Fandom: "Without a Trace"
Characters: Jack Malone, Samantha Spade, Vivian Johnson. Allusions to Anne Cassidy.
Prompt: 33. Too Much
Word Count: 790
Summary: He looked at the letter, trying to...profile it.
Author's Notes: Set in the (not too distant) future.
The letter was stuck to the bottom of several other interoffice memos and documents, all of which he intended to throw out.
Looking back on it now, it was good (and fitting) it had come with the office junk mail. If it had been with papers he actually needed, it might've gotten filed away, undiscovered (or, worse yet, circulated to the team.)
He turned the unopened envelope over in his hand, trying to...profile it. Thin, like a college rejection letter. Sent to his work, which either implied a business matter or she'd simply forgotten his (their?) home address. The envelope was a Mail Merge -- addressed to "Mr. Jack Malone" -- no "Agent," but the honorific still implied some layer of formality. However, the return address was printed -- her last name in capital letters, no first initial.
He tore the letter open before he could start analyzing her choice of stamp (or read where it had been canceled). Single sheet, folded in thirds. Three-quarters of a page (three paragraphs), normal-sized font, single-spaced. Sighing, he put his glasses on and began to read.
"Jack, that was the lab -- oh, I'm sorry." Truthfully, Vivian hadn't interrupted him, really -- he was only on his third pass through the letter.
"No, no -- it's fine, I was just..." He removed his glasses, feeling the need to confide in somebody. "I was reading a letter from Anne...Cassidy. She's working out of the Philadelphia DA's office. And..." he hesitated, but there was a difference between burying the lead and omitting it altogether. "And she's pregnant."
"Oh." Vivian was clearly torn between offering sympathy, without showing disdain for a pregnant woman. "Are you OK?" she asked, sincerely.
He offered her his patented half-smile, half-smirk. "I'm fine. Thanks."
She returned the smile before continuing. "The lab got the results back. No match to Tyler Hunter. I'm gonna head out -- Reggie's science fair is tomorrow, but I've asked them to page me if they find anything."
"Right. 'Night, Viv -- don't stay up too late," he jokingly admonished her.
"Good night, Jack," she replied, teasingly, on her way out.
He was about to read the letter for a fourth time when there was another knock at his door. "Hey." Samantha came in with a folder, and he rose immediately to take it from her. "Just finished with Carlton Mays, Tyler's best friend. He doesn't know anything." Her brow furrowed a bit as she took in his seemingly fixed expression. "Something wrong?"
His eyes drifted from the letter back to her, and somehow, despite the years and years that had accumulated since their history, he couldn't bring himself to tell her. But before he fully realized what he was doing, he'd handed her the piece of paper.
She eased herself into one of the seats in front of his desk -- it was a snug fit, and she appeared to be perching on the edge of the chair. She then held the letter up above her rounded form as she read.
Suddenly, she burst out laughing.
"Not...exactly the reaction I was hoping for," he admitted, attempting a slightly wounded look.
Her smile was so bright as she laughed again. "Jack, did you even read it?" Clearing her throat, she lowered her voice to a not-entirely-inaccurate imitation of his former flame. "'I am writing to inform you of some recent developments in my life.' Is this a letter to her old lover or her old boss?"
He'd noticed the halting turn of phrase, but perhaps he was used to it.
"'After we parted company, I was able to obtain a transfer to the Philadelphia district attorney's office,'" Sam continued. "'Also, I'm happy to inform you...I'm pregnant again?'" Sam howled her disbelief as she re-folded the letter and handed it back to him. "Cheer up, Jack," she said, awkwardly rising from her chair. "You have the world's most fertile ex."
"There's more to the letter," he insisted. "Don't you want to finish it?"
She shook her head. "I know how it ends," she declared, softly. "And so do you."
He held the letter in his hand as he looked up to see her leaving. "Good night, Samantha."
"'Night," she answered, before adding, "I'll...keep you posted on Tyler Hunter."
Even after the years and years that had accumulated since their history together, purely personal conversations were still awkward between them.
He read the letter over a fourth and final time, trying to find it funny. It was still too soon, he thought. But he filed it away with the papers where it should've gone in the first place. Maybe one day, he'd be able to laugh at it.
He had to admit the thought made him smile.