It was safe to say that it was an emotional afternoon for the Reagan family. Even after dessert had been devoured and the dishes cleared, the family remained around the table, reminiscing. The revelations about Joe and the part he tried to play in Eddie and Jamie's relationship and how he inspired Eddie to become a police officer had brought the family to tears, happy tears, but tears none the less.
Conversation soon turned to happy memories of Joe. Nicky definitely remembered her Uncle Joe; being the oldest of the grandkids she'd been spoiled rotten by her grandparents and uncles. But Jack remembered snippets, and Sean, well he had been so young when Joe passed, he barely remembered anything about him besides what he had been told.
Frank smiled as he looked around the table. They needed this. Joe had been an integral part of this family and after his death he wasn't sure how they would recover. After he'd died, it all seemed too painful to talk about. In recent years his name had been mentioned in passing, but nothing like today. Remembering Joe, and all the joy that seemed to surround him, felt good.
Eddie's chair had been pulled closer to Jamie's so he could hold her next him more comfortably. She leaned against him and laughed more than she had in… she didn't know how long. She couldn't believe that it had been less than an hour since she'd been in tears. Now she was hearing about how Joe had looked out for his little brother; taking the blame for Jamie's "clumsiness", helping him prank their older sister and helping protect him from her wrath. Eddie was amazed at how devious those Reagan kids could be.
She nearly doubled over in laughter after Sean asked Jamie if he'd told Eddie about his "skill". Eddie hadn't known what he was talking about until Jack filled her in. Jamie had groaned and tried to get them to change the subject, but Eddie was having none of that. He started with the flash drive Jamie swallowed and mentioned a few other things he'd remembered hearing about, but it had been so long ago he couldn't remember much. That's when the other Reagan's chimed in.
Eddie looked at him in shock. "Oh my God, you were THAT kid?" Jamie couldn't help but laugh at her expression. "What kid?" "You know, the weird kid in school who HAD to put everything in his mouth. You probably ate glue in Kindergarten too, didn't you?" Jamie was laughing too hard to answer her, but Frank wasn't. "No, not that we know of, at least. At the time it seemed more like he was trying hide those items versus eating them." Frank couldn't hide his amusement, breaking down towards the end.
Eddie shook her head and smiled back up to Jamie. "I'm really gonna have to keep an eye on this one, I see." She looked down and rubbed her belly affectionately. He laughed and reached his arms around her belly as well, hugging her to him. "It was just a phase… But, hey, it saved my butt when I was UC, so I guess it came in handy."
The rest of the family looked on affectionately, those two were beyond adorable. How Joe could tell after only just a few minutes that they were perfect for each other, they would never understand. But regardless of how he knew, he was right.
The stories continued to flow before Danny had a great idea. "Hey, Dad, you still have that VCR in the living room?" Frank wasn't sure where he was headed with this, but he nodded in the affirmative. "Yep, and it still works too. We watch at least two movies a month in it to make sure the motors don't lock up." Danny grinned in response.
"Boys, go grab a couple chairs from the den and bring them to the living room. The rest of you, come on."
Half an hour later his family was spread around the living room. Jamie, Eddie and Frank on the couch in front of the tv, Henry in the wingback chair next to it, Danny sat in the other one across from it with Erin sitting on the arm of couch next to Jamie. Nicky was in one of the chairs the boys had brought in, while they were both on the floor in front of the sofa.
Once Danny had started rounding every one up he went ahead and got the VCR set while the others slowly ambled in. Naturally, Eddie needed a bathroom break. Their little girl had started kicking recently, so between the weight of her and the kicks to her bladder, she spent a lot more time in there than she used to.
Now they were all enjoying family videos. Videos that some in the room hadn't seen in many, many years, but the rest had never seen before. Danny shook his head, why hadn't he thought of this before? He always felt a little sad that his boys never knew firsthand what a truly great person their Uncle had been and how much he had been in love with them from the moment they were born. They had heard stories, of course, but it just wasn't the same.
Danny was brought out of his thoughts by Eddie's laughter. "Oh, so THAT'S where you learned that move. I always wondered because they definitely didn't teach that at the academy when I was there." When he looked up at the screen it was when he was helping Joe practice for his brown belt certification. Joe had been showing off, wearing his purple belt over his pajamas when Danny challenged him. Their "fight" resembled more of a cheesy ninja movie; both boys taunting each other and then their mouths kept moving while no sound came out with Jamie and Erin cheering them on.
They barely touched each other; Danny sticking to the boxing moves he'd learned from Pop while Joe kept his distance going through various positions he had learned in class. At least up until the point he grabbed Danny and flipped him onto his back. Everyone laughed at that one; the shocked expression on young Danny's face was priceless.
A couple of tapes later found the Reagan boys out in the front yard playing catch. Well, Danny was tossing the football back and forth with Jamie while it appeared that Joe had been the one filming. In the background you could see a much younger (and skinnier) Frank cutting the grass in shorts; Eddie could hardly believe the sight.
There were a few good passes, some with easy catches and some that had eight year old Jamie diving for the ball, even landing with a roll a time or two. Then the trouble began. Danny accidentally threw the ball wide and Jamie bolted after it, not looking where he was going. He was headed towards the street and the older boys could see a car coming about a block away.
Joe dropped the camcorder in the grass but it kept recording. Both he and Danny shouted to get Jamie's attention, both chasing after him, but he didn't appear to hear them and he was on the other side of the yard and too far for them to reach in time. Then Joe shouted to his father "DAD! JAMIE! HE'S IN TROUBLE!" Frank barely looked up from the mower before he was running full speed into the street and snatched Jamie back just before the car flew past.
Jamie felt Eddie flinch beside him and when he turned to make sure she was okay, he was surprised to see that she was white as a ghost. He assumed it was because of his near death experience that she had just witnessed. He pulled her tighter against him and whispered in her ear. "It's alright, I'm okay. And I will always play with Josefina in our fenced-in backyard, I promise." She made some non-committal response but her eyes never left the screen.
Frank had just finished shouting at Jamie and was pulling him into his arms. The older boys waited a moment before joining into the now group hug; Danny apologizing again and again for the bad throw and warning Jamie to never scare him like that again. Once they separated, Joe ran back to the forgotten camcorder and then the screen went black.
Later that night as Eddie and Jamie got ready for bed Jamie kept a watchful eye on Eddie. Ever since they left his Dad's she'd been quiet, way too quiet.
Once they were settled and she still hadn't said anything, he had to find out, so he gently nudged her arm and asked. "You okay?" That pulled her from her thoughts. "Yeah, of course. Why wouldn't I be?" She gave him a soft smile, but he saw through it. "You didn't say a word in the car ride home or very much since. Is it the baby? You feeling okay?" He looked genuinely worried so she grabbed his hand to reassure him. "I'm fine. The baby's fine. I was just thinking, that's all."
He nodded in acceptance, unsure whether to push or leave it at that. "Anything you'd care to share? You know I'm a good listener." She gave another soft smile then a deep sigh. "I would, but to be completely honest, you'll just think I'm nuts." He shook his head and tried to comfort her. "No, I won't. After everything we've been through, all that craziness, there's nothing you could say to make me think you're any nuttier than usual." He winked as he finished, just a reminder that he was teasing her.
She let out a single laugh, "No, it's because of all the crazy stuff that you'll think I'm a nut." He chuckled lightly. "No, I won't. I promise." She was skeptical, but after a shake of her head she told him. "Remember that voice I heard before Sorrento shot at you? I swear to God it was Joe."
Jamie didn't answer right away, taking his time really understand what she was saying and to make sure he didn't say anything stupid. "You're sure?" was all he could get out. She nodded enthusiastically. "Yes, it wasn't until that video where you almost got hit by that car… The fear… The terror in his voice… That's what I heard. He's the one who warned me."
Jamie just nodded, neither sure what to say next. Now it definitely made sense to him why she had been so quiet earlier. Jamie pulled her to him and leaned back against his pillow, needing time to process this.
When he finally spoke after a few minutes, he sounded amused rather than shocked. "Well, I guess it's true, third time's the charm." Eddie looked up to him confused. "What are you talking about?" "Well, think about it. We had the trifecta. We didn't get together after Joe first met you, and we still didn't after he inspired you to become a cop and we got partnered together. So his last ditch effort and to save my life, he warned you and now here we are."
That definitely wasn't the response Eddie had been expecting. She raised up on her elbow to better see his face. "Really? So you're okay with this? You don't think I've got a screw loose." He smiled and pulled her back down to him. "Not at all… I'll admit I was a little skeptical when you first told me about the voice when it happened. But I trust you and I believe that you heard what you did. And now? Well, it makes perfect sense. It's definitely something he would've done if he could."
Eddie smiled against his chest. "Wow. Well, thank you. After all the other weird stuff, I was sure you'd think I was a little batty or that it was more of pregnancy brain."
They laid together, content in each other's arms, for a while before either spoke. "Do you think we should tell your family?" She asked curiously. After thinking about it for a moment he shook his head. "No, this might be too much for them. I might tell Pop or Dad one day; they're a little more religious and more open to stuff like that." She nodded and snuggled deeper against him.
After a moment she mused out loud. "Don't take this the wrong way, Lambchop, but I'm really glad your brother was as big of a persistent pain-in-the-ass as you are." Jamie chuckled again "Me too, Eddie. Me too."
Jamie held Eddie close, his arms wrapped protectively around her as she drifted off to sleep. With one hand he gently rubbed her belly, careful not to wake her, but enjoying the feel of their daughter's small movements. He softly kissed her hair and reflected on the last ten years of his life. He also considered how different things could have been without his brother's intervention.
Jamie felt a strong bump against his hand, not sure whether that had been an elbow or a swift kick, but it made him grin from ear to ear. He kissed his fingers and placed them back against Eddie's belly before whispering softly. "Daddy loves you, baby girl." Oh yes, they had needed Joe's little push and Jamie was so grateful for it. Thankfully, the third time was most definitely the charm.