Rating: M for language
Summary: Teri tells Jack she's pregnant
A/N: Don't own it, please don't sue. Okay, this is really, really, the last one. This is just for you, Chips.
I met a boy and a boy met me
And we got together and we made a bay-bee.
And that sucks.
Jack kicked the door closed behind him and set his keys and the stack of Criminology 203 papers on the counter before dropping his book bag to the floor. He strode to the fridge and took out a beer, tossing the cap in the garbage. He had a long evening of marking ahead of him, but he needed a breather.
He rubbed one hand through his hair and down over his eyes as he inhaled deeply. That tutorial had been brutal. He must not be a very good T.A., because his students seemed to be getting dumber as the weeks went by.
And then Jennifer, the blonde, perky junior, had wanted to go for coffee to discuss her assignment. It soon became clear what she really wanted, and extricating himself had been tricky. He wasn’t interested, but even if he was, that was a line that was just too dangerous to cross these days. His own advisor wouldn’t even close the door to his office when he met with female students. Careers had gone down in flames on the basis of one complaint, and Jack had put too much into his to lose it over a date or two.
Jack took another swig of beer and leaned against the counter as he contemplated the stack of papers glumly. He knew every last one of them was going to suck, except for Jennifer’s. And if he gave her the only good mark, she might misinterpret it. But if he didn’t, he’d be in bigger trouble. He didn’t want to do this.
What he really wanted was Teri. He hadn’t heard from her since she left over two months ago, despite his letter to her. He’d only written once. If she wasn’t interested, there wasn’t much more he could do.
He pushed himself away from the counter and walked to the answering machine to check his messages. The light was blinking. He pressed the button and to his surprise and delight, Teri’s voice filled the room.
“Hi Jack, it’s Teri. Sorry to miss you. Got your letter. I’m not much of a writer,” she gave a small laugh that made him weak in the knees. “But if you want to give me a call, you can.” Jack grabbed for a pen and wrote down the number she gave, listening to the message twice to make sure he got it right.
He picked up the phone and dialled. The line crackled and popped, but eventually he could hear a sound that he supposed was ringing. He’d never called overseas before.
“Hello?” It was Teri, her voice thick with sleep.
“Teri? It’s Jack.”
“Am I calling at a bad time?”
“It’s three in the morning, Jack.”
“Oh, shit. Teri, I’m sorry. I just walked in and got your message. I didn’t even think.” He pressed a knuckle to his eye. It seemed like he was always doing something stupid. That must make him really attractive. “I can call you back.” He checked his watch to do the math.
“No, that’s okay.”
Jack could hear some rustling, like she was sitting up in bed. He tried not to visualize it. It would make it difficult to concentrate. Too late. Adjusting his pants, he carried the phone over to the couch. The same couch where… He stood up again and moved to the chair.
“I’m glad you called, Jack. I really want to talk to you.”
“Yeah? Hey, I’m glad you called, too. It’s good to hear your voice.”
“So, how are things?”
He smiled. “Things are fine. How about you?”
“Good, good. How’s the thesis going?”
“Almost done. I’m wrapping up the index and formatting. I have to have it in by next week so they can circulate it to the committee before my defence.” There was something she wasn’t telling him, but he wasn’t worried – yet. He was usually pretty good at getting people to open up. “How’s work? Restored any Da Vinci’s yet?”
“Ha. No. Listen, Jack,” Teri cleared her throat. “God, I wish we could be in the same room.”
“Me, too.” A change in her voice raised his concern. “Teri, are you okay? Is something wrong?”
“Do you remember the last time we saw each other?”
Yeah, kinda. But it didn’t sound like she was about to give him a rave review. Shit. Here it comes. “Yes.” His voice was neutral.
“Jack, I’m pregnant!” Teri blurted.
“What?” If he hadn’t been sitting down, he probably would have fallen over. Somebody had just taken his legs out from under him.
Jack could hear the catch in her voice that told him she was fighting back tears.
“Shit.” He leaned into the phone. “Teri, I’m so sorry. I should have been more responsible.”
“Listen,” He paused, searching the ceiling for the right words and failing to find any. “I know it’s your body and your decision. But I want you to know I’m here for you whatever you decide.”
“Okay.” She sniffled again. “Okay, thanks.”
He could tell she was struggling to keep it together. He cleared his throat and asked gently, “Have you thought about what you want?”
“Have I thought about it?” She laughed bitterly. “Yeah, I’ve thought about it.”
Jack decided silence might be the best option here.
“I’m sorry.” She caught her breath. “Yes. I’ve been thinking about it. I think I’m going to keep it.”
“You are?” Jack realized he was relieved. It made no sense, but he was. “Teri, that’s great! I mean, I know I don’t have any say in this but… Wow.”
“Really? You really think so?”
“Yeah. Listen, Teri, I will be there for you every step of the way. If you want me involved, that is.” He bit his lip. God, it was difficult not to sound like an ass.
“Yeah, well,” Teri gave a weak laugh. “I just thought you should know. I haven’t decided your role beyond that. I mean – let’s see when I get back, you know?”
Jack swallowed. “You mean we don’t know each other very well.”
“Yeah. I guess that’s what I mean.” She sounded miserable.
“Teri --” Jack rubbed his mouth before he continued. “I want to do what’s right. Do you, I mean, we could ---” He didn’t want to push her away.
She interrupted. “I think it’s too early to make any long-term decisions.”
“Okay. Well, it’s pretty late…”
“Sorry, of course. I’ll let you go.” He thought of something. “Wait -- Teri, have you told your parents?”
“How did they take it?” He could imagine how his dad was going to react. Best not to think about that right now.
“Well, they weren’t over the moon, but they’re supportive. My dad says having a new person to love isn’t the worst thing that could happen.”
“Really? That’s… amazing.”
“Of course, he still wants to kill you.”
“Jack, I’ll be back in September. Let’s talk then, okay?”
September? He had to stew about this for almost three months? Of course, she had to do far more than that, so who was he to complain?
“Okay. If you need anything, if there is anything you want me to do for you, you’ll let me know?”
“I mean it. You say it, I’ll do it.”
“Okay, Jack. Jeez, relax a little. I’ll talk to you soon.” She said goodbye and hung up.
Jack replaced the handset on the cradle and set it on the floor. He was still staring into space when his roommate got home.
“Yo, Jack. Whatcha doing sitting here in the dark?” Matt flicked on the light and went to the kitchen for a beer. He returned with it and flopped on the couch. Then he noticed that Jack hadn’t moved. “Jack?” He stood up again and snapped his fingers in front of his friend’s face. “What’s up, buddy?”
Jack slowly turned his head to face Matt, his eyes dazed. “I’m going to be a father.”
“What? Holy shit, man! How is that even possible? You haven’t even gotten laid since that Teri chick was in town.” Matt whooped, incredulous. “Teri? You knocked up Teri the first time? Oh, my god. You poor bastard. What a stupid cunt!”
Matt just had time to shake his head before Jack hit him. He staggered backward as Jack grasped a handful of his shirt at the base of his throat and pushed him up against the wall. Matt’s beer dropped to the floor.“That cunt,” Jack growled, his face inches from the other man’s. “Is the mother. Of my child.” He gave Matt a short, sharp shake. “I don’t ever want to hear you speak about her like that again. Do you understand me?” He tilted his head, his eyes blazing.
“Do you understand me?!” Jack yelled.
“Yes!” Matt gasped and rubbed his throat when Jack let go. “Fuck, man. I’m sorry. You didn’t have to go all ape-shit on me. Jesus.”
Jack stood there, shaking. “I’m sorry, Matt,” he said quietly. He sat back on the chair and grasped the back of his head with his hands, leaning his elbows on his knees. “Christ. What am I gonna do?”
Matt glanced sadly at his spilled beer on the floor. It had been their last bottle. He sat on the couch. “So she’s keeping it?”
Jack sighed, moving his hands down his face. “Yeah.”
“Yeah.” They sat there quietly for a moment.
“You’d better lawyer up.”
“Well, child support and all that. She could take you to the cleaners.”
“I’m not going to walk away from my own child, Matt.” He was going to be there for his kid. He was going to be a good father. Unlike his own.
“Okay, well, sure. Of course you’re not. I’m just saying, find out what your rights are. You want to make sure you have access, and all that.” Matt snapped his fingers. “Your brother!”
“He’s a lawyer, right? You could talk to him.”
“Yeah, that would be great,” Jack replied sarcastically. “That would be fan-fucking-tastic. I’m sure he would love to help me deal with this situation.” He sighed and stood up, walking into the kitchen. He returned with the roll of paper towel and started to clean up the spill. “I don’t know. I don’t think Teri is that kind of person.”
“How much do you know about her?”
Jack didn’t look up. “Not much, I guess.”
“Does she know you’re going back to the Army as soon as you graduate?”
“No. I didn’t tell her I was in ROTC.”
“You didn’t tell her?”
Jack gave the floor a final swipe and shrugged. “It didn’t come up. We mostly talked about her.”
Matt whistled. “You’d better lawyer up, man. You could be royally screwed.” Matt slapped his hands on his thighs and stood up. “Hey, let’s go out.”
Jack shook his head. “I can’t. I’ve got all this marking to do, and I’ve got field training this weekend.”
Matt shot him a look. “Somehow, I don’t think your mind will be on it. Come on, grab your coat.”
“Fine.” Jack carried the bottle and wet paper towels into the kitchen and put them in the sink. As he reached for his keys he spotted the stack of mail his roommate had brought in. At the top of the pile of bills and pizza flyers, a brochure caught his eye. A soldier in combat fatigues stared confidently out from under his helmet, while men rappelled from a helicopter hovering behind him. “There’s no life like it!” the headline proclaimed.
Jack paused, letting his fingers run over the edges of the glossy paper. He should have told her. He shook his head and followed Matt out the door.