Their Own Home
A/N: The next part of my series to try and explain the shifting relationship between Tony and Jeannie covers the first part of Season 3 up to "Tony's Wife," where this one takes place.
Tony Nelson was standing in front of his bedroom mirror staring at his reflection. He was supposed to be dressing himself, but instead was lost in thought.
A few days previous, he had arrived at home feeling awfully tired. He tried to get Jeannie to blink him up some dinner to eat in bed so he could go straight to sleep. But Jeannie had other plans. She had invited someone over for dinner. When Tony answered the door, expecting to get rid of whoever it was in exchange for a quiet evening in bed, he was surprised to see a beautiful woman standing in front of him. And now, despite everything he tried to do, Jeannie was insisting that he continue to see this woman. So he had a date.
It was this behavior that worried him. Jeannie had never let him go on a date without ruining it before, and now she was making them for him. And to make matters worse, every time he went out, Jeannie had a date herself. Had she finally given up on him?
Tony knew that Jeannie wanted (or had wanted), more than anything, to marry him. And while he'd never given her reason to hope for marriage, he thought he made it clear how much he loved her anyway. There was no other woman in the world for him. His mother's coming to stay had shown him that, just as much as any date gone awry.
His mother, worried about him living alone, had come with the express purpose of getting him a girl. As if he needed help. Tony Nelson could pick and choose. But he had Jeannie, and he had chosen her, and the last thing he needed was for his mother to come and push him to choose someone else.
Tony had been secretly glad when Jeannie popped herself in at the beach. They never would have gotten rid of his mother otherwise, and as much as he loved having his mother around, he missed being greeted by Jeannie in the morning or when he came home from work. And this way Tony was able to go, evening after evening, with the only woman he really wanted to take out. It always gave him a kick to think of his mother, excitedly sending him off to go pick up Jeannie, driving down the block, and having her appear right beside him. Those few nights away from his mother with Jeannie were heaven.
When his mother went away, Tony had never been showered with quite so many kisses. He smiled as he remembered how excited she had been when they were alone at last in their own home.
His smile grew melancholy at the thought.
Their own home.
He shook his head at his reflection and went back to tying his tie.
Tony wasn't quite sure when it happened, but sure enough, this place had become Jeannie's home just as much as his. And he was glad. He didn't think that he could ever share it with anyone else.
Which brought his thoughts back to Helen.
He enjoyed his time with her; it was true. It was very easy to talk to her. She was intelligent and well informed. And she never seemed to run out of questions. She asked him about his work, was genuinely interested, seemed to understand when he explained basic technical information, and never pushed him when the conversation led them down a dangerous path to classified information. But she was no Jeannie.
Tony was glad, then, that he was finished getting dressed, because he suddenly was no longer able to be apart from her.
He grabbed his jacket and walked out his bedroom door and into the doorway where Jeannie was waiting for him, dressed in a simple blue dress.
"Oh, you look very handsome, Master," she said when he appeared. "I hope you have a good time."
"Thank you, Jeannie," he replied, putting on his jacket. "Do you have another date tonight?"
"Oh… yes, Master," she admitted, somewhat reluctantly. Tony took a step closer.
"Well, who is this character, anyway?" he demanded. "Why doesn't he ever come pick you up?"
"Oh, he does, Master, but you are always out with Helen."
"Oh." Tony looked at her. "Is it serious, Jeannie?" he asked softly.
"Well… what is serious?" she said plaintively, turning her back to him and walking away.
"Now, come on, Jeannie. You know what I mean."
"Do not worry about me, Master. You just go out and have a nice time with Helen," she said turning back to face him.
"Will you just forget about Helen for a minute, Jeannie? Huh? How can I have a nice time while you're out gallivanting around with a man you hardly know, a man I've never even met?" He raised his arms with his voice. When Jeannie didn't answer, he continued, more quietly, "What does he do for a living?"
Jeannie looked at the ground and said, "He is a genie, Master. My mother asked me to go out with him."
The news hit Tony like a sonic boom and shook him to the core. She was giving in to her mother's wishes, which only meant one thing: she had given up on him.
In that instance, Tony only knew to listen to his instincts, and in the infinite battle of fight or flight, Tony listened to his training: retreat and live to fight another day.
"I see," he said simply. "Well, have a good time." And then he was out the door.
He got into his car and drove over to Helen's without even realizing what he was doing. He greeted her parents, took her to dinner, went dancing, and took her back home again as his head swam with different battle plans. They all had promise, but Tony didn't have much faith in any of them. He realized that if Jeannie had given up on him, he couldn't do anything about it but show her she was wrong.
When he followed that thought through to conclusion, however, he realized he had no right to keep Jeannie from any promising, respectable young man.
It was that thought that kept him awake long after coming home to find Jeannie safely asleep in her bottle.
He tossed and turned. Jeannie wanted to get married, and who was he to stop her? He couldn't marry her, so why should he expect her to hang around without any hope? No, she had every right to try and find someone to love her the way she loved him. But why would she keep ruining his outings with Helen if she had given up on him?
Perhaps she had changed her mind about his relationship with Helen. Maybe she didn't want him going out with her anyway. But if that were the case, why would she keep rejecting him when he offered to take her out instead of Helen?
When Tony finally fell into a fitful sleep, he had concluded that she had given up on him, but found it hard to let him go. He had a chance at least. And that was the opening he was going to use.
The next morning, when Tony woke up, he spoke briefly to Jeannie. She sat with him while he ate his breakfast, asked him about his date, and shied away from answering any of his questions when he tried to ask her about her evening. Frustrated, he left the house and went to pick up Helen. He had, without really realizing what he was doing, made another date to go out on the lake in the park with her.
When his canoe split in half, Tony knew that only Jeannie could have caused such a disaster. And he hadn't been far off. When Jeannie finally told him what was wrong, his relief was palpable. He was obligated to take Helen to the bridge party, but when the evening was over, he said goodnight, refused to kiss her, a social effrontery at this point, and told her, as best he could, that he wasn't ready for a serious relationship, even if she was supposed to be perfect for him.
Of course, none of this stopped him from teaching his genie a lesson the following night.
He had been surprised that Jeannie even let him walk out the door when he left that night in his dinner jacket. He could hear her, though indistinctly, talking to herself as he stood outside and waited, and when he decided he had made her wait long enough, he knocked.
"Who is it?" he heard her call.
"Master!" she exclaimed, opening the door.
"Aren't you dressed yet?" Tony asked. "They're not gonna hold a table. It's a very busy restaurant."
"But, Master, I thought –" she began, but Tony never let her finish.
"Jeannie, you know I hate to have a date keep me waiting. Now will you hurry up?" he said, with a slight twinkle in his eyes.
"Oh, Master!" she exclaimed, throwing her arms around him. Tony secured her in his embrace, holding her tight. He had missed how nice her body felt pressed against his own. "I am so happy!" she said, pulling back to look at him.
"Jeannie," he began, looking at her more seriously now, "the next time you wanna know who's right for me, don't ask a machine, ask me." He said those last words with more feeling than he'd ever dared betray and was rewarded by Jeannie's vigorous nod and wide, loving smile. He was about to go in for the kiss of his lifetime when there was a knock on the door.
Of course, it would have been Roger to open the perfume bottle that let Jeannie's sister out. But as they ran out of the house, Jeannie thought fast, and the next thing Tony knew, he was on the island where he found her.
"Quick thinking, Jeannie!" he exclaimed and looked around only to find her.
"Thank you, Master!" she answered.
"Wait a minute," Tony began, "what about Roger? You didn't leave him back there all alone, did you? Jeannie, you know Roger –"
"Oh, no, Master!" Jeannie interrupted him. "Of course not! Major Healey is at home!"
"At home?" She nodded. "Well, good." After a second passed, he asked, "Do you think she'll know where to look for us?"
"Oh, no, Master. We are all alone. She will go home eventually, but I think we had better stay here for now."
"I think you're right," he laughed, pulling her tight into his arms. "Jeannie," he said, his tone turning serious once more, "did you really go out with that man?"
Blushing, she looked at the ground and said softly, "No, Master."
"You didn't…" Tony sighed, more to himself than to her. She shook her head. Tony felt his heart lighten, and sighed with relief. "Don't ever leave me, Jeannie."
"Oh, no, Master," she answered and kissed him. "Never." As she kissed him again, he thought how nice it was to have her with whom he could share their own home.