Dara Jensen ignored the obvious and somehow managed to convince herself that her head ruled her and not her heart. It wasn't true, of course. But pretending to believe the lie was a lot easier than acknowledging the truth.
She clicked on to her Internet service, scrolled through her favorites and accessed Port Charles' local paper. Since moving to Manhattan, she pretended that her past in Port Charles was forgotten. Another lie. The upstate New York town owned a part of her, and one of its citizens still intrigued her.
Locating articles about him was easy. Sonny Corinthos provided pages of filler for the paper. His wife's death and his subsequent arrest made headlines in both the Big Apple and in PC. Dara's legal maneuvering got the charges dropped. He offered her a future with him, but she passed. Was it cowardice that swayed her decision or common sense? At this point, what did it matter? He wasn't the man for her. Learning that took longer than she liked.
She quickly found the most recent article. Air rushed from her lungs and her shoulders slumped as she silently read the words. Sonny lost custody of Michael. The boy was returned to his father. AJ vowed to shield his son from the untouchable 'businessman' and one glance at the digital scan of Sonny's face told Dara everything she needed to know. Losing Michael crushed him. But there was nothing she could do about it. Rejoining his life would only ruin them both in the end.
Dara exited from the site and shut down her PC. As usual, she ignored the longing for something more that screamed from the hollow spot inside her soul.
Fox Mulder's hand became still. The papers hovered above the shredder. The machine whirred its hunger as it lightly fanned the documents. A frown creased his brow as he met his wife's stare.
Dawn swallowed hard. The hurt in his voice was unmistakable. Hell, he was right. They had agreed. But was it her fault that doubts lingered?
"I know." She crossed the room to reach him. As if in slow motion, her hand moved toward him, toward the divorce papers still clutched in his hands.
"You're not sure," he said. "You don't trust me."
"I didn't say that."
"You don't have to." He dropped the papers into her hand.
"Don't go," she said as he headed toward the door. "Please, listen to me."
He slowly turned to face her. He nodded his head once as if to say I am listening.
She glanced at the papers that could permanently sever their marriage. Consulting a divorce attorney had been the hardest decision of her life, but unavoidable. He was right. She didn't trust him. At least not when she had the papers drawn. She never stopped loving him. But marriages couldn't survive on that emotion alone.
Deep in thought, she didn't know what to say. The gift for gab belonged to him. She was the strong, silent type. He drew her out. Made her laugh. Made her think. Made her fall in love.
The silence grew. His sigh, loud yet compassionate, came from across the room. She met his stare. Her breath caught as he crossed the room to her. Right in front of her, he dropped to his knees. He removed the papers from her hand and kept hold of her.
"I promise never to give you cause to question your trust in me again as long as we live. Here on my knees, I'm asking you to really give us another chance."
"You want me to forget what happened," she said in a choked whisper.
He shook his head. "No, I want you to move from the past and come into the present with me. I fucked up. There's no other way to say it. I was wrong and if I could do it all over again, I wouldn't risk what we had. My search for the truth is important to me, but not at the expense of your trust in me.
"So, I'm asking you to forgive me." He stood and released her. "I won't rush you, but hanging on isn't good for either of us."
As he turned to leave, she caught his hand. With her other hand, she dropped the unsigned divorce papers into the shredder.
"I forgive you."
Alex Krycek liked the night. Its darkness cloaked his movements, produced shadows where he could observe without interruption. The shadows where he lived.
He slipped inside the dark club unnoticed. Walking along the wall, he glanced around the crowd. Not looking for anyone in particular. Just looking. Finding a way to pass the time, to forget the choices he'd made in his life. The things that hadn't gone right. The enemies he'd made along the way. Just once, he wanted to experience genuine pleasure. Not sex. Not acquiring material possessions. But the joy of knowing that someone was happy to see him. An honest smile that crossed a person's face as he approached.
Hidden speakers began to crackle. The beginning strains of a slow jam vibrated inside the small building. Alex leaned against the bar, watching as couples strolled onto the dance floor as if in a trance. They swayed in various styles and rhythms. He swallowed hard. Anguish boiled inside. That's what he wanted. A connection. True and honest.
'Some people want it all
But I don't want nothing at all
If it ain't you, baby
If I ain't got you, baby
Some people want diamond rings
Some just want everything
But everything means nothing
If I ain't got you'
His chest tightened. He clenched his jaw. Stubbornness refused to let him surrender. He beckoned for the bartender. A vodka straight always strengthened his resolve. Whenever he allowed wishful thinking to cloud his reality, vodka put him back on the right path.
Then, kinda like those old romantic black and white movies, the dancer floor parted. He was able to look clear across the room. To a table where a lone woman sat. Despite the distance between them, he read her. Loneliness wrapped around her like a snug, cashmere sweater. Her large eyes darted from the patrons to the drink tucked safely between her palms. Alex didn't need to see more. He pushed away from the bar and went to her.
"Dance with me," he said without pausing for an introduction.
Caution erected a barricade between them. She shook her head. Silky dark strands of hair brushed against her creamy mocha cheeks. He curled his hands into fists, fighting the temptation to touch her skin.
"You don't come to place like this to be alone," he said. "You can be alone at home. One dance. No strings attached." He glanced around the room. Dancers still claimed the floor. A bouncer hung around the exits. "Safety isn't an issue."
"Isn't it?" she asked in a voice as smooth as silk. Then, to his surprise, she stood and allowed him to lead her to the dance floor.
Only inches separated them as his hands fell to her slender hips. Heat from their bodies burned through his leather jacket, black sweater and black jeans. He swallowed hard, reminding himself that it was only an assignment. But the lyrics that followed reminded him that he wanted so much more.
'And a world on a silver platter
And wondering what it means
No one to share, no one who truly cares for me…'
"I'm tired of hiding." Keesha Ward paced across the hardwood floors of the forest-hidden log cabin. Deep in the wilderness of upstate New York, she assumed a lifestyle that went against everything she believed in. She was sick of it and ready to do things her own way again.
"It's for your protection," her cousin said. He glanced at his silent co-conspirator. "Will you talk some sense into her? She refuses to listen to me."
Jerry Jacks pushed away from his silent stance along the shadows of the wall. Running a hand across his stubble-covered chin, he shrugged. "She doesn't have to listen to either of us. She can return to her life in Port Charles and be dead within a week. If that's her choice, then so be it. But it wouldn't be fair to the young lad, now would it? His life coming to an end because of his mum's stubborness--"
"Alright already!" Her hiking boots pounded the floorboards as she stormed toward the men. "I'm a target. If either of you would explain to me why, then maybe it will start to make sense. Jason is in jail. He's no longer a threat to Jacob or me. AJ thinks we're dead. After everything he did for my son and me, he deserves to know the truth. I have never had anything to fear from him."
"It's safer for AJ if he doesn't know," Justus said quietly. "Come on, Lil Bit. You're a smart woman. You didn't tell Jason about the baby for a reason. That same reason still exists. His connections weren't cut just because of his jail sentence. Just like he has allies who'll do whatever he asks, he has enemies who wouldn't stop at using you or Jacob against him."
She slumped onto the sofa. Years of living a lie suddenly came crashing down. Her hands began to shake. Justus sat beside her and took her hands between his.
Jerry squatted in front of her. His steely blue eyes reflected warmth and compassion. "I can help you start over and keep you safe." When she finally nodded her acceptance, he said, "Good. We'll leave at first light."
[If I Ain't Got You can be found on the Diary of Alicia Keys.]