Chapter THIRTY FIVE
. . o n e m o n t h l a t e r . .
You are curled up at the foot of Jackson's hospital bed, you have barely left his side since he was transferred to Specters secure medical facilities two weeks ago..
After the events back at the factory in DC, you had spent a week being kept away from him by West and Paxton, it wasn't safe for you.. Instead had to go into hiding..
Your escape from FBI custody had made you a wanted person of interest, so laying low at one of Specter's safehouses was your only option..
During that time in isolation, with only the hellish events of the nightmare to replay, you had finally pieced together the final piece of the puzzle.. A little too late, but still..
Elijah's ledger.. Charlie had said Mikki had given you the flash drive..
When you took the time to sit down and go over everything and really thought about it, your realised Mikki had given you something.. There tucked inside the broken Tiffany frame, with the photo of you and her that you had left sitting on the desk in your office, Iris had found the drive..
After that, Iris, West and Paxton used every favour and every connection they had to get the Intel into the right hands at the FBI.. Pretty soon you were flying back to DC to meet with the higher ups and the FBIs director, Jake Harrison, in regards to the disappearance of Elijah Pierce..
With your evidence, a nationwide manhunt order was issued in his name and you were finally free to return to Jackson..
But what you found when you got back to the city was nothing like you thought.. Even though you knew it was bad..
Nothing could prepare you for the sight of him..
A man who seemed unstoppable, infallible, a true Marine in every sense of the word.. Now, he lies motionless, hooked up to several bleeping machines, wires and tubes everywhere.. Unmoving.. Frozen..
You don't know if he knows you're with him.. But it doesn't matter, you wont leave.
You blame yourself.
Your stupid, selfish self..
Lifting your head you cast an assessing glance over him once more, before laying back down and closing your eyes..
You'll wait.. He's going to wake up..
He has to.
"Ellerie?.." A hushed whisper sounds at the bedside..
"Hmph?.." You mumble tiredly, not opening your eyes.. You can't bear to look at Hunter.. You had been so unfair to him, and these past weeks, he's been nothing but kind in return.. You feel guilty for having led him on, playing with his heart when you were so hung up on Ford..
Even though you hadn't meant to, you did have some feelings for Paxton..
Just, they're not the ones you think he was hoping for..
You feel him lay a warm hand on your shoulder.. You open your eyes, shifting to look up at him.. "Hey sweetheart.. I brought you something.." He coos softy as you blink, sitting up and moving gently, careful not to disturb Jackson when you move, slipping your bare feet to the cool white linoleum floor..
Hunter moves to the small table and chair by the window and unpacks two boxes of delicious smelling Chinese takeout.. You cross to him cautiously, taking the seat opposite him.. "If you're here to tell me to go home again, I'm not--"
He shakes his head.. "No.. I'm not.. I just.. I wanted to make sure you ate something today.." He smiles..
You relax a little.. You haven't eaten and it was considerate of him, so you smile.. Well you try.. Fearing it comes across a little weak.. "Thanks, that's nice of you Axe.."
He nods and pushes one of the containers toward you before he holds up a plastic fork in one hand and a pair of chopsticks in the other.. "Ladies choice.."
You reach over, plucking the fork from his fingers.. He watches, a little disappointment flickers across his features at the moment you make your selection, but he covers it well.. "I also wanted to tell you that the Feds picked up Peirce about two hours ago, he was trying to get out of DC.. The minute he poked his head out of hiding, they nabbed him.."
You stop digging around the contents of the container with your fork.. That is good news, though it does little to comfort or elate you..
You look acorss at Hunter, stabbing at his food with the sticks.. "That's excellent.. I'm glad.." You reach over and pluck the sticks from his hand, replacing them with the fork..
He smiles gratefully.. "You don't sound glad.."
You look over to Jackson.. "I am.. Really... It's just.." Tears prickle the corners of your eyes.. "I don't know how I got here.. I didn't see it happening.. If I had never gotten involved with Elijah, then maybe--"
Hunter stands, he moves to your side, scooping you up into his arms.. "This isn't your fault Ellerie.."
You begin to cry.. You can't contain it any longer... He holds you against him in his strong arms.. "Shh.. Sweetheart.."
You wipe your tears on the soft cotton of his shirt.. "I didn't deserve him, Axe, I don't.. I never did.."
He pulls back, taking you by your shoulders and looking at you in the eye.. "That's crazy.. You're the reason he's even alive right now.. If you hadn't done what you did, he wouldn't be here, fighting.. You've got it all wrong Ellerie.. It's all of us that never deserved you.. Alpha Team.. Delta Force.. Fucking Iris even.. None of us appreciated you the way we should have.. If I hadn't disrespected your call that night at the De'lucca Estate, maybe you'd still have Charles.. Maybe, Ford wouldn't be here.." His face is pained as he tries to take the responsibility of what happened from your shoulders..
It's sweet of him, but wrong.. Even though you had been upset with him before, now it just doesn't seem right for Hunter to take any of the blame here, especially when he had been the one to recover Mikki De'lucca from Elijah's crooked FBI buddies..
"I never thanked you for saving Mikki.."
He pulls you back in and squeezes you tightly again.. "I was just doing like you said.. If anything I should be thanking you.. You helped my stubborn ass learn that maybe I need to listen a little better sometimes.. Especially to those who are much smarter than me.."
You tip your head back to look up at him again through swollen puffy eyes.. "I'm so sorry, Hunter... I never meant--"
He gives you a half smile, as he strokes the side of your face, wiping tears from cheek.. "I know.. We're good, sweetheart.."
There's a light tap on the door and you both turn, Yevie and Patrick stand there looking solemn.. In Yevie's hands a beautiful bouquet of yellow roses and in Patrick's arms, a gorgeous, shy faced, blonde haired boy, baby Felix.