Deslea R. Judd
DISCLAIMER: Characters not mine. Interpretation mine.
ARCHIVE: Sure, just keep my name and headers.
SPOILERS/TIMEFRAME: Jump The Shark post-ep.
CATEGORY/KEYWORDS: Angst, romance, vignette, post-ep, Yves/Jimmy.
SUMMARY: "She watches the world through barred windows and thinks of raising little Jimmys and teaching them a better way. It seems so...inadequate. So miserable a contribution to a fight she can no longer bear to lead."
MORE FIC: http://fiction.deslea.com
FEEDBACK: Love the stuff. firstname.lastname@example.org
AWARDS/ELIGIBILITY: Spooky Awards 2003 eligible.
Jimmy grew up.
The thought recurs every time she looks at him. Poor, sweet, hapless, boyish Jimmy finally got a clue. For all the times she's wished it would happen, she wishes she could take it away again. It hurts him, so much, and that hurts her far more than she ever thought it would.
His understanding is not the comfort she thought it would be.
They screw now. He calls it making love, and it is, but the slang words come easier for her. She isn't sure why. Maybe because those are the words Langly or Frohike would have used. Maybe it's a way of keeping them with her.
Or maybe she's even less equipped for this than Jimmy is.
The first time was after the funeral. It was brief, and not very satisfying. Too raw, too desperate for comfort. Join and release. But it helped. She thought it was something she did for him, right up until she sank weeping to the floor of the shower recess afterwards. Then she realised it was for her as well.
They live together now, in the Gunmen's home. Yves thinks his attachment to the hovel is idiotic, but she can't bring herself to say so. She should leave him, go back to her work - God knows, her father has many more horrible plans that warrant her attention. But she can't. She sits there in the empty computer lab, watching Jimmy muddle through his daily trials, and she thinks: I can't leave him. If she does, he will follow, and the last time he did that, he came back like this.
She has grand dreams, even now. Depose her father. Kill him, and destroy his terrorist empire. The empire is her birthright; she is entitled to do it. Reign over its destruction with Jimmy at her side. They will walk in the ashes in the name of the dead. She has a poetic soul, for all her pragmatism, and she has airbrushed fantasies of righteous vengeance.
But Jimmy doesn't have the stomach for that. And she isn't sure she does, either.
Her father taught her to kill when she was fifteen. She killed five men by her eighteenth birthday - good men, all of them, and she wept for them. By then, she had harnessed the means to escape, and when she walked away, she swore she would atone. She would undo her father's evil. Break it down, brick by brick if necessary. She would never kill again.
She's never told Jimmy that. He wouldn't understand.
She sees how he looks at her now. The way he wonders - how could she? How could she kill a man and cut into his body like that? Even to save so many? Jimmy wonders, because he couldn't do it. Just couldn't.
Guns make murder easy, her father used to say, but it takes real guts to go up behind a man and sink your knife into his flesh. Yves has done both, and her father was right. In the worst possible way.
She barely remembers her teenaged kills, the ones she did as Lois, but the knowledge came to her when she hunched over Houghton's body. She sat there on her heels, wondering, can I do this? Could she afford to call up the ghost of the girl she left behind?
But in the end, she couldn't afford not to. If she had to damn herself to save so many, then she would. Perhaps there is a special place in hell for people who sell their souls that way.
So she did it. She took her scalpel. The memory of how it felt to slice into flesh came back to her, like preternatural knowledge. Ingrained and eternal. She felt it give and shift, softness dividing, and then the deeper, harder layers of muscle. She felt sick...but she also felt powerful. When she removed the cartilage with its deadly cargo, it was her trophy. Her prize. For an hour, she held the lives of thousands in her hands, and she longed to take it back to Malta and unleash it on her father and his work. It took every higher instinct she had to burn it instead.
She threw up when it was done.
When does the end cease to justify the means? How long can evil fight evil before the cure is no better than the cause? How long can she fight, and still keep her soul? She wonders on nights like these, after Jimmy goes to sleep, and she never has an answer. She watches the world through barred windows and thinks of raising little Jimmys and teaching them a better way. It seems so...inadequate. So miserable a contribution to a fight she can no longer bear to lead.
She looks away from the tiny window. "Over here, Jimmy." She pulls her robe tighter around her. Suddenly aware of the cold. "And don't call me that."
"Sorry." He gets up. Pulls on track pants, and pads over in his bare feet. He drops down into the little armchair opposite hers. "What are you thinking?"
"Nothing," she says, a bald-faced lie. "It's just-"
He frowns. His hair is sticking up, she notes fondly. "Yes?"
She shrugs. "It's funny that you called me Lois, that's all." She shouldn't really have said anything, but something about that messed-up hair brings her defences down a notch.
"It's your name."
She shakes her head. "No, Jimmy, it isn't. I haven't been Lois for a long time. I hope never to be her again."
"But you named yourself for a killer," he reproaches. "I don't like calling you that." Especially not now, she supposes, but she doesn't say so.
"I am a killer, Jimmy." She looks away.
"Is that why you chose it?" he asks, and she wonders whether he's guessed more than she's told him. Either that, or found out more than she gave him credit for when he was looking for her.
"I chose it because he epitomises our generation's search. For authority that we can trust. This country had that once, Jimmy, and we lost it. Whatever else he did, or didn't do, he believed we could do better. That we could be better. And he wasn't afraid to defect to do it. He wouldn't identify with something he didn't believe in."
"You thought about that when you ran away from your father?"
God yes. Back then, she thought Oswald was a misunderstood hero. She knows it's more complicated now, but... "Yeah."
"I always wondered why you left. Like, why you didn't stay inside and do it there."
She feels that cold chill again. It sweeps over her. Like heavy wind, beating her back. "It would have eaten me alive."
Jimmy nods. Expression grave. "It was that bad?"
She sighs. Runs her hand over her face. "You wouldn't-"
He grabs her hand. "Don't *do* that! Don't tell me I wouldn't understand. I know what the guys used to say about me. I loved those guys, but I was just this big dumb puppy dog to them."
She tugs at her hand. "Jimmy-"
"And I'm *not* smart. But I'm not stupid, and I'm not mean. I'll understand it if you tell me."
"Yves, you have to stop shutting me out, or we're just gonna drift along until it all falls to pieces."
She gets her hand away from him. "Jimmy!"
He looks at her. "What?"
She sighs again. He's right, dammit. "I can't believe I'm doing this, but I'll tell you. Just promise me it won't muck things up, all right?"
So she tells him, and he doesn't completely understand, but he understands more than she thought he would. They sit up for hours, and she tells him things she's never told anyone. There are gentle touches, and tears, and when light begins to dawn, there's lovemaking as well. She doesn't call it screwing any more.
"Do you really think about raising little Jimmys?" he asks her afterwards.
"I don't know, Jimmy," she sighs, propping up her head with her hand. "Sometimes I do. But then, sometimes I think about Byers, that last day."
"'We never gave up. We never will. If that's the best they can say about us, that'll do,'" he quotes softly. "Yeah. I remember that too. I never heard him talk like that before. It was almost like he knew."
"I honestly don't know," she says. "I haven't always done what was right, Jimmy. Not like you. But I've always known. But now - for the first time in my life, I honestly don't know what's right."
"Me either," he says, and that floors her. Jimmy was always the moral conscience of the Gunmen, at least in her mind. "I think that's what this time is for. This - downtime we're having."
"You may be right, Jimmy." She strokes his cheek with the back of her hand. Smiles at him. He really is dear to her. "You're smarter than you give yourself credit for, you know."
He beams at her in that silly, goofy way he has. "I'll be with you when you work it out, Yves. You know that, right?"
"Yes. I know that, Jimmy."
Just a downtime, she tells herself. They haven't given up. They never will.
If that's the best that can be said of them, that'll do.
AUTHOR'S NOTE: I don't normally go for oblique titles, but nothing much came to me for this one. The title, whisperjack, is derived from Whispering Jack, the title of an album by prominent Australian singer John Farnham. A lot of Farnham's work deals with social responsibility, and he's also a brilliant musician. The guy has been around since the sixties and he's still going strong. I think in a way he had quite a bit of influence on my social conscience when I was growing up. I think of his work a lot when I work with those kinds of themes.