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one time she didn't have to.

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One:

It was a crap lie. Basic. Unbelievable. But she didn’t care. It was what her colleagues would have to deal with. They’d find someone else to cover her meetings, they could glare at her once she got back. She had other places to be.

She should have never left. She knew it wasn’t her choice, she knew they would all understand, but instead of the mere hours away she was, she felt as though her trip would take a lifetime. 

Her thoughts were a mess - she hated not knowing all the details. She planned what she was going to say, knowing it wouldn’t play out like she was thinking. It was something to do, something to keep her mind busy on the plane. 

Texting would be no good, calling would be pointless, she just had to wait until the pilots landed the plane, and then drive as fast as she could to get to where she needed to be, where she hoped she could be of use. 

Where she hoped she could do some good and provide some comfort. Where she could tell him how sorry she was that he’d just lost his wife, and then apologise some more than she wasn’t there when he needed her. 

 

Two:

India Walker was a woman with money and taste. Private jets, big sunglasses, expensive travel cases, and someone to carry her luggage for her. The woman walking through the terminal now wasn’t that woman. She looked like that woman. 

Eyes covered in sun glasses but they weren’t designer, her hair was still blonde, but the waves were thrown into a messy bun. She carried her own bags, a duffel bag, dark green, rip’s up and down the side. 

India Walker was walking through that airport physically, but mentally, she was Mandy.

And she was broken, desperate and only just holding it together. They’d lost someone outside the wire, and she wasn’t there.

All she wanted was to get through the next few hours, get to Virginia beach, to be where she needed to be and hope to god she could make some kind of difference. 

“Should have never left.” She muttered to herself as she pushed her sunglasses back on her head, putting on a fake smile to the attendant on the desk, hoping she could get a taxi. 

She needed to be there, and she needed to be there as soon as possible. 

 

Three:

Mandy regretted saying no to the road trip. 

She should have said yes, it would have been good. It would have been relaxing - why did she say no?

A case that she couldn’t tell anyone about. A new life, eighteen months pretending to be someone else, it would have been the perfect homecoming to wander around the middle of nowhere. Instead, her foot was to the floor as she tried to beat the rush hour traffic. The directions in her phone taking her to a hospital in the middle of rural America. Where she could comfort a dad, who’s son had broken his leg and was convinced his entire life was about to end. 

It was very Jason. The road trip to the middle of nowhere. Everything she imagined from him. One sandy and empty landscape to another. She wished she’d agreed. It sounded nice. Relaxing. Everything she wanted with the man. 

Maybe it was the future. Maybe it would teach her to say yes, but right now it was teaching her another lesson. 

She was rarely when she needed to be. She was rarely there when he needed her. That was something she needed to work on. Something she needed to change. 

 

Four:

She grabbed his hand without hesitation. Instant connection, instant comfort. 

“What do you want to do?” Mandy asked him quietly, using her free hand to rub his back, something she knew calmed him, even if he didn’t want to admit it. 

His eyes didn’t leave the tv screen. 

“What can I do?” 

Quiet, strained, hurt and panicked, all things she picked up on in his voice.

“We can wait together until we have more news. I’m sure someone will call us.” 

It was no longer his team, but Jason was still respected and he still cared. 

“Yeah,” Jason said, eyes still not moving from the news replay of an explosion.

She managed to get him to sit down, his hand never leaving hers. 

It was a waiting game now. 

But she was there. She was sitting beside him. Holding his hand, keeping him calm, keeping him company. 

“I’m right here, Jason.” 

“Thank you.” 

 

This is where she should have been all along, but all that mattered was that she was there now, making up for all the times he had to sit alone.