Along the lines of chaos theory where something as seemingly inconsequential as a butterfly flapping its wings can set off a chain of events that leads to a hurricane, I've decided to take a second track for a parallel series and explore what might have happened to Jamie and Eddie's relationship if things had turned out a little differently that day when he had his accident in "He lets me call him Frank now" - suppose he had not gotten quite as sick and Eddie had not been invited into the Reagan family. What if she had NOT been asked to call him Frank that day? Hmm? Where would Jamie and Eddie be if that had happened? Still partners on the job? Lovers? Might they have met some of the same people along the way on an alternate journey? Maybe!
This one mirrors "Follow Your Heart" for the most part with a big dose of "Home Sweet Home" thrown in for kicks. You don't have to read the whole other series for this story to make sense, but it helps if you want to spot the overlaps. Chapters 1-5 of "He lets me call him Frank now" are helpful for background before this picks up.
Be warned! This is another long one and I have been told that the first part of this story is a true challenge to anyone with even the strongest inner Jamko! Have no fear, they will find a way to resolve things! Special thanks to lawslave for her suggestions and offering to be a sounding board to bounce ideas off!
You can find the lists for both series in my profile since it helps to read them in order, and as always I own nothing, CBS has all the rights to Blue Bloods, I just take their characters out for a spin for fun! Oh, and Happy New Year everyone!
NYPD Officer Edit Janko was busy adjusting the utility belt at her waist as she stood in front of her open locker at the 12th precinct during the morning before first shift on a sweltering day in mid-July. She had arrived earlier than normal in nervous anticipation, and critiqued her reflection in the small magnetic mirror, deciding uncharacteristically to adjust her tight work bun and apply a hint of blush and lip gloss before nodding in satisfaction and closing the door. Her partner and best friend was due to return to duty today after nearly a month on medical leave and she wanted to be ready.
Jamison Reagan had spent a week in the hospital battling pneumonia after inhaling a chemical mixture while taking down a purse-snatching perp in an alleyway and later collapsing across the hall from where Eddie now stood. It had been a horrible experience watching him crumple to the floor in front of Sergeant Renzulli and the rest of the officers in the house. He had been rushed to the hospital as she rode along in the ambulance with him and things had been a little dicey for the first couple of days as Jamie had struggled to maintain his oxygen levels, but his condition had thankfully leveled off and he had avoided the most serious possible complications.
As was their habit, the Reagan family had immediately closed ranks around the Commissioner's youngest son while he was ill and Eddie's visits had been reduced to sporadic appearances at odd hours when he was most often asleep during the end of that first week as she was uncomfortable vying for the limited visitation time offered while he was in the ICU. As soon as he was released he had been spirited away to the house in Bay Ridge since Frank and Henry were determined to keep a close watch on him. Jamie had whiled away the past three weeks recovering there and sleeping in his old room and Eddie had limited their interaction to a few phone calls and text messages because she was too uncomfortable with the thought of inviting herself over to her ultimate superior's house. She worried though as Jamie's latest replies had been short and terse. Was it possible he was upset with her for not having more nerve? She had missed his company so much, and it had become abundantly obvious to her she regarded him as more than a work partner. Her heart had ached for him every single day and she desperately wanted to work on defining their relationship now. She cursed herself for being such a coward and chewed her lip nervously as she looked up at the clock. Half hour to roll call. He had to be in the building by now; Jamie was habitually early even if he would only need to prepare for modified duty as a house mouse. Renzulli had assigned him to a desk until he was fully cleared and Eddie would remain partnered with Mark Wilson for now.
With one final tug on her belt, Eddie smoothed out her lapels, straightened her tie and picked up her hat as she made her way out of the women's locker room. It was her intention to head across the hall to the men's side and see if Jamie was ready to go. "Gotta remember to knock on the door," she reminded herself. Her hand was reaching up to tap on the glass when it swung open and suddenly he was there. A little thinner and still somewhat pale, but her breath caught and her heart skipped a beat as their eyes met and he offered her that involuntary little sideways grin that always melted her soul.
"Hey," he said with a small laugh. "Don't tell me you were actually going to knock first."
"Hi," she managed to exhale as her eyes narrowed and a strong blush crept up into her cheeks; she had to restrain herself from throwing her arms around him right then and there. She covered herself with a quiet "Welcome back, stranger."
"Thanks," he replied, searching her eyes with puzzlement… What exactly had that little squint been for? he wondered. If he hadn't known better he would have thought it was eerily similar to that moment before they had kissed on a night so long ago. He quickly pushed that idea aside. If he was honest with himself, Jamie had to admit that he had been utterly disappointed with the way things had turned out between them recently. There for a little while before he had gotten sick he'd thought that the two had been on the verge of something… a reason to explore a different side to their relationship that he found himself craving; so much so that he had applied to sit for the upcoming sergeant's exam as an excuse to shake things up. He'd spent the last three weeks coming to terms with the fact that apparently she did not feel the same way as she had maintained strict distance at a time he could have really used her support and company outside of the precinct. It had been a kind of litmus test in a way. Oh well, he thought to himself sadly, I guess it was for the best. At least he had not screwed with their friendship and work relationship if it was not destined to be more than that anyway.
The two were still locked in a silent, uncomfortable stare when a deep voice barked down the hall, "Reagan! My office! Now!"
Jamie paused and gave a small shake of his head before answering Renzulli's order, "Right away, Sarge," he called back as his eyes begged for an answer from her for one final second before he blinked. "Gotta go, duty calls," he said as he put his cap underneath his arm.
"Oh, okay," she replied softly as the spell was finally broken. "Can I buy you a drink tonight at Sullivan's to celebrate?"
"Reagan!" Renzulli called again impatiently.
"Um, well let's talk later," Jamie said as he did an about face to hurry to the end of the hall. "Have a good tour today, Officer Janko," he called over his shoulder.
"You too," Eddie murmured as she watched while Jamie turned the corner and then listened to Renzulli's office door close before allowing her tightly-held breath to finally exhale. He was back. Things were off between them, but she had expected that given his absence and her own behavior as of late. Tonight though she promised herself, she would open up to him and explain everything. Now that she was partnered with someone else there was no departmental policy to keep them from having a relationship outside of work, and if that was something he was willing to pursue she was more than happy to stay in the car with Wilson. She gave a small smile and a little chuff at the thought of being Jamie's girlfriend before turning to head the opposite way to pick up her duty assignment and radio. Today's shift couldn't possibly go by fast enough, she thought.
Jamie, meanwhile found himself in the familiar position of standing at attention in front of Renzulli's desk. "Relax and have a seat, Harvard," his boss ordered as he sat back in his chair. "Don't strain yourself. How you doing, kid?" he prodded.
"Getting better, Sarge," Jamie replied with a small smile as he sat, "but not quite ready to be out on patrol yet."
"I can see that," Renzulli said as he leaned forward and put his elbows on the desk while he looked his old boot in the eye. "You're down what? Ten, fifteen pounds? You were thin to start with. We're going to have to add some weight to your belt on windy days so you'll stay put."
"Twelve," Jamie admitted with a frown, his former TO had always displayed an uncanny ability at precise observation. "It was fifteen, but I've gained three back now. I only have two more to go before I meet the departmental guidelines for full duty."
"I suppose it could have been worse," Renzulli added as he sat back and turned back and forth in his chair. "You were pretty damn sick there for a while. Scared the crap out of me when you keeled over in the hallway that day. Nothing worse than sitting at the hospital waiting for your old man to show up so I can explain to him that his youngest dropped on my watch. Took at least five years off my life, I'll have you know. We were there for over an hour alone with him before he dismissed Janko and me after the nurse came to get him. Just for reference, your dad's kinda scary when one of his own is in trouble."
"Yeah, I can imagine," Jamie said, thinking back to that day. It hadn't been too much of a picnic for him either laying back in the exam area alone while having a full blown respiratory attack and being pumped full of God knows what as he was struggling for air. He'd never take that simple commodity for granted again. He had been lucky that his doctor had assigned a familiar and capable pulmonary therapist to him who kept his panic under control until the meds kicked in and his father had been allowed back to see him. Without her things might have turned out differently.
"So what about the sergeant's exam this Saturday? You ready?" Renzulli pried, finally getting to the real reason he had summoned Jamie to his office.
"Yeah, I mean I think so," Jamie answered truthfully. His eidetic memory, a trait he shared with Frank, always came in handy for big tests like this and had been the major reason he had aced the top spot in every single grade from kindergarten through his graduating classes at Harvard and the police academy. The ability to recall images, sounds, or objects in memory after only a few instances of exposure with such high precision had been a blessing in most instances, the only downfall being it made bad things hard to forget as well. "I've had nothing better to do for the last three weeks besides memorize the study guide, Sarge. I'm as ready as I'll ever be."
"That's what I want to hear," the older man acknowledged as he drummed his fingers on the desk, "because I have it on good authority that striped staffing is short, especially over at the 3-5. They've had a real run of early retirements in that precinct this year. Word is that the top score on this exam will have an almost immediate appointment there."
"Oh, for real?" Jamie asked as he considered that news. He had expected to wait some time for an opening.
"Yeah, and with the 3-5 territory bordering ours, it would make my life a lot easier if I had someone over there I could work with. We overlap on alotta calls. I've been getting nothing but grief from one of their duty sergeants, Jimmy Michael, for years now. He's a real pain in the ass and due to retire himself at the end of the year so I'm counting on you, kid."
"I'll do my best not to let you down, Sarge."
"Yeah, well, that brings me to my next point of order."
"Janko," Jamie muttered as he sat back. He knew right then and there by the tone in Renzulli's voice that he'd probably already taken his last tour with Eddie the day he'd gone down in that alley. Before recent events such a thought would have driven him crazy, but now he felt himself increasingly resigned to the notion as much as it still tore through his heart. He had lost a potential relationship and now a good partnership… maybe even their friendship once he pulled up stakes at this precinct. Eddie had kept herself away for weeks for whatever reason, perhaps it was time for him to move on too.
"She's getting on real well with Wilson," Renzulli admitted as he continued. "I want to keep them together and have you ride with me for a couple of weeks before you get your transfer orders if you ace that test the way I know you will. It'll let me have a chance to give you a heads up on the real sergeant duties. There's a lot of stuff you need to know that's not covered in that big book, Reagan."
"Sounds like a plan, Sarge," Jamie acknowledged thoughtfully. "It's as good a time as ever for a fresh start. I'll try my best to be ready to be reinstated for full duty by next week."
"You do that," Renzulli said as he carefully gauged the younger officer's reaction. He had always been convinced that there was more to Jamie and Eddie's relationship than they admitted, but by all accounts it looked like he had misjudged that after all. He had fully expected some initial resistance to his plan and was genuinely surprised when there was none. "Now get outta here. Roll call's in five minutes and you have a hot date with a desk afterwards."
"Yes, sir," Jamie smirked as he got up and turned to leave. Despite the modified duty assignment, it felt good to be back at work and the desk was not the only date he was looking forward to today.
Eddie's patience was running thin by the end of a busy tour as she and Wilson were called to the scene of a minor fender bender only ten minutes before they were due to return to the precinct and clock off. She hurriedly processed the necessary statements and paperwork for both parties and the two officers parked the RMP at home in the motor pool lot a half hour later. Wilson promised to clean the cruiser and gas up as he knew his new workmate was eager to change and meet up with her old partner as soon as possible. It was not a secret among the regular officers that Reagan and Janko carried a torch for one another, but Eddie had proven to be a capable cop in her own right during the last three weeks of tours they had worked together, so the ten-year veteran was willing to cut her some slack. He had nothing better to do than go home and study for the upcoming sergeant's test himself. It was time to try to get a promotion anyway after all of these years on patrol.
She hurried back to the locker room area after first dropping off her communication equipment and paperwork at the desk. She went directly to the men's side and knocked urgently on the door, but her heart fell a little when there was absolutely no answer. Maybe Jamie had left already given the fact that he had spent the day as a house mouse and she was running late. Eddie was reaching into her pocket for her phone to call him when she caught sight of a familiar jacket turning the corner down the hall and heading for the front doors. "Hey, Jamie!" she called as she followed quickly after him, wondering why he hadn't waited or texted to confirm their plans.
Her hands were on the door as she pushed it open but the next words caught in her throat and her heart absolutely shattered as she watched a rather beautiful and petite brunette run up from the street outside and throw her arms around him excitedly. Her jaw dropped as he returned the affection with a quick hug across the shoulders and a soft kiss on the cheek. Eddie shrank back against the wall and stared in disbelief as Jamie walked the young woman to his car and opened the passenger-side door for her, pausing to brush her lips before she turned to sit. They were laughing and chatting with one another and it was abundantly clear they were more than casual acquaintances now. She quickly turned and rushed back inside to watch under better cover before Jamie pulled the car away from the curb and drove away.
Eddie wandered back to the woman's changing room and sat on the bench in front of her locker in shock. What the hell had just happened? she wondered as she brought her hands up to cover her eyes, pressing her palms up against them until she saw stars. "Stupid, stupid, STUPID!" she muttered out loud, grateful that there were no other female officers in the room to hear her. Her hands were shaking as she brought them back down and wrung them as her elbows rested heavily on her trembling thighs. Tonight was supposed to be such a special night, her mind cried... too bad I didn't clue Jamie into that, she thought ruefully with utter soulful regret. Her absolute fear of interacting with superior officers had held her at bay for nearly a month and away from the Reagan family while he had been struggling to recover alone. Now that reality had quite coldly slapped her in the face, she couldn't even blame him for moving on. What the eff had she been thinking?
She flashed back to those critical few minutes at the hospital just over four weeks ago where the guilt of seeing Jamie in distress and the fear of waiting for his father to arrive had triggered her anxiety to heightened levels once more.
By the time the ambulance pulled up to the Emergency receiving doors at the hospital, Jamie was feeling greatly relieved as lay propped up in a near sitting position. The oxygen mask had provided the air he had been so desperately seeking and whatever the medics had hastily injected into his IV had alleviated much of the pressure in his chest. He offered a small smile to the worried face peering at him. "I'm okay now Eddie, really," he'd said quietly and gripped her hand.
"Reagan, you scared the crap out of me. Do. Not. Do that again!" she emphasized as the ambulance doors swung open and the gurney was unloaded. A team of doctors and nurses met them at the entrance and whisked Jamie into the trauma bay. Eddie followed him until the last set of double doors, conveying the information about the possible chemical exposure to one of the doctors. At that point she was stopped by a nurse and directed to a private waiting room down the hall. Sergeant Renzulli arrived a few minutes later, having sent Eddie ahead in the ambulance to keep an eye on Jamie and speak to the doctors while he reported the events regarding the Commissioner's youngest to his superiors.
"Edit," he said, addressing her more informally outside of the precinct, "how is he?"
"He looked much better after they gave him some meds," she answered with a relieved sigh. "He was awake the whole time and talking to me. That was pretty scary though, I've never seen him like that before."
"Yeah, you think that's scary. You should try facing the Commissioner when something has happened to one of his kids," Renzulli stated, rubbing his hand nervously over the back of his head, knowing that at any minute Jamie's father and his detail would be arriving.
As if on cue the automatic doors at the end of the hallway opened and the impressive figure of Frank Reagan strode into sight, flanked from behind by his ever-present security detail. He looked composed, his Commissioner mask in place, but Renzulli could see the worried eyes of a father seeking him out as he neared the waiting room where they were standing.
"Commissioner, sir," Renzulli and Eddie both came to attention.
"At ease, Sergeant," Frank stated, after returning their salute, "how is he?"
"Sir, the doctors are with him now. We haven't had any further news since he arrived, but Officer Janko reported Jamie was alert and oriented during the ride here from the precinct," Renzulli offered. "He started having a great deal of difficulty breathing while at the station. We believe his attack may have been brought on by an exposure to some chemicals in an alley while he was making an arrest of a robbery suspect earlier this afternoon."
"What type of chemicals?" Frank asked.
"Unknown, sir. Officer Janko reported an odor possibly that of a cleaning agent but nothing is confirmed at this time. I sent another patrol car back to the scene after this happened but they indicated that the trash had already been picked up and there was no sign of the owner at the residence."
"Thank you, Sergeant," Frank said as he pursed his lips, unable to detect what level of concern was required. Officer Janko looked rather shaken and was standing nervously with her right hand clenching her left arm. Frank strongly suspected there was something more between his son and his attractive young partner but there had never been more than a hint offered from Jamie on that subject. He wouldn't feel better until he saw his son with his own eyes and spoke to the doctor in person. His wish was granted about an hour later when a familiar face appeared in the doorway.
"Excuse me Commissioner," she said in a very comforting voice, "Dr. Holden sent me to find you. I can take you back to see your son now and the doctor will meet you in her office when she has the results of some tests."
"Thank you," Frank replied standing quickly, completely caught off guard by her appearance and at a loss for words. "Sergeant, why don't you and Office Janko return to the precinct and close out your tour. I will call you with any updates." Eddie looked up in surprise as they were rather unceremoniously dismissed.
"Yes sir," Renzulli answered. "If you don't mind I will stop by after shift and check in on him."
"Wouldn't have it any other way Tony," Frank smiled knowing how fond Renzulli was of Jamie. He reached out to shake the Sergeant's hand while offering nothing to Eddie. "Thank you."
With that, Frank Reagan quickly left the room to follow the nurse on his way to see Jamie, and Eddie walked out of the hospital without seeing her partner for the next three days until he was deemed more stable.
Her eyes welled up, and the tears threatened to fall as she frantically changed and shoved her clothing into a duffle bag, desperate to get out of there before anyone else saw the raw emotion on her face. This could not be happening, not now. Not after all they had been through the last four weeks, damn it; make that the last two years. She had no good notion as to who the strange woman was, and no idea what to make of it or what to do right now. Jamie did seem to have a type, didn't he? Pretty, petite well-educated and manicured brunettes with long straight hair; pretty much the opposite of herself.
Suddenly that much-anticipated trip to the bar was needed for a whole other reason as the best she could hope for was that this would be a short fling like Jamie had last year with that ER doc Jennifer from Mercy. The other possibility... that he had met someone else to be serious with... was just too much for her to consider at this point as Eddie felt like her entire world had just been snatched away from her in an instant.
"It'll be alright," she tried to assure herself as she walked to her car alone, "just as soon as he comes back on full duty and we can ride together again. We'll be able to really talk then."
Uh oh. Strike one for Eddie. Just who is the beautiful, petite brunette horning in on what should have been a beautiful Jamko moment? Spoiler alert! It's NOT Sydney, lol. I couldn't bring myself to do that. She's someone new but we'll find out exactly who next!