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Head or Heart

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It's half past midnight with a chill wind, but nonetheless Leslie Bennett stands on the dock, the last place on earth anyone saw Jake Doyle, gazing out to sea, wondering if he's out there, somewhere, anywhere. For her, it's the absolute worst combination of circumstances. The cop in her is beyond frustrated at the lack of evidence, the complete absence of a trail, warm, cold, or otherwise. She works off clues, leads, anything that could help her to fit together the pieces of the puzzle. But in this case, there is nothing. No witnesses. No one who saw or heard anything useful, other than that Jake and Becker were last spotted by the docks. But at the docks there was still nothing, just a pile of bullets. No Jake. No Becker. No henchmen. Not even any blood. The cop in her would have even happily taken that, at least as a sign that someone had been there, a clue as to what had transpired that fateful night. Anything was better than uncertainty, than knowing nothing.

At the same time, the lover in her rebels violently against that way of thinking. Blood means injury, death. No blood means there is a chance, however slight, that Jake is out there, somewhere, intact. Means that there is hope.

The tension between the two mindsets is almost unbearable. The former is better for Jake, which is why she hasn't quashed it yet, because the clearer her thinking is, the more likely she'll be able to pick up on something, anything, that could help find him. But at the same time, the lover in her is distraught at the lack of results that rational thinking has produced. They've put Becker's picture out there, along with Jake's, warning that he might be a hostage, but no one's caught them coming over the border, or trying to board a flight. She's dragged in every con, big-time or small, in the whole of St. John's, who might have even the slightest inkling as to Becker's whereabouts or plans, but all of them claim ignorance, no matter how dangerously close Leslie comes to engaging in police brutality, and the horrible thing is, she believes them. They've even sent divers down, and dragged the water near the docks for bodies. Nothing. Unless, of course, Becker threw Jake overboard out in the open sea, in which case he'd be unidentifiable by now, but Leslie tries not to think about that.

She's heard whispers, rumours, that Jake's skipped town, that after all the cons he put away were sprung from prison he made a break for it and is lying low somewhere. She doesn't believe a word of them. Even around the station she's heard mutterings that that no-good Doyle skipped town just to avoid either committing to her or breaking things off in light of the Ottawa opportunity. Leslie gives them no credence, of course. Jake was going in the opposite direction—he'd told her he was actually considering coming to Ottawa with her, and she knew how much that cost him. His family, his job, his pub, his life, the very essence of his being was here. She knew that, at least until he'd met her, Newfoundland was his one true love, the one he was eternally faithful to. For him to be even willing to consider choosing her over his home was monumental to say the least. Why would he make the offer if he was only going to turn tail and run? She didn't believe it for a moment. But that was cold comfort at this point

She pulls her coat tighter around herself, to ward off the fall chill. She could go home, but she knows she won't, can't, sleep, not at home, not with one of Jake's leather jackets tossed casually over her headboard, where she can't bear to disturb it. She could go to Mal's, but she hasn't the heart to do that, either. Can't face Des' sad eyes, or Rose's brittle calm, or Tinny's tear-blotched cheeks. Can't play along with Mal's forced ill-humour as he half-heartedly grumbles that Jake is probably just fine, hiding out somewhere, and not letting them know he's okay just so he can attend his own memorial, listen to them all say a bunch of nice things about him, and get a nice boost to his ego. Can't return Kathleen's wan smile as she tries to surreptitiously push brochures from the local funeral home out of sight. She feels bad about it, because they've been so kind, so welcoming, accepting her into the family so easily. She's grateful, really she is. But at the end of the day, she's not a Doyle. Not really. Not by blood. Not by semi-adoption, like Des. Not even by marriage, like Rose. She and Jake have never gotten that far, not even to the point of talking about it in the vaguest of vague terms. She always assumed there'd be time for all that, some day. She thought that time may have even been now, when he said he'd come to Ottawa with her. At the very least she thought they'd have a chance to talk about it, to assess just where they were and where they were going. But they'd been robbed of that chance, of that time. And now it looked as though they would never have any again. So here she was, widowed in heart with no piece of paper to give her the official status, and nothing she could do about it.

"Get out of here, Bennett." That was Hood's advice. "Go to Ottawa. Make a clean break. Get away from the Doyles, all of 'em. Even the dead ones are more trouble than they're worth." That was probably the smart thing to do, the logical thing to do. Move on, keep busy. They'd pushed back the deadline for the job in Ottawa when she'd called and explained the situation. They were sympathetic, but she knew they wouldn't wait indefinitely. Sometime in the next few days she was going to have to give them an answer. Stay or go. Wait or move on.

Leaving was probably best. With her father gone, she had only Beth Anne left for family, and even though their relationship had marginally improved, they were never going to be close enough to justify Leslie staying on for her alone. She adored the Doyles, but her link to them had always been Jake, and without him, she was only a sad reminder of someone they had lost, just as they were for her. Besides, there was nothing else she could do here. And doing anything was better than nothing. Better than waiting. At least that's what her head told her.

But she knew her heart would wait forever.

End