Chapter Sixteen: The Seed

"Jess. You need to get a paternity test." Rory said.

Jess felt like he'd been smacked in the face. A paternity test? Why did Rory want to make things more difficult by demanding a paternity test? Didn't she understand that he was going through a lot right now, he needed her to be there for him, not plant doubt and uncertainty in his mind.

He stared at the floor, his gaze slowly rising to meet that of Rory's.

"Rory, I really need you to be on my side right now." He stated.

"I'm more on your side than you are! Can't you see that? How certain are you that this Jack-"

"Jake" Jess cut in.

"- whatever, how sure are you that he is even yours? I mean, are you really just going to take her word for it?"

"Why wouldn't I? Why would she lie? Why would she randomly 2 years after the fact, call me up and tell me, if he wasn't mine?"

"If he's yours, why didn't she call you up when she first found out?" Rory pointed out angrily.

For a moment, they both just stared at each other. After what felt like minutes, but was more like a few seconds, Jess simply turned calmly, and walked out of the bedroom. Rory, who by this point was standing, froze on the spot as the heaviness of what had just been said began to sink in.

Unbeknownst to Rory, she had succeeded in getting Jess to stop and think. Planted in Jess's mind was already a little seed of doubt. And that seed had just had its first dollop of sunlight and a good long watering. Just what it needed to grow just a little bit bigger….

A couple of days later Jess was at work when his cell phone began to buzz in his pocket. Glancing at the screen he saw Rory's name flashing, hitting ignore he put the phone back in his pocket. Things had been a little tense at home… not too bad, but he knew this whole Tara/Jake situation was beginning to drive a wedge between himself and Rory. They had not discussed the possibility of a paternity test since that first initial conversation, but Jess had not been able to get it out of his mind.

Jess kept himself busy at work, staying later than many of the other workers and returning home late, often finding Rory in bed already asleep in preparation for getting up early to go to her own job. Jess loved watching Rory sleep. Not in a creepy way, in a way where he would look at her face all squashed against the pillow, her hair in disarray around her face and the blankets bundled around her- she was a blanket hogger. Jess loved this girl, and it broke his heart that he was causing her so much pain and distress- yet again.

Jess' pocket buzzed again, thinking it was Rory again and that it must be important he answered the call without looking at the caller ID. It took him a few seconds but he eventually recognised Tara's voice.

"Hi Jess, how are you?" Tara asked.
"Uh, fine Tara, how are you?"
"Oh, you know, the usual. So the other day in the park was really fun don't you think? Jake thoroughly enjoyed himself. We should do it again sometime soon yes?" Tara inquired.

Jess felt stuck, on the one hand, if Jake was his son he didn't want the beginning of their relationship to be tainted with the negativity of Jess not trusting Tara's word… but on the other hand he had every right to know with absolute certainty that Jake was his. It wasn't just him that this affected, it had a huge impact on Rory and on their relationship.

"Jess? Hello?" Tara interjected Jess' thoughts.
"Sorry, uh, Tara, we need to talk. Can we meet up?"
"Sure, how about the coffee place around the corner from your work?" Tara suggested.

"Yep, sounds good. See you soon". Jess hung up and with heavy heart he called out to the other guys that he was out for lunch, and left without waiting for a reply.

Jess reached the coffee place first and sat at a table outside (easier for a quick getaway he thought, if things get ugly). Tara came around the corner alone, to jess' relief, he really didn't want Jake to be here, even if he wouldn't have really understood what was about to happen. Jess stood upon Tara's arrival at the table and politely let her kiss his cheek in greeting. Tara sat and immediately started talking about Jake and something funny he had said or done the other day. Jess tried hard to listen to what she was saying but was finding it increasingly difficult when he knew he just needed to say what he had asked her here for.

"Tara!" Jess said, a little too loud than necessary.

"I want to get a paternity test" Woops Jess thought, where did that come from?
"You want to get a paternity test? What, you don't believe me? Why would I lie Jess?"

"I'm sorry, I didn't mean to just blurt it out like that, you see, I was talking to my girlfriend and she-"

"I fail to see what your girlfriend could have to say on the subject since she has met neither myself or Jake before." Tara said, crossing her arms across her chest.

"I realize that Tara," Jess tried to pull back and explain his reasons, "It's just this is a huge life changing thing, but it's not just me that I have to think about here-"

"True, you should be thinking about Jake as well" Tara interrupted Jess once more.

"Tara, please! Just let me talk!"

"Ok, ok, talk then"

"My girlfriend, Rory, and I live together. We have a life together and the appearance of a 2 year old suddenly has been quite the shock to both of us. I have every right to know for sure Tara, and if you can't understand that then I'm sorry, but I need to know"

Tara was quiet for a moment. She seemed to be thinking. Jess sat, sweating seeping through his shirt.

Tara opened her mouth to speak, "No. No Jess. You're either in or you're out." And with that, she stood up, picked up her bag and walked off in the direction she had arrived from. Jess stared in shock- thank goodness he was sitting down because he felt like all the wind had been knocked right out of him. What was up with that? He couldn't help but thinking Tara's refusal to allow the paternity test meant that she was lying- or perhaps not sure of Jake's real father…

Jess went home early that day. He wasn't going to make the same mistake twice and planned on telling Rory exactly what had happened with Tara. Sure, he hadn't phoned Rory to let her know it was happening, but it was a very spur of the moment meeting and he was sure she would understand.

The moment Rory walked in Jess handed her a glass of wine, took her coat and bag and placed them on the table and asked her to sit. For a split second he regretted the wine incase Rory became so angry that she threw the wine in his face…. But Rory wasn't one for huge outbursts… that was more her mother's department.

Rory took a few sips, a quizzical expression forming on her face, with a hint of worry. Jess sat opposite her and began to tell her what had happened that day at the coffee shop.

Rory was quiet after this new piece of news had sunk in. Alarm bells were ringing in her head on behalf of both Jess and herself. Generally, in the movies anyway, refusal of things such as paternity tests meant the test in question would come back negative. But Rory knew Jess could not just leave it as it was- with Tara's ultimatum. And quite frankly, Rory couldn't leave it at that either.

Rory began to think that this Tara girl was up to something…. There was something else she was after. She hadn't mentioned money yet, as far as Rory knew, so she didn't think her main intention was to ask Jess for child support. Jess wasn't exactly Mr. Money anyway… no it was something else…. But what? Perhaps Tara was out of options and was turning to desperate measures to help her deal with something, sort something out. The good heart inside Rory felt a pang of sympathy as she hoped that Tara and her little boy were alright, this quickly subsided to make room for the overwhelming doubt and suspicion Rory felt growing inside her.

The seed of doubt had planted its roots firmly in Rory's mind and as she continued to mull over Tara's intentions the seed began to show it's ugly face through the dirt above… Would it be watered with Rory's increasing doubt and suspicion or would it be plucked out as a weed?

Questions: Do you think Jake is Jess' kid? What do you think Tara's intentions are? What do you think Rory and/or Jess should do?