Carter signs the insurance forms with a flourish and clicks the pen and puts it in his pocket. He goes to the receptionist desk. Fay is packing up to go, since work is technically over at 6:00 and now it's 6:15.
"Here ya go. I finally got around to it. Just like I said I would," Jack says, handing the papers to her.
Fay smiles. "I didn't doubt you, Jack. How's the family?"
Jack hesitates, plasters on a smile. "Great. They're great. Zoe's baby teeth are coming in," he says. That always works when he isn't sure what to say. The truth is, he's been pretty wrapped up in work lately, and everything else kind of…got pushed to the back.
Just momentarily of course. There were more important things in life than work.
"Well, say hi to Abby for me. And don't stay too late. You've got people waiting on you."
"Will do-won't do," Jack says, then goes into his office to finish up some more paperwork.
His phone rings, startling him, and he answers it. "Hello?"
"Jack, where the hell are you? It's 8:30. We were supposed to have dinner, remember?"
Jack sighs. "Oh, Abby. Damn it. Honey, I am so, so sorry. I'm coming home right this second, okay?"
He grabs his coat and his keys and runs out to his car and goes home. Abby is waiting for him on the porch, her arms folded.
"You can't keep doing this, Jack," she says firmly.
"I know. Sweetheart, I know. But work-it's important."
"More important than family?"
Jack shakes his head. "I'm not going to have this argument right now, Abby. I'm tired. It was a long day."
"And whose fault is that? You're the one who stayed over-time for two and a half hours! Damn it, Jack! You aren't just a U.S. Marshall! You have a family, you have other obligations! You're a husband, and a father! You should act like it!" Abby cries.
Jack opens his mouth to speak when Zoe begins wailing upstairs. "I'll go-I can-" Jack starts.
"No. I'll do it. I can do it," Abby says tiredly, and goes up the stairs.
Jack watches her go, thinking how unfair she's being, and that she just doesn't get it.
When they go to bed that night, tension is high and they don't speak to each other, and it's a very long night.
Jack goes to work the next morning without saying goodbye to Abby. They're still upset with each other, as unjustified as it is, and he is not going to be the one to apologize. He realizes how childish this sounds, but he doesn't care. Because frankly, sometimes he's just a stubborn jackass.
When he gets to work, though, guilt starts gnawing at him, and he finds it hard to focus on anything.
Jack looks up. "Yeah boss?"
"Local P.D. is requesting back-up trying to apprehend a fugitive. They asked for you by name."
Jack frowns. "Why do they want me?"
"He's on top of his apartment building. Threatening to jump. You're the best at talking people out of stupid crap like that, You up to it?"
Jack is already on his feet. "I'll see what I can do."
Jack runs up the stairs, unarmed and vulnerable. He wants this guy to know he's not a threat. He bursts onto the rooftop, and the fugitive whirls around. He pulls a gun from his jacket.
"Shit," Jack mutters. The man is supposed to be unarmed. Jack was in such a rush that he doesn't have his bullet-proof vest on. "Shit," he says again. He's really, really gonna have to talk himself out of this one.
He raises his arms. "Hey. Hey, buddy. I'm unarmed, see? I just want to talk to you. What's your name?"
"Hi, Hal. I'm Jack. I'm here to help you, okay?"
Hal rubs his arm across his nose, the gun still pointed at Jack. "What, are you my lawyer?"
"What? No. No, I'm not your lawyer, I'm with the U.S. Marshall service."
"Then you're here to arrest me."
Jack sighs. "Look, Hal. Yes. You're going to get arrested. But death is not the answer, okay? A few years in prison versus forever dead…Well, I know which one I'd pick."
"No!" Hal shouts. "You don't get it! If I get arrested, my wife will leave me, my kids will be taken away, I'll get fired, I'll never be able to get another job. I'll lose my life either way!"
Jack takes a step forward. "Hal."
"Don't move!" Hal screams. He takes a step backward, closer to the edge of the roof.
"Hal, stop. Okay? No one has to die today," Jack says hastily, going forward again.
"I said don't move!" Hal cries.
And suddenly, Jack is looking up at the sky, struggling for breath, red blooming across his chest.
Hal rubs his fingers through his hair. "Shit. What have I done?"
As the cops come pounding up the stairs, Hal cocks the gun and points it at his temple.
"No," Jack chokes out. But Hal pulls the trigger again. Jack feels tears coming, but he isn't sure if they're for the fallen man, or the fact that he's going to die alone on a rooftop with his wife angry at him and his baby girl teething.
Jack opens his eyes and winces at the pain in his chest. He turns his head and sees Abby sitting near the window, trying to shush whimpering Zoe, tears streaming down her face.
"Hey," he says. Abby looks up and a smile splits her face, and then a look of pure anger.
"Damn you, Jack! Damn you!" And she's crying.
"Hey, come here," Jack says. Abby nods and obeys, clutching Zoe to her shoulder. Jack reaches up and puts his hand on his wife's face, using his thumb to wipe away the tears there. "I'm alright. I'll be fine."
Abby shakes her head. "I can't bear it, Jack. What if I had lost you?"
"But what if next time I do, Jack? I can't-I can't do this. I can't!" Zoe starts crying.
"Let me hold her," Jack says.
"You're not strong enough."
Jack makes a noise. "Sure I am."
Abby puts the baby in his arms, and he smiles at her.
Zoe looks back up at him and stops crying and just looks up at him. Just stares him in the eyes and holds him there.
"She's got you wrapped around her finger already," Abby says, sniffling.
Jack smiles. "Yeah, I guess so. You know I love you, Abby."
Abby pulls a chair to Jack's bedside and lays her head on his shoulder. "I know you do."
"From now on, you'll come first. Always." And he means it. At least, he wants to. But he knows deep inside that once he's recovered things will go back to the way they were before.
He keeps his thoughts so himself. He likes seeing his wife smile.