Before Nona could reply she heard footsteps coming down the hall towards the kitchen. There wasn’t a lot of time to think and he would surely know something was amiss if he caught them huddled together. She jumped to her feet in time to intercept Kurt in the doorway. He had been staring at his phone and nearly ran headlong into Nona. In rumpled scrubs and sneakers, he looked utterly worn out, not a good time for him to also be worried about Jordan.
“Hey, Kurt…” She did her best to sound casual.
“Hey? I was wondering whose car that was out front. Another one of Legends’?”
“Yeah, he left me about ten. I’ve sold most of them but I kept a couple of his favorites.” Kurt nodded as he tried to steer around her.
“Is Jordan here?” He asked before noticing her sitting at the table, head in hands. She looked so pale he couldn’t help but rush to her. “What happened?”
Jordan shot Nona a panicked look. You can’t tell him. Nona knew her sister hated lying to Kurt but this was a desperate time. If he knew what they did, he would never let Jordan out of his sight again. Not to mention, she was sure her sister didn’t want to add any more stress on her fiancée. She moved forward to offer Jordan a cover.
“She’s okay, we were just talking about some ‘sister stuff’ and she started to feel a little faint. Right, Jay?” Her sister shot her a look of gratitude before speaking up.
“I guess I went a little too hard at therapy today?” She told Kurt with a half-smile which he returned before bending down to kiss her gently.
“You need to be careful, love. Pushing yourself too hard too fast will only make things worse. How’s your pain right now?” He asked with genuine concern.
“Fine,” She lied. “ It barely hurts anymore.” The same lie she had told her sister, her physical therapist and basically anyone that asked. Kurt ran a skillful hand over the scar on her shoulder, the most sensitive area and watched for signs of discomfort. As hard as she tried to conceal it, Kurt picked up on her reaction.
“Mmhmmm…I’ll go get your pills.”
He stood and headed to the other room to get her medication. Nona watched him go before approaching her sister. She placed a reassuring hand on her leg, the other reached out to stroke her sister’s face in a comforting gesture. Jordan’s eyes were still red but color began to fill her cheeks. Kurt returned with two pills and a bottle of water. Jordan took the pills dry then gulped down half the bottle.
“It’s a good thing you were here Nona. Last time she hit her head so hard I thought she’d need stitches.” Kurt sounded truly worried and Nona couldn’t help but fixate on the phrase “last time”. Jordan hadn’t mentioned any fainting episodes when they had last talked and she was avoiding eye contact now. Nona wanted to press the issue but knew her sister was already in a fragile state.
“You should get some rest…” Nona leaned forward, pressing her cheek to her sisters’ as she whispered to her again “I’ll take care of it” then louder, so Kurt could hear “I love you, I’ll check on you later.”
Once her sister was gone Kurt pulled Jordan to her feet and led her to their sofa in the living room. He sat her down before pulling off her sneakers and putting her feet up. Grabbing a blanket off the back of the sofa, he wrapped her tightly before placing a peck on her forehead. “Rest.” He commanded then headed into the kitchen to begin dinner.
Jordan stared at the ceiling for what felt like an eternity. CLU was alive, everything she had accomplished, everything she and Kurt had built up this point was in jeopardy. She tried to make sense of the tragedy about to befall her family but the pain meds were making her drowsy. She was out before she realized.
The next time she opened her eyes, the sky was dark and she could hear faint music and conversation drifting from the other room. She sat up, throwing the blanket back and padded into the kitchen. The first thing she saw was Kurt at the counter mincing vegetables. He had showered and changed into sweats and a tee, barefoot, his hair a tousled mess without any product, face unshaven. Taylor was sitting at the dinner table in her school sweats working on homework, one leg propped up on the opposite chair with an ice pack across her left ankle. She had rolled it during basketball practice a few days prior. The two were happily chatting as music played softly in the background.
“Who is this again?” Taylor asked, gesturing toward the I-pod dock in the corner with her pencil.
“Never heard of her.”
“You kids don’t know anything about good music.” Kurt chuckled as he turned to throw the vegetables into the stew he was making. He noticed Jordan in the doorway when he turned around again. “You’re up. How are you feeling love?” He crossed the room and placed a small kiss on her cheek, then neck.
“Much better,” she half-lied. She wasn’t in any physical pain at the moment but her psyche felt brutalized. “How long have I been out?”
“Just a couple hours.” He replied before going back to his task. She nodded lightly, then walked over to the table to sit by Taylor. The younger girl reached out to hug her adoptive mother closer, resting her head on Jordan’s shoulder.
“How’s the ankle kiddo?”
“Okay. The trainer said I should be back on the court by next away game.” Taylor gazed up at Jordan with concern. “Are you okay?” She knew the older girl kept things from her, usually anything that pertained to her recovery. Jordan always said she was fine, even if she wasn’t.
“You don’t need to worry about me little one.” She nudged Taylor playfully with her elbow. “I said I was fine, why doesn’t anybody believe me?”
“Because you always say it with a smile but it never reaches your eyes.” Taylor told her with a serious tone. Jordan sometimes forgot how perceptive Taylor was; often she seemed too mature for her 16 years. She noted the intense worry on her child’s face and hugged her closer.
“I’m fine. Sore and tired but fine. If anything serious were going on I would let you know. Deal?” She leaned back to peer into the teenagers face.
“Deal.” Jordan placed a quick kiss at the girls’ hairline.
The phone rang and after picking it up, Kurt promptly handed it to Jordan. “Nona” he mouthed when she took the receiver, walking to the other room for a little privacy. True to her word, Nona had called to check on her but failed to mention the fainting. Jordan knew it would come up again eventually. She also had no more info about their greatest foes resurrection but she implored Jordan not to worry.
“Let me handle this, please.” She had begged her sister. “You have enough on your plate.”
Jordan had agreed begrudgingly but she knew her cooperation wouldn’t last and so did Nona. She walked back into the kitchen, her mood momentarily lightened at the sight of Kurt sitting at the dinner table trying to explain 11th grade geometry to Taylor.
“I’m going to get a quick shower before dinner.” She announced and headed towards the hallway. “Oh and your Dad’s right, you kids don’t know what good music is.” She gave Kurt a quick peck as well before heading out.
As soon as they could no longer see her face, her smile faded fast. She had just lied to her family about not lying to them. It hadn’t even been confirmed that CLU was alive or even posed a threat to them and already it was causing a rift between she and her loved ones. She was deceiving them at every turn and it had barely been a few hours. Peeling her clothes off with great effort, she stepped into the shower, trying to wash the stink of deception off before returning.
Jordan couldn’t contain the gasp that escaped her when the hot water beat down onto her back, secure in the knowledge no one could hear her. After all these months she was amazed by how much the wounds still hurt. It was irrational, her mind knew they were long healed, yet her body refused to believe. Moving out from under the boiling waterfall she pressed her injured back against the cool tiles, reveling in the sensation. She couldn’t tell Kurt how much pain she was in. He had already objected to her returning to work, especially since she had suffered a frightening rash of fainting spells lately.
Her mind flashed back to the look on Nona’s face earlier that day when Kurt had mentioned it. She knew that look, full of hurt from her deception, worry for her condition. It was a pretty good assumption that Kurt would be wearing a similar expression soon when he found out what the two sisters had been discussing. She washed quickly and escaped the torturous stream of water before her wounds demanded another pain pill. Throwing on pajama pants and a tee, she ran her heated hands through her hair to dry it before balling it up. She headed back down the stairs for what she hoped would not be their last family dinner.
Later that night, Jordan lay in bed with her head on Kurt’s chest listening to the soothing sound of his breathing. He had fallen asleep immediately, having worked a double shift at the hospital due to a bad accident on the highway the day before. She stared into the darkness, unable to fall asleep, afraid of what horrors were waiting for her behind her closed eyelids. Eventually, she couldn’t fight the fatigue anymore and her eyes slid closed of their own accord.
She was somewhere cold and wet; an immense pressure evident over her whole body. Her wounded shoulder throbbed and bled, as did her hand. Beneath her the ground was hard, unforgiving. She couldn’t pry her eyes open, they were too heavy, caked with dirt and grime. JORDAN! Was that her sister calling to her? She tried to call out but her voice was as useless as her eyes at the moment.
I will never stop coming! For you! For HER! Never!
She finally forced her eyes open to a sight formed of her deepest fears. CLU had his tendrils wrapped around Nona’s neck. Her eyes were painfully wide, her hands clawing uselessly at the noose around her neck. No! She couldn’t move, could only watch as her nemesis choked the life out of her little sister and tossed her aside like a rag doll.
“Babe! Wake up!” Jordan’s eyes shot open to find herself wrapped securely in Kurt’s arms. Her skin was slick with sweat as he tried to restrain her, rocking her struggling form. “You’re safe, love. No one can hurt you here, I won’t let them.”
She shuddered against him, trying to regulate her breathing. She hadn’t had a nightmare about that day in weeks and now she was back where she started a shivering, terrified mess of nerves. She buried her face in Kurt’s chest, finding comfort in his feel, the scent of him. He lay back down awkwardly, pulling her with him, cooing and soothing her until her eyes got heavy once more.
“I wont let anything hurt you, love.” He whispered into her hair, afraid she was too lost in panic to hear him. She responded a fraction later, fatigue weighing her voice down.
“You can’t stop him. No one can…”