Disclaimer – I don't own any of the original Bloomington characters. I just have fun writing about them.
"I wanted to see you."
"At one in the morning?" I asked, trying to be upset with her.
"What are you doing here?" She replied with a question.
"You are asking me that question as you stand outside my house at one in the morning."
"I mean in LA."
"How do you even know where I live?"
"Samuel said that you were neighbors with Daniel."
"So you thought it was a good idea to show up at my house at one in the morning…"
"Catherine…" She started before pausing for a moment. I cut her off before she could continue.
"Come inside, it is late and the last thing we need is for someone to take pictures of you out here." We both laughed lightly as we thought back to the last time that happened.
We walked back inside and Ethan immediately ran up to her. My heart started beating faster as I watched the interaction between the two. Her face had the smile on it that I had been missing for the past two years and all of a sudden I felt complete again, even if it was just for that moment. She looked at me as she pet the top of his head. I cannot begin to explain how big the smile on my face was in that moment.
As soon as I let myself enjoy it, the moment was over and we were both left standing there inside my house. Ethan continued to look at Jackie with his tail wagging at full speed.
"I…" She paused again. I could tell she had not fully thought through why she was here. "I needed to see you. My entire body has been on edge since I saw you earlier tonight and I needed to see you again."
"You never called." I was surprised by the statement.
"Neither did you."
"I miss you, Catherine."
"Why are you here, Jackie?"
"I told you, I needed to see you after earlier. This is my world, this is where I live and you just show up out of nowhere on a date with one of my bosses. I never thought I would see you again." She sounded upset.
"Abigail and Daniel set us up. It was a good opportunity to meet someone."
"So you won't be seeing him again?"
"I really do not see how that is any of your business." She looked down after my snark remark. "Do you want something to drink?" I asked as I made my way to the kitchen on a mission to find the first bottle of wine.
"Water would be nice."
"The cups are up there, there is a pitcher in the refrigerator." I rested my hands on the counter and took a deep breath. I felt her close behind me and lost all feeling in my limbs when I felt her hands on my hips and her head rested on my back.
"Catherine…" She whispered.
I stood motionless.
"Why did you leave, Jackie?" I finally asked.
"Huh?" I felt her lift her head off of my back and I was able to breathe again.
"That last night, why did you leave?"
"If I didn't leave, I would have never left… I didn't want to."
"We…" She cut me off before I could even formulate a sentence.
"Don't say that, we both know it is not true." She knew me too well. I took this as an opportunity to turn around and face her. She put a hand up to my face and wiped away a tear that had formed. She took the glass of wine out of my hand. "You don't really need that."
"You were different, you know."
"You asked me one day if you were different from the others and I wasn't ready to admit that you were." I was hoping that she wouldn't inquire further.
"What have you done the last two years? I don't think I have ever really gotten over the guilt that I felt for being the reason you lost your position." She looked down and I could see the sadness painted across her face.
"Whoa, do not think for a minute that was your fault." My eyes widened to emphasize the fact that it was in no way her fault for my termination. "I knew what I was doing, I knew the consequences… I knew that…" I stopped to think if I really wanted to say what was about to come out of my mouth. "I knew that you were worth it."
She looked back up at me with a weak smile. "You didn't seem to think that I was worth the distance though."
"Jackie…" I sighed as the dejection was written across my face. "I travelled. I went to Spain and Thailand, France, Italy, Greece, Germany, England, China, Japan… I went all over. I met some incredible people along the way, who taught me lessons that I would have never learned." I answered her previous question in hopes that she would forget about the present question. "What about you?"
"You were always good at changing the subject, Dr. Stark." She smiled and accepted that I did not want to answer the question at that moment. "I have been working… I don't know if you saw the Neptune movie or not, but it did really well. I never really thought I would get back into acting, but this is where I belong. This is my passion."
"And Chris?" I had wanted to ask since she mentioned it at dinner earlier. I could not tell if I was jealous or actually curious.
"Is that really any of your business?" She laughed. "He's just a friend. It looks good in the press if we are dating. We are good friends, but that's it. I haven't really had the time to date anyone since I have been out here."
"Since when do you care what people think?" I was surprised at her answer about Chris. That was not the Jacqueline Kirk that I knew. I think she was stunned by the question because she backed away and sat down at the table.
"The studio thought it would be a good idea, especially once the movie gets released next week."
"Yes, next week. We have the LA premiere this Thursday and then next Wednesday we are in New York and then London the following week."
The premiere that Samuel had invited me to was for the movie he had produced with Jackie in it. Fantastic. How do I tell her that I am going to be there with her boss? I don't actually owe her an explanation, but at the same time, she holds my heart. Even if she does not know it, she still holds my heart. "Oh." Was all I could say.
"For some reason the way you said that makes me think that you may have already known about the premiere on Wednesday…"
"Samuel asked me if I wanted to go with him…"
"So you will be seeing him again."
"Catherine, it's fine. You and I were two years ago. I want you to be happy."
I stopped for a moment as I saw the hurt on her face. "I want the same for you, Jackie. You have no idea." She didn't say anything in return as we stood there in the darkness of the kitchen. "You know, he has never attached to anyone the way he does to you." I spoke softly referring to Ethan who was lying at Jackie's feet.
"I definitely missed him. I remember sitting on the couch with him when you were helping me write my essay. He has always had a calming effect over me."
"He does that for me too. Just so you know, I didn't know it was your premiere that he invited me to."
"It's okay. Like I said, I want you to be happy." It stayed quiet for a few moments before I broke the silence. "What made you come out here to teach?"
"I did my undergrad out here and I really enjoy California. I applied for the position over a year ago, but it took a little while for it all to work out. It's doesn't hurt that they have one of the best Psych programs in the country." Or that you were out here. I kept that last part to myself because I really wanted to try and see if I could do this without clinging to her the first moment she appeared, each moment she stood in front of me told me that this would be harder than I ever imagined.
"I'm glad you moved away from Bloomington. You are so much more than a small town professor, you'll have so many more opportunities out here for your research and writing."
"Small town professor?"
"You are insanely intelligent, Catherine. I don't think you give yourself enough credit sometimes. You are meant to be at a school like UCLA." I looked down at my watch and realized how late it was getting. "I should go though. It's getting really late."
"Why don't you stay? I'll set up the guest room for you."
"Thank you, but I'll just drive home."
"Jackie, stay. It's late."
"Okay…" I could see her take a deep breath before agreeing to my request.
We walked upstairs and I grabbed her shorts and tee shirt to sleep in. I set her up in the guest room and we said good night. "Here are these, so you don't have to sleep in your clothes. If you need anything else, just let me know."
"Thank you, Catherine."
"Good night, Jackie."
I turned to leave for my room and Ethan jumped up on Jackie's bed. "Come on Ethan…" He didn't move.
"It's okay if he stays in here. We can catch up."
"Are you sure?"
She just nodded and I turned to leave. I sat down on the edge of my bed and put my head in my hands. I couldn't believe that she was right down the hall from me, in my house… How did we get to this point? Why did we let things fall apart in the end? Why didn't either of us try to stop each other from creating this mess? I got into bed and laid there, staring at the ceiling. I was not going to be able to sleep tonight. After two years all it took was seeing her for all of the emotions I tried to push aside to come flooding back.
By six I was downstairs making myself coffee. I heard Ethan coming downstairs followed by soft footsteps. I think Jackie was surprised to see me up because she looked like she had planned to skip out without saying goodbye.
"Oh – good morning." She said softly.
"Morning. You are up early."
"I could say the same to you…"
"I couldn't sleep."
"Ha, me neither."
"Did Ethan keep you warm?" My attempt at small talk was disappointing.
"Yes, he did."
"Good… Are you busy today?"
"Yes… Interviews and press for the movie. You?"
"Setting up my office and some teaching stuff." The silence between us was deafening.
"Can we try to be friends?"
I was surprised at the question and to be perfectly honest, I was not sure how to answer her. I was still debating on whether or not I should kiss her. The idea of a friendship with Jackie was scary because I knew that more time around her would make every thing so much harder. When had either of us ever been able to be "friends?" Even after we ended things we still found our way into my bed one last time before she left.
"Sure." I spoke softly and the words confused me as they came out of my mouth. "I'd like that."
"Good. I'm going to get going, but I'll see you Thursday." She walked over towards me and we both stood there awkwardly before she wrapped me in a gentle hug. The small action surprised me.
"Yeah, Thursday…" I said breathlessly.
A/N – I apologize that this has taken so long. Life has been hectic and writer's block has found it's way into my brain. I had started the chapter last summer but never got around to finishing it. If there is anyone that is still reading this, thank you. I hope you enjoy. Feedback is always appreciated.