Where will you be in 15 years?

Welcome to the 15th Year
What happens when matters of the heart override matters of logic and reason? What happens when life interferes with the magical promise of fairy tales? And what happens when, in a heartbeat, we realize that the fairy tale has been right in front of us all along?

Fifteen years ago, Max Hart and Heather Ridland fell in love. Unable to escape the reality of her upcoming marriage, they found cold comfort in an affair that lasted fifteen years. When Max makes the decision to reignite contact and Heather makes the choice to leave her husband, they set off a series of events that force them and the people in their lives to redefine the concept of relationship.

(no subject)
It's a needed lunch. A needed get together. It's odd this connection they have - such similar lives; proof that soap operas can be real and that they never really end. They see each other on occasion, and when they do they talk like they've never been apart. Yet, the time seems to stretch into distances. It isn't just Jenny's depression, a depression JR knows she can do little to help with, and it isn't just JR's health. No, there's more behind it, lingering feelings from JR that she's had to push down and to the side. It's such familiar territory for her and while normally, she's good at it, this time it was just too much.

But she's better now, focused on work and distracted by a beautiful man in a lab coat. It's a sad truth, that she's a well educated, successful woman and to be happy at the moment she needs a beautiful man who looks even better in a lab coat. But she does. At least right now. The fairy tales be damned, she needs a distraction. Something else she and Jenny have in common. At least her friend seems to be healing. Slowly.

Leaving her car parked on the street, JR walks to the door and raps three times.

Day 1 (rp for on_jennys_terms)
Her heels clack in the hallway. She's dressed up slightly from her usual dust of Vegas - her jeans are new, her shirt form fitting and buttoned, and she's even used to the red wig that now covers the mess of what is left of her hair. She is herself again, even in image, and that includes the force of nature she carries with her when she's angry.

She heard the news from a fellow deputy director who heard the news from an NCIS IA agent. The laughing of her male colleagues who were saying it was proof women couldn't handle it only pushed her to walk faster. Glass ceilings were hell to break and just one bit of bullshit like this set all of them back twenty years. Her sympathies for Jenny aside, this was beyond comprehension and it didn't all stem from some fallen apart love affair. If it did, Jen was not nearly as strong as she claimed to be and that pissed her off more than anything else.

Credentials got her onto the ward past visiting hours. Dumbass orderlies let her through and she knew they'd be left alone. The room was unguarded, a factor of trying to protect anonymity, and Jenny just stepped through without knocking. There was no worried "are you okay" followed by hugging and the two of them being so glad to finally meet face to face. Instead, she looks at the broken figure on the bed, crosses her arms, and glares. "So you lived through it?"

Not being true to yourself ...
Over breakfast today, JJ finally smacked me upside the back of the head. Literally and figuratively. Heather is back in Albuquerque today, dropping Andrew off with his dad so he can finish the school year. I know Charles isn't going to touch her, but I'm worried. But when I brought it up, JJ finally looked at me and said something I've thought for a long time but it was important to hear it from someone else.

- You and Heather haven't been true to yourselves for fifteen years. She was an idiot and married him. You were an idiot for not walking the fuck away. Because of that, the people around you weren't all that true to themselves either. I get that you love each other and that it's not black and white, but it's not just about accepting responsibility, it's about actually being true to yourself.

She's right. If we'd been true to ourselves, Jen wouldn't have been hurt. Cowardice doesn't discriminate though.

Okay, so I'm probably paraphrasing but she got the whole thing right. We haven't been true to ourselves for fifteen years. She never expected to be the woman having an affair. I never expected to be the guy running around with a married woman. But we did it and we were never ashamed of what we did. Once, Heather commented that it was like she was having an affair with Charles and cheating on me ... but that alone demands another definition of us. I also know she cares very deeply for Charles. I may not like the guy, but I get why she does.

The point in the end is that we all deserved better than what we gave each other.

Playlist, Part 1
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my life may be nothing special ... but it's never been lived before ...
I've got Ani on repeat today, dancing slowly around the house, feeling my feet on each warped floorboard. My toes are finding groves and my fingers grazing the doorways. The dog has followed me, silently watching, hoping as she does that I am not completely crazy.

Alex has amused himself with Legos and Andrew ... sweet Andrew ... I promised him I'd take him back to Albuquerque this weekend and he's going to stay with his dad until the end of the school year. Then we have some decisions to make. I don't know what to do. I don't want my son away from me but I can't break him more than he already is right now. He doesn't understand why his father hit me. He doesn't understand why we ended up here. He wants to be big and brave, but he's scared to death. What do I tell him? I've been honest, it's all I can be, but it doesn't make his heart hurt any less. Nor does it make mine. In fifteen years, I learned to put up with a lot from Charles but I never expected this. Mom always warned me about the quiet ones.

He wants to work things out ... he just doesn't understand that it was never there in the first place. And that's my fault. I loved him, don't get me wrong ... but I never ... it was never what it should have been. And now a good man and a sweet child are hurting.

Worse, my sister hates me (though that is a whole other issue and stems from her humiliation more than my affair with Jed.) And yet through all of it, I know I made the right decision by leaving Charles. I know that in the end, I've corrected a fifteen year mistake and the consequences I'm facing are what comes when I live like I did for so long. I want it to be smoothed over, but like the floorboards under my feet, there are grooves and warped boards and splinters that aren't so easily plucked and thrown away.

I'm still shaking ...
And shaking hurts.

Jed got home today. I don't know how he managed it but he did. I'm sure there will be hell to pay with Jenny, but I don't care. He's home and he's calming the boys down - Andrew is so angry right now, so confused. He doesn't get it. All he knows is that his father went crazy ... Alex is walking around holding his stuffed dog like it's the end of the world. They're scared of everything right now. Jed is being wonderful ... his partner watched the boys today while he took me to the hospital and convinced them to not open a case. I've got a fractured wrist, two cracked ribs and a broken one. We won't talk about the condition of my face. It probably would have been better if I'd gone to the hospital last night, but I didn't dare go anywhere last night. I don't know Jed's neighbors really ... I didn't want to leave the boys alone. So I battled the pain. Jed's ready to kill Charles but ... I just ... I want it done with. It wasn't how I wanted it to go down, obviously, but it's done. Now the hard part begins, honestly. Now I have to take the next step in my life. It was easier to get beaten up by my husband.

I've been thinking ... I saw this on twitter last night ..."Commitment is an act, not a word." ... and it speaks to me ... it's true. I only gave words to Charles. My commitment to Jed was all in action.

Sometimes our job sucks ...
I've been working with Max for 15 years. Not the whole time of course, but for the most part we've been kicking each other's asses for over a decade. He's my best friend, he stood up for me at my wedding, and I've kept a secret for him this entire time. I knew the moment he met her and I knew when she broke his heart and I knew when they found each other's peace again. I helped cover for her with Ridland and I have sat on a step with him late at night while he stared into nothingness, worrying to god about things he can't change. Max Hart doesn't do helpless well. He's a Marine and a Marshal. There's always an answer. Always a fix. Except right now. Right now he can't change the way things are because we took an oath to do what we do first and all things come second. All things. He can't get on a plane to go save the day right now, even though I want to help him. But we have stuff to do that can't be covered or hidden tomorrow. So he has to sit, helpless, on the phone with her while they talk each other down. Max is a rather drama free guy and something like this is gonna test all his resolve. He's a big boy. He never needed me to lecture him but he has needed a friend; I hope tonight he can take my friendship and let it support him. I sure as hell wouldn't want to be in his place right now.

My venting has nothing to do with my chemo treatment today ...
I should put a couch in my office, I'll get more sleep that way.

Thank god for car services and discreet protection details. Saw Max staring at me today through the glass of my office and wanted to ship him back to Flagstaff but I'll be damned if he's within driving distance of her right now.

Words she threw at me the other night are cycling around my brain. She isn't wrong, but she isn't right either and her own justifications for her less than respectable behavior are complete bullshit. I heard her. Oh yes. Every simpering, sniffling word as she justified a fifteen year affair and then actually had the gall to say to me "if you'd just listened when I told you I didn't want to marry him ..." What, so it's my fault you walked down the aisle, wasted tens of thousands of our parent's money, entered this torrid life you've been living, and in doing so made my own career that much harder? Yeah, this comes out and you bet your ass the DNC will stop calling and asking me to run. And it's going to come out because in political life everything comes out. The Ridland family had plans and she screwed up the part she is supposed to play and I'm supposed to feel sorry for her? She knew exactly what she was getting in to and now I'm supposed to sit back and watch them what, finally decide that after all these years they want to "be happy"?

Happy endings only happen in the movies, sister dear. Deal with it.

I don't get it ...
She's made of steel. I know she had a chemo treatment this afternoon and now she's back in her office, at her desk, looking for all the world like death warmed over, but I know she's working. I wish we could talk about it but if I even go in there she'll kill me.

What a mess. I wonder if they're even going to do surgery or just try to kill things with chemo and radiation. Might help, again, if she'd talk to me. Yeah, that ship sailed a while ago.

Maybe I'll send JJ in to check on things. We tracked down the guy she wanted us to find and picked him up earlier. She can give an update. I'll stay over here, out of the line of the daggers she shoots in my direction every time we look at each other.

If she hates me that much, she can send me back to my desk in Flagstaff. I have stuff to do.


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