Disclaimer: Of course I don't own any of WaT, it's owned by Hank and co.
A/N: This is dedicated to the wonderfulMariel who was a great help, and to my lovely husband Peter, who didn't laugh when he found out what I was doing on the computer… This 2 part story is totally J/S for all the fans out there, especially at Maple Street.
Samantha picked up her wine glass and swirled her pinot noir thoughtfully.
"You know, I'm not going to make this easy for you," she said, eyeing him over the glass before she took a sip.
Jack nodded. "I didn't expect you to." He poured himself some more wine. He found it relaxing him, warming his stomach. He needed calming. The last few months had not been kind to him.
Here he was again, in her apartment. It had been a long time. A few changes about the place. The curtains maybe. Some cushions definitely. But it was all familiar, comfortable. And here they were, sitting across from each other at her table. It felt like a homecoming.
If she'd let him.
Earlier that evening, Jack had been pretending to shuffle papers and folders for some time at his desk. Danny had somehow in record time organized a Friday after-work get together at the local bar for the entire floor. Jack was in two minds whether to go or not. Another lonely evening at home, or alone in a crowd…
He'd glance up every now and again, just to check progress, and suddenly there was a crowd filing past his office. Danny poked his head through the door.
"C'mon Jack, you haven't been out with any of us for a long time."
Feeling caught by his own trap, Jack allowed a small smile. "Okay." His dark eyes flicked past Danny to the unofficial happy couple, Samantha and Martin. Standing close, but not too close. He doubted anything had changed there, unfortunately. "Be there in half an hour."
Danny grinned and pointed a finger at his boss. "You'd better."
Jack eased back in his chair a bit. So she was planning on being difficult. He drank some wine.
Her soft brown eyes caught his. "So, why do you think I want you back?"
Exactly, he thought, wondering that himself. Why on earth would she want her divorced boss, father of two, with a shrew of an ex-wife (not that she'd always been that way, he'd created a lot of that persona)? He'd not only screwed her but her emotions and life.
Good point. She was with Martin now, but she wanted Jack. He was fairly certain of it. That's why he was there.
Jack trudged up the stairs to the bar, and pushed open the door. This was too painful, but it had to be done. Samantha and Martin at work were hard enough to handle since he'd found out (ignorance is bliss he'd decided), but in a social situation… Even Jack felt he might not be able to keep his turbulent emotions under normal control. He'd had lots of practice in the past, but it was getting more and more difficult. It would help if he weren't so tired from the lack of sleep.
He wandered down the small hallway, past the vending machines to the doorway, scanning the large, crowded room. The work group was over the far side of the bar, being a very rowdy bunch of agents.
Just then his phone rang and he turned away, just as Vivian shouldered past him with a couple of shopping bags. "You're leaving already?" she asked. "I had some things to get…"
He smiled, shrugged and indicated his phone. "See you Monday Vivian", and flicked his phone open. It was a call from his daughters. He beamed as he answered, "Hey, you're early. How're you guys?" and started to walk away from the doorway.
"Why should you take me back is more the question," he said, thoughtfully, gazing at her. "There are probably a million reasons." She arched an eyebrow at this, the merest hint of a smile on her lips. She nodded, holding his gaze. He leaned forward to rest his elbow on the table, chin in hand. "The only real reason is that I love you, and I know you love me." He said it. He meant it. He should have said it long ago.
She nodded as her eyes dropped to her glass, her finger tracing the rim. "Martin said he loved me too," she murmured.
His breath caught in his throat. "What did you say?" he asked quietly.
"That it was too soon for me to tell," she said looking up.
"And?" he whispered.
"He was upset. It was after you came back." She pushed a stray lock of hair behind her ear. "I was feeling…conflicted."
He felt like saying welcome to my world, where it was nothing but that.
She went back to concentrating on her glass. "I think I thought things would just get better. My feelings would grow," she looked away from the glass, but not at him. "He's so nice, so loving…" she trailed off. She glanced back to Jack. "But he's not you. I can't go on giving Martin half of whatever I've got."
It was wet and grim outside the bar's front door so Jack decided to stay in the hallway. He had finished talking to his daughters, and they were about to send him some pixt photos. The phone beeped surprisingly quickly, and he flipped it open. The girls had been face painting and were eager to show off their handiwork. Very cute.
He looked up, the smile from the photos still on his lips.
"Sam…" He couldn't hide his surprise. He wasn't expecting this. He certainly wasn't prepared for it.
"Vivian came in and said she was surprised you didn't stay very long," she said, with an enquiring look on her face.
Jack regained some composure. "I was just going in when the girls rang, they sent some pictures," he said, waving the still open cell phone in the air as an alibi.
"I just thought I'd come out and see if you were still here,' Samantha said, a little too nonchalantly. They stared at each other in the dim light. "May I see the pictures?" she asked.
Jack was immobile, caught like a creature in her headlights. Her hair was falling softly to her shoulders. Her blood red blouse open at the neck (God, he loved her in that colour; he'd tried not to stare all day), revealing a delicate yellow gold chain framing her throat. Her lipstick matched her blouse. He fought the urge to grab her and mash those soft lips against his own.
"Jack?" She stepped closer.
"Oh, yeah, here," he managed, proffering her the cell phone.
She looked at the photos and grinned. "Lovely pictures, Jack,' she said, giving back the phone.
He loved hearing his name on her lips, especially when it had nothing to do with work. He nodded. "Thanks. You wanted to see me?"
She looked over her shoulder, back to the bar entrance, a small frown on her brow. He wanted to reach out and smooth it away. He realized his heart was beating a little faster than it should, and were those butterflies in his stomach?
"Look, I'm sorry about all this-," she began to say.
"No," he cut her off. "It's all me, it's my doing."
"Jack, its okay-"
"No, Sam, it's not. You know it, I know it." Was now the time to open up and bare his soul? He'd thought about it many times, but not like this exactly. He mentally shrugged. There was nothing to lose, as he'd practically lost everything that meant anything to him.
He quickly looked around the hallway, took her arm and pulled her with him to a small alcove between some vending machines. He could smell her perfume, intoxicating, and so Sam. It drove him crazy in the bullpen; it was like a weapon she used. He swore it was the same bottle he gave her an age ago.
They were standing closer than they really should, but Jack was certainly beyond caring. "You know I've screwed up so badly with you," he said, his voice just above a whisper, "many, many times and I'm so sorry…and I have no right to be given another chance." There, that much was off his chest, but curiously he didn't feel much better. "I know you're with Martin, and I wish you only the best, but…" He decided to go for broke. He leant in closer to her; she didn't shy away from the intimacy, she was just looking at him, her face blank. "I've badly messed us up but I need you and want you and I can't have you and it's tearing me up inside." He swallowed. "You're the only thing that keeps me going throughout the day. Now I find myself-," he paused for breath, his heart thudding in his ears.
He pulled back, taking a moment to recover, and looked away, trying to curb the emotions that were flooding through him. "I find myself lost…without you." He leaned back against the wall for support, suddenly drained. "I'd do anything to have you back," he murmured, mostly to himself. It wasn't quite how he thought he'd ever say it, but still, better than the limbo he'd endured.
She was saying nothing, doing nothing, just looking at him. Risking a glance at her, he couldn't decipher her face. He used to be able to, but now it was for someone else, Martin, to do so.
He let out a small sigh of air. "I'm sorry. I shouldn't have thrown all that at you-," and suddenly her hand was on his arm. She was leaning incredibly close to him. He could smell her hair, her breath. He almost shivered.
"Jack," she whispered, "just say the word."
He blinked. "What?"
She let her hand trail slowly down his arm.
"Just say the word…" she repeated, and stepped back, out of the alcove. "And I'll see…"
Jack was stunned, but realization was slowly dawning.
She took another step back, eyebrows slightly raised, a hint of a smile on her lips, before turning and heading back to the bar.
He watched her go. Her wonderful figure retreating.
Jack reached for his wine glass, and studied the stem. He remembered these glasses. "So what did you tell Martin you were doing tonight?" he said, trying to sound casual.
Samantha shrugged. "That I needed some alone time."
"Men hate hearing that phrase," Jack pointed out, resisting the urge to smirk. Martin would certainly not like it…
"Well, I wasn't going to tell him I was meeting you here, was I?"
Jack turned around as if on automatic and headed out the door, onto the street. Walk, just walk, his brain said. So he set off onto the dark New York pavement, and did just that.
Jack Malone was scared. That's what you get for opening up. He'd been so intent on saying what he felt to Samantha that he hadn't actually thought of any consequences. A verbal cut down, or even a slap in the face, that was to be expected, but not the glimmer of hope she gave him.
That's what scared him. Hope given easily can as easily be taken away.
He stopped in his tracks. What the hell was going on with her and Martin now?
He looked around, not particularly concerned where he was, and spotted a small bar. He marched in, ordered a double whiskey on the rocks, found a small booth, and sat down. He took off his tie and shoved it in a pocket.
Taking a mouthful of the whiskey, he pulled his phone out, and placed it in front of him, carefully, like an unexploded bomb. And he stared at it, thinking back to their conversation. She'd been standing so close to him…
The Jack of a couple of years ago would have confidently taken Samantha up on her challenge with barely a thought. But this was an emotionally bruised Jack. One who'd been knocked into the stratosphere by his wife. And, while not expecting Samantha to rush back into his available arms, he'd certainly not expected her to have raced off with Martin. That had unsettled and unnerved him more than he'd like to admit. However he couldn't allow himself to be jealous. Combined, it all produced a shadow of a man, confident at work, but not where his personal life was concerned. No wonder she had scared him; she'd prodded his new, very small comfort zone. Or rather, discomfort zone.
He took another small mouthful from the glass, the ice cubes chinking. Maybe the time for introspection was over. The opening was there, and this was his chance. The results so far had been surprising, considering he hadn't planned on being so frank with her.
Just say the word. I'll see. She'd actually said it.
He glared at the phone. She would be waiting for him to call her. He sat back and rubbed his eyes. He'd be kicking himself if he didn't. He'd missed so many opportunities in the past.
Decision made, he downed the rest of the whiskey. Then he noticed something he should have taken care of long ago. His wedding ring. Without a second thought, he pulled it off his finger and pocketed it. His marriage sure as hell was over, and second chances rarely occur. Unencumbered and feeling a little light headed, he put his phone in his jacket. This call wasn't going to be on the FBI. He didn't need any more OPR questioning if it ever came to that. It was still a concern. He looked around for a pay phone, changed some notes, dialed her number, and took a deep breath as it rang.
"Spade here," she answered, perplexed by the caller i.d.
"I don't quite know what you want, Sam," he said bluntly.
"I thought I was being fairly obvious." As she spoke, the background noise receded as she found a quieter spot.
"Okay. I'd like to give the word then. I'm not sure where it will lead…"
"Let's clear the air."
Jack found himself nodding. "I'd like that." He paused. "I meant everything I said before."
"I know," she spoke softly. "This is the chance to plead both our cases. I know you're sorry, and I think we're past that. I've been doing a lot of thinking... My place, in one hour, bring wine. Would that be okay?" she asked hesitantly.
"I think I remember what you like to drink. See you there." He could actually feel a smile on his face.
As he hung up the phone, Jack was relieved. She'd forgiven him, again. He thought he'd never be able to apologize enough. He breathed out a sigh of relief. Things were looking up.
He ran his hands through his hair. So now he had a mission, to find a decent bottle of wine, maybe grab a bite to eat and get over to Samantha's. He ventured out from the bar, a determined, confident man once more.