This is the follow-up piece to "Water Under the Bridge" in my second-track series that explores what might have happened to our favorite Jamko pair had things turned out a little differently in the original opener "He lets me call him Frank now". Under the guise of chaos theory where our little friend the butterfly flapped its wings in a different manner to disrupt the ensuing hurricane, this one tackles some of the issues they faced in "Home Sweet Home" but adds a few different twists including wedding planning with the help of Eddie's mother and the fact that Kaylin is already front and center in their lives. This has turned out to be a little more edgy and sometimes darker on the whole than I intended as circumstances dictate that many of the characters are dealing with outside stressors in their lives at this point in time. A tragedy on the job has Jamie rethinking whether the Reagan name is a blessing or a curse and Eddie struggles to keep her newfound family together. Hang on, this is the longest story in either series yet!
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! Special thanks to lawslave as always for offering to be an invaluable sounding board for ideas and suggestions as these stories are constructed. Without her collaboration this might have gone a totally different way!
"Jamison, I've looked everywhere and I cannot find my shoes!" Edit Janko repeated in desperation for the third time as she frantically searched through their cluttered bedroom just before six o'clock on a Saturday morning in mid-May before bumping into an unexpected stack of boxes sitting near the closet in the darkened space and toppling them over with a loud clatter as pots and pans scattered across the floor. "Oh, holy crap! Sorry about that!" she hissed in a whisper as he irritably rolled over and groaned while pulling a pillow over his face and holding it down with the crook of his arm. Today was his only scheduled day off this week and he had planned to take full advantage of it by sleeping in as late as possible... that was until a small feverish voice cried out from the spare bedroom down the hall as Kaylin was also awakened by the sudden loud noise.
"Terrific," came a muffled annoyed utterance. "It's not as if she wasn't up half the night coughing already," he groaned as his other hand came to a rest lower while adding, "not to mention my stomach has been rolling for hours."
"Well, maybe you're pregnant," she quipped as an automatic reflex before adding a cheeky, "have you been careful lately?" but failed to follow up with an equally deft move physically as he was able to whip the pillow with such well-aimed precision as to nail her solidly in the face before she could defend herself. It was a poor joke to make at this time and she knew it... the last thing they needed right now was to add to the chaos of their lives by tacking on another big unexpected responsibility.
Eddie sighed as she tossed the bedding back and glanced over at her irascible boyfriend… well, fiancé if one wanted to be technically accurate since they had been officialy engaged on New Year's Eve and were due to be married in the middle of September, only four short months away. She sympathized with him of course, knowing full well how draining multiple extended tours were, especially for the ranking officers at a precinct who were expected to cover any staffing shortages themselves if necessary. There had been some type of virus plaguing the 3-5 for the last few weeks so everyone who remained healthy had been called in for several extra shifts. She knew Jamie was tired and needed his rest; he had been worn out lately filling in for Lieutenant Carson who had been one of the first to fall rather severely ill, and now Kaylin appeared to have come down with the same thing from the shared germs at the daycare utilized by many of the officers. Eddie wished she could slip into Jamie's sergeant's uniform and take a few tours for him but that was not possible, especially given the fact that she had splurged on requisitioning some personal days herself and was supposed to be on her way to the airport at that very moment to pick up her mother, Eva Janko, who was coming in from Rochester for several days of appointments to finalize some of the details for the wedding.
"I'm so sorry, babe," she apologized softly while trying unsuccessfully to pick up the spilled cookware quietly without further crossing him. At least the current cluttered state of the little two-bedroom apartment meant that her mother would be staying at a hotel during her visit, which was an obvious blessing given her often contentious tendencies and Jamie's current state of mind. In addition to the stress at work, his neat freak predilection was being strained to the breaking point by the fact that Eddie's tenancy was up in just a couple of days and she had been forced to box up and move the majority of her things here as there had been no time lately for either of them to so much as find an available storage unit let alone look for a new place to live. Despite an over abundance of advice offered by every other member of the Reagan family, a suitable home within their budget had not been found and the only apparent compromise was to go to a month-to-month lease crammed together here while they kept searching.
"And I still can't find my shoes," she sighed as she piled the boxes back on top of one another.
"Maybe you left them at your place," Jamie offered flatly with little forethought as he sat up and swung his legs over the bed before pulling on a pair of sweatpants to get up and go tend to Kaylin. Given the sound of that deep cough she started with overnight it looked as if they'd be on the way to the pediatrician's office shortly anyway. A number of officers at the 3-5 had come down with severe respiratory reactions after their exposure and Jamie wasn't going to take any chances with his daughter given his own experience from nearly a year ago when he'd spent a week in the hospital and another month recovering from pneumonia.
"Reagan, I think I would have noticed if I came here from work last night in my bare feet!" she groused as she followed him out into the hallway like an anxious puppy yipping at his heels. "I'm gonna be late to pick up Mom if I don't leave soon!"
"You must have more than a hundred other pairs packed away here somewhere," he muttered tiredly as he walked past another tall stack of containers in the hall before turning into Kaylin's dimly lit room where he promptly tripped over the missing footwear; Eddie had kicked them off in there after coming home from a second shift tour and rocking the little girl to sleep as she fussed the night before. "Here you go," he sighed as he tossed them back out of the doorway before picking up the crying toddler and lifting her to his shoulder to soothe her. "Damn, she feels like she's burning up, Ed," he worried as he rushed back to their bathroom with her to retrieve the thermometer... now on high alert and fully awake. "She's at 102.2," he confirmed a few seconds later with a distressed frown as he kissed Kaylin's warm sweaty forehead while she sat dejectedly on the edge of the sink after he took her temperature. "Does it sound as if she's wheezing to you?!" he asked Eddie in a barely contained panic. Jamison Reagan might project his top-cop family's typical ice-water-in-the-veins bearing during almost any crisis at work, but a single sniffle from his beloved adopted two-year-old daughter was enough to crack his tough-man exterior under any circumstance, and Kaylin was clearly more than slightly ill at the moment.
Not to be outdone, Eddie offered only an "Oh no, my poor sweetie!" as she pushed her way unceremoniously past him and snatched the tiny little girl up out of his arms before turning to carry her into the kitchen; her mother's incoming flight promptly forgotten. He pursed his lips knowing he wasn't the only one likely to overreact immediately although his blond-haired counterpart remained a little more level-headed about the matter after taking a few seconds to assess.
"I think she's just a little stuffed up, Jamie," she tried to hearten as she took a closer look at the child after switching on the lights while she rooted around in the top cupboard for the children's ibuprofen. Eddie's much touted D1 football-playing frat boy metabolism had another interesting aspect to it… she appeared to be virtually immune to these viral outbreaks and rarely took ill with them.
"Are you sure?" he pestered as he followed her out. "Addie said she might have a slight case of asthma after it took her so long to get over her cough the last time."
Eddie tried to stifle a small ripple of annoyance at the mention of Addison Greene, a onetime, short-lived romantic rival of hers who had remained on good terms with Jamie after dating him briefly the summer before while he was recovering from his illness… Addie just happened to be a close Reagan family friend and a respiratory therapist at the local hospital.
"Well of course I don't know for sure, I'm not a medical professional, but we need to get her to take some medicine for the fever and make sure she's hydrated," she reminded as she located the bottle from which Kaylin promptly turned and hid her face. The little girl hated taking any such thing, and it usually resulted in quite the prolonged battle to get her to comply. "C'mon baby," Eddie cajoled as she shifted her to the other hip while drawing out the right amount of the dreaded strong-tasting mixture into the dropper. "We'll get you a special yummy strawberry swirly popsicle out of the freezer as soon as you take this," she pleaded, not afraid to go straight to the bribery route with one of the child's favorite treats.
"We won't get her anything," Jamie corrected as he returned the favor and took the toddler out of her hands. "I'll give her this and get her a pop while you get on your way to the airport. I'm not having you miss your mother's flight, Edit Janko, otherwise I won't hear the end of it all week, if ever..." he vowed before Kaylin promptly turned and sneezed directly in his face which just elicited a heavy sigh from her father as he rolled his eyes to heaven. He was doomed now, and he knew it. She had to be at the most possible contagious point of her sickness and no amount of soap or hand sanitizer was going to save him after that unless it was offered via immediate IV. On top of everything else, and despite being nearly every other mother's dream potential son-in-law, Jamie had received nothing but a cold shoulder from the older Janko woman since their first meeting when he and Eddie had travelled north to announce their engagement after returning from their trip to California. He had been dreading this extended visit from her for months. It was truly shaping up to be the week from hell as if the last few had been picnics while he had virtually willed himself not to get sick as officers from his platoon had been dropping around him like flies. At least Lieutenant Carson was due to return on Monday after recovering from a near bout of walking pneumonia himself so Jamie would be pulling fewer double shifts.
"I can call when she lands and have her take a cab to the hotel," Eddie argued as he grabbed a wet paper towel and went through the motions of trying to rid himself of the super germs anyway. "She'll understand," she added as he paused and raised an eyebrow at her. "Well she'll cope with it anyway," she muttered before making a last ditch plea. "Jamie, you need to get some rest today or it's gonna be a table for two at the doctor's office all week," she worried.
"Three," he corrected after a glance at the message that popped up on his phone which had just vibrated while lying on the counter. "Dad says that Pop isn't feeling good now either. He's thinking it might be a better idea if he makes a reservation somewhere for dinner tomorrow instead of having it at home since your mom's supposed to be joining us. Want's to know what kind of food she likes."
"Henry's not been looking well lately," Eddie fretted; she had grown very close to the elder Reagan patriarch in recent months and worried about him. "I hope he's okay; it seems like he's had a lot on his mind the past few weeks… too bad though, I wanted Mom to meet everyone. She likes Hungarian by the way, but I don't think that's an option for everyone else. Just plain old traditional American fare is fine. Do you think he has the same bug?"
"Probably," Jamie mused as he stealthily slipped the medicine dropper into Kaylin's mouth while she was distracted and gave it a quick squeeze before tickling her side so she swallowed before letting out a big cry. "Gotcha," he grinned with a little self-satisfaction before briskly walking over to the fridge to retrieve her promised frozen incentive as she pouted at him and barked out another heavy series of phlegm-laden coughs. "He told me he had something important he wanted to talk to me about this afternoon but it looks like that'll have to wait," he added as he put a hand to Kaylin's forehead again. "I'm taking her down to St. Vic's, Ed," he said as he shook his head. "I want Linda or Addie to take a listen to her; they're both working today and I don't like the sound of that. You better get moving… please let's not start something with your mother on the first day. You're supposed to visit all those bakeries for cake tasting and they'll be closed tomorrow."
Eddie sighed, knowing it was senseless to argue with him at that point. She had a jam-packed itinerary through Wednesday as Eva had insisted on being involved in all aspects of the wedding planning since agreeing to come and there wasn't much time in the schedule for flexibility if they were going to pull everything together during this visit. She just hoped that the one thing they had decided on without her... the venue for the ceremony and reception… would prove to be suitable. Jamie's godparents had offered the use of an old abandoned Catholic monastery that sat on the grounds of their estate outside of the city. It was quaint and not spectacularly fancy but had been one of his mother's favorite places and would no doubt prove to be a perfectly lovely spot for the candlelight ceremony Eddie was envisioning, not to mention easy on their limited budget.
"I guess you're right; you'll let me know what they say about her, though?" she asked with her own wrinkle of maternal concern as she reached over and kissed the little girl's cheek and gave her a hug. "Feel better, my sweet teddy bear," she whispered a goodbye pet name to her.
"See ya later, my Eddie bear," Kaylin replied back quietly as she leaned against Jamie's shoulder and sucked on her popsicle. Much like his insistence that Kaylin not use the word 'daddy' for him until the adoption was finalized after Christmas, Eddie had decided not to jinx the universe by asking Kaylin to call her anything else right now, especially since the little girl still had vivid images of her real mother courtesy of that eidetic memory of hers. There would be a lifetime ahead when they were an official family to worry about something as simple as a name.
"You'll be busy so I'll text," Jamie assured. "I know you think I'm being too overprotective by taking her down there to the walk-in clinic, but the pediatrician's office is probably closed today and we'll end up with whatever yahoo is on call like the last time," he frowned irritably. "This way I can phone ahead and make sure we see someone good. It's a Reagan thing," he added as he kissed her forehead. "You'll understand soon enough, lambchop. Now go and enjoy this time with your mom," he insisted. "Make some good memories for the two of you. Kaylin and I are gonna be fine."
Indeed, just over three hours later both Linda and Addison had to stifle grins as they each assured the worried father for the third time after a consult with the head pediatrician on staff that his little girl in fact had an acute upper respiratory tract infection, but was okay otherwise as long as care was taken to watch her fever and that things ran their course in a normal fashion. Linda was busy printing up Kaylin's discharge papers and pulling together a few samples when Jamie walked up to the desk.
"Has anyone checked on Gramps?" he asked her as she was typing up the last of the instructions. "Dad said he's not feeling well either and Eddie's worried he's been really pale and tired lately."
Linda paused and looked up from her screen. In truth she had found herself spending far less time than normal at the Reagan family home as Danny had taken to using it as a refuge for himself while things between them had turned a bit rough in recent months. They were still trying to work out their differences over her reaction to the hospital shooting that took place almost exactly a year ago and the upcoming anniversary had dredged up bad feelings for her again. She'd even found herself uncharacteristically volunteering to take a few Sunday shifts at work to avoid attending all the formerly sacred Reagan family Sunday dinners. Her absence had not gone unnoticed.
"He goes to regular appointments with his doctors, Jamie… maybe you should ask them," she replied a little coldly as if he was somehow inferring that she wasn't doing her job at home... and that had been a huge bone of contention with Danny as of late so it was a particular sore spot.
"No, I know," Jamie was backed off a bit at her tone; he'd also been guilty of working the past few weekends and tomorrow wasn't looking promising with the sick little girl that was now sleeping in his arms. "It's just, you know he's getting older and all…" he trailed off when the warmth did not return to her eyes. "Thanks for your help this morning, Linda. I really appreciate it. See you later," he offered in concession as she handed him the papers and supplies without another word and he turned to walk down the hallway carrying his precious cargo while sending Eddie a quick text to let her know all was fine. He couldn't help but wonder just what might have really happened to his brother's formally rock-solid marriage, and if in fact this was all because of that terrible day last year and the gunfire that had echoed just down the corridor from here or there was more to it. It was troubling to think that one somewhat random event like that could have such an impact on the way someone felt about a person they loved.
A bit of a tough opening chapter sets us up for our first in depth look at mommazilla… er, Eva Janko in this series, and her character will surely not disappoint as she plays a much bigger role in the events this time around!
For those that have wondered, thanks for your thoughts and prayers! My friend's daughter who provides some of the inspiration for the Kaylin character was released from the hospital several weeks after her illness but she's doing fine now and expected to make a complete recovery!