Beckoned for by a tapping at her office door, Jaime calls for the entry of those on the other side, a cheerful Kennedy immediately bursting into the room, a happy look on her face. “Chevy and Kayla are coming back!?” Kennedy exclaims, Jaime’s light-hearted amusement a product of Kennedy’s pep-heavy steps, the rumors circling Los Angeles confirmed. “They ran into trouble in Cheyenne, the power was knocked out and their communications were down” Jaime replies, “they just radioed in this morning.”
“Fuck yeah!” Kennedy shouts, punching the air and earning herself the laughter of her older sister, a half-hearted reminder to the younger girl to keep her profanity at a minimum the only thing worth responding with. “So when will they be back!?” Kennedy wonders, the rumor mill having never given her an exact timeframe. “They just crossed Las Vegas at dawn, so I’d assume they’d be back in Los Angeles by sundown” Jaime responds, another phantom-punch thrown by Kennedy.
“So, wait… What happened to them?” the child replies, the curiosity boiling over the edge of what she can contain, a moment of consideration radiating off Jaime, who tells her sister not to dwell on it. “The important thing is that Chevy and Kayla are alright, there were minimal casualties, and they’re on their way home” Jaime explains, shaking her head with a reassured grin, “that’s all that matters.”
Accepting her sister’s answer, Kennedy gives Jaime a nod, remaining quiet, her lack of a follow-up concerning the older woman. “Something on your mind, Ken?” Jaime asks, her younger sister’s lack of eye contact proving to be a troubling response, the reluctance to answer visibly weighing its toll. “Ken, what’s wrong?” Jaime doubles down, leaving her seat and walking around her desk, occupying the vacant chair beside her sister, a bothersome tone in the younger girl’s voice.
“I don’t want you to be offended, because I know you trust them, but-” Kennedy begins, stopping herself to find the courage to explain her appearance without sounding jealous or petty, “-I don’t trust Chris and Julia.” Confused at first, Jaime slowly recalls the tug of war that resulted from their discussion over how to address the public, the assumption of its occurrence being viewed as the reason in Jaime’s eyes until her sister suggests otherwise.
“That’s not the reason” Kennedy responds, admitting that she can’t describe why, but her gut just gets twisted when they’re around, “it’s like they’re just pretending to care.” Laying her arm upon the side of the chair and leaning her head against her fist, Jaime lets Kennedy continue, not wanting to take her younger sister’s instincts as gospel, but not wishing to disregard her concerns either.
“Chris is confusing because he seems like someone who seems alright sometimes, and seems weird in others” Kennedy explains, her head shaking as she thinks about Julia, “that girl just doesn’t seem right at all.” Looking to her sister’s arms, Jaime notices the hairs stand on end, Kennedy’s take on the woman not one that she feels especially comfortable with, her instincts as the older sister kicking into action upon this notice.
“I know they have their smart moments, I get that their doctors, I understand that they’re important” Kennedy explains, finally looking back into her sister’s eyes, “but I don’t trust them.” Sucking in a deep breath, Jaime glances toward the depths of her office, considering her options for a moment before finally coming to a decision. “I’ll sit down and talk with them” Jaime replies, quickly assuring Kennedy that she’ll try to figure out why she feels that way, “see for myself, okay?”
Knowing this to be the best her sister can offer, Kennedy gives a silent nod to Jaime and leaves the chair, her sister watching Kennedy leave and shut the door behind her. Looking back to her desk, Jaime scratches at the back of her head before letting the deep breath leave her lungs. “First order of business, however- prepare to face the public tomorrow” Jaime says to herself, returning to her usual seat, “it’s time to make a decision, Jaime.”
= Dire is created by Zachary Serra, all rights to the series belong to Zachary Serra and the entity of Pacer1 Media from the start of Season 1 onwards =
“So this is where the magic happens?” Alex wonders aloud, following Chris through an abandoned warehouse, the interior reformatted to serve as the new center for Los Angeles-based transmissions. “Tomorrow, pieces of computer engineering heaven will broadcast Jaime’s address to every television within fifty miles” Chris explains, looking at the massive cultivation of technology with his mouth agape, “it’s a lot more daunting when you see it in person.”
Admitting to her lack of prowess in the field of anything the building houses, Alex finds herself unable to understand most of what Chris is in awe of. “I see a big room with a bunch of big machines” Alex explains, pointing out the blinking lights and the long cords extending from one machine to another, “it makes the television work, and it lights up.”
Realizing the out-of-touch sensation the woman is experiencing, Chris offers his hand, promising to lead her somewhere less difficult to comprehend. Venturing throughout the compound, Chris leads Alex into a small room in the very back of the building, one flick of the light switch bathing a small studio in luminescent lighting.
“Welcome to the future hub of Los Angeles daily news” Chris exclaims, standing in the middle of the room with his hands extended, the laughter from Alex proving contagious. Putting into words what the studio will soon look like, Chris details Los Angeles’ new center of information, the person stationed behind the desk holding the power of public perception in the palm of their hands.
“It sounds like whoever’s hired is going to have one hell of a headache running that kind of power” Alex responds, the suggestion one that fails to phase Chris. “I think it’s important to have a face to break the news” Chris explains, admitting that Jaime continuing to serve that position will only prove dangerous, “if there’s a third party telling it like it is, no one shoots the messenger, and Jaime doesn’t have to play ‘public servant’ when her time could be better spent elsewhere.
Openly expressing her appreciation for such a weight lifted off her daughter’s shoulders, Alex admits that she has hope in the right person being hired for the job. “That’s exactly what I was thinking” Chris replies, leaning against the new anchor’s desk with a mostly-hidden smile, “which is why I think that person should be me.” Head tilted to one side, Alex asks the man if he’s serious, a question he confirms with his answer.”
“I love what I do, don’t get me wrong- but I feel like the news should be handled by someone that understands what it’s like to give both good and bad versions” Chris explains, “plus, the hospital doesn’t offer me much anymore.” Explaining his speciality of operating the various outdated machinery in the building, as well as serving to diagnose minor issues when compared to his colleagues, Chris admits that he’s just barely more than a well-paid statue in his current occupation.
“It’s only a matter of time before we start going out to steal newer-modeled machines that I’m not trained in, or the ones we have break beyond repair” Chris explains, “Cedar-Sinai is hiring a ton of volunteer doctors right now, and a ton of them have much more experience than me.” Unsure how to react, Alex asks the man why he’d want the job, his desire to serve the public in a role better suited for him proving to be the main focus.
“If I’m leaving my post as a doctor behind, I want it to be in favor of something I can still help people through” Chris explains, looking back at the anchor’s desk with a smile, “being the calm voice at the end of the day is the perfect next step.” With a sigh, Alex looks at the desk with a frown, her nod giving the man whatever her blessing is worth. “I hope you get the job, then” Alex responds, simply happy to see the man succeeding, his response only confusing her more.
“I hope I do, too” Chris replies, his smile fading behind his thin lips once more, hands pushing him away from the desk and closer toward Alex, “-which is why I was hoping you could put a good word in for me.” Surprised, Alex asks the man why he’d ask for such a favor, unsure why she’d be the person he’d go to for the request. “You’re Jaime’s mom. I figured if anyone could convince her, it’d be you” Chris responds, apologizing for the favor, admitting he wouldn’t ask if it wasn’t important.
“If there’s anyone I know that would be willing to do this job, and to do it for the right reasons, it’d be me” Chris explains, another glance to the desk taken during a pause, “I can’t imagine anyone else behind it.” Disappointed, Alex looks back to the seat Chris wishes to occupy, her eyes sad, but her heart telling her to make a decision her brain wishes not to. “Okay” Alex replies, biting the bullet and willing to take one for the couple, “I’ll try my best.”
With a smile, Chris pulls Alex in for a kiss, their embrace following shortly after, the satisfied look on his face differing heavily from the guilt-ridden expression upon Alex’s.
The door to his room squealing as it is pushed open, Ryan faces the back of the room, refusing to acknowledge whom he presumes to be Lazarus, preparing to continue the protest of what he perceives to be a violation of his rights. “I hear you’ve taken on a hunger strike” a familiar voice calls out, the presence of Jaime approaching his table putting a surprised look on his face, eyes quickly turning back toward her as she removes the revolver from her boot.
“My turn, or yours?” Jaime asks, Ryan silently nudging his head toward the woman, his body trembling as the strength is depleted from him one day after another. With a shrug, Jaime lays a single bullet into the cylinder and lets it spin, slamming it into the gun and pulling down the hammer. Without hesitation, Jaime raises the gun to her own head and pulls the trigger, an empty click returned to both parties as the result, a second pull giving the same conclusion.
Emptying the cylinder and returning the weapon to her boot, Jaime takes a seat upon the other side of the table, crossing both arms atop the wooden surface. “Sometimes I understand you, and other times I don’t” Ryan explains, shaking his head and looking away, the same song and dance between himself and Los Angeles’ leader having been performed many times before now, “but regardless of which is which, I refuse to acknowledge you as my leader.”
Puckering her lips, Jaime nods to herself and folds her hands, letting her interlocked fingers fall into her lap as she sits back in her seat, admitting that she realized that a long time ago. “Your harshest critics are often the ones that can’t see past their preconceptions enough to acknowledge anything halfway-decent” Jaime explains, a loud sucking of her bottom lip proceeding to echo around the room, “but unlike before, you don’t have much of a choice now.”
Squinting his eyes, Ryan looks back at the woman, the tray of food he’d left sat upon the floor being met with the tip of Jaime’s boot, her leg shoving the tray back toward him. “You don’t have any ‘god-given rights’ anymore” Jaime explains, referencing Chevy and Kayla’s trip out to Colorado, “the results have officially come back in my favor, and they’re on the way back right now- engaged, expecting their first child, and ready to offer the ultimate declaration.”
“What are you talking about?” Ryan responds, skeptical of the point Jaime is trying to make, her vagueness falling aside immediately upon being questioned. “I’m saying the last of the U.S government has officially been disposed of” Jaime replies, the worried look in Ryan’s eyes immediately offering her the only true insight she came down to his confines for, “the only thing Los Angeles has left is what Los Angeles has now.”
Closing his eyes, Ryan looks toward the heavens and shakes his head, his worst fears having come true, the only hope he had left being flushed down the drain. “So I wanted to let you know that I’m perfectly free, as determined by myself, to do as I wish with you” Jaime explains, his fate now being left solely in her own possession, “and I plan on making my decision based upon the justice I believe that Jordan’s owed.”
Getting up to leave, Jaime begins to walk for the front door, silence accompanying her until the moment her hand rests upon the handle, a call out from within the room gaging her interest. “You’re the villain of this story, Jaime” Ryan exclaims, the eye roll that leaves the woman’s face preceding a smile, “you’re the villain of this story whether you can see that right now or not. Now that there’s nothing to stop you, you’re going to turn into exactly what I thought.”
Turning back, Jaime’s long, blonde-highlighted, brown-rooted hair whips over her shoulder, a smile given back to the man chained up behind her. “What you were trying to do was kill my fiance- don’t think I haven’t gotten the softer bunch of you to talk already!” Jaime exclaims, Ryan’s head shaking at the response, “the one person I most need in this world was put in a hospital bed because of you, and not because you were a bad shot, but because you were a good one.”
Still shaking his head, Ryan admits that the original plan was never to fire at Jordan, regardless of what the result ended up being. “It doesn’t matter what the plan was supposed to be, the crime was that it existed at all” Jaime responds, returning to the table and taking it into her hand, a single swipe hurling the furniture across the room, nothing standing between herself and Ryan now.
“The crime is that it served all the same” Ryan replies, admitting that his outlook hasn’t changed regardless of who was aimed for, a gesture that confuses Jaime. “Either you died, and Los Angeles was saved from whatever you had in store for it- or Jordan died and you went crazy without someone to hold you back” the inmate exclaims, finally leaving his seat and getting as close to Jaime’s face as his restraints will allow, “we’d either die saviors, or we’d die martyrs.”
Shaking her head, Jaime begins to remind Ryan of the negotiation she helped pull off, her recalling of martyrdom being left off the table stopped by the prisoner before it can be voiced. “I don’t care what deal you crafted, time will heal all wounds” Ryan responds, noting the reputation of the peacekeepers to be one of them, “you can’t paint me as the bad guy now. Time will show me to have been right.”
Aggravated, Jaime remains silent, staring into the eyes of Ryan as he continues to argue his point, the statements he presents as truths only serving to anger her more. “We all need a rock in our lives, ones that will hold us back from getting too ahead of ourselves” Ryan explains, finally offering Jaime the first kind wish he’s given her thus far, “I sincerely hope Jordan pulls through soon enough, because anything you touch is in for a rude awakening if he doesn’t.”
“You don’t know that” Jaime replies, Ryan quick to argue otherwise, reminding her of what he’s promised to live on as when enough time has passed. “I don’t need to know the full-on accuracy of my statements… I only need to know that they’re true” the man responds, leaning forward to press the tip of his nose toward Jaime’s, “and while I may not know how the future will heal itself, I know who you are now… And you are a dangerous person.”
Breathing heavily, Ryan stares into the woman’s eyes, her anger boiling to a point he’s rarely seen before, silence being left between the two until a single knock upon the window ends their tense moment. “Who gave Skhrelli the order?” Jaime replies, Ryan left shaking his head with a defeated grin. “I don’t know… It wasn’t our place to ask” he responds, the deep breath from Jaime concluding her final attempt at ripping information off of the man.
“Thanks for giving Jordan your best wishes” Jaime concludes, leaving the man to return to the door, “I’ll be sure to pass them along.” Slamming the entrance shut on her way out, Jaime leaves Ryan to himself, the man calming down for a moment before returning to his seat. Defeated, his hand reaches down and picks up an apple as he takes a single bite from the fruit while he shakes his head.
“I hope you’re not genuinely catching feelings for this woman” Julia exclaims, stood against a wall on Chris’ way back to the office, the sound of her voice startling him at first. “What?” Chris replies, not having heard the statement correctly the first time, or at least hoping he hadn’t heard it at all.
“We’ve put a lot of effort into climbing our way into Jaime’s inner circle, and we’re almost out of time” Julia explains, Chevy and Kayla’s return crowding the bunch, “so I hope your head is still in the right place.” With a chuckle, Chris informs the woman that he just convinced Alex to argue in favor of his promotion to the lead anchor of the city’s upcoming return to television news.
“You what?” Julia responds, her head leant forward as she struggles to fit the man’s new role-in-waiting into the plan they’ve already committed to. “We’re supposed to be influencing Jaime, not the public” Julia replies, failing to find the same ground to stand on as her brother has, “where the fuck does that plan fit into our plan?” Rolling his eyes, Chris tells his sister that they can’t count on Jaime bending to their every suggestion, a fall back option being necessary where they stand.
“If we fall out of favor with Jaime- for whatever reason that may be- we remain in favor with the people” Chris explains, his hand held beside him, picturing a globe in his palm, “if we can’t control the narration, we can control the narrative.” Shaking her head, Julia unfolds her arms and begins to walk back to her office, telling her brother that she hopes he knows what he’s doing.
“I’ve never once lost sight of the big picture, Julia” Chris exclaims, watching the girl turn back toward him, her face suggesting a lack of full-dedication to believing him, “- don’t ever think otherwise.” With a shrug, Julia steps through the door and departs for her office, Chris left behind to gather his composure as he returns to work as if the conversation had never happened.
“I’m really proud of you, Carly” Chevy explains, Kayla left sleeping on his arm, the woman that led the fight against the enemy forces sat in the seat beside them. “Thanks, boss” Carly responds, a heartbroken smile returned to him, Chevy quickly noticing this reaction, inquiring over it. “What’s the look for?” Chevy asks, Kayla finally opening her eyes, unable to catch any sleep on the ride thanks to the bumpy terrain a few miles outside of Los Angeles making for the poor conditions.
“I watched him die” Carly replies, the journey they’ve taken over the last few days having failed to fully heal the scars of their final defense, the early arrival into Los Angeles leaving little time for the wounds to scab. “He died protecting what we all went to war for” Kayla responds, her eyes remaining fixated on the road ahead, “the only difference between him and us is that what we were protecting cost him his life.”
Understanding of that, Carly still feels partially responsible for the man’s death, his actions a result of an oversight the pair of them allowed to happen. “Had we checked those guys better, we’d never have let them on the premises” Carly explains, the self-blame immediately fought back by the man responsible for having called the shots. “We can sit here and all blame ourselves for something- literally anything” Chevy explains, himself included.
“Had I cleared how many people were coming to replace us with Jaime, I’d never have given you the greenlight to let them through” Chevy explains, his point being that they all played a part in the events that occurred. “The bottom line is that none of us should be wearing this on our chest too heavily” Chevy explains, the weight she and others carry not being deserved, “the last thing you need to do- especially with what we know now- is weigh yourself down.”
Latching onto her fiance’s argument, Kayla tells the woman to live her life carrying the spirit of two, the only way to allow oneself to carry such weight being to allocate it properly. “If you’re gonna hold Ben’s death against yourself, do it the right way” Kayla explains, her hand slapping down upon her own leg, “live your life going forward using his memory to push you on, rather than letting his memory weigh you down.”
The advice not something to take lightly, Carly offers the woman an accepting nod, agreeing to get herself used to living the way Kayla has suggested, a response that eases the woman’s mind. “I didn’t know it was this fucking bad” Chevy mutters beneath his breath, looking out at the charred forest that represents what remains of the leaderless-half of Los Angeles, the blackened environment proving to perfectly illustrate the dystopian existence they officially have no safety from.
Freeing his arm from around Kayla’s back, Chevy rolls down the window and pulls himself through the opening, the moment the window begins rolling down allowing for a chorus of voices to scream out in the distance. “What the fuck is that!?” Kayla exclaims, the occupants of the car being met with the sounds of a crowd pleading for safety from the elements, something in the distance halting their path.
Rolling down her own window, Carly pulls herself through the vantage point whilst Kayla pulls herself through the sunroof, her eyes widening as the sight presents itself to her. “Holy shit” Kayla mutters, their truck one of the few approaching the front gates of Los Angeles, where a massive sea of people stand at the points of entry, stopped from advancing further into the city by an assortment of armed forces, all of which defend the control line as if it were the decided-upon border.
“Los Angeles Armed Convoy, clear the path!” Chevy shouts, the assault rifle draped over his neck held cautiously, his orders repeated by the crowd-controlling guards. “Clear the way!” the guards shout through megaphones, an overhead security light flashing in the direction of the returning convoy, those outside doing as instructed, safety afforded to them as long as they remain stationed within Los Angeles’ view.
Crossing the border, Chevy’s convoy returns to Los Angeles, a few seconds to talk to the patrolling guards afforded to him on their way in. “What the hell is all of this!?” Chevy asks, the guard immediately answering to the best of his knowledge. “Refugees. They know we’re operating” the guard replies, breaking the news to Chevy’s convoy that Los Angeles has become the center of attention for the remnants of what once called itself the United States.
Entering the man’s room, Lazarus fixes the table, a large crack in the wood present from being hurled across the room by Jaime, Ryan remaining sat patiently, watching the tray of food reside in Lazarus’ hand. “She’s going to kill me, isn’t she?” Ryan asks, the large man carefully setting the tray of food upon the solid, wooden surface, brushing off the man’s question by telling him to enjoy the meal.
“That’s it?” Ryan responds, watching Lazarus continue to talk away, not caring to stick around much longer than he already has, “you’re just going to brush me off?” With a sigh, Lazarus continues to walk, telling Ryan that he’d been well-trained to refuse to acknowledge those responsible for committing crimes. “I’ve been sitting in this room for eons, the least you can do is tell me whether or not I’m gonna die!” Ryan calls back, the large man still exiting the room.
Rolling his eyes, Ryan slams his fist upon the plastic tray, his breathing unsteady and manic, his lip quivering as he hesitates to blurt out what he wishes to. Looking toward the bar-covered windows at the very top of the walls, Ryan’s inner conflict is bathed in the light of the Los Angeles sunset, a brief moment of courage coming over him, his deepest confession being blurted out in hopes of Lazarus’ attention.
“It was the doctor!” Ryan exclaims, shaking his head as the toll of his fate mixes with his already-lengthy prison stay to create the perfect combination of conversation-deprived desperation. After a few seconds of silence, Ryan hears the door open, Lazarus returning to the confines and pressing his back against the door, refusing to leave the spot until he’s heard more.
“Repeat that” Lazarus replies, both hands kept tightly holding onto the doorknob, a hesitant Ryan taking a few deep breaths before coming clean. “It was the doctor…” Ryan responds, unable to truly remember what they looked like or what their name was, “...the doctor bribed Justin to change the target from Jaime to Jordan.” Chin raised, Lazarus walks closer toward Ryan, the radio on his belt loop being raised to his lips, finger pressing down on the speaker button.
“Kitchen, this is Lazarus Adams- acting head of security in the Morris Administration” the intimidating figure calls out, looking Ryan in the eyes, “please bring a collection of today’s specials to room 7701’.” Approved by the voice on the other end, Lazarus returns the radio to his side and tells Ryan to earn the upgrade in food quality he’s appeared to be worthy of.
“I don’t care if you don’t know their name, do your best to try” Lazarus explains, only needing one specific name to warrant Ryan’s reward. Rolling his eyes, Ryan begins to wish he’d never spent most days high, the recollection struggling to come from him. “Taylor, Marsha?” Lazarus begins to read, trying to aid Ryan’s memory along, the man refusing both names, providing hope that the truth is exactly as it appears.
“Nathan, Michael, Jennifer?” Lazarus continues, again, his offerings shot down. “Lou, Alison, Emilio?” Lazarus continues, again being met with refusal, another line of names offered finally proving valuable. “Kevin, Patricia, June” Lazarus continues, beginning to continue down the line until Ryan’s hand snaps at him, finger spinning in a counter-clockwise direction. “June?” Lazarus replies, watching Ryan begin to snap his fingers at himself, the name proving very similar.
With a gasp, Ryan snaps one final time before looking at Lazarus, his eyes wide and mouth agape. “Julia!” he finally shouts, stumbling upon his answer, the moment her name leaves Lazarus’ lips, the large man breaks out into a smile, nodding his head as he stands from his seat. “Enjoy your meal, Ryan” he quips with an appreciative tone, leaving the man to wait for the kitchen to fulfill his end of the bargain.
Frantically walking the halls, Chris looks for one person in specific, every similar-looking figure catching his momentary attention, the pace in his steps suggesting something to be wrong. “Alex!” Chris shouts, finally turning the corner to find the woman he’d been looking for, his significant other immediately turning back, looking at him with an apologetic expression, a sight that Chris pays little attention to.
“I’m sorry, I’ve been looking for Jaime all day, but I haven’t found he-” Alex begins, Chris immediately stopping her, the look of worry in his eyes catching her by surprise. “Alex… Listen to me, you need to go get Jaime right now” Chris explains, the woman looking to him at a loss for words. “What? Why, I-?” Alex responds, quickly interrupted again as Chris doubles down on his declaration.
“Alex, I need you to listen to me…” Chris repeats, calming himself down by taking the woman’s shoulders into each hand, looking deep into her eyes, “...you need to go get Jaime… right now.” Unsure of what to say, Alex just looks back into the man’s eyes, the sorrow carried behind his stare immediately getting across the weight of the situation at hand. “What’s wrong?” Alex asks in a worried tone, the man just looking at her without the right words to say.
Storming through the foyer of city hall, Alex pushes Jaime’s office door open to find a reunion gathering, both Chevy and Kayla having returned to Los Angeles, the group rounded out by Amelia, Kennedy, and Jaime, all joking together and having a cheerful time. “Mom! Chevy and Kayla just got back in!” Jaime exclaims with excitement, the mood of the room quickly standing still, the high-spirits waiting for the older woman to respond before getting underway again.
Mouth open, Alex tries and ultimately fails to smile back at the returned couple, her eyes falling back onto Jaime, speechless as she shakes her head. “Mom, what’s going on?” Jaime says in an enthusiastic tone, still high off the emotions of the Colorado-couple’s return, her eyes quickly lowering the longer Alex stays silent, her smile slowly falling away. “Mom?” Jaime repeats, eyebrows beginning to furrow, face beginning to devolve into worry, “what’s going on?”
On the verge of tears, Alex’s eyebrows rise as her head shake becomes more apparent, a tear running down her face as Jaime leaves her seat, still awaiting the woman’s response. “Jaime…” Alex begins, her voice weak, broken apart by sadness as she begins to openly sob, her daughter left without words, still waiting on her mother’s response. “...Jaime, I’m so sorry” Alex whimpers, the mood of the room having fully cratered.
Charging through the hospital, Jaime leads the entire core of her innermost circle through the hallways just as Lazarus emerges, calling out for her attention. “Fuck off, Lazarus!” Jaime shouts, an anger and horror carried through her declaration, the woman storming past him as his hand is taken into Alex’s own, leading him toward their intended destination.
Walking through the doorway, Jaime stops in her tracks, those behind her stopping in tune as they come upon the same endpoint. Face souring, Jaime stands in the doorway frozen, her hands trembling as she slowly emerges from a state of shock, carrying herself further into the room. Gasping for every breath she can manage to take in, Jaime drags herself closer to the bed in the very center of the room, a sole figure left lying beneath a soft, white blanket.
Head tilting to the side as the tears leave her eyes at will, Jaime struggles to speak, her hand reaching out for the blanket, pulling it away from Jordan’s face. “Jord-” Jaime begins, her voice stopping itself before she can say his name, the task too much to bare, “...Jordan.”
Uncovering his hand, Jaime interlocks her fingers with those of her fiance’s, crumbling beneath the pressure and collapsing at the man’s bedside, unable to hold herself back any longer. “I’m so sorry, Jaime” Chris mutters beneath his breath, a tear coming to his own eye, head shaking as the weight of the sight tugs at the empathetic strings of his heart.
“How did this happen?” Chevy asks, enraged by the sight and demanding to know answers, “you said... “ he continues, stopping himself before he lashes out, “...you said he was getting better.” With a sigh, Chris explains that he was by all accounts of the vitals that had been taken. “At some point the machines started going insane, he stopped breathing, and we called a ‘code blue’” Chris explains, “we tried bringing him back for the next four minutes.”
Watching Chevy’s head sink, Chris turns his explanation to the rest of the group, all of which actively express their grief at the sight. “After four minutes, he-” Chris continues, stopping to regain his bearings for a moment before concluding, “-he was pronounced dead at twelve past nine.”
Head hung, Chris shakes his head in disappointment, leaving the room to allow those within to grieve. “I’m sorry for your loss” Chris murmurs, unable to hold himself together, the crumbling sight of the first circle feeling more painful than he’d anticipated. Rendered an emotional heap, Jaime silently bereaves the loss of her fiance, a looming dread hanging over everyone in the room, all taking their own moment to pay their respects.
“Thanks for bringing us along, buddy” Kayla whimpers, her hand placed over Jordan’s heart as Chevy gives him a kiss on the forehead. “Thanks for saving my life, brother” the man mutters, Kennedy walking up close behind, taking Jordan’s hand into her own, passing her thoughts as the rest of the group follows, their key figure inconsolable on the floor
Looking toward Jordan’s lifeless face and trying to find the words to speak with, Jaime’s head shakes before her face drops, nothing able to sum up what he meant to her. Offering silence, Jaime hangs her head and continues to cry, the rest of the group leaving the room to her, closing the door behind themselves.
Looking back up at her fiance, Jaime holds the side of the man’s head, her thumb gliding gently across his cheek, back and forth. Trying to speak, Jaime keeps opening her mouth and failing to let her thoughts out, the privacy not solving her worries. “I’m so sorry” Jaime whimpers, leaning over the man’s bedside and resting her head upon his chest, her hand squeezing tightly upon his own, “I love you.”
Her eyes finding Jordan’s face once more, Jaime thanks him for being the only thing to keep her going, refusing to believe she’d have made it this far on her own. “I’m so fucking scared” Jaime admits, her confession easy to come upon, her bereavement too overwhelming to be beaten, a somber groan prompting her head to fall back to the man’s chest.
“I’m so… so fucking scared” she continues to mutter, wanting to wake up from what she can only pray to be a nightmare, the one fear she claims having now being met, her demons laying ahead, daring her to face them.
== Dire ==