Afterwards has a perfect title -- it is about what might have happened after Claire's car crash. Says the author, Natalie Wilson, "I wrote it because I realized there is very little fanfic written in first person. If it seems a little different, that's the way I intended it to be." Change can be good!
When I was a child my mother used to take us to the lake during the summer. Swimming was one of my favorite activities; I remember how when your head was under water you could still hear people talking, and it was just that their voices were muffled and no matter how hard you concentrated you couldn't quite make out the words.
That is how I feel now. I feel, as though I am floating beneath the water, like I am weightless. I can hear voices in the room, but it is just indistinct chatter to me. I am not alone, there are other people here, the problem is I don't know where here is. I have no idea where I am or how I got here. The last thing I remember is driving Lennie home from that bar.
The voices have ceased their incessant chatter and now a new voice starts to speak. This one sounds familiar, but I can't place it. It is a man's voice, scared and alone. Suddenly I understand what the first voices were telling him, they were telling him it was time for him to leave.
But I don't want him to go. I try to reach up and touch or to call out, but my arms won't move and my voice makes no sound. Suddenly I feel warm pressure on my forehead, as if someone was delicately kissing me. It is the man with the familiar voice; he is kissing me goodnight. As his lips touch my forehead his jaw brushes against my lips and I can taste his salty tears. And I wonder why he is crying, and I want to reach out to him, to hold and comfort him, and to make him feel better. But I can't my arms won't obey me when I tell them to move.
Silence, all the voices have gone, and I am alone in this room. I still do not know where I am or how I got there. But I feel safe here; nothing will hurt me in this place. My mind is alert and slowly the rest of my body follows. First I open my eyes and look around.
Now I realize where I am, I am in a hospital room. It is dark outside and the clock on the wall reads nine o' clock. I wonder how long I have been here, but cannot tell. Slowly the rest of my body comes back to me. At last I can move my arms and legs, but there is nobody here to see me. I assume I was in a car wreck, but have no way of knowing for sure. I wonder if Lennie is okay, I hope he is.
Then it all comes flooding back to me. I went to the bar to pick up Jack, but he had already left. Lennie was there, so I gave him a ride home. And there my memory stops; we must have been hit on the way home. Again I wonder about Lennie. I try to call out, but my voice comes out raspy and barely audible. I begin to search frantically about the walls for the call button, finally finding it next to my pillow.
A few seconds later a nurse arrives and says, "Well, it's good to see you're awake. The doctors weren't sure if you were going to pull through."
Again I try to speak, but my mouth and throat are dry and not sound comes out. The nurse notices my discomfort and brings me a glass of water, which I gulp down hurriedly. I feel better and I ask the nurse, "How long have I been asleep?"
"About three days, dear. How do you feel?" She answers taking my glass and refilling it.
"Okay I guess. Was I in a car accident? How's Lennie? Is he okay?" I ask, beginning to feel frantic again.
"Lennie? Oh, your passenger, yeah he got off without a scratch. You were driving him home from a bar and you got hit by a drunk."
"Am I going to be okay?"
The nurse hands me the glass and says, "You'll be fine." She turns on a lamp and sits on the edge of my bed.
After I finish my water I look around the room. It is a single room and in the corner I notice a large basket of flowers sitting on a table. They are white roses, my favorite flowers. There are at least three dozen in the basket. I turn toward the nurse and ask, "Where did those come from?"
"I'll tell you girl, you got one hell of a boyfriend. Brought those in this morning. Said they were your favorites." She says with a smile.
"Yeah, that's him. Says he works with you."
"Yes. He's my boss." Suddenly I realize that Jack was the man with the familiar voice who kissed me earlier, before I could move, he was the man who was crying. Suddenly I feel and overwhelming desire to have Jack put his arms around me and hold me until I fall asleep. So I ask the nurse "Can I call him. I really want him to be here."
"Sure. I'll call him. I'm sure he'll be thrilled. He's been here every day since they brought you in, practically had to kick him out at the end of the day."
"Thank you." I say to the nurse.
"While I'm calling him a doctor has to come in here and examine you. Okay?"
"Fine. Just call him."
The nurse leaves and a doctor comes in. He is a young man, probably a resident, early thirties, dark hair, odd shaped nose and big ears. The doctor says to me, "Glad to see you're okay. I just need to do a quick examination. Okay?"
"Sure." I answer, attempting to smile.
After the doctor finishes examining me he says, "Everything checks out okay. You should me out of here within the next week or so."
"A week." I groan.
"We have to make sure. For now though you have a visitor."
"Yes." He says, opening the door.
Jack practically sprints into the room and throws his arms around me. "Thank God you're okay, I was so scared." He says burying his face in my hair.
The doctor says, "Ten minutes." Then he leaves, closing the door behind him.
Jack sits next to me in the bed and I lay back with my head against his chest, his arms are wrapped around me. He says, "It feels so good just to hold you. I was so scared that you might not wake up."
"Can't get rid of me that easy. Is Lennie really okay?"
"Yeah, he's fine, a little shook up, but fine. I'm sorry about everything that happened before your accident."
I look up into Jack's loving eyes and say, "Forget it. I just want to move on." Then I remember his tears against my lips and ask, "Why were you crying when you were here earlier."
"You were awake then?"
"Slightly. I tried to call out, but my voice wouldn't work."
"Oh. I was crying because the doctors told me you might not wake up at all and I was so afraid I'd never hold you again. I love you Claire."
"I love you too."
We lay here and hold each other until the nurse tells Jack he has to leave. He kisses me goodnight and promises to return at the start of visiting hours tomorrow. After Jack goes the room is quiet, dark and empty. I am alone. The nurse said I should sleep, but I've been asleep for days. Instead I lay here and remember, my mind drifts back to the day I met Jack for the first time.
It is July 21, 1995 and my boss, Ben Stone, has just resigned after the murder of a woman he talked into testifying against the mob. I have been working on the case of a doctor suspected of killing one of her breast cancer patients. I am about to meet my new boss, Jack McCoy. I did some checking and found out that he has a reputation for sleeping with his female assistants. Since he requested me, Jack's reputation concerns me. I too have had an affair with a colleague; I once slept with a married judge for whom I was clerking. But that is beside the point, I will not become another one of Jack McCoy's trophies.
I enter Jack's office and we meet for the first time. He looks to be in his early fifties, with salt and pepper hair and piercing brown eyes. We greet and touch lightly on the subject of his past female assistants. Finally we get down to work.
It is now January 4, 1995; Jack and I are working the case of a murdered abortion doctor. We have just come from a motion hearing and are having an argument on the courthouse steps. Suddenly Jack brings his face inches from mine and says something about why the doctor died. But it doesn't register in my brain. All I feel is an overwhelming desire to kiss him. This desire catches me totally off guard, up till now we have been drinking together after work, but nothing more. For the first time I feel a physical desire for Jack. But to my disappointment he moves his face and we go back to the office. The rest of the day goes by in a daze and after work we go out for a drink at a bar near the office.
I know getting involved with Jack would be a serious mistake, but I want him all the same. After we have our usual drink at the bar Jack offers to walk me home, I agree, and we leave. When we get to my apartment Jack and I have a cup of coffee then he goes home. About five minutes after he leaves I notice that he has left his pager here. I put it in my briefcase so I'll remember to give it to him tomorrow morning; then I head for the shower. As I stand in the shower letting the steaming water cascade over my body the doorbell rings. I figure it must be Jack, looking for his pager, so I grab a towel and run to the door. "Who is it?" I yell on my way.
"It's me Jack. Did I leave my beeper here?"
"Yeah. Just a sec."
I wrap the towel around my body and yank the door open. Jack walks in and stares at me before saying, "Did I catch you at a bad time?"
"Yes. I put your pager in my briefcase so I'd remember to give it to you tomorrow. I'll get it." I walk to the table and reach for my briefcase, but I inadvertently knock the salt shaker onto the floor. Jack comes over to help me clean it up. As we kneel down to pick it up Jack's face is next to mine in the same way it was on the steps. Silently, I will him to kiss me, and to my amazement he does. Jack reaches around the back of my head and draws my face to him. He looks at me for a moment, then touches his lips to mine. We kiss softly at first, then with more force. After a few moments Jack stands up, pulling me with him and says, "This isn't a good idea."
I stare him directly in the eye and say, "I know." Then I press my lips against his and wrap my arms around his neck. Jack wraps his arms around my waist and carries me into my bedroom. After he lowers me to the floor the towel slides down my body and lays in a pile around my feet. I reach for Jack's suit coat and remove it. He kisses me as he removes his tie and I unbutton his shirt. After removing his shirt I move on to his pants. Soon we are both naked, lying next to each other on my bed. I reach for Jack and pull him on top of me as we kiss.
After it is over we lie in bed, my head on Jack's chest, his arms around me. We chat about work for a while and then he drifts off to sleep. I stay awake a little while longer, just enjoying being here with Jack. I feel safe here in his arms. Eventually I too fall asleep.
It is morning now and I am still in this hospital bed, impatiently counting the minutes until visiting hours begin and Jack comes. Every since I woke up there has been a pain in my lower abdomen, almost like a cramp, but it is the wrong time of the month for that. Suddenly the doctor enters my room, by now the pain has worsened. He takes one look at me and says, "What's wrong? Do you feel alright?"
"I have this sharp pain in my stomach, almost like a really bad cramp."
He sticks his head out the door and calls the nurse. He returns to my bedside and says, "Show me where the pain is."
I point to the spot and he presses his hand against it, causing me to cry out in pain. "What's wrong?" I ask him.
"I don't know."
The nurse enters the room and says to the doctor, "Something came up on her blood tests. You better take a look."
He walks to the nurse and glances in a folder. The doctor nods to the nurse and she leaves. I begin to panic and ask, "What is it?"
"Something came up on your toxicology screen?"
"I wasn't drinking."
"Nothing like that. Were you aware that you're pregnant?"
A million thoughts race through my mind at once, but none make any sense. I guess it is possible, but the thought of being pregnant never entered my mind until now. "What, are you sure?" I ask him.
Suddenly my body is wracked with an unbearably sharp pain and I cry out, cutting the doctor off in mid-sentence. The nurse dashes back into the room and the doctor says to her, "Sedative, now." She injects me with something and I fall asleep.
It is now January 5, 1995, the morning after my first night with Jack. When I wake up Jack is sitting up in bed staring down at me; I smile up at him and he smiles back at me. We lay like this until it is time for work. Jack goes home to shower and change and I get dressed. While I am combing my hair of think of last night, it was wonderful, almost like a dream, I decide. I hope work won't be too awkward, but I doubt it will.
We work through the day as though nothing had happened. As we are leaving at the end of the day Jack asks me, "Want to have dinner with me, Claire?"
"You mean like a normal date. Sure." I respond jokingly.
"Yeah we got started out a little backward, but let's just have a normal evening tonight."
"Okay, but does that mean no sex?"
"Claire, I said normal, not unbearable."
"Good, just checking. Let's go."
We eat dinner at a charming little French restaurant with white roses on the tables, and a piano player in the corner.
"How do you like my choice of restaurants?" He asks.
"It's great. White roses are my favorites."
"I'll remember that."
After dinner we walk back to the office so Jack can get his bike. While we are standing in the garage Jack asks me, "You ever ridden a motorcycle before?"
"Come on I'll drive you home. I promise to go slow."
We climb on the bike and put on our helmets. I cling tightly to Jack's waist, even though I have never done this, I'm not particularly scared. I just hang on, close my eyes, and trust Jack to get us home in one piece.
When we arrive at my apartment and I remove my arms from Jack's waist and my hands feel numb. I hadn't realized how cold it was outside. Jack leads me into the elevator and takes my hands in his to warm them. By the time we reach my floor I feel warm again.
We both know we won't drink coffee, but I ask and he plays along anyway. As soon as we enter the apartment Jack pulls off my coat and tosses it aside. I reach up and kiss him while I remove my suit coat and blouse. Jack throw his coat over a chair, removes his suit coat and tie without ever taking his lips off mine. After a few moments of this I am in my bra and panties and Jack is in his boxers. He carries me into my bedroom and lays me out on the bed. He climbs on top, bracing himself with a hand on each side of my head. After staring down at me for a moment he buries his head in the crook of my neck and begins to kiss my neck and shoulders. Soon his lips trail down over my breasts, to my stomach and back again. Jack continues this until I can take it no longer.
I wrap my arms around Jack's neck and pull him down for a kiss. Then I roll him over so now I am on top. I sit next to him on the bed and slide his boxers down his legs. Jack sits up, removes my bra and helps me out of my panties.
When we are both undressed we lie beside each other kissing and touching, until Jack rolls me beneath him and we make love several times until we both collapse from exhaustion. We sleep, entwined in each other's arms.
When I awaken my head aches and I feel feverish and sweaty. I open my eyes and the room spins around me. I think I see Jack sitting in a chair next to my bed, but can't tell for sure. I attempt to sit up, but a hand touches my shoulder and a man says, "Don't sit up."
It is Jack's voice, warm and comforting. I feel better immediately. "Jack, how long have I been out?"
"About six hours. Do you remember what happened?"
"I had a pain in my stomach and the doctor said I was..." At this moment my voice trails off when I notice the sad, hurt look in Jack's eyes, like his dog just died. Then it dawns on me, the doctor said I was pregnant, then the sharp pains. Oh my God, I had a miscarriage, that's what he was thinking, the doctor knew what was happening, so he knocked me out. I look Jack in the eye and ask, "What the hell happened to me?"
But he doesn't have to respond; the look in his eyes confirms my thoughts. I hadn't even had the chance to accept being a mother and now... I look at Jack again and say, "What happened? Before that nurse knocked me out the doctor asked me if I was pregnant, or told me I was, I can't remember. Was I? Am I?"
Jack stares at me for a moment with those hurt eyes and says, "Yes and no. The doctors said you had a miscarriage due to the trauma of the accident." I try to move again and feel another sharp pain in my abdomen. Jack pushes me down and says, "They think you have some kind of infection, you shouldn't try to move. You had a 104-degree fever three hours ago, it has come down some, but you should still take it easy for a while."
All this is more than I can comprehend at once. We could have had a baby, Jack and me. I had never until this moment thought of becoming a mother, but now it's all I can think of. I wonder what our child would have looked like, would he have Jack's eyes, Jack's smile? Abruptly my sadness is replaced by an overwhelming anger toward the man who hit me, who ended our child's life before it even began.
"Jack, did they get the guy who hit me."
"Yes, but you know the system, he'll probably do a year or two, max." I can tell Jack is trying to fight back tears as he speaks. I reach my hand out and stroke his face, brushing his dark hair out of his eyes. He looks up at me for a while and says, "Claire, did you know you were..."
But I cut him off with, "No. I wish I had though" anticipating the rest of the question.
"Me too. Did you ever think about us having kids?"
"No. Did you?"
"Honestly, not until a few hours ago when the doctors told me what happened."
Again I feel and overwhelming anger and powerlessness as hot tears slide down my face. Jack sees me begin to cry and puts his arm around my shoulder. I bury my face in his shirt and sob until I drift off to sleep.
It is now May 10, 1995. Jack and I have been seeing each other for about four months. We are having dinner at Marty's, a dump near the courthouse we often eat at during trials. We are waiting for our food to arrive when a young woman approaches Jack and greets him warmly. She appears friendly enough. I can see she possess short blond hair, curled at the ends, and clear blue eyes. There is something familiar about her face, yet I cannot place it; I have seen this woman before, yet it seems like I saw her in a photograph. Suddenly Jack stands up, embraces her and says, "Claire, I'd like you to meet my daughter, Megan. Megan this is Claire."
She and Jack sit down at the table, she shakes my hand and says, "It's nice to meet you. I wish I could say Dad's told me all about you, but he hasn't. I'm Megan Barkin."
At this point I notice the strange way Megan is dressed, she looks as though she just appeared from 1975; platforms, bell-bottoms, the works. She notices us staring at her and explains, "My half-sister is having a retro party for her 19th birthday tonight. How do I look?"
"Retro. Is Janet the one turning 19." Jack asks, surveying her head to toe.
"Nope. Janet's 21. Linda's turning 19."
"Who's Linda?" I ask, trying to participate in the conversation.
"My other half-sister." Then Megan looks at her watch and says, "I hate to run, but I have to pick up Rick at the airport on my way to the party. Claire, it was nice to meet you. Bye dad."
"Nice to meet you too."
After she leaves I ask Jack, "Who's Rick? Her husband?"
"Yes. He and I don't get along."
"He's a pompous, arrogant, jerk."
"Megan seemed nice."
"I'm glad you two hit it off. I'd hate it if you didn't."
Our food arrives and while I devour my pasta, I look up and see Jack staring at me with a huge grin on his face.
"I love you Claire." He says, taking my face in his hands.
"I love you too Jack."
I wake up, still in Jack's arms. My movement wakes Jack and he sits up and smiles at me.
"How'd you sleep?"
"Decent enough considering. How do you feel?"
"Better." I answer as I sit up. I study Jack's face for a long time before asking, "Jack, is this going to change things between us? Because I can't bear the thought of losing you."
After a few seconds spent fighting back tears Jack answers, "Of course not. I love you and nothing is going to change that."
"I love you too." I say, wrapping my arms around his neck.
Jack stays with me every day and every night until the doctors let me go home. On my last night in the hospital I remember many things. I remember my fight with Jack on the day of my accident, I remember being angry and making him wait at the bar, I also remember driving Lennie home that night. I still have no memory of the accident itself, for which I am grateful. All I know now is that despite all the pain we have suffered Jack and I will endure, we have to, we need each other too much to be apart.