Chapter TWENTY SEVEN
Back at Ford's apartment, you try to relax.. You shower and wash the days grime from your body.. You do your best to stomach a bitter leafy salad that you drench in French dressing in an effort to make it more palatable.. Ford tries to convince you to try a portion of his perfectly grilled steak that looks more than mouth watering but you resist, instead sticking to the diet you had so stupidly been undertaking..
When Jackson disappears to take a shower.. You flick through television channels unable to fixate on any one in particular.. So instead you pour a glass of Jackson's scotch, 'borrow' his laptop and find your way to the bedroom making a brain dead attempt to make sense of Charlie's words..
You sit, legs folded, in the middle of the oversized mattress, sipping your drink in one of Jackson's oversized t-shirts.. The soft grey cotton falls from one shoulder and hangs at your thigh.. You continue to look up various files on De'lucca's men as you wait for Jackson to emerge from the bathroom.. "Gave me everything.. What were you trying to tell me Charlie?.." You mutter to yourself as you bring up Mack Fletcher's Specter file.. Known associate of Angelo De'lucca's, criminal activities include, dealing, trafficking, assault and battery, homicide..
The list goes on..
Mack had been involved in Bobbi De'lucca's assassination.. And according to Ace Greyson, so had Elijah.. But why?
"Talking to yourself?" You jump in fright when Ford's grumble fills the room, for such a big guy he sure is damn stealthy!
You look up to see him at the foot of the bed, he has on a pair of grey sweatpants and no shirt.. The delicious deep V of his hip bones leading up to his carved six pack.. His wide shoulders and thick biceps glistening, still dewy from his shower.. "Oh.. Uh, bad habit I guess.."
He smiles at you appreciatively as he moves around to sit on the bed, propped up on the pillows, leaning back against the head board.. "I was thinking.. Charles said he gave you everything, right?"
You turn to him and nod, interested in hearing his perspective.. "And he also said you destroyed the evidence.. Which.. I doubt you actually did?"
You remember those words now, intrigued you close the laptop and place it on the nightstand, giving Ford your full attention.. "Of course I didn't.."
He nods, thoughtfully, his gorgeous sculpted features are accentuated in the soft glow of the bedside lamp.. "Then, that means there IS evidence, somewhere.. And for some reason Everett believes you have access to it.. So, maybe you do?.. Maybe that's what they were looking for back at your apartment.. I promise, whatever it is, we will find it, El.." He pats the space beside him on the bed, beckoning, so you crawl across the mattress to snuggle in beside him, resting your cheek on his solid chest..
His arm coils around your shoulders and you feel safe.. Warm.. The soft slow thud of his steady heartbeat soon lulling you into a dozy state.. Just before sleep takes you, you mumble a small plea to Jackson.. "Please don't leave me tonight, Soldier.."
He reaches over, flicking off the light.. Darkness falls over the room, all but the faint moonlight that filters in through the open windows.. "I'm not going anywhere, baby.."
A low grumbling sound rattles you awake a few hours later..
Beside you, Jackson tosses and trembles, you reach out to place a hand on his chest, he is burning hot and slick with sweat...
The second your fingertips make contact he jerks upright, reflexively sweeping you onto your back a vice-like grip around your throat as his weight bears down on top of you..
You realise very quickly that he isn't himself.. You choke out his name.. "Jackson.. Stop.."
Reaching one hand up to his hold on your throat, attempting to loosen his grip on your windpipe, your other hand climbs his arm to his chest, finding the pressure point and pinching his clavicle hard with your thumb and forefinger... Hard..
He starts awake and the harsh sting, his grip immediately relinquishing as he pushes up and away from you. Your hands move to rub at your tender, bruised throat.. "Uh, god.. Fuck.. Ellerie.. I'm-- I'm so sorry.."
You sit up watching as he backs away from you, his face twisted in horror.. He looks down at his hands.. You coo his name, trying to calm him.. "Jax.. Listen to me.. It's okay.. I'm okay.."
He shakes his head, when he speaks he sounds wounded.. Ashamed.. "Ellerie, I just tried to fucking kill you! Nothing about this is okay.." He backs up to the wall, almost as if he wants to be as far away from you as possible.. Like he doesn't trust himself..
You pull back the covers, crawling to the end of the bed, he slumps, sliding down the wall to the floor, burying his face in his hands.. "God.. El.. I'm a fucking monster.."
You finally understand just how tortured Ford has been.. Why he pushed you away, and kept you at a distance.. But keeping this darkness inside him, has taken its toll.. He shouldn't have to go through this alone.. And he doesn't.. "No.. Look at me, Marine.."
You drop the teasing 'Solider' nickname you usually use.. Now is not the time for taunts and games.. He needs to be reminded of his strength.. Who he really is.. A god damned Devil Dog.. You jump up from the bed and his head snaps up at your harsh militant tone.. Heat in his eyes.. You may never have been in the Marines yourself, but you have been around enough military men to know that they are creatures of habit, with their default settings turned up to eleven who are trained to respond to pressure.. No, they thrive on it.. So that's exactly what you're going to use.. "I need you to get it together, Ford.. I can't do this without you.."
He nods, tipping his head back against the wall, closing his eyes.. You sink to the floor in front of him, taking his hands.. He stiffens at your touch but he doesn't pull away.. "I'm really fine.." You couldn't take me down if you tried.."
He scoffs.. You know he can tell your lying.. Your neck still hurts from where his searing grip had been.. But you've been through worse.. Much worse.. And you're more than strong enough to stand by him though this... That is if he will let you.. "Were you back there.. Your deployment? Was it Dahlia?"
He opens his eyes and looks at you, his gaze burning into your soul.. He sighs, shaking his head.. "No, baby.. It's you.."