It is a truth universally acknowledged that Jack Thompson is an ass. He’s chauvinistic, self-centered, and ambitious to the point of sacrificing anything or anyone hindering his rise to power. He’s wholly insufferable and unlikely to change anytime soon.
None of this, however, meant that you wanted him dead.
So when you came upon his body lying in a pool of what appeared to be a good deal of his own blood, you were met with a moment of complete panic.
“Jack? Jack?” You collapsed next to him, voice rising with each repetition of his name eliciting no response. Your hands fluttered uselessly around him trying to determine what they should be doing. Finally your common sense kicked in, and you pressed your fingers to his neck. His pulse was erratic and faint but still present.
“Help.” The word caught in your throat and caused you to choke. “Help!” you repeated, louder this time. “Help! Someone help! He’s been shot!” A man appeared in the doorway, his look of curiosity quickly morphing to horror. “Hey, this isn’t a picture show! Go get help! Go!” you ordered, grabbing a shirt out of the suitcase on the bed, upending the whole thing in the process, to press to Jack’s wound. The passerby seemed to snap out of his trance and took off running down the hall, yelling something that was indiscernible over the heartbeat in your ears.
“Come on, Jack, don’t be dead, don’t be dead, don’t be dead. Is this really the way you want to go? No, you want to die during some mission so you’ll be remembered as a hero, not as the guy who was shot in his hotel room surrounded by his dirty laundry. Do you know how many people would be upset? Everyone says they want to kill you all the time, but they mean it figuratively because they don't like you and they’ll all feel so guilty if you really die. So all things considered, it’s really not a good time for you to die. Are you listening?”
More men arrived, and everything began to blur. Eventually you found yourself standing in a hospital, waiting for Peggy to arrive. Later you would wonder if she’d been quicker if you’d have been spared the mess you would set in motion over the next several moments. A nurse was asking you questions at rapid fire; questions about Jack, his medical history, what had happened at the hotel, most of which you didn’t know the answers to. Soon a doctor appeared, a surgeon just coming from Jack if the bloodied uniform was anything to go by. The question he asked you would so define the rest of your life, would so rewrite your story, that it could have been phrased ‘once upon a time’.
“He needs surgery immediately, but the procedure is dangerous and still somewhat experimental, so we need permission from an immediate family member. Are you family?”
Once upon a time…
“Y-yes.” You cleared your throat to hide your hesitation. “I’m his wife.”
…there was a lie.