Title: "The Long-Term Kind"
Author: Veritas Found
Rating: T / PG-13 / Teen
Characters/Pairings: Matt Dowd x Taylor Wethersby
Summary: Because she needs forever, and he's just not the forever kind of guy.
Disclaimer: Eli Stone and all respective properties are © ABC. Megan D. (Veritas Found) does not, has never, nor will ever own Eli Stone.
Author's Note/Warnings: No set date other than the near future, going off revelations from 02x04. Broedym, this is entirely your fault – and as such is entirely for you.
"The Long-Term Kind"
And you know that I love you
Here and now, not forever
I can give you the present
I don't know about the future
That's all stuff and nonsense
"Stuff And Nonsense" – Missy Higgins
To say that Matt was confused would be putting it lightly. He stood in the doorway to his girlfriend's office, where she was working on something at her desk. She had been working when he had arrived to pick her up for their dinner date, and had stopped only briefly to drop her bombshell before quickly burying herself in the file again. He was fairly sure his jaw had dropped (he was fairly sure it still was), and if someone were to walk behind him and give him a good shove he was also fairly sure he'd fall flat on his face in the middle of her floor.
"I'm sorry," he said slowly, face scrunching as he ran what he thought she had said through his mind again, "but can you repeat that?"
"I said I can't go to dinner with you tonight," Taylor said, not even glancing up from her paperwork.
"Yeah, I meant the other part," he said, not missing the way her hand gripped the pen a bit harder than she probably intended. He let go of the doorframe he had been holding on to and swung into her office, closing the door behind him. With a practiced ease he crossed the room and sat in one of the chairs before her desk, where he promptly kicked his feet up on the edge. Hands folded on his stomach, he nodded at her. "I'm not sure I heard you right."
"I'm sure you did," she said, casting an annoyed glance at his feet. She hated when he did that, and he knew it – but that never stopped him.
"Well, then run it by me one more time – just to be sure," he said, and she slammed her palm down, pen smacking against the desk.
"Matt!" she snapped, and he frowned. "You heard exactly what I said, so stop acting like you didn't just because you didn't like what it was! I said I can't go out with you tonight, or any night – I said we were over!"
"I thought that's what you said," he said, "but what I'm having trouble understanding is why. I thought you liked me."
"I…" she paused, unable to finish the thought. He arched a brow at her, and she looked back to her monitor. His forehead creased in concern, and the cocky air dropped from his posture.
"What's wrong, Taylor?" he asked, and her hand fisted around her pen again.
"I…you don't work here anymore," she said. It was obvious she was dodging his question.
"We went through that weeks ago – people from different firms date all the time," he said, and she rolled her eyes.
"Different firms, but you're in the shark pit that used to be part of this firm," she said.
"Martin would say you're in the sinking ship that used to be part of ours," he replied.
"Martin can go to hell," she spat, and he kicked his feet off her desk as he sat up.
"I still don't understand why you're breaking up with me," he said, then frowned again. "You are breaking up with me, right? That's what it sounds like. It's not just things are busy around here, right?"
"I'm breaking up with you," she said, and he nodded. He had thought as much.
"So why?" he asked, and if he had glanced up he would have seen her roll her eyes another time.
"Because," she said, and the clipped answer only served to annoy him.
"Because why?" he pressed, and she pushed out an exasperated breath.
"Because…oh, why do you even care? You're…you're…you're you – breakups don't affect 'The Dowd', remember? I'm looking for long-term, and you're just not the long-term kind of guy," she said. His frown deepened at that, probably because they both knew otherwise. If he had done anything over the past year it was prove that he was the long-term kind of guy. If he had the right girl – and Taylor was the right girl – he could definitely be long-term.
"Ok, so the Dowd can't do long-term – but Matt can," he said, looking up at her. She sighed again, looking back to her desk.
"I need something permanent, Matt," she said, "and we both know the minute you get bored –"
"Haven't gotten bored yet," he said, and she shot him a look. "I –"
"You will," she said. "That's the thing, Matt: you always do."
"Not this time," he said, and her look sharpened.
"Why not this time? What's so different about this time?" she asked.
"I love you," he said, the sudden admission shocking them both. Neither could believe he had said it, and while Taylor couldn't believe it because she simply didn't think it was true (another line, at best) he couldn't because…well, it was true. And it was never true before, and he had never planned on it being so this time.
"Maybe now," she said, "if you do at all. But not forever. You can't even promise that for tomorrow."
"I love you," he said again, stronger this time. If it was the one thing that could convince her to stay, then he'd tell her – because it was true, and because yes, she needed to know. Even if she didn't feel the same.
(He was starting to remember why he had left Wethersby and Stone in the first place; wearing your emotions this far out on your sleeve was nerve-wracking, to say the least.)
"Matt, stop!" she snapped, snatching up the folder as she pushed her chair out and stood. A photo fell out, and they both grabbed for it. His hand clasped the edge first, and he held it up to her.
"He…" he started, but the words died in his throat as he caught a glimpse of the photo: a sonogram, 'WETHERSBY, TAYLOR' printed in white on the bottom amidst a flurry of other medical argot. "…re. Oh my God."
"Matt, give it back," she snapped, reaching for the picture when he brought it close to his face. His jaw had dropped again as his eyes – for lack of a better term – bugged out.
"Oh my God," he said again, not noticing the way she had bit her lip. "Oh my –"
"You said that already – twice," she snapped, finally snatching the picture from his hand. His head snapped up, staring at her with a deer-in-the-headlights kind of look. At least that was how she translated it, but really it was more of a bewildered sort of horrified joy. Maybe joy – it was a baby, and he could only assume it was his, and that…he wasn't sure what that was. Bad? No, not really. Unexpected? Oh, yeah. Good?
…he wasn't sure, but he was thinking – maybe – yes.
"You weren't going to tell me," he said, suddenly processing the way she'd been trying to hide the photo. "You weren't –"
"Ok, repeating thing? Really annoying," she said, and he stopped.
"Sorry," he said, "just…wow. You're…"
"And I'm…?" he asked, looking up at her, and she rolled her eyes.
"No, it's Eli's – I've just remained incredibly thin the past eleven-plus months," she snapped.
"I'll take that as a yes, then," he said. "Why weren't you going to tell me, again? Wait. You're pregnant – with my kid – and you're breaking up with me. What's going on, Taylor?"
"I told you – you're not long-term!" she snapped, stalking back to her desk and shoving the sonogram photo back into the folder it had fallen from. "You're Matt the Dowd, lifelong playboy! You really think you'd be able to handle a baby? I wasn't even sure I was going to keep it until –"
"You were going to terminate?" he asked, hoping his voice didn't sound as judgmental as he thought it had. Her eyes narrowed on him, and he realized that maybe it had. Really, he had no opinion either way – he was pro-women's choice and all that, but…
Well, maybe he was, but this was his baby – so maybe he wasn't. Or maybe he was just a selfish bastard and didn't care unless it involved him.
"I…I wasn't sure," she said. "I'd never planned on kids – never really thought about them, not even when I was going to marry Eli. I didn't see myself as the motherly kind, and I definitely didn't think you'd be up for the challenge. I didn't know if I could do it on my own, but…"
"You didn't," he said, and she nodded.
"It's my baby," she said, shrugging slightly as she looked up at him. "I couldn't…it's my baby."
"Our baby," he corrected, and her look turned hawkish in a moment.
"My baby," she said. "You…you can't handle a baby, Matt."
"Well, you don't know that – there's a lot about me you still don't know, Taylor. I could be a dad. I could be a great dad. I…I want to be," he said. He walked over to her, looking up into her shocked eyes as he took her hand. He kissed her knuckles, giving her a small smile. "We're having a baby."
She remained silent, biting her lip as she looked at him. He could tell she was still hesitant, so he squeezed her hand and kissed her again.
"I love you, Taylor, and I want to have this baby with you," he said. "I mean it. I can do long-term – I want to! Don't break up with me."
"Go warm up the car," she said, pulling away to shuffle about some papers on her desk. "I'll clean up here and meet you in a few minutes."
"Is that a…?" he started, and she shrugged.
"This can wait until tomorrow," she said, nodding to her desk. "We'll go to dinner and…talk. We'll talk, and then I'll decide."
"Thank you," he said, hoping she could tell how much he meant it. She smiled and bobbed her head, giving him a half-hearted shrug. He stepped closer and pulled her into a hug, grinning as she yelped. "We're having a baby!"
"I told you to warm up the car," she laughed, and he gave her a quick kiss before releasing her.
"Going!" he said, hurrying out of her office. He caught his hand on the door and turned, calling her name and making her turn back to him. He gave her an award-winning smile. "I love you."
Now that it was said, he was starting to realize he wasn't going to grow tired of saying it any time soon. And, when he thought about it, he really didn't mind.