* 5: Tea and Sympathy *

* Through Christina's eyes on the other side *

As I remember things throughout my life, certain special things, I wonder why everything had to be taken away. I do not ask questions here as I wander among nameless faces that are floating and waiting like me. It seems as if everyone has the same questions, waiting one day to find the answers, although not all are lingering with a heartache like mine. Most are holding back only because they are afraid to let go. I am trapped here not by choice but because it is the only thing I know. I seem to carry this burden of how my life has come to an end. The truth that no one knows eats at me like an insect to wood. This dark hole grows deeper in my soul until it vanishes and I am no more. He must know before it is too late, before my body itself is gone and the truth is no longer accessible.

I watch him everyday, I taste his tears and I sense his loneliness. He lives his life in emptiness and I feel sad. I do still feel and touch and taste in certain ways. I know enough that I am still here because I love him so. He can feel me I know. I swear that he can sense my thoughts as if I had any. I try to scream or hit something but it hardly ever works. He was with her one day when I yelled loudly. I'm pretty sure that he heard me.

The anger I feel for her and the others is still strong. My friends here say that if those emotions grew any stronger that I could become a poltergeist and start doing mean things. I laughed at the thought although how curious I could be. It would be one way to get his attention that I so deperately need. They can see my halo my friends say to me. I think they want their own personal angel to lead them home once I get my wings. I shake my head. Those things only happen in the movies.

So, I sit here in the bedroom, wondering when he'll put those pictures away. I cry empty tears as I look at the moments that used to be. How happy I was when I could touch him, when I could kiss him, when I could love him physically in return. How I miss everything and how I wish I could turn back time. His eyes are full of dried tears, almost overflowing at least once a day. Although I'd hate to have him find me and then have to leave him at the same time, it will be a relief to know that he could stop hurting and be able to move on.

He looks to our candle longingly, not wanting to get up to blow it out. I brush past his cheek, sending shivers down his spine. With all the love for him I can gather in one day, I lean over and blow out the candle. In the darkness he smiles in my direction as if he was actually smiling to me. He knew he wasn't alone. He would never be alone.

* After the engagement *

"You're still going to close, right?" JC asked as he layed in bed and coughed at the same time.

"Well who else would do it when your sick?" Christina joked with him.

"Haha. Have I told you how lucky I am to have you?" he smiled.

Christina smirked as she kissed him on the forehead. "Oh, I know. Without me you wouldn't be able to lay here all comfy in bed. What a shame."

"You know you love me."

"Of course." she smirked again as she finished getting dressed.

"Did you hear that it might snow tonight?" he asked after a brief moment of silence.

"I heard but I'd rather not think about it." she sighed.

"Just be careful, okay?" he grabbed her hand as his voice quivered with emotion.

"I will, don't worry." she said as she let go and walked towards the door.

"Christina?" he paused. "Come here."

Christina shuttered. She knew what he wanted and the thought made her queasy. "Jace, you're sick."

He gave her a puppy dog face as he replied. "Please?"

"Okay." she agreed as she kneeled down to him and softly grazed his cool lips. For some reason she had felt a strange feeling in her stomach and decided to kiss him again, with or without the cold.

"Wow, full tongue with a cold. What more could I ask for?" he snickered.

"For some reason I didn't care. I wanted to." she smiled.

"Well, good." he paused as he ran his fingers over her engagement ring. "I love you, Christina."

"I love you, too." she replied as she stood up and walked towards the door again. She looked back at him and smiled once more before she turned the corner. It was the last one he would ever receive.

"Jace still sick?" Maddie asked as she stood by the bar. It was almost closing time and there were only about 30 people left in the club.

"Yeah, another night of closing up." she replied as she took the drawer out of the bar's register.

"Could I get a nitecap?" Courtney interrupted as she bounced over.

"I just took out the drawer." Christina replied flatly.

"I'll pay Jace later. I'm not gonna rip him off."

"Fine." Christina huffed as she grabbed a bottle of beer out the cooler behind her.

"Nice bracelet." Maddie complimented Courtney as she stood beside her.

"Oh, thanks." Courtney smiled slightly as they all looked at her charm bracelet. "JC got it for me for my birthday."

"Well, I'm gonna take this up to the office. I'll be right back." Christina said with irritation as she walked around the bar and down towards the office.

"That was nice." Maddie announced with sarcasm.

"Hey, I was only telling the truth." she smirked as she sipped at her beer.

"Funny how you only remember what the word means when it comes to your advantage." Maddie snapped as she walked down to the dance floor.

"Hey ladies, it's starting to flurry out there so ya might want to head out early." Jack announced as he walked through the double doors.

"Are you serious?" Maddie said with a shocked expression. "I am so ready to go home. You are still taking me, right?"

"Of course, hunny." Jack smiled. "How bout you, Christina?"

"I'll be done here soon, so I should be okay."

"You better be careful!" Maddie said concerningly. "I'm serious."

"I know you are serious, especially about snow. I'll be fine, don't worry."

"Okay then." she paused and gave her a hug. "I'll see ya tomorrow. Get home and take care of your man." she snickered.

"Chicken noodle soup and tea." Christina laughed.

The lights around the bar went off, signaling to most of the people that it was time to go. "Bye, hun." Jack smiled as he and Maddie waved to her.

Courtney glared at Christina as she handed Christina her empty bottle and then walked out the doors. The flurries were getting thicker and the wind was picking up as Christina locked up the front doors, turned the lights off and headed back up to the office.

It was 3:30 a.m. when JC awoke to the loud banging on the door downstairs. He rolled over to an empty bed and sat up quickly. He sighed thinking that Christina must have forgotten her keys as he got his tired, achy, sick body slowly out of bed.

"Is anyone home?" a male voice yelled through the door.

The strange voice perked up JC's curiousity as he quickly opened the door to see two police officers, one being his friend Lance, standing on the other side.

"Lance? What's going on?" JC asked quickly.

"Is Christina here?" he replied just as quickly in response.

"No." he paused as he let them into the house and out of the snow. "What's going on?"

The other police officer stepped back letting Lance talk. "Then, I have some bad news."

JC swallowed hard. "Bad news?"

"Something has happened to Christina." Lance announced cautiously.

JC looked into the coldness of his eyes. "What do you mean?"

"We don't think she ever left the club. There seems to have been an accident." he said flat out.

"What?" JC exclaimed as he stepped back to catch his balance.

"There are signs of blood on the office walls and on the snow out the back door." Lance turned white as he spoke.

"This is a joke, right?" JC shook his head. "You're fuckin' with me."

"Jace." Lance closed his eyes for a moment at the thought of playing a joke like this on his friend. "I'm not messing with you. This is serious."

"Oh my God." JC shuddered as he looked away. "This isn't really happening. I need to get down there."

"You can't go near the club right now. Everything is closed off to gather evidence." Lance stopped him.

"Evidence?" JC asked softly. "What happened, Lance?"

"We figure two people broke into the back door and attacked Christina and took her with them." Lance replied.

JC stared at him for a moment which seemed like a lifetime. Everything sinking in yet flying by at the same time. "Why would anyone want to take her?" he finally spoke.

"I don't know, Jace. I'm sorry." he sighed.

"Was it a robbery?" he continued although his mind and body were in two different places.

"No. Everything was untouched."

JC felt his blood rush to his feet as his body started to crumble underneath him. "Please leave. I can't think right now."

"We have people looking for her everywhere. We will find her JC." Lance finished.

"JC! Oh my God, are you okay?" Courtney yelled as she barged into his house.

"Court? What are you doing here?" he huffed as he sat down on the couch.

"I saw police all over around the club so I rushed over." she said as she sat beside him.

"You don't have to be here." he sighed as the puppy sat at his feet.

Courtney looked around before she continued. "Where's Christina and what's going on?"

JC reluctantly decided to speak to her about the situation but quickly opened up. "Something happened to her over at the club."

"I'm sorry. Is she okay?" she tried to console him.

"Don't know. Can't find her." he coughed.

"JC, we need to get going. We will call you if we have any more news. Call me on my cell if you have any also." Lance finished as he and the other officer left the townhouse.

"Do you know anything else?" Courtney asked after they left.

JC sat motionless as he dropped his head in his hands and wept slightly. Fresh tears flowed down his flushed cheaks. "Go away." he mumbled.

Courtney put her arm around his hunched over body and moved closer. "I'm not leaving you alone like this."

"I don't want you here." he sniffed lightly, his cold and his tears making it even harder to breathe.

"I'll go make you some tea." Courtney ignored him as she stood up.

"It's snowing outside. Go home." he looked up at her with red eyes.

Courtney sighed. "I don't care what it's doing. I'm not going anywhere." she smiled softly and wiped away a new tear from his face before walking into the kitchen.

The morning came quickly and JC was already up staring out the window and waiting for the phone to ring with any new news. Courtney was asleep on the loveseat where she had stayed for the rest of the night.

The light knocking on the door shook him from his daydream as he quickly answered it to see Maddie on the other side in the freezing cold.

"Jace?" she asked softly as fresh tears stung her eyes.

JC left her in quickly as he looked back at her consolingly. "I know."

"I'm so sorry." she said as she hugged him and cried on his shoulder.

"Hi Maddie." Courtney interrupted as she popped up from the couch.

Maddie wiped away her tears as she looked at JC with puzzlement. "Why is she here sleeping on your couch?"

"She came by last night when the police were here. She wouldn't go home." he sighed.

"Hey thanks, Jace." Courtney huffed. "I am only trying to help, ya know."

"Yeah." he said under his breath. "Sorry."

"Well, I don't want to intrude so I'm gonna go." Maddie said as she turned back towards the door.

"No, wait," JC stopped her. "Court, can you go for awhile? I want some time alone with Maddie."

"Sure, no problem." she agreed without being difficult as she brushed her hair back, grabbed her coat and made her way out the house.

"I stopped by the club before I came here. They wouldn't let me near the place at all. The roads aren't the best either right now so I just came right here." she said as she took off her coat.

"I'm glad you came by. I really don't want to be alone but being with Courtney all day isn't my first choice." he added as he sat down and covered himself up with his blanket.

"You seem to be taking this surprisingly well." Maddie asked as she sat where Courtney was laying.

"As long as I don't believe it then it will all go away." he said softly.

"Jace, it's not that simple." she started.

"I don't want to talk about it."

The pain burned in her heart for the loss of her friend. She couldn't even imagine what it was doing to JC. "She is missing, JC. She could be dead."

"Please stop." his voice quivered as if he was going to cry again.

"I know this is going to be difficult. This is hurting me just as much as it is for you. But, we can't keep this all inside. It's just going to keep eating at you and you are going to shut everyone out." she paused as her heart ached. "We need to be strong for Christina."

He sniffed again and grabbed a tissue to clear his nose. "I don't know what to do." he said in almost a whisper as his emotions caught up with him quickly. "I miss her."

Maddie went over and sat beside him as she gave him another hug. "I know, Jace. I've been through this pain once before. I know exactly how you feel."

"Chris?" JC asked softly as she looked away.

"Yeah," she studdered. "I should have known with this snow." she trailed off as there was a knocking at the door again.

JC quickly got up and answered it. "Lance?"

"How are you doing?" he asked with concern.

"I could be better." JC replied as he let him in.

"I have a few things to tell you."

Maddie stood up and walked over to them. "Is she alive?"

Lance turned his direction to her. "Uh, well, we haven't found her yet."

JC sighed loudly as he rubbed his face with his hands as Maddie continued talking. "Lance, please tell us what you know."

"I think you both should come down to the station for questioning first." he held in a breath as he responded.

"Questioning?" Maddie retorted. "Why?"

"I can't really talk about this." he hesitated.

"Lance, she is my fiancee, you know that. Just tell me what you know, please." JC demanded.

Lance paused as his face turned white. "We believe she has been murdered."

JC instantly grabbed his stomach as if he was going to be sick. "What?"

"You must be mistaken." Maddie cried softly.

"We don't think we are. Especially with how the crime scene looks to us. We've searched all night and have checked with all hospitals and shelters around here. Her car is still parked behind the club untouched. This is our conclusion and that is why we need to question everyone that had seen her last night." he informed them.

"I think I'm gonna throw up." JC said bluntly as he looked towards the bathroom beside the kitchen.

"Can we come by later?" Maddie asked as she stood by JC's side.

"Not too late, okay?"

"Thanks." she nodded as she looked at JC who seemed to be a million miles away.

"One more thing, Jace." Lance said as turned from the door.

"Yeah?" he whispered to only the floor.

"We found this outside the back door in the snow almost as soon as we got to the club. It's been tested for evidence but since we found none we thought it was best that you have it." he said as he held out Christina's engagement ring.

JC took it without hesitation and began to weep freely in front of them. As if he was alone in the world he took off to the bathroom without looking back.

"I'm sorry." Lance apologized.

Maddie wiped her red, painful, tired eyes as she nodded. "We'll be down this afternoon."

She let Lance out and walked over to the bathroom door. She knocked on it lightly, hoping for a response from JC but didn't. "I'm going to make some tea." she sighed as she went into the kitchen.

She stood by the sink and looked out the window as her tears flowed uncontrollably. "Why?" she cried silently as the snow came down quickly. Once again the unpredictable weather had brought sympathy into her life and made it crumble into a million pieces.

* 6: Alibi *

Christina Main