No Rest, No Recovery
Nona winced at Kurt’s tone. She really didn’t think Jordan looked that much worse but she couldn’t deny the pale tone of her skin, the deepening circles under her eyes, and how she just seemed frail overall. She had closed her eyes, needing rest despite all the activity around her. Kurt placed the back of his hand to her forehead and pulled it back shocked. Though Jordan was usually quite warm, the beads of sweat dotting her brow were a clear indication this was not normal.
“She’s burning up! Nona what happened?” He demanded. Nona decided she needed to be brutally honest with Kurt since Jordan was in no condition to defend herself.
“We went to talk to Goliath,” she began and Kurt’s face immediately went white. “We needed answers. Things got a little out of hand and Jordan …used her powers.” She tried to whisper that last part because she knew it would no doubt trigger Kurt’s rage. Instead of rebuking her, he turned to Jordan on the couch, gently stroking her face. She opened her eyes and smiled up at him.
“Babe, why?” He asked. “We don’t know what’s going on with your powers; it could have killed you.” Nona moved closer to them.
“To protect me,” she admitted. “It’s been a while since we had to do the whole ‘good cop bad cop’ thing. He got the drop on me and Jordan stepped in to save me.” Kurt gave a little laugh and turned back to Jordan.
“Always the hero, huh?” He shook his head then bent down to lightly brush his lips across her warm forehead.
“Sometimes” she murmured hoarsely.
“Did you at least get what you need?” He inquired.
“Yes,” Nona began warily, then shot a glance towards Taylor. Despite what she had seen at CLU’s warehouse, she didn’t need to hear this; she was still just a kid. “Taylor why don’t you go up and run Jordan a nice, cool bath? It’ll help with her fever.” She suggested. Taylor wasn’t buying it.
“You’re trying to get rid of me!” She accused.
“Yes. Now go.” When Taylor hesitated and looked to Kurt for support, he simply nodded.
“Go ahead kiddo. It’ll help me out quite a bit when I get her up there.”
Taylor turned with an exasperated sigh, stomping up the stairs with such intensity that it made Jordan flinch with every step. When she finally reached the bedroom there was the unmistakable sound of a door slamming and finally running water. Nona had suggested the bath because with Taylor’s enhanced hearing she might have still heard the conversation. The running water would hopefully provide enough cover. They would need to be quick. Nona made her way back to the group.
“Goliath didn’t know everything but he gave us some idea on motive.” She paused when Kurt slid over on the couch so Jordan had room to sit up, then she continued. “It looks like this whole thing was about profit. CLU was, or I guess is, a scientist using nanites in his research. He doesn’t have any powers, he played us.”
Jordan nodded absentmindedly. She had known all this previously but it was becoming quite a chore keeping up with who remembered what and from when. With that in mind she just sat still and listened to Nona recap what Goliath had revealed.
“What was he going to gain by turning you guys against one another?” Kurt asked as he lightly rubbed Jordan’s sore shoulders and neck, thinking the cool bath might actually do her some good.
“A highlight reel.” Everyone stared at her confused, so she clarified. “He was going to use the incident between us to show how powerful the nanites could be. If he could overpower someone like us, private security, governments would be tripping over themselves to buy it. He already had some preliminary offers.”
“Our fight was never supposed to be deadly…” Jordan began quietly, pausing as a wave of nausea washed over her. Nona piped in.
“He didn’t know how to control me, not fully. He couldn’t regulate my strength remotely and that’s how Jordan ended up hurt. After that, he released me, knowing I wouldn’t remember and that just made things worse. He didn’t want to risk anymore of his… assets getting hurt.”
“What about Goliath? He was trying to give Jordan nanites.” Quickstrike was trying to tie together the loose ends.
“And he poisoned Nona with them.” Jordan spoke up again, her voice sounding ever weaker. “No doubt in an effort to make us mindless pawns.”
“CLU mixed up a new batch, figured if the nanites could stand up to her powers, if he could control Jordan than he could salvage his reputation with the buyers. Goliath wanted to teach her a lesson, so he agreed even though it would put him at odds with Legend if he ever found out.”
“Why would he want to hurt Jordan? They barely know each other.” Kurt didn’t understand what one thing had to do with the other. He had pulled Jordan into him and she murmured something against his chest. He leaned back to hear her better. “What was that love?”
She licked her dry lips and repeated. “Rico.”
“Goliath thought Jay was playing Rico, that she got him to join the team because he liked her but she was still secretly in love with you.”
Kurt was flabbergasted! Someone had tried to kill Jordan because she refused to move on with a guy she didn’t want. He desired nothing more right then as to punch Goliath in the face but that plan had already failed him once today. He thought about punching Rico too but noticed he had made himself scarce ever since the attack that morning. He pulled Jordan closer to him, instinctively protecting her from the dangers being spoken of. She nestled into his side, indicating her overwhelming desire to be comforted and to rest.
“Where does that leave us now?”
“Well, Quickstrike and the others found CLU’s lab and destroyed everything but he wasn’t there. He also had a ton of those nanites and it’s probably safe to say he’s got more stashed elsewhere. Once he doesn’t hear from Goliath he’s gonna know we’re onto him. I just don’t want to wait for him to get desperate. At this point, all he has is our identities to hurt us. And there’s no way of telling if any of us have been exposed to Nanites.”
Kurt nodded distractedly. He wasn’t a leader, had no idea how to proceed. The only person with the answer was currently curled into his side, moments away from collapsing completely. He pushed her away from him, urging her to sit up straight.
“Jordan? We need a plan, I need you to stay awake just a little longer, love.”
“A plan? We need a plan.” She repeated quietly. She opened her eyes and tried to steady herself, focusing on the task at hand. “CLU knows who we are, tell the police…” Dragging her hands through her hair, she murmured to herself, then sat up straighter. “The police!”
Everyone stared at her bewildered. She was babbling on to herself about the police and secret identities making the others think that their leader had clearly reached her breaking point.
“There’s a detective…” she continued muttering. “Detective…Vasquez! She helped us. Kurt don’t you remember?” He opened his mouth to answer but she rambled on. “No, you don’t remember, only I do! I went back but everything’s still messed up!” She gripped her head in frustration, the toll of trying to keep everything straight from the last few days weighing heavily on her.
Kurt and Nona exchanged worried glances as they observed her erratic behavior. This was all becoming too much, they could almost see the cracks in her psyche. She couldn’t handle this anymore, someone else needed to lead. Nona slid off her chair and knelt in front of Jordan, placing her hands over her sister’s and pulling them down so she could see her face.
“Jay, it’s okay. Just take a deep breath.” She waited for her sister to inhale shakily. “Now, what do you want me to do about the detective?” Her sister’s eyes were wild as she finally made eye contact, then they seemed to clear, revealing the confident leader inside if only for a few moments.
“You need to go talk to her.” Her voice was hoarse and quiet yet clear. “Tell her that CLU is planning something terrible, ask her to help us find him…protect the city.” She swallowed hard, her swollen throat feeling even worse from over use.
“Okay. I can do that. Are you sure she’ll help us? Can we trust her?” Jordan nodded slowly, the movement seemingly taxing.
“She did before… we have to start somewhere…we can trust her…” Nona didn’t doubt her sister’s judgment, she just wasn’t sure she was the right man for the job. Diplomacy was not an area where she excelled.
“Will she remember that?” Quickstrike piped in. She hadn’t said anything for a while. She stood off to a corner unsure of what to do with herself while her normally strong leader was in the midst of a breakdown. She wanted to be there for Jordan but emotions were not her strong suit. “Will this detective remember us? What if she doesn’t?”
“I…don’t know… time travel sucks! Nobody remembers! But me… I remember… I …” Jordan snatched her hands away from Nona and pressed them tightly to her head. “My head…hurts…I can’t…” Her eyes were squeezed shut as a few silent tears slipped down. She kept her hands pressed to her head as though she thought it might explode if she let go. Kurt tried to pull her hands away but she refused.
“No… hurts too much…”
Over the past few days Jordan had experienced a number of aches and pains but this was the first time she had complained about her head aching. Nona felt helpless watching her sister deteriorate before her very eyes. The only way Jordan would get better was if they put this whole mess to bed. As long as CLU was out there and the city was in jeopardy, Jordan wouldn’t be able to rest; her sense of leadership wouldn’t let her. And without rest, no recovery. Nona was beginning to seriously fear for her sister’s life.
“I’m sorry, I didn’t mean to upset her!” Quickstrike exclaimed. Nona had never seen her look so afraid. It was a shame that so many powerful people could feel so powerless.
“It’s okay, she’s gonna be okay.” Nona assured her. It felt like that was all she said these days but would it really be okay? She turned back to Jordan who had begun rocking in an attempt to ease the pain in her head. Nona grabbed her shoulders, stilling her. “Hey, I’ll go check it out. But you gotta do something for me?”
“Can’t…can’t help… can’t feel my powers…something’s wrong…useless, no powers…”
That broke Nona’s heart. Of all of them, Jordan identified the most with her powers, had known about them the longest. They were such a large part of her. Nona couldn’t imagine how she felt right now, weak and unable to use them. She clasped her hands over her sister’s, forcing Jordan to look at her.
“You are not useless! You saved me from Goliath, from CLU, from DYING! Things are just… hard right now. I’m gonna make it better but you need to do your part.” Jordan stared at her and her eyes cleared again. “I need you to take care of yourself. Let me do the leader thing and you just concentrate on getting better, okay?” There was that word again.
“Okay.” Her sister repeated mechanically, her voice devoid of emotion. She had shut down. Nona looked at Kurt pleadingly. He seemed as lost as she was. He could heal Jordan physically but neither one knew how to fix her shattered confidence.
“Let’s go get you washed up, love. It’ll make you feel better.” Kurt got to his feet but Jordan didn’t move, didn’t acknowledge his words. He shrugged helplessly and Nona jumped in.
“Why don’t you go check on Taylor? She’s been up there awhile. I’ll sit with her until you come back.” Kurt nodded and turned to Jordan.
“Be right back.” He pressed a kiss to the top of her head but received no response. He sighed as he headed up the stairs.
“Quickstrike, take Rico and continue the search. Also, see if we can find any information on detecting nanites, I don’t want to go into this fight not knowing whom we can trust. I’m sending Taylor back to school. Right now there’s not much else she can do around here except drive herself and everyone else crazy.”
Emiko seemed delighted to have something to do other than worry herself sick about Jordan. She was gone in a flash. Nona plopped down on the couch next to her sister. She pulled Jordan into an embrace, resting her chin on the top of her sister’s head.
“I’m gonna fix it.” She promised again.
“Now you listen to me,” She glanced down to see her sister’s eyes had closed and she was visibly more relaxed, allowing Nona to cradle her gently. “You’re gonna be fine, we just need more time. I won’t stand for you berating yourself. You are my sister and I know I don’t say this enough, but I love you. You are the strongest person I know and if anyone can bounce back from this you can. You will NOT die; you are not ALLOWED to die. Not while I’m gone, not EVER. Understood?”
She searched Jordan’s face for a reaction, some form of comprehension but received none. Kurt padded back downstairs with Taylor in tow. She still looked concerned, even more so as she got closer to Jordan.
“She’s just sleeping.” Nona informed them.
“Not…asleep.” Jordan mumbled, startling the three of them. “Resting… my eyes.” Nona laughed and pulled her a little closer, relieved she was regaining some of her sense of humor. She placed a light kiss to her sister’s temple.
“You, go talk to police…” Jordan mumbled some more while still resting her eyes. “Stop kissing me…”
“Yea, ma’am! And what are you gonna do?” Nona asked, trying to keep the conversation going as Jordan was sounding much more like her old self.
“Get better… you fix it, I’ll get better… not allowed to die…” So she had heard her! That was good. It was also good that she believed her sister could do it. And that she knew death was not an option!
Nona waited for more banter but it seemed that was all the energy her sister had. She faded out again, somewhere between sleep and unconsciousness. Kurt moved forward to take her and Nona found she was reluctant to let go but she had her orders. As Kurt once again tucked Jordan to his chest, Nona leaned forward, kissing her sister’s cheek one last time.
“I’ll kiss you all I want.” She whispered to her.