Okay, I'm back.
I know not everyone is on board with this idea, but I get depressed when I don't have a story to work on, so since I could see how the first chapter was going to unfold, I decided to write it for those who are.
In all honesty, I'm running out of romantic plotlines (You wouldn't know it, but it's rare for me to write anything without ghosts or vampires or magic powers!), so I thought the relationship between Jack and Sawyer would make a nice change. I am considering starting a second (island Jate) fic some time soon, though, but that will mean fewer updates for both…
Chapter 1. Special Delivery
When he woke up that morning, the last thing Jack expected was to become a father.
It was six fifteen, and he'd just hit the snooze button on his alarm clock for the second time, when the doorbell rang, echoing through the empty rooms of his house.
He wasn't going to get it, but when it sounded a second and third time, he realised that whoever it was had no intention of leaving, so he dragged himself out of bed, pulling a t-shirt on over his sweatpants on the way to the door.
He'd never considered himself paranoid, but since returning from the island, he wasn't as trusting as he'd once been; sliding back the cover, he squinted through the peephole, debating whether or not he should open the door when he couldn't see anyone on the step. He thought about going back to bed, and forgetting the whole thing, but he was up now, and there was no chance of going back to sleep.
Letting his curiosity win out, he released the deadbolt, sticking his head outside in time to see a car peal off on the other side of the road. He didn't get time to catch the license plate; just a flash of red and it was gone.
Huh, he thought, scratching his head. When he took so long to answer the door, whoever had come to see him must've decided that he wasn't home.
He was about to go inside and make himself some coffee when he was aware of a soft mewling sound; looking down, trying to locate the source, he did a double take when he realised that there was a bassinet on his doorstep, and it in, a baby. At its feet was a black backpack; stepping over everything carefully, he let himself out the gate, checking the street, but it was empty. Whoever dropped it off was long gone.
He couldn't leave it outside in the cool December air until they came back for it, so unsure of what else to do, he slung the backpack over his shoulder, and took it inside with him, setting the bassinet down on the island in the kitchen.
It looked so out of place there that he couldn't help but stare, wondering if all the self-imposed isolation was making him crazy, because this couldn't really be happening, could it? There couldn't really be a baby in his kitchen…
He knew that as a doctor, the first thing he should do was examine it, but he was almost afraid to touch it, so he paced around the room a few times before he could steel himself enough to pick it up, prying loose the folds of its wrap.
It was dressed in a pink onesie, so he knew that it must be a girl, three or four days old by his guess, but it was hard to be sure. If it was born premature, it could have been older. It seemed healthy enough, not jaundiced or anything, but without the proper equipment, he couldn't be very thorough.
It must've been frightened, because it started to cry as he cradled it in his hands, its face turning an angry puce when his attempts to soothe it proved ineffectual. He'd never been much of a baby person, not unless that baby was a patient, when all he had to do was diagnose and treat it; it was always someone else's job make sure it stayed calm and happy.
But that was at the hospital, where there were nurses and paediatricians and mothers. He was alone with this baby; if he didn't stop it himself, it was going to give itself an aneurysm, and him a bigger headache than he already had.
Thinking back to when his nephew was born on the island, he remembered Michael saying something about walking; placing one hand on the baby's back, his other under its head, he resumed his pacing, making a full circuit of the house before it settled placidly against him.
He was afraid of setting it off again now that it was silent, so he bounced it lightly up and down to maintain the illusion of movement as he returned to the kitchen, sifting through its belongings with his free hand. Aside from its bedding, there was nothing in the bassinet, so he emptied the backpack, his heart sinking when he discovered bottles, formula, diapers and spare clothes, but nothing to clue him in on the identity of the child, or what it was doing on his doorstep at six o'clock in the morning.
He wanted to believe that whoever left it there had gotten the wrong house, but now that he thought about it, he realised that it wasn't a coincidence that that car pulled away just as he came outside.
It was waiting for him.
The whole thing was intentional, deliberate. It wasn't a mistake. He was supposed to take care of this child, even if he had no idea how.
He didn't know how long it had been since the baby's last feed, so he mixed up a bottle and sat down at the table, watching it screw up its face in concentration as it sucked on the teat. It was so tiny and helpless, so completely dependent on him; he couldn't believe that anyone would abandon it, but they had.
It was seven thirty by the time it let go, full, and spat up on the sleeve of his shirt. He still hadn't showered or dressed for work, so he brought it into the bedroom with him, laying it in the middle of the bed so that he could keep an eye on it while he changed. He wasn't sure why, but he couldn't bring himself to leave it alone in another room, even in its bassinet, not after everything it had been through that morning.
He kept expecting to wake up and find that it was all a dream, but at eight o'clock, when he was due to leave for the hospital, it was still there, squirming on the mattress as he finished knotting his tie. He couldn't leave it in the house unsupervised, and he wasn't sure who to call, so in the end, he decided to take it with him, so that he could get it checked out, and maybe find someone to take it off his hands. The staff in the maternity ward dealt with this sort of thing all the time; surely someone would be able to offer him some advice.
Returning it to its bassinet, and packing up its belongings, he buckled it awkwardly into the backseat of his car, eager to see it in the care of someone more experienced than him. There was no room in his life for a child; he worked eighteen hours a day, and slept through what was left. Most nights he didn't even come home.
He was supposed to be in a meeting, but he was afraid of the looks he would get if he walked into the conference room with a baby, so he headed straight up to maternity, dropping both the bassinet and the backpack off at the nurses' station. He wasn't going to explain, but he lingered too long at the counter, feeling guilty, and one of the doctors, an attending named Maggie Gleeson, spotted him, coming over to them with a bemused grin.
"I didn't know you had kids, Jack," she said, sounding surprised as she bent over to coo at the baby. It stopped kicking and was still, focusing on her voice, and he couldn't help feeling embarrassed that what had taken him an hour, had taken her only seconds.
"I don't," he assured her, realising that it was probably for the best. "Some dropped it off at my place. I thought it was best if I brought it here."
"I think it's a she," she informed him with a smile as she eased the baby out of the bassinet, talking to it softly as she settled it against the shoulder of her lab coat.
Jack was so used to thinking of it as an "it" that he hadn't even realised what he'd said. "Her then," he amended hastily, before she could read too much into the clinical distance he was trying to put between himself and the child.
"And you have no idea who?" Her eyes bored into his as she jiggled the baby lightly up and down, comforting it. She didn't seem to believe him.
"No," he agreed, overcome by the same nagging sense of guilt that had seized him at the nurses' station. He felt like he should know; that deep down, he did. People didn't leave babies on strangers' doorsteps. It was against the law. "So what happens to her now?" he asked, trying not to sound too interested, like he knew that none of this was his problem.
"Well," Dr. Gleeson said as she led him into the nursery, laying the baby down on the scales, "we can put out a report, see if anyone comes forward to claim her."
"And if they don't?" If his suspicions were correct, he knew that they wouldn't.
She made of note of the baby's weight, before moving her stethoscope up to her ears and listening to her heartbeat. "Then she goes into temporary foster care until they can find her a more permanent placement," she said as she took it out again and filled in another box on the chart.
He felt an involuntary pang at these words; it must have shown on his face, because her voice softened into a maternal tone as she added, "Are you sure you don't know anything about this, Jack? Because I don't need to tell you that child abandonment is a serious crime. If you help me get in touch with the mother before this goes on record, you'll save us all a lot of grief. I've seen what happens to kids in foster homes, and it's not pretty."
He shook his head, forcing back the thought that had been looming at the edge of his consciousness all morning, but when he looked at the baby, at her head of dark curls, he knew he couldn't lie to himself anymore. He couldn't hand her over to strangers, no matter how desperate he was to pretend that this wasn't happening.
"I don't know where to find her," he confessed, rubbing his forehead, feeling tired and old all of a sudden, "but I know who she is."
All day, Jack hadn't been able to shake the feeling that something was wrong.
Kate had been living with him in secret since their return from the island, neither of them thrilled about the idea of her going to jail, and for a while, they'd been happy, but lately, the strain was taking its toll. He woke every morning expecting to find her side of the bed empty, and her gone, but somehow, she was still there when he left for work, and when he came home each night, and it wasn't long before he was able to delude himself into thinking that she was finally ready to "dig in".
That morning though, the sheets were cold; he woke to find her holed up in the bathroom, running the shower full pelt to conceal whatever she was doing inside. He thought that she was crying, and trying to hide it, because when he knocked on the door, it took her a while to answer, and when she came out, she was pale and listless, refusing to let him touch her.
He waited for her to tell him what was going on, for her to pick a fight or something, but when she wouldn't talk to him about it, he gave up and went to the hospital as usual.
That was the last time that he saw her. When he let himself into the house that night, it was dark and silent. Her drawers were empty, and she was gone.
The thought that she was pregnant never even crossed his mind.
"What about the father?" Dr. Gleeson pressed, putting a hand on his arm, bringing him back to the moment. "Do you know who he is?"
It was the question he'd been dreading since she started quizzing him about the baby, because he did know. He'd known the moment he saw her. He just wasn't ready to believe it, or what it would mean for either of them. "Yeah," he agreed slowly, letting the realisation sink in. "I think… I think she's mine."
If you really hate it, let me know, but I'm trying not to be too cutesy here...
Coming up soon: a reunion for the survivors, and Sawyer!