Law & Order: Claire Kincaid/Jack McCoy ~ 30. Death
Fandom: Law & Order
Characters: Claire Kincaid, Jack McCoy
Word Count: 1240
Summary: Post-“Aftershock” ~ immediately post-“Aftershock”. If you watch the show, it’s no surprise. This puts a personal spin on it.
Author's Notes: My projection from the end of “Aftershock” and one vision of how things might have happened. Kleenex is highly advised.
“To hell with her…”
The last words he’d uttered about Claire echoed through Jack McCoy’s mind. He was hurt and angry when he’d said them. Yes, he and Claire had been arguing, hell had argued the whole drive to and from the execution. He’d given her the day off; he knew she needed it. But he hadn’t been able to reach her all day. Answering machine, pages…they had all gone unanswered. And finally he decided to pack it in. She obviously wasn’t coming. So he left the bar and got himself home, collapsing on the couch.
He was woken not an hour later by the phone ringing.
“Yeah,” he mumbled.
“Jack? Where are you?” Lennie Briscoe’s voice came over the wire.
“I’m at home,” Jack mumbled.
“You need to get your ass to NYU Medical Center. Now,” Lennie said, his voice cracking.
“What? Why would I need to…” Jack started.
“There was an accident,” Lennie said. “Claire…Jack, she’s…”
Claire? Jack thought. No. Dear God, nothing could have happened to her.
“I’ll be right there,” Jack said. He slammed the phone down and raced for the door. He’d run all the way if he had to.
Luck was with him, and there was a cab sitting right outside his building. He was running through the emergency room doors within fifteen minutes.
“Lennie!” he said, going to his friend, looking shaken but no worse for the wear. “How…where?”
“Come with me,” Lennie said, moving Jack to a quieter area. Once they were alone, Lennie spoke slowly, swallowing hard as he told Jack what had happened.
“She showed up at the bar about thirty minutes after you left, looking for you,” Lennie said. “I…I’d started drinking. I told her you’d left. She told me she was giving me a ride home and took me out to her car. We were three blocks away when…”
“What Lennie,” Jack said desperately. “When what?”
“This asshole came out of nowhere. Totally ran the light, not even an attempt to stop,” Lennie said. “His truck slammed into Claire’s car.”
“The driver’s side?” Jack asked in a whisper, visions of Claire’s tiny Honda being slammed by a truck now clouding his mind.
Lennie nodded. “She was alive when the ambulance got there, but barely,” he said. “Jack, I’m so…”
“I have to see her,” Jack said.
“She’s in surgery,” Lennie said. “They couldn’t wait.”
“Her mother?” Jack asked.
“She and Mac have been called. They’re in the surgical waiting room,” Lennie said.
Jack muttered to himself. The last people he wanted to deal with right now were Claire’s mother and step—father. They’d made no secret of the fact that they didn’t like him. He really couldn’t blame them…there was a significant age difference between he and Claire. But now…could they really deny him access to see her? Jack sighed. “Let’s go,” he said.
Jack and Lennie went upstairs and joined Claire’s mother and step-father in the waiting room.
“McCoy,” Mac Gellar nodded, his voice softer than Jack had ever heard it.
“Mr. and Mrs. Gellar,” Jack said, shaking Mac’s hand. “I am so, so sorry. If there’s…”
“When she’s out of surgery, you can see her,” Mrs. Gellar said. “I know she’d want you there.”
Jack nodded in gratitude. “If you’re sure,” he said.
She nodded. “Claire…she and I may have had our differences, but she loved…loves you. She’d want you to be there,” she said. “And given the way things were lately with us, you’re better for her anyway.”
If only you knew… Jack thought to himself as he sat down in a chair.
It seemed like a lifetime later when the surgeon came into the room. He looked questioningly at Jack and Lennie before Mac nodded that it was ok to talk.
“We’ve done all we can do,” the doctor said. “I’m afraid I can’t offer much hope. Ms. Kincaid’s injuries were extensive. But to operate further…”
“What are you saying?” Mrs. Gellar asked.
“We’ve made all the repairs we can,” the doctor said. “But she has extensive internal injuries and head trauma. Stranger things have happened, but if I said we expect her to live through the night, I’d be giving you false hope.” He gently took Mrs. Gellar’s hand. “I’m very, very sorry.”
Mrs. Gellar buried her face in her husband’s chest as Mac wrapped his arms around her. Jack and Lennie sat in stunned silence, Jack fighting tears. He couldn’t believe this was happening.
“If you’d like to go in,” the doctor said, “I can show you to her room.”
Mac started to motion to Jack when his wife stopped him. “We’ll go in first,” she said. “See her. Say good-bye. Then Jack can stay with her.”
“Are you sure?” Mac asked, incredulous. “She is your daughter.”
“Yes,” Mrs. Gellar said. “But they love each other. It’s only right.” She stood shakily and followed the doctor down the hall, her hand in Mac’s.
Twenty minutes later, they returned to the small waiting room. “You can go in now,” Mrs. Gellar said, her hand resting on Jack’s shoulder. “We’ll be out here. Stay as long as you need.”
“Are you sure?” Jack asked. “Do you want me to…”
“We’ve said good-bye,” Mac said softly. “It’s your turn. I may not have agreed or understood, but Claire loved you. She’s not on life support, so it’s a matter of time. You were what mattered to her. You should be the one with her when…”
Jack swallowed hard and nodded. Lennie walked down the hall with Jack.
“I’ll wait out here,” Lennie said. “You should be alone with her.”
Jack nodded and slowly went into the room. He couldn’t believe this was happening. That his Claire was lying there, silent, unmoving, tubes protruding from her body. His Claire who had been so vibrant just that morning, even in spite of being up all night. His sparring partner lying silent. His lover, dying.
Jack sat heavily in the chair next to the bed and took Claire’s hand in his. It already felt cold, though he could tell that she was still breathing.
“Hey babe,” Jack whispered, stroking Claire’s hair back from her face. He could see the cuts and bruises on her face and those alone were enough to tell him the impact of the crash. “I’m so sorry I didn’t wait for you. I’m so sorry we argued. I didn’t mean anything I said. I didn’t mean it…”
He bent forward and kissed her lips gently, tears streaming from his eyes.
“I love you Claire,” he whispered. “So much. There’s never been anyone like you…and there never will be.”
He kissed her again and moved onto the bed next to her, wrapping her in his arms. Regulations be damned. He cradled her in his arms, burying his face in her hair, the scent of her shampoo still there. He knew he’d never forget that smell.
Twenty minutes later, he felt Claire take her last shaky breath. He buried his face in her shoulder, his body shaking with sobs.
The doctors waited outside the door as long as they could. Finally, one stepped cautiously into the room. “Mr McCoy?” she asked gently. “We need to…”
Jack nodded slowly as he stood from the bed and gently lay Claire’s body back down on it. He kissed her lips tenderly one last time. “I love you,” he whispered before going into the hall and collapsing into Lennie’s body.