INT. VERN'S OFFICE AT THE SPECTATOR - DAY (THE DAY AFTER EPISODE 17)
VERN is sitting at his desk, looking at his computer monitor. He hears someone knock on the door, but does not want to be bothered right now.
VERN: (grumpily, to himself) If I don't get it, maybe they'll go away...
The person knocks again. VERN continues to ignore it and keeps on working, hoping the person will just give up and leave, but he hears yet another knock.
VERN: (annoyed) I'm not in!
The door opens and VERN is surprised to see JENNIFER peek in.
JENNIFER: (smiling) Hmm, that's funny, I got the distinct impression the voice I heard just now was Vern Scofield's--oh hey, look, it is Vern Scofield!
VERN: Jenny-girl! (smiles and waves her in) Oh, I thought it was one of those damn college interns...
JENNIFER: (pretending to be offended) Hey, wait a minute! I was one of those 'damn college interns' not too long ago, have you forgotten?
VERN: (laughs sheepishly) Well, you were always pretty special. (beat) To everyone around here.
VERN: So what brings you by here? Not that I'm not thrilled to see you, mind you. I'm always happy to see you, Jenny-girl.
JENNIFER: (takes a deep breath and looks around) I don't know, I guess... I guess I just got a hankering to see my old stomping grounds. I dropped Abby off at school and I found myself driving in this direction...
VERN: To visit the old haunts, huh?
JENNIFER: (softly, with a wistful smile) Yeah.
VERN smiles back at her. He has a feeling he knows exactly why she's come here.
VERN: Well... What do you say I give you a tour around this place, huh?
JENNIFER: I'd like that.
VERN offers his arm, and JENNIFER takes it, and they walk out of his office.
INT. SALEM UNIVERSITY HOSPITAL - SAME
JACK is loitering near WHITNEY BAKER'S office, wondering if he should have come here in the first place. He had thought it might be a good idea to visit his former therapist and perhaps ask her for advice, but now he isn't sure he can talk to her about this after all.
He walks back and forth, trying to decide whether or not he actually wants to talk to her, completely unaware that WHITNEY'S secretary has now noticed him.
JACK does not hear her.
SECRETARY: (leaning forward to catch JACK'S attention) Sir, can I help you?
JACK: Oh... (trying to think of what to say) Oh, well... I'm...
SECRETARY: Are you here to see Dr. Baker?
JACK: Uh... I, uh...
WHITNEY comes out of her office to talk to the SECRETARY, then sees JACK.
WHITNEY: Jack! Jack Deveraux?
JACK: (realizing he's somewhat trapped now) Yes, hi, Dr. Baker... It's been a long time...
WHITNEY: Yes it has been! Were you here to see me?
JACK: I was... Well, I was in the neighborhood, and I thought I'd... you know, drop by and see my ex-shrink... (forces a smile)
WHITNEY: (giving JACK a knowing smile) My next appointment isn't for another two hours. Would you... like to come inside and talk for a while? (noting JACK'S discomfort) As two old friends?
JACK: (knowing what she really means, but thinking it might be a good idea anyway) Sure... Sure, if it's all right with you? I mean, I'm not taking you away from anything important am I?
WHITNEY: No, not at all. (opens the door and gestures for him to come inside) Have a seat...
OUT on JACK'S smile of uncertainty.
CUT TO: JENNIFER AND VERN
VERN has just finished giving JENNIFER a tour of the paper. JENNIFER has been quiet the whole time. It is obvious she is distracted, thinking of JACK and the time she worked here.
JENNIFER: (softly) It's like nothing's really changed here, has it? (turns to VERN) At least not by the looks of it...
VERN: Yeah... I can't tell you how good it feels to be back in this building again. I never did feel too comfortable at the Titan building. That place just had no personality! I'm glad Kate let us move the operations back here again-
KATE KIRIAKIS is walking by as VERN says this and stops to talk to him and see what this is about.
KATE: Did I just hear my name? (realizes who VERN was talking to and is surprised) Jennifer? My goodness, what a surprise!
JENNIFER: (dryly) Hi, Kate.
KATE: (fake cheer) Well it is so good to see you. I'm sorry I haven't been by to see you--things have just been so hectic here and everything.
JENNIFER: (wondering why she and KATE would ever have any reason to see each other) I completely understand.
KATE: Lucas has been on me to have you and Jack over for dinner and it keeps slipping my mind... (laughs)
JENNIFER: (forcing a laugh) Oh well, who can blame you, with all these things on your plate...
KATE: So... speaking of Jack...
JENNIFER visibly tenses and narrows her eyes; KATE enjoys seeing this.
KATE: It's been a few years since we saw each other... How is he?
JENNIFER: (tries to play it cool) He's just fine. He and Abby (emphasizing her daughter's name) are both fine.
KATE: (relishing seeing JENNIFER'S jealousy) Oh, that's good... Well, you be sure to tell him hello for me, all right? Tell him I'd love to see him... and you at the house sometime. Henderson will whip up something fabulous, how's that?
JENNIFER: (through her teeth) I'll be sure to let him know.
KATE: Well, I should get going--busy, busy, busy! (sighs dramatically) I really envy you free-lancers getting to set your own schedule and all. (gives JENNIFER one last fake smile then turns to VERN) Mr. Scofield, don't forget the budget meeting at 3:30.
VERN: Yes, Mrs. Kiriakis. I'll be there.
JENNIFER smiles as KATE leaves, then turns to VERN and rolls her eyes.
JENNIFER: (whispers) Ugh, I don't know how you put up with that woman!
VERN: You forget I'm used to having tyrants for bosses.
JENNIFER: (smiling) Yeah, I guess we both know who our best boss was, huh?
VERN and JENNIFER: (simultaneously) Diana!
VERN laughs, then watches JENNIFER'S face grow serious again. He is worried about her and senses she needs someone to talk to.
VERN: Hey, Jenny-girl, what do you say we break for lunch, huh? My treat?
JENNIFER: That's really sweet of you, Vern.
VERN: My pleasure. So, what'll it be? Wings? Shenanigan's?
JENNIFER: Uh... how about... the cafeteria here?
VERN: (grimacing) The cafeteria?
JENNIFER: (smiling) Yeah... For old time's sake...
VERN smiles and leads her down to the cafeteria.
CUT TO: JACK AND WHITNEY
WHITNEY has invited JACK to talk in her office, guessing that he must have come to see her. JACK is uncomfortable, but really needs to talk to someone about this.
WHITNEY: So, I haven't seen you in a while. How have you been, Jack?
JACK is distracted. He is staring in the far distance, thinking of JENNIFER.
JACK: Hmm? (realizes she is talking to him) Oh, I'm sorry... Did you say something?
WHITNEY: (amused) Yes, I asked you how you've been.
JACK: Oh. (embarrassed smile) Uh... I'm... well.
WHITNEY: That's good to hear.
JACK: Wait, that "how are you" wasn't one of those therapist "how are you"'s, was it?
WHITNEY: (trying to suppress a smile) No hidden messages, Jack. Just wanted to know how you are. Back to being yourself again, I see.
JACK: (sarcastic laugh) My, this is starting to feel familiar.
WHITNEY: I'm sorry, I don't mean to make you feel uncomfortable.
JACK: Oh no, no, no--I'm... (sighs, realizes he should just stop beating around the bush) Actually, Dr. Baker... I guess I wasn't quite honest before.
WHITNEY: About what?
JACK: About... why I'm here. The truth is... I came here on purpose. (beat) Because I wanted to talk to you about something.
CUT TO: JENNIFER AND VERN
JENNIFER and VERN are having lunch at the cafeteria at THE SPECTATOR. VERN knows she's upset about JACK and would like to help her.
VERN: So is the tuna sandwich just as you remembered it?
JENNIFER: Yeah, just as tasty as ever.
VERN (hesitating, since he does not want to overstep his boundaries) Jenny-girl...
VERN: (chickens out) Oh, never mind...
JENNIFER: (curious) No, Vern, what is it? What did you want to say?
VERN: Uh... I know this is really none of my business, but... you and Jack--you're like family...
JENNIFER: (smiling) So are you, Vern. Go ahead.
VERN: All right, I just... I get the feeling something is upsetting you.
JENNIFER: That obvious, huh?
VERN: (grinning) Just a little, yeah.
JENNIFER: (after some silence) It's Jack.
VERN: What a surprise.
OUT on JENNIFER'S smile.
CUT TO: JACK AND WHITNEY
JACK has just told WHITNEY about his cancer and the situation with JENNIFER. He is hoping WHITNEY will tell him what to do.
WHITNEY: I'm very sorry to hear about all of this, Jack.
JACK: Yes, well, I wish I were here to give you good news for a change. (laughs nervously)
WHITNEY: It's a lot to handle, isn't it?
JACK: (giving her a 'duh' look) You could say that.
WHITNEY: And it must be a difficult situation for Jennifer as well-
JACK: (interrupts) Uh, Dr. Baker, please forgive me, but... see, I was hoping that by coming here I would actually get some... guidance, if you will.
JACK: You know, I tell you my problems, you tell me what to do. Simple. That's what your job description entails, is it not?
WHITNEY: Jack, we've been through this before. I'm sorry, but you know I'm not here to give you the answers--I'm here to help you find them yourself.
JACK: (muttering to himself) There's that torrent of psychobabble again...
WHITNEY: What was that, Jack?
JACK: Oh, nothing... Just... Look, couldn't you make an exception, just this once? Please? You see, I'm really at a loss here.
WHITNEY: All right, maybe it would help if I asked you the right questions. (beat) What do you want?
JACK: (laughs in disbelief) What do I want? Well, good doctor, I hate to state the obvious, but if I knew that, I wouldn't be here, now would I?
WHITNEY: Are you sure you don't know it, or are you just afraid of what you already know you want?
JACK: (gives her a bewildered look) Come again?
WHITNEY: Maybe you already know exactly what you want, Jack. And that's what scares you.
JACK looks away, knowing she is right.
CUT TO: JENNIFER AND VERN
VERN has just told JENNIFER he is here if she wants to talk, and she confides that she is upset over JACK.
JENNIFER: I guess it doesn't come as a surprise that this would be about Jack, huh? (laughs)
VERN: Not really, no... (beat) He's giving you a hard time, huh?
JENNIFER: (nodding) Yeah... Like always... (looks up at VERN, feels tears in her eyes and hopes she won't cry) He's... He's afraid to let me see him be vulnerable. I don't know, I guess he thinks it'll ruin this perfect image I have of him or something.
VERN: (laughs) Perfect?
JENNIFER: (laughing as well) You know what I mean.
VERN: Yeah, I do. And I also understand where Jack is coming from.
JENNIFER: (surprised) You do?
VERN: Jenny-girl, you know Jack has always had a hard time seeing the good in himself. (chuckles) For all his bravado, lurking underneath that ego is actually a very insecure man. Someone who, for a long time, felt he didn't deserve you. Maybe he still feels that way.
JENNIFER: (softly) I've told him over and over he doesn't need to feel that way. I love him, Vern. I love everything about him--faults and all. He doesn't have to prove anything to me.
VERN: I know you do. But Jack... it's still hard for him to believe that. So you just have to hang in there, all right? You just keep that faith even though it's hard sometimes.
JENNIFER: Even when he pushes me away?
VERN: Especially when he pushes you away. Jenny-girl, there are few certainties in this world. And one of them is the fact that that boy loves you with all his heart. I've seen it. It may take a superhuman feat to get him to admit it, (JENNIFER laughs at this statement) but I know that's one thing that will never change no matter what.
JENNIFER: (softly) Well I hope he does before it's... (she was about to say "too late" but she can not bring herself to finish the sentence. She does not want to believe the worst) I just hope he remembers that.
VERN: He will. (smiles) He will.
OUT on JENNIFER'S hopeful smile.
CUT TO: JACK AND WHITNEY
WHITNEY has just stumbled upon the truth and JACK is uneasy.
JACK: What makes you think I already know what I want?
WHITNEY: (smiles) Just a hunch.
JACK: A hunch, huh? (clears throat) All right, you're right. (looks at her) There, I said it. (smiles) Well, that wasn't nearly as bad as I thought it was going to be. Huh, go figure...
WHITNEY: I'm glad you feel that way, Jack. It always feels good to unburden yourself with the truth.
JACK: Yes, I'm beginning to see that.
WHITNEY: So Jack, what is the truth?
JACK thinks back to another time that JENNIFER gave him a similar ultimatum.
FLASHBACK - TEN YEARS EARLIER
INT. JACK’S OFFICE AT THE SPECTATOR - DAY
Feeling guilty over killing HARPER, JACK has pushed JENNIFER away. JENNIFER tries to get through to him, but JACK is resistant. After an argument, JENNIFER walks out of JACK’S office. JACK is about to go after her, but hesitates. Meanwhile JENNIFER decides to go back and talk to him and as she comes in, the door hits JACK on the nose.
JENNIFER: What were you doing there Jack? Were you going to ask me to come back in? Were you coming back to get me?
JACK: (avoiding her eyes, trying to think of a good answer) Was I coming back to get you?
JENNIFER: Yes, that's what I asked.
JACK: I was.... I was.... I was looking for Vern. You didn't see him out there did you?
JENNIFER: (utterly frustrated) Jack, why can't you ever be honest about anything? And why do I try so hard at this, and why do you hurt when you say you love me?
JACK feels terrible for hurting her.
JENNIFER: Do you know how I felt that night when I woke up in your bed and found you gone? I mean, after we made love and I told you everything about how I felt about you, you left me a note saying, “Have fun in New York.” How could you do that Jack? You know what making love means to me. It means trust and it means commitment and you left me a note. I've loved you so much, but I'm not going to let myself get hurt again, all right? I really wish that we could try and love each other but you won't try, and I'm not going to fight anymore. So I'm going to walk out this door right now and if you let me go this time it'll be because it's over between us. Are you going to let that happen?
JACK can not say anything to her. Although it is killing him to hurt her this way, he believes he will hurt her even more down the line by being in her life.
JENNIFER: (trying to be strong) All right, I guess that's your answer.
She starts to leave, but when she gets to the door, she turns around one last time.
JENNIFER: The biggest mistake you'll ever make is not fighting for me Jack...
BACK TO PRESENT DAY
JACK: (still thinking about that time) Yes?
WHITNEY: What do you want to happen now?
JACK: (still uncomfortable in saying it out loud) I want... I want... (remembers JENNIFER'S face when she walked out the door, and the pain he felt at seeing her leave him)
WHITNEY: Go on, it's all right. There's no one here to judge you or pressure you.
JACK: I want... not to have to push Jennifer away. (looks at his hands) I want to be able to accept her help. And let her in my life. And tell her...
WHITNEY: Tell her what, Jack?
JACK: Tell her... that... (softly) I love her. And that... I don't want to face this alone. (looks back up at WHITNEY) That she was right. I'd be a fool to throw away this second chance.
WHITNEY: (smiling) Well it looks like you've found your answer.
JACK thinks about it, then slowly breaks into a smile.
JACK: Yeah, I guess... I guess you're right...
OUT on JACK'S epiphany.
INT. JACK'S BEDROOM - LATER
JACK is going through his drawers, searching for something.
JACK: Come on... you have to be in here somewhere... Come out, come out wherever you are...
He tosses aside some clothes from the top drawer of his chest, digs down even further, then finally finds it. He stops, takes a deep breath, then slowly takes the item out.
JACK: Well what do you know. There you are.
It is a small velvet box. He looks at it for a while, then opens it and takes out the ring inside. It is a platinum diamond ring, with a big diamond in the center and tinier diamonds embedded in the band. He smiles and slips it on his pinky.
JACK: (murmuring) I should have given this to you a long time ago, Jennifer... But maybe... now is the perfect time...
MUSICAL MONTAGE - DON HENLEY'S "TAKING YOU HOME" IS PLAYING IN THE BACKGROUND
As JACK looks at the ring, the song plays and the scene fades to black.
I had a good life
And this love
There were days
And this love
... Where we can be
And this love
END EPISODE 18