INT. JACK AND JENNIFER'S LIVING ROOM - EVENING (THE DAY AFTER EPISODE 16)
JACK and ABBY are sitting in front of the television, having ice cream. JACK has picked out some sort of documentary for them to watch. ABBY is engrossed in watching it, and JACK watches her with pride.
ABBY: (eyes wide) Oh my gosh, did the boa constrictor really swallow that mouse, Daddy?!
JACK: (realizing that might have been too graphic for her) Uh, perhaps it's time to switch to something else now, what do you say?
ABBY: Can we watch Power Puff Girls?
JACK: (to himself, grimacing) Powder Puff Girls... What kind of a name is that for a show? (notices the time on the grandfather clock) I didn't realize it was so late already, Abigail. (takes the empty bowl of ice cream from her and starts get up to head into the kitchen) Time for you to brush your teeth, young lady.
ABBY: (grabs his arm) Daddy...
JACK: (imitating her pleading tone) Abigail... (taps his watch) It's a school night. I'm afraid you're not going to charm your way out of this one, kiddo.
ABBY: (leans in close to his face) Can't I at least stay up till Mommy gets back?
JACK: Bo and Hope won't be back until late, and she can't just leave the baby all by himself while they're gone. (kisses the tip her nose) Sorry, no loopholes tonight. Go on, I'll be right up to tuck you in.
ABBY: Okay... I wish Mommy were here so you two could tuck me in together...
JACK: (to himself, as he watches her run upstairs) Me too, Abigail. Me too.
He starts to think about what that morning, when he woke up to find JENNIFER sleeping next to him.
FLASHBACK - EARLIER THAT DAY
INT. JACK'S BEDROOM - MORNING
JACK wakes up and is surprised to see JENNIFER beside him. He realizes she must have stayed in his room all night, and he can't believe it. He slowly sits up and for a while, all he can do is watch her sleep and look at her in amazement, grateful that she would do this for him, but at the same time, hating the fact that she had to see him this way. He realizes he should get out of bed before she wakes up because he does not want to deal with this right now. Though he gets up as carefully as possible, JENNIFER wakes up.
JENNIFER: (groggily) Jack?
JACK turns around and looks at her, and sees her prop her elbow up as she smiles at him.
JACK: Uh... hi...
JENNIFER: How are you feeling?
JACK: Better. I'm... better... thanks...
JENNIFER: (just now noticing that he looks like he is about to leave) Where are you going?
JACK: I... (trying to think of something) I thought I'd go make Abigail's breakfast. (looks at his watch) We need to take her to school in an hour, so I thought I'd get things started-
JENNIFER: (short tone, as she gets up and starts to leave) Don't bother. I've got it.
JACK: (realizing she's upset, grabs her arm) Wait a minute, Jennifer-
JENNIFER: What, Jack?
JACK: Are you angry with me?
JENNIFER: Angry? Why would I be angry with you, Jack?
JACK: I don't know... You just seem angry.
JENNIFER: Or maybe you're just feeling guilty. (brushes past him) Excuse me.
JACK: All right, you are angry... (chases after her) Wait, Jennifer... Please...
JENNIFER stops and turns around to look at him. She knows exactly what he is doing and she is hurt and frustrated that he is still trying to shut her out, despite all she's done to try and reach out to him.
JACK: (knowing he must be hurting her, but not really knowing how to make things better) Please don't be upset-
JENNIFER: (exasperated) Look, it's fine--you don't have to apologize, all right? (beat) I get the hint. You don't want me around-
JACK: Jennifer, that's not-
JENNIFER: Jack, I've danced this dance with you a million times before. I know all the steps by heart, so you don't have to explain, you don't have to tell me I'm misinterpreting something, or that I'm overreacting--I know. (beat) I know when you don't want me around. (voice cracks) You've made it perfectly clear you don't want my help, Jack. You don't want me to reach out to you. So you win, all right? (quietly) You win.
JACK sees how much she is hurting and it is killing him. He wants to tell her how much her being there for him all this time has helped and that he appreciates all she has done, but just doesn't even know where to begin to tell her.
JACK: Jennifer, I-
JENNIFER: (not wanting to talk about this anymore, in case ABBY walks in on them) Abby's going to be up soon. We should really get going.
JACK: (softly) All right.
He follows her out the door.
BACK TO PRESENT
JACK: (to himself) But I do want your help, Jennifer. I do, I just... I just don't know how to ask...
ABBY (VO): Daddy! I'm all done brushing my teeth!
JACK: (calling out to her upstairs) All right, I'll be right up, Abigail!
OUT on JACK as he goes up to tuck ABBY in.
INT. ABBY'S BEDROOM - LATER
JACK has just finished reading ABBY a story and is tucking her in.
ABBY: Make sure to tuck me in real tight, Daddy. Real tight, okay?
JACK: (amused) Yes, my little enchilada.
ABBY: (giggling) I'm so glad it's nice and warm in here. It's freezing outside!
JACK: It is, isn't it? Tell you what--once you've finished doing your homework tomorrow, and it's snowed again in the morning, I'll take you outside to make snow angels.
ABBY: (lights up) Really, Daddy?
ABBY: Do I really have to finish all my homework first?
JACK: Yes, all of it.
ABBY: Even math?
JACK: (arching an eyebrow) Especially math. You want to be sure you know your numbers really well when you're making your millions one day.
She giggles again, then quiets down and looks at him seriously.
ABBY: Daddy, can I ask you something?
ABBY: You promise you'll tell me the truth?
JACK: (taken aback by her question) Of course, sweetheart. You know I'd never lie to you.
JACK: Cross my heart. Now what is it you want to know?
ABBY: Are you sick?
OUT on JACK'S disbelief.
ABBY has just asked JACK point blank if he's sick, and he is not sure how to answer her.
JACK: What makes you ask a question like that, Abigail?
ABBY: You've been tired a lot lately. We don't get to play a lot like we used to.
JACK feels very guilty.
JACK: Sweetheart, I'm sorry about that. I know how you love to play horsy, and I haven't been able to-
ABBY: It's okay, Daddy, I'm not mad, honest. (beat) I just wanted to know if you weren't feeling well. Are you sick, Daddy?
He thinks for a moment about not telling her the truth, but then decides he needs to be honest with her.
JACK: (softly) Yes... Yes, Abigail, I'm... sick...
ABBY: You have a cold?
JACK: (smiles) No, sweetheart, it's not like a cold, it's... a little more serious than that.
ABBY: Like when I had ap... ap... aplastic-
JACK: Aplastic Anemia?
JACK: Something like that. (takes a deep breath, wonders how much she will be able to understand) I have something called... leukemia...
ABBY: And it's something really bad, like what I had?
JACK: (hesitating) Yes... It's something really bad...
ABBY: (after a few seconds of silence) You're not going to die, are you? Daddy, please say you're not going to die!
JACK looks at her, speechless.
ABBY has just asked JACK if he is going to die.
ABBY: (scared) Are you going to die, Daddy?
JACK knows he can not promise her he won't. He does not want to lie to her, but he also does not want to scare her.
JACK: I... I don't know, sweetheart...
ABBY looks back at him with fear and confusion.
JACK: But I do know one thing. And I want you to know it too, all right? I want you to promise me you'll never forget what I'm about to tell you.
ABBY: Okay, Daddy.
JACK: (strokes her hair affectionately, whispers) No matter what happens, Abigail, I am never going to leave you. Never. That's a promise, do you understand?
JACK: I am always going to be with you, whatever may come. (points to her heart) Right here. That's right where I'll be.
ABBY: (smiling) Always?
JACK: Always. (kisses her) And now, young lady, it's past your bedtime. So I'll see you in the morning-
ABBY: Wait, Daddy...
JACK looks back at her in curiosity as she reaches over to her nightstand and gets something.
ABBY: I want to give you something.
She extends her hand, and JACK sees that she is giving him STEVE'S St. Christopher medal, the one he had given to her when she was still a baby. He is extremely touched and can not speak for a few moments.
ABBY: You gave it to me when I was little, remember?
JACK: (choked up) Yes, I remember.
ABBY: Mommy said it helped me get all better. Maybe it'll help you get all better too, Daddy.
JACK: (kisses her and holds her for a few seconds, whispers) I love you, Abigail. Never forget that.
ABBY: I love you too. Don't forget that, either!
JACK: (smiles) No I sure won't.
He watches her fall asleep, then slips out of the bedroom quietly and is surprised to see JENNIFER standing outside of ABBY'S room. They lock eyes.
OUT on JACK and JENNIFER as they look at each other.
JACK was surprised to see that JENNIFER had returned and was standing outside of ABBY'S room when JACK was tucking her in.
JACK: (softly) I, uh... didn't think you'd be back yet...
JENNIFER: Shawn-D came home before his curfew and offered to relieve me of my babysitting duties a little early.
They continue to look at each other. JACK wonders how long she had been standing there and how much she was able to hear of his conversation with ABBY.
JENNIFER: (overlapping) Jack-
JACK: (smiling) Ladies first.
JENNIFER: (smiling back at him) Look, I just wanted to say that... about this morning--I'm sorry. I'm... really sorry...
JACK: (knowing he should be the one apologizing) So am I... (beat) Jennifer-
JENNIFER: Jack, can we uh... can we talk?
JACK: Of course.
They both look behind him at ABBY'S door and neither wants her to wake up and hear them. They go downstairs quietly and sit on the couch, facing each other, both nervous about opening up to the other, but both also knowing they need to talk about everything.
JENNIFER: I... I heard what you said to Abby just now...
JACK: You did? (beat) Look, Jennifer-
JENNIFER: Jack, please, just... just let me say this, okay? I really need to say this to you.
OUT on JACK as he waits for her to continue.
JENNIFER is about to open up to JACK about what she has been feeling inside.
JENNIFER: I know that things have been in limbo with us. For a long time, really. Since you... (stops herself) since last year... And Jack, I know you are going through hell right now and the last thing I've wanted to do was push you, because I know you needed to concentrate on getting better... (takes a deep breath, tries to will herself to keep going even though she is not sure she is doing the right thing by laying this all out on the line) But if I don't tell you this now--while I still have the chance--I know I'm going to regret it someday.
JACK: What is it?
JENNIFER: (trying to find the right words, finally just says it as simply as possible) I love you, Jack. I am always going to love you. And... (looks into his eyes) I know you love me too, even though you push me away. Even though you keep pushing me away...
JACK feels guilty.
JENNIFER: Please, Jack, just hear me out, okay? (she is crying now; it is evident in her voice) You and I--we've been all about miracles from the very beginning. And that's what we're being given now. Another miracle. Another chance. (beat) We don't know how much time we have left, Jack. We'd be fools to waste this chance.
JACK: You know I don't want to hurt you-
JENNIFER: Don't say that, please... "I don't want to hurt you"--that's something you say to someone when you're about to break their heart-
JACK: I don't want to break your heart-
JENNIFER: Damn it, Jack! (crying) How much have we been through together? How much have we fought for--and against--and won? (softly) Why is it still so hard for you to let me in?
JACK: Because I don't want you to see me like this, all right?
JENNIFER: Like what?
JACK: Helpless! Weak! Vulnerable!
JENNIFER: I don't care about any of that-
JACK: But I do, Jennifer! (beat) I do...
JENNIFER: (softly) So where does that leave us?
When JACK does not answer, JENNIFER gets up and starts to leave. She turns around one last time, and he looks at her.
JENNIFER: I've said what I needed to say, Jack. I can't change how you feel, and I can't force you into something that you don't want. But now you know how I feel, and if you want to put us back together like I do, then it's up to you now. (beat) It's up to you now.
END EPISODE 17
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