Be My Valentine II
In the tradition of the second series, this starts as a bit of a rewrite of the original. Set just after the end of "Water Under the Bridge" and before we pick up at the start of "It's All in the Name." Special thanks to BLBLF who suggested we see a little more Kaylin/Grandpa time and to all those who love George and maybe Addie too?
I decided to keep these separate from the original Snapshots since the events in each series are different and I will try to keep it in some kind of chronological order so might reorder the chapters as we go. I'll only be updating this collection periodically when I'm stuck or I need to take a fun break from the longer pieces.
"Frank!... Are you around?… We're here! Hello?" Edit Janko called out as she ushered a well-bundled up Kaylin through the back door of the Reagan family home while struggling to carry an armful of dry cleaning and various other baggage containing shoes and whatever else she and Jamie would need to get ready for a night out on the town. It was February 14th, and the very first Valentine's Day they'd spend together as a couple having been engaged for just six weeks now since the New Year's Eve proposal under a sky full of fireworks on the beach behind Spencer's house in California. Jamie's father had surprised them with a pair of tickets to a performance at an exclusive dinner theatre when his own plans for a night out had fallen through. Even Henry, Nicki and Erin had commitments for the evening so there would be a meeting of only one for the Reagan family lonely hearts club this holiday… two, if you counted a little girl who would be sure to erase the lonely out of that equation anyway.
"In here," Frank called as he hurriedly made his way into the kitchen and smiled at the sight of his youngest granddaughter dressed in her grey puffy snowsuit with her favorite bunny-eared character beanie on phosphorescent display. "There's my sweetheart," he said as he only had eyes for her and quickly reached down to pick her up before she could squirm and run away since she knew what was coming next. "Gotcha," he laughed. "Now let's go get you out of all of these clothes before you get overheated in here," he added as he briskly took the little girl out into the living room without a second look at his future daughter-in-law.
"Nice to see you too, Frank," Eddie huffed up a breath to blow a loose wisp of hair out of her eyes as she stood there alone now with both hands loaded like a pack mule. "Don't worry, I'll get the door."
"Did you say something, Eddie?" he called from the other room where he had pinned Kaylin down on the couch and had her giggling as he peeled her out of her snow clothes. This season's cold temperatures had been one for the record books and everyone was looking forward to spring and more moderate weather, especially Jamie who had become extremely sensitive to the icy climate since his bout of severe hypothermia suffered in the building collapse at the Bridgewater construction site just two months earlier. After returning to patrol he had been forced to come up with a strategic layering process to keep himself comfortable through a whole shift although he still often found himself thoroughly chilled after a long tour no matter what he did.
Eddie glanced up at the wall clock over the stove and decided to carry on herself as time was running short so she used a foot to close the back door and gave a little jump to regrip all the bags as she dragged everything through the living room and towards the steps without any notice from Frank. "I'm just going to take these upstairs and start getting ready," she called behind her as she hurried up the stairs before she was forced to drop anything. "Jamie will be here right after shift so he'll have time to change before the car comes and we need to leave."
"Sounds good," Frank offered without much thought as he finished freeing the little girl from her winter wear until she was stripped down to a pretty festive red jumper and leggings before he pulled out a tin decorated with a big red bow from behind a cushion and delighted Kaylin when she opened it to find a dozen oversized heart-shaped versions of her very favorite iced oatmeal cookies from a local bakery. "Only one before dinner," he whispered as they returned to the kitchen for plates and glasses of milk since they just happened to be Frank's favorite cookies as well and he was loath to share them with anyone else.
Upstairs, Eddie was quick to put everything down on the bed in Jamie's old room before jumping in the shower and setting her hair up in some big oversized rollers to add some bouncy loose curls. She was excited for the evening and the prospect of a romantic dinner date and night out, to be followed by an intimate night in alone at his apartment as a certain someone would be sleeping over here allowing them a little more privacy than they had been accustomed to lately. Eddie was already imagining Jamie's take on a particular little sexy number she had waiting for him at home. For tonight's outing though she had splurged and planned to dazzle him with a new lovely red sleeveless knee-length dress with a sweetheart neckline and killer heels to match. The look was completed with some daring scarlet nail polish to match the dress and her makeup and hair were nearly done before she heard a door opening downstairs and Kaylin's shouts of "DADDY!" left little doubt as to who had arrived. Eddie knew what Jamie's reaction would be to the sight of her all dolled up, and she smiled in anticipation of an enjoyable evening.
For his part, Jamie was feeling a little drained and stiff as an active shift had seen him out of the car and exposed to the elements for much of the last eight hours. All he could think about was warming up in the hot shower that was waiting for him at the top of the stairs, but he paused to shake his head and smirk at the sight of his two-year-old daughter and her Grandpa sitting at the kitchen table with guilty looks on their faces and cookie crumbs on the placemats.
"Oatmeal huh, Dad?" he asked as he kissed the top of Kaylin's head and set a beautifully arranged bouquet of roses down along with a bottle wrapped in a plain brown paper bag.
"Flowers and whiskey, son?" Frank smiled as he knew without looking what was in the bag. "That's your plan for the evening? You know what that led to last time… you," he laughed. "You'd better be careful you don't end up with an unexpected guest for the wedding in September. That could make things interesting..."
"Flowers are for my girls," his youngest grinned. "The bottle is for Grandpa for babysitting. About time we put a fifth of Jameson back in the liquor cabinet, isn't it Pop?"
Frank nodded and his thoughts shifted back to that Valentine's Day night more than thirty years ago now when a similar bottle of Jameson whiskey had rescued him from the doghouse with his beloved wife Mary and led to an entirely pleasurable evening in front of the fireplace in the den… and just over eight months later to the flustering early arrival of one tiny little Jamison Henry Reagan who stood before him now as a grown man… an NYPD sergeant, father and soon-to-be husband. Time sure does fly, he thought with a smile as he watched his youngest take off his jacket and ready himself to secure his off duty weapon in the closet lockbox before stopping suddenly and dropping his forgotten coat to the floor.
"Edit Katalin," he heard Jamie gasp as he stared blankly towards the steps and Frank hurried into the living room to see what all the fuss was about. He could hardly believe his own eyes as he saw his youngest's intended standing on a step halfway down the stairs in a dress eerily similar to the one his own Mary Margaret had greeted him with on that afternoon so many years ago. Mary was brunette, Eddie blond… but the moment was like a step back in time.
Jamie's heart was stopped at the sight of his gorgeous fiancée, the love of his life. She was simply stunning, and that dress... well it made him think of some less than gentlemanly things that he had planned for later that evening. She laughed when she saw the stunned look on his face. "Take a picture, Reagan," she chided. "It'll last longer."
"Eddie," he breathed as he handed his weapon off to his father and made his way to her without another thought before grabbing her around the waist, catching her eyes and then planting a soft kiss on her lips. "You knew exactly what you were asking for when you bought that dress, now didn't you?" he whispered in her ear.
"Yes, of course, lambchop," she smiled, "but you'll need to wait to unwrap that particular gift until later. We need to leave soon to make the play on time."
"Of course, the play," he muttered. Right now he would rather skip everything else and just go straight to the unveiling, to hell with the play and dinner.
"Jamie, go," she ordered with twinkling eyes as she pushed him. "Shower and shave. Kaylin is staying here. We have all night."
Frank shook his head at the strong sense of déjà vu and went ahead and put Jamie's gun safely up before returning to the kitchen and a little girl's company. He smiled at her and decided that maybe tonight would be a good time to introduce Kaylin to some memories of her Grandma Mary.
"Jamie, hurry!" Eddie called to him as she stood at the entrance to the Casa Duse Supper Club in Park Slope while he was busy tipping the driver of their town car. A gourmet dinner and a special showing of "A Midsummer Night's Dream" were on tap for the evening. "We're running late! They're just about done seating everyone! We need the tickets!"
"Okay, okay… I know that was my fault. I took too long to warm up in the shower," he soothed as he took them out and pushed his wallet back down in his inside suit pocket while automatically pulling his heavy overcoat closed against the harsh chill even though they were already in the building by that point. "Here you go. Dad had great seats… all the way up front," he added as they checked their coats and were immediately escorted down one of the center aisles to their table where the other young couple who would prove to be their company for the evening had already been situated with menus and looked up at them in surprise.
Eddie and Jamie both laid eyes on the completely familiar pair in disbelief. "You have got to be kidding me," Eddie breathed silently, although to her credit a fairly decent fake smile remained hanging on her face as her nose wrinkled almost imperceptibly and she glanced over and met Jamie's eyes while he sighed inwardly. What she had really projected to him with that single solitary look and twitch was "You're a dead man walking, Harvard."
"Sarge!" George Emery Mahoy, Jamie's most recent former rookie partner exclaimed as he rose to his feet and extended his hand. "I didn't know you and Officer Janko would be joining us this evening!" By 'us' of course he meant himself and Addison Greene, his current interest and the former Adventure Night buddy Jamie had dated before he and Eddie had finally pulled things together after a bit of a rocky patch when he returned to work after his bout of pneumonia the previous summer. Addie was the respiratory therapist that had been assigned to him in the hospital and just happened to be a family friend as the younger sister of Joe's one-time fiancée Angela. To say that Eddie saw Addie as a former romantic rival was putting it mildly. If that wasn't complicated enough, Jamie had been the one to introduce George and Addie as an exercise to relieve boredom one afternoon when he was still confined to a hospital bed this past December after the Bridgewater building collapse. Now here they all were again and prepared to spend the entire evening together on the most romantic night of the year.
Awkward didn't even begin to cover it.
"Jamie! You're looking so well!" Addison greeted them in her usual bubbly enthusiastic manner. "And George, please don't call her Officer Janko, you're not at work, silly… it's Eddie! So good to see you again!" she exclaimed. "You look simply stunning in that dress! The color is beautiful on you!"
"Thank you, Addison," Eddie replied with a more genuine smile as Jamie pulled a chair out and she took her seat while he did the same, careful to position himself directly in between the two women, although it occurred to him that perhaps that wasn't the smartest move as now he would be forced to watch their conversation bounce back and forth like a tennis match. "I love your necklace!" she returned as she spotted the lovely sterling silver blue spinel and white sapphire infinity pendant. "Is that new?"
"Oh, yes," Addie revealed as she fingered it. "George gave it to me earlier today," she beamed. "And I heard that Jamie finally manned up and put a ring on it," she smiled and squealed when Eddie showed the beautiful custom-made halo engagement setting to her. "Aw, you did good old man!"
"George!" Jamie said as he purposefully sought to derail the jewelry discussion which inevitably threatened to turn into a wedding planning primer with any woman Eddie met within a five-block radius, and that would be… well more weird than this if that was even possible. "How are things going down at CompStat?" he questioned. After the explosive events that bitter cold evening at Bridgewater, everyone had come to the conclusion that the NYPD was far better served by utilizing the young man's special math skills in its statistical department at 1PP rather than as a patrol officer out on the street where his multiple phobias sometimes hindered his effectiveness.
"Oh, fine… fine," George answered. "I've been working on a new project to map domestic violence reports across the precincts with Chief Burgess and the Commissioner."
"Speaking of my dad," Jamie said as he used that convenient segue to continued to pry into exactly who was responsible for setting them up this way, surely it couldn't have been his own father... and so help whoever it was if this stood in the way of the things that little red dress had brought to his mind earlier. "He, um, never mentioned that you and Addie would be joining us here tonight."
"He probably didn't know," George offered by way of explanation as he put his menu down. "He gave the tickets to the Chief but his wife came down ill yesterday so David passed them on to us," he said with a huge smile as he reached over to squeeze Addison's hand in a completely smitten young lover kind of way. "Running into you two guys here is just the icing on the top of the cake!" he added. "What are the odds?"
"You tell me, George," Jamie continued as he looked over at Eddie and was relieved to see she was looking slightly less shellshocked. Maybe this evening had a prayer of ending as planned after all. Eight weeks on the job at 1PP though and the kid's already on a first name, perk trading basis with the Chief of his department, Jamie thought to himself. And I'm still out there every day in a squad car freezing my ass off.
"You know what?!" Addie looked up and enthused. "I just thought of something! This would make a great story to tell the grandkids!" she laughed as the waiter approached to take their drink order.
"Can I get you nice folks a cocktail before we get started this evening?" he asked.
"Single malt, double, neat," was Jamie's instant reply as he leaned over to whisper in Eddie's ear. "Don't worry, lambchop, I know a place we can go to make up for all of this afterwards."
"Make that two," Eddie added without a second thought. No fruity little mixed drinks for her tonight; she was certainly going to need the straight stuff and a little mercy from above to make it through this one.
"Look sweetheart, I have something to show you," Frank called to his young guest as she happily came over to sit on his lap in the den, her tummy full of her favorite oatmeal cookies and a grilled cheese sandwich. "Do you know who this is?" he asked as he pointed to a picture of Mary holding a newborn baby Jamie that first morning in the hospital.
"Grandma Mary," the little girl answered as she had an eidetic memory, particularly for faces, and had already been through most of the extensive collection of picture books in the house.
"How about this little guy?" he asked as he pointed to the baby.
"Nope," Kaylin answered honestly after a careful look.
"That's your daddy when he was just born and this was Uncle Danny and Auntie Erin and Uncle Joe when they were little too," he said as he showed her a different shot.
"Daddy had a mommy, too?" she asked in puzzlement, the loss of her own frequently cold and uncommitted mother, Jayne, in the car accident just six months earlier still often proved to be a source of confusion to the little girl and Jamie had thought it best not to press her with details about his own mother until she was a little older and ready to ask questions on her own. "Can she come see me?" she asked innocently.
"No, sweetheart," Frank replied as his breath caught. "Grandma Mary is in heaven right now. She passed away a few years ago, but she's always with us and we all think about her. She would have loved you very, very much, though," he added gently as he hugged her. "Today was always a special day for her and I just wanted to show you some pictures so we can remember her together. I miss her," he said as he choked up a little. No matter how much time past, Mary Margaret Reagan remained his one and only soulmate and he felt her presence with him every single day. Seeing Eddie come down those stairs in that red dress earlier had certainly been no coincidence he believed, but more like a gift and a timely reminder from his beloved wife. His warm thoughts were soon pushed aside for a moment though.
"I don't want a mommy," the little girl frowned with an unexpected reply that shook her Grandfather to the core with surprise as she looked at more images on the following pages of Jamie growing up with his proud mother often smiling next to him. Maybe this was a bad idea and his son had been right about her being too young to understand. "All mommies go in heaven," she explained as suddenly that notion made sense when it came from a two-year-old given what she had witnessed in her short life. "I want my Eddie bear," using the familiar pet name the two had devised.
"Oh," Frank answered as he considered the little girl's response carefully. He knew that the couple had not planned to broach this subject with her until after they were married so it was not his place to tackle it but it felt wrong to leave her hanging like this. "Well I know that Eddie loves you too… very, very much sweetie," he replied. "And she and Daddy will be married soon. Maybe someday you'd like to call somebody mommy again."
"Maybe," she agreed in a sing-song fashion as continued through the book. "But, me love you best Grandpa," she smiled as she gave him a big hug.
"And I love you too, my Kaylin bear," he said as he reached for a different photo album and pulled it open, eager to leave the little girl with a good memory of Mary as Jamie's mother because God help him if his son and Eddie returned tomorrow after their nice evening out together and found their precocious little girl still in anti-mommy mode after a night with Grandpa, or he'd be back in the doghouse with both of them and no amount of Jameson whiskey would fix that. "Did you see that pretty red dress Eddie was wearing tonight?" he asked the little girl as he paged to the right section when she eagerly nodded. "Well your Grandma had one almost exactly like that and a few years after your Daddy was born…" he showed her a picture of Mary all dolled up once more with tears in her eyes and a beaming little Jamie Reagan standing next to her in his very best Sunday suit, "...when he was just a little older than you are now… he got her to wear it on another Valentine's Day night when she needed it most. I think he was just five when he came home from school one afternoon…"
"Momma! I made you a Valentine!" Jamie exclaimed as he jumped off the bus steps with both feet right into a huge puddle to make a big satisfying splash in his rubber boots and ran to her waving a heart-shaped paper colored in red. "All by my very self!"
"Thank you, Jamie, my baby! I will cherish this forever," she said as she accepted the gift. "And I have a few cookies with pretty red sprinkles all ready for your snack."
"I love you, Momma!" he enthused as they walked back to the house while she looked around the area protectively. Jamie was in kindergarten at that point and only served a half day at school so he and Mary still had a few hours to themselves every afternoon before the older children arrived home. Today was an exception to their normal routine, however, as Henry was picking up Danny, Erin and Joe after their classes to take them to a charity basketball clinic the NYPD was hosting while Mary had planned to walk little Jamie up a few blocks to his Grandma Betty's house so she could sit him since he wasn't old enough to participate. Frank had promised his wife another extravagant Valentine's Day evening at a gala so the couple could celebrate his recent promotion to Chief of Detectives in style, and she had purchased a new daring red dress to dazzle him with just like the one that had led to the circumstances behind the birth of the happy little boy skipping along beside her at that very minute.
As was often the case when one was married to someone in Frank's position, tonight's plans had been cancelled abruptly though when a call had come through less than an hour ago relaying the news about the disappearance of another little boy no older than Jamie. Leo Gates had vanished into thin air on his short walk home from school earlier that afternoon and Frank Reagan had been put in charge of finding him… there would be no time or cause for a happy evening out unless the missing child was found immediately, and judging from the hysteria surrounding the news reports, that didn't look like it would be happening today. No, tonight Mary Margaret Reagan was determined to hold her own little boy close while she prayed for the family of the one lost and for her husband who took these types of cases to heart and would no doubt feel the grief as if he had lost one of his own if this played out the way things like this so often sadly did.
A precocious and intuitive child, little Jamie sensed his mother's angst and in true Reagan fashion was determined to figure out what was wrong. He knew his parents had plans to go out and he was supposed to be with Grandma Betty that night, so when his Mommy told him that things had been cancelled because Daddy was working and they would be staying home alone his curiosity was piqued. For her part, Mary quietly went through the regular motions of her afternoon and cleaned up in the kitchen a bit, following along with the news of the investigation into Leo's disappearance on a small television they had in there, keeping the sound off so that the reality of what his father was working on was kept from his own young and innocent son.
"Momma, why are you sad?" he had asked her at one point after finishing his cookie snack and wiping the milk off his mouth with his sleeve.
"Jamison Reagan," she'd chided. "Please use a napkin for once, and I'm just disappointed that your father and I had to cancel our plans. We'll have an evening out another day, though."
"But Daddy promised to take you to dinner, and you bought a dress," he continued. "That's not nice. Sister Emily told us that we're not supposed to break our promises," he insisted.
"Your father would never break a promise on purpose, Jamie," Mary sighed. "Sometimes he has to though when something very important comes up at work. Daddy is in charge of a lot of people now and he has to be there to make sure they are all doing a good job when something like this happens."
"Something like what, Momma? What is Daddy doing today?"
"That is none of a little boy's business," Mary scolded sadly as she continued to straighten up. "Why don't you go on up to your room and play while I start to get dinner ready for us."
"Yes, Momma," Jamie had conceded reluctantly as he got up and pushed his chair in like a good boy and took his plate to the sink. He wasn't happy with his daddy at the moment though for making his mommy sad about missing her evening and not getting to wear her pretty dress and his sharp little mind soon formulated a plan to fix that. He ran up the steps and closed the door to his room before pulling down his piggy bank from the shelf and turning it over to shake it vigorously, greedily snatching up the few coins and bills he was able to pull from it.
Mary's mommy radar had just gone off wondering what exactly her youngest son had been doing so quietly in his room for the past hour when she was surprised to hear his little voice behind her. Her eyes grew wide and tears immediately welled when she turned around to see.
"Momma, may I have the pweasure… pweasure..." he started as he stood before her dressed in his very best Sunday suit with his hair slicked back with Danny's gel, a generous portion of his father's aftershave sprinkled on and a bouquet of dried flowers he had pilfered from a vase in the upstairs hall.
"Pleasure," she corrected for him with her eyes shining.
"...pleasure of your company," he finished. "Please Momma, can you wear your dress and come with me to dinner?" he spilled out. "I don't want you to be sad."
"Well that depends on where you are planning on taking me," she answered as a few tears managed to slip down now as she looked at the blessing of this child standing before her. Somehow… somehow little Jamie Reagan always knew exactly what his mother needed on her hardest days. "That dress is only for special places, you know."
"I only have six dollars and fifty-two cents, Momma," he said as he held his hand up for her to see the few bills and coins he was holding. "Daddy says a man should pay if he asks a lady out to dinner."
"Oh, well," she answered thoughtfully with a soft smile. "It will have to be someplace pretty special for that then. You might even be able to take me to Miller's Diner to get some of their very best cheesecake if you don't mind spending all of that money. What do you think?"
"Can we, Momma? Please!" he enthused. "I want to take you there for Valentine's Day!"
"Yes, we can baby," she smiled. "You go in the living room and watch some television while I call your father to let him know we are going out and I'll go get ready. Careful not to wrinkle your suit, Jamison. A man should always look his best when he asks a lady out to dinner."
"Yes, Momma!" he cried as he happily did as he was told while Mary stepped to the phone and rang her husband's office number.
"Chief Reagan," she stated as the secretary answered the phone. "Please tell him it's his wife Mary calling, it's important," she asked and spoke his name when he picked up. "Frank, I know how busy you are today dear, but you need a bite to eat too. Can you please meet us at Miller's Diner in about an hour? There's something you need to see today…" she trailed off.
"And daddy made his mommy happy like that?" Kaylin asked as she looked up at Frank as he was finishing the story from that day more than twenty-five years ago now.
"Yes, baby," he said with a thick throat as the emotion had overcome him thinking about his dear Mary and a few tears had managed to find their way to the edges of his eyes as he remembered walking into that diner on that terribly hard day to find his beautiful wife sitting in a booth while dressed to the nines in a stunning red dress and heels and sharing a generous piece of strawberry cheesecake with his youngest son. "Daddy made us both very happy that day."
"Grandpa," Kaylin said as she thoughtfully used her little hand to wipe a tear from his cheek. "May I have the pweasure… pweasure…"
"Pleasure," he corrected for her with his eyes now shining.
"...pleasure of your comp'ny," she finished. "Please Grandpa, can we go have cake?" she spilled out. "I don't want you to be sad."
And that was how a slightly tipsy Jamison Reagan and Edit Janko came to find the Police Commissioner of New York City, Francis Xavier Reagan, dressed to the nines in his finest tuxedo and sitting in a booth at Miller's diner sharing a generous piece of strawberry cheesecake with his youngest granddaughter on that Valentine's Day night.
"Dad!" Jamie laughed as he held Eddie's hand while the couple made their way inside and up to the table. "I can't believe this. What are you doing here?!" Ever since that evening with his mother, cheesecake at Miller's had been the go to fix for any kind of dating disaster for the entire Reagan family. No one could call it a bad night if it ended with such a scrumptious treat.
"I have a date as you can see, Jamison," Frank replied with a wink as he nodded to the little girl who was delighted to see her Daddy and Eddie arrive. "And she wanted to treat me to the finest dinner money could buy. What about you, son? Something tells me that your evening plans might have gone awry."
"Oh, things went a little off track there for a while, but I figured a good slice of cheesecake could fix anything," he grinned. "You know how shorty here loves dessert."
"Watch it, buster," Eddie griped as she slid into the booth and stole a taste from Kaylin's spoon. "Oh my God! That's the best thing I have ever tasted!" she cried as she savored the whipped confection and looked up to meet Jamie's eyes with a mischievous sparkle. "You buy me a whole piece of that and you just might still get lucky tonight, Reagan!"
Needless to say all went well on that front and it was a blessed foursome that parted ways once more outside the little, almost nondescript family-owned diner to go enjoy the rest of their Valentine's Day plans in full. This time it was a little prompt from a loving wife and mother still with them that had made them all very happy that night while a photo of a little girl in a red jumper with leggings and a handsome gentleman dressed to the nines in a tuxedo soon joined another similar version from many years before in one of the Reagan family picture books.
Whew! Very happy to get this one finished in time to post on the holiday since I just got the prompt for it yesterday. For the scoop on the earlier story about how Jamison Henry Reagan with an "i" came to be after a memorable Valentine's Day for Mary and Frank, visit the first three chapters of the original "Snapshots" story.
Next in this set of second-series snapshots was a request to see what happened when Jamie and Rick went out for that beer after the big rescue, so I'll work on that!