Spoilers: All of S1 and S2.
Summary: Summary: Three promises - kept, broken and made. Ficlet from the POV of Helen, Abby and Jenny.
A/N: Written for the ARC Promises & Resolutions challenge. Betaread by fififolle.
No one likes breaking a promise, because it's breaking trust, letting someone else down. There they will be in front of you afterwards, when they realise you weren't there for them. They might be accusatory, disappointed and maybe even heart-broken. Sometimes it's the fact they don't come back that makes it hurt.
The promises you make yourself can hurt as much, possibly more so. They hurt deep down, because they can stick in your mind, every waking moment a reminder that may or may not fade. There are the lingering thoughts of that temptation you can't stave off, the person you can't stay away from, the person you meant to stay for.
And even when you can keep the promises it can still hurt to, more than the words you want to say and the reasons you have for doing so. A promise is a promise, but it's no less difficult when there's a person you know you have to walk away from. It doesn't matter if they never know, because you know, right there and then what it costs, a personal sacrfice that won't ever be heralded.
Going through the anomaly, Helen hadn't thought about it twice beforehand, but she'd thought a lot about it after the fact. Eight long years of contemplation wherein she found excuses, rationalisations for just up and leaving. She'd gone over plenty of reasons in her head why it had been a good thing to do, compiling a list of everything she'd gained and experienced because of it. She'd sometimes tried to compose apology speeches for Nick, though time after time they drifted into rationales instead of anything heartfelt or regretful.
To be truthful she'd never been good at expressing her emotions, she did better at facts than feelings and definitely out of all of that spectrum it was passions, lust, intensity of a kind that bothered her the least to show. Anything less was vague, unquantifiable, hard to discern and pin down.
She'd missed Nick in waves, the sensation coming and going depending on apparent nostalgia triggers and how long it had been since she'd seen anyone remotely familiar. However, in amongst the wonders of what she saw, any sadness was muted, lesser than the obvious passion that had led her here.
Over time it seemed like she lost what it was that made her feel guilty for abandoning him, leaving simply the facts because facts were easier to hold onto than fading feelings and memories she didn't trust as a true representation. Nick was her husband; they had made the promise until death do us part and she wasn't dead yet.
Abby never made any promises to Connor, except the one borne out of pity where she said she'd said she'd help him learn to chat up girls, which he hadn't held her to past that first mixed success of a session.
She never promised he could stay, or that she'd cook for him sometimes and make him a cuppa when they got home. Thinking about it, she did a lot of things for Connor she'd never promised to, wasn't obliged to and that he didn't ask for either, things that crept into her everyday repertoire and stuck, much like he had in her life in general.
There were no promises to Connor, only ones she made about him. Resolutions really, made in her head instead of written down; not to get too comfortable with having someone around, not to get too involved in his life, not to care what he was doing on a Friday night. Maybe it would have been better to write them down so she remembered or more effective to speak them out loud from the start, to let him know her intentions. Of course back at the start of all this she had thought she'd made herself clear, to him at least. The problem was she'd forgotten to make sure she knew where she stood just as well as he did, over time she obviously slipped down that slope into friendship and then a bit further just because.
She never promised that she'd hold him when the nightmares were too much for him, but she does. Hands held tight around his torso, pressing his back against her body, almost as desperate for contact as he is. In that moment it's not for the same reason, yet it's good enough for her in the middle of another lonely dawn. He clings to her as he tries to summon some measure of control, no doubt wishing for the ignorance of his usual sleep to give him back sanity again.
He clings to her and she almost wants to smile. If it were not for the grief-stricken sobs that accompany this she might be able to delude herself that it means more than it is. But Connor doesn't drops hints any more, he doesn't fight for her, except physically and that he will put down to the fact she's his friend, part of his team, like family. It's like he's given in to her unspoken resolution even though she can't keep it these days. How's that for bad timing, she thinks.
From the minute she had heard about Claudia she'd wanted to wipe the knowledge from her memory, Jenny didn't like knowing about the other woman, the other her, and so she'd resolved to think about it as little as possible, which had not been helped by Nick's behaviour back then. Now that that was finally easier to achieve, she found her thoughts drifting to the subject anyway.
She had always gotten the impression Nick would never give up the search for the enigmatic “Claudia” - it had after all taken months before he stopped calling her by that name accidentally. That was why she'd been surprised to see Nick tear up that unnerving photo of him and Claudia at the funeral. It seemed an admission of defeat in the face of tragedy, that he couldn't take the disappointment any more.
At first Jenny had been relieved to see him let go, accepting this as reality. She'd had hope he could move on eventually and find peace, happiness or whatever it was grumpy Scotsmen were naturally like, only...he didn't get any better. The wounds of Stephen's death eventually healed as much as she expected they ever would, but she felt like looking into Nick's eyes lacked something, permanently dulled by everything he'd been through. Letting go hadn't been enough and as she watched him lose what little spark he had left she realised it had been the worst choice he'd ever made – exactly the opposite of what he'd needed.
Nick hadn't been able to do what was necessary, he'd lost the stomach for it along with his best friend but Jenny finally could. She resolved to break her old promise to herself, as defunct and getting in the way. She had a new resolution – fix reality. Fix reality and most likely die/disappear in the process. It wasn't a good plan and it had a lot of holes, plus areas where she needed Connor's expertise, but it was the right thing to do and no one else had the guts to. Whatever, whoever she was, Jenny wasn't a coward and she was damn efficient at whatever she set her mind to.