Jamie lurked near the doorway to the den where his father currently sat hunched over a neat stack of papers atop the antique rolltop desk he and his mother had inherited from her grandparents. To anyone else, Frank Reagan appeared focused on the documents before him, possibly analyzing the latest crime reports or attempting to solve some major conflict within the department. But Jamie knew better. First, his father wasn't wearing a much needed pair of reading glasses, instead they sat forgotten on the desk next to his right hand. Second, never would his father choose to huddle down in front of the old, compact mahogany desk, much too small for his broad 6'4" frame. That was why his mother had always claimed it as her workspace for household bills and such while his father always chose to park himself at the larger kitchen table, preferring to spread his work out across the wide table top while enjoying the company of his family in the heart of the family home.
However, that same workspace was currently occupied by the same family that Frank was looking to avoid.
His father was lost in thought, no doubt centering around him and a certain petite blonde officer who'd already playfully referred to him as "dad." This is going to be tougher than I thought, Jamie sighed to himself. He never expected that this was going to be easy, especially after experiencing his father's mood at dinner. But then his father had scurried off to the den while the rest of the family rolled into the kitchen to clean up, the conversation flowing seamlessly with the newest member of the clan as easily as if she'd always been a Reagan.
Jamie had been tempted to stay in the kitchen with them, especially when Danny and Erin threatened to share his most embarrassing adolescent tales. But instead of remaining there to prevent that sort of torture (although the likelihood success was not in his favor), Jamie chose to slip away quietly to the back of the house and deal with his father privately, leaving Eddie to delight in the storytelling, knowing that she would be in good hands while he was gone.
Jamie closed his eyes and prepared himself, things might be really bad when his father had yet to acknowledge his presence - it was nearly impossible to sneak up on the ex-detective.
Jamie knocked softly against the doorway, hoping not to startle the older man. "Can we talk?" he asked when his attempt failed and his startled father swiftly turned his head.
"I think we should," Frank nodded, pushing away the long-forgotten paperwork on the desk. He sat back against the creaking desk chair and waited quietly as Jamie situated himself across from him.
"I, uh," Jamie hunched forward from his perch at the end of the loveseat, wringing his hands nervously as he broached the first of many topics, "I wanted to ask you something."
Frank nodded, pressing his lips tightly. So far he'd only been good at saying the wrong things today and if Jamie was here to speak to him about his behavior, he planned to hear him out before he explained himself.
"About mom's ring," Jamie began, uncertain if it was even something he should consider for so many reasons, the first being because his father didn't seem to be completely on board with his and Eddie's union.
Frank's brows arched slightly. He wasn't expecting that to come up but he understood what Jamie was asking. "You want to give it to Eddie."
Jamie's head bobbed up and down as he drew in a deep breath. "Kind of. It wouldn't feel right giving her the same ring I proposed to Sydney with," he explained. Clearly he had not been prepared to propose to Eddie, but even if he had, his mom's ring would have played a part in it in some way.
"You're probably right about that," Frank agreed with a tight smile. He thought of the simple, solitaire engagement ring that now sat tucked away in a small safe upstairs and the way Mary had treasured it and worn it so proudly everyday of their married lives. He also remembered passing it onto his youngest after graduating from law school, assuring him that his mother would have wanted him to propose to his future wife with it and seeing the sentimentality in Jamie's eyes in having such a treasure bestowed upon him. Frank also recalled the utter sadness on Jamie's face when he returned it to him, not long after Sydney had left for London.
"But, uh, I was thinking that if you were okay with it...I mean, if you still wanted to pass it down to one of us, that I could have mom's stone put in a new setting," Jamie said while trying to read his father. "It wouldn't be the exact ring mom wore but it would still be part of her that I could give to Eddie."
"I see," Frank stalled, searching for the right response. But in the end the old detective couldn't help himself and sought some answers of his own. "I guess your proposal really was as unexpected as you made it seem. You didn't plan it out at all?" he asked, wondering how long the pair had been involved.
"Nope," Jamie replied, sensing that Frank Reagan was fishing. But if he wanted answers, he'd get them. Jamie wasn't going to hold back.
"And you're sure about this? About marrying Eddie?" Frank knew he risked striking a nerve with that question, but he didn't want to see Jamie race into marriage without thinking it through first.
Frank was right.
Jamie bit his tongue to avoid saying something he might regret later. It was one thing for his father to continually question his career path, but he didn't want him or anyone to ever question his commitment to Eddie. He wondered if his father trusted him to make any decisions about his own life. Or did he think he was rushing through this to make up for the last time he got dumped by his fiance?
But Jamie didn't want to argue about this, not with Eddie in the house. So he laid it out in a way that left no room for doubt. "About as sure as you were about marrying mom," he answered confidently.
Frank's expression softened as they always did at the mention of his late wife. "I had no doubts about marrying your mom," he confirmed.
"And I have no doubts about marrying Eddie, dad," he reiterated, his tone warning Frank that nothing good would come from arguing that point.
Frank locked eyes with Jamie, his message coming through loud and clear. He slouched forward, saddened by this rocky patch they'd hit. He knew there was a way to fix this and it had to start with him. "Jamie...things between us lately have been," Frank paused not knowing how to word it. "I don't know. Strained?"
"That's one way of putting it," Jamie sighed.
Frank stared at his son with a fond smile. "You were always our easy child," he said. With Danny and Erin as first and second born, he and Mary had their work cut out for them. Joe, and then especially Jamie, had been much easier to raise, which made them wonder if that was because of practice with their more stubborn children or that they were just too worn out by the time Jamie came along to fight every little battle.
But no, Jamie was different, an old soul - smart, perceptive, patient, thoughtful and always considerate of others. "You were always calm and willing to listen. It didn't take much to make you see reason. You weren't one to rock the boat," he continued.
Jamie's head snapped up, those descriptions irritating him. "Maybe that's the problem, dad," he snapped.
"What do you mean?" Frank questioned, surprised by Jamie's sharp reply.
"I always went with the flow, didn't I? I went with what everyone else wanted, what was best for the group or what everyone else thought was best for me," he listed. It's how he was usually labeled, right? Thoughtful Jamie, the good son, always walking a straight line… and maybe that was who he was sometimes - it had been instilled in him from a young age. But that began to change when he became a cop.
"Harvard," Jamie blurted out in frustration when his father's eyes remained on him, waiting for an explanation. If there was one glaring example of something he'd done despite knowing it wasn't what he wanted, just because it was what others thought was best for him, that was it. It was what his mom wanted for him and he'd gone through 3 years of law school and was on the fast-track to a high profile position before leaving it all to become a beat cop.
But he deflated as soon as that word came out of his mouth and saw the hurt flash across his father's face. He couldn't lay blame for any of their problems on his mother. He'd done it for her, but he had free will and he was an adult when those choices were made. They were only his to bear. "I don't know what I'm even saying right now. I don't blame her for taking a detour on my way to becoming a cop. Hell, I should be grateful, I might not have met Eddie if I'd started the force years before I did. But the choices that I'm making in my life right now are because they're what's right for me and make me happy. I need to do what's best for me. For us, now that I got Eddie."
Frank recognized that Jamie wasn't a child anymore. He was a very capable, intelligent and responsible young man as well as a highly trained NYPD officer with nine years on the force. But as a parent, he still needed to make sure that his son was making the best possible decisions and it was hard not to guide him when he wasn't taking the right paths. Frank had been questioning that a lot lately, mainly about his career. And now with Eddie, he just needed to know that his judgment wasn't clouded, that there wasn't something else going on that Jamie wasn't telling him. "Is she the reason you won't take the exam?" he asked.
"Again with the damn exam," Jamie exhaled in annoyance.
Frank refused to be deterred and pressed on. "Well, is it?"
"Why would you think that?" Jamie asked. "Do you think this is some grand plan of mine to stay in the car with her forever?"
Crap, Jamie cursed himself silently. Wasn't that sort of what he was doing?
"That's what you're planning," Frank pointed out, as if reading his mind.
"For now," Jamie responded, looking away from his father's glare. He was preparing himself for what he knew would be a fight to remain Eddie's partner. And even though she was ready to do the same, he also knew that she was her own person with her own plans for the future and he would never hold her back when the time came for her to move on from patrol.
"I worry, Jamie, regardless of whether you're right about not breaking any rules, that even your attempts to stay together on the job will cause you both more trouble than it's worth - put more eyes on you than you want. That this might be a distraction for you both. Your mother might not have wanted you to be a cop, but she would have been more at peace knowing that you're out there thinking straight," Frank argued. It was hard enough being a police officer in a city like New York, or anywhere these days, really, but a personal relationship between partners made it so much more complicated. There was a reason why the rule, whether written or unwritten, was there. And that wasn't even delving into the proverbial can of worms they'd be opening for the rest of the department should they succeed in their attempts to stay together.
"Are you worried about our reputations or afraid that we won't be on our A game? Be sitting in the squad car making googly eyes at each other?" he scoffed. It surprised Jamie how little his father thought of him and Eddie.
"I know you both to be more professional than that," Frank assured him before this turned into an issue of trust. It wasn't about that, although he could see why it was coming across that way. "But it still could be a distraction, cause you to lose sight of what's lurking around the corner or lead you to unnecessarily put yourself in greater harm's way to save her."
"Isn't that what a good partner does anyway, commissioner?" Jamie smirked.
"You know what I mean, Jamison," Frank snapped, missing the days when the kids knew better than to come back with their smart remarks. "Emotions get in the way, Jamie. People are also going to talk, question when all of this started. Your boss will separate you both and when you fight back, look to the PC's office for guidance, but I can't get involved."
"Then don't. We don't want you to either," Jamie shook his head, ready to share a little of his history with Eddie to make a point. "But do you know when Erin first called me out for having feelings for Eddie?"
"I do not," Frank said as he sat back in the chair. The commissioner part of him was afraid of what he might hear next.
"It was right after our first year riding together...about four years ago now. I went to Erin to complain about my partner," Jamie started, conveniently leaving out the part about how he'd ended up at Erin's office because Renzulli accused him of the very same thing. His father didn't need to know everything about them, including the two kisses they'd shared before making it official a few days ago. "I denied it every which way I could, told her she was crazy, but she was right...which is so annoying on so many levels." Leave it to his sister to point out what he was too scared to see at first.
"I had feelings for Eddie back then that I tried to put aside. I really did, dad. I even limited our time together to work hours, but that didn't last long because it was done. I was in love with her." Jamie spoke softly, staring across the room as their 5 year partnership flashed across his mind. "But I kept my mouth shut and those feelings locked up inside because I was afraid she didn't feel the same way and I sure as hell didn't want to screw up the best partnership I'd ever had."
Even when he knew the feelings were mutual, he refused to budge, valuing their work partnership more than the happiness a romantic relationship would bring them both. "She was doing the same thing too, but we still managed to watch each other's backs out there everyday, call bullshit when one of us needed to be put in our place and lead the precinct in felony collars." Jamie focused back on his father. "That's not bragging, dad. It's just the facts. And people have been talking about us for years when nothing was going on. No one can put a stop to the gossips, you know that."
Frank couldn't argue with that or maybe he didn't want to, not when Jamie was being so honest with him.
"So while we're both still on patrol, we plan to ride together. And we'll deal with it. As for Eddie, she has her own dreams, her own plans regardless of what I might do, to take the test and maybe become a sergeant if detective never happens for her. She doesn't plan to be a beat cop for the rest of her life and I respect that. I'm proud of her for wanting those things."
"And you?" Frank asked gently. Maybe he just needed to hear it from Jamie one last time for it to finally sink through his thick, Irish skull. "You don't want more?"
The frustration returned full force. He couldn't count the number of times he had this conversation with various members of the family already. "I have all that I want or need right now. It's something you - all of you - don't get. I'm not you, or gramps, or Danny. Hell, I'm not even Joe. I love what I do, where I am. Why can't you get that? Why can't that be enough for you?"
"It's not that it isn't, Jamie. I'm proud of you, son. I am, of everything you do," he stressed. It wasn't his intention to have Jamie doubt him. "It's just that...I see so much potential in you. As a parent, it's impossible not to want your kids to do better in life. I want all of you to succeed and do more with your lives than I ever did with mine," he explained.
"Seriously?" Jamie chuckled, finding it amusing that his father was forgetting one important fact. "Hate to point this out, dad, but you're the freaking police commissioner. Can't go any higher in the department."
"You got a point there," Frank nodded as his expression relaxed. It wasn't what he meant, but the kid had him on that one.
"And no offense, I don't want to wear that hat."
"I don't blame you. There are days I don't either. But that's not what I meant."
A small, insecure part of Jamie wondered if it was his father's position and only being able to tell people that his youngest son was just a patrol officer after 9 years with the department that was causing this friction between them. "I wouldn't have expected you of all people to look down on beat cops," he said with a tinge of sadness.
Frank's brow furrowed at the accusation. "You know I don't! You're the first line of defense out there, your job is one of the most important jobs in this department," Frank said.
"So why isn't it enough for you?" he repeated.
"It's not that, Jamie," Frank swore, sighing as a memory of one particular Sunday evening came to mind. "I remember like it was yesterday, sitting at that kitchen table trying to get through paperwork when you came to me, wondering why you hadn't gotten a gold shield after four years on the job. You wanted to make detective. Do you remember that?" But Frank was laser focused on Jamie's desire to make detective more than the reason why that had not happened for him.
Jamie studied his hands remembering that moment as well. When he came on to the job, he longed to make detective everyday. He was certain it would happen for him and he used his brothers and father as a barometer, believing he'd be a detective by the time he was through his third year on the force. When that didn't happen, he doubted himself at first, but then he realized what the real problem was. And so had his father, especially after he threw him a bone and had him work an old case with sensitive, political ramifications.
After Jamie closed the Michelle Lowe case, they never discussed that again. It appeared to have been forgotten as far as his father was concerned, or it relieved his guilt.
"So is this sergeant's exam your way of righting a wrong without a hook?" Jamie asked, wondering if the guilt was back.
"No," Frank claimed immediately shaking his head at the accusation before it dawned on him. All of this pushing and frustration with where Jamie's career was heading - or where it wasn't, for that matter - it was because of him. He hadn't forgotten Jamie's knowing expression that afternoon either, the one he gave him before Nicky returned to the kitchen and interrupted their conversation...
"Dad, how long was it before you made detective?" Jamie asked as he walked across the kitchen, nervously drying his hands on a towel.
"Three years," Frank responded automatically as he continued his paperwork.
"Danny made it in three and a half," Jamie stated.
Still engrossed in his work, Frank missed the disappointment on his son's face, joking instead, "Good genes."
"Guess I didn't get them," Jamie commented with a tentative smile.
It was the tone that caught his attention and Frank looked up into his son's face, silently questioning his comment.
"Been on patrol for four years now," Jamie reminded him.
His brow furrowed in confusion….how could that be? "Four years? Seems like you just graduated the academy," he said. Wasn't it just yesterday that he saw his youngest in his dress blues for the first time?
Jamie's expression spoke volumes and Frank knew what he was thinking without saying a word. "You think something's holding you back?" Frank queried, afraid of asking the right question - you think I'm holding you back?
Jamie shrugged, as if not wanting to lay the blame on his father, but they both knew the answer to that question.
That was what he was doing. He was looking for a way for Jamie to advance without it looking like the commissioner had pulled any strings. Frank froze at his own realization, his eyes widening when it explained so much about his frustrations with Jamie lately. And those frustrations had led him to react poorly to his and Eddie's news. "I don't know….maybe it is, son," Frank admitted sadly. However, the fact still remained that Jamie was qualified for the job. He deserved it, although he had to take the test first. "I thought it was what you wanted. What happened to wanting that gold shield?"
Jamie pursed his lips shrugged his shoulders. "I accepted the fact that certain doors were closed to me. Hell, they all were until you finally set a date for the sergeant's exam. But it's like you said, patrol is one of the most important jobs in the department. The longer I've been on the streets, the more I know that to be true. I get to help people, maybe have a chance to stop bad things from happening instead of showing up after they already did. I said it before and I mean it, there's no place else I'd rather be. I need you to understand that."
Somehow, Frank finally did. It wasn't up to him to tell his son what to do, all he could offer was sound advice and show him the path. If he chose not to take it, that was okay, all that mattered was that he was happy with his choice. That was all that Frank wanted for his kids - for them to be safe and happy.
His youngest son was a beat cop and he hoped every one of his patrol officers had the same qualities he admired in him. Franked smiled and nodded, "I do."
Jamie did the same, feeling lighter than when he'd walked into the den.
The smile remained on Frank's lips, as he turned the subject back to their guest of honor. "So...you and Eddie, huh?" Frank might have seen it coming, what with the jokes Erin and Danny would make here and there about Jamie and his partner, but he didn't realize he'd been harboring feelings for her for so long.
"Yeah," Jamie beamed, unable to hold back the joy it brought him.
"Nothing ever…," Frank hedged, not wanting to go into specifics on any aspect of their partnership, but most were going to find it hard to believe that they suddenly woke up one day and decided to get married.
"Not until 2 days ago," Jamie confirmed.
Frank pursed his lips, understanding how it all came about now. "With the shooting." He stood corrected, they did wake up one day and decide to get married. It just took a terrible event to make them realize they loved each other all along.
"Yeah," Jamie nodded. "Eddie saved my life, dad. And it took a bullet whizzing by my head to make me see how stupid I've been, wasting all this time when we don't know how much we really have left."
Frank grimaced at the bullet reference, not wanting to ever hear that his children had the misfortune to be in such a position again.
"I love her. I know her better than I know myself," Jamie confessed.
"And vice versa, it seems," Frank said.
"She does," Jamie agreed, still amazed by how she'd been there for him. "I still don't know how she knew about Sorrento, she knew even before I did."
"Sometimes when you have a connection with someone, they have a sixth sense about you," Frank replied.
"Is that the way it was with you and mom?" Jamie asked. His parent's marriage is what he and Eddie would strive to have.
Frank sat back in the chair, relaxed and content. "There were tough days on the job, some close calls...this was before we were all slaves to our cell phones. And there were times when I'd get back to the precinct and I had a message waiting for me from your mom, checking in to make sure I was OK," he shared. "Somehow she always knew."
Frank smiled and thought back to Jamie's first question, there was only one answer to give. "Your mom would want Eddie to have her ring, in any way you want to give it to her. You can take it with you tonight or come back for it when Eddie's not with you."
"Are you sure?" Jamie asked, having forgotten about the ring since they started this conversation.
"Yes. She'd want you to have it and so would I," Frank confirmed as he stood up and offered Jamie his hand, surprising his son when he pulled him in for hug. "I am happy for you both," he said.
"I know you are, dad," Jamie croaked, feeling a second weight lifted off his shoulders.
But the tender moment moment was suddenly broken by a cacophony of laughter echoing throughout the house.
"Oh, no," Jamie groaned into his father's shoulder. He knew what had been going on in the other room while he'd been busy ironing things out with his dad.
"What's the matter?" Frank asked while pulling away from Jamie.
"I left Eddie in the kitchen," he mumbled with a look of regret.
"And," Frank pressed.
"I left her with Danny and Erin," he clarified. If there was one thing he knew his fiance would revel in, it was an opportunity to gather dirt to tease him with. And what better way was there to do that than to get intel on him that his siblings were all too willing to give.
That was all Frank needed to understand the problem. "Ahh. And no buffer," he smiled, placing an arm around Jamie's shoulders while leading him to the heart of the house. "Well, son, you say she knows you inside and out, but I suppose that's not exactly true. If you're going to be married, it's time that she learned how you came to be the man she fell in love with," he teased.
"That's not funny," Jamie pouted.
"It kind of is," Frank laughed as they walked down the hall to the kitchen where the family was gathered around the island. The leftovers lay forgotten while, they were all too busy giggling at the tale being shared by his oldest son.
"The kid was horrified!" Danny cracked-up. "His eyes were as big as saucers when he came home and our mother didn't know how to answer his questions."
"It was classic," Erin snickered, recalling the day clearly.
"Whatever you're talking about, stop it," Jamie ordered, narrowing his eyes at his brother and sister as he came to a stop next to Eddie.
Eddie reached around his waist just as Jamie did the same to her. "No, way, Reagan. I'm learning so much about you right now," she stated with a twinkle in her eye. She was enjoying the sibling camaraderie, it was different than the way she had grown up as an only child.
"See? What did I tell you?" Frank patted Jamie on the back as he passed him on his way to the liquor cabinet. It wasn't lost on the rest of the family, Eddie included, that the pair had seemed to work out some of their issues, something they were all happy to see.
"What are you even talking about?" Jamie inquired, eyeballing the main troublemaker of the group.
"How little Jamie Reagan learned about the birds and the bees at the tender age of 8," Danny repeated for the newcomers, earning himself another round of giggles.
"Oh, Lord," Jamie sighed. "We should get going, Eddie," he whispered into his partner's ear hoping to put an end to this. But all he got in return was a nudge to the ribs and a smirk.
Frank turned as he reached for the good bottle of scotch with one hand, spurring Henry to grab plenty of lowball glasses for the adults of drinking age. "I remember that!"
"I think we all do, Francis," Henry snorted as they met back at the island and poured everyone a finger of scotch. He wasn't present that day but the teasing had continued through to the next family meal.
"Who knew a field trip to the zoo could shatter someone's innocence?" Nicky laughed at her uncle's expense.
"And the nuns chaperoning that field trip had what little innocence they had left shattered as well," Erin pointed out.
"They also had no trouble leaving it up to the parents to explain things to their distraught children, that those gorillas weren't actually trying to kill each other that day," Frank said, remembering the conversation with his very flustered wife when he'd called to check in on her and the children during his tour.
"Don't blame those poor women," Henry warned.
"Yeah, you can't blame them. Anyway, the extent of Catholic school sex ed was to tell you to avoid sex until marriage in order to avoid disease and improve your chances of getting into heaven. They weren't very good at explaining the mechanics," Danny said.
"They still aren't," Sean told them.
"So leave it to big brother Danny to step in and explain things to me," Jamie added before taking a sip from his glass. There was no way out of this now, might as well join in to make sure the storytelling was accurate.
"What was I supposed to do?! Poor Ma didn't want to go there with you either, she left that job to Dad for us boys," Danny explained.
"Which is what you should have done," Frank proclaimed. He and Mary weren't prepared to have that conversation with their youngest son at the age of 8, but they still should have been the ones to explain human sexuality to him instead of their oldest teenage son.
"He kept wanting to call 911, but mom told him that's not what the police handles. Then he insisted she call animal control to save the gorillas! Do you remember that part?" Danny defended himself.
Eddie let out a full belly laugh, thoroughly delighting in hearing this for the first time. "Animal control, Reagan? Seriously?"
"Let's see how you'd interpret that at the age of 8, Janko," he admonished lightly.
"Plus mom was hoping to avoid the whole talk with him anyway. She thought her baby was way too young and innocent to know about those things," Erin added cheekily.
"So how did you get tasked with that and not your dad?" Eddie asked Danny.
"I think Danny was all too eager to traumatize me some more," Jamie stated.
"That's not true! Dad wasn't going to be home for hours. He'd been working this big case and was pulling long tours. I just stepped in to help mom when the kid wouldn't shut up."
"You fixed that, all right. I remember he was near catatonic after you were done with him," Erin said.
"Mom was livid. You got sent to your room and she told you to wait for dad to come home and then she sat me down in the kitchen and force fed me milk and cookies," Jamie laughed at the memory. "I wasn't alone with Danny for that either, Joe was there too. He reworded everything that came out of Danny's mouth to make it less crude."
"I can only imagine sex ed coming from those two teenage boys," Henry chuckled.
"It didn't make things any less disgusting," Erin said, having eavesdropped on the boys' discussion.
"I was 8. I still thought girls were gross," Jamie explained.
"We know you've come a long way from then, haven't you, kid? Now you're getting married," Danny grinned, lifting his glass up toward his little brother and his fiance.
"Yeah," Jamie smiled, raising his glass as well, while hugging Eddie to him.
"Here, here," Frank said as he led the others to join him. He smiled at the young couple, silently wishing them a lifetime of happiness together.
Yup, I think that's all I got for thus one! It's all that I can think is going through Frank's mind as he sat at the dinner table with that giant frown on his face.
Thanks again to werks and to Annatheavidreader for her interesting take on Frank's mindset during the finale. Hopefully, this has inspired me enough to tackle some unfinished stories I got tucked away somewhere. :)