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In This Life

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EPISODE 8

SCENE 1

INT. SALEM UNIVERSITY HOSPITAL - DAY (TWO DAYS AFTER EPISODE 7)

JENNIFER has come to the hospital to see JACK and offer him support on his first day of chemotherapy. JACK doesn't know she is coming, and she is nervous about how he will react and whether he will even want her there. She is staring at the door to the waiting room, trying to work up the courage to go in and see him.

RECEPTIONIST: Can I help you ma'am?

JENNIFER is too engrossed to notice her. The receptionist taps her on the shoulder to get her attention.

RECEPTIONIST: Ma'am, did you have an appointment today?

JENNIFER: (embarrassed) Oh gosh, I'm sorry... I didn't hear you... (laughs) No, actually I'm here to, uh... I'm here to see a patient. He's here for his first session of chemotherapy and I wanted to be here... for support...

RECEPTIONIST: That's very thoughtful of you--I'm sure he'd appreciate that very much. (looks at her computer screen) And what is the patient's name?

JENNIFER: Jack Deveraux.

RECEPTIONIST: Oh, yes... him...

The receptionist tries not to smile--she clearly recognizes the name and knows exactly who he is. JENNIFER smiles to herself too, guessing that JACK must have already made an impression in the hospital.

RECEPTIONIST: Ma'am?

JENNIFER: (staring at the waiting room again, not hearing her right away) Yes? I'm... I'm sorry, I guess I'm a bit distracted...

RECEPTIONIST: (smiling) I understand. It's very difficult having a loved one go through this.

JENNIFER: (softly) Yes it is. My husb--uh, ex-husband has actually been through this before, so it's especially trying for him.

RECEPTIONIST: Oh I'm so sorry to hear that... But with your support, I'm sure things will work out for the best.

JENNIFER: I really hope so. (beat) So would it be possible for me to see him?

RECEPTIONIST: Well, he is scheduled to see Dr. Patrick in a few minutes, but the doctor is running a little late this morning... You can go ahead and visit with him until he's ready to go in. Room 129.

JENNIFER: Thank you...

JENNIFER takes a deep breath and walks over to the room. It is slightly ajar, and she sees JACK pacing. She knocks on the door to get his attention.

JACK: Time to get this show on the road, eh, Dr.--(surprised to see who it actually is) Jennifer!! W-what are you... what are you doing here?

JENNIFER: I... I just wanted to... I mean, I figured you could use some... I wanted to be here for you today, Jack...

JACK: Oh. (laughs nervously) You're here to tell me to break a leg.

JENNIFER: (smiles) Something like that. Although considering where we are, I don't know that that's the most appropriate thing to say.

JACK: Yes, I suppose you're right. (beat) Does... Abigail know why you're here?

JENNIFER: No... She's with Grandma. I told her I had to run some errands this morning.

JACK: (relieved) Good... Thank you. I, uh... I wouldn't have wanted her to ask any questions...

JENNIFER: I told you, Jack-- I'll respect your wishes. I won't let her find out about this, I promise.

JACK is very uncomfortable with her being here. He doesn't want her to see him this way, but deep down, he also does not want her to leave. To cover up his feelings, he turns to humor once again.

JACK: I know what you're thinking. You're thinking this really isn't my color--nor is this a particularly flattering cut. It's a pity they wouldn't let me wear my power suit for this-

JENNIFER: Jack...

JACK: What?

JENNIFER: Jack, I know you're scared. It's okay.

JACK: (laughing nervously) What, me? Scared? No, no, no, this is a piece of cake! This is routine, I could do it with my eyes closed-

JENNIFER: This is me you're talking to, remember? You don't have to pretend that you're not nervous about going through all of this again.

She comes up to him and takes his hand, which is ice cold. JACK immediately feels uneasy and takes his hand away from hers, then rubs the back of his neck.

JACK: I'll be fine, really... I got through it once, and... I'll get through it again.

JENNIFER: (frustrated) Damn it, Jack- (feels guilty, since the last thing he needs is more stress) I'm sorry... Look, I don't want to upset you, Jack. That's not why I came here. I just wanted-

JACK is touched that she is even trying when he knows he is making this difficult for her.

JACK: No, I'm sorry... I'm the one who's sorry. You came here to offer me support and I'm not exactly making it easy for you...

JENNIFER: (smiles) Well when have you ever made anything easy for me?

JACK: Things were never exactly a walk in the park with you either, Jennifer...

They smile at each other, both relieved that the mood could be lightened even for a little bit.

JENNIFER: Jack, I have to confess... I do have an ulterior motive for being here today.

JACK becomes worried.

JENNIFER: (hastening to explain) No, it's nothing bad, I promise! Well... at least, I hope you don't think so...

JACK: All right. I'm all ears.

JENNIFER: I have a proposal.

JACK: (curious) A proposal?

JENNIFER: (nodding) Yes... Look, before I say anything, I want you to promise me you'll think about it first, all right?

JACK: Jennifer, when a person asks you to think about something before they ever even tell you what it is, it can't be good-

JENNIFER: Jack... please?

JACK: (sighs) Why not. I of all people should not be one to judge one's crazy ideas.

JENNIFER: (smirking) Gee, I'm glad you're keeping an open mind about this, Jack.

JACK: (gives her an apologetic smile) Sorry. Please go ahead.

JENNIFER: All right, here goes... I know that you've missed Abby. And I know that you would want to spend as much time with her as you can right now...

JACK: Jennifer, are you saying... you're going to give me joint custody of her?

JACK is overjoyed and relieved at this. Knowing he will not lose his daughter makes this all bearable.

JENNIFER: Yes, Jack-

JACK: That's... Thank you! That's all I was hoping for... Look, I give you my word I'm not going to let her down this time-

JENNIFER: (smiling) I know you won't. I know how much you love her... But...

JACK: (worried) But? Why are you saying 'but'? What is it?

JENNIFER: That wasn't the proposal I was going to make.

JACK: (disappointed) I knew it. I knew it--it was too good to be true... I knew there had to be a catch. All right, give it to me. I can take it.

JENNIFER: Relax, Jack, it's nothing bad. I mean, I hope you agree it's not bad.

JACK: Bad is a relative term. Let's have it.

JENNIFER: Okay. Here's my crazy idea. (pauses to watch for his reaction) We'll all move in together. You, me, Abby--we find a place and move in together.

JACK stares at her in surprise. He isn't sure he heard her quiet right.

JENNIFER: Jack, say something...

JACK: Uh, Jennifer-

JENNIFER: (thinking he might protest) Now wait, you promised you'd think about it-

JACK: I promised no such thing!

JENNIFER: Please, Jack. Look, this is the perfect solution--you get to spend as much time with Abby as you want, and she'll have both her parents living under the same roof...

JACK: And she'll be thinking that her parents are getting back together.

JENNIFER is hurt by his comment, having thought that now that the truth was out in the open, they could have worked things out between them, but JACK still wants to keep her at arm's length.

JACK: Look, Jennifer... Things are complicated right now...

JENNIFER: I know that. I'm not trying to pretend that we've put our problems behind us, Jack. The most important thing right now is you focusing on getting better. And that's why I suggested this. Having Abby with you is going to make this easier, isn't it?

JACK: Yes, it is, but...

JENNIFER: Jack I know you need her right now. And she needs you too... (she wants to tell him that she needs him also, but does not want to push him)

JACK: But if we're together all the time, she might start asking questions--what if she starts suspecting something?

JENNIFER: We'll protect her. I'll help you--I'll be there for you every step of the way. (beat) You won't be alone, Jack.

JACK: Jennifer, you don't have to do this-

JENNIFER: I know I don't have to. I want to. (smiles) Contra mundum, remember?

JACK smiles at hearing their special phrase, and remembers how they had always vowed to be a team throughout everything. He is scared to let down his guard with her, but deep down he also wants to accept her help.

JACK: Contra mundum.

END EPISODE 8

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