The Rest Is Silence by musingonsoaps
The ride back into town was quiet and charged between them; they both had splitting headaches. Van knew John was simmering, alternating between sadness and anger with her, she was feeling defensive and put uponówhat did he want from her anyway? She was doing the best she could and more than sheíd ever done for any other man, shouldnít that be enough? Doesnít that count for something?
She wished she had a good reason not to go right home with him but she couldnít think of anything; and how weird was that? In days gone by, she wouldnít waste energy thinking up some plausible excuse for a man, sheíd just tell him to take himself and his moods out of her presence. Van had been known to kick men out of their own living space if they crossed her boundaries, got on her nerves and she wanted to be alone. Her ruthless indifference to men had made her highly sought after, the cliché become true: she was a prized thoroughbred that men tried to convince to eat out their hands; everyone knew the chant "Evangeline does not commit" and they wanted to be the one to make her break that assertion. Then there had been John, he snuck up on her. He asked for nothing, expected nothing, and somehow gave her everything sheíd never wanted before.
"John, stop the car."
"What? Weíre almost in the town limits; weíll be home soon, why stop?"
"Stop the damn car! I want to walk for awhile. I have a headache, I need the air."
"In the middle of nowhere, uh-uh, nope. Once weíre in Llanview you can walk to your heartís content. But not out here, left alone, no."
Evangeline had a vivid image of herself reaching over and smashing John in the jaw; she ground down on her teeth so hard that after a few minutes her jaw and neck muscles were telegraphing pain to join with her headache. This was unbearable. "Pull over, or Iíll just jump out."
One sideways look at her posture and John knew sheíd do just that, he slowed down looking for a safe place to stop. Realizing they were near the quarry he pulled into the parking area.
Getting out Evangeline went to the back of the car and leaned against the trunk rubbing her temples. John waited a few minutes then joined her, "Let me show you something that might help you." He said holding a hand out to her wondering if she would hesitate in taking it or not take the proffered hand at all; she took his outstretched hand and John led her into the quarry climbing for the pool of water and the waterfall.
Van heard the water before she saw it and immediately the vise grip on her head started to ease up a bit. Climbing onto the rocks they sat so close to the cascading water the spray dampened their skin. "Just when Iím rethinking us you do something so thoughtful, McBain. Thank you, I needed this."
"I didnít mean to turn our bliss-filled afternoon into a war zone of wills. I just, we were so close and I wanted toÖknow more. I wish I knew more about you." John finished softly. Van leaned against him putting her arms around his neck and burying her face in his shoulder. She had a teasing, light comment ready to come out of her mouth when she pulled it back, the moment called for something more substantial, deeper.
Lifting her head she asked, "Doesnít it ever concern you that I know so much about the illegal side of life, John? That I helped you crack a case by cluing you into the existence of a new high-tech smugglers rig? That my best skills are awfully darn useful in a life of crime: piloting all sorts of boats, I sky dive, I can handle a sea plane, and heights donít phase me at all? Do you know I can load and shoot all types of guns? Iím an expert in self-defense? And Iím at my best with throwing knives?"
"Iím aware that youíve absorbed a unique set of talents; now that I know more about your early life I see how and why you can do those things." John replied cautiously, "Are you saying there are more reasons for you to have this skill-set than I know about?"
"Careful here, girl," Van thought, "This is dangerous ground youíre stepping out onto."
"Let me just say that my moral compass is not as well-defined as most peopleís certainly nowhere near as clear as yours."
"And that means what? Van, I said I understood that youíve led a difficult life."
"Difficult? Yes. And dangerous, and Iíve survived, thrived really. What does it take to flourish in that type of environment? Think on it, John. If we go forward with finding a permanent living space for the two of us, together; well, I donít want to be a source of never-ending angst and aggravation to you."
"My world is far from normal, my job, the way Iíve lived my lifeóIím no poster kid for normalcy in American life. Evangeline, your dark side whatever that entails, I doubt is so awful compared to what Iíve seen first-hand that people do to one another."
"Yes, John, youíve seen and dealt with criminals: serial killers and other sociopaths up close and personal; the actions of a few of them changed your life and your familyís forever. Iíve made conscious choices of how to live my life in order to get what I need and want. I know what most people consider to be right or wrong and I just plain donít care. My moral code, such as it is, is uniquely my own, sometimes in step with the worldís viewpoints, most times not. Iíve seen so much hopelessness in the world; I know how far down in the muck and mire most people exist in; I know Iím glad and lucky to have escaped a tragic existence. But itís all come at a price; one I never thought of until I met you."
She sighed, "All Iím really trying to say is what I do when Iím out there in the world is separate and apart from my life with you. It doesnít have to touch us, I wonít let it. Youíre a good man, Iím happy to be with you but you canít and donít restore my faith, John, because I never had any to begin with. Understand?"
"No. Wait, are you giving me a version of Ďwhat we do here stays hereí, but applied to what you do when weíre not physically sharing the same space? That nobody, including me, needs to know what you do when weíre apart? If thatís your meaning, Iím not okay with this Evangeline."
"John, Iím trying to give you what you need withoutÖ"
"Blowing your cover? Are you working for the government on some high-level Black Ops deal?"
"No, but Iíve aided and abetted in that area."
Youíre an agent?" "No. God, no." She said laughing briefly.
"Mercenary?" "Well, Iím not unfamiliar with that life." she replied with a jerking nod of her head.
"John, stop guessing and Iíll stop stringing you along with your guesses. My point here is that Iíve made a very good living by existing outside of the box. Once I found out the truth about who I used to be and where I came from I tried and failed to reconcile all that with the person Iíd become. You came along and added more obstacles to my path of either pulling these two versions of my life into one or staying where Iíve been comfortably since I was a kid."
"Just as there are times, plenty of times really, in the course of doing your job you canít tell me much of anything about whatís going on or where youíll be Iím saying the same to you, John. Grant me the same right of a need to know basisóif I donít tell you, you donít need to know. But if you canít do that Iím telling you I wonít keep going around and around about my life and how I make my living. So maybe I should stop my stuff from coming over?"
"Accept this or let you go?"
"Yes. Let us go. I swear if thereís ever a time when my work is about to explode into our personal lifeóI will tell you, I wonít let you get caught unaware. Just do nothing, assume nothing, until you hear it from me." Van stopped, waiting for his decision it was a lot to swallow she knew.
John took her face in his hands, "I want to be with you; I canít promise I wonít ask you about things that I see having an impact on youógood or badótied to your past or not. Tell me what you can; someday I hope to hear the entire story. Do we continue to look for a house?"
Kissing him deeply her eyes were clear and guileless when she opened them and stared into his, "Yes, we continue to look. Iíll call Chao-Li tomorrow and ask about other listings."
Pulling him down onto the rocks Evangeline trailed her fingers over his wet sleeves, up to his mouth now in a thoughtful, grim line. "We wonít make it." Each of them thought in despair, and that anguished, silent thought drove their passionate coupling on the rocks with the spray of the water trying to cleanse them of their secrets and lies.