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Promises (or lack thereof) - Pt. 19/25

Challenge:  love_bingo   
Rating:  PG to PG-13
Words:  1,771
Prompt:  LI5 - Hell Hath No Fury Like a Woman Scorned
Warnings:  Nothing too explicit but will warn for violence/implied torture in a couple of the later parts (I'll post a specific warning on those posts). Everything in the series and comics is fair game, so spoilers ahoy!  

Disclaimer:   I do not own, nor am I affiliated with, CBS or Jericho or...whoever else may actually own this show.  I just like to take the characters out to play.  I put them back, mostly unharmed...although not always...this is for fun, not profit and no copyright infringement is intended.

--------------------------- 

don't you dare

The day was crisp and cold, the smell of snow sharp in the air. Beck stood tense, strung tight, waiting nervously as the humvees pulled up in front of the sheriff's office. The blood roared in his ears, his body shaking with each beat of his heart. He breathed in short gasps, almost panting, and he couldn't seem to get enough air into his lungs. His mind tilted and whirled, quivering like a rubber band about to snap; he couldn't focus his thoughts on any one thing and he had a vague feeling there was something

do you hear me

He sharply caught his breath as the back door of the humvee opened, and a woman emerged. She looked around carefully before meeting his eyes.

listen to me

The woman who came out of the humvee, her eyes cold, angry and watchful was definitely his wife. 

Rosa.

They stared at each other. Neither moved for a suspended, surreal moment. Then he whispered her name and she nodded, saying his name.

Like a stranger, Beck thought. He walked towards her, his eyes disbelieving, wondering - and afraid. The woman in front of him was the wife he'd been searching for in looks only. Her eyes showed no sign of the woman he remembered so well.

I'll never forgive you

The world seemed to contract and expand at the same time, to layer upon and fold in on itself. He saw the woman in front of him but he also saw the woman she used to be. Hidden somewhere beneath those dead eyes lurked the woman he'd married: the woman who'd borne his child; who'd made love with him; who'd cried whenever he was deployed; who'd spent hours explaining her work to him; who'd yelled at him when he deserved it; who'd laughed with him - cried with him - created a life with him.

"Rosa," he said again, choked with emotion, tears standing in his eyes. He glanced around at the watching crowd. His gaze fell on Heather, her broken heart in her eyes. She wavered in the prism of his tears. 

do you hear me

He turned back to Rosa.

"I'll take you home," Beck said. "Where we can talk in private."

Rosa nodded, carefully expressionless, unreadable.

"Madeleine?" Beck asked, looking towards the humvee.

"Dead."

Beck closed his eyes against the stark harshness of the word.

"We'll talk at home," he said.

"Your home," Rosa said coldly and clearly enough for everyone to hear.

Beck frowned, hesitated. His mind seemed to stutter before he replied, "Yes. My home."

don't you dare leave me

Beck was hyper-conscious of the way Rosa carefully watched him as he bustled about the kitchen. He was nervous, uncertain. Everything felt even more surreal - so surreal the house felt somehow unfamiliar and he couldn't quite remember how they'd gotten here. 

"Where have you been?"

Beck paused at Rosa's coldly asked question. He turned to her with two cups of coffee in his hands, and he brought them over to the table. He sat down carefully before he answered.

"I've been all over," he said. "I've been here in Jericho for almost two years - with a six month trip to the front lines in the east during the War."

"Did you ever look for us?"

"What?" Beck sputtered. "How can you -? Yes! Yes, I looked for you! I never stopped looking for you! Where have you been?"

"Mexico, for awhile. Texas for most of it. Madeleine never made it out of Santa Fe."

Beck closed his eyes and grimaced in pain.

"You didn't wait for me, did you," Rosa stated flatly.

"I thought you were dead."

"Not even two years, Edward. Nice."

"Everything was - everything was different," Beck said. "It may as well have been twenty years."

I'm not giving up on you

"I love her," Beck said helplessly. "Very much."

"And me?"

"I don't know who you are now."

"You've chosen her? This new woman? The one you say you love?"

"Yes," Beck said quietly. "She doesn't realize it, though. I've never made her any promises. I've never even told her I love her."

"What about me?" Rosa asked again.

For a moment, he looked at her, and memories came flooding back. The way she'd looked the day they met. The way she'd looked on their wedding day. Madeleine's birth; the moments - the moments that make a life. He felt all the old love surging up, almost overwhelming him, bringing him to his knees.

This cold-eyed, angry woman bore little resemblance to the warm, open-hearted woman of his memories. The woman he'd known had been burned away as surely as the cities had been burned away by the bombs.

He loved the Rosa who used to be. He loved the Heather who existed now.

And who was he? The Edward Beck he'd been had also been burned away in the heat of twenty-three dying cities, chipped away by the cold of grief and uncertainty, eroded by the decisions he'd made, the actions he'd ordered - or taken - or condoned by looking the other way.

He didn't deserve either of them.

I will make your life a living hell see if I don't

"Are you afraid I'm going to make your life hell, Edward?" Rosa asked, calmly curious; curiously calm. "Hell hath no fury -" etc., etc., etc."

"I wouldn't blame you," he replied. "I should have waited for you."

"I'll admit, nobody likes feeling they're easily replaced."

"There was nothing "easy" about it!"

"Doesn't look that way from where I'm sitting. In fact, you pretty much look like an uncaring bastard. Not even two years, Edward. Didn't our marriage mean anything to you?"

"I loved you," he said softly. "I love you still."

"And yet you're with another woman. You tell me you've already chosen her over me. You have no intention of even trying to reconcile with me. And then you tell me you love me." She scoffed. "Actions, Edward. Actions are what matter."

Her anger and skepticism burned him.

Beck stared down at the coffee mug in his hands, riddled with guilt. He couldn't refute anything she'd said; couldn't justify his actions. He'd found happiness, while she -

His mind stuttered. His frown deepened as he stared into his cup.

you will not leave me I won't allow it

"What?" Rosa demanded sharply.

"We...we haven't had coffee for months," he murmured. The cup seemed to stretch and twist. He blinked and looked away - to find he was now in a livingroom he remembered well, in the house he and Rosa had shared at his last posting. He was lying on the couch, blinking and frowning at the ceiling.

"Finally awake?"

He turned his head to see Rosa standing in the kitchen doorway with a steaming cup in her hand. His nose twitched at the smell of fresh-brewed coffee.

Rosa grinned and glided into the livingroom as he sat up. She handed him the cup.

"Must have been a doozy of a dream," she teased lightly. "You kept talking about somebody named Heather - should I be jealous?"

It was a moment of truth; Beck could feel - could almost see - two paths stretching before him, two women, two lives.  He could make a choice - and it could be as if the last two years had never happened.

"Edward?"  Rosa prompted, frowning now.  "Should I be jealous?"

"Yes," he said. His voice seemed to come from a great distance. The cup slipped in slow motion from his hand and he watched it shatter on the floor. There was something -

Damn it

Beck looked up. Rosa was standing in the middle of a Kansas corn field. The sun was bright, its heat beating down on his back as he walked to her.

"Am I dreaming?" he asked softly.

She smiled at him, and now she looked like the Rosa of his memories.

"Not exactly."

"Then what -?" he stopped, his eyes wide. "Am I dead?"

"Not yet."

Don't you dare die on me! Do you hear me?

He hesitated. "Are you dead?"

Rosa smiled gently at him. "What do you believe?"

"I believe you're dead."

"Yes."

Beck's eyes filled with tears. "I'm sorry. I'm sorry I wasn't with you - I'm sorry I couldn't find you. I'm sorry I gave up on you. But - but I'm not sorry I fell in love with Heather. I - I'm just not. I can't - you don't know -"

"You loved me. You love me still." Rosa walked up to him and gently cupped his face. "It's okay for you to love somebody else. To be happy."

"Rosa -"

"Did you really think I'd begrudge you love? Begrudge you happiness?"

"I wouldn't blame you if you did."

Rosa dropped her hands to his shoulders. "Then you never really understood how much I loved you, Edward. If fate hadn't separated us, we'd be together now; we'd be together for life." She smiled sadly at him. "We were together for life."

"You were so angry earlier."

She shook her head. "You thought I'd be angry."

"So am I just thinking you would be happy for me? Is any of this real?"

Rosa reached up and kissed him gently, her lips soft and warm and so dearly familiar. 

"Do you remember?" she asked.

crisp, cold air first coffee in months he'd forgotten how good it tasted meeting Heather for the first Christmas Presidential Address in Jericho wanted to just be part of the crowd holding Heather close to keep her warm instead have to stand on stupid dais behind the President sharp crack of shots screams get President DOWN DOWN DOWN more shots Heather Heather Heather must protect the President shock of impact Heather blackness then

Don't you dare die on me! I love you!

Beck slowly opened his eyes. The ceililng was white. Machines were beeping regularly. He blinked, and slowly rolled his head to the right and saw Heather watching him. She was pale and drawn, dark shadows under her fatigue-bright eyes. She smiled tremulously at him and squeezed his hand. She leaned over and pressed a quick kiss to his lips. He could taste her relief mingled with her tears.

He tried to speak, but his mouth was too dry. Heather gave him some ice chips as she babbled tearfully to him, telling him he was going to be all right.

"I love you," he croaked once he could speak.

She stopped in mid-word and her eyes, if anything, got bigger.

"I love you."



Part 18          Part 20



 

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Quotes

"All right," said Susan. "I'm not stupid. You're saying humans need...fantasies to make life bearable."

REALLY? AS IF IT WAS SOME KIND OF PINK PILL? NO. HUMANS NEED FANTASY TO BE HUMAN. TO BE THE PLACE WHERE THE FALLING ANGEL MEETS THE RISING APE.

"Tooth fairies? Hogfathers? Little --"

YES. AS PRACTICE. YOU HAVE TO START OUT LEARNING TO BELIEVE THE LITTLE LIES.

"So we can believe the big ones?"

YES. JUSTICE. MERCY. DUTY. THAT SORT OF THING.

-- Susan and Death in Hogfather by Terry Pratchett

---------------------

"And no practical definition of freedom would be complete without the freedom to take the consequences. Indeed, it is the freedom upon which all the others are based."

-- Lord Vetinari in Going Postal by Terry Pratchett

---------------------

They thought the Library was a dangerous place because of all the magical books, which was true enough, but what made it really one of the most dangerous places there could ever be was the simple fact that it was a library.

-- Guards! Guards! by Terry Pratchett

---------------------

As a wizard, it was something that Ponder had only before encountered in acorns: a tiny soundless voice which said, yes, I am but a small, green, simple object - but I dream about forests.

-- Interesting Times by Terry Pratchett

---------------------

In the 24th century, there will be no hunger. There will be no greed. And every child will know how to read.

-- Gene Roddenberry, as repeated by Jonathan Frakes in the documentary How William Shatner Changed the World

---------------------

We've got two lives, one we're given and the other one we make
And the world won't stop, and actions speak louder
Listen to your heart, and what your heart might say
Everything we got, we got the hard way.

-- Mary Chapin Carpenter, The Hard Way from the album Come On, Come On

---------------------

Cause when they own the information, oh
They can bend it all they want.

-- John Mayer, Waiting on the World to Change from the album Continuum

---------------------

Courage doesn't always roar. Sometimes courage is the little voice at the end of the day that says, "I'll try again tomorrow."

-- Mary Anne Radmacher, as seen in Uncle John's Bathroom Reader Tales to Inspire

---------------------

I never loved the soldier
Until there was a war.
Or thought about tomorrow
'til my baby hit the floor.
I only talk to God
When somebody's about to die.
I never cherished freedom
Freedom never cries.

-- Five for Fighting, Freedom Never Cries from the album Two Lights

---------------------

It may sound absurd: but don't be naive
Even heroes have the right to bleed
I may be disturbed: but won't you concede
Even heroes have the right to dream

-- Five for Fighting, Superman (It's Not Easy) from the album American Town

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Had a dream last night took a time travellin' ride
Back to my childhood where those monsters reside
They snack on innocence and dine on self-esteem
But I like to be in touch with what makes me scream
Vampires, mummies and the Holy Ghost
These are the things that terrify me the most.
No alien, psychopath or MTV host
Scares me like vampires,mummies and the Holy Ghost.

-- Jimmy Buffett, Vampires, Mummies and the Holy Ghost from the album Fruitcakes

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"I want to believe that... the dead are not lost to us. That they speak to us... as part of something greater than us - greater than any alien force. And if you and I are powerless now, I want to believe that if we listen, to what's speaking, it can give us the power to save ourselves."

-- Fox Mulder, The X-Files from the episode The Truth, pt. 2
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