Jack’s fourth and fifth fingers were still tingling when he opened his eyes. Brilliant Italian sunshine blinded him. It was his first indicator that the trip through the wormhole had gone terribly wrong. The last window he had seen was frozen in his memory. Beneath his feet the earth was verdant, damp and uneven. It appeared that he was standing in a field. Aware of the woman standing next to him he turned to face her. The confusion on her face mirrored his own. If they weren’t at work and it wasn’t winter anymore where in the hell were they?
Pastoral fields lay around them. Anything could be growing in the field where they were standing. Less than twenty feet away he could see a plant he recognized. Fat grapes hung lazily from heavy vines. His hand twisted several off. Grape skins burst beneath his teeth yielding sweet warm juice. This must be a dream. He couldn’t imagine any other scenario where he and Jane were alone and she was not yelling at him. The golden streaks in her hair were more prominent in the sunshine. Her skin was pale. Startled green eyes looked to him for reassurance.
Putting his arm around her seemed to be the right thing to do. Wherever they were it was up to him to take care of her. Condensed sweat rolled down the back of his neck. The woman in his arms was wearing jeans, a long sleeved shirt and a fleece lined vest. If he was sweating in his short sleeved work shirt she had to be roasting. Any minute now she would start questioning where they were. Above them the sky burned blue. In front of him her eyes were cloudy and unfamiliar.
Jack took a deep breath as he studied his companion in the field. She looked as if she was waiting for something to happen. As if she was waiting for a kiss. Their bodies were of a similar height. Back in the office he had seen an ice blue bra strap. The swell of her breasts was evident beneath her vest. Another set of lips met his as he opened his mouth to apologize. He wasn’t sure what he should do with his arm. It was hard to avoid being kissed by her. “Where are we?”
It was the question he had been waiting for but now her hand was moving up and down his arn. Prolonged exposure to the sun had done strange things to his neural network. Her breast fit neatly in his palm. A shiver went through him as she leaned into him. Any minute now she would come to her senses and slap him but the way she was moving her hands down his back made him indifferent to that eventual reality. “I love you Jack.”
The words were whispered against his ear. Her hands had moved up his shirt and proceeded down his pants. Their lips moved as their bodies fused together. It wasn’t easy to get her jeans over her hips but the wait was worth it when he saw a long leg kick the frustrated denim away. Her panties were a disappointing beige color, his hands slid beneath the waistband and stripped the garment away. Now only her top half was covered.
Later on they would fight about who had started the interlude but he didn’t last long after her hands divested him of his shirt and boxers. Sated and lying on their clothes in the sunshine Jack found himself yawning. A blonde head laid against his shoulder. He ran an appreciative hand over a naked hip and closed his eyes again. “Jack, wake up Jack.”
A rough hand was shaking him. Sleepily Jack opened his eyes. “Hey Tom…,”
“Get up and get moving. You are in deep shit buddy.”
“Already back. If you ever fuck with the wormhole again I won’t be able to save you. I told Jane she had a dream and you had better back me up. What in the hell did you think you were doing messing around with the wormhole like that?”
“Jane is pregnant. She went down to Chicago and slept with her step-brother’s roommate. I thought we could go back in time and erase the meeting.”
“I have news for you buddy. If Jane is pregnant, it’s yours.”
“Mine? She was already pregnant when I slept with her.”
“Hang on, we’re going back. Get ready to start tingling.” Even as his friend spoke Jack felt a familiar tingle creep through his body. His eyes started blinking uncontrollably. Nausea tore through his stomach, things grew dark and the disorientation became complete. Back in the bathroom at work he threw a handful of damp paper towels in the trash can. Tom was holding the door open. Jack stepped through it and flashed his badge at the next door they came to. When he was in his team leader’s office he leaned against a the wall that housed a block of servers. Conditioned air blew against the back of his neck.
Jack stepped forward as Tom pulled out a chair. “I should really fire you for this Jack. You were out of line and you know it. You acted irresponsibly, you broke a list of rules that would take pages to document and what I should do is hand you some walking papers. I talked to Jane and she doesn’t remember much of what happened. She told me she had a dream that you guys were in a field together. When we found you both of you were um, not wearing much. I’m giving you a chance to tell me what happened and I’m not going to tell anyone else about this but I want to see a signed and dated copy of your resignation the next time I check my e-mail. Is that clear?”
“Yeah. Shit. Look, I’m sorry. We were at work. I was working late and Jane was in her office crying. I didn’t know anyone else was there. Back in November Jane got together with some girlfriends of hers. She was planning on staying with her brother and her brother’s roommate called because he had a flat tire. Jane was strung out from meeting her friends. She told me she was drunk and I guess she and this guy hooked up and because she hasn’t been in a relationship for a while she went off the pill. So if she is pregnant, still pregnant I should say, the baby isn’t mine.”
Tom leaned back in his chair and studied his chief crew member carefully. “When you took Jane back you went to a different century Jack. There was an error in two lines of code, they were inverted. You and Jane went to thirteenth century Italy. We’ve never run into this kind of a situation before but I think that you sleeping with Jane happened before this other guy slept with her. She has every right to hold you responsible for any child conceived as a result of this union.”
“What the fuck Tom. You can’t be serious.”
“Dude, I’m not the one who was lying in the field next to her. We all saw it. People are going to talk Tom. The best you can hope for is joint custody of the kid.”
“Is Jane okay?”
“She has a bump on the back of her head. Any idea how she got that?”
“She passed out at the office. That’s how I found out she was pregnant. I was on my way home, a couple of us were going out. I realized I had left my keys on my desk, I turned around and there was this big crashing sound. I poked around, Jane’s light was on and she was laying on the floor when I found her. She told me she would be fine but I told her I was giving her a ride home. Then she started crying and told me about the roommate and the baby.”
“You really landed yourself in something big here Jack. Jane remembers almost nothing of being in Italy. She gives you credit for helping her out though. It doesn’t seem like anyone outside of us noticed that either of you were gone. We put Jane through a complete physical, this is possibly good news. No one told me she was pregnant so you might be off the hook.”
“She has to be pregnant. She was pregnant when we left here.”
“Maybe she thought she was.”
“No. She was.” His voice was slightly hysterical now. “She went to the doctor and she showed me a picture of her ultrasound. She was pregnant damn it!”
“Do you think that there is even the slightest chance one of our doctors missed a pregnancy Jack?”
“It could happen. Okay, it couldn’t happen. Fuck. What does Jane say?”
“This is good. You’ll appreciate this. She said you gave her some really good grapes. She remembers being at work. She remembers you being there. She remembers falling asleep and waking up to grapes for breakfast. That’s what she remembers.”
“If she’s pregnant I demand a paternity test.”
“I’ll see what I can do for you. You’re also being demoted for tampering with equipment. If anyone else finds out about this I won’t be able to save you Jack.”
“Jane is going to kill me. She is absolutely positively going to kill me.”
“Right now she thinks you’re the greatest thing since sliced wheat product. She has some idea that you saved her life.”
“If she’s not pregnant that would save her life. She was going to have to tell her parents. They’re not accepting of the ways the world has changed. Jane is an only child. Tell me she’s not pregnant.”
“What on earth possessed you to get it on with her in a field?”
“You had to be there.”
“I guess. You are so damn lucky that Rick and I were the only people who saw what happened. You and Jane were so cute sleeping next to each other.”
“Fuck you Tom.”
“Was she good?”
“She was better than your mama was.”
“Well keep me posted on any, ah, developments.”
“I will, ah, keep you, ah, posted. Fuck Tom, what am I going to do?”
“Get Jane some more grapes I guess. Hang in there buddy. Maybe she’s not even pregnant at all. I still want your resignation but your demotion is only for a six week period. The cover story is that I want more people to study field development. Just be glad I didn’t sign you up for an appointment with the Director of Human Resources. I could have let you walk into Jane’s office and she could have told you all about your new position.”
“Fuck you Tom. Thanks.”
“No problem buddy. I’ll see you tomorrow and I’ll see your letter of resignation before then.”
“Right.” Jack stood up, pushed his chair in and almost collided with Jane who was standing by the plant in the hall.
To be continued at some future point in time.