Word is I got away and now I must be caught
Hey there - the name's Clara, Clara Deavoux. I'm a dancer at the Peabody.
"Was that you?" He asked innocently. "I coulda sworn it was that old Philly that was always harpin’ about the end of days." Gordon knew very well that it hadn’t been Mildred that had been the one to chew him out at the town meeting, but that didn’t mean he couldn’t tease her about it.
"Dealin’ with kids instead of handsy old men. I gotta say, I like the new you, though I was rather fond of the old you too." He chuckled, the smile wavering on his face as he considered her words. She was right. That was her old life. After the hell that she’d been through didn’t she deserve a chance to start new? A chance that didn’t involve him hovering in the background like some mix between stalker and guardian.
"Some of ‘em aren’t so bad." He shrugged, his voice distracted for a moment. "A couple kids with the untarnished view of right and wrong. But there’s an older guy, real mean son of a…gun… I got a feelin’ he’s got an agenda that ain’t linin’ up with ours. He’s the sorta Fed I hate, thinkin’ that just because the country gave him a badge means he can work above the law." He shook his head, realizing that she didn’t need to know about any of this.
"Nah, I’ll just be workin’ late tonight." He told her, already knowing that he’d be sleeping in his car tonight. "I’ll probably look like hell and smell worse, so don’t have any high expectations." He told her, already covering his ass. Damn it, he hadn’t thought this through at all.
"Hey, how bout you meet me here? They got good coffee. And better pie." He nodded sagely. "Say round nine?" He asked with a smirk. Before he knew what he was doing, since all it was was a reflex, he’d stepped forward, taken her elbow and planted a kiss on her cheek.
"I’ll see ya tomorrow morning." He murmured, backing away from her and back into the restaurant.
He paid up quickly and paused at the asshole’s table leaning down right next to his ear so only the man could hear him.
"If you ever see that girl again, walk the other way, cause if you don’t I’ll find you and I’ll break your fucking knee caps, understand?" Slapping the guy on the back with a laugh, he left the restaurant, trying to decide what to do with the rest of his afternoon.
Clara just rolled her eyes at him, “Here’s fine. It’s not too far away from my Gran’s house.” She smiled at him tiredly, “I have to work anyway, my girls have a recital coming up.” She offered with a fond smile, the idea of spending the afternoon with Gordon was something that she’d love, but she did have work and she had a suspicion that it’d do her more harm than good.
She smirked, “You’re gross all the time, it’s nothing new.” She snickered, a small flame lighting in her chest just at the sheer simplicity that she felt when she was in his presence. It was intense, but it made her feel at ease, like the few problematic things in her life weren’t that bad. When he leaned forward and kissed her cheek she felt a familiar blush creep up her cheeks. It was unexpected, since it was blatantly obvious that he had used so much self-restraint when he was near her. But she appreciated it all the same.
"See you tomorrow!" She called as he left the building, smirking to herself as he stopped to speak to the man that she was yelling at when he pulled her away. She strode away, a noticeably different pep in her step as she went through the rest of her day in the anticipation of what was to come tomorrow.
When she returned the next day, there as bit of a lighter pep in her step that even she noticed herself as she busied herself around her new home, putting an effort into her appearance. It was a nice walk from her home to the diner. Her whole being noticeably happier at the thought of spending time, however brief, with Gordon. She didn’t want to linger on the repercussions of their little get together once he returned to Montford. While it wasn’t terribly far away, Clara wasn’t going near the town even if her life depended on it. So the possibility of ever going to visit Gordon blatantly not an option for her. All the same, part of her longed for the chance to make things right with him.
Once she made it to the diner she glanced around carefully before walking up to his table,
"Mornin’." She chirped helping herself down into a chair at the table before she glanced up at him, it was almost criminal really, how handsome he still managed to look after his self-proclaimed ‘rough night.’ Clara quickly gave him a once over before raising an eyebrow, "I think you and I have different definitions of a rough night," She chuckled, for all intents and purposes he seemed fine, a little worn for wear but she suspected that everyone in Montford sported a similar look these days.
Gordon didn’t even feign modesty as he shrugged his shoulders and smirked. He couldn’t help that he was well traveled and well known, he was, what his mother had always called, a people person.
"Oh well, I only assume that’s because I haven’t been around. As I recall, most of your yelling was aimed at me most of the time." He mused, arching a brow and tilting his head down at her with a poorly concealed smile.
At her confession, his brow creased and the hands in his pockets balled into fists to stop from reaching for her.
"Ballet, huh?" He asked with a smile, trying to lighten the mood before he shook his head, his gazes softening as he looked at her. "You look just as gorgeous as always, if not a little exhausted." He told her softly. At the moisture in her eyes he felt a lump rise in his throat. He didn’t blame her for getting out of town, even away from him, but he didn’t expect her to cry over it either. He was no catch.
Her question brought him up short as he thought of the turf war that had taken place in Montford. If she’d completely cut of contact, she wouldn’t know about the damage it had done to the town.
"No, things have…quieted down. We hit a rough patch a couple weeks after you left town, but…It’s, uh, it’s gotten better. Got the Feds eyeballin’ us, though. Tryin’ to move in and stop all that bootleggin’." He rolled his eyes, showing just how much he approved. It wasn’t the alcohol they needed to worry about. Alcohol made people do dumb things, but it didn’t have the effect that those drugs did, and somehow, the Opium trade was booming in Montford.
Gordon’s eyes shot towards the table and then back at her, not finding himself ready to go yet.
"I’m going to be in town tonight." He blurted, plucking the lie out of thin air. "Have…have breakfast with me?" He asked, a hint of uncharacteristic uncertainty in his voice.
Clara nodded in agreement, “That is how we first met, if I’m not mistaken.” She mused with a fond smile as she thought of memory. She pushed everything she was feeling back down into her chest in an attempt to keep it from spilling over and leaving her in even more of a mess than she felt like she was to begin with these days.
She glanced down, “Yes. Ballet. I’m rather good at it and it pays the bills.” She shrugged, “I haven’t taken up burlesque again…” She trailed off before shaking her head quickly, “But that was more my choice. I left that life behind in Montford.” She laughed without humor and waved her hand dismissively. She didn’t know if she was referring to what she had with Gordon as part of ‘her life’ in Montford, part of her wanted it to be but the other part knew that she’d never want to remove him from her life. Even if she did already… Twice. It wasn’t something she wanted to do. If anything it was something she felt like she had to do.
Clara laughed at the mention of the feds, “I bet you’re just loving having them crawling around.” She snorted and rolled her eyes again.
As he asked her to have breakfast with him she took a deep breath and contemplated it for a moment, she was selfish, she wanted to spend as much time with him as possible before he vanished back to Montford where she surely wouldn’t follow. Not after everything.
"Yeah, I’d like that. I mean, if you’re not too busy or anything…" She said quickly, looking up at him with the same sense of uncertainty. "I wouldn’t want to interrupt your work." She said with a small smile.
"A cop is a cop, sweetheart." He smirked at her. "Not to mention, I did work out here for a while, I still have a bit of sway in this precinct.” Gordon watched her face for any sign that she was about to steamroll him for following her around, but she said nothing and he took the moment to appreciate the sad twist of her mouth and the sleepless rings around her eyes. Clara looked as though she’d had about as much sleep as he had. These last few months hadn’t been kind to anyone, apparently.
At her question he took a deep breath and shrugged his shoulders. “You know I come up here a lot, I was just in the area.” He lied smoothly. “Heard this familiar screeching sound a few blocks away and followed it to find you yelling at that asshole.” He smiled crookedly at her again before looking down, unsure of what to say. Changing tactics, he tried again,
"How ya been, kid? Don’t take this the wrong way, but you look like hell… Y’know, if hell was a doll." He amended. Because even after everything she’d been through, there was no denying Clara’s beauty. But the spark in her eyes, the spark that had drawn him to her, chained him to her irreversibly - that spark had dulled. He had to shove his hands in his pockets to stop himself from reaching out to touch her, to tuck that little strand of hair behind her ear, or nudge up her chin to look at him. He couldn’t touch her. That would be too much for him to take.
Clara smiled slightly at that, it’s always been true with Gordon, above all he’s been a cop. It’s something that she’s always been rather fond of. She rolled her tired eyes and offered another small smile. “Right, how could I forget. You’re just well known all over the place.”
Clara could see his the pain in his eyes when she asked why he was here. She just was having so much trouble trying to keep from falling apart right there in the diner. She rolled her eyes, “It’s funny that you showed up here when you did, Gordon. I haven’t started yelling like that since… Well since Montford.” She sighed and looked everywhere but at Gordon. He always did have the strangest timing, her knight in shining armor when things got serious. And then she threw all that away. And then she was kidnapped by a maniac and almost killed. And that’s what got her these days. Her once indomitable spirit wavered weakly with each stranger’s too-long glances, every time the door knocked she froze. She knew he was dead, but it didn’t stop her from thinking that somehow he managed to come back from the dead and find her.
"It’s been terrible, if I’m being honest." She pouted and crossed her arms over her chest. ‘I teach ballet, but I don’t sleep, I appreciate the compliment, but look at me." She dropped her arms to gesture at herself. "It’s been a rough few months, no thanks to Montford." She said bitterly. She finally met his gaze, and almost immediately felt tears pricking at the back of her eyes. She nodded slowly. "What about you? You look like you haven’t gotten a wink of sleep in ages either." She shifted the topic, "What? They still have you working late hours?" She asked, her fingers twitching to reach out and run her fingers along the front of his jacket, to pull him just a smidge closer to her.
"I…I should go, looks like my coworker jumped the ship." She smiled half-heartedly and jerked her head to her now empty table.
It had been four months.
For four months, twice a week, every week, Gordon drove out to the city, just to check up on her. Her routine rarely varied, a small, seemingly insignificant fact that had him worrying over her. But there was nothing he could do about it. She didn’t want him there and he wouldn’t force himself on her. He hadn’t been able to protect her when it counted, but maybe now this could make up for it, a sliver of it. Maybe.
The silver cigarette case twirled in his fingers, every other corner tapping rhythmically as he drank his coffee. It was disgustingly easy to stay unnoticed in the city, and since she’d yet to catch him, he’d grown more confident, getting closer to her like a fix to an addict.
He wouldn’t have interfered, it was against the rules he’d laid down for himself when he’d first started doing this. But then the man stood up and Gordon refused to allow anything to happen to her, no matter how much it would rip his heart out later.
Ya had to try the domestic route… He grumbled silently to himself irritably as he moved from his booth in the corner.
Flashing his badge as he took her by the arm again, he placed a hand on the small of her back as he steered her straight out the restaurant.
"Oh, trust me, I know that you can handle yourself, but I don’t think the owner would have appreciated you redecorating the floor with that guys face.” He quipped, feeling as she froze in his grasp and instantly releasing her, waiting for the backlash he was certain was coming.
Clara blinked, and then blinked again. Disbelief immediately rushing over her agitated nerves. Gordon was standing right in front of her. Just like nothing had even happened, he was just there. Like he had been there all along. Her jaw fell open slightly before she had to remind herself that she was basically gawking at him.
"You know I just Chicago is wee bit out of Montford’s policing area. Call me crazy but I don’t think that badge means much here." Clara began calmly. rolling her eyes and gathering herself together. She stared at him for a few moments, her eyes going over that all too familiar face, he seemed tired, worn out even. She sighed softly, biting back the emotion that came welling up in the back of her eyes and throat.
"What’re you doing here, Gordon? Not to say that uh, it’s really good to see you." She bit on the inside of her cheek, meeting his gaze, her chest heavy with regret. There was so much more she knew she wanted to say to Gordon, but after everything, she just needed to get out of Montford and away from everyone in it. All of it was too much of a reminder of what had happened to her and all those girls. She could stand to remain in such a place, even if the nightmares followed her to Chicago, at least she didn’t have to see it in her waking hours as well.
Clara was doing so well. According to her standards anyway. Four months since she left Montford without a word. She needed safety, she needed something that wasn’t a constant reminder of what happened. These days she was a bit of a homebody in comparison to Montford. The former Ragdoll didn’t leave home very often, maybe to buy groceries or work, but for the most part she stayed inside, reading or listening to the radio. She just couldn’t risk letting herself outside again. Sleeping alone was a literal nightmare, it was a blessing if she was able to get through the night without waking up to her own screams, drenched in sweat, and the haunting words of Sully ringing through her head.
Lunch with a friend from work, that’s all she was doing, minding her own business. And then of course she’d have to over hear some moron a few tables over.
"Ya know… Those broads at the club, I don’t get why they even bother dancing anymore, they could just skip that and just go straight to their whorin’ around." The man scoffed, taking a drag from a cigar. Her ears perked up and her heart began racing. She listened, she bit her tongue and listened to his obscenities for a few more moments. Clara shot an apologetic look at her co-worker who hadn’t really been paying much attention to anything except the menu to begin with.
"Excuse me!" She snapped, standing up and striding over to their table, "I couldn’t help but hear how outstandingly rude you’re being to some wonderful ladies who I bet work harder than you ever will in your life." She snapped, sneering at him. The man raised an eyebrow and started laughing.
"Listen broad, I don’t give a damn, since all that work you’re talkin’ about is in the bedroom, if ya catch my drift. I reckon you’re one of ‘em so I’m sure you know from first hand experience." He shrugged before waving dismissively.
Clara cocked her head and smirked at him, “Oh don’t be offended, just because none of ‘em with half a shred of decency would touch you with a ten foot pole.” She smiled sweetly before sneering again at him. She took a step back when he stood up, almost a clear foot taller than her.
"What’d you say you little tramp?" He growled, but Clara refused to back down, she simply raised an eyebrow.
"You heard me you little low life - " She was cut off by a hand on her arm and another man coming to her side, flashing something in his hand.
"I can handle myself!" She exclaimed, rolling her eyes and yanking her arm out of his grasp.