Chapter 6

John remained exceptionally still as he felt Evangelineís breath in the little cove between his neck and shouldersóhis favorite place for her to nestle as she twined herself around him. He was dreaming. Thatís been the worst of it, having dreams so close to life until he opens his eyes and finds himself holding air. Again. Making love with his memories of her skin, her sounds, her hair brushing against him burnishing his skin. Waking up alone. Again. But if he didnít move, if he resisted the return to the waking realm she would remain his forever; in his arms, on top of him, under him, laughing with him and at him, sighing and moaning together.

"Youíre not dreaming, John, Iím right here beside you."

That soft beguiling voice and saying exactly what he wanted to hear. Damn, this was worse, much worse than all the other times since Evangeline left him, never before had his dreams taunted him with her voice, words AND her body that she was with him when she wasnít. Itíll be a miracle if he doesnít start seriously drinking behind this messing with his head, destroying his heart.

"John? Are you awake? I thought you were, maybe not."

Ok, heís dealt with his dreams and demons before, time to open his eyes, start moving, get into cop mode: to serve and protect; savior mode: save people, thatís the job, save people. God, Iím so lonely and sheís not here, sheís not here, sheís not here. Stretching, John finally opens his eyes and tries to figure out how long heís been out without looking at the clock. Feels like the middle of the day, actually more like late afternoon or early evening has he really slept that long?

Swinging his legs over the bed he slumps down defeated, heís still alone, no surprise there. Worse, her perfumeís still in the air from when she dropped him at his room last night. How could he have let that opportunity with her slip away in his exhaustion? Flopping back down on the bed Johnís startled when the bathroom door opens and his vision is standing there looking at him doe eyes filling withÖwait, "Evangeline? Youíre here? You stayed with me all night?"

"All night and most of the next day apparently. Iíve slept away several appointments; I canít believe I didnít wake up. I canít believe the station didnít call you in. That our cells didnít ring." Fresh from a shower and without thinking Evangeline walks closer to the bed until she is standing before him with nothing between them except her towel and the clothes he slept in last night.

Sure that heís still asleep John reaches out and places a hand on her thigh letting his fingers race their way upwards. Her legs part without asking Vanís brain for permission or agreement. Then his fingers are brushing against her and sheís quivering with desire and willing the towel to fall away. Placing one knee on the bed Evangeline widens her stance and reaches for his wrist, guiding him to her, the spot thatíll give them both the most intense sensations of pleasure. John scoots closer to the edge of the bed wrapping two fingers around the end of her towel, tugs and moves back on the bed taking her with him; positioning them so she lands spread eagle on his chest and they roll over. Her hands splay against his back pushing him downward. John pauses for a moment and she looks at him: his mouth open and moist, greedy with the need to taste her, his eyes begging her not to stop this and she brings him to her breast, fills his mouth and she wills him to feast to his heartís content as their moans breach the spaces between their gasps.

"John? Where did you just go? Have you heard anything Iíve said? Maybe you should rest up one more day." Coming out of his bathroom fully clothed Evangeline tries to decipher the look in the shadowy depths of his eyes; but John averts his gaze and she can only wonder.

"No, Iím awake now and Iíve got to get to work, or at least check-in. Thank you for staying," he says quietly, "can we, maybe we can have a drink together tonight?"

She pauses uncertainly in his doorway, "It seems like not such a good idea, John. I stayed as a needed looking after. I donít want to examine my motives. I donít want to hurt over you anymore than I already am."

"We need to talk, Evangeline, rather I need to talk if only youíll listen."

"Ok, well, after youíre showered and fully awake if you still want to, call me and weíll arrange to meet. No drinks. You can come to the penthouse. I hope you catch some breaks in the case, goodbye, John." Van heads into the living room for her purse and shoes, continues to the front door and quietly shuts the door behind her. Her security man, it seems to her eyes, is in the exact same spot from when she closed the door on him last night. "I thought a replacement would be here. You havenít been on your feet all this time, have you? Iím so sorry."

"No apologies needed, Ms. Williamson. This is the job; itís what Iím paid to do. Where to now?"

After hearing the door shut, John pulls himself out of bed. He hadnít walked her to the door because he feared heíd beg her to stay. Which he wouldnít have minded doing; except he was completely erect from his dreams of them making love and he didnít want to send the wrong message. No, not true he was afraid heíd beg and sheíd still leave.

Meeting at Todd and Blairís was far from ideal but better than not seeing her at all. Sighing he went back to the bedroom and dialed the station to check in.

Several hours later John was rubbing his red-rimmed eyes and Bo was again ordering him to leave work. It was nearing 1 a.m. Theyíd cornered and caught the Killing Club mastermind and his accompliceówho knew nothing about Natalieís whereabouts, but had led them straight to where Hayes Barber was holding Marcie and Rex. Nearly beating Hayes to death hadnít produced the information John needed; Bo grilling the suspect in his cell hadnít worked either. And it was much too late to call Evangeline.

Frustrated, hungry and tired John stops by Capricorn for a late meal of all the alcohol he can stand. Several drinks into a bender her voice comes to him caressingly from his left, the words are anything but soothing, still he canít squelch the glad feeling of having her near. "Youíre not one to drown your sorrows and I donít recall you drinking your pain away when we broke up. So, this must be about Natalie and her lack of rescue."

"Itís a good thing Iím not one to wait by the phone, isnít it?" her tone let him know heíd wounded her, again, but there was also reluctant understanding. "I heard you caught the killers, found Rex and Marcie. Michael must be thrilled to have a hero for a brother."

"Iím so far from a hero."

"Youíre doing all you can, all anyone can John. And then you reach down deep and do still more. Stop torturing yourself. Iíll ask Layla to keep an eye on you and call you a cab when youíre done drinking your dinner."

"Donít goÖwe need to talk, we said weíd talk."

"I think we both should be sober and maybe less surly. I wonít wish you a good night, since itís really morning. Iíll just sayÖ.stay well, John, be kinder to yourself."

"You shouldnít be out this late alone. Iíll walk you to your car."

"Youíve got to be kidding me. Iím fine, John. As always, I can actually take care of myself, I look out for me. Good thing, huh?"

After driving around aimlessly for awhile Evangeline headed back to the Manningís penthouse, went to her room and changed into pajamas. Heading down the back stairs to the kitchen she runs into Blair going the same way, "Great minds, huh? Iím assuming this is the late-night ice cream raid?" Cocking an eyebrow Blair takes in Vanís appearance, "This can only be about a man; and Iím sure I know which man so letís go see whatís left to devour."

"I canít thank you enough for letting me stay here, Blair."

"None needed, youíve helped by keeping me company but not driving me nuts like Dorian or Kelly would."

"Where did Todd go on his trip?"

"I have no idea. Heís out chasing his demons, thatís all I know."

"Oh, more demons, how I hate that word these days. Is it safe to assume Toddís demon has a name? Crazy-ass Margaret?"

Blair started laughing so hard she chokes a bit on her ice cream, "Crazy-ass? I like it, perfect name and yes, thatís one of the demons. For right now the most obvious and prominent; but once that demon is slain Todd has plenty more."

"But he shares them with youÖ."

"Heís SUPPOSED to share them, thatís been our new deal but itís hard to break a lifelong pattern no matter how much he loves me. Todd wants to protect me, to shield me basically from himself, the real Todd Manning, as he perceives himself to be; which isnít the same as the man I know him to be."

"And you handle this, how?" Van moves to the edge of her chair hoping Blair knows the magic words to say thatíll help lead her back to John, or maybe to truly let him go completely. Words she can say to John that will crack open his silence about the worst of his fears; words that will allow him to invite her in to wrestle those devils to the ground and banish them with him.

"I donít always, which is why weíve divorced and broken up so many times. Sometimes itís just easier, better to step aside and hope he survives his latest internal tortures without my direct help. Hoping that he always feels that Iím there for him no matter how much I may spout that I hate him. Iím always there for him when his backís truly against the wall. I always believe in the possibility for the best in Todd to win out, or to just put in an appearance now and again. I love him, what more can I say or do? I know his demons; I know whatís driving Todd. All the crap from way back in his youth, I know it all, thatís why I can forgive what seem to be the most utterly unforgivable actionsóI know the place it comes from."

"Ah, yes, knowing the place it comes from; having that inside information. I envy you that. He told you?"

"Yes, but why not? We were friends when we told each other our worst stories of growing up and other stuff in our lives. At our core, aside from the love, the passion, Todd and I are friends first. We were allies in mayhem and loneliness back then, and we always have each otherís backs."