Characters: Teri, Dr!Phil, Jack, Kim
A/N: Don't own it. This is almost done! Thank you to all who have stayed with me. I had a different meeting planned for Teri and Phil, but I discovered this in the canon, and it worked for me.
Teri was startled to hear a voice beside her.
“You like that painting, I see.”
She turned towards the speaker. A man about her age with brown hair and a salt-and-pepper beard was nodding at the canvas in front of them.
“Yes, it’s one of my favourites.” She wasn’t sure how long she had been lost in it, but she guessed it had been a while if this fellow had noticed. The man leaned forward to read the label. “Titian. Venus and Adonis.” He stepped back and tilted his head, looking at the painting from a different angle. “Titian’s the one with all the redheads, isn’t he?”
Teri smiled. “Yes. He almost always has a woman with red-blonde hair in his paintings. In fact, that hair colour is called Titian after him.”
“She doesn’t look very happy.” The nearly nude woman with the hair was seated, twisting awkwardly to prevent the man beside her from standing up. She had a look of desperation on her face.
“She isn’t. She’s trying to keep Adonis from going on the hunt because she thinks it’s too dangerous. But he’s resisting her. He wants to go anyway. See the cherub in the background? That’s Venus’ son Cupid. He’s asleep and his arrows are hung in the tree. That tells us Adonis isn’t feeling the love. Look at his face. He’s so cold and distant.” She fell silent, staring at it for a moment.
The man nodded, then turned as a waitress approached with a tray of champagne. “Would you like one?” He took two glasses and handed one to Teri.
“Thank you,” Teri said, to both the waitress and the man.
He raised his glass. “Cheers. I’m Phil, by the way.”
“Teri.” She clinked her glass against his and took a sip.
“You know a lot about art.” It was both a statement and an invitation for Teri to tell him about herself.
“I guess.” She shrugged modestly. “I’ve worked in a few art museums.”
“Oh yeah?” He was impressed. “Do you work here?” He gestured at the large room filled with paintings and the well-dressed people who had come to see them.
“At the Getty? No. I wish. I was invited to this opening because a friend of mine curated this exhibit.”
“Ah. I’m just a ‘Friends Of’ member. I’m a doctor by day.”
She laughed. “Doctor by day, ‘Friends Of’ by night…”
“Friendly neighbourhood Getty Patron.” He sung, then chuckled. “So what happens?”
“Hmm?” She was confused.
He indicated the painting with his head. “What happens to them?”
“Oh! Well, he dies. Venus is so heartbroken she puts a curse on love so that it will always end badly. Shakespeare wrote a poem about it after seeing this painting.” She quoted:
“Since thou art dead, lo, here I prophesy
Sorrow on love hereafter shall attend:
It shall be waited on with jealousy,
Find sweet beginning, but unsavoury end,
Ne'er settled equally, but high or low,
That all love's pleasure shall not match his woe.”
“Ouch.” He was silent for a bit. “That’s quite the memory you’ve got there.” He was intrigued.
Teri blushed. “I used to read a lot of poetry.” Jack used to read it to me every night, when he was in school. She grew thoughtful. “She was right, though. He shouldn’t have gone. It was too risky.”
That had been almost six months ago. Just a week or so after Jack left. After she told him to leave. Since then, Phil had become a good friend, willing to listen and able to make her laugh. She’d been flattered when he’d asked for her number, but she had hesitated to let it become anything more than friendship. He had made it clear he wanted more, but he respected her reluctance. He had gone through his own divorce two years ago, and he knew how long that hope could linger.
“You look tired.” He slid into his seat at Tuptas, their favourite restaurant. The purple tablecloths, 80s brocade and woodstove décor made Teri cringe a little, but the food was excellent. They were there so often they were on a first-name basis with Henri, the manager.
“Thanks.” She gave a short, hollow laugh. “But I feel so fantastic,” she added sarcastically.
Her hand was resting on the table and he covered it gently with his own. “Is everything okay?”
She rubbed her eyes with her other hand. “Yeah. I’m sorry. I just didn’t get much sleep last night. Kim got into trouble at a party.”
“What?” He had never met Kim, but he had heard a lot about Teri’s struggles with her daughter, and he was concerned. “Is she alright?”
“Yes, she’s fine. She went to a house party with some friends and it got out of hand. Neighbours called the police.”
“Oh, my god. The police?”
“Luckily one of Jack’s buddies from the LAPD was on the call. He brought her home, but not before he called Jack.” She took her hand off the table and crossed her arms.
“How did he take it?” Phil was apprehensive of Teri’s husband. She’d told him about the night before she’d asked Jack to leave. As a reconstructive surgeon, he’d fixed a few bodies of women whose husbands had attacked them. And more than one of them had been in law enforcement. Ironic that the ones who kept everyone safe at work were sometimes the most dangerous at home.
“He was furious, of course. He came roaring over even though it was 3:00 in the morning.” She sighed.
“What did he do?” He ran his eyes over Teri, subtly checking for injuries. “Teri, did he hurt you?”
“Jack? No! No, he didn’t hurt me.” She shook her head adamantly. “He just said his piece and left after he made sure Kim was okay.” She shifted uncomfortably. “He blames me for not being able to control her. He doesn’t understand how difficult she’s being. She’s all sweetness and light with him.” She lowered her eyes. “I don’t know what I’m going to do about her.”
“Teri, it’s not your fault. She’s just taking the separation hard and acting out. That’s normal.” He leaned forward over the table, searching her face. “You’re doing the best you can.”
Her eyes met his. “Am I? I don’t know, Phil. I wonder if I’m doing the right thing.”
Jack laced up his shoes and started his run. He was dog tired, but he needed to clear his head. He’d just finished an 18-hour shift and had only been in bed for an hour, tops, when his ringing phone hauled him back to consciousness.
“Jack?” The voice on the other end was vaguely familiar. Jack was still only half awake and disoriented. “I’ve got your daughter.” Instantly, he snapped to full alert.
“Who are you, you sonofabitch? What do you mean you’ve got my daughter?”
The menace in his friend’s voice took Fred by surprise. Then he realized that Jack probably didn’t even realize his daughter was out. “Jack, relax. It’s Fred Kirowan. I responded to a call to a house party about an hour ago. Kimberly was one of the kids at the party. I’ve got her with me now.”
“Fred?” He hadn’t caught up with his friend from LAPD Tactical for almost a year. They’d both been pretty busy. “A house party? Why were you responding to a house party?” Jack shook his head a little, trying to
“A neighbour thought they’d heard gunshots, so they called us in.”
“Gunshots?” Jack had turned on the light and was hurriedly putting on his pants. “Is my daughter okay?”
“Turned out to be firecrackers. Yeah, Kim’s okay.” He glanced at the girl slumped against the door of his cruiser. “She’s been drinking, but I think she’ll live.”
The fear left Jack’s body only to be replaced by anger. “If I don’t kill her first. Let me talk to her.” Fred nudged Kim and handed her the phone, returning his hand to the wheel when she grasped the phone sloppily.
“Your dad wants a word.”
“Daddy?” Her voice was slurred.
“Kim, baby? You okay?” He didn’t hide his concern.
“Yeah. I don’t feel so good, though.”
“Kim, what were you thinking? What were you doing at a party on a school night?”
“Vincent knew some guys…” She trailed off.
“Vincent, huh?” Figured. That boy was trouble. Ordinarily, he was the kind of kid Jack liked: a risk-taker, not afraid to question the status quo. He reminded Jack of himself when he was younger. But he knew what happened to girls who dated guys like him. They wound up with 15-year-old daughters before they hit 35. He didn’t want that for Kim. “Does your mother know where you are?”
“Okay, give me back to Frank.” Kim handed the phone back and held her stomach with a slight groan. He glanced at her nervously. She was looking kind of green around the gills. “Let me know if you need to stop, okay?” She nodded. He held the phone up to his mouth. “Yeah?”
“Listen, Frank. Take her to my house. I’ll call her mother and meet you there.”
“Oh-kay…” Meet him there? That was weird. Jack had obviously been asleep when he called. Why hadn’t he been at home? “Oh, shit!”
“What? Frank? What just happened?” Jack could hear swearing and screeching tires on the other end. He pulled on his shirt and reached for his gun and badge.
“Ah, shit. She just puked in my car, Jack. Listen, I’ll see you soon, okay?” He hung up and helped Kim hold her head further over the curb through the open car door.
Jack arrived at the house seconds before the squad car pulled up. Frank had kept the lights off, thank god, so the neighbours wouldn’t be freaking out. Or nosy. Frank came around the car and opened the door, helping Kim out. Jack met them and put his arm around Kim, supporting her.
“Thanks, man,” he told his friend. “I’ve got it from here.” He looked over his daughter’s head at the other man. “I owe you one, Frank.”
“Yeah, you owe me a detailing,” Frank replied ruefully, looking at his car. “Okay, well, give me a call sometime, hey?”
“Yeah.” Jack grunted. “Thanks again.” He turned Kim around and started walking to the house. Teri was waiting in the doorway.
“Oh my god, Kimberly! I can’t believe you!”
Kim just rolled her head.
“Jack, I –”
Jack silenced her with a look. “I think we can talk about this in a minute, Teri. Right now, we need to get her into bed.” She held the door for them as Jack took her inside and into the bathroom. He propped her on the floor against the wall and wet a washcloth to wipe her face. He looked up at Teri, who was leaning against the doorframe. “She’ll need some pyjamas.” Teri nodded and went to get them. Jack stepped out of the room while Teri helped their daughter into the clean clothes, then returned to carry her into her bedroom. He laid her on her side, one leg and arm bent out to support her safely. “You’ll need to check on her. Who knows how much she’s had to drink.” He straightened and turned to his wife. “How could you let this happen?”
Teri stepped out into the hallway and he followed her. She turned, hissing “Let this happen? Jack, I didn’t let this happen! I didn’t know she was out! She was in her room when I went to bed.”
“How could she get out without you noticing? Dammit, Teri! She could have got in a lot of trouble tonight!”
“Don’t you think I know that, Jack? What do you want me to do, lock her in?”
“Well, she shouldn’t be out drinking!”
“Who do you think she learned that from, Jack?” Teri was furious. “You didn’t exactly set a good example for her before you left.”
Jack suddenly went still, then dropped his head, staying silent for a minute. “I know, Teri.” He looked sideways, then raised his head to look at her. “It’s not like that any more.”
She studied his face. He looked… hurt. “Jack, I’m sorry. That wasn’t fair.” She took a deep breath and ran her hand through her hair. “I was just so worried.” Her face started to crumple. Jack took a step toward her and enveloped her in a hug, tucking her head into his shoulder. “I know, Sweetheart. I know. So was I.” They stood there, just breathing. Feeling each other for the first time in months. Jack was the first one to break away. He leaned back, looking into her eyes as he brushed a strand of hair behind her ear.
“Teri, I --” He stopped and shook his head slightly, catching himself. This wasn’t the time. “I should go. Will you be okay?”
Teri pulled away, straightening her robe. “Yeah. Yeah, I’ll be fine. Thanks for coming, Jack. I appreciate the help.”
He nodded and took his leave.
Now it was the next morning, and as he ran, he thought about what this whole mess was doing to his daughter. He needed to be there for her. And Teri. The moment with Teri last night – he had felt her respond to him. She would have stayed in his arms longer, he was sure of it. The thought gave him hope. He wasn’t sure that Teri would be open to it, but he wanted to move back in. He wanted to be a family again.