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04/29/15 12:25 AM
Rewind Time: Chapter 22: ISA Offices: Going Home. The Lies Behind the Truth: September 20th, 2011
Shane started to give Jack a quick overview of the fallout of his undercover operation. Jack didn’t want to know, or maybe it was that he really didn’t care to hear about the gruesome details of the failed mission he was once a part of. But respectfully so, he let Shane tell the story about how the ISA had lost several agents on the roadside ambush that day, and while some were captured, many others had been killed, and a few narrowly escaped. Shane apologized profusely for the mission having gone wrong. Guilt ridden for having offered Jack the job as reporter in the first place, he knew there was nothing he could say or do that would make what Jack went through any easier.
Nervously pacing in the small confines the foreign ISA office, Shane was hesitant to divulge the hard truths, knowing Jack’s sensitive state of mind. He knew the things he needed to tell Jack might be difficult for him to hear. In a lame effort to ease his guilty conscience, he wasted time with idle chit chat. Deep down, Shane knew that no amount of time would rectify the pain of what he had to say. Shane refused to keep Jack in the dark about what happened after he left on assignment, and was poised to reveal some hurtful truths... soon....really soon.... as soon as he could work up the nerve to do it.
The ISA offices in Germany were old, Jack noted. He looked around room, there was nothing special about, except that it didn’t have any windows in it. Complete privacy Jack surmised, fully distracted by the strange smell it possessed. Jack sat sloppily in a chair, almost forgetting what it was like to act normal. Dressed in a suit and tie, he thought he would feel more like himself, but he didn’t. Jack felt very uncomfortable in his own skin.
Fixated on an unusual statue situated on the bookshelf directly behind the desk, Jack was only half listening, as Shane talked endlessly about the special Search and Rescue Team, with no mention of Steve’s name in the conversation. Jack was highly surprised and somewhat unnerved. Jack was sure that Steve’s affiliation with then the ISA put him in the know about everything, even if he didn’t work in the same department as Shane. Jack refused to believe that his brother would stay way or remain uninvolved if he knew Jack was in trouble. Jack’s mind roamed with many possible scenarios, some good and some bad. Skeptically, Jack started to wonder if Steve had been out searching for him... and that maybe something bad had happened. In Jack's mind, the whole conversation was odd. Shane talked a lot about nothing. Jack suspected Shane was probably not at liberty to say very much and Jack was not ready to ask.
He quickly dismissed the awful thoughts that crossed him mind. Jack was desperate to know the truth. He was certain that he would have known if something terrible had happened to his brother......he assured himself that he would know....after all, they were as close as any brothers could be....Steve had given Jack one of his kidneys.Jack vowed no more thoughts about Steve....he was just not ready to go there.
As Shane strangely continued on his long winded review of the events after the missions’ ambush and the long road leading up to his rescue, Jack became restless. He suddenly felt the urge to get up and leave, but had nowhere to go. Panic started to set in.
It was obvious that Shane was going on about things in an attempt to avoid what Jack wanted to hear about most.
Not wanting to be rude, Jack let him go on a while longer, while his mind started to veer off track. He was sickly focus on the fact that a whole year had passed in the lives of Jennifer, Abigail and Jack Jr., since he was gone and he couldn’t even begin to imagine what they had been through.
When Shane started to repeat parts of the story, Jack put his hands over his ears to indicate he had had enough.
“Shane, stop! I can’t take it anymore!”
Jack’s loud voice caught him off guard. The sight of him sitting there in rocking back and forth in his chair, made Shane’s mouth hang open, and his voice came to a stop, as did his pacing.
“I’m sorry Jack,” Shane said weakly, as he ran his hands through his hair, trying to tame the wave of guilt that rode through his body.
Unable to skirt the topic he knew that Jack was most desperate to hear about, he forced himself to bring it up. Seeing Jack in this strange state was unsettling and Shane felt a sudden sense of obligation to give Jack whatever it is he needed and whatever it is he wanted.
“Jack, do you want to call home?”
Those words sent Jack deeper in thought. His mind began to waiver with thoughts of the unknown.
“Home?” Jack said questioningly, the word almost seemed foreign to him.
“Yes, home....that’s what I said.” Shane replied looking for more of a response from Jack.
With his eyes still closed, he shook his head and simply said, “no.”
Jacked wasn’t quite ready to do that. Truth be told, Jack was petrified to call home.
‘Home,’ that was a strange thought in its self. Jack really didn’t even know where home was. He had been gone an awfully long time. Jack thought of Jennifer and wondered if she was still in London, but sitting here with Shane, something in his gut told him that she wasn’t.
The silence in the room was eerie; it reminded Jack of being in the cave.
Shane managed to drag his feet back towards his desk and sat stiffly across from Jack again. It pained him to see a man he once knew, cocky and confident, now unsure of himself and exhibiting signs of a mental breakdown. Jack’s eyes were cold. He seemed to physically be there, but mentally void.
Shane felt responsible for Jack’s condition and he thought that perhaps he should arrange for a doctor to come and check Jack out. Shane didn’t want to pressure Jack, so he sat and waited patiently for him to talk. After several minuties, he could see the glaze over Jack’s eyes wear away.Jack’s mind finally started to work again. He wasn't sure what he really wanted, but he did need answers to some pertinent questions that had crossed his mind.
“Tell me about my family,” Jack blurted out.
Shane swallowed hard, he knew his time was up, and the truth needed to be told.
“Jack, I’m not sure what exactly you want me to say.”
“Do they know?” Jack asked.
“No what, exactly?”
“Don’t play games with me!”
It was the first time Jack had raised his voice in over a year. His patience had come to an end.
Jack thought it was odd that he’d been finally rescued, and no one from his family was here to greet him.
“Did they come looking for me?”
Shane’s blood presses was on the rise, he could feel the redness on his face. His stomach knotted at having to tell the truth, which was partly a lie. He was fearful at what Jack's reaction would be and he braced himself, placing his hands on the edge of the desk.
Leaning forward he spoke in almost a whisper, “Jack, they didn’t even know you were missing.”
Those words put a knife straight through his heart. He couldn’t believe what he just heard. His ming was a sea of emotions and thoughts. How long had it been? A year was an awfully long time to be way from home. How could they not worry about him? Jack wanted to run and hide from the hurt that cursed through his body, but where could he go? He was trapped in a whole new reality that had nothing to do with living in a cave.
“What do you mean?” Jack choked out, his voice sounding a little raspy.
Shane said nothing. He felt like a coward, unable to tell him the truth.
Breathing hard, Jack could feel his heart pounding in his chest, he had to know more.
They didn’t know I was missing? I’ve been gone for almost a year!”
Jack’s voiced cracked over each word as he spoke. His heart began to fall, as his brain slowly repeated each of those words in his head.
“Jack, everyone believed your cockamamie Australian Outback walk-a-bout story.”
Jack was completely deflated, his hopes snuffed out in an instant. Shrugging his shoulders, he loosened his tie and got up to pace the room.
“I know that it’s not what you wanted to hear, but it’s the truth. Nobody bothered to look for you. Somehow, someway, they believed that you left them.”
Shane cleared his throat. He felt uneasiness in his stomach, and his nerves begin to rise again.....
“Jack….they believed your story and I was not allowed to tell them the truth.”
Shane wanted to tell him about the Imposter, but knew that wasn’t an option at this point.
Tears came to his eyes. Jack could not believe what he was hearing. A sweat broke out on his brow and moisture grew under his nose. Trying to keep his emotions in check, Jack shoved all those thoughts aside and focused on what lay ahead.
Shane continued with the truth of the things he knew. He didn’t dare divulge any information about the death threats that ‘Imposter Jack’ had made over him and his family. Jack was not to find out about the seriousness of the situation and Shane hoped that Jack would not ask any more questions. He silently prayed that Steve would nab the ‘Imposter’ soon, so they could all just put this nightmare behind them.
Jack had been through enough and anymore lies would just be criminal. Shane also knew that the truth could deadly. Thinking about having to hold Jack in a safe house, would be cruel for a man that had just been released from captivity after living in a hole in the ground, for over a year. It was something he promised Steve, he would not do, so he struck those thought from his mind and continued, swiftly changing the direction of the conversation.
“Alice passed away five or six days after you left to join the ISA team in Afghanistan.”
Jack got on his feet and started to pace. He fidgeting with his loosened tie and momentarily stopped to briefly look at Shane, who refused to meet his eyes. Jack could see that Shane was visibly upset, making their conversation a bit awkward.
Jack’s imprisonment and absence from his family’s lives was now settling in and he was now forced to deal with the real hard truths of his actions, whether he was prepared to or not.
Alice had died and he was gone. Worry crossed his mind about what Jennifer had gone through without him. He had left her.... he had left them... and that reality of his selfish ignorance, began to surface in his conscience for the very first time since he left London.
‘Alice’ he softy said her name, closing his eyes, thinking about Jennifer being alone and him not being there for her, as he promised he would. Those thoughts crushed his already aching heart.
Shane didn’t have much more to tell Jack. Seeing how upset he was, it was a good thing that he didn’t bring up ‘Imposter Jack’, so he settled for some other disheartening words, hoping to end their conversation.
“Perhaps they chose to believe that you were suffering what is commonly known, as a midlife crisis. Your family thought that you abandoned them and now you will have the opportunity to tell them the truth.”
Jack sat in disbelief. Shane’s words were too hard to comprehend. Closing his eyes, he felt uncontrollable tears come to the surface and he almost wished he was back in the cave.
Shane had wanted to be honest with Jack. He was tired of the lies that surrounded Jack’s disappearance and deep inside he felt sympathetic, but his hands were tied. Shane sincerely hoped that someday soon Jennifer would be able to tell him the truth. For now, things were to remain status quo.
Jack’s heart was pained so deeply by the thought that everyone he loved had given up on him, he crumbled, mentally and physically. His legs suddenly gave way and he fell to the floor.
Shane watched helpless, as Jack swayed back and forth, until he heard a loud thump on the floor.
“Jack! Jack! Are you okay?”
Shane grew a little nervous, seeing how affected Jack was at hearing the unforgiving truth.
The look on Jack’s face was frightening. And there it was again, a blank stare on his face. Jack was rocking himself back and forth, and there was nothing Shane could do for him, but wait for it to pass.
Shane watched as Jack eventually motioned that he was okay.
“I just need some time, please just leave me alone.”
Slightly embarrassed for Jack, but more ashamed of himself, Shane got up to leave.
“I’ll be back in a few minutes. I am just going to step out and get us a couple of coffees.”
Jack nodded his reply.
“Take some time and think about where you’d like to go Jack, it’s time to go home.”
Jack stayed sitting on the floor, as if the air had been knocked out of his lungs.
‘Why on earth did she ever think or believe that I could or would ever leave them?’ he asked himself.
Jack knew his past track record wasn’t very good, as had done left her many times before. He had gone back on his word. He had sworn that he would never leave her to them again. But he did. In Jack’s mind, she shouldn’t have believed him, she should have believed in him. It pained him to think that Jennifer had lost faith in him. He had let her down again. That was something he couldn’t deny. Running off to the Australian Outback was a lie, but she should have known him better than that. Jack hated the outdoors and she knew that. Jack couldn’t bother to try and figure her reasons for any of this, so he figured it best to leave these upsetting thoughts alone until he could see her in person, face to face, and together they could talk about it.
Adjusting himself comfortably on the floor, with his back now leaning against the desk, Jack started to feel better. He began to reminisce about London. London had been good for them. They were in a safe and happy place in their life, in their marriage and their relationship. Jack was content as the editor of the Telegraph and she was enjoying in her job as city editor and assistant society editor. The children kept them busy and together they had befriended a few couples. Jack thought she was happy just to be with him, but deep down he knew, that she missed home; she missed her friends and her family.
Considering everything they had been through in recent years; Jack’s kidnapping, the Island of New Salem, JJ’s birth, his entrapment in the castle, his escape, Frankie, his accident, his illness Steve’s return, and finally their reunion. Everything seemed right for them. They were on a fresh start, spending time together to heal as a family, after spending so many months apart. London seemed perfect. In Jack’s opinion, their agreement to both take jobs at the London Telegraph was the best decision they had made in a long time. Shane was glad to be out the room, the air in there was getting tense. He felt bad leaving Jack in a chaotic state. There was nothing he could do for him. Shane was hopeful that time could heal the wounds of the truth and scars of the past, but he was certain, that it would not be any time soon. Seeing Jack lost in thought and forced to deal with the harsh realities of the present, could not be easy. Shane could see that Jack needed some time to wrap his head around all the information that was being thrown at him, so he gave him some time alone, which seemed like the only logical thing to do.
When Shane re-entered the room, Jack was still sitting on the floor, frozen in a daze, staring at the blank wall in front of him.
Jack mentally struggled to come back to reality. He swallowed hard, as his emotions were about to escape again. It didn’t matter to him if Shane saw him crying, there was absolutely no point in to trying and be macho. Shane had already witness his weakness and he could see that he was in a state of terrible shock.
The noise of the door closing behind him, startled Jack, and he came to.
Shane set the coffees on the desk, and offered Jack a hand to help lift him off the floor.
Jack accepted, and returned to his feet. He straightened out his suit and tie as if nothing had happened, and went back to sit in his chair.
Shane handed him a coffee and he graciously accepted it with silent thanks.
Jack sipped his coffee a little bit too quickly and burnt his tongue.
“Ouch, the damn thing is hot!” Jack shouted as he wiped a few drips from his chin.
Shane half smiled, he knew it wasn’t funny, but it was the first real sense of Jack he’d seen, since he saw Jack get off the plane in Landstuhl.
Shane wanted to say something, but was tongue tied. After a few moments of awkward staring, Jack finally spoke.
“I'm ready to go home.”
More silence passed between.
“I want to go home,” Jack repeated, sidelining his dark blue eyes back to the statue on the bookshelf, as his words were barely audible, mumbling them under his breath. He refused to make eye contact with the man sitting across from him.
Shane knew that he’d run out of time and out of options. There was not easy way to keep a man, especially this man, away from his family.
“Where is home, Jack?”
Shane’s words pierced his ears and Jack’s eyes squinted in response, as he tried to process the question.
‘Home?’ Jack thought.
“Where is home?” Shane asked again.
Jack was unsure where that was. He was confused again.
Unable to hold back his emotions, Jack got visibly upset thinking that his family had forgotten about him. It pained him to believe that they thought that he’d left them again. Jack’s mind turned numb for a second time.
It sounded like Shane was yelling at him, and he was. His hearing was on mute as the words. Shane’s words were almost inaudible.
For a third and fourth time Shane yelled, “Jack where will you be going?”
He desperately tried to shake Jack out of his funk and after a few minutes for it to register in his brain, Jack had made his decision. Drawing in a deep breath and then exhaling loudly, he said, “Salem! I want to go home to Salem!”
Shane was not surprised by his response. He had seen the confusion on Jack’s face and understood that he was trying to process the plethora of information. It had been a long year and Shane himself had gone undercover in the months afterward, trying to locate and save the captured agents and Jack of course. Having been forbidden to send word home to his family or Jack’s, about what had happened, Shane’s guilt was getting the best of him. For the others it was now over, but for Jack and his family, it was beginning all over again.
Shane was sworn to keep the truth from Jack. He couldn’t see any way around it. Shane hoped that Steve’s special task force would soon capture the bastard that had Jack’s life on a string and was ready, taunting them, as if he could end it on a moment’s notice if he wanted to. Shane forced those thoughts out of his mind. Jack was going to be okay he tried to convince himself.
“If that’s what you want Jack....I can surely have that arranged.”
Jack kept his eyes low and his voice even lower, “Yes, that is what I want.”
For Jack this was a problem, he was a civilian. he was not an ISA agent and his family was not used to him leaving or going on undercover assignments. He thought of Kayla and Steve and knew that Kayla would have been use to this, but not her. Jack had made up the Australian Walkabout as his cover, not that he ever expected her to believe it, at least not for this long. In his heart, he knew that he had lied to keep his family safe and that it was a huge stipulation in accepting the job in the first place. Jack could never have told her the truth. She would never have let him go and rightfully so. Jack knew he would be haunted by this decision forever. He hated himself for ever getting involved with the ISA and now he started to resent Shane for showing up in his office, on that late August summer day.
Jack never considered that his decision to get involved in an undercover operation with the ISA would ultimately end up being the greatest mistake of his life. If he knew then, what he knows now, how much one, stupid, selfish, lie, would change his life forever, he definitely would have never gone along with the opportunity he was presented with. A whole year of his life had passed him by and now Jack was forced to face the consequences of his decision.
Jack life had technically remained the same, while those he loved had been forced to live a life without him.This is the end of Part 1
Up Next: Part 2: What Words Can't Say......
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