FANFIC: Ashes, Ashes, We All Fall Down


Summary: September 2001; New York City: When Jack returns to NY and spends the night with Jill, neither is prepared for the changed world that awaits them in the morning. Part 1 of my multi-fandom series, “Somewhere in this Wide World.”

Disclaimer: I do not own Jack & Jill or its characters.

A/N: This is the first part of a multi-fandom series I’m working on called “Somewhere in This Wide World.”  It charts the interlocking lives of 5 couples from 5 different shows over the course of 20 years.  They are all “aftermath” stories that take place in the future, beyond the original time period of each respective show.  You can read more about the series on the Fanfic page.  There is no crossover in this first part.

Where the show left off: Jack & Jill are struggling with differing views regarding their future together when a hurricane in the Bahamas ruins their wedding plans.  Jack finds out she is pregnant but chooses not to tell Jill when he announces that they should postpone their wedding indefinitely.  The last episode aired April 2001.

Warning: This part takes place in NYC during September 2001.

Ashes, Ashes, We All Fall Down

September 2001 / New York, New York

She took the red-eye back to New York the night before the Twin Towers fell.

The cab ride to her old apartment was long, and she didn’t have the energy to make idle conversation with the driver like she usually did.  When the windows fogged, Jack found herself tracing patterns into the glass with her fingertip like a child: the outline of a ghostly fetus, the swirl of a hurricane not unlike the one that destroyed her wedding and then opened the floodgates to worst-case scenarios even she hadn’t been prepared for.

* * *

“Hey, you made it!” Jill exclaimed when he opened the door, trying unsuccessfully to mask his anxiety with enthusiasm.  Their eyes met briefly before he looked away.

Barto stood at a distance near the window, placing a folded comforter on the coffee table.  After Jack had left, he’d moved back in with Jill.  She would be crashing on their couch tonight.  Now that Mikey and Elisa were a couple, it seemed that no one really wanted impose on their comfortable living arrangement.

“Glad to see you back,” Barto said, stepping forward.  “I would stay up a little longer and catch up, but I’ve got an early class tomorrow…”  His eyes darted nervously from Jack to Jill, then back to Jack again.

She waved him off.  “Go, get your sleep.  I’ll be fine,” she insisted.  He smiled apologetically and slipped inside his room, shutting the door behind him.

“You’re probably tired too, Jack,” Jill said quickly.  The two of them had fought the last time they were in the same room together.  Neither really wanted to be left alone with the other quite yet.  “I’ll be in my room though, if you need anything.  Just ask.”  With that, he made his getaway, the door rattling in its frame when he slammed it shut.

Jack found herself alone once more, her thoughts multiplying in the quiet dark.

The past two months she spent in Washington, D.C. working alongside Matt Prophet hadn’t exactly solved anything.  Sometimes she ran away when life became too complicated; Jack knew that about herself by now.  She’d flown to Washington after the final straw had snapped, thinking that a new job would distract her, and it did—for a while.  But it didn’t change anything.  Everything that had happened that summer had still happened: the disaster in the Bahamas, the arguments, the miscarriage, and the lies.  There was no turning back.  There was no erasing the past and drawing in her own perfect version of events.  No, she could only take the pencil and continue the lines that had already been made, see where they took her.

* * *

It was almost three A.M. when Jill was awoken by the sound of his door creaking open.  In his half-asleep state, he startled easily.  But Jack’s face soon emerged, and she held a finger to her lips.

“You should really take some WD-40 to those hinges in the morning,” she said in a stage-whisper, pointing.  For a moment he thought she was merely a figment of his dreams, with the light from the street lamps outside illuminating her bird’s nest of a hairdo like a halo.  He would be lying if he claimed not to dream of her often.  But this time he realized he was awake as she approached the bed, and the events of the past night came back in a rush.

He glanced at the illuminated numbers of the alarm clock on his bedside table.  “It’s already morning,” he whispered irritably.

“I can’t sleep.”  She didn’t say more, only looked at him with pleading eyes.

Sleep still clouded his thoughts as he peeled a corner of the bed sheet away beside him.  He struggled to understand what he was doing, but seconds later, he felt the mattress shift with her weight and he stopped trying to contain that particular ocean of emotion.

The kiss that followed simply happened.  Later, the two of them would argue about who had initiated it.  In the moment, neither of them was thinking of much at all.  “I’m sorry,” Jack said when they had parted.

“No, I’m the one who’s sorry,” was all Jill said.  Sure, a part of him was still angry about the past few months, angry that she had kept her pregnancy a secret for so long.  But he didn’t say anything about that now.  In the darkness, it was easy to forgive and forget.  In the darkness, they existed in a liminal space that wasn’t quite a dream and wasn’t quite reality.

“Don’t leave again,” Jill started to say.  At the same time, Jack mumbled, “I love you.”  Their voices and words intertwined in a jumble that sounded a lot like, Don’tIleaveloveagainyou.

They both laughed, but when Jill absently rested his hand on her hip, near her abdomen, Jack felt the familiar flood threaten to spill over once more.  “I’m sorry,” she said again.  “I’m just—”

“Stop apologizing.”  They both knew they were thinking of the same thing: the baby, or the ghost of it anyway, that intangible shadow it had left on their lives when it exited Jack’s body.  And what if it hadn’t?  Jack would be six months pregnant now.  It was not a fact either wanted to remember at the moment.  Jill started to remove his hand, but something stopped him.  Instead, he left it where it had been.

They stayed like that till the light of morning, and the harsh awakening that brightness would give birth to.

* * *

It was not yet nine o’clock when the phone began to ring, stirring them both in their sleep.  Outside, sirens had begun to wail.  Jill reached around for the receiver before finally grabbing a hold of it.  “Hello?”

“Finally!” Elisa’s triumphant voice came bursting loudly through the earpiece.  “Is Jack still at your place?  She’s not answering her cell.”

Probably because her cell was still in her purse next to the couch, Jill realized, although he did not offer up this information.  “She’s right here, you wanna talk to her?”  Not waiting for an answer, Jill handed the receiver to Jack.  He lingered by the bed for a moment before making his way to the bathroom.

“Elisa?” Jack cleared her throat.  “What’s up?”

“Are you guys still sleeping?”  Elisa sounded incredulous.  “No, nevermind, don’t answer that.  Jack, we need you down at the station right now.”

“What?  Why?” Jack sat up a little straighter in bed.  “Weren’t you the one who called me yesterday and told me they didn’t want me to start again till Wednesday?”  She could hear the shower start in the next room.

“Yeah, that was yesterday.  This is today.”  Elisa gave a short laugh.  She sounded distracted.  There was a lot of background noise coming from her end of the line.

“What’s going on over there?” Jack asked, becoming more and more concerned by the second.  A strange feeling began to spread from her core throughout her body.  “I can barely even hear—”

“Look, I don’t have time to explain.  Turn on the T.V. and then get here as fast as you can.”  Elisa hung up.

Jack looked worriedly at the closed bathroom door before switching on the television.  Immediately, her eyes were drawn to the BREAKING NEWS banner that covered the bottom third of the screen.  “Plane Crashes into World Trade Center,” the text read.  A wide camera angle showed the side of the North Tower and the plumes of smoke that engulfed the top twenty or so stories.  “Oh my God.”  Jack quickly grabbed the remote and surfed through several channels, all showing different camera angles of the towers but all covering the same story.  No one seemed sure yet exactly what had happened.

According to the clock, it was three minutes till nine o’clock.  “Jill!”  No response.  The water was still running in the shower.  “Shit.”  Jack searched frantically around the room before finding an old receipt on the top of the dresser and scrawled out a short message:


WNKW needs me at the station.

She paused for a second.  Two seconds.  Quickly, she wrote:

I love you.  Jack.

Leaving the note on the bed, she turned up the volume on the T.V. and rushed out the door with only long coat to cover her sleepwear.  Outside, people on the street had turned their eyes to the dark cloud of smoke that stretched out for blocks, up in the sky.

Jack walked faster, trying at the same time to compartmentalize the clusterfuck of images and voices—all memories and thoughts and emotions from the past twelve hours—that were fighting for space in her head.  She thought about Jill, about what happened last night, about the discussion that they were still avoiding.  She thought about the past summer, the miscarriage, the hurricane, the proposal, the greenhouse, the laundry room.  She thought about the day Jack & Jill first met and the night they had spent at the toy store, like they had been children again, if only for an hour or two.  She thought about actually being a child again, and she even thought about the other Jack & Jill, the ones who went up the hill for something as simple as a pail of water and then both came tumbling down.

Shortly after making a right at the next intersection, Jack heard the screams that finally broke through her daydreams.  Without thinking, she looked up.  Her eyes saw the second plane long before her mind could comprehend where it was headed.

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