CHAPTER SIXTEEN

Carmen arrived at the apartment in Chicago at dark the next night. She wanted out before the week was up so she started packing up her stuff in their bedroom before going to bed.

"I thought we were gonna go out tonight," she asked as Jack led her towards their room. It was their four year anniversary, they'd made plans to go to dinner, but she had a feeling those plans had been changed without her knowledge.

"We were, but I liked this idea better," he stated with a grin, opening the door. The combination of dimly lit room of vanilla-scented candles and the fact that his notebook of songs was open to a certain page on the bed that spelled out MARRY ME by her name written in smaller print in the form of the letters made her head spin.

"Jack, what…"

He was down on one knee with a ring before she could even ask. Her immediate reply was trying to breathe, but the one he wanted, he got when she accepted his proposal and tackled him to the floor, just about setting the curtains on fire when nearly knocking over a candle.

One room down, only a few to go.

The next morning, she took on the living room, but there wasn't much in any other room – other than pictures – that she could physically take with her. It was all memories and reminders.

"That is one sexy Christmas tree," Carmen teased.

Her boyfriend of four years had refused to leave their apartment tree-less on Christmas and when she came home, the limp Charlie-Brown-Christmas style tree looked like the saddest little tree he could've gotten to fit in the room, but she couldn't help but love it.

"Shut up, you love it," he chuckled, sprinkling the tinsel in his hand over her head, in her hair.

"You jackass!" she exclaimed, laughing as she weaved the silver decorations in his mess of sandy blonde hair before he picked her up, tickling her sides as he pinned her to the couch. "Jack!" she shrieked. "Oh my god, ow, let me go!" she laughed.

"Not until you apologize for calling me a jackass!"

"OKAY!" she giggled. "I'M SORRY! JACK, STOP!"

Carmen let out a loud sigh at the memory, the phony Christmas picture of the two of them tossed in the box she'd been throwing their collective things in; mostly photographs of memories she wished would abruptly stop, but knew it wouldn't happen. Walking into the kitchen, another fond memory of the two of them came crashing back into her conscious mind.

"Is there any specific reason I'm being forced to use the blender instead of the electric egg beaters?" she asked, annoyed a bit at the fact that Jack was making her cook her own scrambled eggs, in a blender, no less.

"Because last time you used the electric egg beaters, I had to clean up the ceiling. Remember? And this is what I like to call, being creative."

"Yes, I remember, Mr. Creativity…" she grumbled, sighing dramatically as she held back a grin when he slipped his arms around her waist to rest them against the counter by the blender's controls. "Now what?"

"Is there four eggs in there?"

"Jack, this is ridiculous—"

"So are gas prices, but we're still dealing with it. Four eggs?"

"Yes, four eggs. Now I'm pushing the button or—"

"Carmen, no!" He was too late. The two of them were splattered in yellow goop, as was the ceiling tiles and the counters, before he could tell her to stop. "The top's not on…" he sighed, wiping the egg from his face and nose with his sleeve. "Great."

"I guess you have to clean the ceiling again, after all…"

Carmen's stuff was gathered by the front door. There wasn't much, just a few boxes and two duffle bags. It hadn't taken long to pull together either, but she figured that was for the best. The quicker, the more painless, the better. Standing in the doorjamb, she looked over the apartment one last time.

Only one memory she could think of clouding her thoughts from where she was perched.

"Welcome home, sweet cheeks," Jack grinned, holding her in the fireman's carry in the doorway. He pushed past the unpacked boxes and into the living room where the only furniture – the couch – stood brand new. He set her down on top of it and collapsed next to her. "What do you think?"

"I think we should sleep on the pull-out couch tonight," she stated with a smirk.

"Why?"

"Because, first of all, there's no bed in our bedroom yet,"

"…Very true. Second of all?"

"Reminds me of back home at your mom's," she smiled.

"I like that idea."

"Good."

"I love you, Carmen," he whispered, kissing the top of her head.

"Love you, too, Jackie."

Loading the several boxes into her car took longer to do than it did to pack them up. Mostly because she had to go up and down a bunch of stairs to get back and forth to her car, but by the time four 'o clock rolled around, she was carrying the last box outside – the collective box – labeled, "BURN ME." Walking outside, she saw the familiar figure of Bobby Mercer leaning against her VW Bug.

She stopped in her tracks. "Bobby," she stated, surprised to see him. She almost dropped the box, but shifted it in her arms and fumbled to open the trunk. "How'd you find the apartment?"

"I asked Jack. How else?"

"I didn't think he'd tell you."

"Yeah and I didn't think I'd arrive just in time to not have to help you load up the car," he smirked.

"How's he doing?"

"Jack's fine. His little girlfriend's been keeping him company."

"What's her name again?"

"Shit, I don't fuckin' know. I left to find you just after you left for Chicago."

Carmen stopped fumbling with the lock on the trunk to stare at him. "Why'd you do that?"

"I wanted to find you before you fled the country in search of some foreign boy who acts too gay to be straight."

"I've been with Mercers all my life, what makes you think I was going to do that?"

"Just a hunch," he shrugged. "Want some help?"

She stared blankly at him for a moment before he pried the keys from her hand. "I …sure…" she murmured.

Bobby unlocked the trunk and tugged the box from her hands, tossing it into the space left just big enough for it to fit. "Burn me?"

"Memorabilia. Gotta torch it."

"Want some help…?" he grinned.

"I thought you were pissed at me, why are you being so nice?"

"You broke up with Jack."

"What's your point, asshole?"

"I didn't mean it like that… Jesus Christ, I just meant he didn't have you all to his fuckin' self anymore."

"What the hell is that supposed to mean?"

Bobby let out a sigh. "I screwed up five years ago, by letting you go. I didn't wanna do that all over again when I had a chance to get you back."

"Who said that was a choice?"

"I didn't, but I thought it was worth a shot."

She paused for a second, fiddling nervously with the keys in her hands. "I've got no where to go, I was gonna crash at the Motel 6, but…"

"There's room in my bed back home."

"Can we torch the memorabilia first?"

"Fuck yeah we can," he grinned. "So what does this mean?"

"That you and Jack are officially over but you're gonna be a Mercer eventually anyway."

"Is that some freaky way of proposing to propose?"

He shrugged. "Probably. I guess we'll have to see how this pans out," he stated, inching closer to her.

Carmen's back was pressed against the glass of the back hatch of her VW Bug. "If you're gonna try and kiss me, you should do it before I change my mind," she said, smirking.

He obliged, but not before she agreed to get a bigger car. According to him, the backseat wasn't big enough for the both of them.

A/N: Okay so this was random mumbo jumbo that I'm not bothering to read over. Sorry if something doesn't make sense.

I just spit it out to post it. :)

Hopefully it worked out okay!

Leave some feedback?

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