A storm was forming above the Bristows' house... literally.
Lightning crackled followed by growling thunders, every so often giving the impression that it was in fact a bright noon instead of a dark night, what with the blinding lights radiating through the windows and thick curtains. The sound of the rain slapping the roof in a drizzle seemed like a crowd of people was jumping up and down in some rock concert just above the ceiling. The furious wind was whipping all the branches of the trees outside against the windowpanes.
Six-years-old Sydney Bristow curled herself into a ball on her bed, clutching her pillow while her eyes glanced around nervously. She'd never liked the storm. In fact, she'd always hated it. She contemplated the options; she could run to her parents' bedroom and find some comfort, or lie wide awake all night here in her own room, undoubtedly wouldn't be asleep until the storm was over, which could last for hours. The first option seemed like the obvious choice, with just one problem; she was too scared to move, let alone get out of her bed, open the door, walk down the hall, and into her parents' room.
Another lightning blinded her and the thunder that followed was deafening. "Mommy!" she screamed as loud as she could, hoping the impossible; that her mother would hear her and come to rescue her.
Kissing under the rain might be romantic, but kissing during a storm was not so much. Laura Bristow pulled back for what seemed like the tenth time from her husband's embrace. "I really think I heard Sydney. I think I should check if she's alright. She can never sleep during a storm."
Jack let her go reluctantly, it was one of the rare days when he could spend the night at home instead of in some other country, and he didn't want to waste any chance to be with his wife. But he also understood that their only daughter was priority. It was also one of the main reasons he'd contemplated what has been bothering his mind for quiet a while now; to quit his job. He'd talked about it with Laura, too, and she seemed to agree. He couldn't afford missing anything more in her daughter's life just to save the world. Sometimes you just need to be selfish.
"Alright, I'll go with you," he offered, and both of them got up and headed toward Sydney's room. Sure enough, when Laura opened the door slightly, their daughter was far from asleep, instead she was frozen with fear on her bed.
"Sydney, are you okay?" Laura hurried to her daughter's side, and Sydney instantly threw her arms around her so tight it almost choked her.
"Mommy! I'm so scared! Can you please stay here with me for a while?" she begged, then her eyes caught Jack's. "And you too, Daddy." There was something in her eyes that seemed like a yearning for him, a desire to have a father by her side at all times. Jack saw it in her eyes everytime their gazes met, and it broke his heart everytime.
"Sure, sweetie, we'll just be right here," Laura climbed into the bed beside Sydney and encircled her arm around her daughter's shoulder. "Nobody's going to hurt you. Not if we can help it," she smiled to Jack, who climbed to Sydney's other side, making the three of them squeezed closely to each other on the small bed.
The storm was still going strong outside, but suddenly it felt like a sunny day for Sydney. One bedtime story and a lullaby song later, Sydney was sleeping soundlessly, as if oblivious to all the noisy sounds outside. Jack fiddled with her tiny fingers and felt overwhelmed with love. He couldn't possibly risk losing her forever.
"Jack," Laura's voice snapped him back to reality. He looked up at her, and was startled to see something in her eyes. It was almost like... they were saying goodbye. "One day you should be able to do this on your own, you know," she motioned at Sydney, clearly referring to her attempt of calming her down and putting her to sleep during the storm. "Read the right stories, sing the right lullaby..."
He couldn't find his words for a moment, but then he finally spoke. "Why? You're not going anywhere, are you?" There was a sense of foreboding, a bad one at that.
Laura just smiled. "Well, you never know what's going to happen. I'm just... afraid that if I were gone, you would..."
"Don't say that," he cut her words at once, feeling worst than ever. Was something going to happen? Why was she telling him this?
She looked down, seeming to struggle with her words. "It's not that. I mean, if you're going to quit your job and be a full-time father, you might as well do it the right way." She laughed softly. "Don't worry. I'll teach you everything." She gave him a playful wink, but somehow he just knew that's not what she meant. For a few seconds he still stared at her, searching for clues on her face.
"Jack," Laura said calmly, "you're being tense." And before he knew it, she'd pulled him closer and kissed him passionately. His body loosened up at once, his previous thoughts flying away, but he still remembered where he was. They were kissing just above Sydney's sleeping figure. He pulled back and couldn't help stifling a laugh.
"Are you crazy?" he motioned to their daughter, thankfully failing to witness what she was not supposed to see.
She just climbed over to Jack's side and then to the floor, pulling him with her, locking his lips with hers again. He knew it was a crazy idea, but he just couldn't push her away. She was irresistible. And so were her wild ideas. They rolled around on the carpet, not caring about how uncomfortable it was compared to their own bed. They kissed some more, and while he touched the smoothness of her skin, he whispered to her ear, "What if she wakes up?"
She let out a pleasant incoherent mumble at the feel of his touch. "We'll pretend we're just doing a little wrestling game."
He laughed and caressed her beautiful hair, burying himself on her neck. "We're the worst parents ever."
"You think so?" she pulled him closer, loving the warmth of his breath on her skin.
"You are so beautiful," he mumbled to her ear. "I promise you, you can run as far as you can, but I'll always find you."
A storm was forming above the Bristows' house... this time both literally and metaphorically.
Laura Bristow just died, and the shock it caused was unbearable. It was as if the sky was reflecting what was going on inside Jack and Sydney's mind. It was late, and Jack was lying on the cold bed by himself, staring blankly at the ceiling. It still seemed surreal to him. He kept thinking when he opened his eyes the next morning, this all would just be a bad dream, and he'd be greeted by her smile and a breakfast in bed like any other day.
They used to do that; treating each other with breakfast in bed. Whoever woke up first always did it for the other. In fact, it had become more like a competition lately. They both tried to wake up earlier than the other in order to be able to do it, but Jack lost more often than not.
What am I going to do without you now?
Another thunder shook the house and he was reminded of Sydney. He quickly got up and headed toward her room, then peeked inside to see how she was. She was lying on her bed in the exact same position as last time, curling into a ball and clutching her pillow, except this time there was no fear on her eyes. Just... emptiness. He approached the bed, concerned. "Honey, you okay?"
She looked up at him, but didn't say anything. "You want me to read you stories? Or... or sing you a song?" To his relief, she shook her head. Jack didn't trust himself with singing. Or reading bedtime stories, for that matter. Laura did try to teach him, but he was helpless.
"Just stay here with me," she said softly. He climbed into the bed and held her in his arms, feeling crushed. There was silence for a moment. Then she spoke up again. "Daddy... do you think Mommy's in the sky now?"
He felt his eyes became warmer, but decided he should be strong for her. "I suppose she is."
Sydney hesitated, then with a hopeful look she glanced up at him. "Do you think... you could find her and bring her back? You said you'll always find her, didn't you?"
Jack was startled as he was reminded of that night. How could she hear them? Was it simply her trained instincts? After thinking for a moment, he decided it didn't matter. "Yes," he smiled at her, suddenly feeling a little bit better for some reason. "I think I will find her."