By the time Jordan makes the time to visit Cam’s grave for the second time, things get so out of hand that he’s tempted to turn around and run away. But it’s not the kind of person he is, so instead he buys a bottle of tequila – splurges a bit more than he usually would on Cam’s favourite brand – and makes his way to the Beacon Hills Cemetery on the rare Saturday evening that he gets off. It’s chilly outside, his sweatshirt and jacket combo barely keeping him warm enough. But it’s okay – the alcohol will help with that soon enough. He parks his car beside the main entrance and pockets the keys.
He walks through the plots, scanning names and dates idly until he finds the one he’s looking for
He closes his eyes tightly, biting his bottom lip before shaking his head. He knows he’s in for a new bout of nightmares after visiting Cam, which is why it took him so long to come here again. He’s tired of sleepless nights full of terror and bad infomercials, tired of catching a few hours of sleep here and there between his shifts. Beacon Hills was supposed to be a quiet little town where he could gather his bearings but it turned out to be so much more.
“I’ve always had shitty timing but I screwed up so bad I don’t think I can fix it this time.” He takes a swig of the tequila, grimacing at the bitter taste. “God, how you could drink this shit straight, I’ll never know.”
Cam, predictably, doesn’t answer.
“If you’re up there, watching me right now, I’d appreciate a sign of some kind.” Jordan tips his head up, staring at the overcast sky, the clouds moving sluggishly. “Yeah, I didn’t think so. It was worth a shot, what with everything happening around here.”
He brings the bottle to his lips, the glass cool and hard to touch and closes his eyes as he downs several gulps, chuckling at the memory of Cam’s reaction when he tried it straight for the first time.
He looks to the tombstone and feels the phantom sensation of having his body torn apart by an explosion; the even more excruciating, maddening pain of his body burning and fusing itself back together, cleansing the wounds with fire until all that was left was smooth, sooth covered skin. He survived, miraculously, unsure of what happened, half out of his mind with pain and fear and panic.
Because of course Jordan Parrish had to learn he wasn’t exactly human by surviving the explosion that took his best friend, along with two other guys from his unit.
“I’m so fucking sorry, Cam. It should be you here, not me. You wouldn’t have waited, you’d have come straight for Isaac.” Jordan sighs, his head dropping until it’s cradled in his left hand, the one that’s not wrapped around a bottle.
He takes another swig, his fingers slightly numb either from cold or the alcohol, he’s not exactly sure. He notices the bottle is half-empty and decides it’s the alcohol. Cam always made fun of him for being a lightweight but he would throw an arm around his shoulders and drag him back to the apartment they shared when they went on leave, where he would bully Jordan into drinking water before he let him pass out on the shitty futon they got off Craigslist.
“By the time I got here, your dickhead of a father was dead and Isaac was nothing like you told me. From what I saw, he was confident, dangerous even. There was this edge to him, darkness that you haven’t mentioned. I don’t know if it was because you didn’t notice or didn’t want to… He was a suspect in your father’s murder, you know?” Jordan says quietly, the words loose, feeling blunt and heavy on his tongue. “I don’t think he did it but I wouldn’t have blamed him if he did. Hell, I would have helped, you know that. He left the country before I could talk to him.”
A breeze picks up, sending leaves scattering across the ground, tangled as they rise and fall on the wind. Jordan shivers, unwilling to do anything to lessen his discomfort – unwilling and unsure he deserves to be comfortable. If it was up to him, he’d be rotting in a pine box six feet under while Cam would be alive.
“This town is full of some weird shit, man.” He traces his fingers along the label, wondering idly at the fact he can’t feel the edge of it under his numb finger. He cocks his head to the side, his gaze focused on the bottle, afraid of the phantom pain he feels every time he sees the dates of Cam’s too short life carved on the tombstone. He glances around, noticing that the sky is getting darker faster than he expected. He tends to lose track of time when he drinks, which is why he did it so rarely, usually only in the company of people he could trust to stop him from doing stupid things.
“Something is going on and I’m going to find out what. Too many suspicious deaths. And there’s this girl who keeps showing up at my crime scenes – or she’s already at the crime scenes when I get there – and I think she might be psychic.” He pauses and laughs, laughs until he’s clutching at his stomach but there’s nothing funny about this at all. It’s either this or crying and Jordan hasn’t allowed himself to cry in public since he learned about Cam, Jack and Mike. “You’d be telling me to get a fucking grip right about now. There are no such things as psychics or ghosts or vampires. How do you explain me, thought?”
He falls silent, the words leaving a bitter aftertaste in his mouth, one he chases down with tequila because Jordan always did prefer the devil he knows.
There’s about a quarter of the bottle left and Jordan can’t feel his fingers or his lips but it’s good news because it means he doesn’t feel the cold, either. His vision is swimming a bit, until he realises it’s not, he’s simply rocking back and forth, back and forth, back and forth, his fingers clutching the bottle until his knuckles turn white with the desperate grip.
The voice is so soft he thinks he’s imagining it, having conjured her in his drunken stupor.
“Are you alright?” Lydia Martin asks, her eyes wide and full of understanding and concern. She’s holding a bouquet of lilies and Jordan momentarily feels guilty because he didn’t even think to bring Cam any flowers. Not that Cam would have any use for flowers, or the tequila Jordan spilled over the grave. Still, it would have been a sign that someone cares that Cam is gone.
“Lydia,” he says, blinking up at her, trying to clear his vision, hoping to find something that would make him stop feeling so drawn to her. He wonders what Cam would say if he knew Jordan felt a pull towards a brilliantly smart girl who was still in high school, who looked at him like she could read him like an open book.
“Yes. You look like you’ve had enough,” she says softly, her head nodding towards the bottle.
He can see her eyes dart to the tombstone and widen in recognition before she turns back to look at him sharply, taking him in.
“I didn’t know you knew Isaac’s brother.” Her voice is strong, curious, demanding and part of Jordan bristles at that but he only closes his eyes against it, resigning himself to the knowledge that he will tell her whatever she wants to know even though he doubts she will do the same for him.
“We served together in the same unit. I was there when he died.” The words come out slightly slurred and he wonders what she’s thinking. Is she wondering why he feels the need to sit on his own in front of his best friend’s grave, drinking? Is she wondering why he’s alive while Camden is not? Is she trying to envision what happened that day in a city on a different continent, a city which they were due to leave in just two weeks’ time to go back home for good?
“I was there and there was nothing I could do,” he says out loud before he can think better of it.
Sympathy and understanding fill Lydia’s eyes before she looks away from him, something sad and desperate in her expression. She shouldn’t look like that, he thinks, shouldn’t look like she knows that kind of pain and guilt intimately. He wants to see her smile, or at least look less like she might fall apart any second now because he knows he won’t be able to put her back together in this state. So he doesn’t think as he says,
“Shouldn’t you be on a date or having a sleepover with your BFF?”
Lydia’s grip on the flowers tightens and her face scrunches up in pain, her eyes closed tightly, her lips pressed together in a thin, white line. Jordan reaches out for her, alarmed at her pain, his hand nearly brushing the fabric of her dress when she lets out a wet gasp and opens her eyes, looking straight at him.
“I’m having a sleepover with my BFF,” she says in a voice that’s too steady, too controlled to be anything but full of hurt and fury. “She’s buried right over there.”
She motions towards where she was looking earlier and Jordan wants the earth to swallow him, shame and guilt warring inside of him.
“Shit, Lydia, I’m sorry, I didn’t think – “
“Obviously,” she bites back. “Did you think I was here because I like dead people?”
The hand that was reaching for her falls into his lap with a quiet thump. He feels too ashamed to look at her because even when he saw the flowers, he didn’t think more of it, too consumed with his own thoughts.
“I thought maybe you left flowers on graves no one cared about,” he replies quietly.
“You obviously don’t know me very well if you think I’d be the kind of person to do that.”
He looks at her then because her voice is no longer full of anger – it’s devoid of anything, really.
“You’re not exactly easy to read,” he admits.
A bitter smile twists her lips.
“I’m an open book. Just ask anyone in Beacon Hills and they will tell you exactly what kind of person I am.”
“Somehow I doubt they’re seeing the real Lydia.” He smiles softly, apologetically.
Lydia doesn’t say anything, her gaze assessing instead. He looks right back at her, feeling his cheeks flush with mortification because she got to witness what a fool he makes of himself when he drinks. She sees the mess he is, half closed wounds and bruises that keep him up at night, his mind full of fire and burning.
“I’m going to visit Allison and then give you a ride home,” she proclaims, raising her hand to halt his objections. “You’re in no shape to drive, you know that, Deputy.”
Jordan nods in assent, watches her walk away and wonders if he should show her how quickly he can sober up. Maybe if she sees the fire he can conjure, the way his skin remains unblemished, she would tell him what she is in return. Maybe she would know what he is.
He looks at Cam’s tombstone and upends the bottle, spilling the rest of the tequila all over the ground.
“I miss you, brother. Who else would tell me that even thinking about her is a bad idea? Christ, she’s Isaac’s age.” He scrubs his hands over his face and shifts up so he can kneel, cursing at the feeling of pins and needles going through his legs.
He sits in silence, reaches out to trace the letters and numbers carved into the stone. With a sigh, he leans forward until his forehead touches the cold tombstone and his hands are shielded from the view. He concentrates and feels his temperature rise, burning the alcohol out of his system, flames appearing at the tips of his fingers. It’s a rush of power and sensation that leaves him dizzy and gulping air but he’s no longer drunk.
He’s going to need all his wits about him if he’s about to survive the car ride without doing something stupid like demanding answers, or worse, kissing Lydia Martin.