A/N: Guys as always, thanks so much for reading and for the reviews! I'm hearing great things about the story so far, and I'm beyond happy, because more Jemily needs to get out in this fandom! Also as a note: at the very end, the dress Amanda is wearing is the same white, wrap around halter one from the season 4 promo and pilot episode where she dominates Victoria's balcony. I loved that dress! Ok, now on with the chapter. Let me know what ya'll think!
…It is because of his sacrifice along with the love and devotion of the ones I hold dear, that I see the end of the tunnel in my journey…
Time seemed to fly by after Amanda Clarke and Jack Porter were discharged from the hospital. But not a moment was wasted when they met with Charlotte, Nolan, and Louise to form a plan to rescue David Clarke. Even Stevie Grayson was eager to offer her legal services, in which her skills proved to be their greatest trump card since the judge ruled in favor of a medical leave once thoroughly informed of his fatal illness. But as quick as David's life was saved once he was granted compassionate release, it was just as quick that his life ended once he took his final breath on the porch swing as he watched the white snowflakes mix calmly in the wind near the distant shore on a peaceful winter's day. Even now as the morning sunrise greeted Amanda with its warmth as she yawned from the results of yet another cold and sleepless night, she could not forget the state of serenity that graced her father's demeanor as he spoke his final words…
"Remember how much I love you…Infinity…times…"
She couldn't help but smile at the memory as she wiped away a stray tear that ran down her cheek. Months had passed since the funeral, and though she was coping a lot better than before, she was still in a time of grieving for the loss of her father; so being sensitive to certain triggers such as flashbacks and memories that reminded her of him came natural. But at the same time, she could not lie and say that it was a repeat of history from the first time she thought she lost him.
Things were different this time.
Every time she tried to embrace the sense of solace she craved for when she visited her father's grave in the past, it only perturbed her further and fueled the flames of rage and retribution within as she failed to gain true closure from his supposed demise.
But now, even though it was a struggle and served as a wound added to the many inner emotional scars that still had yet to fully heal, she welcomed the full stages of grief and the impact that it had on not just her but everyone around her as well. Because it only confirmed the significance of her father and how he was now seen as a respected individual who was innocent all along and a good parent after all, instead of the merciless monster who was better off dead for the downing of flight 197.
She softly grazed her fingers over her infinity tattoo and sighed. Still feeling fatigued and not ready to face the day just yet, she rolled over on the other side of her bed, hoping for sleep to claim her; only to come in contact with a delightful buttery, fruity, and cinnamon aroma along with the sounds of pans clinking.
Confused and slightly alarmed at the disturbance while wondering who the hell was in her house at such an early time, she immediately got up and made her way downstairs quietly, maintaining stealth mode in case she needed to retrieve her gun from the drawer nearby.
Before she could fully open the drawer, however, she heard footsteps come towards her direction.
"Oh good, you're up! Just in time for breakfast."
She turned her head to find her "finally" boyfriend standing behind her with a warm smile and a mixing bowl in hand.
"Jack? W-what are you doing here?"
"Making you breakfast. I used the spare key you keep under the mat to get in. I would have just knocked, but I didn't want to wake you. Anyways, are you hungry? You must be, I mean when's the last time you got to eat a good meal?"
She shook her head. "No thanks…I'm not hungry."
He sighed. "So you've said for the past few days…and most likely your stomach will disagree in 3…2…" He pointed to her stomach, right on cue as they suddenly heard a loud growling sound coming from her abdomen. She blushed embarrassingly, but frowned. "I-I don't really feel like eating right now…"
Jack shook his head at her stubbornness, but did not let up. "I know you don't feel like it, but you still need to. I let you slide for the past few times when I mentioned it, but now I don't want you in a danger zone. You need to eat."
"Jack-"She started in a warning tone.
"-Amanda" He repeated in the same tone as if challenging her as he set the bowl down. "Must you make this a fight so early in the morning? I mean you know I'm right. And besides, you're not really going to let these stack of hard labored pancakes go to waste now are you?"
She opened her mouth to protest once more.
"-Especially when they're blueberry?" He added smugly.
She closed her mouth immediately, raising her eyebrows with intrigue for a moment until she quickly shook herself out of the amusement and was ready to decline his offer again, when suddenly, her stomach growled even louder than before.
Jack couldn't help but smirk in victory.
She then rolled her eyes, putting up one finger.
"One. That's it. Just one pancake and nothing more."
"Fair enough." He put a hand up in surrender, still smirking since he knew most likely that wouldn't be the case.
She brushed past him to make her way into the dining room, when she suddenly paused and gasped; her eyes widening at the scenery.
The table was set beautifully with a freshly pressed light ocean blue table cloth, aligned beautifully with little sea glass shards and white rose petals. The white china, silverware, and wine glasses glimmered in the sunlight that peaked through the windows, and there was a variety of delectable pastries and fruit laid out for the taking with a beautiful bouquet of white roses set as the centerpiece to tie it altogether. She couldn't help but gasp in particular at the single red rose that stood out in the middle of the arrayed white roses.
It was absolutely breathtaking.
"W-what is all this?" She asked breathlessly.
"It's breakfast! I know things have been pretty crazy lately and you've been kept busy with everything so I thought that we could enjoy a nice, quiet little breakfast together…without any chaos for once." He rubbed his neck sheepishly at her frozen state. "I know it's not much…I tried sprucing it up a little bit but-"
Taking in the beautiful scene once more, she shook her head in slight disbelief still getting over the shock. "You didn't have to do this for me Jack."
"I know I didn't have to." Jack said in a playful matter-of-factly tone. "Which makes it a good thing that I wanted to." He gave her a warm smile as he pulled out her chair for her to sit down.
Amanda returned the smile in kind as she took his hand in hers and pecked the corner of his mouth. "Thank you so much. This is very thoughtful of you!"
They both sat down and began to eat while making great conversation and thoroughly enjoying each other's company. The sounds of the soft crashing waves, seagulls cawing, and gentle wind chimes clashing from outside created a sweet melody that magnified the peaceful ambiance. Amanda was especially delighted the moment she took a bite of Jack's pancakes. Her eyes brightened and nearly rolled in the back of her head as she savored the sweet and delectable flavors.
"Oh my go-mm-y-you really made these yourself?" She asked curiously.
He nodded. "From scratch. I remembered how you used to like blueberry pancakes and hoped they would still be your favorite. You really like-?"
"-I love it!" She smiled brightly and continued to eat. Once she was finished with her third batch, she chuckled softly in content and sighed wistfully. "This was amazing Jack…I just wish-I wish we could spend all of our mornings like this…"
Jack then cleared his throat nervously but smiled warmly. "Well…It-it's funny that you mention that because…I was actually thinking the same thing…about spending our mornings like this…everyday…being together…" His hand discreetly started to fidget the small, soft little box inside of his pocket.
She seemed to be listening with great intrigue and a little confusion at his sudden bashful state, but once she glanced out the window, her eyes fell upon the ashes that remained from the fallen castle that was once the Grayson manor. It was so surreal not seeing the all eminent copula balcony in the distance nor the queen of the damned who once dominated its section. Nonetheless, she zoned out as her mind flashbacked to the dream she had.
That awful dream…
"Huh?! Wha?!" Her eyes nearly popped out of her sockets as she snapped back into reality.
"Hey are you okay?" Jack asked with concern.
"Yeah…yeah I…I'm so sorry. I-I didn't mean to space out like that…" She sighed with remorse. "It's been kind of a rough night…"
Jack nodded with understanding. "You want to talk about it?" He asked softly, but with reluctance since he knew how secretive she could be. Expecting for his offer to be turned down at her silence, he was caught off guard when she began to speak.
"I wasn't able to get much sleep last night…Probably none at all…I had this dream. It was more like a nightmare. I was…unconscious at the hospital, it must have happened after I was shot recently…Charlotte was outside of my hospital room talking with the surgeon about my condition and if I was going to pull through. The surgery was successful because of a heart transplant, but she didn't want me to know who she arranged for the procedure…Turns out, of all people it was…" She paused, frowning.
"Who was it?" He asked quietly, still listening, but frowning with concern at her discomfort.
"It was Victoria…Charlotte had Victoria's heart transplanted into me…She said it was what her mother would have wanted…" She grimaced.
Jack cringed along with her at the thought, understanding the horror of the situation. "That's messed up!"
She nodded with disgust.
"I can definitely understand why that would bother you. But it was just a dream right? Charlotte would never do that to you. I mean if you look at it, you both pretty much settled the score and your differences and she eventually made her peace with both of us. Not to mention she despised Victoria as much as we did. So why carry out something that she would want?"
"-I know it's just…" She stated, but sighed. "It's nothing…You-You're right. It's just a dream…It just…got to me that's all."
"Will you be okay?"
She nodded slowly. "Yeah…yeah I'm just sorry that I interrupted you earlier. What were you trying to say before?"
"Huh? Oh! Right. I uh-"Jack's uneasiness suddenly returned as he chuckled nervously.
She smiled softly and nodded for him to continue.
"Well…what you just said with wanting every morning to start out like this…I-I feel exactly the same way and I was hoping that you-" He took her hand from across the table, intertwining their fingers while gazing at her with all the love and sincerity he could muster that shone through his azure colored eyes. "…Well that you-"
The sound of her cell phone ringing created a disturbance in that moment.
She tried to wave it off and encouraged him to continue, but every time he tried, the phone continued to ring, declaring that its presence would not be ignored; especially since the number that was calling was marked under an important contact. Finally, Amanda winced and gave him an apologetic smile which he waved off with an understanding yet tight-lipped smile as he nodded for her to answer the call, knowing that the mood was shattered completely.
She sighed and rose up from the charmingly decorated table and found her cell phone. At first she managed to mask her annoyance as she answered the call with an all-business tone, but as the conversation continued, her voice grew with more excitement though she kept it professional. After thanking the caller, she hung up with a look of shock on her face.
"Who was it?" Jack asked casually.
"The head of the Southampton Medical Center Board…They just approved my idea of starting a foundation for research on fighting lymphoma and agreed on the election of naming it after my father!" She explained joyfully, still in awe over the news.
"Amanda that's great!" Jack exclaimed excitedly and hugged her tightly. She laughed victoriously as she returned the embrace whole heartedly. "That's such an honor! I know how much you wanted this to happen. I'm so happy for you…and David would be so proud!" Jack said with adoration, moving a strand of her hair behind her ear. She nodded with a smile as he wiped away the tear that escaped her eye with his thumb.
Before he could kiss her however, her eyes suddenly widened.
"Oh my gosh! I just remembered that he said the celebration would be here tonight! I-I have so much to do! I'm so unprepared! I have to arrange the seating, plan the catering, make a presentation, prepare my speech, and-and!" She sputtered and broke away from his embrace, pacing the floors and running up and down the stairs.
Jack pushed down the brief disappointment he felt and watched her with a look of pure amusement. Usually she would be so calculated, so polished and put together, ready for absolutely anything; mainly because it would all be according to her plan. However, when things caught her off guard, to see her scrambling was rather interesting to say the least. And since the cause was something that was good for once instead of an impending disaster or danger, he found it humorous and dare he say adorable, but held in his chuckles as he shook his head.
She rushed down the stairs now dressed to kill in a beige pantsuit with matching heels as she struggled to clasp her gold necklace around her neck. He motioned for her to come over to him and helped with the task as she put her hair up in a bun.
"Did you want me to drive you into the city to help with the errands?" He asked.
"No, no you've already done more than enough for me! I'm just so sorry we couldn't finish our breakfast. In fact, we never got to finish our conversation either. Real quick, what were you going to say?" She rushed as she grabbed her purse, but turned to face him.
He held back a sigh and shook his head with a smile. "Don't worry about it. It's fine. I'll tell you later."
"No! It sounded important Jack! I can make time. What is it?"
"It can wait. Trust me. We'll talk about it later I promise. You should probably get going before the traffic gets bad."
She gave him a look protest, but sighed as she nodded reluctantly. "I'll…see you tonight at the celebration then?"
"Wouldn't miss it." He grinned, making her smile in return. She then gave him a quick kiss and headed for the door while he turned around to clean up the table.
"And Jack?" She hesitated before leaving.
He raised his eyebrows up at her in acknowledgement.
"…Thank you…For everything." She spoke softly.
He nodded, smiling at her warmly. Even as she closed the door behind her, he couldn't help the feeling of pride and warmth that he felt.
…That is, until he felt a bulkiness that was still in his pocket…
His smile disappeared as he pulled out the small dark blue velvet box and sighed. Tucking it away in his pants once more, he went back to his task of clearing the beautifully set table, feeling the disappointment and regret eating away at him. Once he cleaned up the dining room, he decided to go down to the beach club; hoping that a good drink and his understanding friends would give him a sense of comfort.
"YOU CHICKENED OUT AGAIN?!" Nolan, Louise, and Charlotte exclaimed in disbelief.
He was wrong.
Jack sighed in exasperation as he put his head into his hands, not wanting to see the rest of his friends' reactions. Even Bull shook his head in disapproval at the situation as he served him another cold glass of orange juice.
"I don't understand...Your plan was perfect when you told it to us! I should be posting her ring on Instagram right now! What gives?" Charlotte asked incredulously.
"Yeah Jackie-boy! I was sure that your stack of flaps was perfect for setting the mood." Nolan added.
"I'm sorry but are ya'll sayin' that he tried to pop the question to Emily over breakfast? That's a little odd, I mean why not just go for a romantic candle light dinner or do it over a sunset stroll on the beach?" Louise asked.
"He thought the dinner idea was too redundant, and he tried the sunset stroll already. But he got interrupted. Again." Charlotte replied, not missing a beat.
"Why what happened?"
"…She broke down. She was still very fragile over what happened to her father. I had to be there for her through those moments so, I postponed the question." Jack replied somberly taking a sip of his drink while looking at the little velvet box he set in front of him.
"But since she's coping with it a lot better now, he said he was going to try again. And she was in such a good mood lately that I thought this would be the day for sure!" Charlotte whined.
"But still, over breakfast?" Louise raised an eyebrow.
"Well yeah! I mean think about it; the dawn of a new day, a fresh new morning filled with unknown opportunity, even life changing events as the sun rises over the shore. What better way to set the theme for asking the most important question than over the most important meal of the day? And besides, have you ever tasted Jack's pancakes?" Charlotte explained.
Louise shook her head. "No, but Nolan did say they're pretty good. May I?" She asked Jack as she saw that he brought a plate of left overs. Since he didn't feel like eating, he pushed his plate her way, not turning his eyes from the little box.
She took a bite, only for her eyes to widen as she dropped the fork abruptly. "GOOD GRACIOUS IN THE DAY TIME! LORDY THAT IS GOOD!" She exclaimed. "Ya know, if Emily doesn't do anything soon enough, I might just have to take that ring off her hands!"
She eyed the ring hungrily about to reach for it, until Nolan pulled her back, patting her jokingly on the head and wagging a finger. "Settle down there cowgirl, no moving on my brohiem's turf."
"I thought I told you never to call me that." Jack deadpanned, not looking up.
Charlotte then turned to Nolan and Louise. "Guys can we have a moment alone please." She asked politely. They nodded and left the bar, after Nolan dragged Louise away by the arm once more as she tried to take the plate of pancakes with her. Once Jack and Charlotte were alone, she sat down next to him.
"Alright my postponed soon to be brother-in-law, tell me what's going on. What happened this time?" She asked gently, putting a hand on his shoulder.
"I don't know, life? Everything was going pretty smooth, but before I could ask her, she got a call from the Southampton Medical Center Board. On the upside, her foundation wishes came true. They're naming it after David just like she wanted." Jack cracked a little smile.
"Yeah, I got her text. That is great news…" She smiled wistfully. "But I still don't get what stopped you from popping the question?"
"Well I mean after she got the call, she realized that she had a lot to prepare since they're holding it at the beach house tonight. She literally rushed up the stairs and before I knew it, she was out the door."
"And she wasn't the least bit curious about what you had to say?" Charlotte raised an eyebrow.
"Oh no, she was. She wanted me to continue whatever I was going to ask her, but I didn't think it was the right time so I just told her we'd talk about it later and that was it." He explained.
"…You lost your nerve again didn't you?" She sighed.
"What? No, I was really going to do it this time…It just didn't happen…It wasn't the right time."
"So you've said the last time…and the time before that. I mean Jack, what exactly are you waiting for?"
He sighed. "Look, she's been through a lot…There's a time and place for something like…like this. I don't want to rush it…"
"Which is all fine and good, but you're forgetting one thing…You're timing sucks."
Jack frowned in confusion.
"You're saying that you don't want to rush anything; that it's too soon, and that there are so many variables involved...But you're wrong. I mean yes she's been through hell. We all have. And I'm not saying that it's going to be easy for you two…It might even be real damn hard…But she's told me some things…And after what I've heard, from the true story of your history, you guys don't just share a connection, you share a foundation; an unbreakable bond that withstood the tests of time; and it took time to make it strong. You guys have had that bond since you were kids, not just 4 years. So how exactly are you rushing? If anything, you're late and overdue and it's about time you do something about it. Especially now that she's found closure and acceptance with our dad. Her vendetta may be over, but it seems to me that the only thing that she wants to accomplish now, is moving forward and finding happiness...Something that you can give her.
Jack gave her a doubtful expression and looked down, but still took in her words.
"Hey." Charlotte tapped him on the shoulder lightly.
Jack looked up at her, his expression unreadable.
"Remember when I told you a while back that you should stop buying things for a life you don't have and start figuring out how to get it?"
Jack nodded slowly.
"Well this purchase matters…" She said as she held the little velvet box in his face. "It's the key for getting that life…So you need to go for it." She held it out for him to take.
He blinked, but then nodded; gently taking it from her outstretched hand. "Thanks Charlie." He smiled.
She nodded, smiled in reply, and left him to his thoughts.
He looked down at the box in his hand and sighed once more as he tried to figure out a new plan to pop the question.
Later that night, the celebration at the beach house was in full swing as spectators, medical board members, and just about half of the Southampton community were present; ready and eager to support the cause, along with enjoying the perks of yet another party in the Hamptons on the first day of Spring; and with the infamous yet now deeply respected daughters of David Clarke himself no less. Seeing all the contributions and the positive responses to the foundation in David's name touched all of Amanda's friends' hearts; and especially Amanda herself as she felt a feeling of accomplishment that went beyond what her takedowns ever gave her. Nonetheless, she still felt overwhelmed under her calm, graceful, and professional demeanor and excused herself to get some air. Charlotte nodded and told her that she could take care of everything from there, but frowned as soon as she left; realizing that there was still something, or rather someone who was missing all of the action.
"Damn it!" Jack cursed silently as he stepped on one of Carl's blocks while struggling to button up his dress shirt.
He didn't want to be late to the event, but since Carl's babysitter said she was going to be late, he had no choice but to stay behind to keep an eye on his son. He smiled, but shook his head as he watched the joyful toddler pour out yet another bucket of toy cars and blocks all over the living room floor. Suddenly, he heard his girlfriend's soft voice blaring out from the television set and he sat down on the couch as he turned up the volume. He took in her polished appearance as she gave her speech that was recorded earlier. Not a hair was out of place as it was neatly curled up into a high pinned bun, accentuated with her shimmering make up and jewelry that complimented her high-classed and affluent financial status. She appeared to be perfect and in control like only her Emily Thorne persona could be.
But Jack knew better. She was holding back, or rather, holding it all in.
After receiving a text that the babysitter was finally on her way, Jack grabbed the little dark blue velvet box that he sat on the coffee table.
Only to find it missing.
He then searched frantically for the little box, moving the table, flipping the couch pillows, and checking his pockets; trying to remember where he set it down last.
His mind drew a blank.
Before he could curse in defeat and go into a full panic mode, he heard little footsteps from behind him.
He turned around to see his son waddle up to him with his little hands behind his back.
Jack chuckled slightly. "Oh hey there buddy! What have you got there?"
The toddler smiled a toothless smile and babbled as he held the little velvet box out for his dad to take.
Jack then both sighed and laughed in relief as he bent down to his son's level with a joking pointed-look and took the ring from his grasp. "You think I should go for it too, huh little man?"
The toddler simply laughed and clapped with excitement. He then took off running freely around the house.
"I'll take that as a yes." Jack mused as his eyebrows rose in amusement.
Once the babysitter finally arrived, Jack wasted no time in rushing to the beach house. He knew he missed out on the speech as he maneuvered his way through the vast crowd with cocktails in their hands and managed to find Charlotte who was conversing with a few locals about the significance of the infinity box. He politely took her aside from the crowd.
"I'm so sorry again that I'm late. I-I had to wait for Carl's babysitter and-"
"-Jack. Breathe. Calm down, it's okay. You already told me and Amanda got your text as well; she understands completely." Charlotte chuckled as she put her hands on his shoulders.
Jack sighed with relief and glanced around. "I haven't seen her around here. Do you know where she is?"
"I'm not sure. She said she needed to get some air, but I'm sure she's around here somewhere…Oh Jack, I'm sorry, but could you excuse me, I promised Amanda that I'd handle things for tonight and the members over there are getting restless from waiting for a grand tour of the house…"
Jack put a hand up and nodded with understanding. "Say no more, I'll let you get back to it."
She thanked him and walked towards the group of members.
"Oh and Charlotte?" Jack called out.
She turned to him.
"You're doing a great job. David would be beyond proud to see how far you've come and what you've accomplished with Amanda."
She smiled brightly and curtseyed jokingly as way of thanking him.
Jack then continued to look for his girlfriend. He searched the crowd once more, checked upstairs, and even the porch swing, but to no avail. Making his way further from the house, he walked along the attached beach house dock, feeling a sense of déjà vu, when he suddenly paused as his eyes widened at the sight before him.
There, standing at the end of the dock, gazing out at the ocean horizon, and bathed in the moonlight was Amanda Clarke. Her back was turned to him as he watched her from afar; her long, bright white dress flowing in the breeze, and her once stylish pinned up curls now sprawled out over her shoulders and into the wind. Feeling a presence behind her, she turned slightly and saw him standing a few feet away. He noticed that her jewelry was gone and her flawless makeup was now nonexistent, as the remains were smeared slightly by faint tear stains on her blushed colored cheeks.
And yet she couldn't look more beautiful to him.
In that moment, all of Jack's fears and worries about how everything could go wrong vanished as he watched her hazelnut colored eyes light up. All he could think about was how breathtaking she looked, all dressed in white. And even more so, how such a look would be perfect for her as a bride.
As she acknowledged him with a warm and loving smile, Jack returned the sentiment while slipping his hands inside of his pockets, grasping the small and soft textured box.
He thought that maybe, just maybe…for once, his timing wouldn't be so bad after all…
To be continued.