"We'll see," Jo said, a small smile tugging at her lips when she and Sheldon Hawkes pushed through the doors that lead to Autopsy. She somehow felt there was a girl involved in this death, even if too little evidence had been collected and analyzed to prove it. Hawkes wasn't so sure the obviously female necklace in their victim's pocket was good enough to go with that hunch.
Their smiles immediately disappeared as their eyes fell upon the scene offered to them, though. Jo Danville's flashed to Hawkes sideways –– she could see the alarm that rushed her reflected in his demeanor. She suspected anyone seeing what they did when they entered the morgue would have had some alarm go off in their heads, though –– especially if they knew Medical Examiner Sid Hammerback.
The M.E., however, didn't move or speak or give any indication at all that he had heard. He kept leaning heavily upon his forearms, continuing to breathe deeply. Sweat was visibly beading on his forehead, and he seemed to be shaking slightly at that point. He tried to raise his head at his colleagues when the shaking increased.
Fleetingly, their gazes met and a mutual understanding passed between them. Jo hastily pried her cell phone from her pocket and dialed for medical assistance, when Sid finally lost the last of the strength which he must have exerted for however long to stay on his feet until then. Jo's eyes widened when she noticed this and saw Hawkes helplessly reach for him. She reached for him, too –– if not to break his fall, to lower him to the floor with gentleness. She threw her cell phone on the table, but she could only barely grab his arm, though, and knew it would have to be the latter then. Damn it.
Jo Danville's mind ran haywire at that very moment. She wouldn't forgive herself if he... She couldn't let her mind go there, not now. She just couldn't.
Neither Jo or Adam was hopeful any longer after a good two hours of watching surveillance tapes and nothing suspicious yet on them –– this definitely wasn't the most thrilling aspect of solving cases even if it hadn't been useless. While Jo and Adam watched those tapes together from the area at the mall where the victim had been discovered –– just to begin with –– Danny and Lindsay worked on the other evidence. Flack and Mac had chosen to stay at the scene, hoping to get to know something more by asking shop owners whether they had seen anything suspicious –– maybe the victim if not.
When they got to about forty minutes before closing time, Jo, however, caught their boss through the all-glass, tall panels of the Audiovisual lab, eyes directed down to his mobile –– he appeared to be texting someone. Jo fleetingly wondered whether it might be the woman he had been dating, Christine. She kept looking as he pushed through the doors to their working space and his eyes momentarily strayed off of the screen to look at Adam, surpassing Jo despite the fact that she sat on the lab tech's left and thus closer.
"Nope," Adam replied with a sigh. "We've been watching the tapes from two hours before closing time, but every time when we thought we might really have something..." He shook his head to indicate 'nothing of relevance eventually'. He didn't have a lot of patience for stuff like this for obvious enough reasons.
Mac Taylor slowly nodded. "Flack and I visited with the jewelry store where the necklace came from. Owner says he last saw the victim two weeks ago when he sold it to him. That's all we got from the people we've talked to –– the rest doesn't appear to remember him. We just have to hope Danny and Lindsay were somewhat successful and managed to do find something that'll help us further in finding our killer. Meanwhile, keep watching those tapes and let me know if you should find something after all."
Jo's eyes rested on him the entire time, even if he seemed to refuse to look at her. She had noticed him do so very often over the last few weeks, since she had offered both her shoulder and ear to him and he had harshly pushed his colleague away. Ever since, she had felt that was all she really meant to him. He seemed cold to her sometimes –– very unlike how they used to behave with one another. It did hurt her. It wasn't 'already forgotten'.
"Mac," Adam suddenly interrupted, seeing Mac turn on his heel to leave. He halted in his tracks and turned back. "Any news on Sid yet?"
Mac's head shook at that. "I haven't heard anything, no," he said. "I'm sure Hawkes will call, though, should he know more, at least." Grey eyes trailed to Jo when he finished talking. She was looking back at him. He couldn't really say why it made him feel so very... bad. He couldn't describe it, though. He cocked his head slightly, raised his eyebrow to the look in those hazel eyes. It hinted at something he didn't quite recognize. He seemed to find helplessness in there somewhere, and guilt. He wasn't used to seeing it, wasn't even sure if he ever had –– in particular the former.
Grey eyes shot back to Adam momentarily before he left, hoping that Danny and Lindsay would have something more. Somehow, his mind stayed with the woman when he made his way over to DNA. The look in her eyes wouldn't leave him. Suddenly, Mac realized that one of the emotions he had seen when their eyes met for that little moment, which he hadn't managed to name at once despite having seen it often with other people, was guardedness. He had never seen it in Jo Danville's eyes, though. Or maybe a couple of times since... He sighed. He hadn't really looked her in the eye for many weeks, because he hadn't wanted to trigger that anger and betrayal yet again which he had felt when Jo... when she offered to help.
He wasn't sure how he felt about it, couldn't name the emotion but feel it only. It didn't add to his anger for sure, but it did absolutely nothing at all to release the knot in his gut either.
"If I were Jo, I would be afraid to go down to Autopsy from now..." Lindsay noted, turning on the mass spec then leaning upon the table. She thoughtfully eyed her husband. "I mean, first with the nitroglycerin bullets then this..." she clarified.
"Yeah..." Danny's right hand stilled upon the tweezers. Looking away from the victim's bloodied jeans, he seemed to ponder a moment before saying more. "This time, it doesn't have anything to do with the case in any way, though, if I can believe Hawkes. I just hope Sid's going to be okay. Hawkes seemed very worried when I saw him, and Jo's surely more than a little as well."
Lindsay sighed. Of course she hoped the same. She would hate for him not to be okay.
She slowly leaned back until she could feel the hard wall press back against her and crossed both arms over each other to the chills that rushed through her. Jo Danville had failed, if only in finding the strength to stay in that same room any longer, with Mac Taylor across from her by Sid's other bedside. She should have gone home when the others did, half an hour ago. Sitting in that room with Mac over a half-asleep Sid lying in the bed between them had caused a strange, suffocating feeling –– as if a weight that was obviously too heavy for her had been set upon her and left her no longer able to breathe anymore, as it slowly crushed her. She had only barely escaped its mercilessness. The hallway only offered little relief for Jo Danville; she could feel the impossible intensity of it still.
He hadn't said anything which might have hinted at Jo's earlier knowledge of his condition, and she was glad for it. She wasn't sure why, though. She wondered whether she had made the right decision in letting Sid deal with it on his own terms often enough. Maybe she just feared the others judging her decision.
She felt so helpless, more so than when Sid admitted having been diagnosed. It wasn't so weird. After all, there hadn't yet been conclusive results on how... She gasped for air. Maybe there had and he just hadn't wanted to worry her more. She couldn't let her mind go there. Still, she felt like she had failed as a confidante. She hadn't managed to keep control of her emotions when he told her even though she had definitely tried. Should she have pushed more, pushed for him to tell her even when each question that came close to the subject of Sid's well-being had been deftly dismissed since that evening?
She could hear a chair scrape over tiles not so far away, undoubtedly indicating Mac's departure. Jo shakily raised a hand to one cheek, then her other one. Even the cold of her fingers didn't ease the burning skin. She felt like this every time when she was already crying or about to do so. She needed to leave before Mac left the hospital room and saw her even though she had told him (and Sid) she was going home, to Ellie. She had no clue how much time might have passed since.
In fact, Tyler had gone and gotten Ellie from school and would entertain his adopted sister for the rest of the day... so the twenty-two-year-old had assured when she called earlier that day. Jo Danville was very glad that Tyler was such great kid, who never made much fuss when it happened she needed to work late and couldn't be there. She was a lucky woman, she knew. She sometimes didn't know what she had ever done to deserve them, especially if she heard other mothers talking about their children...
Josephine pushed away from the wall, taking a deep breath, beginning to walk away when she heard the door to Sid's room open, soon followed by footsteps she knew very well –– Mac Taylor's without doubt. She didn't immediately quicken her steps; it would have looked more than slightly suspicious. Why hadn't she gone at once? Please, let me go home. She couldn't do this, not now. She wasn't so lucky, though.
Mac's voice sounded, crossing the distance between them. It sounded so much softer than she had heard in a little while –– at least some weeks. It didn't sound accusatory, nor surprised. His voice made her halt at once, if his words already didn't. "You knew before today, didn't you?"
Josephine felt just like not only her feet had ceased to walk but her heart and her breath had somehow stopped, too. She didn't turn to him even though she heard those footsteps come closer, didn't slightly lift her gaze when he reached her either. He knew. She needed a few seconds to be able to look at him. Would he judge her? Would he have done the same?
Grey eyes clashed with hers when she looked to him eventually. She didn't know of any good reason why she should lie to him, even if he hadn't already been aware of the truth. Thus, she nodded. "Yeah," she admitted. "I did. He asked not to say anything, though. He nearly begged me to let it be on his own terms, and I respected that."
"I know. I wouldn't have expected anything else." Mac inhaled audibly. When he eyed her at that very moment, Jo Danville suddenly seemed older than he had ever seen. She looked so very troubled. There seemed to be something more there as well, though. He couldn't say what. It must have been tough not telling anyone that someone you cared about might die or would have to fight for his life at all costs. "When did he tell you?" he wondered.
"Do you remember the Guardian Angel thing?"
He frowned then nodded. That long? Jo's silence was his confirmation. That long. "It must have been a hard few weeks," he said.
Tears had gathered at the corners of her eyes, he saw. He had seen her that way before tonight when they had cases involving children or others that somehow hit close to home. There was something more, though ––a mystery in her eyes which he wanted to see unraveled, which he maybe even needed to see so.
Jo's eyes locked with his and although she could suppress the impending tears that pricked in her eyes, she couldn't stop the whole surge of words she seemed to have been holding back for longer than she or he knew. "It does ask a lot of a person to know someone you care about is dealing with something, yet you can't help them..." At that, she sniffled. "Or you aren't allowed. You feel helpless most of all, wish that you could do more."
Her voice sounded rather breathless when she finished, and the silence between them told enough. He knew that she wasn't talking about Sid –– not only –– and she knew that he must had realized. Something flashed in his eyes, she saw, but it wasn't the anger or great betrayal that had hurt her so much when he told her not to get involved in any way with his personal life. She continued in a calmer tone. "I have given my word, though. Although I keep quiet and although I'm not confronted with it every day, my mind never does wander far."
Summary: Jo Danville kept her word to Sid. When the truth surfaces, though, emotions run high in every which way and cause an honest conversation between her... and Mac. JAC CO-WRITTEN WITH: Errol's Feather AKA GunWolf2008