Butterfly Kisses
By Maureen

Song performed by Bob Carlisle (I'm pretty sure other people have performed it before him though)

Disclaimers: standard disclaimers apply. Who wants to road trip to Toronto this spring break and visit a certain dark haired Canadian actor? Hmmm?

***
2012

Jamie Waite sat between two classmates that he didn't know, trying not to sweat too profusely in the early summer heat. He was nervous, but more than that, he was anxious. It took more will than he thought he had possessed not to turn around.

He remembered all the years of working, trying to help Catie through college, waiting for his turn to go. Once he got in to college, it was another long four years, his only break during winter vacation, before he could graduate.

He had been rolling the idea around for months now, ' James Waite, college graduate'. It seemed almost surreal.

Kingsport had merged their fire and EMT teams together, cross training all of the adult staff. Now, he was both a fire fighter and a paramedic. In only a few minutes he would also have a Bachelor's of Fire Science.

Finally the row in front of his began to walk down the aisle and he stood. He kept his hands firmly by his sides, trying not to adjust his cap. It would not be cool to have it fall off. Almost mindlessly, he followed the girl in front of him down the aisle and towards the stage. He tried not to fidget when he got up there.

"James Waite!"

Taking a deep breath, he walked across the stage, smiling. He accepted his BS in his left hand and shook hands with the dean of the university with his right.

He turned towards his family in the audience, his wife Caitlin and his two children, Calien and Rose, waving. He could hear them clapping and cheering, calling his name.

After the commencement ceremony was over, he headed straight to them, arms outstretched.

"Go James!" Caitlin whispered in his ear. "I love you!"

"Go Dad!" Calien yelled. "You did it!"

There's two things I know for sure.
She was sent here from heaven, and she's daddy's little girl.
As I drop to my knees by her bed at night,
She talks to Jesus, and I close my eyes.

2013

"Jamie!" Catie called from the kitchen table. She was going through the mail and paying their bills. Catie was also pregnant with their third child and was due in ten weeks. "You have a letter from the high school!"

"The high school?" Jamie repeated, wiping his greasy hands on his coverall. He had been working with Calien teaching him how to change the oil and check the fluids in a car. They now had two cars and did the basic maintenance and upkeep themselves. Later that afternoon Jamie was going to help Rose wash both cars for her allowance money. "Why would they send me anything?"

"It's an invitation to your ten year high school reunion. Mine was last year, but we could go because Rosie had the chicken pox, remember?"

"Oh yeah. Do you want to go? I mean, I don't really care."

"Sure, why not?" Catie asked rhetorically, "Wonder if we'd still be the school scandal..."

Jamie laughed, "Probably. Once a 'goth sloth' always a 'goth sloth,'" he reminded her, using the name Tyler had once called her.

And I thank God for all the joy in my life, But most of all...
Butterfly kisses after bedtime prayer.
Stickin' little white flowers all up in her hair.
"Walk beside the pony daddy, it's my first ride."
"I know the cake looks funny, daddy, but I sure tried."

The Waite's had left their two kids in the hands of one of their neighbors to babysit and showed up at the old high school gymnasium. It was decorated with maroon and gold streamers and the DJ was playing the hits from the beginning of the century.

Standing just inside the doorway they surveyed the people already there. In the dim lighting they didn't recognize anyone. "Want some punch?" Jamied asked, his eyes twinkling mischieviously.

"What are you planning?" Catie hissed, remembering that look.

"Nothing important," he replied with mock hurt, pulling the top of a small absolut bottle from his pocket. "Just making this party interesting."

"Oh no you don't James!" she said, "I am not drinking any spiked punch!"

Before they could continue their conversation, Principal Carlson strode up to the couple, smiling. "James! Caitlin! How nice to see you!"

"Yeah..." Catie replied, unused to seeing her former nemesis acting polite towards her, "You too."

"How many kids do you have now?" he asked, "Five? Six?"

"Two, Carlson," Jamie replied cooly, "This is our third. Calien is twelve and Rosie is seven."

"How nice! And where are you working? There was no college listed when you graduated Jamie," Carlson knew they were struggling, they were bleacher junkies.

"I graduated from the University of Virginia, Richmond with a degree in fire science. I'm a firefighter crosstrained as a paramedic and to deal with hazarous materials for Kingsport. I also teach a class once a week to kids at the local elementary schools about fire prevention." Jamie informed him, knowing this information would piss Carlson off, "Catie is the general manager of all the Well's Fargo's in Kingsport and the outlying area."

Carlson's eyes widened, surprised at how well the couple was doing. "Congratulations. Have you seen Nathan yet Jamie? He's getting some punch, excuse me." he left quickly, both pleased that they had managed to not screw their lives up completely, yet a bit disappointed that he couldn't laugh and say 'I told you so' even to himself.

Jamie and Catie looked at each other and shrugged, so in tune with the other that they didn't even have to ask what the other was thinking. Carlson was a loser back when they were in high school and he still was.

"Jamie!" a familiar voice called out. "Didn't expect to see you here, man!"

"Nate!" Jamie exclaimed, pounding his old friend on the back. "That's why we showed up, always challenging the status quo!"

"No kidding! Hey Catie, how're you?" Nathan asked, touching her stomach lightly. "Do you two rabbits ever stop?"

"Hi Nathan," Catie laughed, "I guess it does seem like I'm always pregnant, huh? Every time I come back here or see you I am."

"I want you to meet my fiance!" Nathan beckoned a tall blonde woman over, introducing her as 'Natalie'. "Natalie, this is Jamie and Catie Waite."

"Pleasure," she said, shaking their hands firmly. "Nathan's mentioned you before, Jamie."

"Oh boy..." Jamie whistled, "Whatever he says I did is a lie. Honest."

"Speaking of things you did, was it you who spiked the punch?" Nathan asked.

Catie glared at her husband and crossed her arms over her chest.

"I wish. Not for lack of wanting to though."

Oh, with all that I've done wrong,
I must have done something right.
To deserve a hug every morning,
and butterfly kisses at night.

Despite being stained with soot and sweat, Jamie held his newborn daughter and wife close. He was grinning like a fool and scaring the nurses that walked past. At 29 years old, he was finally able to be the father he wanted to be, able to provide for his family and even managing to pay his debts while eking out a little savings.

He knew he couldn't do it without his wife's income, or support from his family and friends, but he was secure. He no longer had to wonder if he could afford to eat lunch anymore like he had back in high school.

"I think I had better return her to the nursery now," the nurse said, interrupting the cooing to the newest member of the Waite family. "You can see her later."

Jamie reluctantly surrendered the infant, watching as she was taken out of the room. "We are so lucky you know," he informed his wife.

"I know," she replied. She was two days past her due date when she had the child and it had been such a quick labor that Jamie had been at work fighting a fire. He had headed straight to the hospital when he had heard that his second daughter had been born. He had arrived nearly an hour late. Catie laid in the bed, her long, dark hair matted with sweat and no makeup on. Jamie thought she looked most beautiful like this. "We never picked out a name."

"I thought maybe Jude, since she was born between the Beatles memorial for John and George." Jamie suggested. She had been born only a few days in between the death markers for John Lennon and George Harrison.

"I was looking into maybe a biblical name this time. I like Zara." While neither were especially religious, both had been raised to believe.

"Zara?" Jamie asked, trying it out. "I like it, it's different. And it is still biblical...why not both?"

"Zara Jude doesn't sound right though, Jamie."

"True," he agreed, "but Jude Zara Waite has a pretty good ring to it. Whaddya say?"

"I like it. And you need to head back to work, I'm sure your four hours is almost up."

"Yes dear," he teased, kissing her cheek, "I'll be home later tonight if you call and I will pick you up from the hospital tomorrow. Love you."

"Love you too."

Sweet sixteen today.
She's looking like her momma a little more every day.
One part woman, the other part girl.
To perfume and makeup, from ribbons and curls.
Trying her wings in a great big world. But I remember...

"Dad?" Calien asked after Rose had gone to sleep. It was just the two of them until Catie and Jude came home tomorrow. Calien stood in the doorway to his parent's room, clad in his pajamas.

"Yeah, Squirt?" he replied, looking up from Lord of the Rings.

"Why did Billy, my real dad, not want me?" Jamie groaned inwardly. He knew the question would come up, but he had been optimistic that it would happen after he was old and gray. No such luck appearantly. "That's not true," He said, "Come on in and sit on the bed."

Calien climbed up, looking less like the boy of 12 that he was and more like the little baby he had been.

"Mom and Billy were both very young and weren't ready to be parents. But your Mom grew up because she loved you and wanted to do the best she could. Billy tried to grow up too, but he wasn't able to."

"You're younger than Mom and you helped her raise me," Calien pointed out.

"Yeah. I love your Mom, she is my best friend. People mature at different ages. Your Mom and I grew up quickly, Billy didn't. It does not mean he loves you less."

Calien nodded solemnly, thinking about what his dad had said. "Sometimes the kids at school make fun of me because I don't have the same name as you and Mommy."

Jamie nodded, "Well, Billy wanted you to have his name, but your mom wouldn't let him since he isn't raising you. But he wouldn't let you have my name either because he is your father. So as a compromise we agreed to give you your Mom's name before we got married. She was Catie Roth, just like you are Calien Roth." he hugged his son, rubbing his arm lightly. "Anything else?"

Calien shook his head, still wide eyed. "No," he replied softly.

Butterfly kisses after bedtime prayer.
Stickin' little white flowers all up in her hair.
"You know how much I love you daddy, but if you don't mind,
I'm only going to kiss you on cheek this time."
With all that I've done wrong, I must have done something right.
To deserve a hug every morning, and butterfly kisses at night.

Jamie rolled over in bed trying to block the sudden rays of sunshine from his eyes. "Wake up Daddy!"

Blearily Jamie looked at the bedside clock. 6:15 it blinked back at him. "Shouldn't you be asleep?" Jamie mumbled to his seven year old daughter, Rose.

"But Mommy's coming home today with the baby!" she said happily.

"Yes, but not for many more hours. She can't come home until 5:30 this afternoon. We're all going to go pick her up and get some dinner. Now why don't you climb in bed with me and go back to sleep?"

"You are no fun, Daddy," she pronounced, heading back to her room.

"Stay out of trouble!" Jamie called after her, saying a quick prayer to the gods of fire that she didn't burn the house down. Sighing he got out of bed to close the curtains which had been left open.

All the precise time.
Like the wind, the years go by.
Precious butterfly,
spread your wings and fly.

"Hey loverboy," Catie said when her husband came in the hospital room later that day. "Did the kids burn the house down?"

"Not for lack of trying," Jamie replied wryly. "Rose woke me at 6:15 to come pick you up and Calien wanted to know more about Billy at 10:00 last night."

"Nice to know they kept you occupied. Well, I'm ready, we just have to go down to the nursery to pick up Jude and we can grab the KFC."

"Cool," he said, helping his wife into the wheelchair, both more than comfortable with the routine. "So Mrs. Rabbit, want any more babies?"

Catie seemed to ponder this for a minute, "Well, let's see...there's already twelve years between these two...why don't we wait another twenty years before deciding Mr. Rabbit?"

"Sounds like a good plan to me."

She'll change her name today.
She'll make a promise, and I'll give her away.
Standing in the bride room just staring at her.
She asked me what I'm thinking, and I said, "I'm not sure,
I just feel like I'm losing my baby girl."
Then she leaned over... and gave me...

"Hey Val," Catie said stirring the ingredients to the green bean casserole together. "How's life?"

Val had become a pediatrician and was quite successful. She had entered into private practice with two other doctors in Atlanta, Georgia. "Not bad, chicken pox are going through the area. Nothing surprising there though."

"Do you ever wish your life was different?" Catie asked.

"Sometimes," Val replied honestly, "but I accomplished my goals. I did what I set out to do, now I am working on new things."

"Yeah, but here I am, 30 years old, three kids and a morgage. I'm happy, but it just doesn't seem like my life."

"Trouble in paradise?"

"Nothing a good vacation wouldn't cure. We went to Jamie's ten year reunion a few months ago. Made me realize all the dreams I gave up. I don't regret it, but at the same time, I wish I had been able to at least try." she sighed, wondering why she was questioning her life after all she and Jamie had been through. She loved him and she loved her family.

"You can still try. Sure, you had to put them on hold, but now both and Jamie are out of school and Calien is old enough to watch your other kids for a few hours in the day time. I mean, you can still write the great American novel. Don't give up."

"Thanks Val, I - Rosie! Calien was playing his game, you will have to watch your movie later! I have to go, Val, bye!" Catie hung up the phone not waiting for Val's reply. She had another domestic crisis to avert.

Butterfly kisses, with her mama there.
Stickin' little white flowers all up in her hair.
"Walk me down the aisle daddy, it's just about time."
"Does my wedding gown look pretty daddy?" "Daddy don't cry."

Later that night Jamie and Catie were talking in the living room after the kids went to sleep, Catie was curled against her husband's chest, listening to the deep rumble of his chest. "My figure is shot to hell, you know," she said randomly.

"You're beautiful," Jamie assured her.

"My boobs sag," she retorted, more matter of fact that anything else.

"Baby chewed and filled with milk. They are badges of motherhood," since when was Catie Waite concerned with her figure?

"You must be delusional," Catie reached up to feel his forehead. "Hmmm, no fever..."

"I'll give you a fever, wench!" Jamie cried, picking his wife up and carrying her outside into the rain. She shrieked trying not to wake the kids up, but still to show her surprise.

He dumped her on the ground, both of them soaked through. Grinning he tried to help her up.

She blew him a rasberry and got up without his help. Laughing like children they danced in their front yard, all of Catie's doubts erased. What she had now was far better than 'what ifs.'

With all that I've done wrong, I must have done something right.
To deserve a hug every morning, and butterfly kisses.
I couldn't ask God for more, man, this is what love is.
I know I've gotta let her go, but I'll always remember.
Every hug in the morning, and butterfly kisses...


AN: for every 24 hours a fireman works, he gets 4 of those hours off if he wants to. This way he can take a class or something.

Calien James, Rose Saphyne and Jude Zara all mean something different to Jamie and Catie and represent different parts of their personalities and/or backgrounds. Calien: Celtic/mystic; James: for Jamie; Rose: Jamie's fam is originally from England (or at least the name Waite is); Saphyne: fantasy/supernatural; Jude: Jamie's love for music; Zara: little known biblical name.