A/N: Posted in response to Jo's Mother's Day Challenge. Thanks to ritt for giving it a once over. Any errors you see are mine and due to the frantic pace at which I wrote this. TISSUE WARNING!!
Don couldn't get over how much she looked like her mother. Same golden hair – surprisingly thick for a newborn – same beautiful hazel eyes, even the same little upturned nose. She was truly her mother's child and Don could barely fathom that he had helped to create this little miracle. No wonder his father had been nagging him for years to give him grandchildren. For the first time, Don felt that his father had wanted this moment so badly but not just so he could have grandkids but so that his son could experience the immense joy that came with the miraculous event.
Don lightly ran his fingertips along the side of his newborn daughter's face, marveling at how perfect she was – a little, tiny human being with no flaws. Well, almost no flaws.
He took a deep breath and looked back at his wife – a restaurant manager he had met just over a year ago. He'd found her attractive right away but had almost not asked her out for fear that someone so far removed from the law enforcement field could never understand him well enough to fall in love with him. He smiled, his eyes crinkling, as he remembered asking her out anyway only to find out that her father was a retired cop. So much for judging a book by its cover… They'd dated for a year before it hit him that she was the one and – much to his father's delight – he went ring shopping that evening. Don had insisted on having dinner at her restaurant and easily convinced her staff to invite her regular patrons to dine that evening so that when he proposed, some of her closest and long time friends were there. He'd invited her family, too, and the staff had kept them hidden in the kitchen until he'd popped the question and she'd said yes. The staff had brought out her parents at that point and her smile had grown a thousand fold as she realized how much effort he had put into creating the perfect moment.
Even now he could still remember the way the candlelight had danced and shone in her long, beautiful curls and he found himself brushing the damp, limp strands away from her face. They weren't shining now, but then childbirth wasn't exactly easy on a mother. Don leaned forward and pressed a kiss to her pale forehead, lingering for a moment and wishing she'd open her eyes and grace him with that dazzling smile that always made his heart melt. She didn't though, and he sat back in his chair – one hand around hers and one resting on his daughter's head.
It had all seemed so perfect that Sunday morning. She'd woken him way before the alarm clock and with a huge smile told him it was time to bring their little miracle into the world. Don had rushed her to the hospital while she commented that this was the best Mother's Day gift she could ever have. He'd easily joked that at nine months it was the most planning he'd ever put into anyone's gift. The ride to the hospital continued on, both parents-to-be grinning happily as she called her parents, Alan and Charlie to share the good news.
Arriving at the hospital had been a piece of cake, too. Don had dropped her off into the care of a wheelchair-bearing nurse and then maneuvered his SUV into a no parking spot, making sure the government-issued tags were plain for anyone to see. He then rushed inside the hospital and inquired about his wife. Five minutes it took him to park the car… five minutes…
Don remained silent, stroking his wife's fingers while staring back and forth between his beautiful girls.
No, he couldn't look at them. Couldn't acknowledge what they wanted him to. It was too painful.
"Donny," the voice repeated as a gentle hand landed on his shoulder, squeezing and conveying a wealth of emotions through the one touch. "Son… it's time."
"No." He couldn't believe he'd managed the one syllable… couldn't believe anything right now.
Two arms wrapped around his shoulders and he bucked against them. "Son, they have to... take care of things."
He shook his head, words escaping him as he drowned in his grief.
"Come on, bro."
The tenderness in his brother's voice broke the fragile dam on his emotions and Don felt hot tears track down his face. "Why?" he softly pleaded as he looked longingly at his wife and child. "It was… perfect. Her Mother's Day gift."
"Come on, Donny," Alan urged as he and Charlie practically lifted Don out of his chair. "Let's go home. We can make sure they stay together, okay?"
Don looked at his father and Alan put on a brave face even as his son's grief – and his own – ripped him apart inside. The younger man finally nodded and raised a shaky hand to wipe at his tears. "Together… she'd want that."
Alan hugged both his sons tightly before he and Charlie supported Don as they exited the room. Tomorrow he'd call and start making arrangements for one casket in which to lay to rest his beloved daughter-in-law, first grandchild and his son's heart.