Pairings: Jack/Abby, Jack/Nathan
Abby always liked the ocean. John can remember packing her and Zoe up one afternoon and driving until they finally stumbled upon an empty expanse of coastline. The radio blared the entire way and they sang along as loudly as they could against the wind.
When they first met, Jack remembered thinking instantly that she was too good for him. She wore a red jacket and some kind of 80’s clichéd gold lame shirt underneath. Her hair was a mess, like she’d put her hand on one of those static electricity balls you find at kids’ museums. She smiled, nudging past him to get to the registrar’s counter to sign some paperwork for graduation day and Jack knew she’d never look twice at him. He knew it like he knew the sky was blue and baseball was one of the top five best things in the world. So when he saw her again at their graduation ceremony, he asked her out and defying all logic she said yes.
He pulled off into the pristine sand and Zoe was the first to get out of the car. She left her bright pink sandals on the beach and ran into the waves. Jack took Abby’s hand in his own and she smiled with tears in her eyes.
“I’ll race you,” she said.
“Ok,” he replied.
He didn’t get out of the car until her feet hid the edge of the water.
Their first date was on the beach. Abby wore some sort of skimpy bikini and a college baseball cap. Jack remembers thinking that he didn’t belong there with her. He didn’t know what to say or where to put his hands. Abby was always so soft and sparkly, everything a girl should be. She was everything that he should want, and Jack thought to himself that their first date would be their last. So when the day was over and he’d walked her back to her apartment, he asked her out for a second date.
She said yes.
The sky was cloudy, but none of them paid attention. When the storm clouds finally rang with thunder and flashed with lightning, they ignored all warning signs and rode out the excitement of the storm.
When Zoe was born, the sky opened up and poured down rain. Weather stations warned of flash flooding for the first time in Jack’s memory. He managed to get time off the case he was working on to fly back home. Jack stood beside Abby all through the delivery, fighting back sleep to stay awake with her throughout the night and smooth the hair off her face.
Their marriage was like any other marriage in Jack’s opinion, but Abby spent the second year of it dropping hints, suggesting and then flat out demanding that they see a counselor. It worked, sort of – Zoe was conceived two months in and then life became entirely too busy to keep those weekly appointments and they were through the worst of the awkwardness, he thought. At 8:14am on a Saturday, Zoe came into the world kicking and screaming.
Jack thought instantly that she was too good for him and it would never last.
Finally a bolt of thunder hit far too close for comfort. Jack and Abby grabbed Zoe, one on either side, and ran for the car. They laughed all through the rain and shivered when Jack turned the ignition and the air conditioner instantly kicked on.
After Zoe started kindergarten, they agreed to stay together for her sake. They were good friends, but something was missing and while they couldn’t define what that was, they both sensed the void. Abby began to see other men a few years later. She told him out front and strangely enough, Jack found that he didn’t really care as long as she came back home to Zoe. They had an agreement that as long as their daughter never found out about their extramarital activities and they kept them from interfering on the home front, Jack and Abby could see anyone they wanted.
Jack never cheated on her. He never felt the need to be with another woman and he couldn’t figure out why.
Abby read on the way back while Jack and Zoe listened to a game on the radio and argued about who would make the perfect team.
On Zoe’s twelfth birthday, they agreed to stick it out one more year. Abby picked up the divorce papers from the courthouse and they spent the next month ironing out the details. Zoe would stay with Abby because a child was better off with her mother and Jack had always thought they were too good for him anyhow.
Zoe bounded inside and raced up the stair to change into dry clothes. She didn’t come back down until dinner was almost ready – spaghetti and meatballs, her favorite.
They told her about the divorce afterwards – about how they both loved her very much, but they couldn’t stay together. They spent an hour reassuring her that while he’d be moving out, Jack would always be in her life. After she ran back upstairs and hid in her room, Jack pulled out his suitcases and left.
“I’ll get the rest of my stuff when I find someplace,” he assured Abby.
“It’s fine. Take all the time you need,” she replied.
Jack was 38 years old when he kissed Nathan Stark in the middle of his lab. As far as figuring things out, Jack thought that maybe he might have been a little old to realize he was never really attracted to women, but that overall it made sense. He’d always been a little slow, but eventually Jack catches on to things.
He drove Zoe to the beach at the beginning of summer break and Abby wore a red jacket and a gold shirt underneath.
“I figured it out,” he told her.
“What was missing - I figured it out,” Jack replied, and then he told her about Nathan.