INT. JACK AND JENNIFER'S LIVING ROOM - DAY (THE DAY AFTER EPISODE 11)
JACK is at the desk, working away on his laptop. JENNIFER comes in, after having dropped ABBY off at school. She did not expect him to be home; she knows he had an appointment with DR. PATRICK to find out the results of his first round of treatment and wonders if he has any news. She watches him in silence for a while until JACK senses her presence and looks up at her.
JACK: (a bit flustered because he is surprised to see her) Jennifer! I, uh... I didn't realize... You're back already?
JENNIFER: Yeah, Abby didn't put up too much of a fuss this morning so I managed to get her to school fairly quickly. (beat) I didn't think you'd be back so soon either...
She wants to ask JACK what happened with the doctor, but does not want to push him if he is not ready to talk about it.
JACK: (avoids her eyes, looks back at his laptop) Abigail didn't wonder why I didn't come with you to drop her off, did she?
She notices he is changing the subject. She decides to follow his lead, although she wants to ask him what the doctor said.
JENNIFER: No... No, she didn't... Don't worry, I just told her you needed to do some more things this morning to get the house in order, but we'd both pick her up from school later.
JACK: (relieved) Good, I'm... glad she didn't ask any questions... (looks up at her again) Thank you, Jennifer.
JENNIFER: (smiles to reassure him) Of course.
JACK: (still trying to make small talk to avoid the subject of his doctor's appointment) She's adjusting well, isn't she? At school, I mean? (softly) I know how tough it is to be the new kid in school...
JENNIFER: Oh, she loves her new school already. (smiles thinking of ABBY) You should have seen her today, Jack, with all the friends she's made already...
JACK is quiet for a while, wondering how many more chances he will get to see his daughter grow up. JENNIFER senses his pain and wants to reach out to him.
JENNIFER: Jack... You can-
The doorbell rings.
JACK: (knowing what JENNIFER was about to say and grateful for the excuse to avoid this subject) I'll get that--excuse me...
JENNIFER is frustrated that they've been interrupted just as she was about to broach the subject of what the doctor said. She's terrified that it can't be good news since JACK is so reluctant to talk about it, and she longs to help him through this latest setback.
JENNIFER goes into the foyer and is surprised to see VERN. They exchange amused looks.
JACK: Just the person I was expecting...
OUT on JENNIFER'S look of curiosity.
VERN has just come to the Deveraux home, and JENNIFER wonders why JACK has invited him over.
JACK: What, cat got your tongue, Vern?
JENNIFER is even more curious now because of the sudden change in JACK'S mood. He seems a little more upbeat now.
VERN: Well, I-
JACK snatches a bulging folder that was tucked under VERN'S arm, taking him by surprise.
JACK: Ah, you did bring it. Thank you, good fellow... (unhooks the latch and opens the folder to take a peek, then smiles to himself and closes it)
VERN is annoyed at what JACK just did, but decides to ignore him.
VERN: (to JENNIFER) Jenny-girl--it's so great to see you again... (he and JENNIFER embrace warmly)
JENNIFER: It's so good to see you too, Vern. I've really missed you. (beat) I'm sorry I haven't had a chance to stop by and visit since I've been back-
VERN: It's all right, Jenny-girl... (squeezes her hand) I understand...
VERN and JENNIFER share a brief silence. It's obvious both of them are thinking of JACK and what he is going through and how much they would like to help him.
JENNIFER: (trying to pull herself together) So what are you two up to now?
JACK: Really, Jennifer... I would have thought by now that would have learned some patience. (leans into her and gives her a mischievous grin) All will be revealed soon enough. (to VERN) Well, Vern, thank you very much for this, (slaps the folder against his hand) but I wouldn't want to keep you-
JENNIFER smirks at JACK.
JENNIFER: Don't listen to him, Vern--come on in and stay for a bit, okay? (slips her arm through his) I've got some coffee and Grandma made a ton of donuts yesterday as a welcome home gift...
She and VERN make their way inside as JACK tries to protest.
JACK: (as they walk past him) Well, I... Gee, won't you come in, Vern...
JACK lets out an exasperated sigh then closes the door.
INT. JACK AND JENNIFER'S LIVING ROOM - LATER
JENNIFER is in the kitchen, leaving JACK and VERN alone in uncomfortable silence. VERN has been looking at JACK for a few awkward moments now and clearly wants to ask him something. Finally he gets the nerve to say it.
VERN: (with great concern) How are you, Jack?
JACK: (trying to be as nonchalant as possible) I'm fine.
VERN: (not sure if JACK knew what he meant) I meant... I meant, how are you?
JACK: Fine, I said.
VERN: So you're feeling... all right? You're feeling all right?
JACK: (annoyed) Why do you keep saying everything twice? Yes, I am all right, Vern. (sighs) Thank you for asking.
VERN: Well, I just wanted to make sure. You know, with... everything that's going on...
JACK raises an eyebrow.
VERN: ... with... your... (clears throat) you know, your...
JACK: Cancer? You can say it, Vern. Nothing's going to fall out of the sky if you do.
VERN: I know that, Jack, but I just didn't want to say the wrong thing-
JACK: You didn't. But if you don't mind, this isn't really my favorite topic of conversation-
JENNIFER comes back into the room carrying a tray. She has heard the tail end of their conversation but does not say anything. JACK, not knowing how much she has heard, quickly changes the subject.
JACK: (tapping once again on the folder) Thank you again for bringing this, Vern. It's really going to help-
JENNIFER: (setting down the tray in front of them) All right, Jack. The jig is up--what is this all about?
JACK looks back at her with a mysterious grin.
JENNIFER wants to know what JACK is up to.
JENNIFER: Are you going to keep me in suspense? (she looks at VERN, who looks to JACK) All right, that's it-
She reaches for the folder, but JACK snatches it away before she can get to it.
JACK: Jennifer, there's no need for that. (grins at her) Don't you trust me?
JACK: (teasing her) I love that you have so much confidence in me...
VERN: I should get going...
JENNIFER: Wait a minute, no you don't! Not you too! Someone is going to tell me what's going on here-
VERN: (pointing at JACK) He's the one to ask, Jenny-girl. I really do need to go, though--I told Kate I wouldn't be gone any longer than an hour to 'run my errand.' (grabs a donut, then kisses JENNIFER on the cheek) Be sure to thank your grandmother for me for this, okay? (to JACK) Take care. And if you ever need anything...
JACK: (nodding) I know where to find you.
VERN smiles and then leaves. JENNIFER turns to JACK and gives him a look of frustration.
JACK: Well what?
JENNIFER: Since you managed to chase our friend out before he could tell me what this is all about, are you going to say something, or do I have to go through your pants and look for any secret compartments that may hold the answer?
JACK lets out a small smile, and seeing this, JENNIFER can't help but smile as well.
JACK: Uh, no, that won't be necessary... Look, I really didn't mean to build it up to be such a mystery...
He hands her the folder. JENNIFER opens it up in curiosity and takes out the contents.
JENNIFER: Papers... and... zip disks? (looks at them more carefully) Jack, these are our notes... our articles about Dad's program in Africa?
JACK: (nodding) That's right.
JENNIFER: Why did you ask Vern to bring them over?
JACK: You mean besides keeping souvenir copies for when Abigail is old enough to read them? (JENNIFER smiles) Well, it so happens that I... have a project for us...
OUT on JENNIFER'S surprise.
JACK has just informed JENNIFER of something he has planned for them.
JENNIFER: A project? What kind of a project?
JACK: I, uh... I didn't get a chance to tell you about this when it came about, but it seems Time Life would like us to write a book based on the series of articles we did. In fact they are practically begging for us to do it.
JENNIFER: (excited) Oh Jack, really? That's wonderful!!
She makes a motion to jump in his arms, but stops before she does. JACK notices the almost gesture and smiles.
JACK: They're offering quite an advance. I couldn't give them an answer before, since... well, I couldn't get a hold of you at the time...
JENNIFER feels guilty.
JACK: But they've upped their offer since then. And again, and again. They really want us to do this, Jennifer.
JENNIFER: This is amazing... This is really amazing... We're going to have a book, Jack! (she wants to hug him, but is not sure whether the gesture will be welcome, so she doesn't)
JACK: So you'll do it?
JENNIFER: Yeah, of course I'll do it! I mean... if you can stand working with me again, that is...
JACK: (amused) I think I could try to put up with your idiosyncrasies again for such a venture...
JENNIFER wonders if there is another reason he is so anxious to do this.
JACK: What? What's that look for?
JENNIFER: (shakes her head to dismiss it) Nothing-
JACK: No, Jennifer, that was not a look of 'nothing.' What is it? You have concerns about this?
JENNIFER: No, no, no, that's not it at all!
JACK: Then what is it?
JENNIFER: I just... I guess I'm just surprised about the timing of this, that's all. That we're doing this right now, with... everything that's happening...
JACK: You want to know what the doctor said today.
JENNIFER: (softly) It isn't good news, is it?
JACK: The first round of chemotherapy was not enough, apparently. (beat) I start the next round next week. (sad smile) Happy Thanksgiving, huh?
JENNIFER: (torn up inside) Oh, Jack-
JACK: So, it's the perfect time for this endeavor, wouldn't you say?
JENNIFER: Jack, we can put this off for another time... You need to concentrate on beating this-
JACK: (firmly) I need concentrate on something other than red blood cell counts and lymph nodes, Jennifer. I need to do the one thing that makes me feel worthwhile. That's what my work does, it makes me feel worthwhile. So please--will you help me?
JENNIFER: Yes. Yes, of course I will, Jack...
She doesn't know what else she can do or say to help him, but she wants to do this if it makes him happy and takes his mind off things.
JACK: Good. (gives her a smile to reassure her) Partners?
JENNIFER: (smiles back at him) Partners.
END EPISODE 12