Dedication: For Mandi.
He took a sip of the rather bitter coffee the expedition supplied and nearly spit it out. The coffee was just one more thing he missed about being at home with his wife and their baby. Rose made a great cup of coffee.
Mack wondered what his girls were doing right now. He wondered if they were eating their own breakfasts and if they were missing him like he was missing them. He loved his wife and their daughter dearly, and he really couldn't wait to get home to them.
"Homesick?" his father asked quietly as he sat down. "You've seemed distracted the whole trip. Are you sure everything is good at home? Have you talked to Rose lately? She's not angry with you, is she?"
"I don't think so," Mack answered slowly. "I know Rose knows how important this stuff is to us. I guess I am a little homesick. I missed Jamie's birthday. Some dad I am, huh?"
"You love them both. You're a good dad and a good husband. It's just work. Everyone has to work, Mack. You're being responsible." Andrew gave his son a small smile and clapped him on the shoulder.
Mack furrowed his brow in thought. "I'm going to go home today, Dad. I can't be here for another six weeks. I miss Rose and Jamie too much. I have to go home and get back to my real job. I can't be globetrotting anymore; I have people waiting for me."
"But I thought you loved going on these adventures with me." Andrew looked hurt. "I realize your situation is different than mine was, but you can still do what you want and explore."
"What I want is to be home with my wife and our baby. I have responsibilities as a husband and a father, Dad. I have to be there with them. I'm sorry, but that's my final decision."
Mack got up and returned to his tent to pack his bags. As he began to gather up his belongings, he spotted two photographs. With a faint smile, he picked them up. The first picture was of Jamie sitting in his lap, a happy baby smile on her face. Mack swallowed hard.
The second picture was of he and Rose on their wedding day, "revoltingly happy," as Ronny had once claimed. Mack touched one finger to the Rose in the photo. "I'm coming home, sweetheart. I'm coming. I really do love you, you know."
He caught a ride to the village. From there he would get on a bus to the city. The city had an airport, not a large one, but it would be able to get him to New York. If he was lucky, the Hartford Industries branch in NYC would let him use the company jet. Anything to get home to Jamie and Rose.
The airport was quiet. There was only one terminal and only a few other people had flights to catch. As Mack waited for his plane to be called, a small family came in and sat down near him. The mother handed her small daughter over to her husband. His fight lit up as he gave the girl a hug. Mack's heart ached as he watched.
He fell asleep as soon as he found his seat. He dreamed about Rose and Jamie playing with one of Jamie's stuffed animals. The baby was giggling as she watched her mother. He smiled in his sleep.
When the flight landed in New York, Mack got into a cab. He told the driver the address of his father's company. Mack was anxious as the taxi crawled through the city traffic.
Luckily he was recognized immediately as the heir to Hartford Industries and a former red ranger. The pilot was called in, warned not to leave Mr. Hartford waiting. Mack was promised that the company jet was modeled after the Sonic Streaker and could get him to San Angeles in about an hour.
When he finally got home, the house was quiet. "Rose?" Mack asked, wandering from the living room to the kitchen. "Rose, honey?" He was starting to get worried as he climbed the stairs. "Rose?"
The light from Jamie's pink bedroom shined out into the hallway. Mack pushed open the door to see Rose asleep in Jamie's rocking chair with the baby in her arms. He smiled. What a precious moment.
He crept inside the room and crossed to the rocking chair. He knelt and reached for the baby so he could put her in the crib. Rose frowned in her sleep and tightened her arms around Jamie. "No." She shifted slightly. "No." Mack laughed softly.
"It's just me, Rosie. It's just Mack," he whispered. This time he succeeded in pulling Jamie away. He kissed the top of Jamie's head and placed her in the crib.
Rose was fully awake. "Mack!" She stood up and wrapped her arms around him in a tight hug. He returned the embrace eagerly, holding her against him and rocking them both slowly. He had to tell her the conclusion he'd come to. "I missed you so much, Mack…"
"I missed you too. No more adventures for me. I need to be here with you." He put his arm around her waist and she put hers over his shoulders. They quietly left their sleeping daughter.