Last chapter! Thank you so much to everyone that reviewed, followed and favorited this story...it was sometimes a blast and sometimes difficult to write. Thank you again to Whumpqueen for letting me play with this idea!
I have some thoughts for a sequel to this story, but it's nothing more than some vague ideas that need to be fleshed out. I'm leaning toward some of that brotherly strife we saw in season 1...Danny might feel the need to teach his brother all that he knows in an effort to protect him while Jamie might start finding that being a member of a large family is sometimes overwhelming considering how he was raised. At least that's the plan for now...we'll see! :)
"Just our luck we get stuck making an arrest a half hour before the end of tour," Jamie griped as he tucked his button-down shirt into his pants while both he and Renzulli hurried to dress and leave the precinct locker room.
"The crazies don't curb their wackadoodle ways because we got our dinners to get home to," Renzulli remarked while shoving his dirty uniform into his bag, coming to a stop when a thought occurred to him. "Speaking of which, I forgot this is gonna be your first Thanksgiving with your family."
"Yeah," Jamie smiled as he buckled his belt. It was still strange to have a place to call home and people to call family, but he was really looking forward to today. He'd been over to his father's house for many Sunday dinners with the family already, but he knew today would be different...special.
"So let me ask you," Renzulli began as he closed his locker door and turned toward his partner, "last year when I was going on and on, trying to get you to tell me your holiday plans, did you really have a turkey dinner to go back to in Buffalo?" he had a feeling that the kid had been lying to him just to get him off his back and everything he'd learned about the Riordan woman made him more certain he had not told him the truth about his holiday plans.
"The truth?" Jamie replied with sheepish expression.
"What do you think, kid?" Renzulli sighed, knowing he was right from the look he was getting.
"Truth is I did go home...to Buffalo," Jamie answered and continued after Renzulli shot him a look of confusion, "but not because Sherry had a dinner prepped with all the trimmings."
"Then why'd you go?" Renzulli questioned.
Jamie laid his leather jacket on top of his bag before closing his own locker door. "I hadn't been back there in a year and a half, since I left for the academy," he explained. "I guess all your talk of family made me want to try and see if there was something there, if she'd missed me."
"Oh...sorry kid," Renzulli said as he led them both out of the locker room and out of the precinct. "I'm betting the reception you got wasn't what you were going for."
"I spent more time on the bus than I did in Buffalo," Jamie confirmed.
"It's a 180 this year, huh?" Renzulli smiled. "Good for you, kid. You deserve it. Now get outta here before you're late and the commissioner is booting me down to records for keeping you past EOT," he ordered with a pat of his back as they reached the bottom of the precinct steps.
"Alright, sarge. Happy Thanksgiving," Jamie smiled.
"You too, kid."
"Hey!" Jamie called out as he closed the front door behind him while balancing a bakery box in one hand.
"Finally!" Danny exclaimed as he made his way toward the foyer with a smiling Sean hanging from his neck.
"Hiya, Uncle Jamie!" the boy greeted as he unhooked his hands and landed on the hardwood floor with a loud thump.
"Hey, bud. Happy Thanksgiving," Jamie replied as he carefully slipped out of his jacket, careful not to drop his contribution to the meal.
"What the hell took you so long? Pop just got the turkey out and there's nothing I hate more than a cold bird," Danny complained as he rubbed his sore neck, making note of the fact that Sean was getting too old and too big to carry around on his back, even during a brief bout of horseplay.
"Sorry. We made a collar near the end of shift but not before they tried running off," Jamie explained.
"Hate it when they rabbit...did you get the pie?" Danny inquired as he eyed the pink box his brother was holding. Eager to contribute to the special meal, Danny had instructed Jamie to pick up an apple honey pecan pie from a bakery not far from his apartment. It was a win-win as far as the detective was concerned - Jamie felt useful and Danny got to eat the pie he enjoyed almost every day he was on patrol in the Lower East Side during the few years before he got bumped to detective.
Jamie lifted the dessert. "Right here."
"Good," Danny smiled. "You earned your seat at dinner then."
"Gee, thanks," Jamie replied with an eye roll while walking to the kitchen to join the rest of the family. "Hey, everyone. Happy Thanksgiving." The room erupted in warm exchange of greetings for the last arriving family member.
"Hey, Jamie. You're just in time," Henry said as he lifted the foil he'd tented over the perfectly-golden, oven-roasted turkey to show off the main attraction. He'd remained on guard so that no one - namely Danny - could sneak a piece while the juices had a chance to redistribute.
Frank smiled as Jamie made his way through the kitchen; sometimes he still felt like he needed to pinch himself. "How was tour, son?" he asked as he gathered the carving knife and fork.
"Uneventful mostly, it was good right up until we had to break up a fight between a couple of knuckleheads already in line outside of the Macy's," Jamie advised as he added his pie to the collection of sweets on the table.
"Line cutter?" Linda guessed.
"So one of them said," Jamie confirmed, but paused to sniff the air appreciatively. "Smells great in here," he said as the aromas in the kitchen drew his attention away from unimportant work matters.
"I'll never understand sitting out in the cold to save a few bucks on crap you don't need instead of being at home to enjoy a nice dinner with your family," Henry huffed as he admired his bird, having no desire to be anywhere but here getting ready to carve into it. "You make sure you don't get parade duty next year, young man," he instructed his grandson.
"I think I'm due to get next year off," Jamie said.
"Some people look for any excuse to get away from family," Erin commented as she led Linda and Nicky to the dining room, each one carrying a different side dish.
Danny snuck by Henry and Frank, determined to carry the turkey to the table and, as his grandfather suspected, he hoped to snag a piece of the savory bird after he delivered it. "Are you working on Sunday, Jamie?" he asked as he lifted Henry's prized turkey platter - the one no one in the family believed was gifted to him by Eleanor Roosevelt - and took it into the dining room where the rest of the family was already gathered.
"No," Jamie replied, his eyes widening at the set up as soon as he stepped into the room...there must have been twice as much food on the table than they normally had during the weekly dinners. And a fall themed floral arrangement decorated the center of the table, not to mention that there were actual long tapered candles burning on either end. This was really fancy...like a Norman Rockwell painting, he thought to himself. He could only compare it to the few real Thanksgiving dinners he'd shared with a select few over the years like with his friend Brandon's family and Sydney more recently the year she took him home to Connecticut for the holiday. Sherry's idea of thanksgiving dinner consisted of frozen dinners with pressed turkey meat and fake mashed potatoes. It never bothered him early on when he was too young and had nothing to compare it to, but eventually he grew to understand that her idea of Thanksgiving was seriously lacking.
"If you're up for it, someone offered me tickets to the Jets-Bills game this weekend," Danny said over his shoulder, drawing Jamie back to their conversation.
"Oh, Lord," Linda sighed, knowing the trouble that could start again.
"What about dinner?" Jamie asked. From what he knew so far, it was sacrilege to miss the weekly gathering unless duty called.
"Already cleared it with dad."
"It's a one o'clock game; you can come back here after and have leftovers," Frank confirmed, pleased that his boys were spending time together, although he shared Linda's concerns over this particular activity and wondered which one of them would come home with a scowl on their face...and hopefully nothing more.
"That sounds great, I'm in. Thanks, Danny," Jamie smiled, already looking forward to the game.
"There's just one thing though," Danny warned as he tried sneaking a piece of the breast only to have his hand swatted away by his observant wife.
"What's that?" Jamie asked worriedly at Danny's serious expression.
"Can you not wear any of that Bills crap to the game?" he requested as he rubbed the sore spot on his hand.
Jamie squared his shoulders at the obvious distaste for his Bills. "Why not? They're my team," he defended.
"But you're going to be at a Jets home game, kid. Do you know what they do to fans from the opposing team?" Danny argued as he slid into his seat.
"Things that would normally be deemed illegal," Henry snorted from his side of the table.
"Like what? And what makes it any different?" Jamie asked, wondering what he was getting himself into as he and the others also settled into their places.
"Because you're going into the lion's den! You'll stick out like a sore thumb in your blue and red among a sea of green and white! I can't be seen with that! No one likes a traitor and that's what you'll be in those colors!" Danny griped, disappointed that his brother wasn't willing to leave everything having to do with Buffalo in the past. He wanted to have a good time with the kid but preferred not to have to step in to save his hide from the normally rowdy crowd.
"And you thought this group was bad," Erin snickered as she patted Jamie on the back. "Get ready, little brother."
"I'll take my chances," Jamie proclaimed bravely. It was a football game...how bad could it be?
"So naive," Henry chortled, looking forward to hearing about their outing when they got back to the house.
"There's so much I gotta teach you, kid," Danny muttered under his breath, annoyed that Jamie wouldn't listen without arguing. He really did have a lot to teach the damn kid, he just needed to stop being so damned stubborn.
"Oh, jeez," Jamie frowned.
"Alright, everyone settle down," Frank interrupted before the football rivalry got everyone's emotions hot again. "I don't know about all of you, but I can't wait to carve into this bird."
"I think that's the biggest turkey I've ever seen," Jack commented.
"Me too. You got a bigger one than last year, pop," Nicky added.
"We go an extra mouth to feed," Henry smiled with a pat to Jamie's arm, "plus I got a few leftover turkey recipes I want to try out this year."
"Count me in, whatever they are," Sean said as he licked his lips in anticipation of the meal. He hadn't eaten in hours and his tummy was rumbling.
Frank glanced around the table at each member of the family before they lingered on Jamie. Even with Mary and Joe gone, he was finally at peace. Gone was the constant fear and anxiety over his missing son...the not knowing had always been the worst part of his abduction. "Jamie, this being your first year with us at the Thanksgiving table, you should know that we have a little family tradition. We go around the table before we say grace and share what we're most thankful for this year. Despite the things we've gone through together as a family, it's important to still take the time to focus on the blessings we have, even in those incredibly difficult years after we lost you, your mother and Joe and it seemed impossible to feel thankful for anything with the empty chairs at the dinner table...we've always been blessed with family and our strong faith. While we've never needed to be reminded that we can't control every aspect of our lives, giving thanks does remind us that there is One who has plans for our future and He knows the best path to follow. Now some of us, myself included, may have questioned that path and wondered why it would take so long to get there, but we never gave up hope that we'd be together again. I think we can all agree," Frank paused to admire his family once again as they shook their heads in affirmation, knowing well what Frank would say next, "that today we are all blessed and thankful to have you with us today."
"Hear, hear," the group chanted as they all looked to Jamie while Erin and Linda's eyes grew misty.
"Well said, Francis," Henry choked out as he was overcome with joy at the presence sitting to his left.
Jamie had to take in a breath and blink away the sudden burning in his eyes, feeling the need to say a few words himself. "I'm not sure where I'd be right now if all of you hadn't figured out who I was...probably eating with Renzulli since I wouldn't have been able to pull the wool over his eyes two years in a row," he joked as he considered the conversation he'd had with his TO earlier in the day. "This is the first Thanksgiving that I haven't felt like I'm sitting in the wrong place with the wrong people...it's good to finally be home," he said in a thick voice.
"I think that's worthy of a toast even if we haven't said grace," Henry declared as he lifted his glass and waited for Jamie to do the same and soon enough, the rest followed as the room was filled with the sound of clinking glasses and cheers.
After a sip of his wine, Frank looked back at Jamie. "I think you should do the honors, son," he smiled.
Jamie nodded and bowed his head, taking heed of all of the blessings that had been bestowed upon him this year as he began to recite the short prayer he'd learned here at this very table, "Bless us Oh Lord..."