|Trials and Tribulations Chapter 35
||[Mar. 6th, 2008|11:43 pm]
chloe/jack = chlack!
|||||Come My Way- Skillet||]|
Chloe slowly opened her eyes, groaning as she tried to move.
"Chloe. You're awake."
Chloe blinked a few times, unsure if she really was back. "Jack?"
She started to sit up, but Jack held her down. "Don't you dare try to get up" he said sternly. "You need to rest."
She looked around, her gaze narrowing as she saw snow outside. "Where are we?"
"Princeton, New Jersey."
"New Jersey? Why?"
"Because you were seriously sick, Chloe." Tyler replied. "They couldn't figure out what was wrong with you in LA, so we brought you here. The doctor who treated you is some kind of expert diagnostician. He figured it out."
"Okay." Chloe was confused. "So..... what was wrong with me?"
"You have something known as tularemia. They said it was caused by infected animals. Chloe, it could have killed you."
"But.... that's impossible. I haven't been around any.... wait a minute." She looked at Jack in horror. "That trip to the zoo we took a couple weeks ago. That's the only time in the last year I've been around any animals." Chloe felt her heart beating rapidly. "What about you? Are you okay? What about the kids?"
"Chloe, Chloe, calm down" Jack said gently. "The kids are fine. I'm fine. Chase or Mike would have called us if something happened to them."
"....Okay." Chloe put her head back. "So, this thing they said I had, is it curable? Am I going to die?"
"No" Jack told her. "We were able to catch it in time. You're going to be fine, Chloe."
"Thank god." Chloe sighed. "You're not going to believe what just happened to me."
"What are you talking about?" Tyler asked curiously. "Chloe, you've been in a coma for the last week. How could anything happen to you?" Other than almost dying 4 or 5 times. Better not tell her about that yet.
"It's not that" Chloe replied shortly, giving Tyler a glare. "When I was still in LA, the last thing I remember was.... that hospital room.... Dr. Ericsson saying something about.... something, I don't remember what. The next thing I know, I'm somewhere else. Some kind of..... paradise, I guess."
"Did you.... die?" Jack asked hesitantly.
Chloe turned her glare on Jack. "If I died, I wouldn't be here now." She shut up as Jack looked away. "I'm sorry, Jack. I-"
"No, sweetheart. It's all right. Go on."
"I thought I 'was' dead at first. Then I heard someone call my name. I looked up, and...... Jason was standing there."
"Jason? Your brother?" Jack was confused. "But..... you told me he was dead. How could you-"
"I don't know, Jack. All I know is, it was Jason. He said that he had been sent to me, that he could answer questions I had..... about my father."
"What kind of questions?" Tyler asked.
"We had always believed he didn't care about us. When Stuart came into our lives, what he told me about Dad didn't make any sense. But Jason showed me everything, Tyler. Dad loved us, but he had so much anger. Without Stuart around, Dad took that anger out on us. It was something he regretted later. I saw it all."
"Maybe." Tyler sounded skeptical.
Chloe shook her head. "You don't believe me, do you?"
"I don't know, Chloe. It's a little hard to believe." Tyler glanced over at Jack, who stared back at her. "Did..... did he say anything about me?"
"Yeah, he did. Jason told me that- that you still blame yourself for what happened to him. You think it's your fault that he's gone."
"Isn't it?" Tyler shot back. "I got him killed. I distracted him for just a second, and we got hit. The accident was my fault."
"Jason doesn't see it that way. He said that it was just meant to be, and you should stop blaming yourself."
"Yes. He's right. The scumbag that hit you is to blame, not you."
Tyler ducked her head. "I wish it were that easy, Chloe." She stood up. "Look, I'm going to go track down that insane doctor and find out when you can leave. You two probably have a lot to talk about anyway." She hurriedly walked out, and Chloe shook her head. "I don't think she believes me."
"I do" Jack told her.
"Do you really?"
"Of course I do. I know you wouldn't lie about something like that, especially not to us."
Chloe nodded, then frowned. "What did Tyler mean by 'insane doctor'?"
Jack scowled. "The doctor who found out what was wrong with you, his methods are.... unusual."
Chloe returned his scowl. "Come on, Jack. He can't be that bad."
"Yes, he can. Chloe, you almost died more than once because they couldn't figure out what was killing you."
"Yeah." Jack looked away. "But that doesn't matter anymore. You're alive, Chloe. And you're going to be fine. That's what I care about." He grabbed her hand, rubbing it softly. Chloe felt her irritation fade away at his touch, and she lay back, quickly falling back asleep.
"What the hell is this?" Tyler hollered as she and Jack fought through a wave of reporters on their way into the airport, a handful of police right behind them trying to keep the crowd at bay. She glared back at Reilly. "Stuart, did you tell anyone when we were leaving?"
"No, of course not" he replied, ducking the swinging arm of a cameraman.
"Ms. Anderson, Ms. Anderson!" Tyler turned to glare at the reporter who called out to her. "Just a couple questions!"
Tyler shook her head. "If you have any questions, contact our press office." She caught one of the reporters trying to get close to Chloe, and she stepped in. "Look, I said no questions! Leave my family alone!" Grabbing Chloe's chair, she signaled to the officers, who forced the mob back. Once they were clear, and safely through the main terminal, Tyler let go. "When we get back to LA, I'm going to kill whatever idiot told them" she snapped.
"Tyler, they were just doing their job. Let it go" Jack told her. He looked down at Chloe. "Sweetheart, are you all right?"
"Yeah, I'm fine. I just want to go home, Jack."
"I know you do. So do I. Let's go." Jack turned to Reilly. "Thanks for everything, Stuart."
"No problem. I just wish I could have seen you guys under better circumstances."
"Tell me about it. It always seems like there's trouble when you show up."
Reilly gave Jack a mock glare, then smiled. "Look, I'll be in LA in a couple of months. I'll see you then."
Chloe, Jack, and Tyler said their goodbyes, then headed towards the concourse to wait for their departure. Chloe followed Jack's lead in silence, her mind a long way away. Jason, you said that the dead can hear the thoughts of the living. If you can hear me now, thank you. Once again, you helped me when I needed your help.
"Attention, passengers. We are beginning final approach to LAX. We will be landing in approximately 10 minutes. At this time we would like you to return to your seats and fasten your seatbelts."
Chloe leaned back in her seat, grinning as she felt Jack slip his arms around her. "Now this is flying" she remarked, looking over at her sister. "Why didn't you tell us you had access to a private plane, Tyler?"
"Don't get too used to it" Tyler warned. "If I used this thing every time I wanted to go somewhere, the board would rake me over the coals. Not that they're not going to have a fit about this trip anyway. It wasn't 'official company business'." She rolled her eyes at those last 3 words.
"Then why would you-"
"Because you're worth it, Chloe. Seeing you healthy and happy is worth all the aggravation in the world. I can deal with whatever those stiff old bastards can dish out."
Chloe shrugged. "All right. If you say so." She turned to stare out the window as the ground slowly approached. Once the plane had landed, she allowed Jack to lead her out the door and down the boarding ramp, quickly passing through security. Tyler took the lead, keeping her eyes open for any more trouble. "I knew that press conference was a bad idea. Look at this. We have to sneak out of here like common criminals. That's the last time I listen to those idiots." She took a quick look around. "It's clear. Let's go home."
Tyler shifted in her seat as she stared out the window, frowning as their vehicle passed their exit. "Jack, what are you doing? You just passed the turnoff."
"We're being followed" he told her.
"What? How long?"
"Ever since we left the airport."
"Are you sure? This isn't exactly a slow road, even at night."
Jack glared at her. "I am positive. Someone is following us."
"So how do we lose them?" Chloe asked.
"We don't. I'm going to find out who it is. Hang on." He glanced over to the side, then quickly swerved into the next lane, turning off at the next exit. He saw one of the cars behind him turn off as well, keeping a safe distance away. There you are. Powering through the upcoming intersection, he turned onto a side street, eventually reaching a dead end.
"What's the plan, Jack?"
Jack pulled his weapon out. "You two stay here. If things go bad, get out of here." He slipped out of the van, ducking behind a nearby trash can. He watched as the car that had been following them stopped a few feet away, the driver getting out. Jack snuck up behind him, tackling him to the ground. "Don't move!"
"Take it easy, Jack" the man choked out.
I don't believe it. Jack pulled him up, stepping back in surprise. "Connor?"
Connor grabbed his arm, wincing as he moved it. "It's nice to see you too, Jack, but did you have to tackle me so hard?"
Jack shook his head. "What the hell were you doing? Why were you following us?"
"I was at the airport when I saw you leaving. I tried to catch up, but you had already left. So I followed you."
"Why were you at the airport?"
"I just got back from Europe. I was going to call Mom when I landed. But then I saw you."
Jack holstered his weapon. "Come on." He led Connor towards the van, opening the side door. "Chloe, it's all right. Come on out. Someone wants to see you."
Chloe emerged from the van, staring at her son in disbelief. "Oh my god. Connor?" She rubbed her eyes. "I'm not dreaming again, am I?"
"No, not unless we're all having the same dream" he replied, walking over to Chloe and embracing her. "I missed you, mom."
"I missed you, too, son. I missed you so much."
Tyler cleared her throat. "As much as I hate to spoil this happy reunion, maybe we should get going. This place gives me the creeps."
Chloe reluctantly broke away from Connor. "I hate to admit it, but she's right. Let's get out of here."
"All right, you guys" Jack called out to the mass of 6 year olds attacking their older brother. "It is way past your bedtime."
"Do we have to, Dad?" Edgar whined.
"Yes, you do. Now go to bed."
The triplets turned towards Connor, who shook his head. "Sorry, buckaroos, but your dad's right. We'll spend some time together tomorrow, okay? Go on." He watched them run upstairs, then sat down next to Chloe. "I missed them."
"They missed you. All they did for a month after you left was mope around the house."
"Right." He turned to Jack. "Hey, Jack, could you excuse us for a few minutes? I need to talk to Mom alone."
"All right. If you need anything, just let me know."
"Connor, what's going on?" Chloe asked once Jack had left. "Why didn't you ever contact me, let me know you were okay?"
"I couldn't. I needed to do this on my own. I was searching for answers, ones I couldn't find here. A friend of mine told me he had gone to Europe when his parents died, and maybe I could find what I was looking for there. As soon as I landed in France, I just started walking, with no idea where I was going. That didn't last long, though. About a month after I got there, I was camping in the woods outside Ghent when I was mugged. The man who did it took everything I had but the clothes on my back and left me for dead."
"I thought for sure I was going to die there. But I got lucky. There was a monastery nearby. One of the monks found me and took me there. They had nothing, but they took me in, and helped me recover. It didn't hurt that the place was out in the middle of nowhere. Without the distractions of the outside world, I was able to focus on why I had come to Europe in the first place. The monks spent hours just listening to me every day while I poured out my soul to them. They helped me get past the pain I was feeling, and made me feel..... free. I know it'll never go away, but now I can live with it."
"My only problem was figuring out how I was going to get home. I had no money, I was out in the middle of nowhere. Then about 2 months ago, the monastery got another visitor. It was the man who had mugged me 2 years ago. He had been hurt, even worse than I had been. Once he had recovered enough to talk, he told me he had been looking for me. He said he regretted what he had done, and he wanted to give back what he had taken from me, or what was left of it. It was just enough to get me home, with a few bucks to spare. And here I am. I'm home for good this time."
He's hiding something from me. I can tell. But I just got him back. I'm not going to press him for an answer he's not ready to give me. "Well, I'm glad you're back, Connor, and that you found what you were looking for. I'm just sorry you had to go through that in the first place."
"I know." Connor stood up. "Look, I'll see you in the morning. There's a hotel a few miles away. I'll get a room for the night."
"I don't think so" Chloe replied. "You are not going to stay in some cheap hotel while I stay up and worry about you all night. You are going to stay here until you find a place to live."
"I don't want to impose, Mom."
Chloe shot him one of her trademark looks. "Connor, we have plenty of space here. Besides, there are 3 kids upstairs who would love their big brother to stay for a while. Believe me, it wouldn't be any trouble."
"Good, then it's settled. I'll have Jack bring your stuff in. Go get some sleep. We'll have plenty of time to talk in the morning."