The Olympic docked in New York Harbour at eleven o'clock AM on July 27, 1918. The sun was shining brilliantly, and as the ship passed the Statue of Liberty, Jack was filled with new hope. He saw the lady guiding her city more proudly than anything.
It was good to be home. It was cold here in winter, but he called this place his home. He could fill his lungs with American air and be happy and proud to be an American.
Brief memories of when he had docked with Rose six years before on the Carpathia filled his mind, but he pushed them away. He was home. He would see his Rose for the first time in almost a year.
First class was allowed to disembark first, then second, and then third. Jack didn't mind that he would be last. He gathered together the last of his belongings and walked up on deck.
He had decided to not use his crutches. He wanted to greet Rose as the man he was and the man she knew.
He walked down the gangplank and saw hundreds of faces, relatives meeting their family and friends. He looked around for Rose. His eyes scanned the crowds, but he couldn't see that familiar pretty face.
He settled himself on a small bench away from all of the hustle of the people and lit a cigarette. He knew he shouldn't smoke with how weak his lungs had become in recent months, but he puffed away on it anyway.
He figured Rose was running a little late and sat on the bench until the crowds of the people disappeared and he was alone.
About half an hour later, a car pulled up along the sidewalk where Jack was sat. He heard voices from inside and wondered what all of the commotion was about.
The passenger door opened and a familiar voice called out to him. It was Abigail.
He smiled at once and picked up his luggage. Abigail ran around the back of the car.
"Rose is in labour, Jack!" she yelled. "Hurry into the car. We'll take you there."
That was it. Jack immediately dumped his luggage into the trunk of the car and got in. The short journey was spent with Jack fiddling around with the smallest things, his brain swirling with the fact that anytime now he would become a father. He felt as though he was in a long, peaceful dream, and soon he would wake up and find himself in the small hospital bed in England.
He hated the fact that Rose was alone right now. He hated that he couldn't be there to comfort her.
"How long has she been in labour?" Jack asked Abby.
"Since the early morning. I was told to pick you up, but I wouldn't leave until the doctor was with her. She was asking for you all day, Jack."
Tears welled in Jack's eyes. He could be a father now.
As they reached the house, Jack rushed out and ran up the porch steps. The house hadn't changed much, but Rose had kept the garden neat and tidy. New flowers had been planted and made the garden a peaceful place.
Rose's screams of pain could be heard from outside. Jack stumbled up the stairs as best as he could, despite the pain from his leg.
His heart beat harder than before. He entered the bedroom and there she was. His Rose. His beautiful Rose.
"I am afraid I am going to have to ask you to leave, sir." The doctor noticed Jack in the doorway. Rose moved her head and tilted it towards Jack. Immediately, she reached out her hand to him. He grabbed it and kissed her head.
"You're here. You're finally here, my darling," she spoke, smiling through her tears and pain.
"Sir, I have to ask you to leave," the doctor repeated.
"I'm staying, doc. I'm the father." Jack gently stroked and held Rose's hand.
"A child's birth is not for a young man to witness," the doctor stated.
"Sir, with what I have witnessed since I went to war, the birth of my child is heaven."
The doctor's eyes widened slightly. It was not common for men to witness their children's births.
"He's staying," Rose confirmed.
The doctor nodded, defeated.
The fact that Jack was now there was indeed heaven.
"You're well on your way, Mrs. Dawson, but it could still be a while." The doctor left the room.
Rose hardly even listened to what he said. Her eyes gazed into Jack's intently as he stroked her wet hair. She touched his face to check if it was real.
"You're here," Rose repeated once again through her tears.
"I am, my darling. I am never letting you go again. The past nine months were the worst of my life. You gave me hope to go on, Rose."
He bent his head slightly and kissed her lips for the first time in nine months.
"I missed this. I missed you."
"I missed you, too. Not waking up next to you every day, feeling the baby kick-it was hell, Jack."
"I know." He nodded. He kissed her hand once again, not wanting to let go. This didn't feel real.
After all of the pain and hell he had endured for the last nine months, the war, the attack, and being in the hospital for months, he had thanked Dr. Long for his kindness over and over. Jack had hugged his doctor good-bye and they had even shed a few tears, as they had become such good friends without even knowing it.
Dr. Long had been his angel through all of the hell in those few months. He had to pretty much learn to walk again, and there he was to help.
They had exchanged addresses and planned to write. Dr. Long had expressed a great deal of interest in the baby and wanted to know how it all went and how he felt as a father.
Just the idea of the fact he was about to become a father was overwhelming. He had waited so long for this moment, and now that it was here, he didn't know what to do. He wasn't calm. He felt as though he could scream from the rooftops.
This would be the proudest moment of his life.
For Rose, the labour seemed to last forever. She had retired to bed the night before at around midnight, dreaming of the next day when Jack would be arriving home. She dreamt of meeting him and what a tearful reunion they would have.
At around four AM, she had felt funny. Her abdomen had felt sore and achy and the baby seemed to move around vigorously. She could feel the baby's tiny hands wiggling in her womb, and when she stroked her stomach, the baby moved slightly.
At 4:25, she had felt her water break. She had run the best she could into Abigail's room and awakened her.
The pair had waited until dawn and then Abigail had gone to fetch the doctor before returning. Rose had ordered her to meet Jack at the docks.
Rose had awaited their return for two hours, and the baby had still not been born.
Now, she was here with Jack.
"Jack, the pain is terrible!" Rose cried a little and clung to his hands.
"I know. I wish I could take away all of your pain. I wish I could."
"But it will be here soon, Jack."
"We'll be parents soon."
The last nine months had been hard for Rose. She had never lived alone before. Abigail had been a big help, but she wasn't Jack. She needed her man about the place. She needed her husband, just as her baby needed its father. She had feared Jack wouldn't be home in time to see his child born.
Three hours passed and as the doctor yelled, "One last push, Mrs. Dawson!" Rose did as she was told. She ignored the pain of childbirth and pushed downwards one final time, and as she did, she felt her child slip out of her.
The loud cries of an innocent newborn filled the room and Rose's puffy, crying face was soon weeping tears of joy and happiness.
She turned to Jack, who gently touched her cheek and then kissed her forehead lightly. She was sweating and he could taste it on his lips, but he didn't care. She had just brought their child into the world.
The midwife took the little one into the bathroom, where she cleaned up the baby and placed him securely and warmly into a small white blanket. The baby intently closed his eyes and began to drift off.
Minutes later, the midwife returned and handed the small bundle to his mother.
"It's a little boy, Mrs. Dawson. You have a son," the midwife said calmly. The look on Rose's face was blissful. The midwife had to think to herself she had help deliver hundreds of babies during her twenty year career, but never had she felt so much in the presence of true love as she did at this moment.
"A son?" Jack repeated, as if checking to see if all of this was reality.
"Yes, Mr. Dawson. You have a son."
The midwife left the room, followed by the doctor minutes later as he packed up his necessities.
"Congratulations. He's a good weight, too. Six pounds, twelve ounces. I'll be around in the morning to check on the little mite. Until then, enjoy him. They don't stay babies for long. They're soon little terrors." The doctor laughed, thinking of himself and his wife. They had seven children. The youngest was twelve now, but he remembered them all as babies. He realized that he was ranting a little, so he quickly said his good-byes and left the room, leaving the two new parents all alone for the first time with their newborn son.
He lay contently in the blanket. His small body wriggled about in the blanket and Rose could feel his tiny feet almost kicking around.
He had a small tuft of light blond hair and a perfect, pert nose, just like his father's. His lips were his mother's, soft and full. People had always said to Jack and Rose, "You won't know what the baby inherits from who until it's older," but this little boy was a perfect mix of both.
He opened his eyes slightly and then opened his small mouth and let out a wail. His tiny, bare gums were visible as he wailed. Rose gently rocked him in his small blanket, back and forth. He soon closed his eyes again.
"He has your eyes, Jack," Rose whispered, still rocking her son. The silence was broken between the two new parents. They were both so in awe of the small person laying in his mother's arms.
"I know. He has your chin, though."
Rose laughed a little.
"I never knew motherhood could be like this."
"What do you mean?"
"Well, Jack. I thought it was magic and special, but by God, this is so much more. The love I have for this little boy is more overwhelming than I thought. I feel I have to do everything I can to keep him safe and happy. I feel as though I'm flying, Jack…"
Jack laughed a little, remembering the meaning of flying.
"I know, Rose. I could cry for hours now, just looking at him. I've never felt so emotional." With that, a tear ran from Jack's eye and he did his best to conceal it.
"I know. Me, either. God, I'm so new to all of this. I'm so in awe I could just gaze for hours at his small, perfectly beautiful face."
"We're both new to this, Rose. But we'll learn. I'm here now, Rose. I'm not going anywhere, ever again, Rose. I almost missed this, and now that he's here, I don't want to miss a second of our child growing up."
Rose could feel her eyes welling up a little just at the thought of Jack leaving now that their son was here. Just the thought made her want to give up.
"It was so hard, Jack. The days were long and boring. The nights were cold and lonely. The baby kicked all of the time and I would have given anything to just have you here for one minute to feel him moving around."
Rose felt the tiny body within the blanket begin to stir. He whimpered a little before opening his eyes-his beautiful, sea blue eyes.
"Look at him, Rose. Look at how perfect he is." Tears spilled from Jack's eyes and he gently touched his little boy's tiny fingers for the first time. He stroked them gently. It seemed to have a calming affect on his son. It was as if he knew his father was there to comfort him. "Do you ever think I could leave now? I couldn't bear to leave you, Rose, but I did, for King and country and all of that shit. But I'm here now. The war is no longer important. You and this little boy are."
"But the war is still going on, Jack. They could send for you again!" Rose panicked.
"No, Rose-" Jack was hesitant to tell her this now, but he knew he had to. All of the attention would be on their baby for a while, but she would find out someday anyway. He didn't want to frighten her or make her feel ill with details, but he had to tell her. "They won't send for me, Rose. I'm considered unfit to fight-" Jack trailed off.
"But you are fit-"
"No. I was involved in a mustard gas attack in France back in April. I was thought to be dead when I arrived at the hospital, but I was one of the few who didn't die. I was moved to a rehabilitation hospital in England. I had to learn to walk again and I suffered slight memory loss. Rose, I may have to walk with a cane for the rest of my life. I also have permanent burn scars on my stomach and the top of my right leg and a little on my left."
Rose gasped, not being able to take this sudden information in. That was why he hadn't written for months? The day had been too much for her, and she suddenly felt a lot of anger inside of her. Anger at the war. Anger at whoever did this to her Jack and thousands of other men around the globe who were risking their lives in the damned war. It wasn't a holy war, not by far, no matter what people said. It was a cruel, vicious attack on innocent people.
Tears fell from Rose's eyes as she clasped her son as if she would never let him go.
"Oh, God, Jack. Please tell me you had no pain. Please."
"I had pain, Rose, but not anymore. You had pain, too, but no more, Rose. No more. We're here now together, and nothing will ever stop that or take it away. We have a child now, Rose. We have to be strong, because we're parents."
Rose nodded, still feeling sick at the thought of Jack being alone in a hospital bed for all of those many months of agony.
"I'm so proud of you, Rosie. You gave me this perfect little boy. I will never be able to thank you enough."
"I will never be able to thank you enough for bringing yourself home to see all of this."
"Don't thank me. Thank Dr. Long." Jack smiled, thinking of the kind doctor back in England who had done wonders for Jack's confidence and health. He had brought Jack back to life, and then, when he was at his lowest, he had bought him a ticket home.
"Who?" Rose asked.
"Never mind. So, what are we going to call this little one?" Jack smiled, peering over the blanket.
"How about William? After your father, Jack?"
He gazed up at Rose. He had never expected her to suggest that name. She knew how much his father had meant to him when he was a boy. He wanted his son to have the same closeness as he had to his father.
"Yes. I know how special he was to you. I just wish he could have been here to meet me and to see his grandson."
"Yeah. Me, too. God, he would have loved you, Rosie, and little William here. He would have been so proud to hold his grandson in his arms."
"So, we'll go with William?" Rose asked. Jack nodded in awe. "Jack? Do you want to hold William?" Rose whispered softly. Jack nodded.
He sat on the edge of the bed and placed one arm around his beautiful wife. In the other, he took his son and held him close to his body.
He could feel his warmth, and he loved the smell of the baby. He was so pure and innocent and so unexposed to what was happening in the world right now, but Jack hoped he would never find out. Because he hoped there would never be another war as violent as this. Not another world war where so many innocent people were sent to their deaths.
Jack knew he would do everything in his power to shield his son from the world's horrors.
Jack gently kissed Rose's hair and smelled her scent for the first time in nine months. Her body was warm as she leaned against him. Her fingers gently touched her son's tiny feet and she smiled tiredly.
"I love you, Rose," he whispered softly, hoping she heard him.
"I love you, too," she replied.
Moments later, Jack saw that her eyes were closed and she was sound asleep. It certainly had been a big day for everyone in the Dawson family. William opened his blue eyes for a brief moment and Jack smiled, seeing them properly for the first time.
"Hey, handsome," Jack whispered. William closed his eyes and wriggled as if getting comfortable and then drifted back to sleep. Jack smiled. He would be sitting here for some time. Rose was asleep against him and William asleep in his arms, but Jack didn't care. This was where he wanted to be, now and forever.
Jack thought, though, of all of the tragedies which had occurred in the world-the Titanic, the magical ship where he had first laid eyes on his Rose.
He had lost his best friend, Fabrizio, who had almost been the brother he had never had. Together, they could do anything. Fabrizio had known of Jack's feelings for Rose and had backed him all of the way. He had been a big believer in true love and Jack had hoped that someday Fabrizio would find his. He never had.
Tommy, had been a proud Irishman. He'd become something of a friend and he, too, had never been recovered from the wreck.
But the war-the war was something else. The war was something which was cruel beyond recognition. No one knew what the conditions were unless they were on the front line, and Jack had been.
He had made friends with two innocent family men, both of whom were lost in the mustard gas attack on the morning of April 30, 1918.
This war was a cruel, cold war, something which shouldn't even occur in nightmares. The number of casualties and deaths had been high since the damned war had started in 1914. Over twenty million soldiers had been killed in the war already. Twenty million men-they were men, not just figures.
At eleven o'clock AM, on November 11, 1918, the eleventh hour of the eleventh month of the eleventh day, the war ended. Approximately thirty-seven million, four hundred thousand soldiers had died. The total number of men who were wounded from all countries was over twenty-one million. The Germans evacuated their positions, returned to Germany, and admitted defeat. Although Britain had won the war, it still didn't fill any holes that were left open by the Great War.
On June 28, 1919, Germany signed the Treaty of Versailles, which stated that the Germans should take full responsibility for the whole war.
Germany was commanded to pay eleven billion, three hundred million pounds back to the other countries, which was the estimated cost of the war.
Germany was stripped of its land and the German economy became weak, although justice was never really to be done.
Men still died in tragic circumstances, leaving widowed women and fatherless children.
Land was destroyed, ships were sunk, and bombs were dropped.
And the world was never the same again.