Title: Chasing Shadows
Author: Vesper (Regina)
Warnings: adult themes
Category: Vignette, Romance, Angst
Keywords: Jimmy Bond, Yves Adele Harlow.
Spoilers: Jump the Shark; Bond, Jimmy Bond; All About Yves; Tango de los Pistoleros; The Lying Game
Summary: He doesn't really know when he started to care so much.
Disclaimer: X-Files and Lone Gunmen property of 20th Century Fox.
Category: Vignette, UST, angst
Archival: Permission to Archive Central. All others, if you wish to archive, please link to my website. Please keep all my headers intact.
"You're not going to find her if she doesn't want to be found."
--Jimmy Bond, "All About Yves"
In Zurich, everyone spoke English and Jimmy got no use from the tiny dictionary he'd bought. He spent two months there and all he found was a videotape of her, from a bank's cameras. The high- tech capture showed a smooth image of her, from when she glided in, a shadow in black leather, to when she left.
He rewound and slowed the tape, watching her face. He had so many questions to ask her, and this brief space of five minutes was the first glimpse he'd had of her in nearly four months. He wished that he had been in the lobby, just to pull her aside, and ask her, "Why?"
He doesn't really know when he started to care so much. He does know that he now accepts it, as naturally as breathing.
Time was when all his world was the game and the guys who would clap him on the back. They used to call him, in a joke that somehow would always seem fresh to him, "Bond, Jimmy Bond." Then he met three men, unlikely heros, and a woman who liked to pretend she didn't care.
It hurt, like a piledrive to his chest, when he awoke and she was gone, knowing she had done it to keep him safe. She was a Judas in reverse, a kiss on the cheek, sad eyes, making a sacrifice of herself.
Byers, Langly, and Frohike tried desperately to keep him from leaving. They said it was hopeless, told him he'd never find her, but they never questioned why he wanted to find her. As much as they would never admit it, they wanted him to try. He could see it in their eyes, even if the words they said were different.
He had plenty of time, in the months he spent tracking her, to examine why he wanted to find her. Thousands of minutes to remember her, the way she spoke, the way her hair fell, the way she had felt in his arms, moving in a slow embrace.
She hadn't said a word since they'd started dancing and he was content to just be there. If silence was what she needed, he was quite willing to give her that.
Then he noticed that her shoulders shook under his hand and that they had stopped moving. He continued to hold her, amazed at how silently she sobbed, feeling each quiver against his chest.
It seemed a long time before she stopped, though it could have only been minutes. She sniffed a few times, then said, her voice wobbly, "I'm sorry, Jimmy."
He didn't know exactly what to say, so he was surprised when these words came out, "Don't apologize, Yves."
She glanced up at him, astounded. He continued, sure of what she needed to hear, "You shouldn't have to apologize for feeling."
She looked at him, in that all too familiar you'll-never- understand way. In a flash it was gone and he saw the walls she held in front of her crumble. Her shoulders drooped and she laid her head on his shoulder again. She said, almost under her breath, "Oh, Jimmy. It's not that easy."
He answered, "It never is."
Never easy. She's kept him chasing shadows and she slips away a little farther everyday, time, distance, and knowledge keeping them apart. He knows too much, who she is, who she was, why she keeps running.
He asks himself why he still keeps searching for her and each time the answer comes back, "She's your friend. She needs you." Somewhere underneath that simple answer there's more to it, but in the exhaustion it eludes him, as easily as she does.
In Malta he stood in a hotel room, short hours behind her flight. The bed was still undone, the too-white towel, although hung neatly on the rack, still damp. There was a faint unnameable trace of fragance in the air that the sea coast air coming through the open window could not erase. It was her perfume and he'd recognize it anywhere. Just one whiff and he remembered hiding with her in the ceiling of the lair and how soft she had felt. That was when it hit him, that last reason he kept following her.
He needed her. He needed her to say his name, to let him know she hadn't forgotten him. He needed to see her again; he didn't care that she had lied to him or that she had a past that kept her in danger. These things were not important, if only he could see her again.
In Yemen, after showing her photo to so many people he lost count, he found one, an airline agent. The young woman recognized her face, said she had taken a plane to the States, but wouldn't tell him where, not until he laid money in her hands.
In New Jersey, late one evening, nearly a year after Fletcher had taken her, he stood in front of yet another nameless face, and asked, "Have you seen her?" The photo he showed the man was clutched tightly in his hand, the edges dirty and the corners bent.
There were only two answers to that question. He held his breath in anticipation, like he had so many times before, waiting to hear which one it would be.
When the answer came, "Yeah, I recognize her," with the nonchalant flair that only a stranger could possess, he stood for a moment, shell-shocked. She was here, on this campus. He'd known that, had followed her car to this tiny college, but he'd hadn't yet considered that he might actually find her. The thought skittered around in his brain, that maybe, maybe if he wished it hard enough, she would be behind him when he turned around.
He actually half-turned before the man said, "Hey, did you hear me?"
Jimmy snapped his attention back. He said, "Yes, I heard you. Can you tell me if she's here?"
"Yeah, I think I saw her heading toward Harris Hall. Hey, why are you looking for her?"
Once again he just stared at the man, not even taking in the curious look that didn't really care. He became aware that he needed to answer something, anything, it didn't matter what he said.
"She, uh, she's a friend. Just trying to get in contact again."
"Well, good luck."
He walked out into the night, the air chilly with wind. He clutched his thin jacket closer, his hands buried deep in the pockets. He walked with his head down and his steps dragged. He was tired, hungry, and cold.
He was tired of searching for her, hungry for a glimpse of her, cold with the thought that maybe she wasn't really here. He heard rapid steps, clacking heels on concrete, and looked up.
He saw someone running, dark hair thrown back by the wind and the force of her speed. Instinctively, though he couldn't see her face, he shouted, "Yves!" and ran after her. She didn't stop and he shouted again, "Lois!" At that she cast a quick glance behind her.
He was too far away to catch up to her, and he slowed his pace. She skidded to a halt beside a silver car, jerking the door open and stuffing herself inside.
He stopped and panted, watching as the car roared away. Despair caught up to him and he gulped, hard, tears stinging his eyes, cursing himself for having left her car.
He had to face the fact. It was time to quit.
He would go see the guys.
He collapsed on their doorstep a day later, his money gone, a hole of hunger in his stomach and a knot of pain in his heart, caused by one headline.
"Professor murdered, Hartwell College, Kearny, New Jersey."
He didn't want to believe it. He wanted to believe, instead, that she was not that cold-hearted, not that unfeeling. That, despite the fact they'd caught her red-handed, she wasn't actually going to do it.
He should have known better. People weren't as good as he liked to think they were.
There was so much resentment in her eyes when he called her Lois. She knew he'd seen her at that college. She knew and she despised him for knowing what she was.
He hated himself for knowing, almost as much as he loved her. Even now, as she told him she was a murderer.
He tried not to stare at her. He was finally sitting next to the shadow that had escaped him for so long. He knew he shouldn't have sat next to her, to be so close to her and not hold her, to not be alone with her. It was almost as painful as not seeing her for a year.
He thought she had broken his heart, that it was crushed beyond repair, that there was no healing for him. He was wrong. His heart was not broken. Beaten, bruised, battered, yes. Its breaking, though, was not something he could lay at her feet.
It broke when the Gunmen fell. Tore once, twice, three times. Yves gently pulled him away from the barrier, whispering, "You don't want to see what happens, Jimmy." So he sank to his knees and she went with him. Her touch kept him from breaking completely apart then, and later, as she held his hand, all the way through the funeral.
They had walked away from the three caskets, his arm still around her shoulders. As they neared her car, she pulled away from him and unlocked the door.
He watched her, how she avoided looking at him. When she turned back to him and opened her mouth, he said, "Have coffee with me."
She closed her mouth, regarding him silently, before turning back to the car. She opened the door and released the other door locks.
She settled behind the wheel and said, "Get in, Jimmy."
They sat next to each other, on a soft leather couch, keeping their hands warmed by their cups. A gas fire burned behind black metal and glass a few feet from them.
She said, "I'm sorry, Jimmy, for a lot of things."
"It's not your fault."
"It is, in a way. If I had only found the right man in time--"
"Don't say that."
She tightened her lips at how horrified he sounded.
"Jimmy, I'm not what you think I am. You know I'm not--"
He interrupted again, "Did you know?"
"Know what, Jimmy?"
"Did you know I was following you?"
After a long silence, "Yes," she said, her voice desolate.
"Why didn't you ever--"
"Jimmy, you don't know what you're asking."
"I do, Yves. You never made one little effort to let us know you were safe, that you were okay. You owed us that. It wasn't right the way you left."
"Is that what this is about? You've always been too considerate, too forgiving, too gullible for your own good." Her voice rose, startling him. "For God's sake, Jimmy, you could have been killed."
"I didn't care. You were our friend. We don't let our friends down."
She shook her head. "I've never been a friend to you. You should know that, of all people. You know too well what my life is like. Jimmy, I'm a mercenary, a liar, a thief, and a ki--" He looked away from her and she swallowed the word.
When she continued, her voice was low. "Did you lie to yourself the entire time you were looking for me?" He still wasn't looking at her, so she prodded, "Jimmy?"
He met her gaze and she almost winced at the rawness in his eyes. "We cared about you," he said, and even though he tried to stop it, his voice still held a quivering edge of blame and hurt.
Her eyes flickered and he saw the pain flash across her face. Then the wall went back up, the hardness coming back into her face.
"You don't. How could you? I don't get it, Jimmy. Why?"
He bent his head down, unable to look at her. "I needed you. Yves, I missed you. Now, you're the only one left." It was a broken whisper.
She was silent for a long moment and he finally looked at her. Her mouth was agape, her eyes looking on him, full of disbelief.
"Oh God, Jimmy," she said, and her voice trembled. "Don't do this to me now, not now. I can't be you need. I wish," she placed a hand on his. "I wish I could, but I can't."
He turned his hand over, meeting her palm, clasping her hand. She sighed, and carefully pulled her hand away.
She said, "I know you love me, I know, but you shouldn't. You're wasting it on me."
He knew what she was really saying. She meant that they were an impossible match, that she would not accept all he could give, that she didn't love him.
She continued, "I'd just hurt--"
He raised his hand, effectively silencing her, and stood. She said, startled, "Where are you going?"
"Doesn't matter. I'll find someplace. I get it, Yves. I do. I didn't, I didn't really expect--"
His voice faltered. She stared at him. He sighed and said, "Bye, Yves."
He brushed his hand against her cheek, leaned in and kissed her softly, quickly, on the lips.
He walked away, out of her shadow.
Are you okay? Would you like a tissue? Here you go--
What? You didn't really think I'd leave it there? Seriously?
No, really, I wouldn't do that to you. I like happy endings too. I promise there will be one.