Second Chances (Martins Against the World)
Disclaimer: Not my characters, just my words.
For all Bridget supposes she shouldn't be surprised, she still jumps when suddenly Andrew is standing in the middle of the Greer living room as she walks in, face like thunder.
“I thought you and Juliet were in the Hamptons,” she says as he just stares at her.
His eyes seem dark, glinting almost like flint. “Agent Machado said there had been a shooting.”
“Yes,” she confirms. “Bodaway is dead. I am sorry about the damage to the apartment.”
“The damage to the apartment...?!” he says disbelievingly. “I don't care about that. You, are you...?”
“I'm fine,” she says, feeling her heart skip just a little.
He runs a hand through his hair, takes a step towards her and then a step back as he catches himself.
“I shouldn't have come,” he says, almost more to himself than to her. “I just... I had to see you were unharmed.”
“I'm fine,” she says again, trying to force a smile and feeling it fail slightly. “I'm glad you came. Andrew, I have something to tell you.”
He makes something that could almost pass for a laugh. “What more could you possibly have to say? That you're actually triplets and there's one more of you out there?”
“I'm serious,” she says and he sighs and looks at her, shaking his head ever so slightly. “Andrew, Siobhan is still alive.”
He stares at her for what feels a minute, then closes his eyes. “You told me she had killed herself.”
“I thought she had. It's... Complicated.”
“Of course it is,” he says, exhaling and pressing a hand to his forehead, the fingers almost digging into the furrows. “You better tell me just how complicated it is.”
So she does.
By the time she has gotten to the bits Henry let slip about Siobhan's movements in New York, almost every emotion she can think of has passed across Andrew's face. Revulsion at the extent of the affair with Henry. Anger at the plan to have her die in Siobhan's place. Shock at the reveal that he might have two daughters out there. Something almost like sympathy at the story of Sean's death, because she does tell that too. Everything she can think of, she tells him, and at the end he looks as exhausted as she feels.
After she stops talking, he sits in silence for a while, looking at his hands and not seeming to see them at all.
“Daughters,” he says distantly, and she thinks of his joy when thinking she was pregnant, his love of Juliet, how much he had her feel like a part of a family.
“Solomon can probably help you look for Siobhan and her twins,” she says. “He's been very helpful and resourceful.”
“You,” he says, fixing his gaze on her. “You're going to help me find her. You know her.”
“I thought I did,” she says quietly, thinking of all she has learned. Her sister wanted her dead. Dead. “I don't think I know her at all.”
His hand makes a movement almost as if to reach for hers, then he seems to catch himself.
“Maybe you didn't,” he acknowledges. “But you'll still help me.”
“Of course,” she says, trying for a smile again and managing just. “I will always help you.”
'I love you,' she doesn't say, but he still looks at her as if he heard it.
She stays at Greer's one more night, then politely declines the offer of a bed there for as long as she would like. Instead she goes by the apartment, making sure Juliet and Andrew are both out, and gets some clothes and other necessities.
She leaves the keys, a brief note where she will be staying for Andrew, and a few other belongings that doesn't quite feel hers. Not Bridget Kelly's, and that's the name she does get her hotel room under.
Her name. For all she misses Andrew, misses Juliet, misses them both together, it is good to use her name again. Bridget. Her.
Not everything is lost, she decides, and watches her reflection in the mirror. Bridget. Finally, Bridget.
In the middle of the night, she wakes sobbing, the tears never seeming to run out.
Her sister never forgave her. Her sister hated her enough to plot a way of indirectly killing her. Her sister has been here in New York for months, mainly to cause harm. Her sister – her sister hurt Andrew and Juliet casually and might still.
When she finally falls asleep again, it is still on one side of the bed, instinctively leaving room for Andrew even now.
When the phone rings in the morning, it is a Martin calling, just not Andrew.
“Dad said I shouldn't call you, but I don't know who else to ask,” Juliet says, voice high and slightly shrill. “Mum's asked me to visit her in jail and dad has a meeting. Can you come with me? Please?”
“Of course,” Bridget says, exhaling a breath she wasn't even aware she was holding. Not a call to tell her to get the hell out of their lives after all, as she was half expecting and half thinking she deserved. “I'll come.”
“Thanks, Sio... Bridget,” Juliet says, hesitating for a moment. “Feels weird to say. Lot easier to spell than Siobhan though.”
“Gotta give me points for that,” Bridget says lightly, longing to beg for a second change, a second anything.
“Maybe,” Juliet says simply.
Bridget waits outside the visitation room while Juliet and Catherine talk across a glass wall, leaning against the cool wall and being ready to be the one to lean on the moment Juliet comes out.
Hitman-hiring mother. Maybe ex-stripper for a sort of aunt isn't too bad compared, or maybe that's just what Bridget desperately wants to believe. Oh, how she does, and maybe Andrew could...
“I want to hate her,” Juliet says, walking out with a speed that tells Bridget that the meeting didn't go too well. “Why can't I hate her?”
“Because you love her,” Bridget says softly.
“Even though she wanted to kill dad, tried to kill you, made me rip off dad and have Tessa beat up?”
“Even though. Love is a grace, not a list of criteria.”
“You sound like a fortune cookie,” Juliet says, but without real venom. “Do they serve those at strip clubs?”
“I think they would have rather different fortunes in them then,” Bridget says, swallowing the slight sting of the barb. “More like 'Give a handsome tip and you will see boobs in your future'.”
Juliet laughs as they walk outside, some of the shadow seeming to fade from her as the sunlight greets them. She looks young, so much of life still ahead of her.
Bridget wants to see it.
“I shouldn't have said you're like mum,” Juliet says after a moment. “She's... One of a kind.”
Bridget bites back any comment on that, just allowing herself to nod faintly instead.
“Thanks for coming.”
“Any time,” Bridget says, almost reaching out but stopping herself in time. “I mean that, Juliet.”
Juliet nods faintly, her face soft. “I never thought Siobhan would do me any favours. Guess I was right. You've been doing all of them.”
And with that she leaves, leaving Bridget to look after her with something almost like hope.
The knock on her hotel room is soft, and she peeks through the peep hole to see Andrew in the hallway. It's enough to make her a little breathless for a moment, and she opens the door with a hand she wills to be still.
“You went with Juliet to see Catherine,” he says without preamble as he walks into the room, brushing past her. She closes the door behind him, wondering if Juliet let it slip or he found out some other way.
“Right,” she says as she turns to him. “I insisted. Forced her hand.”
“No you didn't,” he says simply. “Juliet asked you. I knew she would if I told her not to ask you.”
“Oh,” she says, wondering just what that means.
“How did it go?”
“I waited outside. She seemed upset by the visit, but you have a strong daughter, Andrew. She was feeling better when I left her.”
“Because of you,” he says, and his voice is almost familiarly tender, achingly so. Then he seems to catch himself, something flickering across his face.
“You left the ring in the safe,” he says, almost like an accusation. “I thought you might take it, sell it somewhere.”
“Of course not,” she says, frowning slightly. “You gave it to me. I would never...”
“Pawn it to have something to live off?” He shakes his head as if to answer his own question. “I was almost hoping you would.”
“I keep looking for something, anything, to tell me that this too is a lie, that you don't love me. But how can I when every time you look at me you practically scream it? Every time you lower your eyes so I won't see it in your eyes, your face still radiates with it. How can I when I hear it every time you say my name?”
“Like that!” he snaps, and she lifts her gaze to look at him. “Like that too.”
“I do love you,” she says simply. “You're kind. You're a great father. You strive so hard to make others happy. You're...”
“Don't,” he says, stepping closer, eyes dark, but she's not afraid of that anymore. She was once, before she knew him, before she realised he is the man to step in front of a bullet, not a man to give one.
“I can't look at you any other way.”
“You can,” he says, and then he is stepping up to her, pulling her in and kissing her harshly. Hard lips, hands around her shoulders and fingers digging into her skin, but it doesn't last. Even as she leans into it, his kiss is becoming softer, his grip more like a hold and the touches more like caresses.
This is kissing her for the first time, she thinks a touch faintly. Kissing Bridget knowingly, not Siobhan in spirit. First kiss. Better make it memorable, then.
When he finally pulls back, his breath is a little ragged and for a moment, just a moment, he looks at her as he used to.
“No,” he says, more to himself than her, stepping past her, opening the door and exiting. She doesn't try to stop him for all she itches to pull him back into her arms and not let go. Siobhan might have tried, going for the manipulation she apparently was good at.
Bridget doesn't want to be.
Solomon comes by a few days later, asking for some information on the aliases Bridget had come across her sister using. Andrew has apparently hired him as suggested, and Bridget takes some comfort in that.
“He has hired me for one more thing,” Solomon says after she has explained about 'Cora Farrell'. “I thought you might like to know that.”
“Because it is making sure you're safe.”
A week after the first phone call, Juliet calls again and doesn't even have to ask the question. Bridget is coming.
After Juliet has visited Catherine in jail, they go to lunch this time. Juliet chats a bit about school, Bridget a bit about finding jobs and maybe approaching Agent Machado to reveal her true identity.
“Why did you do it?” Juliet asks suddenly, looking straight at her. “Can't just have been the money, you hardly ever asked dad for any, unlike Siobhan.”
“I was desperate at first. I thought my sister had killed herself and that I was a dead woman walking too as Bridget Kelly. I was going to leave that night I found you in the bathroom throwing up. I couldn't after that.”
“It was me?” Juliet says, slight wonder in her voice. “You stayed for me?”
“I feel in love,” Bridget says simply, and Juliet looks at her as if wishing it was true, then nods just ever so slightly.
It's a start.
Andrew invites her very formally to his office, and she sits across a desk from him, listening to him detail the results of the search for Siobhan so far, his intentions to divorce her the moment he gets a legal possibility, his determination to win custody should he be proven to be the father of her children and his current financial planning to avoid her getting any of his money.
Bridget merely nods to most of it, watching his attempts to keep his face blank and neutral. It slips every now and then, and she wonders what hurt the most – what she did or what Siobhan did?
He remains formal until the end, opening the door for her and almost pushing her into Tim Arbogast about to walk in.
“You,” Arbogast says, sounding about as warm as a Norwegian glacier. “This your idea of a joke, Andrew?”
“Excuse me?” Andrew says, stepping up next to her almost protectively.
“You've taken her back?”
“No,” Andrew says, and Bridget has a moment to feel a loss at his words. “I'm sorry, I should have done introductions right away. This is Bridget Kelly, Siobhan's sister. I am afraid Siobhan has gone missing. Police suspect she has left town. Bridget is here to help in any way she can.”
“Siobhan's twin?” Arbogast echoes, looking at Bridget intently. “She sure is the image of Siobhan.”
“Trust me, the likeness stops with appearance,” Andrew says, his hand warm against her back.
“I see,” Arbogast says, and Bridget wonders just what he is looking at.
She isn't entirely surprised when Andrew calls her two days later to let her know Tim Arbogast has been looking into her identity and have had it confirmed Bridget Kelly does exist – and let the matter rest there, for now.
She is surprised when Andrew asks her to join him for lunch, though.
“I've been thinking I should tell Agent Machado I've been posing as Siobhan all along,” she tells Andrew over water and a salad and he looks up sharply.
“You've been introducing me as Bridget Kelly, I am sure he's bound to hear about it. Even if Bodaway is dead, he still has unfinished business with me.”
“Then tell him your sister gave you money and you've been using it to stay in New York and stay clean. That you've come forward when you heard about Bodaway's death and your sister's disappearance. He might overlook that now that his man is dead. Identity theft he might not look so kindly on. You could go to jail.”
“What does it matter to you?” she asks earnestly.
“It matters,” he says tersely, not quite meeting her gaze. She still knows what she'd probably see in it; she mirrors it, after all.
Agent Machado comes to her hotel room with more than a little indignation and even more questions, as well as taking her fingerprints first of all to confirm she is indeed Bridget. So she tells him the story she and Andrew have hashed out between them, even dropping some names of places Siobhan has been staying – and if Agent Machado now looks for confirmation of it, he will find a woman matching Bridget's description has been there.
Her sister's duplicity coming in handy after all, who would have thought?
“I thought you trusted me,” Machado says, sounding tired and hurt.
“I was afraid,” she says. “I did trust you. I just didn't trust anyone else, including myself. I've learned to do better now. I'm sorry about all of this.”
“I could probably press a number of charges against you.”
“But I think Bodaway Macawi has destroyed enough lives,” he says and for a moment, she can almost feel what Shaylene must have seen in him.
“You're a good guy, Machado,” she says.
“Try to be a good girl,” he responds.
Work in progress, she thinks.
Juliet is out when she comes by the apartment, and Andrew is a little hesitant letting her up. She can see why when walks into the living room; he's drinking and his state is a little disheveled.
“I'm drinking to the success of the sisters Kelly in making me look the fool,” he says as she approaches.
“You're not a fool, Andrew. If anyone is, it's my sister, not realising how good a husband she had. If anyone is, it's me, falling in love with my sister's husband.”
He closes his eyes slightly as she kneels by the chair, not protesting as she takes the liqueur glass from his hand and putting it away.
“Machado visited me. I don't think he's going to create any problems. I can be Bridget Kelly again. Properly.”
He looks at her for a moment, looking almost wistful. “I wish you had been Bridget Kelly all along. That I'd come back from London to my wife missing and her sister giving me the news. I would have helped you as Bridget.”
“I wish I had trusted you from the start,” she agrees, learning into the touch as his fingers ever so carefully touch her cheek.
“I could have fallen in love with Bridget Kelly after I had grieved Siobhan.”
“I could have fallen in love with Andrew Martin,” she echoes. “How could I not?”
He pulls her up on his lap as his mouth finds her, kissing her eagerly. She braids her fingers through his hair, parting her lips as he tugs lightly on her lower lip. He does taste of alcohol, but she doesn't care. She's spent years prey to a weakness, she won't judge anyone for a evening's.
His hands trace the curve of her back as she arches a little, wandering downwards until finding the hem of her sweater. She lifts her arms to help him yank it off, breaking the kiss just long enough to allow it and not more. She is already working on the buttons of his shirt, feeling the smooth skin of his chest against the back of her fingers as she does. She longs to kiss it, to feel it brush against her hardened nipples, to rest her head against it after as she's done so many times.
But as Bridget now, Bridget and Andrew and not just bodies naked between them anymore. Everything else naked too, emotions and truth.
She links her legs around his waist as he gets on his feet, his hands resting on her hips as he carries her towards the bedroom. He pauses just at the foot of the bed, breaking the kiss also and looking her in the face.
“Bridget,” he says, as if tasting the name.
“Yes,” she whispers, framing his head in her hands and kissing him so softly it is barely a touch as he lowers them both.
Down they go.
Sex can be many things, her past has taught her. A commodity. A weapon. A comfort. A lie. A start. An end. A nothing. A mistake. The act might be the same, variations in position and partners, but what truly makes it different one time to another is the emotion of it.
So. Sex with Andrew can be many things. Want. Desire. Need. Enthusiasm. Pleasure. Love.
Love, she thinks and feels, skin and bodies and mouths linked; kissing, copulating and caressing and Bridget and Andrew and love all tangled up.
She wakes a few times during the night, once to find Andrew still sleeping, once to find him tracing the lines of the vein in her hand almost absentmindedly, once to find the side of his bed empty but a faint heat from his body still lingering in the sheets.
She rolls over and falls asleep in it, not waking again until morning.
The apartment is empty when she gets up, a brief note on the pillow from Andrew that he had to go in early to the office without any other explanations as her morning greeting. No terms of endearments either, and she has a faint memory of something similar occurring at the start of her posing as Siobhan.
That changed. This could also, and she grabs one of Andrew's shirt to put on, wanting to feel close to him. Just as she begins to gather up her own clothes to get dress and get back to the hotel, she hears the elevator.
“Andrew, did you forget...” she starts, but the words die on her tongue. Siobhan. It's Siobhan looking at her and looking just as surprised and for a moment, they both stand still, just staring.
“Enjoying my life, sister?” Siobhan says icily.
“No,” Bridget says simply. “Enjoying mine.”
Henry arrives when Siobhan and Andrew have already been arguing for half an hour in the bedroom, Juliet listening keenly from the couch of the living room and Bridget trying very hard not to listen at all.
She can catch the odd word, like 'cheating', 'fraud', 'kids', even her own name on occasion.
Henry looks a bit dazed, she notices. “She just walked in here? After all that, she just walked in here?”
“Yes. Caught Bridget in the nude...”
“Half-nude,” Juliet corrects, seeming to find great pleasure in the situation. “Siobhan must have hated that.”
“What does she want?” Henry injects, looking conflicted.
“Money. To give Andrew custody of the children, an easy divorce and not going to the SEC,” Bridget sums up, still finding it as hard to believe as when Siobhan first said it.
“She's a real bitch,” Juliet says, and Bridget can't quite make herself argue. She just tries not to feel an urge to run out the door and get away from everything the only way she can. She's not that Bridget anymore. She's not.
The voices fall silent, and a moment later Andrew emerges. He looks angry, but his voice is strangely soft when he speaks. “She wants to talk to Bridget.”
Bridget just nods, getting up. As she walks past him, Andrew puts a hand on her arm, halting her.
“You don't have to,” he says quietly.
“I know,” she says, managing a faltering smile. “But I am going to.”
“Did you want me to die?” Bridget asks quietly as she walks into the bedroom.
“Yes,” Siobhan says simply.
Bridget closes her eyes, feeling the familiar mixture of guilt, pain and regret wash over. Sean. Oh, Sean.
“Now I want you to convince my husband to give me my due. I want my old life back.”
“What old life?” Bridget asks, feeling anger start to push everything else away. “The one where you cheated on Andrew? The one where you treated Juliet like crap? The one where you blackmailed friends? The one where nothing was ever good enough for you, despite you having the love of the best man I know? The one where you faked your death so your sister could get killed? That life, Siobhan?”
“You think you do it so much better?!” Siobhan says sharply.
“I do,” Juliet says from the door.
“I do,” Andrew agrees, stepping up behind. “Get out, Siobhan. I will divorce you and I will gain custody of those children if they even are mine. If you try to contact the SEC, Tim Arbogast will crush you. He might do that anyway. You'll get your due all right. Get out.”
Siobhan looks for a moment ready to kill, and the look on a face that is such a mirror of her own makes Bridget want to close her eyes and not see anything at all.
“This isn't over,” Siobhan says, and Bridget meets her sister's gaze. “You think this is some sort of happily ever after for you? You're a drug addict. You killed my son. You will never be better than that.”
“At least I try to be,” Bridget says, and for a moment, just for a moment, something in her sister's face seem to fall a little. Then the mask is back and Siobhan brushes past her, past them all. Only Henry follows, and Bridget wonders if he saw what she saw, that for a moment maybe even Siobhan didn't want the role she had made for herself.
“Bridget?” Andrew asks, and she looks up into his worried face and realises she's been swaying slightly.
“I'm fine,” she says, but he still leads her to the bed, making them both sit down. After a moment, Juliet joins.
“I don't know how we're going to deal with your sister. Solomon will keep an eye on her for now, make sure she doesn't disappear again,” Andrew says. “Bridget, if Shiv really wants you dead, you'll be safer here.”
“What about you and I?” she asks. He looks torn for a moment, anger and something far more tender fighting for domination of his face. Then he leans forward and kisses her softly, brushing her cheek with a few fingers as he pulls away.
“You lied to me and Juliet,” he says, but without venom. “I was so angry with you. I was so angry with myself for not being able to tell. I was so angry thinking everything was a lie. But... I keep thinking about what you said about second chances. I got one. Juliet has had several...”
“Dad!” Juliet protests, but Andrew just ignores it.
“I could fall in love with you, Bridget Kelly. I'd like to get to know you at least.”
She nods, feeling her eyes tear up as Juliet also nods. Her family. After all this, she has a chance to make it truly her family.
“You're not a bitch,” Juliet says, and Bridget has to laugh a little. “I approve of non-bitch dating. Just no making out in the elevator again, that was gross.”
Bridget meets Andrew's gaze briefly, seeing from the look in his eyes that he is like her thinking about that other thing they did in the elevator that Juliet would find even grosser.
“You might have to get used to gross,” Andrew says and Juliet rolls her eyes at him, but keeps the faint smile. “You and me and Bridget against the world, right?”
“Right,” Juliet says, and they both look at her expectantly. This, Bridget realises, is the Martin family vow and she has just been asked to make it. Her family. Whatever Siobhan does, whatever troubles come – it'll be Juliet and Andrew and Bridget against the world. Right?
Everyone deserves a second chance, right?
“Right,” Bridget Kelly – Martin to be – vows.