A/N: Enjoy! Sorry it takes me so long to update. This chapter is still going through Jack's first day back from China and then the following day where he has the chance to spend the whole day with his son. Let me know what you think!
Jack woke from his nap about two hours later from a nightmare. He was happy that it had been mild and that he hadn't woke up screaming. The last thing he wanted was to worry Audrey. As he straightened out the sheets on Audrey's bed, he heard the baby crying. He went down the hall and found Audrey holding the baby and shushing him.
"Hey," Jack greeted.
Audrey looked up. "I'm so sorry he woke you."
"I was already awake when he started crying," Jack insisted. Jack Jr. was still crying. Jack reached out and rubbed the baby's back gently. The baby stopped wailing for a moment and looked up at Jack with tear filled eyes.
"Who's that?" Audrey whispered to the baby, trying to keep him happy. "Can you say 'daddy'?"
"Da!" the baby shouted trying to copy Audrey. Jack and Audrey smiled down at him. Audrey's heart felt so full. She had dreamt of a situation where she, Jack, and the baby could be a family. When Jack Jr. had been born, she wanted nothing more than to be able to share him with Jack. But as time progressed, she had become more and more sure that she would never see Jack again.
"Audrey," Jack said, pulling her out of her thoughts. He seemed unsure of what he was about to ask her. "Would it be okay if I held him?"
Audrey smiled and handed Jack his son. "You don't have to ask, Jack. He's your son."
She and Jack sat on the couch, while Jack still held onto his son. Audrey watched as the boys interacted, clearly getting along well. Jack couldn't suppress his smile as he sat with his son who was full of smiles and laughter. He looked over at Audrey who was wiping away a tear.
"Hey, what's wrong?" Jack asked, shifting his position on the couch to be closer to her.
"Nothing," Audrey smiled. "I'm happy. This is all I've wanted. To have you back with us. You have no idea how much I wanted this. I know it's been a long time, and I don't expect you to still feel this way, but I love you. I've never stopped."
Jack pulled Audrey closer. One arm was draped around Audrey and the other was holding the baby. But, right now the only thing Jack and Audrey were focused on was each other.
"Audrey, I thought about you every single day that I was in China. You were the only reason that I held on," Jack admitted, putting his forehead against hers. "I love you so much."
They kissed gently, both of them savoring the moment. They had already kissed before, when Jack first arrived, but this was different. This time they knew exactly how they felt about one another. They were enjoying their slow but loving kiss when they each felt a small hand pushing on their cheeks. They broke apart laughing and looked at Jack Jr. who was trying to get in between them. Jack held the baby between them and each gave him a kiss on the cheek.
That night, Audrey and Jack fed, bathed, and changed Jack Jr. together. When it was time for the baby's bedtime, Audrey carried the child to his bedroom and sat with him in a rocking chair. Jack watched as Audrey read the baby a story and Jack Jr. smiled and pointed at the pictures in the book. Finally, Jack and Audrey both gave him a kiss goodnight.
As they closed the door, Jack and Audrey smiled at each other. It was the first night that they had tucked their child into bed together as a family. It felt right.
Jack and Audrey sat down on the couch and got comfortable. Jack unconsciously draped his arm around Audrey's shoulder and Audrey nestled into him. Audrey smiled at how good it felt to be in his arms.
"I missed you," Audrey whispered.
"I missed you, too," Jack repeated. He had spent every day in China thinking of her. Remembering her helped him escape from the pain that Cheng was inflicting on him. Part of him always hoped that she had moved on and was happy since they would probably never see each other again. But, he also knew that it would hurt if she did.
He couldn't understand the hold she had on him. He had been immediately drawn to her from the moment they met. He found it easy to talk to her, both of them sharing small details about their personal life when they would stay late for work. That was not something Jack would usually do with a co-worker, especially one that he hadn't known for long. But, with Audrey, things were different. He felt comfortable opening up to her as she always seemed to know when to ask questions and when to back off. From there, they had established a strong friendship. Jack knew he felt stronger feelings for her than friendship but suppressed those feelings as best he could. He was happy to have a normal friendship and had no intention of complicating it. Now, he was glad that Audrey had taken initiative to progress their relationship past friendship. Jack took hold of Audrey's hand, glad that they could finally be together with no complications for a change.
Audrey examined Jack's hand in hers. She noticed a scar on the back of his hand and traced it lightly with her fingernail.
"Jack," Audrey said, softly. Jack looked into her eyes. "Are you okay?"
"Of course," he answered. "That healed a long time ago."
"I'm not just talking about your hand," she said. "Did you see a doctor?"
"Yes," Jack assured her. "The Chinese made sure my injuries were healed before handing me over to CTU. And, I saw someone at medical later, too."
"And, did you talk to someone?" Audrey asked. "A psychologist?"
"Audrey, I don't need that," Jack insisted. "I'm fine."
Audrey looked at him suspiciously. "I'm sure you went through hell over there. And, coming back, there was a lot thrown at you. I just think talking about it might be a helpful."
"I'm fine," Jack stated, firmly. He removed his arm from around her shoulders. "I'm over it. I'm ready to move on with my life."
Audrey smiled but didn't quite believe him. She could tell he was struggling but would not force him to talk to her or anyone else about it until he was ready.
"Okay. I'm going to go get ready for bed," Audrey told him. "I have to be up early for work tomorrow."
Jack stayed on the couch and closed his eyes, quickly falling asleep. A little while later, he jolted awake at the feeling of Audrey touching his shoulder. He reminded himself where he was. He was with Audrey. He was safe.
"Sorry," she said softly. "I didn't mean to scare you."
"It's okay," Jack said.
"Come to bed," Audrey told him, taking his hand. Jack followed behind her. He noticed her hair was wet, meaning she had taken a shower while he had fallen asleep. She was wearing a t-shirt and blue pajama shorts that were really short. Jack couldn't help but stare at her amazing legs.
Audrey collapsed into her bed and Jack changed quickly while Audrey wasn't looking. He didn't want her to see the scars that covered his back, chest, and stomach. She would be horrified. He crawled under the covers next to her, and pulled her close to him. She nuzzled against him.
"This is nice," Audrey said.
"Perfect," Jack agreed. He gave her a quick kiss. "Goodnight, Audrey."
It was the middle of the night when Jack woke up from another nightmare. He checked to see if Audrey had woken up but she was still sleeping peacefully next to him. He tried falling back to sleep but found it difficult, now that the image of Cheng standing over him was stuck in his head from his nightmare. He then heard babbling on the baby monitor on Audrey's nightstand. He quickly reached for it and turned it off, not wanting it to wake Audrey. She had been the one checking on the baby at nights and Jack wanted her to take a night off. He got up, taking the baby monitor with him and went into his son's room. Jack Jr. was not crying but was standing up in his crib, clearly not tired.
"Can't sleep?" Jack asked, lifting his son into his arms. "Me neither."
Jack sat in the rocking chair next to them and listened as the baby babbled away. At one point, Jack read a book to him that Jack Jr. had pointed to on the shelf. Eventually, Jack Jr. fell asleep in Jack's arms and Jack also fell asleep, holding him closely.
"Jack?" Audrey called out, as she felt the empty bed next to her. Panic immediately rushed through her. Was he gone? Had he left? She convinced herself she was being paranoid and left the bedroom to see where he had gone. She smiled as she found him in Jack Jr.'s room, asleep in the rocking chair with the sleeping child in his arms. She went over to her boys and gently tried to take her Jack Jr. from Jack. Jack immediately woke up and held onto the child tightly.
"It's just me," she told him. Jack released his grip and handed the kid over to Audrey. "Did he wake you up? I never heard him."
"No, I was awake. I heard him on the monitor and came to check on him," Jack told her. "Then, we fell asleep."
"Was he crying?" Audrey asked.
"No," Jack assured her. "He just wanted some company."
"Sounds like you did too," Audrey commented. Jack shrugged indifferently. "Want some breakfast?"
"Sure," Jack said. Jack helped Audrey cut up some fruit for Jack Jr.'s breakfast and the three of them ate together at the table. Jack then helped get the baby dressed for the day, as Audrey got dressed for work.
"Alright, buddy," Audrey said, picking up Jack Jr. "Let's get you to daycare."
"Daycare?" Jack asked.
"Yeah. It's a place where kids go when their parents are working," Audrey teased.
"I've heard of it," Jack said, with a laugh. "But, I'm not working."
Audrey smiled. "You would want to watch him?"
"Why wouldn't I?"
"You've just been through a lot," Audrey reminded him. "And, you only just found out about him yesterday. I just figured you'd need a break."
"I can handle it," Jack told her.
"He can be pretty exhausting," Audrey warned him. "Are you sure?"
"Yes," Jack insisted. "Please."
"Okay," Audrey agreed. She grabbed a pen and pad of paper and started writing down a list.
"What is that?" Jack asked.
"List of phone numbers. My cell and work. Kim, the daycare in case you change your mind, the pediatrician, poison control. The basics."
"You clearly have a lot of faith in me," Jack joked.
"It's just in case," Audrey told him. "Kim gets out of work at three in case you need relief. I'll be home at five."
Audrey started showing him where everything that he might need is located in the house until Jack stopped her.
"Really, Audrey, I've got this," he told her. Audrey took a deep breath and relaxed. She gave both Jack and Jack Jr. kisses goodbye and left for work.
Jack got settled with his son in the living room with a bunch of toys. They were playing happily together for a while. Jack was eager to spend the day with his son. He wanted to learn everything about him, his favorite toys and foods. He hadn't taken care of a child in a long time and was a little nervous about knowing what to do. But, he assured himself that it couldn't be too hard. He wanted to do a good job today so Audrey would trust him with their son. As they were playing, the phone rang and Jack answered it.
"Hey," Audrey said. "Just making sure everything is okay."
"Everything is great," Jack assured her.
"You'll call if there are any problems?" Audrey asked.
"Yes," Jack insisted.
"Alright. I'll call when I can," Audrey said. "Love you."
"Love you too," Jack told her, before hanging up.
"Your mom is crazy," Jack said, as he sat back down next to Jack Jr.
"Mama?" Jack Jr. asked, dropping his toys and looking around.
"She's working right now," Jack told him. Jack watched as the kid's eyes filled up with tears. Suddenly, he burst into tears and cried for his mom. Jack held his son and tried to console him with no luck. He tried giving him different toys to make him happy, none of which did the trick. After trying everything he could think of with no luck he decided he needed to call someone. Not Audrey. He didn't want to tell her that it had been less than an hour and he had already failed. He instead dialed Kim's number.
"Kim, it's me," Jack said, trying to talk loud enough to be heard over the crying. "Do you have a minute?"
"You offered to watch Jack, didn't you?" Kim laughed, hearing the crying baby in the background.
"I can't get him to stop crying," Jack told her. "I think he misses Audrey."
"Oh yeah," Kim said. "That happens sometimes. Underneath the TV, there's a cabinet with a bunch of movies in it. See if you can find The Lion King. That will calm him down."
"Thank you," Jack said, hanging up.
He found the movie and put it on, and found that Kim was right. Jack Jr. was immediately captivated by it, forgetting his sadness. Jack loved watching his son try to sing along to the songs but not being able to make out the words.
Later, Jack got experience changing Jack Jr.'s diaper. Jack removed the old diaper and found himself getting sprayed by a stream of urine which soaked his shirt. Jack sighed and changed the diaper and then his shirt. He figured it served him right considering he had told Audrey he knew what was doing.
Jack then warmed some macaroni and cheese that Audrey had left for Jack Jr's lunch. Jack watched as his son held the spoon in one hand while picking up the macaroni with his other hand and put it in his mouth. Jack reheated a leftover slice of pizza from yesterday for himself. As they ate together, Jack Jr. reached out towards Jack's food.
"Do you want a bite of pizza?" Jack asked. He ripped off a small bite and gave it to his son who seemed to really enjoy it. Jack Jr. then returned the gesture by picking up a handful of macaroni and giving it to Jack.
"Thank you," Jack said. After lunch, Jack cleaned the cheese off of Jack Jr, who squirmed and cried as Jack did so. As soon as he was free, Jack Jr. crawled away to his room where he stood up next to his toy box and pulled out a coloring book.
"Co lo" the baby said, trying to say color.
"Yeah, let's color," Jack grabbed the crayons out of the toy box and handed them to Jack Jr. He watched as he scribbled different colors all over the page. Jack heard the phone ring and went to the other room to grab it.
"Hello?" Jack answered.
"Hey, it's me," Audrey said. "How's it going?"
"Great!" Jack told her. "We just finished lunch and now we're coloring."
"No problems?" Audrey asked.
"No," Jack insisted. "Go back to work."
"Alright," Audrey agreed. They said their goodbyes and hung up.
Jack went back into Jack Jr.'s room to find Jack drawing all along the light blue wall with green crayon. The line of green stretched across two walls.
Jack took the crayon from his son and picked him up, putting him in his crib. He grabbed a sponge and tried getting the crayon off with not much luck.
"You're making me look bad," Jack told his son. Jack put the crayons away before taking Jack Jr. out of his crib.
They played with some toys for a while before Jack Jr. started crying again for no reason that was apparent to Jack. Jack again tried to make him happy, but not even his favorite movie helped. The phone rang as he was trying to settle him down but Jack ignored it, knowing that it would be Audrey checking in and didn't want her to hear the baby crying. It was not long before Kim walked into Audrey's house and shook her head at her dad, holding the crying child.
"Kim, what are you doing here?" Jack asked, clearly stressed.
Kim reached out and took Jack Jr. into her arms. "I just got out of work and got a call from a very concerned Audrey who said you didn't answer the phone when she called."
Jack noticed that the crying had stopped.
"How did you do that?" Jack asked.
"When you are stressed, he will feel it," Kim told him. "Kids cry. You don't have to panic as soon as he does. He will calm down but only if you are calm."
Kim continued, "I'm going to put him down for a nap. You are going to call Audrey and tell her everything is fine. Rule number one is never ignore a mom's phone call. Ever."
Jack called Audrey and told her that everything was fine and that he had just had his hands full at the time and couldn't answer the phone.
"I'm really sorry," Jack apologized.
"It's okay. I'm glad everything's okay," Audrey replied.
"Kim's here now so you don't have to worry anymore," Jack told her. Audrey went silent. She hadn't meant for Jack to think she didn't trust him with their child. "I'll see you when you get home."
He hung up at the same time that Kim walked back into the living room where Jack was sitting on the couch.
"So, tell me about today," Kim probed.
"Well, between two crying fits that I couldn't do anything about, getting peed on, and him coloring on the wall as soon as I turned my back, I would say today sucked."
"Do you find my inability to take care of a child to be funny?" Jack asked.
"Dad, those are normal things that happen when you watch kids," Kim assured him. "It takes a while to figure out what they need when they cry. It takes a while to remember that kids will draw on absolutely everything except their coloring book. Getting peed on usually only happens once cause you'll be smarter about it next time."
"I just didn't want to let Audrey down today," Jack admitted. "She is so good at this stuff."
"You think that she hasn't experienced the exact same things?" Kim asked. "Audrey is human too. There was a day when Jack was three months old when Audrey begged me to watch him because he wouldn't stop crying for an entire day and she couldn't take it anymore. I took him for the whole next day so that Audrey could relax. I think you should let him go to daycare tomorrow and take a day for yourself."
Jack nodded. He didn't know when his daughter had become so wise but was incredibly proud of her. They talked for a while before Jack Jr. woke up from his nap. Once he did, Kim went to get him and the three of them sat together on the couch, relaxing until Audrey came home.
"Hi," Audrey greeted as she walked through the door. Audrey immediately reached for Jack Jr. and took him into her arms.
"Mama mama," the child cooed.
"Hi! Did you have a good day with Daddy?" she asked. Jack Jr. smiled and laughed.
"I guess that's a positive rating," Audrey said, to Jack and Kim. Kim excused herself, saying that she was going to go home and cook dinner with Steven.
"How was your day?" Audrey asked, Jack sitting down next to him and giving him a quick kiss.
"It was g-"
"Don't just say it was good," Audrey warned. "I know my kid and I know he was not a perfect little angel."
"There was a lot of crying," Jack told her.
"You or him?" Audrey asked, jokingly.
"I just couldn't get him to stop. I called Kim and she told me how to make him stop the first time and then she just held him the second time and he was fine."
"Jack, why didn't you call me?" Audrey asked, wondering why he wouldn't ask her how to get the baby to stop crying first.
Jack looked away from her. "I guess I was being a little over confident this morning and just didn't want you to think I couldn't handle it."
"Jack, I know you can handle it," Audrey told him. "I'm sorry if you thought I kept calling because I don't trust you. That's not it at all. I call Kim or Steven or whoever is watching him just as many times. I worry about him with everyone because he is my entire world. It has nothing to do with me not believing in you."
Jack sighed in relief.
"So what else did you guys do today?" Audrey asked. "There had to be something positive."
"Well, we watched The Lion King."
"Oh my God. Did he try singing along? Isn't it the cutest?" Audrey asked, excitedly. Jack agreed with her.
"We also shared some lunch. It was so cute. I shared a bite of my pizza with him and then he picked up a fist full of macaroni and cheese and gave it to me."
Audrey smiled. It was nice getting to hear that Jack had good moments with Jack Jr. today and that he hadn't cried the whole time.
"And, then we did some coloring," Jack told her, not so enthusiastically. "And, I will be buying paint to cover up the crayon your wall."
Audrey laughed. "Green crayon?"
"Yeah. How'd you know?"
"So, a logical person would assume it's just because green is his favorite color and that's just the color he chooses from the box," Audrey started. "But, I think he's protesting. Originally, his room was green. But, then I painted it blue. And, I think he's holding it against me by coloring it green every chance he gets."
Jack and Audrey were both laughing. Jack reached for Jack Jr. from Audrey's arms and pulled him into his lap.
"You think our eleven month old son is trying to tell you that he wants his room to be green again?" Jack asked, skeptically. Audrey nodded, laughing. Jack smiled and shook his head at her. It was nice to be able to relax with Audrey again. It had been too long since they laughed together.
"Come on," she said, standing up and extending her hand to Jack. "I'll show you my secret for getting the crayon off the wall."
Jack took her hand willingly. He was happy that he survived his first day of parenting in over twenty years without too much damage. And, knowing that Audrey didn't expect him to be perfect was exactly what he needed to hear.