm not worth it, you are everything, amazing, beautiful—you should go and never look back. Find someone who's worthy of you."

"I'm not leaving you."

"It's too late. I'm already gone."

Hands grabbed her from behind, pulling her from the room, tearing her away from him, and he just stood there, broken, his eyes lost…

She screamed.

Hands shook her. She thrashed around, trying to get away."No, Jason! Don't leave me!"

"Connie," said a voice.

His voice.

She stopped struggling. Strong hands grasped her around her waist. Startled blue eyes looked into hers, and messy hair topped a handsome face—

Jason. Here, with her in bed where he was supposed to be.

She collapsed against him. He wrapped her in an embrace. Beneath her his heart thumped a steady rhythm. She clung to him, hardly able to believe he was here after the vivid nightmare.

She wrapped her arm around him and squeezed tight, holding him as if she'd never let him go. Then she kissed him. Yes, this was real. She sat back, unable to keep the smile from spreading across her face.

"Was it a nightmare?" he asked.

"You were gone and then you came back but you—weren't yourself anymore."

"Like an impostor? That would be scary."

"No." She sat back against the pillows. "I never had a dream like that before. It felt like it really happened. I know dreams can be like that and it's already fading but—" She lifted her hand; it trembled. "I'm still shaking."

He took her hand in his. "What happened?" His voice was low, concerned. Love for him burst through her, making her ache with joy.

"It was weird. I woke up and you weren't there. Someone had kidnapped you."

"That sounds familiar."

"Yes. But this was worse. You were gone for nine months and I—" Her voice faltered. That part had not been a nightmare. "I had the baby. She—she was a little girl, Jason." Tears spilled onto her cheeks. The baby in her arms had felt so real, as if she hadn't lost her after all. But now to wake up and find her gone was like losing her all over again—almost worse because she knew what she looked like and felt like and could kiss her little cheek.

She forged ahead. "And—and then they found you. I left Jenny with Penny and went over—it was Tasha that found you by the way—and you wouldn't let me touch you. You said that I should leave you. I said I wasn't going anywhere and you said you were already gone. Then they tore me away from you and—that's when I woke up."

"I'm not going anywhere."

"I know. You've been with me through all this and…The weird thing is that when I woke up in the dream, I thought this was the dream. I'm glad it's not—except—"

"Our baby."

She nodded, fighting tears again. "It's like it took my greatest hopes and my worst fears and mashed them together. It was almost like a vision of what might have been."

"It does sound realistic. If I'd been tortured for months, I could see how I'd be broken like that. I'd want you to leave me for your own sake."

"But I never would. You know that, right? I don't care what you'd say, I'd never leave you." She swept her arm across his chest, grasping his shoulder, her cheek pressed to his.

She realized she was the one who'd been absent lately. Jason, the real Jason who clung to her right now, she'd pushed away for over a month since she'd lost the baby and she hadn't really been with him till this moment. She'd been floating around, feeding her own desires, punishing him for—what? For being himself? For reminding her of the baby they'd lost, through no fault of his own? It hadn't even been her fault, it had been an accident, and in any case she couldn't blame him for it. She was taking out all her pain on him and it wasn't fair to him at all. He'd been there all this time, waiting for her and she'd ignored him, shut him down, been distant to him….

No pain was worth pushing him away. So soon after almost losing him in Paraguay, she'd taken him for granted, and it had taken a dream to remind her of all that she had…..

Even after all she'd lost, that didn't mean she needed to lose Jason too. Her Jason.

She sobbed against him letting out all the pain and he held her, stroking back her hair and just being there. Being him.

She wiped away her tears and looked into his eyes, brimming with tears of their own. She smoothed back some of his messy hair, then ruffled it up again because she liked it better that way.

"I'm so sorry, Jason."

"For what?"

"For leaving you." And she wrapped him in a kiss, immersing in his presence. She was never, ever going to leave him again.

The End
Avatar by Laura Hollingsworth (thesilvereye)

My book, Justice Lost, is on Amazon Kindle:
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Peanut Butter Cup
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Oh Ameraka, my heart. This seems so real, all the detail and expression...
You are brilliant, taking our favourite characters to the edge of their limits yet compromising with holding the horrors within a dream. This is beautifully done and I might be tearing up.
I consider that our present sufferings are not worth comparing with the glory that will be revealed in us - Romans 8:18

It’s not enough to be against something. You have to be for something better. – Tony Stark
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Location: In the Village


Thank you GJFH!

Thanks for being a faithful reader and reviewer. It's wonderful to know that what you put so much of yourself into and loved writing is also loved by someone else and affects them emotionally.
Whenever I get a review it makes my day. I like to share what I enjoy, share Connie and Jason's adventures that I imagine, and have others enjoy them too.

I will post the new story's first chapter soon.
Avatar by Laura Hollingsworth (thesilvereye)

My book, Justice Lost, is on Amazon Kindle:
User avatar
Peanut Butter Cup
Posts: 1587
Joined: January 2016
Location: Writing my way out


Ameraka wrote:Thank you GJFH!

Thanks for being a faithful reader and reviewer. It's wonderful to know that what you put so much of yourself into and loved writing is also loved by someone else and affects them emotionally.
Whenever I get a review it makes my day. I like to share what I enjoy, share Connie and Jason's adventures that I imagine, and have others enjoy them too.

I will post the new story's first chapter soon.
You're welcome Ameraka. Remember, as long as you continue to write, I'll continue to read :) .
I look forward to seeing how "Generation" plays out, by the way. I love it!
I consider that our present sufferings are not worth comparing with the glory that will be revealed in us - Romans 8:18

It’s not enough to be against something. You have to be for something better. – Tony Stark
Jo March
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Joined: July 2016
Location: Look in the Library


THESE ARE INCREDIBLE!!! I am not really a connie+jason person, but these are REALLY good!! *gives you high five*
And I will DEFINETELY keep reading your stuff!!
Jo March
"There is no such thing as impossible. The word itself says I'm possible."-Audrey Hepburn
“You are never too old to set another goal or to dream a new dream.” –C.S. Lewis
“No one ever made a difference by being like everyone else.” P.T. Barnum
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