We Can't Run From Fate

Jack had never given much thought to the mark on his wrist, the one that told him he had a soulmate out in the world. He was always more the one night stand than soulmate kinda guy. One thing he never expected though was to find his match in Alex Gaskarth, a twenty something single dad just trying to give the best life he can to his daughter.

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9. Chapter 8

A few weeks had passed since Jack and Grace had met and they had some sort of relationship. She liked him, she really did. He’d always play with her and make a fuss of seeing her; she’d always ask Alex when she’d see her Uncle Jack. The first time she said it Alex nearly cried, the two people he cared for most in the world were making it work.

Now Jack sat on Alex’s living floor, Grace’s teddy bears around him as he took part in a teddy bear picnic.

“Do you want some tea?” Grace asked she was holding a pink teapot and cup waiting for his answer.

“Yes please,” Jack replied.

She poured out the imaginary tea and handed it to him; Jack took a fake sip and told her how good it tasted.

“Don’t go ruining your dinner with all that tea,” Alex called from the kitchen.

He was cooking why Jack played with Grace; it had become quite a normal routine for them. Jack was surprised at how much he enjoyed spending time with the little girl; she was exceptionally clever like her father and just fun to be around. Jack never thought that’s what it would be like to have a kid, he thought it was all changing dirty diapers and telling them off for embarrassing you.

“It’s imaginary Daddy!” Grace called and Jack laughed.

“Well in that case I think Jack needs some more,” Alex said.

Grace poured more tea into Jack’s little purple cup and he smiled gratefully.

“Dinners ready guys.”

Alex walked over to the table, plates balancing on his arms. Today there was a beanie covering most of his hair, he was still dressed in his work clothes but the poor boy looked exhausted. Jack had tried to talk to him about work and money but he’d only brushed Jack off saying he was fine.

On his way to the table Jack picked Grace up, swinging her around and dropping her into her highchair, she was giggling all the time. Alex was smiling; his tired eyes lit up like Christmas, Jack just wanted to kiss him.

Jack took his seat next to Alex, his hand finding Alex’s under the table and entwining their fingers together.

“I have something I’d like to say,” Alex announced.

They both turned to look at him, Alex biting his lip before spitting out what he what had been on his mind.

“You both have been getting on so well and that makes me really happy. I was thinking... I was thinking that you Jack might like to have Grace for the weekend.”

His words take a moment to sink in with both Grace and Jack. She reacts first, loving the idea and asking her father to let it happen. Jack stays quiet, have her for a weekend? Watch her all by himself? Surely there was no way he was ready for that. He couldn’t look after that bundle of energy on his own, no way.

“So Jack, what do you think?” Alex asked.

“Please Uncle Jack,” she begged.

“Hmm I’ll have to speak to work,” Jack answered.

Alex smiled and leant over to kiss Jack’s cheek. The meal continued as Alex asked about what Grace had learnt and she rattled on about something. Jack wasn’t listening, he just watched the little girl in front of him, he hadn’t realised how far in he’d gotten. He liked spending time with Grace but he couldn’t do reasonability. It was a leap he was not ready to take.

The night went on much as it usually did. After dinner Alex took Grace off to bed, not before she’d hugged Jack and wished him goodnight. Alex would come back and normally they’d talk, Jack wanted to be able to explain why he couldn’t have Grace for the weekend. But almost as soon as Alex sat down again he was sleep, his head resting on Jack’s shoulder as he finally got the rest he needed. Jack ended up carrying the boy back to his room, stripping him down to his boxers and tucking him in. Jack gave Alex one last sweet kiss before saying goodnight and leaving Alex’s apartment.

 

 

When Jack strolled into work and no coffee in hand Eliza knew something was up.

“What’s got your panties in a twist?” she asked, leaning over the bar.

“Nothing,” Jack mumbled.

“I’m a bartender, I know when something’s wrong. Come on spill; is it to do with Alex?”

Jack sighed and sank down at one of the bar stools to began explaining the events for the previous night.

“He asked you to do what?”

“Look after Grace for the weekend,” Jack clarified.

“That’s a bit of a big ask isn’t it? You’ve only known the kid a few weeks.”

“I know but he seems to think I can handle it,” Jack sighed, running his hand through his hair.

“Do you think you can?” she asked.

“No, I’m not ready for that. Honestly the whole idea scares me, I’m not ready to be a parents in that kid’s life.”

“Don’t you think you should talk to Alex about all of this? I’m sure he’d understand,” Eliza suggested.

“I don’t know,” Jack admitted.

He’d thought about discussing the whole thing with Alex but he didn’t really know how to explain, he just needed some time to think the whole thing over.

 

Jack continued work as normal; attending meetings about various guests they had coming and of course serving drinks. Expect when his phone buzzed with a text from Alex he ignored it, choosing to pour another round of shots than to reply. Night wore on and by the time Jack finally checked his phone it well past midnight. The message had only asked if he was coming over and Jack had ignored it. He hadn’t wanted to see Alex, seeing him would have expected an answer and Jack just didn’t have one.  He sent a quick reply to Alex saying he’d had to work late, not really expecting a reply. He was surprised when his phone buzzed with a message from Alex.

Alex – It’s okay, Grace missed you though.

Jack – I missed her too, why aren’t you asleep?

Alex – Can’t, no one to cuddle with.

Jack smiled at the message, he really cared about Alex he was just struggling with growing up. Jack didn’t want to hurt Alex, or Grace for that matter. He liked Alex in a way he never had before, but still the whole thing scared him even if he tried not to show it.

Jack had always been more Peter Pan than Wendy, he was the child not the one telling the stories. The problem was tearing up him up and as a result Alex’s last text went unanswered and the one after that and the one after that.

 

Somehow one night turns into four days, four days and Jack hadn’t spoken to Alex since that night, despite the endless texts from the boy. Jack had ignored every one, he knew what Alex was asking and the truth was he still didn’t have an answer.

On the night of the fourth day Jack was working, serving behind the bar when a familiar face walked in.

“Oh hey, Zack right? Can I get you anything?” Jack asked.

“I need to talk to you, outside,” Zack said, the hard look in his eyes made Jack want to back away.

“Hmm....”

“It’s about Alex.”

Jack bit his lip and nodded, even if Zack did kind of scare him if something was up with Alex he was probably Jack’s only chance of finding out.

He followed Zack outside and onto the street, the weather had gotten cooler and Jack shivered without a jacket.

“What do you think you’re doing?” Zack snapped.

“I’m sorry?”

“What do you think you’re doing? You’re bouncing Alex up and down like a fucking yo-yo. What’s your game?”

“Game? There’s no game... I like Alex...I.”

“Well you’re not doing a very good job of showing it,” Zack hissed.

“I’m trying... With Grace it’s hard.”

“Don’t bring Grace into this!” Zack yelled.

“Look I’m trying okay? It’s just taking sometime...”

“That’s not good enough; you have an obligation to that little girl. You know she’s been crying because she hasn’t been you, do you know how much that hurts Alex?”

“I... I had no idea.”

“Of course you didn’t, you never think of anyone but yourself.”

“Hey!”

“Save it Jack, I told Alex not to get back together with you, guess I was right.”

With that Zack stormed back into the night and Jack was left standing dumbfounded on the sidewalk. He had a lot to think about; he had a choice to make. What was more important, himself or Alex?

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