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Posted: Nov 6 2017, 09:05 PM
Andrea Brennan was probably the very definition of a lonely spinster. When she had Apparated home from the hospital, in preparation for her first day off in what felt like months (it was just ten days, truthfully, and that was only because she was a fool and picked up shifts since most all she had in life was her job), she had walked her dog, came home, made dinner, and was now curled up on her sofa with a good book and a glass of wine. Skipper was snoozing on the carpet below, enjoying the company of his owner since she wasn’t home nearly often enough for his tastes. It was, quite frankly, almost a little boring. But boring was good.
There were some who might have found it odd, but Andie had never been a woman who needed company or excitement to feel fulfilled. And in most cases, she found socialization to be fruitless, exhausting, and downright annoying, which is why she’d declined Liam’s invitation to go out drinking tonight. (Also, he had a tendency to pick up women and men like a stray picked up fleas, and Andie was in no mood to bear witness to that.) Most people just… tended to prick her irritation in general, and she wasn’t sure when she’d become so jaded. Perhaps she’d always been that way, and it had just become more prominent as the years dragged on. Who knew?
She first became aware that something might be off when Skipper started growling from the floor. Andie paused on the page she was on, glancing down at her canine companion. He hadn’t moved, and at first, she was sure he was perhaps just growling in his sleep.
That was when he barked.
The sound caught her by surprise, as Skipper was normally a rather quiet dog. He was well-behaved, mostly because of his stern mother who had managed to teach him the proper ways to behave over the years. But even as a puppy, he’d never made much noise. The only times that he barked, or threw a fuss, were when strangers knocked on the door. If he ever got excited for a visitor, or by a scent or sound just outside the apartment, he’d lay by the door, sniffing underneath the crack with his tail thwacking around behind him. He was doing neither of those things, however, a low snarl gushing from his throat as he got to his paws and took a stance halfway between her and the front doorway.
“Skipper,” Andie said warningly, slipping a bookmark between the pages and gently shutting the book in her hands. “Skipper, love, what is it?” It was childish, but sometimes she wished that dogs could speak. In English, anyway, because as soon as she asked, Skipper barked again. And again.
Then there was the knock on her door.
Immediately, Andie set the book aside and rose to her feet. Skipper’s barking resumed, this time much more fiercely, as the massive mutt followed at her heels to the door, continuing to bark at whomever, or whatever, was on the other side. Andie did her best not to be nervous as she peeked through the seehole to-
“Skipper, it’s alright, shh,” the healer told her four-legged roommate as she tried to scratch him behind the ears like he enjoyed. He didn’t seem to hear the assurance. When her dog continued barking, pressing protectively against her leg as she tried to get ready to open the door, Andie briefly lost her patience. “Skipper, down!” The command had its desired effect, as the dog quieted and snuffled at the entryway.
With that obstacle out of the way, Andie immediately twisted the doorknob and cautiously opened the door.
“Jem? What-” That was when she saw it. The brief glance she’d gotten through the seehole hadn’t shown her the way he was holding himself, like he was inches away from falling apart, carrying himself gingerly in a way that she had only seen once or twice… all very many years ago. “Jem, what happened? Come inside, I-” What had possessed him? What was he doing here, and what had he been doing in the first place? “Skipper, move.” She gently nudged her dog out of the way as she ushered Jem inside; Skipper, however, was far more interested in the new friend that had just waltzed through the door, wagging his tail ferociously as he snuffled at Jem’s feet, then his legs, then his-
“That’s enough Skipper.” Andie’s hands fluttered for a moment; she didn’t know whether to touch him, and if so, where, before she just settled for gently grabbing his arm and pulling him further inside, before shutting the door behind them and guiding them towards the kitchen. “I’ll take care of you at the table in the kitchen. I don’t want blood on the carpet, in case you’re bleeding. Bloodstains are annoyingly difficult to get out.” For now, it would be enough to simply focus on healing him; worrying about where the injuries had come from could come later.
Posted: Nov 6 2017, 09:06 PM
Something about the most recent situation in France didn’t sit right with Jem.
Of course, none of it really sat right with him. People were dying, or disappearing. Despite the new Minister’s words of courage and comfort, there was still an air of distrust in the country. He supposed, on the one hand, that he could relate. Rather than trusting his own or any other government with the protection against this new threat, he’d formed his own group of like minded individuals to do so. But he while he remained vigilant against corruption, he wasn’t exactly going around trying to find it the way the new regime seemed to be.
But even that, while it made him curious enough to keep an eye on, wasn’t what was really bothering him. No, what was bothering him was what happened to Alphonse Sauveterre and his family.
The man had been a higher up in the Ministry, and no doubt had been considered for Minister before the government had opted to go with a younger, more charismatic leader. Jem wasn’t really sure; France’s politics didn’t really interest him that much. A high profile target, no doubt. But Alphonse’s wife had been a Muggle woman, and the Sauveterres were well known in recent years for being proponents of Wizard-Muggle relations. More importantly, his children, the eldest only 17, hardly were political figures.
Jem hadn’t been among the first to respond to the scene, but he’d gotten a chance to walk through. He had a lot of crime scene experience, and as he walked the blackened halls, he thought he could see how things might have played out. Madam Sauveterre had been found alone, in a room away from the room two of her children had been found in. She didn’t appear to have fought her killer. Alphonse, on the other hand, was found elsewhere, and had clearly been locked in a scuffle at the time. It was troubling, all the tiny pieces he was able to glean from that walkthrough. Combined with what his gut and training both told him about how little sense the crime made, that in of itself would have been enough to make him suspicious. Perhaps others in his trade were as well.
But Jem had something else weighing on him that made him sure of it. Sure, you could poke holes in the official story all you wanted, but without any real proof it was all just speculation. But Jem knew something only a handful of carefully trusted people knew still. One Sauveterre had survived the melee and fire that had claimed the rest of her family. The eldest daughter, Gabrielle Louise Sauveterre , had managed to escape with the help of her father.
Jem was an investigator, both by profession and by nature. Many a time, he’d had to sit with a witness or victim and get their story. And many of them weighed on him heavily; sitting in the small, darkened room in a small Greek village, quietly and carefully pulling the details of the deaths of almost her entire family from that young, grief stricken, incredibly brave girl was one of those times. She didn’t understand or know all the details, but what she had been able to tell him, stifling sobs and trying to mask her pain with anger, was enough to poke a million holes in the official story of what had happened to her family.
Jem had let the world believe the story that the whole family had perished, for now. Gabby and her uncle were under Order protection, and that would be easier without the world knowing she’d survived. They’d told only who they had to before whisking them away. Sooner or later, though, Jem knew he wasn’t going to be able to protect them anymore. He wanted to know what had really happened to the Sauveterres before that happened, if possible.
Poking around in France wasn’t without it’s dangers, but Jem was far from the only international agent doing so. After the terror attack on both the muggle and wizarding ministries, the world’s eye was on them. A seasoned agent, he was usually very careful about who he asked what question. Usually.
He should have apparated, he knew that. But some of those he questioned were muggle or in muggle places, and besides, he was trying not to draw too much attention. Slipping through a crowd was much more covert. Eventually, however, he found himself alone on a side street. Though not for long. He’d turned when he heard someone hailing him, asking in French if he had the time. Right into a fist to the face.
Jem was pretty sure four of them had set on him, beating him to the ground. At the very least, there were four of them physically on him. There may have been a fifth nearby, but Jem wasn’t really sure. They all were hooded and he caught no trace of their faces. They beat and kicked him until he couldn’t push himself upright anymore. The one who had hailed him - smart. That way Jem could only ever identify one of his attackers - leaned in after and threatened him about asking questions he shouldn’t and letting the dead lie before he joined them.
Well if that wasn’t all kinds of fucking suspicious.
Not trusting his health and safety to just anyone at the moment, when Jem was able to finally get to his feet and go in search of aid, he went to the one place, the one person he knew he could always trust.
It was a long trip back; he had to Apparate in short bursts and then rest for a few moments before going on. Partly it was actually necessary, as he didn’t really feel up to an international Apparation all in one go. But mostly it was to confuse and lose anyone who might be tailing him. He’d take another beating on top of the one he’d just gotten before he’d lead trouble to her doorstep.
It crossed his mind to try and find her help at St. Mungo’s. That would be the logical thing to do. But the last thing he wanted to do was try and explain his injuries. At least in a legal, official way, since, knowing Andrea Irene Brennan the way he did, he knew he wasn’t going to get out of this with no explanation at all. He didn’t want his actual work to interfere with his private work, however, so he headed straight toward the other destination he knew where to find her.
It felt… very strange indeed to be walking up the path to her building. He was a virtual stranger here, and yet he also knew this place intimately. He’d lived here with her, years ago. Practically a life time. In some ways, he’d been surprised to learn that she still lived in the flat that they’d shared, with all it’s memories. But, when he really thought about it, it wasn’t all that strange at all.
He’d remembered the fierce pride in her eye when she’d first shown him the empty flat, having just signed the paperwork that made it hers. Really hers, and not something her family could spoil. He and Liam had spent a back breaking afternoon moving her in, and the three of them had had beers on her living room floor that night, surrounded by boxes and toasting her venture into adulthood. He remembered spending more nights here than at his tiny flat that he shared with another Auror intern who had no sense of personal space. To the point that they’d playfully bickered about him needing a drawer, half mocking those romcom situation, but still half nervously testing out the idea. And when she finally made the offer, it wasn’t by presenting him with his very own drawer, but by suggesting it was a waste of time if all his shit was going to end up in her flat anyway and that he should just bring it all at once. The had a lot of happy times in this flat, and it made him almost smile to think about it as he made the slow, painful journey up the stairs.
Even the times he couldn’t say he looked back at fondly weren’t really all that bad. Jem and Andie hadn’t broken up in a fit of enraged passions, or anything dramatic. They were both far to pragmatic for that. But eventually the day came that they realized that their lives were traveling in different directions. They’d stayed up late one night, talking it all out, exploring the options. Him staying here, her moving to New York, what would happen if one of them did choose to delay their dream, and what would happen if they never got the chance at it again. How they could make long distance work, and how they would fail to make it work. All of it, every little thing they could think of. To say it was an entirely logical conversation without emotions involved would be a lie. But it was honest and real, and their feelings didn’t distract them from figuring out that their paths just didn’t lay together anymore.
Thinking about that conversation was hard, but Jem didn’t regret it. He never regretted anything about Andie; it was worth losing her to have loved her in the first place.
It took him a few minutes to get to her flat. Jem wasn’t too steady on his feet, and he had to stop at the top of the stairs to catch his breath, breathing raggedly. He walked down her hall with one hand stretched out to steady himself along the wall and the other bracing ribs he was positive were broken. His attackers had kicked him a number of times after he’d fallen to the ground, and hadn’t stopped when he’d stopped moving. Add that to the stiffness from laying on the ground until he’d gathered enough strength to get up, and he was feeling pretty damn rough right now.
He heard barking from the other side of the door as he finally approached it, leaning heavily on the doorframe, and a voice speaking assumably to the dog. He couldn’t make out words or even that the voice was Andie’s, but he felt relief that she was home and not at work wash over him. Jem raised a weary hand and knocked firmly on her door, waiting patiently for her to answer. It sounded like there was a slight owner-dog scuffle at the door that ended with a firm, very Andie sounding command and what Jem could only assume was reluctant acceptance on the massive sounding beast on the other side of the door.
Jem gave Andie a taxed but genuine smile as she opened the door, pleased to see her after the evening he’d had. The surprise at his appearance at her door deepened as she took a second to take in his appearance. Before Jem could even think to answer her first half question, she was firing another at him, and then instructing both him and her dog in fairly similar tones. It was almost a relief to let her usher him along, to give up the responsibility for initiating the request for help that she apparently had already assumed and accepted.
Andie’s dog, if you could call something that large a dog, was just as big as his bark sounded. He didn’t seem overly phased by Jem, mostly curious if the very thorough sniff test he was giving him was anything to go by. The Agent reached down and scratched Skipper’s ears, earning himself a friendly snuffle he took as a sign of approval to enter the flat.
Jem nodded at Andie’s instruction, grinning at her flippant commentary. “It’s truly endearing that you know that well enough to merely be mildly annoyed at the inconvenience of getting blood stains out. Wish I could say it was surprising, but at least it’s endearing.” His chuckle turned into a pained cough, a pained grimace robbing his face of it’s boyish smile. He followed her lead to the kitchen table, pulling out a chair and gingerly sitting down.
“‘M not bleeding though, at least not anymore,” the Scottish wizard assured her. He could only imagine what his face looked like, but he knew it had been a while since he had wiped away fresh blood from it. “It took me a bit to get here, so I think any bleeding I’m doing would be internal at this point.” He paused, then looked over at her apologetically. Even though she wasn’t, apparently, going to make him ask, he felt like he owed her the gratitude that came along with showing up on her doorstep and making such a request.
“I’m sorry, Andie, for just showing up like this. I wouldn’t blame you if you wanted me to go. And I will, if that’s what you want. I just… If I’m being honest, I didn’t know who else I could trust right now except you. I’d be very grateful if you’d help me.”
Sig by Crystal
Posted: Nov 6 2017, 09:06 PM
Andie was not a soldier. The closest to a warzone she had ever been was the hospital during a dragonpox outbreak during her third year; there had been parents crying, people running rampant in the hospital as though the world was ending, shortages in vital ingredients to make antidotes and antibiotics, and a number of overtime hours that had, in large part, earned Andie the reputation that she had around St. Mungo’s today. She had never been on a crime scene, she had never really been in true danger, nor been in a deadly duel. She didn’t know war.
She just knew what the results looked like, and felt the need to make it better. It’s what drove her to be a Healer in the first place, and only a small fraction of the reason that she ushered Jeremiah Murray into her flat without question.
“What isn’t endearing,” she said tartly as she guided Jem into her kitchen, taking care to keep an eye out on how he was moving, to see where the injuries might be worst, “Is Liam coming home at two in the morning having gotten into some kind of bar fight like the bumbling idiot he is. Now sit. And… that shirt is probably going to have to come off.” She said the last part and pressed her lips together, keeping her face and tone as business-like as possible. Andie should have been able to play the part of the stoic, kind, maternal Healer that she could be for so many others. But with Jem, that facade faltered. He was far from any ordinary patient, that much was certain by how much it… well, by how much it scared her that he’d shown up looking like this.
And he looked like hell. As Jem sat down, Andie immediately crouched in front of him, taking a cursory look at just how awful he appeared. Blood was smeared across the bottom half of his face, having streamed from a nose that looked broken, and he had a jaw already looking black underneath the smeared crimson. But to see the full extent of the damage…
“Here.” She reached forward and swallowed, being careful to try and maintain the stoic mask over her expression. Andie wasn’t entirely sure if she was succeeding or failing, especially as her fingers gently looped underneath the fabric of his shirt and gently started tugging up. It was a struggle not to think about the dozens, if not hundreds, of times she’d done this before, for entirely different reasons during an entirely different era of their lives, but she clenched her jaw shut and forced the thoughts from her mind. Compartmentalization. He was her patient, and a friend. She couldn’t afford to have him be anything more.
She was ginger, gentle in how she rolled the fabric up and eventually tugged it up and over his arms, grateful for any help he might give in helping get the shirt off. Andie pressed her lips together as she finally set the balled up material on her kitchen table, and took a step back to give him another lookover. If she thought his face looked like hell, his torso looked even worse. Her throat closed.
His query went virtually ignored, as Andie rolled her eyes and held a hand up to stop him. Did he honestly think she was going to let him go anywhere looking like this without having taken care of him? “Wait here. I’ll be right back.”
She didn’t say another word as she left Jem in her kitchen to retreat back to her bedroom, where she kept her at-home ‘supply’ as it were. Skipper remained out in the kitchen, it seemed, likely too preoccupied with their new guest to be interested in where his two-legged mother was going. It was probably better that way. It wasn’t that Andie didn’t trust Jem in the apartment; hell, he’d lived here almost a decade ago, and of all the people in the world, Jem was amongst the top two that she trusted. But… it was hard to explain. She couldn’t explain why her fingers shook ever to slightly as she opened up her closet and pulled down her box of potion supplies, or why she had to take a deep breath as she shut it once more.
Get a hold of yourself, she scolded silently, as she tucked the box underneath her arm and headed back out to the kitchen.
There had once been a time in her life when seeing Jem sitting shirtless at the kitchen table would have sent a thrill through her; she was horrified to learn that it still did. Something stirred in her stomach that she hadn’t felt in a very long time, and there was a quick flicker of uncertain desire that vanished as rapidly as it had appeared.
This was a struggle that Andie was finding she had to fight more and more when Jem was around. To say that she hadn’t thought about picking up where they’d left off, now that he was here and seemingly just as charming and sweet as he’d been all those years ago, would be a complete lie. But she knew it’d be a mistake, and she had never been a woman who purposefully signed herself up for failure. It was impractical, and there were a hundred reasons why any kind of rekindled relationship with Jem would be a problem. So she kept her mouth shut, and refused to acknowledge the chill that went up and down her spine every time she saw that damnably handsome smile.
“I need to know what they did to you,” she said, voice going frosty as she set her box on the table and opened it up to reveal all the herbs and ingredients that she kept at her disposal. Andie glanced at Jem and just barely let her eyes drift to his still remarkably defined, damn him abdomen to take inventory of all the injuries she could discern with just a look. “This… wasn’t the Cruciatus, was it?” Her jaw clenched; whoever had done this, regardless of the methods they’d used, had earned their way onto her enmity list. They’d best pray they never ended up in her hospital. “Or was someone kicking or beating you?”
At this, Andie gritted her teeth as she pulled her wand from her pocket and crouched down next to him again. It was time to focus, even though he made it a little difficult. “Hold still, I have to try and figure out what all is broken and bruised.” Muttering an incantation, the Healer gently waved her wand slowly up and down Jem’s torso, barely ghosting over his skin. She narrowed her eyes as she sighed at the results.
“There’s at least two ribs broken, but I didn’t find any internal bleeding. Which is lucky, since one of the ribs that broke was close to your lung. If it had pierced-” Andie stopped herself there. She didn’t need to elaborate that Jem had been incredibly lucky, for both of their sakes. She didn’t even want to entertain the idea that he might not be sitting here right now; the thought of Jem being gone wasn’t one she wanted to deal with, especially when he’d been so close. If he’d died within a hundred miles of her, and she hadn’t been able to do a thing, she never would have forgiven herself. Or him. “I’m just glad you were careful coming here. But I’m going to have to set them and fix the breaks. It’s going to hurt.” Not that healing ever didn’t, but Andie glanced up at him to make sure he understood… and felt her throat clench again at all of the blood on his face. “I’ll give you something for the pain once I’m done, and then we’ll get you cleaned up.”
Looking up at him and waiting for clearance, Andie nodded and gave him ample warning before gritting her teeth and tapping her wand against the reddened skin where she knew one of the broken ribs was and muttered, “Ferula.” The subsequent quiet snap seemed to reverberate through the kitchen, and Andie waited a moment before repeating on the other rib. She didn’t wince if Jem made any pained noises, instead sighing in relief with that part over and setting her want to the side as she reached into the box and pulled out a vial of a pain-relieving draught she had prepared. (What? Potionmaking was a worthy past-time.)
Before she handed it to him, though, Andie quickly pointed her wand at his nose, hesitated as she nodded in warning, before chirping, “Episkey,” and hearing his nose reset itself. There. All broken bones handled. “Drink this,” she said, now handing the vial to him with a little less delicacy than she should have. “It’ll help with the pain. I’ll start with this Star Grass Salve that’ll ease any bruising and irritation in your muscles, and then I’ll clean you up. But first-”
As she started pulling out the ingredients and supplies she’d need, Andie paused before whipping her head towards him, expression stormy. Swallowing, she narrowed her eyes at him. “You’re going to tell me exactly what you were doing, and exactly who did this to you.” What she actually planned to do with such information, she wasn’t sure, but someone was going to pay for this.
Posted: Nov 6 2017, 09:07 PM
There was a small part of Jem that felt bad for taking advantage of Andie’s nature like this. He had known full well that there was a very small chance of her turning him away to find help elsewhere; it wasn’t in her nature. Or at least, it hadn’t been. He’d been very lucky as a new recruit, able to go home to a somewhat sympathetic - if often exasperated - girlfriend who was able to easily handle his various “training accidents” and other mishaps. Andie was a very, very capable healer, and she had the ability to handle surprise chaos with ease.
Then again, she wouldn’t exactly have qualms about telling him to get lost if she really felt put upon. He had always admired that frank, straightforwardness she had.
Jem’s lips curled up into a half smile as she described Liam coming over in a similar fashion, though with much less reputable circumstances. Though, he didn’t know if the difference between a bar brawl and being mugged in an alley were that dissimilar. “No, that doesn’t sound very endearing,” he agreed, trying not to chuckle. He was positive that that would hurt like hell.
Nodding gingerly at the instruction to strip, well familiar with the routine from various healer visits over his career, Jem reached back behind his right shoulder and grabbed a fistful of the fabric. He was definitely trying to not jostle his left side too much, but pulling his arm back from that was an arduous effort, and he couldn’t help the sharp intake of breath and wince that accompanied pulling his shirt up and over.
Thankfully, Andie was quick to assess the situation and equally quick to help out. She efficiently, but still mostly gently, got the garment off. Despite his best efforts in the present to leave their past in the past, Jem was tired enough that a brief but vivid mental picture shoved it’s way to the forefront of his mind, of the last time she’d helped him undress in this kitchen. Making dinner together one night had turned into a playful mini food fight that had dissolved into a draw when he’d caught her wrist before she could shove another handful in his face and instead of retaliating had leaned in to kiss a smear of sauce off her collar bone. Clothes had seemed pretty pointless shortly after that.
If his face had a tinge of color to it when she pulled his shirt over his head now, it was hard to tell through the bruising and blood. He nodded briskly as she basically ignored him in favor of going to get some kind of first aid kit. Her dog didn’t follow her, but instead took the opportunity to move closer and give him a proper sniffing. Jem tolerated it for a moment, looking down at the massive beast with a bemused expression, before reaching up to scratch his ears. That was evidently acceptable, because his hind quarters hit the tile and he propped his head on Jem’s knee. “Aye, that’s a good lad,” he mumbled, continuing to scratch away. Andie’s dog huffed in reply.
After a few moments, Andie returned, and her canine companion moved out of her way. He watched her go through her kit with passive curiosity. Potions was never his forte, and he’d largely gotten the grades he’d needed for being an Auror by relying on Andie’s help. But he had a lot of appreciation for the skill, and a lot of first hand experience with it. He didn’t answer her right away, but shook his head when she asked if it was the Cruciatus Curse. “No, none of this was magical in nature. Purely physical. There might have been a bat involved as well; I’m honestly kind of hazy on the finer points of this beating. I don’t really think the how was the takeaway message though, so I’m not too bothered.” His words were somewhat flippant, but his tone had a contemplative tone. He was obviously still working out something about what had happened to him, but didn’t seem very likely to share.
Jem gave a short jerk of his head when she instructed him to hold still. He did his best to remain still as she waved her wand over his torso and began diagnosing his various injuries. It didn’t take long before she was sighing and giving him the prognosis. Certainly felt worse than it was, luckily.
“I know what would have happened,” he interjected when she seemed reluctant to tell him. She was right, it wasn’t a pretty picture. More to distract himself from what she was about to do than anything, he found himself telling her the story of that particular bit of knowledge. “I was chasing a subject about.. Four years or so ago? Give or take. He ran into a condemned building, and I followed. Wee idiot thought firing spells at me without looking would be a smart thing to do and brought the damn building down on top of us. I was more or less fine,” he added before Andie could look too worried. “A beam knocked into me and pinned me to the floor. Ended up having a broken leg and a few scrapes, but not much else wrong. But I did get to listen to him drowning in his own blood for the next minute or two while my backup tried to dig us out. He finished before they did.”
It was a pretty grim story, but it had painted for him in starker colors than any defense class he’d ever taken what the price of failure was. It wasn’t the first time such a thing had happened, nor would it likely be the last, and Jem did his best to take lessons away from every brush with danger. He had always been careful when he and Andie had been together, and had continued that with his American career, but he wasn’t in a safe line of work. If he wanted to make sure he came home at the end of every day, he had to be ready and willing to learn from his minor mistakes before they became deadly.
Today, he’d miscalculated. A bit of an understatement to look at him, but that was what it came down to. He wasn’t sure yet what part of this puzzle had been where he’d made the mistake, but one thing was damn sure. He was going to figure out what that was before repeating a similar endeavor.
“You’ve patched me up before, I know what to expect. I’m ready,” he assured Andie, carefully gripping the edges of the table tightly in preparation. Even knowing what was about to happen didn’t fully prepare you for the reality of having your bones snap back into place. Jem groaned through his clenched teeth, his face screwing up in pain. After a moment, however, the feeling passed and his expression smoothed. He gave Andie a quick nod; he was ready for the next one. That one was more of the same, and Jem started to declench when it was over.
He was a bit slow in realizing what she was up to next, but after a beat nodded wearily. He’d had his nose broken so many times that the familiar Episkey spell barely registered amid all the other discomfort he was in. It certainly felt more comfortable after. “Thanks, Andie.” He took the potion vial more because Andie was handing it to him whether or not he wanted it than any other reason. He held it loosely while she continued describing the treatment path she’d decided on, which he honestly only half listened to because it wasn’t like he’d have suggestions for doing it better.
Jem looked at the vial contemplatively. On the one hand, he didn’t really want to be fuzzy right now. On the other, if the people who had done this to him wanted him dead, they’d have killed him in Paris. And what Andie was describing didn’t sound particularly fun in his current condition. There was a joke in there about that, but he was too tired to properly shape it in his mind. After a beat, he decided to just go ahead and trust Andie. She was the healer he’d chosen tonight, after all. And, more importantly, she was a very dear friend who he’d always trust when it came down to it. He drank the potion in one swallow - those things were usually nasty.
The agent looked back up to find Andie glaring at him. Not angry, just determined. Jem sighed, and leaned back in his chair. He knew that look too well. “Well, as for who, I’m afraid I don’t know. They got the jump on me, and it was dark, and they wore hoods. Trust me, I’m aware of the irony in an investigator failing to get identifying details. There were at least four of them, and I think they were all male, but beyond that…” Jem shook his head. Which he immediately recognized was a mistake as it swum a little bit.
“But I can’t tell you what I was doing,” he continued a beat later. She should, hopefully, remember from their relationship that it wasn’t because he didn’t trust her that he couldn’t tell her details of his cases. If he only trusted one person the whole rest of his life, it would be Andie. But the more people who knew a thing, the less secure the secret was, even if that person would never in a million years tell. At least, of their own volition. Which was the other half of that silence. Not knowing kept Andie safe from the danger he walked freely through. He’d made the decision a long time ago that if not knowing something was more dangerous to her than knowing it, he’d damn the consequences and tell her everything. But what he was doing in Paris was no threat to her, at least not at the moment. She was safer in the dark on that one.
“I’m sorry.” And he always was. He’d never in his life lied to Andie, but sometimes keeping things from her didn’t feel like that much of a distinction. It had always bothered him back when they’d been together, and from the regretful look in his eyes, it still did.
Sig by Crystal
Posted: Nov 6 2017, 09:07 PM
This was dangerous.
It was a word, Andie noticed, that seemed to follow Jeremiah Murray no matter where he went. This wasn’t a new realization, exactly, because this was something that she’d known when she had dated him the first time. His work for dangerous. His charm was dangerous. His noble, if not ridiculous, need to save others was dangerous. The way he looked at her, the way he said her name… All of it, dangerous. She swallowed as she watched him, shirtless in her kitchen, and was abhorred to remember it again in the starkest sense as she looked away from him.
This time? He was dangerous because he was making it dangerously easy to fall in love with him again.
Andrea Brennan was not a woman who believed in love, exactly; at least, not in the sense that most probably thought about it. It was a luxury, something afforded to those who believed in it more strongly. When Jem had left, it wasn’t that she’d lost that belief, so much as she simply had other things to focus on. Things that she’d felt were more worth her time than fruitless fantasies and mourning a future that hadn’t been certain. That isn’t to say that she hadn’t dated, and that she hadn’t been close to that envious brink once or twice after Jem had gone to America, but Andie felt as though she’d made enough mistakes and had let enough go that it wasn’t for her anymore.
Jem was beginning to make her feel differently, though, and maybe that had always just been part of his charm. The bastard.
“Physical. You nearly got beaten to death in the streets, and you’re not bothered,” she said, throat tight. If the condemning venom with which she said the words didn’t do enough to convey her horror, the sudden paleness of her face would have done it, if he were paying attention. Swallowing, Andie hurriedly looked away and set to work on his poultices and potions as she struggled to maintain her expression.
This had always been the hard part. When they had dated the first time, while he would rarely come directly home to her, his close shaves had always stuck with her. Andie liked being able to fix things. Make them better. But whenever Jem came too close to being beyond even her reach, it was a haunting sensation that was hard to shake, and one that she didn’t like (to say the least). She despised not being in control, and what was worse, she knew he’d just go out there and do it again. And again. Because that was who he was and what he did, but the thought of losing him was too painful a one, and it was one she had to consider all too often because of his actions. She didn’t appreciate it. That was the mild way of putting it.
But Andie also knew that she would never ask him to stop. Jem was a good man, and she was selfish. Her world revolved around her patients and her close friends, and she wasn’t eager to extend her view beyond that. Jem saw the world, saw everything that needed to be saved and wanted to change it for the better. It was that wider ambition, that drive, that would continue to push him into situations like this. Andie didn’t envy him for it, though she saw it as something to admire. When it ended up with him like this, though, it was easy to pretend as though he was just a noble idiot. And that was what she did.
Until his story, though, at which point Andie swallowed and paused in her work. “It’s not pleasant,” she said quietly in response, after a long moment of solemn silence. “There was a poison I couldn’t stop once, two years ago, in a patient brought to the emergency section of my ward. He was gone before I could finish brewing an antidote.” She didn’t need to go into much detail, the weight of the memory heavy on her shoulders, as all lost patients were. But she also knew Jem could figure out the massive gaps in her storytelling, based on the tale he’d just spun. “What matters is that it didn’t happen to you. Broken ribs and bruises and bloody faces are things I can handle with ease, these days.”
Andie remained relatively silent as she went about fixing his ribs and nose. It was this part that was easiest, doing the simple spellwork required to mend what was broken. It was this part that she had practiced for almost a decade now, and it was what she was the best at. That, and the potions part. Many years ago, her stepfather had tried to force her into a job at his apothecary. Truth be told, if she’d taken that path, she also would have made a phenomenal potions mistress; she liked to think she’d saved that ass of a man from embarrassment, since she only would have surpassed him in her first year of working there.
“Don’t thank me until you feel entirely better without the help of painkillers,” she said in a mild warning voice, even though a moment later, she murmured softly, “But you’re welcome.” The briefest of genuine, pleased smiles flickered across her face before disappearing once more in favor of an expression of determination and stony concentration. She couldn’t let his charm distract her, damn him.
As Jem began to vaguely explain what had happened, Andie went back to sprinkling ingredients into her mortar, and grinding them down with a pestle with the skilled hands of someone who knew exactly what she was doing. She had pressed her lips together, clearly not pleased with what she was hearing, but this was what she had asked for. So she would take it, process it, and put it away for later. What would she do with it? Probably nothing, because the information Jem was feeding her was too vague for any kind of action to be taken… not to mention, the person she’d go to in order to do something about it was currently sitting beaten and battered in her kitchen chair. It had always been a tricky dichotomy.
But he wouldn’t tell her what he’d been doing. Of course not. “I see,” was her only response for a long moment, and compared to what it could have been, it was fairly mild. Instead, she simply set her mixture aside for a moment before giving Jem another lookover.
“I can’t tell where the bruises are forming with all that filth all over you. I’ll be right back.” And she disappeared again.
It was an escape, so she could seeth in private, though it was probable that he heard the discernable angry huff that escaped her as she disappeared back down the hall, into her bedroom, and into the bathroom. The one that they had once shared. Oh, she knew all too well about his apologies and inability to fill her in on his activities. It had been one of her absolute least favorite parts about dating him, when they had, and something she hadn’t missed while he’d been gone. Andie liked control. She liked having information. Without information, she was blind, and while she knew he wasn’t just taking advantage of her or using her, she still felt… slighted. It was a personal thing, she knew, and it shouldn’t cloud her judgement. But it did, because it was Jem, and she didn’t like him being in danger for reasons he couldn’t share with her.
But she was also miffed for a different, more domestic reason. The blood all over him was going to be impossible to wash out of her washcloths, but it had to be done. She grabbed two of them, and promptly returned to the kitchen where she hoped she looked a great deal more composed. No matter how much she felt like Jem deserved her anger, he was hurt, and that took precedence.
Andie ran the sink, wet the cloths, and pulled a sterile bowl from her cupboards to set them in. A wash basin, of sorts, and she cleared her throat as she turned to him and held up the cloth as though in explanation. “Just stay still. It shouldn’t hurt much, but, I need to see the bruises.” Without another word, she strode forward and carefully knelt down in front of him, before awkwardly clearing her throat and gently setting to work.
Being this close in proximity to him, though, was excessively difficult. Not because the cleaning was hard, because she was having no trouble gently rubbing the washcloth across splotches of blood to clear his skin of them. But because being this close, to practically feel the warmth radiating off him, to have to stare at skin she’d once seen every night… it was affecting her more than she would ever admit out loud. Just as his skin had briefly flared (she’d missed it), her own cheeks seemed to burst aflame for a moment before she cleared her throat and ducked her head just in case he’d seen. Andie didn’t want him to get the wrong idea, or for him to think she was still some kind of lovestruck fool.
She was grown up now, they both were. Andie knew that even contemplating being anything more with Jem than friends would be a mistake, because it would just end the same way it had before. Of this, she was certain. Her chance with him, her chance at having that lifelong love that others boasted about in novels and movies, had gone with him to America, and she’d accepted that a long time ago. If she even dared hope to think that it hadn’t, or that it had come back? It was stupid. And Andie didn’t like playing around with stupid. Jem just made it… extraordinarily difficult not to do so, and it was growing increasingly impossible to keep their past separate from their present.
Instead of allowing herself further down on that train of thought, she decided to distract herself. As she wiped down his abdomen, crouched there before him on her kitchen floor, Andie quirked a brow and glanced up at him. “I’m not a fool, you know,” she remarked, voice surprisingly cool. “You wouldn’t have come to me like this if this were a sanctioned mission. This wouldn’t be protocol.” And they were both in professions that had a lot of those. “So whatever you were doing, it wasn’t strictly confidential, which means I'm fairly sure you’re just being stubborn. Care to share why?”
She already halfway knew the answer, but she wanted to hear him say it. If anything, just to be mad at him some more.
Posted: Mar 13 2018, 11:10 PM
these hands had to let it go free this love came
back to me
Jem could feel the aura of anger coming off Andie as she reacted to his flippant comment and he shook his head and lifted a hand weakly to forestall any more commentary. “Ock, you know that’s not what I meant,” he said evenly. He wasn’t looking for a fight, and if anything his tone was more conciliatory than anything. “Just, the exact number and manner of blows may be important for your work, but I was not paying particular attention at the time. It didnae seem as important.” He left the ‘as surviving.’ unspoken, as he had no doubt about Andie’s ability to draw that conclusion.
He found it as easy as ever to talk Andie as she poked and prodded at him. Not that he was a particularly closed book; he kept secrets as he needed to for work but was otherwise a fairly open person when it came to his personal life. But he found he could say things to her he couldn’t say to other people, at least not easily. Of course, he’d had to see someone after that incident before going back into the field - he always did any time anything traumatic happened on record. But just as there was a freedom to being able to talk to a stranger about your thoughts, there was also something freeing and burden relieving about telling them to someone who, at least previously, knew you as well as you knew yourself.
He nodded solemnly as Andie shared her own tale of loss on the job. They both had, for whatever reason, chosen careers where dealing with death and mortality was part of the gig. A small half smile crept across his lips as she pointed out what mattered was that she could handle these injuries with ease. “Aye, and a good bit more I’d imagine. But if it’s all the same, I’ll do my best to not be showing up on your doorstep with anything that would really challenge you.”
Looking up at her as he told her what little there was to tell, Jem could read her emotions pretty quickly. General displeasure, though whether at him or at the story he had no idea. Resolve of some kind. He was more or less expecting a lecture, or some kind of rebuke for not telling her what he couldn’t tell her, but he didn’t get it. Honestly, the curt response was probably scarier than either of those other things. It wasn’t often that Andie’s Irish temper came out, but he thought there was a good chance he could be on the receiving end of it before the night was over.
He waited in the kitchen as she left, sharing a look with her massive dog. Jem was pretty sure it was sympathetic on Skipper’s part.
Andie returned after a moment with washclothes and a basin of water, looking surprisingly calm. He looked sort of bemused when she told him it would hurt but to hold still, as if she hadn’t just been resetting bones. “I’ll do my best,” he assured her, a hint of humor in his tone. Not so much as to tempt her temper, but enough to acknowledge the irony.
It was… definitely a strange situation, sitting in Andie’s kitchen and letting her clean him up. She was ever the professional, of course, and Jem wished he had half her ability to compartmentalize. Despite the clinical nature of this, he had to purposefully keep his mind off the way she was touching him. It would be… very embarrassing if she noticed his face color with the thoughts of how things used to be. He couldn’t, with totally honestly, deny missing that, or thinking of her over the years. Jem wasn’t pining, but neither did he think he was romanticising their relationship when he considered it the best one he’d ever had. Now that they were in each other’s lives again, he had to remind himself more often than he would admit to where the line was now.
Coming to her home in the middle of the night like this was definitely crossing the line.
“It’s not protocol, no,” he agreed evenly, watching her cautiously. At least until she pointed out he was just being stubborn. A glimmer of smile reappeared until she touched a particularly painful spot and he winced again. “Well, I cannot fault you your observation skills,” he admitted. He looked pensive for the next few moments; not ignoring the question but rather trying to decide how to answer it.
“I won’t lie to you and claim this was a perfectly sanctioned mission,” he said at last. “You’re too smart to believe it anyway. In truth, I was looking for information about a case that is a bit outside my jurisdiction, but that I believe might fall within the larger picture of what I’m working on.” Jem paused and then shook his head. “I cannot say more than that, except that someone discovered I was poking around and decided to send a message. I don’t know who, but I have some suspicions. Too many to act on, unfortunately. And… since I’m being honest, too many to drop. If that makes you change your mind about helping me, I’d understand,” he told her, putting a hand on top of hers to still it.
Sig by Crystal