2008-03-02: The Most Important Thing


Jack_icon.gif Trina_icon.gif

Summary: Making good on promises is not easy work.

Date It Happened: March 2, 2008

The Most Important Thing

A Hotel Room

Hotel rooms. They share a certain uniformity no matter where you go. The sheets might be fresher at one and the shampoo might be nicer at another, but as whole they're remarkably static. Bed. Table. Television.

Jack is pacing to and fro in a loose triangle between the furnishings. This hotel room is actually pretty nice. The bay window provides a decent view of the cityscape, the linens are crisp, and it's decorated in tasteful, muted hues.

So is Jack. Thanks to a bit of assistance in the men's department, he's wearing simple grey slacks and a collarless blue shirt that brings out the color in his good eye. He's freshly shaved and he's found time for a haircut, but this does little more than highlight the fading scrapes and bruises on his face. Though the cuts across his eye and nose are starting to heal, they're still ugly things that are kept covered by spotless white bandages.

He could've prepared the room for Trina's arrival. He wanted to, even. Rose petals and champagne and room service. He wanted to do all sorts of special things, but he didn't. Scattering the rose petals and icing the champagne made him feel dirty and despicable, as if he were trying to bribe Trina into forgiving him.

And so the room is as bare as it was when he arrived. Jack halts his pacing in front of the bay window and stares at his reflection. Too skinny. Too skinny and you've got half a face and track marks on half your body.

When Trina got word from Peter, it sent her into her own little tizzy. Trying to remember how to look like a girl, as if it had been years since the last time she'd done so.

Shaving her legs. Makeup. Pantyhose. Heels. No. Scratch the heels. Scratch the hose. Scratch the little black dress that makes her look like she was going to some theatre district after party. Curled hair was brushed out again, going from fat spiral curls to waves a little more sedate and natural. A denim skirt. No, not that either.

Back to the black dress again, ruched and crossed over her torso. It makes a splendid place for a ring to hang down. It's too bad, really, that the only coat she had was her oversized white down coat that made her look like a Marshmallow after ten seconds in the microwave. It was too cold to really wear anything else.

Her entire car was waxed and given a through treatment of Armor-all. The thing sparkles in the lamplight she drives it through, although God only knows how long that'll last driving through Manhattan streets. The car was parked, after an extra drive around the block to finish her third cigarette. A once over from the bottle of Febreeze kills the smell decently enough and gives her Cherry Blossom perfume a chance to be perceived.

And then she's at the door. She stands in front of the portal bearing the three numbers she was given, the entire walk upstairs lost somewhere in her anticipation and worry. She swallows. And then she carefully lifts her hand to knock upon the door, soft and uninsistent. It feels like she can't breathe. Looking down, she hunches her shoulders and waits.

The knock might not be loud, but it seems loud. Jack starts and his breath catches in his chest. Slowly, he smooths his hands over his clipped hair and lets them rest on the back of his neck. A quick squeeze does nothing to dispel his tension.

Too late to run. Too late to hide. It's time to face what he's done and show Trina what he's become. The thought is panic-inducing. Terrifying.


When the door swings open, Jack's eye is fixed on the floor at first. It doesn't stay there for long. Trina in a dress is a rare and attention-grabbing event. His gaze hangs up on the ring for a moment and lingers there.

She's still wearing it.

Abruptly aware that he's standing in the doorway like an ass, he ducks his head and whispers, "Hi. Wanna come in?"

Trina's pressing her lips together when the door cracks open, refreshing its coat, but there's only a fleeting glance at the entrance to the hotel room — just long enough to verify that it's not a stranger who's looking at her — before her eyes go back to the floor. The sharp look back down sends dark hair spilling forward over shoulders.

This is awkward. Why is this awkward?

But Jack's here. And he's saving the day, talking first. That gets her attention, sure enough, and finally she turns those pale blue eyes back up to that brave hero from forth the downturned face and offers a weak, nervous smile as she whispers back. "I… I'd like that."

She'd like that. That's a good thing. Jack steps back and not only swings the door open wider, he also reaches out to guide her in. Oddly, he doesn't rest his hand on her elbow, just near it. Hovering. Nervous.

"You look beautiful," he murmurs as the door clicks shut behind them. His self-conscious guilt remains at the fore. He's back to looking at the carpet.

Every instinct Jack owns is screaming for him to take Trina into his arms, kiss her, and tell her something. Something sweeter than "I love you." Something that's so special that it's in a language that's for her ears and hers alone.

"I… Uh. It's good to see you. Really good."

He's… he's not touching her. Is that a bad thing? Oh, God. It's a bad thing, isn't it? What if he asks for the ring back? What if he's decided this is all a horrible mistake? It takes everything in Trina to not panic, to stay instead of racing out the door for fear of the future humiliation.

"Thanks," she manages. "It's… It's good to see you, too." She pulls awkwardly at the opening of her bulky coat for a few moments toying with it before the slender thing starts to nervously peel it off; it's harder when she can't get her shoulders to listen to her and just relax.

Immediately, Jack limps over to Trina's side. "Let me take that," he says, his voice almost prepubescently tremulous.

It's the moment that breaks the ice. At least it is for him. When he slides Trina's coat from his shoulders, his uninjured hand brushes against her bare arm briefly. That brief touch turns to a tentative caress as he trails his fingertips down toward her wrist.

His eye shimmers with a layer of held-back tears as he looks at his love. The woman who has been there for him no matter what he put her through. The woman who stood beside him no matter how stupid or stubborn he acted. "Baby… Baby, I'm so sorry for everything. So, so sorry."

Sometimes it's the smallest things that mean the most. That featherlight touch is enough to catch her attention, to catch her breath. Trina closes her eyes as she savors the touch of that hand as it moves along her arm; her one shoulder pulling up just a little higher and tucking under the chin she turns in its direction. He's really here. He's really here, and he's really talking.

Oh, crap. He's talking.

Mah comes back to herself with a sharp inhalation, only then realizing that the words aren't what she was expecting. She looks over her shoulder to regard him with a degree of confusion. Now only is that not what she was expecting, but she has no idea what to say in response. There's a great many things that she would want to say to him. To tell him. In the end, there's only what she knows best. To brush past it. To make it go away. She shakes her head softly, pushing her pale, wan smile back onto her lips. "It's okay, honey."

Just like she always seems to, Trina waves it all off. This just makes Jack shrink in on himself more. He's done so much. Hurt so many people and damaged so many things beyond repair. A part of him wants to be forgiven, naturally. The other part wants Trina to yell and berate him. To disapprove or to cry. Anything but the stoic acceptance of what he's put her through.

Gulp. He's not gonna cry, though. No sir. "It's not," he says, his voice tired and quiet. Resigned. Pained. "It's not okay. I did so much shit. Man, I did so many bad things and I'm sorry for all of them."

The drugs. Heidi. Nathan and Logan. Faces and images swim around his peripheral vision.

"I love you," he continues. "I love you and I'm back and I never wanna leave you again."

Damn it, what's wrong with a head-in-sand approach? Head-in-sand means no one can bite your head off. Or try to cut it off. Every time she's put her neck out, someone's been there to make sure she regrets it.

It's no way to live, really. But she hasn't seen much alternative. Yet, here it is again.

Jack's admission lures out fragile hope, and Trina's expression delicately transitions into something more tentative and vulnerable. Her smile falters; her brow knits together a fraction. It's then, perhaps, that she realizes just how ready she was for him to use tonight to tell her to get lost for good. She bites her lip and closes her eyes, fighting back tears of her own. She's not gonna cry, either, damn it all. After a few long breaths, she opens her eyes so she can turn back to Jack. "I love you, too," she finally manages, voice thick and its softness making it so that the words are nearly entirely choked. Her shoulders then hunch up, hands coming up and then stalling as she tries to test out the waters. Can she hug him? Is… Is that okay?

Damn right it's okay. Every inch of Jack hurts. He's bruised, cut, cracked, broken, and burned. None of that compares to how much it hurts to be this close to Trina without touching her.

Then he sweeps her into his arms and everything is better. All the worry is gone. The anxiety melts away. The hollow ache of his persistant withdrawal symptoms fades to a small, warm glow. A happy glow.

"I love you," he repeats. "I love you I love you I love you." Each time he says the words he leans in to collect one of the kisses that they're both long overdue on. "I love you and I'm gonna marry you and I'm gonna keep you forever. Can I? Please?"

The earnest, lopsided smile Jack puts on brings some of his boyishness to the fore. For just a moment he looks like the young man who took Trina for a ride to Jersey in his GTO. "Pretty please?"

Trina is more careful in the way she wraps her slender arms around her fiance, fearful to hurt him. He's so battered, but his kisses never change. That is where she knows him.

She leans into him, letting one of her hands snake its way into his neatly cropped hair. Kisses are good, but nothing feels half as good as when she finally presses in and rests her head on his shoulder so she can bury her face in the side of his neck. It is there that she can breath him in and feel his heart beat. He's so thin. "I'd be really pissed if you didn't. I know this'll come as a surprise and all, but I'm kinda attached."

Aches and all, Jack is clinging to Trina like she's a life preserver. Girl. His girl. The smell of her and the feel of her skin against his is like the purest medicine. It washes away all of his worries and concerns and guilt. Right here, right now, Trina loves him and that means that everything is okay.

"Likewise," he says raspily, stroking her cheek. "I wanna do something it feels like I've been waitin' on forever. Here."

Very gently, almost reverently, Jack lifts the chain and engagement ring from around Trina's neck. He quickly seperates the two and drops to one knee, a process that's not particularly swift or painless. He doesn't mind, though. Not one bit. With his good eye fixed on Trina's face, he spends a few heartbeats' time drinking in this moment and committing it to memory. Then, slowly, he holds the ring out for her to slip into.

What is he…? As Trina feels Jack jostling around at the clasp buried beneath the piles of dark hair, she stays very, very still. Even now, there's part of her that is waiting for the other shoe to drop.

It's a supreme act of trust to let him near that clasp. To let him pull the ring off from the safe place against her breast. And then he shifts. He pulls away. He… He drops to one knee.

She bites her lip, and doesn't immediately move for that ring he holds out. No, her hands are a little occupied preemptively wiping away tears that threaten her application of mascara. Once she's done that and gotten a few stupid, girly sniffles out of the way, Trina gives her hands a quick shake as she finishes collecting herself, and then turns her pale gaze back down to Jack. There's a deep breath, and then she lifts her long, shaking fingers up to send one in particular towards the ring he holds for her. She'd look at him, but right now she's just desperately trying not to miss the mark.

Jack takes Trina's hand in his bruised, crack-knuckled mitt and uses his uninjured hand to guide the emerald claddagh onto her finger.

It fits. Not quite perfectly, but very close. When Jack picked it out, he sized Trina's finger by wrapping a piece of string around it while she slept.

His thumb grazes over the stylized hands and the heart-shaped gemstone they hold. "This is me," he whispers, bending his head to press his lips against the ring. "My heart for you and nobody else. I'm always gonna be yours, baby. Always."

It doesn't do, him down there while she stands tall. At the end of an outstretched arm, there do Jack's ministrations fall. Trina admires the ring with the quiet consideration that it deserves, her fingertips wiggling a little as she tests out the new weight upon it. Once she's done that, one of her feet twists inward sheepishly.

Then ever so slowly, the woman moves to carefully shift his arms in such a way that she can get to his knee and delicately and tentatively move alight herself upon it — some of the weight still supported on her own. She's nervous enough to be easily dissuaded from her course; so afraid to damage him further. "You always sound so damned poetic. I… I don't know what else to say, except I love you. And I don't know anything that could ever change that."

"Good," Jack replies impishly. Though he'd be content to support Trina's weight for an enternity, his battered body can only handle it for a moment, even with her helping. However, he's intact enough to stand and scoop her into his arms. A few staggering, giggling steps brings them to the bed, where he lowers her down gently and slips up beside her.

Collecting his lady into a tight embrace and accidentally grazing his hand against her ring brings a smile to Jack's face like no other. He's here. She's here.

They are here. Together.

"It looks good on you," he murmurs, fingering the ring happily. "Really, really good."

A squeak escapes Trina's lips as she finds herself hefted up, and nervous, quiet curves of her lips are traded for the broader, simpler strokes of an honest smile. She happily nestles herself against Jack's form, and once she's down upon the bed, she moves to cuddle against him. He's here. He's really here. And he did what he promised. There's a ring on her finger, telling her she's not a fool for believing him. It's reassuring, something of which she finds herself in desperate need.

That thought alone drives her to pull him all the closer. "You look good," she finally offers to him, the counter compliment long delayed. Then she swallows, weaving her fingers through his. "I… I got the apartment all fixed up. For whenever you're ready to come home. No hurry, though."

"Oh, baby…" The apartment. The apartment he destroyed while he was trying to kill Peter. The apartment where Logan came and threatened his fiancee, and she still fixed it up. Probably just for him.

Jack's shoulders slump. He wants to say yes. He wants to pick her up and take her there right now and praise her for working so hard.

He doesn't.

"I'm sorry," he says reluctantly. "But I don't think I wanna go back there. So many bad things happened there… Bad people know about that place. I don't ever want somebody to try and hurt you because of me. Never again."

"Oh. O-okay." Trina drops her pale gaze to a random place on his shirt with a furrowed brow. Apartments are so hard to come by. "I… I just didn't know where else to…" She sighs and shakes her head, dismissing the train of thought and finding another instead.

"I'm sorry. It's my fault. You told me to stay at that hotel but then when I ran into Ali…" No. No, no, no. She's not blaming anyone but herself. She forces a smile back onto her lips, if for Jack's sake if for no other reason. "It'll be fine," she begins again. "I'll start lookin' for a new place tomorrow. I'll find you somethin' pretty and start packin'."

Making Trina feel bad is really the last thing Jack wanted. It's a good thing that he missed her mentioning Ali's name, because if he found out that she was to blame for Trina ending up under Logan's knife, NYC would be short a DJ.


Instead, he's too busy slumping his shoulders and sighing. Another thing to feel guilty about. He can't bring himself to take it back, though. He wants to live in that apartment like he wants to get a public colonoscopy and it shows on his face. "Don't be sorry, baby. I'm sorry. I just can't do it. Too many bad memories. Don't worry about it, okay? We can figure it out in the morning."

"Okay." It's as simple as that, really. She's got her own share of bad memories locked up in the place, but hers are easily countered by what's good. Hers… aren't really in the same ball park, ultimately. Trina moves to set her thin fingers to gingerly taking him by his chin and offering him her very best in brave smiles. "We got time. We'll take it slow." As she talks, her feet nudge against each other, schluffing off the tall heels that are stretching the healing bottoms of her feet in less than comfortable ways. "So no more worrying about it tonight, right?"

"Right," he agrees with a nod and a ragged smile of his own. "No more worrying about anything tonight. I have you back. That's all that matters."

To prove his point, Jack leans forward and kisses Trina's forehead, then the tip of her nose, then finally her lips. She's back. She's back and she's going to marry him, which means that despite all he's lost, he still has the one thing that's most important.

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