Last Chance For Redemption
--------------------John Piper: Redemption is not perfection. The redeemed must realize their imperfections.
It had been a week; one whole infinite week of no contact. Not even a phone call nor a homicide case with the infamous Josephine Martinez. She was still mad―more specifically hurt―and the prolonged silent treatment was making Henry go odder than he already was. The cyanide case was solved and closed, leaving Henry with a load of stale corpses all to himself. He stood next to the examining table, alone in the room, not counting the dead (they shouldn't really count yet Henry strangely saw the possibility of letting them for the time being). Amidst the dead for nearly half a day, he told himself that he wasn't really bored―only in the presence of many intriguing puzzles. Enigmas which he would have to piece together...alone. All the staff had left since their shifts were finished, but not the top medical examiner. He decided to stay because there was nothing exciting to do back at his residency. Sure, there was Abe, but he was already too accustomed to having Jo around during tea time. It just made him substantially miss her more and additionally feel heart wrenching guilt for hurting one of the people closest to him. Although he stubbornly did not want to admit it, he was a grown man sulking and burying himself into his perished work.
The past week he had certainly tried to get through to Jo to apologize. At first, he started to call her, but she screened his calls and had not picked up once. After two days, he decided to go see her at the precinct a few―or a dozen of―times. However, every time he showed up she was 'supposedly' out on a coffee break. It did not help the doctor’s conundrum when it seemed Hanson was also giving Henry the cold shoulder for the detective knew their medical examiner had hurt Martinez some way or another (albeit Hanson’s temper soon faded in a couple of days).
Three days of going to the precinct wasn't working, so he finally went to Jo's house. Alas, she did not open the couple (or hundreds) of times he had knocked the last two days of the seemingly never-ending week. Discouraged, he stopped trying, giving her time to sort things out and cool down. She would come to him when she was ready to talk...right? Who was he kidding? This was one mess he could not solve with years of medical experience. Jo was not a suspect in a case he could deduce easily from a stain on a shirt or a cut on a hand, yet it seemed the man was still trying to read why she would not talk to him. Well, he knew...but everything he did was for the greater good, he thought. The immortal man did it all for his cohort. To protect her from losing her job (otherwise demoted). The M.E was acting quite dim-witted for a highly capable person since he was not understanding that perhaps Jo did not concur with his 'greater good' reasoning. Veritably, Henry needed to comprehend that what he did represented to Jo a lack of trust on his part. Also, he had done what he thought was best for his partner, not what really was.
Placing a completed autopsy chart upon a stack of others on his desk, Henry sighed, thinking of Jo for the umpteenth time that day. The shame and self-reproach that had been accumulating in Henry's mind and heart the past week was threatening to overflow and the Englishman did not know what to do. He fully knew now that he was in the wrong. He had promised himself and Jo that he would keep his promises; no more secrets, we work together as a team in whatever case we do together, we help each other to accomplish the tasks at hand and we do not go running off. Henry sat behind his desk, forehead touching its flat surface. He breathed oxygen in with his nose and exhaled a puff of carbon dioxide out from his mouth slowly, meditating on his countless thoughts. He had stupidly lost the trust and friendship of the person he cared for most, and was presently not trying to fix it. He groaned, feeling lower than a crumpled leaf on the ground. The Henry Morgan, Chief Medical Examiner for one of the world’s well-known ‘slightly chilled corpse deposit’, was depressed and for once in his life, did not know what to do or where to start. As most men would say: woman are perplexing beings from Venus.
Taking his antique watch out of his pocket, Henry lifted his stiff neck, glancing at its two hands; 7:36. Knowing full well that it was time to head home, he stood up slowly, fetching his coat and scarf that laid limply over the office's coat rack.
As he stepped out into the fresh breeze, he decided to walk home, seeing it as his daily exercise. Just before Henry could cross the busy street, he heard a nearby voice calling out his name. “Mr…I mean Dr. Morgan?” A hand settled upon the M.E’s left shoulder, making him face the man. It was Duncan Rymes, the man who had the affair a few years back with the late Allison Dale.
“Mr. Rymes…it’s a pleasure to meet you under much better circumstances than the first time.” Henry greeted with a high-class civil demeanor and a hint of confusion for why he was here.
“You mean when I got body slammed by a hot Latina Detective and was arrested under suspicion of killing my childhood friend?” Duncan raised an eyebrow, smirk etched across his visage.
“Right, it had taken me a while to catch up.” Henry smiled, liking the man’s amusing and sarcastic personality. One he did not see when he was in the interrogation room. It made sense; most people act differently than usual whilst they are suspected for a crime they did not commit. “Is there anything I can do for you?” He asked.
“Well…I came to thank you…for clearing my name and finding the true killer. It feels somewhat good, knowing that he’s behind bars.” The man rubbed the back of his neck, looking everywhere but into Henry’s eyes uncomfortably. It seemed he was a guy who had publically said only a constricted amount of ‘thank yous’ in his life.
“No need to thank me. Tell me if I am being too forward but…you loved Allison very much didn’t you? More than just a mere marital fling?” The Englishman asked, his tone soft and compassionate.
"Why would you think that?" The man asked, crossing his arms defensively.
“Why would you have come all the way here if you did not care for her? Also, you are a terrible liar." Henry concluded, stuffing his hands into his pockets.
Duncan bowed his head, shoulders slouching. He sighed. “She was my everything…” He mumbled gloomily, continuing. “You know…she was going leave her husband and marry me a few years back when we were having the affair.” He professed dolefully, looking like a man with a shattered heart.
“Did you not say that both of you broke up on even terms?” The medical examiner inquired, raising his eyebrows.
“It was all my fault. I acted like such a bastard!” Mr. Rymes gritted his teeth, face flushing scarlet. Seconds later, his tempestuous attitude settled down. “She was ready to leave him and everything, but at the last minute I turned her down. I had just gotten a promotion at the bank and I knew if our adulteress relationship ever got out into the open, I would have been fired. I broke things off with her just because of work. I can’t believe I was so stupid! She was the only woman I ever loved and I threw her away like something mundane.” He tried to compose himself, pushing away all his penitence. “But enough of that. What’s done is done and there is nothing I can do anymore.”
“Why didn’t you try to get her back? I can see how much shame you feel. Forgiveness is not only asked for; it can likewise be given.” Henry asked, curious.
“I was blind, fooling myself that she was better off without me and that made me give up on her all too easily. All I can say now is I hope no one else makes the same mistake as I did, because one day it will be too late and the regret never goes away.” The man tightened his lips solemnly, his eyes grave. “It was nice meeting you again…thank you…again.” He gave a curt nod and turned around, sauntering into the night like a man with no future.
Standing idly in the lonely street―after those weighty words―something sparked in Henry’s heart and he could not neutralise it. A rush of adrenaline pushed his legs to run in a certain direction, to a certain building where a certain woman resided. Sill not able to stop thinking about Duncan’s mistake, he ran, closing on to where he wanted…needed to reach.
Upon arrival, he didn’t waste any time to think. He just rang the doorbell, pleading for Jo to open up. “Come on Jo! We need to talk…I know you are there. I can see your shadow behind the curtains! I’m sorry, I’m truly utterly dismally sorry…please have it in your heart to forgive me. *silence* I’ve been an arse and broke your trust. I thought I was protecting you, but all I was doing was pushing you further away…and I’m wholly sorry for that and everything else. It is all my fault. I am to blame. *silence* I’ll be sitting on your step until you agree to talk. I have an eternally amount of time to wait. Some call it forever.” The immortal sat, stubbornly crossing his arms, getting comfy.
After a couple of minutes, he heard the sound of a bolt unlatch and a door creak open. Turning around towards the entrance, hope started to pour into his soul once again. Standing, he stared at the woman holding onto the entrance’s door frame, donning a tousled pony tail and a pair of black flannel pyjamas. She opened the door further, indirectly showing him to enter. “You have five minutes.” Her voice was severe, but exhibiting a hint of uneasiness accompanied with a meticulous glare.
She strode in front of him without caring to turn her head in his direction. She went and made herself comfortable on a lazy boy in her cozy living room, an icy aura purposely emanating from her. At that moment, it seemed she was regressing back into an adolescent―at least her behaviour was.
Henry sat on the double seated couch in front of her, only being separated by a petite glass table. He fidgeted, never fully calming down. He tapped his foot rhythmically and kept fiddling with his pocket watch, feeling the smooth edges with his thumb and index finger as he turned it about in his left hand.
“I do not want to lose you Jo. I know the deeds that I have done to lose your trust and I will never stop apologizing to you, but as I said before―”
“Henry…I don’t know…how can we maintain a balanced partnership and friendship if I never know if or when you’ll be going off by yourself? As you well know, I do not need protecting. Even less so now.” She frowned, tucking her legs under herself.
“I admit it. I am unpredictable when in the middle of a homicide case and I tend to go off by myself, not thinking of the general consequences. I know there are many things I need to work on, but a man cannot change his mannerisms over-night. For over two centuries I have been mostly alone and after Abigail…I started to lose my way even more. Trying to fill the empty gap by plotting revenge against her killer. However, I met you and slowly, you set me back on track and I will never be able to repay you enough for saving me from myself. I have not come here today to promise that I will always be predictable and cautious, but to ask if you can accept me for the way I am…with all these immense and sometimes irksome flaws. Just understand one thing, I will try my very best to change for the better. So that we,” Henry’s hand gestured from his direction to hers, “can work. I am not going to give up on you.” He concluded the well-needed edict with a nervous sigh, keeping his eyes transfixed on the bewildered woman opposing him.
“You could have just said so at the beginning of the week. It would have been much easier.” Jo chuckled with a jocular yet tremulous voice as she slid her hand through her hair, making it fall loose, for she pulled off the elastic. “Although…I might have been a little...or basically, too hard on you…and I’m sorry for that. I was just hurt. Please don’t try to change for me, you’re perfect the way you are…just try to learn from the mistakes that usually upset people the most.” She broke into a small smile. She stood up and sat next to her companion, slowly taking his hand in hers. “I’m happy you didn’t give up on me.”
“All is forgiven?” The Englishman had to ask so that his assumption was palpable.
The room's aura suddenly turned tense as they sat there holding hands. They were at a crossroad between friendship and love. One step into the latter and their lives would irrevocably transform into a much more permanent relationship. Friends can be lost after time, but a soulmate stays with his or her partner for a myriad amount of years. It was quite shocking to Henry when it was not he, but Jo who decided to jump into the tremulous rapids of—one could call— love and a relationship by committing a spur-of-the-moment ardent act.
She kissed him without a shred of qualm or regret. She simply took her partner's face into one palm (she did not want to let go his hand) and kissed him full on the lips. It was not a small light peck nor a long kiss full of raging hormones, but a kiss laden with easy to deduce amorous feelings. After a couple of seconds, she broke apart, holding on to the hand in her grasp a little harder. She chortled merrily at Henry's bewildered face until it merely twisted into an expression of part relief and part joy.
“I felt it was right thing to do…after all the drama we have succumbed to this month alone. Let’s see… we got kidnapped, I got shot and was revived in the river, we had to solve a murder…and you got held hostage…again.” She smirked lightly at the man beside her―who was slowly coming back to his acute senses.
“That,” he seemed pensive on the words he should use, “was…perfect timing.” He said with gaiety.
“Well,” her voice seemed to lower, “it seemed like you were asking for it after rather strongly articulating the word us.” She replied, face inching closer.
“I did, didn’t I?” Henry realized, too busy at watching Jo slowly tilting closer to him than to laugh or simply crack a smile. Before anything else could happen he asked, “So is this a relationship, what we are starting now? I just need to make sure th―” He was stalled by Jo purposely pecking his lips for him to shut up. Actions do speak louder than words, she thought.
“Of course, I don’t just do this with anyone.” The detective scoffed, finding Henry’s uncertainty and subtle naivety amusing for the time being.
This time he took the initiative, pushing her into a kiss he had desired on numerous occasions beforehand. He sent all the emotions he felt for this woman into one smooch and he knew she was reciprocating with as much intensity as previously. To Jo’s annoyance, Henry pulled away once more, this time they were touching forehead to forehead. “…You’re sure you want this. I am a difficult man to be with. I have been told this on many occasions. Sometimes it even dares to venture out of my own son’s mouth. Not to mention trying to maintain an irrevocable and immortal relationship could become quite maddening for both you and I.” The detective could see that Henry’s lack of confidence towards himself was becoming quite potent indeed.
“Doctor Henry Morgan.” She dictated adamantly. “I love you and no one else from the time I met you to now. I would have not kissed you if I did not know what I was getting into. I am not choosing you because we now have a curse in common. I love you because you are Henry Morgan, the man who has been by my side and aiding me throughout the days. That is the only reason.” She stuck her index finger into his chest, mentally and physically waking him up from the doubtful thoughts that adored to implant themselves into his head.
“One half of me is yours, the other half yours, mine own, I would say; but if mine, then yours, and so all yours.” Henry quoted Shakespeare as he tucked a strand of dangling hair behind one of her ears. Henry’s eyes glimmering with gratitude and tenderness and Jo’s with flattery. With any other man she would have found it tacky, but with Henry it seemed to fit. Perhaps it was the accent or his gentlemanly manners.
She muffled a giggle. “Was that your way of telling me ‘I love you’ or is that just the ancient way of saying it?” Jo teased, biting her lower lip.
“Absolutely.” He answered wittily, butterflying kisses upon her nose, cheek, forehead, lips.
“Say it again…but the normal contemporary way.” It seemed more demanding than requesting, but Henry did not mind.
He pressed the edge of his mouth to the rim of her ear, three clear words forming such an eloquently beautiful phrase that not only impacted the mind and heart, but the deepest part on one’s self; the soul. “I. Love. You.”
Jo’s eyes crinkled with overwhelming ecstasy; a feeling she had not felt since her husband died.
Henry felt his heart fill up until it felt complete and ready to overflow; a feeling he had not felt since Abigail.
Love is a precious thing full of difficulty and hardships, but at the end of it all…it is worth having since being loved and loving someone gives a sense of importance and meaning to life.
As time goes forth for the newly formed couple, difficulties will ensue, but one thing shall remain steadfast; their enduring love…and possibly murder to keep it interesting…
Who knows? It’s such a long story to tell.