2008-06-09: It's Always Complicated

Starring:

Trina_icon.gif Jack_icon.gif

Summary: It really is. This time, two lovers get a much deserved break.

Date It Happened: June 09, 2008

It's Always Complicated


Yet another hotel room…

Another damned motel. Days she's been here, instructed to do little more than order up occasionally for takeout. Ground floor may have been taken, but the place is nice enough. A nice thing is that it has a place for her to wash her clothes, wash her face and wash her hair. Unfortunately, it is missing the important thing. It's missing Jack.

Trina has spent days, this motel feeling ever more like a prison as she waits hours on end for the phone to ring. For that confirmation that he's somewhere, still alive. No details are given; she doesn't ask for them.

And so now here she is. Another night alone. She's sitting at the foor of the queen sized in the same purple Jersey dress that Jack bought for her, her knees pulled up and tucked under her chin while her hair hangs over the huddled mass like a dark veil. Blue eyes lift after a long time staring at the dresser across from the foot of the bed and the turned-off television upon it, turning to look at the obnoxious red digits of the hotel alarm clock. It's getting to be about time for Jack to call. Any time now, Jack is going to call.

Even though it's small, the tool box feels heavy in Jack's hand. He's tired. So tired. An hour of sleep here. A thirty minute doze there. That's all the rest he's been able to catch for more days than he can recall. Always on the move, always looking over his shoulder, always paranoid. It's not good for a man's body or his soul.

He's sore, too. Muscles Jack didn't know he owned are stiff from his fights with Ghost and Bebe. His bruises and cuts are still only half healed and there's ugly, red swelling between the stitches above his bad eye.

He's not doing any better at dressing himself, either. The clothes scavenged from Niki's closet have been discarded in favor of a one-piece zippered coverall with 'Randy Jr.' stitched above the breast. So gray that it's almost black, it blends with pavement, metal, and carpet as he pads upstairs and toward the door to Trina's room. Soft leather shoes muffle his steps until they're quieter than the sound of him swiping an electronic keycard and pushing the door open. He slips inside and shuts the door behind him quickly. Toolbox still in hand, he smiles crookedly and says, "Hi." His voice is quiet. Low-pitched. A little hesitant, even. "Missed you."

Trina's head snaps up to look at the door, concern plainly etched upon her face as she hears the turn of the knob. Furthermore, the unfamiliar uniform upon his figure is enough to send her shooting onto her bare feet, and her hand reaching for the clock with her left hand. With it still plugged into the wall, she cocks her bare arm back to throw the thing… But then she stops. There's a momentary confusion, and then her head rears back as she takes in the intruding man at greater length. "Jack?" It's a greeting that is growing frighteningly common in recent months.

"If I'm not Jack, then I must be Randy Jr.," he jokes weakly. One can't really blame Trina for her suspicions and fears. Yet again, he's parked her somewhere safe and kept her in the dark while he attends to business.

Slowly, Jack crosses the distance between them and sets his rusty red box down at the foot of the bed. "Sorry I couldn't come sooner," he says, his voice still soft. "It's… complicated."

Complicated. It's always complicated. The slender brunette slowly lowers the yellowed-white plastic timepiece in her hands, ultimately sparing a credit card the damage fee for its devestation. Trina doesn't immediately take him up in arms when he draws near, but rather her eyes just follow him as he bends down to set down the box and then back up again. Her now empty hand moves to tuck a strand of hair behind her ear as her head tilts. "Can we go home now?" Wherever the hell that is anymore.

Jack winces and creases his forehead, which pulls at his infected stitches and only makes him wince more. "No," he replies. "It's still not safe to go anywhere familiar."

Sighing, he stoops again and opens the tool box. A long moment passes as he draws out a screwdriver and a socket wrench. Then he heads over to a cabinet attached to the far wall. The doors creak as they open, and there's a raspy, metallic sound as he starts removing the entire assembly from the wall.

"I have to finish this," he finally says. It's clear from his tone that he's not referring to his screw removal. "Once it's done, I'll take you to our new place."

"Then let me come with you," Trina replies quietly, her eyes watching Jack for a time with a measure of curiosity. Then that crystalline gaze drops to the place where her thin arms cross over her belly, fingers self-consciously picking at the folds of jersey knit that wrap her. "I ain't useless."

"Out of the question," Jack replies as he twists out the final screw. Carefully, he pulls the assembly away from the wall, revealing a large, square cut-out. A hidey-hole. The cabinet is set aside and he starts drawing items out one at a time. Each is wrapped in thick, clear plastic to protect it from dust and moisture.

Two shotguns. A rifle with an odd, oversized scope attached to the top. A sack of grenades. Several different types of submachine guns, each bagged in pairs. A sack with several sets of fresh clothing.

"I don't know what I'd do if something happened to you again because of me." He doesn't turn to face Trina. He can't. If he did, it would mean letting her see the guilty tear that's welling up in his good eye.

"I didn't ask to be coddled." As she hears the cabinet being taken from its setting on the wall, Mah lifts her eyes again. There are guns in this room that he didn't even tell her about. Trina's jaw sets and an angry cast falls over her expression. Her head shakes softly in disbelief. She doesn't see that tear, no, but she seems to see plenty. "You didn't even come to see me, did you? You came for those."

Too tired. Too tired to argue. "I came for both of you," he mutters humorlessly.

Then he unzips his jumpsuit and lets it fall to the floor. Now standing nude, the dozens of fresh, overlapping whip scars across his back are exposed. As is the thick scab at the curve of his neck and shoulder where a rat was set to his flesh. Just above one hip, there's a field of red, pink, and white bumps that form a three inch square of hills and valleys across his skin. Spider bites.

"You're acting like I asked for this," Jack goes on as he rips open the bag of clothing. Simple, loose t-shirt and cotton trousers. Soft shoes with flexible rubber soles, which he sets aside. Leather gloves, which he tucks into his back pocket. Finally, he turns to face Trina. "I want it to be over just as bad as you do. I also don't want you to get hurt again because of something I got involved in. More than either of those things, I want to be able to spend a night lying next to you in bed. Is that so much to ask?"

"…Does that mean you're actually staying tonight?" Trina's forehead has erupts into a mountainous range of furrows, concern and frustration digging deep into the smooth skin. "Because you may not have asked for this situation or the one before it… Or the one before that, but you asked to marry me. And that means you asked me to be involved, doesn't it?"

That's a tough one. Jack has no glib, ready answer. No clever deflection. He lets out a long, quiet sigh. "I am staying tonight, if you'll let me. Of all the things I've missed in the last week, I've missed holding you the most. But this…" he gestures to the pile of small arms. "This isn't you. You're not a killer. I don't—" There's a moment's pause as he coughs into his fist. It's a purely affected gesture to cover the thick layer of emotion he's wearing on his sleeve. "I don't want you to be like me."

Trina takes a step closer to the corner of the bed, only to stop again. "Jack, I…" He's not entirely wrong. She doesn't like it. "I love you. At the club, I shot a man. For you. For us. And…" She sniffs once, bidding her own emotion to stay back enough to give her some semblance of strength's appearance. "And it ain't the first time I got blood on my hands. What do I have to do? You… You could die out there, and would anyone even know to tell me? You could die out there, and you would leave me behind." You'd make me a widow before a bride. "If I could do something to make sure that don't happen…"

Jack blinks back the tear. His moment of weakness has passed. He takes several deep, steadying breaths as he closes the distance between he and Trina. Gently, he reaches out to grip her shoulders. "I love you for you. It's not that I don't think you're strong enough. I have to go do ugly things so that we can stop running and hiding like animals. I don't just have to stop them. I have to send a message. D'you understand?" Despite his words, Jack's tone is gentle. "You're better than that. You shouldn't have to see… those things."

For a long time, Trina just stares up at her husband-to-be with her lips pursed up into a compressed and unhappy line. Her breath is shallow, barely passing through her nostrils as she slowly exhales. And then, after she takes that long silence, the light of her eyes changes. That becomes softer in the subtle ways: the fine creases in the corners of her eyes, the fading of intensity as it gives birth to resignation. Her words are quiet as she finally lowers her head, defeated. "This is the last time, Jack. You'd be madder'n a hornet if this were the other way 'round."

"This time, I plan to send a message they can't ignore. I do it right and there'll never be a next time." Jack leans forward and presses a tender kiss against Trina's cheek. His lover. His companion. His best friend and wife to be. "But I promise you, no more secrets. I'll tell you everything, anything you want to know. No more running away and trying to save the world without you."

Trina's eyes close as that kiss finally finds her cheek. In the darkness, he is as he always was, the enviable and striking man who could charm the habit of a nun in a New York minute with just a smile. There aren't the scars and bits of metal that try to tell her that she can't trust any of the words coming out of his mouth, that he'll never tell her anything until it's too late. Her voice when she finds it again is thick, and she keeps it low to help mask the stranglehold that emotion is keeping on her larynx. "Just don't lose yourself along the way, sugar."

Jack presses Trina against his chest and embraces her, cradling her with the same care he'd take cupping a butterfly in his hands. As if he squeezes too hard, he might break her. "I always find my way home to you."

No one can pretend that he's talking about logistics. He's stayed sober. Not because he doesn't want the drugs. He wants them. But more than that, he wants Trina to be proud of him.

"I love you," he whispers.

"I love you back," The Southern transplant allows, settling against Jack more heavily. The words are issued beneath her reopening eyes, moments before she finally tilts her head and leans up on her tiptoes to seize at last for herself a kiss. Her hands take hold of his shirt at his sides, helping to steady her. There, in his kiss, she stands a chance at finding a proverbial balm potent enough to take the searing edge of dread from her thoughts.It's a gentle press of her lips against his, testing the waters.

This is all Jack has wanted for days. Everything he's yearned and struggled and fought for. Just to hold her. Tentative at first, he returns the kiss very softly.

Everything he's fought for.

Drawing Trina tight against him, he backs up until he bumps into the bed. Sitting down heavily, he pulls her into his lap and caresses her cheek with the backs of his knuckles. Tonight they're together. To Jack, that's all that matters.

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